The Sheikh's Secret Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 3)(45) by Susan Mallery
Liana felt she and Malik were still at a draw. He’d forced her to stay in the palace, but she’d insisted on living in guest quarters rather than moving into his rooms. She wasn’t teaching, but she also wasn’t a part of his life. Unfortunately, the victories weren’t very helpful, and after two days of pacing the length of her suite, she was ready to go crazy.
There was nothing to do with her day. She was used to always being on the run. Between teaching and Bethany and her house, she’d had a list of things to do that stretched into next month. Every day had been busy from the time she woke up until she fell exhausted into bed. But now there was nothing. Bethany was in school all day. The suite didn’t require cleaning—there were servants who got insulted if she so much as made her own bed. Someone else did the cooking. She had no friends and no one to talk to. Worse, she sensed that her marriage to Malik—not to mention their unusual living arrangements—was the subject of much gossip and speculation.
A part of her felt guilty that people might think badly of Malik because of her actions. But then she reminded herself what he’d done to her, and she got mad all over again, and that made her swear she wasn’t going to give in.
Her life had become very complicated, she thought to herself as she stared out at the beautiful view. She still didn’t understand why Malik had married her. Nothing about her screamed “great catch.”
She didn’t think he was madly in love with her. She thought he might like her and she was reasonably confident that he’d enjoyed making love as much as she had…at least she hoped so. But that was all temporary when compared with the act of getting married. Which brought her back to her original question of what on earth he’d been doing.
“I need some answers,” she said aloud and turned her back on the view. That was the problem. She had too many questions and not enough information. Therefore she had to go to the source and find out what exactly was going on.
That decided, Liana stalked out of her suite and made her way into the working wing of the palace. She remembered some of the way from when Malik had taken her to see the king.
After a wrong turn and detailed directions from an assistant, she found herself standing in front of an imposing desk, staring down at an official-looking man with short blond hair and wire-rimmed glasses. He was pale and slight, but with an air of importance that made her tug at the hem of her short-sleeved cotton sweater.
The man continued typing on his computer for what seemed like hours. Finally he looked up at her and raised his eyebrows. “Yes?”
“I’d like to see Prince Malik,” she said, trying not to sound as intimidated and out of place as she felt.
The man smiled, but the gesture wasn’t the least bit friendly. “I’m sure you would, but that’s not possible. At the moment he’s meeting with the king. Later he has a meeting with Prince Jamal. There is a parliamentary session this afternoon and a formal state dinner tonight. I just don’t see where I can squeeze you in.” He clicked three keys on the computer. “The prince might have something at the end of the month. Would that be convenient?”
Instead of answering, Liana looked around the room. She’d given the open space a quick perusal when she’d first entered, but now she noted the original oil paintings, the coat of arms on the far wall, the richness of the carpet and the odious little man barring her from her husband.
The truth hit her like a bolt of lightning. She’d really married a prince. A future ruler of a real country. Not just a wealthy man or a successful man, but an honest-to-God prince. What on earth had she been thinking?
“Well, do you want the appointment or not?”
Liana blinked at the man and shook her head. “No. Thanks.”
She backed out of the room and quickly made her way down the marble hallways. There were fountains and statues and priceless rugs.
She hurried back toward the more familiar section of the palace. When she rounded a corner, she saw the golden doors that marked the entrance to the harem. Gold, she thought, feeling dazed. These were solid gold doors that had been carved or hammered or whatever it was people did to gold to make it decorative. She traced the intricate pattern, then pushed her way inside. She wasn’t sure what she wanted here, she only knew that at least in these rooms the men weren’t allowed.
Liana shut the heavy door behind her and leaned against it. In front of her, Dora and Heidi sat on two sofas, talking.
Dora looked up and saw her first. She smiled. “You look terrified. Whatever has happened, we can help. Please join us.” She motioned to the tea set on the low table between them. “We sent Rihana to your suite with an invitation, but you weren’t there.”
Liana crossed the marble floor and sat down next to Heidi. She gave them both a wobbly smile. “I was at the other end of the palace. I wanted to see Malik, but his secretary told me I needed an appointment.”
Heidi wrinkled her nose. “Don’t get me started on Malik’s secretary. I don’t like Zachary very much. He’s too self-important for me. But I suppose he’s efficient. At least that’s what Jamal says.”
Dora shrugged. “I agree with you about him not being my favorite.” She looked at Liana. “Next time, tell him who you are. I suspect he didn’t know. Otherwise he would have let you right in.”
Liana wasn’t sure if that was the case, but she nodded because it was expected. Rihana entered then, carrying a tray of more tea and sandwiches. As the afternoon snack was served, Liana tried not to think about the fact that she was having English tea with two princesses in the harem of the palace in El Bahar. She felt as if she’d followed Alice down to Wonderland, only she had to contend with more royalty than just the Red Queen.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online