The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(45) by Susan Mallery
She couldn’t tell what he was thinking. She thought he might be on the verge of smiling, but wasn’t sure. He didn’t seem angry or upset, so that was good.
“Some rules are made to be broken,” he told her, and stunned her by pulling a ring out of his shirt pocket.
Not just any ring, either. This was a huge, sparkling diamond solitaire that looked very much like an engagement ring. The hits kept on coming, then he slid off the sofa onto one knee and smiled at her.
“Kiley, will you marry me?”
She blinked. “Excuse me?”
He laughed. “What is so confusing about the question? I have asked you to be my wife.”
Okay, it sounded like English. She was fairly sure she understood all the words, but the sentence itself didn’t make any sense.
Yet there he was, on his knees, holding out an engagement ring. What was that old saying? If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck then it’s probably a duck.
“You’re proposing,” she said, just to be completely sure.
“Apparently not very well.”
“Yes. The only other female in this room is the dog and I assure you I have no interest in her except as a pet.”
“You want to marry me.”
There was a sliver of doubt, a voice that whispered stuff like this didn’t happen to regular people and yet here it was. In the flesh, so to speak.
Happiness bubbled up inside of her until she felt light enough to float away.
“You’re not kidding?” she asked, just to be sure.
He leaned forward and kissed her. “On my honor, I very much wish you to marry me.”
“Okay, then,” she said before she shrieked her excitement, wrapped both arms around him and said, “Yes.”
Rafiq had wondered if he would have second thoughts, but none appeared. Their conversation the next day only reinforced his decision.
“Do you have to tell your parents?” she asked from the large leather chair in his study at the house. “I don’t think they’ll approve.”
She looked so charmingly worried that he found it difficult not to cross to her and kiss away the small frown between her eyebrows.
“You are well educated, articulate, kind and very much in love with their son.
Why would they not approve?”
She sighed. “This isn’t a time for logic. Besides, that argument isn’t going to work with your mother, who, for reasons I can’t explain, already hates me.”
“She has her own agenda for my future,” he said, remembering his conversation with Carnie. “It has nothing to do with who you are.”
“A sentiment that isn’t as comforting as one might think. As for your father, I’m your basic commoner. Won’t he have been hoping for minor European royalty at the very least?”
He smiled. “What do you know of my stepmother?”
“She’s very pretty and has two daughters.”
“And before she married my father, she was a poor orphan who dreamed of becoming a nurse.”
“Really?” Kiley straightened in her chair. “That makes me feel better. You swear she’s nice?”
“You will like her very much.”
“I just wish you didn’t have to tell them.”
“They would notice eventually. Besides, what of your parents? They may not approve.”
Kiley laughed. “Oh, yeah. Every parent gets totally bummed out to hear his or her daughter is marrying a prince. What a drag.”
“They may not appreciate me taking you away. Within a couple of years we will have to move to Lucia-Serrat.”
She nodded. “I know, and I’m okay with that.” She leaned down and petted Fari who had curled up on the chair’s ottoman. “You hear that, sweet face? We’re going to Lucia-Serrat where you get to run around in a palace and be a royal dog. Like a puppy princess.” Kiley glanced at Rafiq. “Speaking of the whole princess thing, any way I can pass on that?”
“What do you mean?”
“Just that I’m really happy to marry you and all, but the whole being-in-the-public-eye, I’m-the-princess thing really doesn’t work for me. I could stay in the background. No one would have to know.”
If he hadn’t been sure before, her question would have reassured him. He couldn’t imagine Carmen or any of the other women he’d been involved with ever wishing not to be named a princess. For them, that was the point.
“It is part of the deal,” he said. “Does that change your mind?”
She wrinkled her nose. “It’s not my favorite part, but I’ll survive.”
He believed her and in that moment, he found hope. She was the right woman for him, a woman who led with her heart and gave unconditionally. She would be a good mother to their children.
He wanted to be sure she would love them as she had been loved. He knew she would never leave them. There was no temptation he could offer that would cause her to leave them behind. As it was, she barely let Fari out of her sight. How much more would she care when she had a baby?
He glanced at her still-flat stomach. Was she pregnant? Did his child grow there, even now? Time would tell. He doubted the thought had occurred to her and he preferred it that way. Better for them to get much closer to the wedding before she found out she was pregnant. He didn’t want her questioning the timing of his proposal.
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