The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(50) by Susan Mallery
Kardal shot her a look that warned her she would answer to him later. Sabrina merely smiled. She didn’t care if he was angry with her or not. All that mattered was that he’d forgotten about being distant toward his father.
“The story isn’t quite so simple,” Kardal said stiffly, still glaring at her.
“Actually it is,” she said breezily to the king. “I’ll give you all the details as I show you to your room. This way, Your Majesty.”
Givon hesitated. He glanced at his son, then at Cala. Finally he nodded and moved next to Sabrina. “Please, call me Givon,” he told her as they walked toward the open doors of the palace.
“I’m honored. I mean what with being a mere slave and all.”
Givon looked at her. A smile played across his mouth. “I see that you have probably been more than Kardal bargained for, however you came to be in the City of Thieves.”
Finding herself starting to like Kardal’s father, she linked her arm through his. “I believe you are right. At times I frustrate him immensely. Let me tell you all about it.”
Kardal watched them leave. He hated that Sabrina had been so easily blinded by his father’s practiced charm. He would have expected more of her.
“What do you think?” Cala asked. Her voice quivered slightly as she spoke.
“I do not know what to think. It is always stressful to have a visiting dignitary in the city. The security concerns, the disruption of the routine.”
Cala faced him, her eyes stormy. “Don’t play that game with me, Kardal. I’m your mother. I’m not asking about the inconvenience of the visit, I’m asking what you think of your father. You’ve never seen him in person before, have you?”
Of course he’d known what she was asking but he hadn’t wanted to answer the question. “No, I’ve never seen him before.”
At joint conferences, he’d always managed to avoid King Givon and the man had never sought him out. When there was direct conversation between the city and El Bahar, representatives had been sent.
“So, what are you thinking?” she persisted.
“I don’t know.”
In that he told the truth. Givon was not the devil, nor even a bad man. Kardal felt confused and angry and hurt. He couldn’t explain why he felt such emotions, nor did he know how to make them go away.
“I’m sorry,” his mother said, touching his arm. “I shouldn’t have kept you apart all these years.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
She met his gaze. “Yes, it was. You don’t want me to have any blame in the matter, yet so much of it is mine. I was young and foolish. When Givon returned to his family, I was destroyed. I ordered him out of my life, which was my right, but I also ordered him out of yours, which was wrong.”
Kardal shrugged off her concerns. “He had a wife and sons of his own. He would not have been interested in me.”
“I think he would have been. While it would have been difficult for him to openly acknowledge you, there could have been private meetings. You needed a father.”
He didn’t like that her words made him ache for what he’d never had. “My grandfather was the best man I have ever known. He was more than enough.”
“I’m glad you think so and I hope it’s true because I can’t change the past. I can only tell you that I’m so sorry.”
He pulled his mother to him and kissed the top of her head. “You have no need to apologize. What is done is done. The past is behind us.”
“I don’t think it is.”
He straightened and looked at her. Color stained her cheeks and she wouldn’t raise her gaze past his chest.
“What are you saying?” he asked.
She swallowed. “I’m afraid my worst fear has come true. Despite the time that has passed and different people we have become, I’m still very much in love with him.”
Sabrina opened the door to the guest quarters she had prepared for the king. As Givon followed her, she gave the room a once-over, taking in the elegant sitting area with its view of the desert from all three large windows. A tile mosaic showed marauders thundering across the desert, arms held high, swords at the ready.
There were several sofas and occasional tables. Small pedestals had been set up around the room, each displaying a different treasure. She had chosen them herself.
Givon stepped into the center of the room. He glanced around, saw a small golden statue of a horse and crossed to the display. After picking up the animal, he turned it over, then looked at Sabrina.
“Are these to honor me or mock me?” he asked.
“I had wondered if you would recognize some of your country’s history.”
“I have a full-size version of this in bronze in my garden.”
“Ah, that would make it easier then.”
She cleared her throat. What had seemed like a good idea at the time suddenly didn’t. Would King Givon be angry with her choices?
“I didn’t intend to mock you…exactly.”
Kind eyes crinkled as he smiled. “What was your intent?”
“Perhaps I simply wanted to get your attention.”
“Something my son has wanted to do all his life?” he asked, then returned the horse to the pedestal.
Sabrina took a step toward him. “I’m sorry,” she told him. “I didn’t mean to make this situation any more difficult than it needed to be.”
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