The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(28) by Susan Mallery
Dora smiled at the king. “Nothing about love?”
The king looked as startled as Khalil felt. He hadn’t expected her to speak. This wasn’t some New York City restaurant with his father acting as the lunchtime manager.
“I fear your new husband will not be with you long enough for love to endure.”
“If you’re so angry that you’re going to kill him, then I don’t suppose I can hold out much hope for those sons you promised me.”
Khalil was shocked when his father’s stern mouth curved up at the corners. “Perhaps I’ll just have him flogged.”
She leaned toward the king and lowered her voice to a confidential whisper. “I know exactly how you feel.”
Givon, king of El Bahar, laughed out loud, then drew Dora into a warm embrace. “I have the first hint as to why my son turned his back on tradition and married you. All right, I’ll put my anger aside for now. Come, Princess Dora. Come and see your new home.”
The rest of the introductions passed in a blur. Before Dora could put names to faces, she found herself being led down a long, wide hallway by a dark-haired servant, then shown into a stunning three-room suite. The young woman was talking, but Dora couldn’t hear anything. She could only stare in disbelief.
The main parlor was at least thirty by forty feet with twenty-foot ceilings. Cool marble covered the floor, but the walls were creamy white—nearly the same color as the palace itself. A large mural of a mother camel and her baby at an oasis decorated the wall to her left, while tapestries hung on the right.
Western-style furniture made an attempt to fill the vast space, but there was enough open area to hold an aerobics class. Still, the most spectacular feature of the room was the wall of windows leading out to a balcony overlooking the Arabian sea.
Dora walked to the French doors and let herself out. Instantly soft sea air surrounded her. The faintly sweet scent teased her, making her relax. There were small tables and chairs along the balcony and she realized it was common to all the rooms on this floor. The individual balconies with their wrought-iron railings were one floor above.
As she had been when she’d first stepped off the airplane, Dora was swamped with a sense of entering a very foreign world. While she seemed to have made a good impression on the king, it hadn’t lasted very long. He’d been anxious to get rid of her—probably so he could speak with his wayward son. If the family wasn’t happy with her marriage to Khalil that must mean that they’d had other plans for him. Which made sense. He was a prince, after all. It wasn’t as if they were going to let him pick his future wife.
“Oh, Khalil, what have you done?” she asked softly and covered her face with her hands. Why hadn’t she thought this through? He wasn’t a regular man who got to choose his future bride. He was royalty. Marriages like his required state approval, didn’t they? Or was that just in England? She glanced down at the heavy diamond ring she wore. Perhaps they weren’t even married.
Dora straightened, then turned to see the servant standing just inside the living room. “Yes?”
The woman was in her early twenties, very pretty, with large dark eyes and beautiful hair pulled back into a bun. She wore a short-sleeved gray dress with sensible flat shoes.
“Your suitcases have arrived. I would like your permission to begin unpacking your things.”
Dora felt as if she were suddenly in a movie where she was to play the innocent American tourist thrust into a difficult situation. But she had a bad feeling her problems weren’t going to be neatly solved in less than two hours.
“What’s your name?”
“Rihana, Your Highness.” The young woman gave a slight curtsy. “It is my honor to serve you.”
Dora wished she could say that it was her honor to be served, but she knew it would take her a long time to get used to that. “Are you allowed to call me anything but ‘Your Highness’?”
Rihana smiled. “Of course. Princess Dora is an acceptable title.”
“Then let’s use that, instead. If I hear my name, I have a better chance of realizing you want a response.” Dora glanced to her left and saw oversize double doors. “Is the bedroom in there?”
“Then why don’t I unpack my clothes myself? That way I’ll know where they are.”
Rihana frowned. “Princess Dora, my job is to take care of you.”
“And before I arrived, what was your job then?”
“I am part of the household staff.”
“I see.” Dora smiled. “But as I’ve just arrived, I’m going to guess that your assignment to help me is recent. Therefore you probably still have some household tasks to complete.”
Rihana looked confused. “Of course, but they will not interfere with my service of you, Princess. I am a hard worker.”
“I have no doubt.” She drew in a deep breath. “I’m not used to the ways of this country, or of the palace and it’s going to take me a little while to fit in. For now, let me unpack myself. I promise tomorrow you may serve as you see fit.”
Rihana hesitated. Dora smiled, then pointed to the door. “It’s all right, Rihana.”
The young woman made her way toward the exit. “If you change your mind, simply pick up the telephone and ask for me.”
“I will. Thank you.”
When she was alone, Dora stepped into the bedroom. This room was slightly smaller than the living room, but no less impressive. A four-poster bed stood on a raised platform in the center of the room. The opposite wall was glass, with French doors leading out to the common balcony. Blue, green and gold tiles formed a mosaic on the walls, the colors circling each other in exotic disarray.
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