The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(58) by Susan Mallery
“It took her several months to write me back, and when she did, she told me to ask my father for a pony. She said he was plenty rich and would give it to me.”
Kiley set Fari on the floor, then rushed toward Rafiq and wrapped her arms around him. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “I wish I could go back in time and beat up both your parents. Or at the very least, find you and take care of you myself.”
He kissed the top of her head, then touched her chin so that she looked at him.
“I do not.”
“Because I would rather have you as my wife today than as my babysitter twenty-five years ago.”
“But the little boy needed so much love.”
“So does the man.”
She blinked. “Excuse me?”
“This man needs your love with a desperation he cannot describe.” He stroked her cheeks with his thumbs, then kissed her mouth. “I need you, Kiley. I need you to love me, to keep loving me. I need you to show me what is possible. What we can have together. What we can be.”
Her chest tightened until it was difficult to breathe. Was this the first crack in the shell? A way to get through to him? Oh, please, let it be so.
His dark eyes stared into hers. “All my life I’ve held myself back from the people closest to me. No one was allowed to be in a position to hurt me again.”
“I would never do that,” she breathed.
“I love you.”
He gazed at her for a long time, then kissed her again. “I know,” he said at last.
Hope burst forth and made her want to laugh with happiness. “You believe me? You believe that love is possible?”
Was it wrong to want it all? “Could you love me?”
In a movement that stunned her, in a moment she would treasure for the rest of her life, Kiley watched as Prince Rafiq of Lucia-Serrat fell to his knees. He grasped her around her thighs and buried his face in her stomach. She felt the tension in his body, the battle that raged.
How she ached for him, for them. If only he could—
“I love you,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion. “Dear God, I love you, Kiley.”
She dropped next to him and pulled him close. He held on to her as if he would never let her go.
“I love you, too,” she whispered into his ear. “I think longer than I should have. Perhaps since I first met you, which, given my former engagement, is fairly tacky.”
He raised his head and smiled at her. The powerful emotions in his eyes, the love there, was so bright it nearly blinded her.
“Imagine if you hadn’t caught Eric cheating,” he said.
“No. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to imagine any future without you.”
“Nor do I.” He touched his chest. “I feel a release. The walls are crumbling.”
Tears filled her eyes, but for the first time in days, they were happy ones. She clung to him and rested her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her.
“Just hold me,” she whispered. “I never want to let go.”
“Eventually you will have to. Fari will need to be walked and fed. We will get hungry ourselves.”
She straightened and shoved him back. “We’re having a moment here. It’s not every day the future Crown Prince of Lucia-Serrat tells me he loves me.”
He leaned in and brushed his lips against hers. “Yes, it is,” he murmured. “So many times a day, you will grow tired of hearing it.”
She was so happy, she could have floated. “That’s not going to happen.” She grinned. “So I guess the wedding’s back on.”
“Don’t marry me,” he told her. “Wait until I have proved myself.”
“What?” she repeated. “Are you crazy?”
“A little. I want you to be sure. I want you to know that I mean what I say.
That this isn’t a trick to get you to the altar.”
She stood up and put her hands on her hips. “There’s going to be a wedding when we planned.”
“No, Kiley. My way is better.”
She raised her eyes to the heavens. “I’m going to have to kill him. I see that now and I apologize in advance. I’ll probably go to prison but it will be worth it.”
He stood and picked her up in his arms. “Before you get out the swords or however it is you plan to do me in, I want to make love with you several thousand times.”
She settled an arm around his neck and relaxed against him. “Okay, but just so we’re clear, there’s going to be a wedding.”
“We shall see.”
There was a wedding and it was held on the originally scheduled date in the beautiful church on the island of Lucia-Serrat. The fall weather was perfect, warm and sunny during the day and cool and clear at night.
The royal families from both El Bahar and Bahania attended, and there were whispers that the bride of the king of El Bahar, who was also the mother of the Prince of Thieves, was with child. At her age, that was both a miracle and a scandal. King Givon and Queen Cala weren’t talking, but their glow of happiness gave them away.
Kiley and Rafiq attended many parties in their honor. She found herself meeting princes and princesses she had only read about in magazines. But all were gracious and accepting. The crown prince of El Bahar bemoaned the beauty of his now-teenage stepdaughter and he was furious to find her flirting with the youngest brother of Princess Billie of Bahania.
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