The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(53) by Susan Mallery
He had to care, she told herself as she paused outside the bedroom door. He couldn’t have made her so happy if he didn’t. There had to be something between them, something he was unwilling to acknowledge. After his past was he unable to admit to any softer feelings?
She didn’t have any answers, and right now what she most needed to know was whether or not she was carrying his child.
She walked into the bedroom and was surprised to find the bed empty. The bathroom door opened, and Rafiq stepped out. He’d already showered and dressed.
“You were up early,” he said, his dark eyes giving nothing away.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
He glanced at the bag she held. “A pregnancy test?” he asked.
She nodded. “Then we’ll both know.”
She crossed to the bathroom, then stopped and looked at him.
“Is that why you proposed?” she asked. “Because you thought I might be pregnant? What if I’m not? Do you care about me even a little? Is any of this about me?”
“What do you want to know?” he asked. “You came to me, Kiley. You asked to be my mistress. I did not seek you out.”
“I know.” She squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them. “This was all my doing.
You didn’t force me. I thought I was tough. I wanted Eric punished and you were the best way I knew to do that. After a while I figured out I wasn’t as interested in revenge as being with you.”
She thought about the arguments she’d had with Eric. How he’d pressed her to admit there was something between her and her boss.
“He used to claim I had a thing for you and I always told him I didn’t. Looking back at how quickly I fell for you, maybe he was right. Maybe he saw something I couldn’t see. I mean, what was I thinking? Asking to be your mistress? It’s crazy. You’re right, you didn’t force me to do anything. Not even to fall in love with you.”
She paused, hoping he would say something to comfort her, but he didn’t. There was only the quiet sound of her breathing.
She wanted to ask if he could ever come to love her, if she mattered at all, but she was afraid of the answer.
Ten minutes later she stared at the plastic stick and knew that her life had changed forever. There would be no going back to her old world, no moving out of Rafiq’s house. She was bound to him as much as if they were chained together.
She washed her hands and dried them, then stepped out of the bathroom and faced him. “I’m pregnant,” she whispered.
Rafiq heard the words but didn’t believe them at first. He’d known it was possible, but to have it confirmed surprised him. He would have thought fate would give Kiley a chance to escape.
He didn’t want her to go, he acknowledged, if only to himself. But without the baby, he had no other means to keep her.
She would be a good mother. She would care for their child, perhaps even love it. He would be there, as well, to make sure his son or daughter knew that there was a safe place to grow up. He knew all the things he had missed in his own childhood. Those mistakes would now be undone.
“I am pleased,” he said.
“Really? I wouldn’t think you were interested in a child. Will you love it? Will your baby matter?”
“Our children will be my world.”
She leaned against the door frame and wiped the single tear that spilled out of one eye. “That’s not the same. You have to be willing to give up your heart. You have to love children with all that you have, no matter what.”
“As you will do,” he said, stepping toward her and touching her chin. “Be happy.
You said you always wanted to be a wife and mother. I am offering you that. You will be my princess and you will want for nothing. Our children will have untold opportunities to see the world, to grow strong. I will be there for you, all the days of my life. I will honor you. I will never betray you or be unfaithful or cruel. Is that not enough?”
She looked at him, her blue eyes damp with unshed tears. “There is a particular cruelty in not loving your wife,” she said. “The kind that eats away at the soul.”
She could be stubborn, but he’d always known that. “We will travel. See things, do things.”
“You can’t buy me, Rafiq. I’m not like your other women, remember? I’m not interested in pretty things.”
“But you carry my child.”
“That I do. Already I feel the chains tightening around my wrist.”
“You’re being overly dramatic. We will be married and you will be happy.”
She stared at him. “No.”
How like a woman. “Your refusal to accept happiness is your own decision.”
“You misunderstand me. I’m not saying I won’t be happy, I’m saying I won’t marry you.”
Disbelief held him in place. Otherwise he would have gone to her. To do what, he couldn’t say. “You have no choice.”
“Actually, I do. I might not know much about Lucia-Serrat, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a law that allows you to marry a woman against her will. Which means you can’t make it happen without my agreement and I won’t agree.” She swallowed and wiped away tears. “I won’t marry someone who doesn’t love me.”
This wasn’t right, he thought. How dare she defy him? “You will not be able to take my child from me.”
“I know that. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I do know that I’m not going to marry you. And aside from convincing me you’re in love with me, there’s nothing you can do to change my mind.”
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