The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(42) by Susan Mallery
She pushed against him one last time, then sobbed out her defeat. Hating him, hating herself more, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close.
Dora shut her eyes, not wanting to see the look of triumph on his face, but instead of gloating, Khalil broke the kiss long enough to gently whisper, “You are my wife, little desert cat. I will always keep you safe.”
Perhaps he thought he could, for he would never see that the greatest threat to her safety was no one else but him.
“Don’t resist,” Khalil said, still whispering against her mouth. “Want me back. Need me. Make love with me.”
Dora shivered in his embrace, trying to disconnect herself from what was happening, even as her body responded to his nearness. She kept her arms around his neck and her eyes firmly closed as he unfastened all the tiny ties down the front of her robe. When he drew her arms down so he could push the robe off her shoulders, she steadfastly refused to look at him.
The heavy silk slid down to pool around her feet. Underneath, she wore a lace dress, and under that was a silk chemise. The traditional garb did not allow for panties or a bra, and she felt oddly vulnerable as she stood before him.
“Dora,” he said, stroking her cheek. “Give in with grace. Why would you want to win this battle? How would that be a victory?”
“I would have my dignity,” she said into the darkness.
“And a cold bed. Is that what you want?”
What she wanted was a real marriage with a man who cared about her. At this point she would accept respect and liking, with the hope that love would grow. What she had instead was lies.
“I don’t want you.”
One fingertip brushed against her hard nipple. “Your body says otherwise.”
She shivered involuntarily, and her eyes snapped open. “I can’t help my response to you, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the same as when the doctor taps on your knee, and your leg jerks. In this case the nerves are not connected to my brain. My weak outer self might react to the sexual act, but my heart and soul are completely detached.”
Dark eyes regarded her thoughtfully. “A very pretty speech. Shall we test your theory?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re saying that we can make love and that you can respond to me sexually, but that the act won’t touch you on the inside.”
“Exactly.” She believed completely in what she told him—she just hoped she wasn’t fooling herself.
He took her hand in his and pushed up the loose, long sleeve to the elbow, exposing the underside of her forearm. “You’re saying that when I touch you like this—” He lightly traced a line from the inside of her wrist to her elbow. “That any reaction you have is the same as automatically pulling back when you touch a hot stove?”
“Yes.” She ignored the trembling that began inside of her and the goose bumps that erupted on her skin. Just standing this close to Khalil made it difficult to think, let alone banter with him.
He turned her hand over and stared at the back, then traced the lacy lines of the henna. “Do you know that somewhere in this decorative pattern I will find my name?”
She blinked. She knew he was talking…she could hear the words…but it was so hard to concentrate when he touched her. There was a traffic jam in her nervous system and only the emergency vehicles, in this case the sensation of his fingers on her skin, were getting through. Everything else, like conversation, had to wait.
“Your name?” she repeated dully as he circled round and round on the back of her hand, then traced the length of each of her fingers.
“Yes. Tradition dictates that the husband’s name be woven into the henna pattern.” He looked at her, his dark eyes smoldering with hot, heavy, ready desire. “Where is my name, Dora?”
“I don’t know,” she said, her voice trembling. “I didn’t watch Rihana when she painted me.”
“So I’ll have to go searching. How sad that they only paint your hands and feet.”
It was sad, she thought vaguely. If only they’d painted her all over. There would be more places for Khalil to search.
The thought of his fingers and perhaps even his tongue on her body made her thighs quiver. She remembered what it had been like before…when he’d touched her and then kissed her between her legs. She remembered the feel of him against her and the passion of her release. She remembered all of it and even though she knew it was wrong and made her weak, she wanted to experience it again.
He led her to the bed. There they paused while he pulled off the lace dress, leaving her in a calf-length chemise and nothing else. Dora shivered again, but it wasn’t from the cold. In his robes, with his eyes blazing passion, Khalil was a dark, mysterious stranger. She was far from anything she’d ever known. She’d married this man standing in front of her. For all she knew he had the power of life and death over her. She wasn’t sure how she felt about him, nor did she know why he’d married her. She was committed to resisting him in all ways, including physically. And she’d never in her life known such incredible physical longing.
She hadn’t known it was possible to stand and breathe and want with such powerful need. She ached, she shook, she melted, she cried out deep inside for him to take her. Even as she knew she should resist. Even as she knew she would hate herself for her weakness…she wanted him.
He urged her to sit on the edge of the bed. The dais was covered with carpets, and her toes curled into the thick weave. Khalil settled next to her and took possession of her left hand. He held it palm up in his, studying the pattern made by the henna. The stain was a dark orange-brown on her skin. Fatima had told her it would turn a little red as it faded over time. The design was exotic on her pale skin, bringing to mind how out of place she was in this foreign land.
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