The Sheikh's Secret Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 3)(25) by Susan Mallery
“Mommy, that’s silly.”
Liana glanced around the room. “I don’t think it will fit in here as a permanent resident, but if you can get it in the elevator, I guess you could have a horse over to visit. Although it has to be potty trained or you’d have to keep it on the balcony.”
Bethany giggled and cuddled close. Liana hugged her.
“What do you want for dinner?” she asked. “There’s exactly nothing in the refrigerator so I was thinking we’d go to the grocery store across the street, buy sensible food, then order pizza from the place downstairs. What do you think? I haven’t had pizza in so long, I think I forgot what it tastes like.”
Bethany smiled up at her. “That would be nice. Thank you.”
“You are so very welcome.”
They hugged again and as Liana released her, the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it,” Bethany announced as she sprang to her feet. She raced to the small foyer and pulled open the door. “Mommy, come look.”
Liana followed her daughter and saw a delivery man holding a huge spray of flowers. The arrangement was so wide, it barely fit through the door.
“I know who they’re from,” Bethany announced in a sing-song voice as her mother set them in the center of the kitchen table and opened the small card tucked in among roses and lilies and sprays of lavender.
Liana had a fair idea of the identity of the sender as well, and she noticed her hands shook as she opened the envelope. She read it over twice, noting the strong, no-nonsense handwriting of the Crown Prince of El Bahar.
“Prince Malik says that he hopes we’re settling in nicely and that he’s looking forward to resuming his rides with you tomorrow. He’ll be by at four to pick you up.”
“Yippee!” Bethany took the offered card and scanned it as she bounced around the room. “We’re going riding. I knew he wouldn’t forget. I knew it!”
Liana watched her and smiled, despite the faint sense of disappointment settling over her. She was glad that the prince meant to keep his word where her daughter was concerned. He was a very kind man. And the flowers were lovely. It was just…
She sighed. Okay, so she couldn’t make up her mind. On the one hand she’d been anxious to leave the palace and get into her own place. On the other hand, she was hurt because Malik wanted to see Bethany and not her.
Be logical, she told herself. Last night she’d practically accused him of sexual harassment. Of course he wasn’t going to see her again.
But what about the kisses, a little voice in her head inquired. Hadn’t they meant anything to him? Was he just going to walk away from all that fire?
Liana steered Bethany into her bedroom to finish up her homework so they could go food shopping. While she unpacked her own bags, she decided that she was being completely contrary. She couldn’t have it both ways. If she was interested in the prince in that way then she shouldn’t have made such a big fuss last night, or talked about leaving the palace. If she wanted her independence, then she had to put the memory of those magical kisses behind her.
Which meant she had to act like a grown-up.
“I really hate it when that happens,” Liana said with a grin. Life was much easier when one was allowed to behave like a child. But she didn’t have a choice this time. So she would be grateful for the prince’s kindness to Bethany and refuse to think about him ever again.
The following Friday, a week and a day after they’d moved into the condo, Liana found herself rushing around like a teenager getting ready for her first prom. All because Malik was due over.
Her plan of not thinking about the prince hadn’t worked well at all. Bethany never tired of speaking about him. Every sentence started with, “Prince Malik said….” Or, “when Prince Malik and I were riding we saw….”
Bethany’s school day ended about an hour before her own. There was on-site day care for the children of the instructors, and Bethany spent her time there until her mother was finished with her work. But on the days Bethany rode with Malik, she brought her riding clothes to school and changed there. Malik picked her up from the day care and returned her to the apartment. He didn’t come up to the condo often, and when he did, he spoke pleasantly but briefly, leaving Liana hungry for more conversation. She told herself it was just because he was an intelligent, articulate human being, but she knew she was lying. She missed seeing Malik and talking to him because of how he made her feel. She missed the palace, the gardens and the other members of the royal family. And if she lost any more sleep over the memory of those darned kisses, she was going to have to keep her eyelids open with toothpicks.
But today her classes had ended at noon, which meant Bethany was home and Malik was coming here before as well as after the riding lesson. In the past, when she’d invited him in, he’d made the excuse of being dirty from his ride. He couldn’t do that this time.
Liana paused in front of the mirror and checked her freshly applied makeup. “You’re pathetic,” she told herself, wishing she’d stayed on her diet long enough to lose the extra twenty pounds she’d carried since she’d become pregnant. Here she was fussing over her appearance as if Malik was even going to notice. She’d told the man to get lost and he’d listened. Did she think she could win him back with her charms now?
“A girl can hope,” she murmured to herself as she left her bedroom and went to check the living room. She’d thought about putting out a tray of snacks, but that seemed so obvious, and coffee was too datelike. Which meant she didn’t have any food or drinks to offer casually.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online