The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(60) by Susan Mallery
“You’ve got it bad.”
“I know. But I’d rather have it bad for him than have it so-what with anyone else.”
“That’s insane,” her sister told her, but Zara heard the love in her voice. “Call me in a couple of days and let me know what’s going on.”
“I will, I promise. Wish me luck.”
“Honey, you’re going to need a whole lot more than that. You’re going to need a miracle.”
Rafe knew he was playing with fire. He could read the truth in Zara’s eyes. So far she hadn’t declared herself, but it was just a matter of time until she did. And then what?
What was he supposed to say? That he didn’t believe her? That he didn’t do happily ever after? He’d trapped himself in a living hell. He couldn’t have her because he would never allow himself to love her, but he also couldn’t let her go. Knowing that she was with someone else would destroy him.
All the tactical training in the world hadn’t prepared him for this situation. He’d known the risk to her when he’d taken her into his bed, and he’d done it, anyway. What he hadn’t counted on was the risk to himself.
Zara kissed Rafe’s mouth. Her body still hummed from the pleasure he’d brought her. She ran her foot up and down his bare leg, smiling at the feel of him.
“You’re getting good at this,” she teased.
He shifted her onto her back and bent over her. “You think? I could say the same about you, but you were good from the start.”
She giggled. “I know. You left out patient. How patient I was with your fumbling.”
“Very patient,” he murmured before leaning down and licking her right nipple. “Incredibly patient. I should reward you.”
Despite the fact that they’d finished making love less than five minutes before, Zara felt her body stir. Just being close to Rafe was enough to get her all hot and bothered.
It was a perfect afternoon, she thought lazily. The overhead fan stirred the warm air. The big bed was comfortable, the sheets cool and the man beside her, touching her, was all she’d ever longed for.
I love you.
She thought the words, breathed them in her sigh, but did not dare speak them. Because she was afraid.
But fear had no place in their bed, so she concentrated on what he was doing to her body and thoughts of equally delicious ways she could pleasure him. Maybe, if she shimmied out of his embrace, she could slip down and take him in her mouth. He always melted when she did that…well, except for the part of him that stayed extremely rigid and got even harder. Or she could—
An odd sound cut through the quiet afternoon. Rafe raised his head, then swore. Zara strained to make sense of the growing noise.
“Helicopter,” Rafe told her as he slid out of bed and reached for his clothes. “Probably Hassan.”
It took a couple of seconds for her to assimilate his words. Hassan? She sat up straight. “My father?”
“I guess he got tired of waiting.”
The sound was now loud enough for her to recognize it for a helicopter. The change in pitch told her that it was about to land on the pad only a few dozen feet from the house. Then her father would climb out and walk this way and—
“I’m naked!” she shrieked, jumping out of bed.
She lunged for her clothes on the floor, rapidly pulling on her panties. After searching frantically for her bra she remembered she’d stopped wearing one a few days before. For one thing, she didn’t need it. For another, Rafe often came up behind her, slipped his hands under her shirt and cupped her br**sts. She preferred that contact when her skin was bare.
“Don’t think about it,” she told herself as she pulled a cotton sundress over her head, then raced to the bathroom to study her appearance.
She looked like a woman who had been well loved. There was no way to hide the color in her face or the contentment in her eyes. Hassan was going to guess the truth.
She hurried back into the bedroom. Rafe had already left. She followed him into the main room and grabbed his arm. “You were kidding about what you said when you first arrived, weren’t you? The part about getting your head cut off?”
“He’s not going to be happy.”
Zara didn’t find his words especially reassuring, but before she could question him further, King Hassan stalked into the room, followed by two very tall, very large guards. Behind them were the king’s secretary, Sabrina and her husband, Prince Kardal. Zara’s stomach dove for the floor.
Hassan stared at them both. Zara wanted to move closer to Rafe and slip her hand into his but she suspected that would not help the situation. There was also the fact that she didn’t know how he would react to the declaration, however small. To complicate things, she’d never faced a disapproving father before and wasn’t sure how to act.
“My daughter,” Hassan said, walking over and kissing her cheek. “The palace has been a dark place without your beauty to brighten my day.”
“Hi.” She bit her lower lip. “Thank you for understanding that I’ve needed this time to adjust to all the changes.” She suddenly felt really young and terribly guilty, which was strange. After all, she was twenty-eight years old.
Hassan studied her for a few more seconds, then turned his attention to Rafe.
“You will be banished,” he said, speaking nearly conversationally, so that Zara didn’t catch what he said at first. “At first I thought to have you killed, but Kardal talked me out of it.” He glared at his son-in-law. “Apparently, I’m known for having irresistible daughters.”
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