The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(13) by Susan Mallery
“If you’re Hassan’s daughter, that’s where you belong.”
She asked him because there was no one else. And because she trusted him to tell her the truth. “If I am, it’s going to change everything, isn’t it?”
He didn’t answer. For several heartbeats they simply stared at each other. Zara became aware of a heat generated by the powerful man in front of her. Despite the strange situations she’d encountered in the past few hours, Rafe was a haven of safety. Which made no sense—the man had pulled a gun on her that morning.
She had the most ridiculous urge to cuddle up next to him, to feel his strong body pressing against hers as his arms held her close. She wanted to hear the steady beat of his heart. She wanted him to—
“You’d better get your packing done,” he said. “I’ll have a car here in twenty minutes.”
Zara stepped into the room. Obviously, she was the only one having any kind of fantasies. It was a little disheartening, but not a big surprise. Men had never been very interested in her that way. Maybe it was the glasses.
She pushed at the wire frames as she moved toward her suitcase tucked in a corner of the room.
“Isn’t this incredible?” Cleo asked as she came out of the bathroom, her arms filled with cosmetics. “We are going to be in a palace. I can’t believe it. I bet our rooms are amazing. Just that little bit we saw on the tour was fabulous, and those were the places where they allow the public. It’s probably even better in the private quarters. Zara? What’s wrong? You don’t look excited.”
“I’m in shock. All of this is happening too fast.”
“Yeah, but it’s great.”
Zara wanted to say that she didn’t agree, but she knew Cleo wouldn’t understand. To her sister the situation was simple. The king of Bahania might be Zara’s father—let’s have a party. Zara was more concerned with the reality of trying to fit in to that kind of a world. While she and her mother had never starved, they’d certainly never had a lot of money. Her idea of a luxurious vacation was one where she didn’t have to cook.
“I’ll deal with it later,” she told herself as she packed her clothes and put her toiletries into a carry-on bag.
When Rafe knocked on the door ten minutes later, they were ready to go.
“We can carry these down ourselves,” Zara said as he entered the room.
Instead of responding, he opened the door wider. Two men entered and picked up their heavy suitcases as if they were empty soda cans. Cleo looked at her and shrugged.
“Okay,” her sister said. “So the rich and royal live different. I can adjust!”
Zara followed her to the elevator and wasn’t the least bit surprised when they walked outside and found a limo waiting.
“Because a car isn’t good enough?” she asked, sliding into the back seat.
“I didn’t know how much luggage you’d have,” Rafe told her.
The two men finished with their bags and slammed the trunk. As they walked toward the front of the vehicle, one of them slipped off his jacket. Zara saw a shoulder holster as he shifted onto the front seat. She glared at Rafe who sat across from them.
Not in her world. The small college town where she lived and worked barely required her to remember to pull the key out of her car ignition.
“Try not to think about it,” he said. “Once you’re within the walls of the palace, you won’t have to worry about any of that. You’re safe, and I’ll be close by.”
How close? she wanted to ask but didn’t. Somehow those words took on a whole new meaning where Rafe was concerned. Instead she glanced at her watch and realized that a mere eight hours ago she and Cleo had been eating breakfast in their hotel. Who knew a world could change so quickly?
“Tell me about the royal family,” she said to distract herself. “What are they going to think about me?”
“I doubt they’ll be too surprised. Hassan is known as a man who likes women.”
“Are there other illegitimate children?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
He looked comfortable in his leather seat. That morning he’d been dressed like a desert nomad. Now he wore a suit, but he was trusted with her safety.
“Are you armed?” she asked.
“You have plenty of other things to worry about,” he told her.
She took that as a yes.
Cleo rubbed the soft seat. “There are princes, right? Four of them?”
“Any of them married?”
“Cleo!” Zara glared at her sister. “We’re not here to make trouble.”
“I’m not interested in trouble. I’ve given up on men, remember. I just thought this is my one opportunity to meet a real prince instead of just reading about them in magazines.” She returned her attention to Rafe. “Are they young and good-looking?”
“They’re in their late twenties and early thirties,” he said. “I’m not in a position to comment on their appearance.”
“I suppose if one is a wealthy prince, appearance isn’t all that important.”
Zara eyed her sister’s short blond hair and curvy figure. “They’re going to love you,” she said mournfully. “Try not to complicate the situation.”
“I swear.” Cleo made an X over her heart.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online