The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(48) by Susan Mallery
Unable to resist the need growing inside of her, she rose on her tiptoes and pressed against him. If only there was a way to crawl inside of him, she might at last feel that she belonged. When his tongue touched hers, she answered with more intensity, following him back, tasting him, circling him, silently begging him never to stop. She ran her hands up and down his back, then boldly pressed her palms against his rear. The action forced his hips forward, thrusting his arousal against her belly.
She might never have seen a fully aroused man before, but she knew exactly what that bulge meant.
“Sabrina,” he growled when he dragged his mouth from hers. His breathing was as heavy as her own. “I want you.”
Unwelcome tears sprang to her eyes and before she could blink them away, they spilled onto her cheeks.
He frowned. “What is wrong? You cannot be shocked by my declaration.”
A sharp pain thrust through her chest. She didn’t know what it meant, nor could she state its cause. For some reason his words had stung.
I want you. Not—I love you.
Time froze. Sabrina couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but stand there as harsh reality sank into her being.
She wanted Kardal to love her. But why? The situation was impossible. They could never be together. She was betrothed to someone else. Her father would never forgive, never understand. Kardal had responsibilities. She should be pleased that his desire was only physical.
But she wasn’t. Because…because…Because she wanted more. She wanted Kardal to long for her heart as much as her body.
“Sabrina?” He touched the tears on her cheeks. “Why do you cry?”
She couldn’t tell him the truth so she searched for something that would satisfy him. “We can’t do this,” she said quickly. “Be together physically. If you take my virginity you’ll be killed, or at the very least, exiled.”
He surprised her by smiling. “How like my little desert bird to worry. But you must let that be my concern.”
“I can’t. I won’t be responsible for something bad happening to you.”
She felt confused. Her words were the truth; she didn’t want him hurt in any way. Even though he didn’t care about her the way she cared about him, she wanted only the best for him. So they couldn’t become lovers.
She was both pleased and dismayed by his recklessness. Would he really risk his life to play in her bed? She thought that he might. Yet he wouldn’t let her touch his heart.
She was confused and afraid.
“You have to go,” she said, pushing him away. “We can’t do this anymore.”
For a number of reasons, some of which she would never explain.
Kardal watched as Sabrina turned from him. Fresh tears trickled down her cheeks. Her distress pleased him. Things with her were going exactly as he had planned.
“As you wish,” he said formally. “I will see you in the morning.”
He left her bedroom and headed for his office. Sabrina had obviously come to care about him. Her fear for his physical safety was proof. While at first he had resisted the betrothal, now he found that she was nearly the perfect wife. Her intelligence meant that their sons would be good leaders. She cared for the people and the castle. She had adjusted well to life within the city walls. The marital connection to Bahania was an advantage, of course. Her body aroused his and he didn’t doubt they would do well in bed. Yes, she would be a fine wife. He would call King Hassan this very evening and tell him that he agreed to the match.
He paused in the hallway. When would he tell Sabrina? Not now, he thought. Not until after Givon’s troublesome visit. Then he, Kardal, would be free to deal with her. They would plan the wedding together. She was a sensible woman and would be most honored to know that he found her worthy.
He remembered the fear in her eyes. How concerned she’d been about his safety. Perhaps she was even falling in love with him. He resumed walking, pleasure lightening his step. He would like Sabrina to love him, he told himself. She would love with the same fire and determination she brought to all her other occupations. Yes, he had chosen well.
Kardal called the king of Bahania and was quickly connected with Hassan.
“You are sending her back,” Sabrina’s father said as soon as he came on the line. “I suppose I should not be surprised. She has never been very good for—”
“Be very careful about what you say,” Kardal told the monarch in a low, deadly voice. “You speak of my future wife.”
“What?” Hassan spluttered. “You can’t mean to marry her.”
“That is my intention. I have not informed her of the fact yet, so while you may go ahead with the plans, I wish you to keep them quiet for now.”
“You have been wrong about Sabrina,” Kardal said. “Very wrong. I do not know her mother, but I can tell you your daughter is a treasure. She is loyal, determined, caring and even intelligent.”
“Yes, well, perhaps.” Hassan sounded stunned. “Kardal, you realize that I can’t vouch for her virtue.”
It was the final insult. Kardal rose to his feet, still clutching the telephone in his hand. “I will vouch for her virtue. I know that she has been untouched by any man.” Then, because he couldn’t resist tweaking the tiger’s tail he added, “Until now.”
“Kardal!” Hassan’s outrage traveled the nearly thousand miles between them. “If you have defiled my daughter, I’ll have your head on a platter.”
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