The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(54) by Susan Mallery
“Whatever you may think of me,” Givon continued, “know that I was never unfaithful to my wife. She was pregnant with my third son. We were happy together. But duty called. I came to the City of Thieves and met Cala.”
As he spoke her name, Givon’s entire face changed. A softness filled his eyes and the corners of his mouth turned up. Kardal frowned, refusing to allow the old man’s emotions to sway him.
“She was not what I expected,” Givon said simply. “She was beautiful, but it was more than that. She might only have been eighteen, but she and I got along from the first. I found myself mesmerized by her, feeling things for her I had never felt for anyone before. I had arrived with the intention of doing my duty and leaving. But after meeting her, I could not imagine simply taking her into my bed without some kind of understanding between us. We spent time together and began to enchant each other.”
He leaned forward and picked up his glass. “I was a king, a powerful man, completely enthralled by a slip of a girl. I felt like an idiot and more happy than I had ever been in my life. I loved her and in loving her realized I had never truly loved my wife. Not the same way. So Cala and I decided that I would stay.”
Kardal stiffened in his seat. “You were going to stay here?”
Givon took a sip of water, then nodded. “I did not want to leave her. What other choice did I have?”
“But you didn’t stay.”
“No.” He set his glass on the table. “A month slipped into two. I knew I would have to give up my monarchy, my sons, everything. I was prepared to do so until my wife arrived. In my absence, my third son had been born. She placed the infant in my arms and asked if I was planning to abandon them all. In the baby’s eyes I saw my future and knew it could not be here. I had been playing a game but it was time to return to my responsibilities. The people of El Bahar mattered more than the state of my heart.”
Kardal didn’t want to think about how difficult the leaving would have been. He knew his mother well enough to know that she would not have handled the disappointment with quiet dignity.
“Cala told you never to come back,” he said, believing the words for the first time in his life.
Givon nodded. “I agreed, but I had no intention of keeping my word. I promised I would return. But within a year, my wife had died. I was left alone with three young boys. I couldn’t leave them to be with you and Cala. They were the heirs, so I could not take them with me, nor would I have forced my oldest son to rule at such a tender age. I sent word to Cala asking her to bring you and join me. She said that you were to be the Prince of Thieves and had to be raised within the city walls. I think she was still very hurt and angry. I don’t blame her. Mine was not a world she trusted. I was not a man she trusted.”
Kardal didn’t know what to think. He hadn’t wanted to hear his father’s words, but now that he had, he couldn’t erase them from his mind. Nothing was as he had imagined.
“She never hated you,” he said before he could stop himself. “She never spoke ill of you.”
“Thank you for telling me.” Givon’s dark eyes turned sad. “For myself, I never stopped loving her.”
That was more than Kardal wanted to know. He mumbled an excuse to his father and quickly left the room. Hundreds of thoughts tumbled around and around in his brain, but there was only one that mattered. He had to get to Sabrina. Once he was in her company, everything would be better.
He hurried down the halls of the palace, slowing only when he reached her door. He stepped inside without knocking.
She sat at the table, several old books opened in front of her. She looked up at him and smiled. He took in the long red hair tumbling around her shoulders, the welcoming light in her eyes, the curves of her body more hidden than revealed by the cotton dress she wore.
She rose and walked toward him. “Kardal. What’s wrong?”
“I spoke with my father.”
He tried to say more, tried to explain how difficult it had been to find out that Givon wasn’t the devil at all, but a man who had been forced, by circumstance, to make difficult decisions. Kardal didn’t feel the older man was absolved from blame. Givon still could have contacted him. But the areas of blame and guilt were less clear than they had been.
Sabrina watched the emotions chasing across Kardal’s face. His confusion and pain called to her as clearly as if he’d spoken her name. She didn’t know exactly what had been discussed, but she could guess.
Her heart ached for the proud man standing in front of her. The man she loved but could never be with. Without considering the wisdom of her actions, she crossed to him and wrapped her arms around him. He hugged her back. Their bodies pressed together, comforting them both. When he lowered his mouth to hers, she had no thought of refusing him or pulling back.
The passion was as instantaneous as it was familiar. Sabrina felt her bones begin to melt as she pressed against Kardal. He was all hard planes to her soft curves and she thought about how right it was to be in his embrace. His lips, always tender yet firm, pressed against hers. There was something hungry about his kiss. This time he didn’t tease her or play by nibbling. Instead he plunged inside of her, circling her, taking her as if she were necessary for his very being. His desire—almost a desperation—fueled her own growing excitement. She clung to him, letting him take what he would and then following the movements of his tongue, showing him how much she wanted as well.
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