The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(21) by Susan Mallery
She opened her mouth to protest. It was too extraordinary, too lovely, too expensive. Then she remembered she was not only marrying royalty, but into one of the richest families in the world. To Khalil this was probably as significant a purchase as her buying a nice pair of panty hose.
The judge started talking again, but she wasn’t listening. Instead she found herself captivated by the stunning ring that glittered on her hand. The band was wide, nearly reaching to her knuckle, and the entire ring was a circle of diamonds. Square-cut stones nestled together, each diamond as long as the band was wide. She didn’t know how many diamonds it took to make up the ring, but each had to be at least two carats. It wasn’t a piece of jewelry she would have picked for herself, but it was lovely and felt as if it had been made for her hand.
“You may kiss the bride.”
She looked up in time to watch Khalil bend down and press his lips to hers. The kiss was sweet and far too short. Then he squeezed her hand.
“Do you feel any different?” he asked.
“That, of course, but I was wondering how it felt to be a princess.”
Princess Dora Khan of El Bahar, she thought to herself and had to fight back a burst of hysterical laughter. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” she told him, wondering if it would ever sink in.
“Congratulations, Your Highness,” one of the bodyguards said, as he shook her hand.
Dora smiled automatically, but otherwise her body had gone numb. A princess? Yeah, right, that was her. Who was she trying to kid? Reality was she was a secretary from Los Angeles who had stumbled into a crazy situation. She had to get out before she said or did something stupid. Like throw up…or worse…believe all this was really happening.
Except she didn’t get to make her escape. Before she’d realized what was going on, the judge was gone and the bodyguards had retreated to their rooms. She was alone with her new husband, watching him pour them each a glass of champagne.
Who was this stranger? she thought warily as she moved to the sofa and settled in the corner. What had she done? Her nervousness increased, as did her shaking, and when he handed her the glass of champagne, it was all she could do to keep from spilling the bubbling liquid all over her lace dress. In an effort to keep that from happening, she swallowed a mouthful of champagne, decided the taste was exceptionally nice, then finished her glass. Khalil refilled it without saying a word.
He put the ice bucket on the table in front of her and settled next to her on the sofa. “Are you all right?” he asked.
He sounded kind and sincere, she thought frantically. So normal, as if he did this kind of thing all the time. Except he couldn’t, right? “Isn’t this making you crazy?” she blurted.
He took a sip of his drink. “What? The wedding? I thought things went smoothly.”
“Oh, yeah, sure. Clockwork in motion, or whatever.” She paused. The saying was “poetry in motion,” so where did the clocks come from? She rubbed her temple. Her stomach tingled and she thought it might have something to do with the champagne. Just to be sure, she drank a little more. She hadn’t eaten that day, and she was also thirsty. The fizziness tickled her throat. Was it her imagination or did her head suddenly feel heavy?
“I think I should probably eat something,” she mumbled.
“Of course,” Khalil told her. “Dinner is waiting whenever you’re ready.”
“Great.” Except the thought of standing up was suddenly too complex. “Maybe in a minute.”
She looked at him, at his handsome face. The lines of his profile were sharp, like a statue of granite. He was dark and dangerous, like the desert at night. Not that she had any personal experience with the desert at night or during the day.
“I know this is unfamiliar,” he said, lightly touching the back of her hand. “We need to spend a little time getting to know each other. Why don’t we talk about our past? After that, we’ll eat dinner, and then we’ll make love until dawn.”
Making love, she thought hazily. Now that would be very nice. Maybe they could skip the other parts and get right to doing it. She hiccuped softly, then took another drink. She wanted to do it again and again until she learned everything about it. She wanted to touch Khalil and have him touch her back. She wanted to see him naked, in fact she thought this little chat about their past might be more enjoyable if he took his clothes off right now. She would very much like to see the “it” that made doing it so very enjoyable.
“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
His question cut through her fantasies and left her confused. Then she remembered that they were getting to know each other. A sensible plan. Khalil was right—once they knew more details about each other’s lives this wouldn’t be such a strange situation.
She finished her glass of champagne and started to set it on the coffee table, but Khalil filled it instead. She thought about refusing, after all, her head was already spinning, but wouldn’t that be rude? It was his wedding, too, and…What had been his question?
“No, I’m an only child.” She leaned back against the sofa. “My mom never said anything, but I think I was a mistake. She and my dad got married about two months before I was born. After that, he was never around much. They divorced when I was seven.”
“I see. I’m the youngest,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be an only child.”
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