The Sheikh's Virgin(Desert Rogues, Book 13)(48) by Susan Mallery
Marry her? Impossible. To marry her would be to…
And then he understood the anger burning inside of him. He knew why her words had offended him and made it impossible to speak of anything else.
She wanted to stay here. She’d finally found a place she could call home. But instead of coming to him and saying that, instead of discussing the possibility of changing their deal, she’d tried to trick him with words of love. She’d thought that he would believe her.
She didn’t love him—she only wanted the security he could provide. This wasn’t about him at all.
“I will not marry her,” he said clearly.
Zayd sat back down. “I see.” There was disappointment in his voice. “As you wish.”
“If she wants to stay in the village, we can find her another man to marry,” one of the elders said.
“No.” Kateb would not allow that. “No one else may have her.”
He understood the ridiculousness of his position. He didn’t want her and he didn’t want anyone else to have her. To explain would be to give too much away. But she was not to be trusted—he knew that much. Love. How dare she claim that emotion? How dare she try to trick him with her perfect face and body, with her humor and intelligence. It was just like a woman.
But he was too smart for her and he would find a way to punish her. Then he would walk away and leave her with nothing.
Victoria sat in the harem garden and wished there was a way to get a really big lock on the door. One that would keep her trapped inside forever. She could live out her life here, just her and the parrots and maybe a dog. A dog would love her, no matter what. A dog wouldn’t walk out on her after she told it she loved it. A dog would care.
Unlike Kateb, who had casually ripped out her heart, then set it on fire in front of her. She’d never been in love before, she hadn’t known how much it could hurt. She’d told the truth, offered him all that she had and he’d walked out on her. He’d brutally rejected her and the hell of it was, she couldn’t just walk away. Not yet.
That morning, she’d felt the first dull ache, low in her belly. Right on time, she thought sadly, knowing that in a couple of days she would get her period and have the proof Kateb required to let her go.
Once she told Yusra, how long would it take until she was gone? An hour? Two? Then she would face the drive back to the city and the endless plane ride home. Once she arrived in the States, where would she go? She didn’t have any family except for her father and she didn’t want anything to do with him. There was no reason to return to Texas. She could go to Los Angeles or Denver or Seattle. Maybe she could get lost in New York.
Possibilities that should have excited her, but all she could think about was how much she would miss Kateb. She ached for him, would do anything for him and didn’t have a clue as to how to get him to listen.
She raised her face to the sun, then stiffened when she heard footsteps in the harem. They were fast and determined. Her heart began to beat quicker as anticipation raced through her. She had it bad, she thought sadly. She would rather see Kateb, knowing he was angry and would hurt her, than be without him. Apparently she was going to have to spend some quality time with self-help books when she got home.
He swept into the garden, then stalked toward her.
“We must speak,” he announced.
“As you wish.”
His dark eyes seemed like weapons as he glared at her. She ignored that and his obvious fury, instead studying him so that she would never forget the breadth of his shoulders or the scar on his cheek.
She thought about offering him a seat, but he seemed to have too much energy to be still. She waited as he paced on the stone path in front of her. He would have to be the one to speak first—she’d said everything she could think of already.
“You should have talked to me,” he told her, his gaze narrowed. “You should have said you were interested in staying here. If you’d been honest with me, we could have come to terms.” He stopped and looked at her as if she’d called down a tornado to wipe out the village. “Instead, you tried to deceive me.”
For a few seconds, she thought he might be speaking some alien language with clucking sounds and squeaks. Then the words rearranged themselves in her head and she was able to make sense of what he’d told her.
The meaning sank in slowly, forcing her to her feet. The ache disappeared behind a big wall of mad.
“Are you saying that if I’d come to you and said ‘hey, big guy, I’m thinking this is working for me. Let’s get married,’ that you would have been fine with it? That you would accept a business deal from me but because I told you that I was in love with you, all bets were off?”
“Yes,” he said tightly. “Of course.”
“Of course?” she shrieked. “You’re more comfortable with someone who only wants to use you? But someone who wants to give you her heart is a problem? Let me tell you, you’re going to be in therapy for the rest of your life. That’s beyond crazy. It’s twisted on a level I can’t even joke about.”
She walked to the end of the path, then spun back. “Did it ever occur to you that I was telling the truth? That I am in love with you?”
He didn’t say anything, but then he didn’t have to. The answer to her question was clearly visible on his face. It was in the way he wouldn’t look at her anymore and the tension in his shoulders.
“It didn’t,” she said quietly, as the fight went out of her. “You never thought it was possible.”
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