The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(12) by Susan Mallery
“Could I get that on a plaque?” Cleo asked.
“Perhaps a tapestry,” the king told her. “We could have the weaving women design one.”
“You have weaving women?” Cleo sounded horrified. “Is that what they do with their entire day? Weave? Do you…” Her voice trailed off as she caught the king’s smile. “You’re teasing me.”
Cleo shrugged. “He’s got a sense of humor. Who knew?”
Zara didn’t respond. She still looked as if she was in shock. Hassan hugged her one last time.
“I leave you in the protection of your bodyguard. Rafe will make all the arrangements to move you into the palace. I look forward to seeing you there.”
With that, he was gone. Cleo shook her head. “This is amazing. Just like in a movie.”
Rafe wished it was a movie. Then he could get out of his seat and head back to his regular life. Instead he was stuck. He supposed that he could go to his boss and complain, but that would annoy King Hassan.
Zara folded her arms over her chest. “He can’t be serious. He wants you to be my bodyguard?”
“I’m more than qualified.”
She opened her mouth, then closed it. “This isn’t about your abilities, Rafe. It’s about being sane. Who on earth would want to hurt me? No one knows who I am.”
“You might be Hassan’s daughter. I know it sounds far-fetched, but go along with it for now, all right? This is a temporary situation.”
“Don’t you have a real job you’d rather be doing?”
He was supposed to be coordinating the development of an air force in Bahania, El Bahar and the City of Thieves. “That is going to have to wait for a while.”
Prince Kardal, his boss, would understand. At this point in the negotiations no one wanted to annoy King Hassan. Which meant Rafe would spend the next few weeks making sure Zara didn’t get so much as a splinter. It would mean long hours and close contact with the first woman to get his attention in years. Life had a hell of a sense of humor.
“Look at the bright side,” Cleo said. “At least the king didn’t throw you out on your butt. If anything, he seemed really happy to see you.”
Zara nodded. “I don’t know what to think about any of this. I guess we should head back to the hotel and pack up our stuff.”
Cleo did a couple of quick dance steps. “I’m gonna live in a palace,” she sang as she shimmied around the sofa. “And you wanted to go camping in Yellowstone instead of coming here.”
Zara headed for the door. “I’m beginning to think that would have been a better idea.”
“I don’t have any experience with this whole bodyguard thing,” Zara said as Rafe followed them back to their hotel. “Do you plan to go with me everywhere?”
“Will you carry the groceries when we go to the supermarket?” Cleo asked.
“You won’t be doing grocery shopping,” Rafe told her.
Zara was still focused on the whole “go with her everywhere” concept. “I don’t have a very interesting life,” she admitted. “You’re going to get bored.”
They crossed the street and walked toward the entrance to the hotel where she and Cleo had stayed. Was this tall, dangerous man really going to shadow her, day and night? Was it possible?
“You know, you could just meet us at the palace,” she said. “We can take a cab.”
He didn’t bother answering.
A bodyguard? It was too weird to believe. Of course there was a chance that King Hassan might be her father, which put the whole bodyguard dilemma in perspective. Her life had suddenly taken on the unreal qualities of a visit to a fun house.
Zara had seen some physical similarities between herself and the king, but she hadn’t felt any kind of emotional connection. He’d been so sure and she’d wanted to head for home. It was one thing to be ten years old and long for a father to sweep into her life and give her the stability she’d always wanted. It was another to be grown-up, with a life of her own and find out she might be related to a ruling monarch.
When they reached the hotel, Rafe escorted them to their room. Once there, he actually checked the small space before allowing them to enter.
“Because terrorists might want to kidnap me?” she asked, slightly bemused as he stepped aside to let them in.
“Because I’m good at what I do.”
His blue eyes were just as cold as they’d always been, but now she found them less scary. Perhaps because he was her only link to sanity in this impossible situation.
Cleo headed into the hotel room. Rafe briefly touched Zara’s arm to detain her.
“I’m going to make some phone calls while you pack,” he said, pulling a cell phone from his coat pocket. “Don’t let anyone in the room but me.”
“Is there a code word?” she asked.
“I like that. I’ve always been a good girl.”
“It’s my job to make sure that doesn’t change.”
“Don’t tell Cleo. She’s always getting in trouble.”
“Cleo isn’t my concern.”
“Figures.” Zara glanced down the hall to make sure they were alone, then lowered her voice. “What if I don’t want to go live at the palace?”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online