The Sheikh's Virgin(Desert Rogues, Book 13)(6) by Susan Mallery
Now she had neither, she thought as she sealed the last of the boxes she was leaving behind, then pushed away the fear that made it difficult to breathe. It was only six months. Then she would return to the United States and start over. She had her savings. She would start a business of some kind, make a life. She was resourceful.
At exactly 9:58 a.m., she heard people in the hallway. She’d already sorted her luggage—the suitcases held what she would bring into the desert and the boxes contained everything else. There was an impressive pile of both. She’d accumulated a lot in the past two years.
There was a sharp knock, then Kateb swept into the room.
There was no other way to describe his appearance. He moved quickly, confidently, with a masculine grace that spoke of a man comfortable in any situation. She’d thought he might wear traditional robes for their travel but instead he had on jeans, boots and a long-sleeved shirt. If not for the air of imperial arrogance, he could almost pass for a regular kind of guy—a very handsome regular guy with that wicked scar and dark eyes that made her wonder if he could see right into her.
“You are ready?” he asked.
She motioned to the boxes and closed suitcases. “No. I just stacked these here for show.”
One eyebrow raised.
Okay. Perhaps snarky humor wasn’t his thing. “Sorry,” she muttered. “I’m nervous. Yes, I’m ready.”
“You did not try to escape in the night.”
She noticed the use of the word try. As in “you can try, but you will fail.”
“I gave my word,” she said, then held up her hand. “Don’t say anything bad, please. My word has value. I don’t expect you to believe that, but it’s true.”
“Because your father’s does not?”
“I know, I know. Classic psychological response to living with a chronic liar. Can we go now?”
The other eyebrow went up. Note to self: Prince Kateb didn’t like snarky humor or someone else making the rules. Neither was especially good news, she thought.
Kateb said something she couldn’t hear and several men crowded into her quarters. They reached for the luggage and the boxes.
“I’m taking those with me,” she said, indicating the bags. “The boxes will be stored.” She gave the floor and room number of where they should be taken.
Kateb nodded, as if his permission were required for them to do as she said. And it probably was.
“Is there electricity where we’re going?” she asked. “I brought my curling iron.” Not to mention her blow-dryer, her iPod and her cell-phone charger. She wasn’t sure about cell service out in the desert, but she would want to charge it before she returned to the city.
“Once we arrive, you will have everything that you need,” he told her.
Which, she noted, wasn’t exactly a yes. “I’m guessing we have different ideas about what I need. You are unlikely to see the importance of a curling iron.”
His gaze moved to her hair, which she’d pulled back in a ponytail for the trip. But she’d still curled the ends. She might be going to the girlfriend equivalent of prison, but she would look good on the way.
“We will leave now,” he told her.
She followed him out of the room and into the corridor. There was no one to see her off. Her friend, Maggie, was on a trip with her fiancé, Prince Oadir—Kateb’s brother. Victoria had left a note explaining she would be gone for a while. After two years in El Deharia, she didn’t have any friends back home who would notice she’d disappeared for a few months, and she certainly wasn’t going to be in touch with her father. It was, she thought sadly, a very lonely feeling.
They walked through the palace, heading for the back. When they stepped outside Victoria saw several large trucks in the rear courtyard.
“I don’t have that much luggage,” she said, wondering what they were for.
“We are taking supplies,” Kateb told her. “The desert people trade for what they need. You will travel with me.” He pointed to a Land Rover parked on the side.
“The SUV of kings,” she murmured. Didn’t the British royal family also use Land Rovers? But she didn’t ask. Speaking suddenly seemed difficult. Despite the bright sun and warm temperature, her body felt stiff and cold. The closer she got to the SUV, the harder it was to move. Fear clawed at her throat. Panic made her stomach clench.
She couldn’t do this. Couldn’t go out in the desert with a man she didn’t know. What was going to happen? How horrible was it going to be? Her father didn’t deserve her sacrifice, she thought bitterly. He certainly didn’t appreciate it.
But she hadn’t done it for her father, she reminded herself.
A guard held open the passenger door. She sucked in a steadying breath and slid onto the smooth leather. The car door closed next to her. The sound seemed unnaturally loud—as if she’d just been cut off from everything safe and good.
Her luggage had already been loaded into one of the trucks. She was the only woman in a sea of workers and guards and drivers. There was no one to appeal to, no one to protect her. She was truly on her own.
Kateb drove the familiar road into the desert. For the first day, they would see signs of villages and small towns but by this time tomorrow, all civilization would have been left behind.
Victoria was mercifully silent. After a restless night, he wasn’t in the mood for inane conversation. Under normal circumstances he wouldn’t have blamed her for his lack of sleep, but he’d spent the hours of darkness tossing and turning in his bed, trying not to think about her. An impossible task, given that he’d seen her nearly naked the day before.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online