The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(52) by Susan Mallery
“So you insult me now?”
“I don’t mean to, but it is a happy by-product of our conversation. I also know I can’t make you do anything about your father. You’re a grown-up and much bigger than me, so force is out of the question. I hope you’ll deal with it, but if you won’t, I’m going to try to let it go.”
“Very wise. So what happened to upset you?” he asked. “Was it your conversation with Eric?”
She didn’t act surprised that he knew about that. “I figured you saw us. What is it about that guy, always showing up everywhere? It’s creepy.”
Rafiq was less interested in that than the reason she was unhappy. “What did he say?”
“Nothing important. I just wish…” She looked at him. “Do you love me?”
He’d known they would get to that question eventually. He reached for her hand.
“I have chosen you to be my wife, Kiley. I wish to marry you and have children with you. I ask you to join me as we rule over my country. You will be much beloved by my people.”
She continued to study his face. “I get all that, but you didn’t answer the question. Do you love me?”
“Is that so important to know?”
“It is to me.” Tears filled her eyes. “Can’t you say the words?” she asked in a whisper.
Her pain burned him, but a lie would burn more. “There is more to a marriage than love. There is respect, passion, caring. I will be true to you. I will treat you with respect and be there for our children. Isn’t that enough?”
A single tear rolled down her cheek. Fari whined, as if sensing the tension between them.
“Rafiq, please. You must love me a little.”
He rebelled against her attempts to weaken him. “How many times have we been together?” he asked, his voice more harsh than he would have liked. “How many times have I claimed you in the past few weeks?”
“I don’t know. What does that have to do with anything? You can’t seriously be equating sex with love. They’re not the same at all.”
“Are you on any birth control?”
There was little light on the deck and yet he saw the color drain from her face.
Her eyes widened as she reached down to touch her stomach.
“You think I’m pregnant.”
“I believe it is very likely.”
She shrank from him. “Is that all this is about? A child? Are you s-saying you don’t care about me at all?”
“I’m saying I want to marry you, Kiley. I want to be the father of your children. Isn’t that enough?”
She stood, taking the puppy with her and walked toward the bedroom. At the French door, she looked back at him.
“It’s not enough. It will never be enough. How could you think I would settle for that?”
Kiley was up before dawn the next morning. She’d barely been able to sleep at all. Her mind whirled with too many questions and possibilities, but nothing could be answered until she knew the truth.
So shortly after sunrise, she rose and dressed and made her way to the garage.
Twenty minutes later she’d driven to the twenty-four-hour drugstore and bought a home pregnancy test. As she drove back to Rafiq’s house, she wondered why she hadn’t thought it could happen to her.
It’s not as if she were an idiot. She knew how babies were made, and she and Rafiq had been doing that a lot lately. Condoms helped, but they also failed.
But getting pregnant had never been a reality for her. She’d gone on The Pill six months ago so she wouldn’t have to worry after she and Eric got married, but she’d had a bad reaction and had been forced to go off it. She’d discussed other options with her doctor yet hadn’t acted on any of them. In truth, she’d wanted to get pregnant quickly and start her family.
But not like this, she thought as she pulled into the garage and sat in the car.
Not when she’d just found out that Rafiq didn’t love her, that he’d only proposed to her because he thought she was pregnant.
What if she was? She knew enough about the laws of Lucia-Serrat to know that the child of a member of the royal family could not be taken out of the country without permission from both the biological parent and the Crown Prince. As neither Rafiq nor Prince Nasri were likely to agree to that, she was well and truly stuck. Unlike Rafiq’s mother, she would never turn her back on her child.
Tears burned in her eyes. She blinked them away. She’d done enough crying in the night, weeping silently as Rafiq had slept beside her. Pain had ripped through her and a sense of betrayal so deep, she knew she would bear the scars forever.
She’d loved him with every fiber of her being, and he hadn’t loved her back. The truth couldn’t be ignored or wished away.
Nearly as bad, she’d been so sure that he was the one. How could she have been wrong twice in a row? Why did she seem destined to fall for men who would lie to her?
She didn’t have an answer and she couldn’t stay in the car forever. After picking up the small bag from the drugstore, she made her way into the house and quietly walked down the hall to the bedroom.
For the first time since moving in with him, she wished she had her own room.
She wanted space and privacy. She supposed she could move back to her own apartment. If she wasn’t pregnant, she would. She would take some time and figure out what to do. Unlike her feelings for Eric, which had died over time, she loved Rafiq with an intensity that couldn’t be described. She didn’t think she could simply walk away from him forever.
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