The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(45) by Susan Mallery
She stiffened and started to pull away, but the hand on her waist tightened. She looked up and saw that he was awake.
“Good morning,” he said, his voice low and husky.
She hated that just the sound sent a shiver through her body and made her want to melt against him. Wasn’t it enough that he’d humiliated her the previous night, tempting her until she’d thrown her convictions aside and had surrendered? Was this going to be an ongoing battle between them?
A slow smile curved at the corners of his mouth. “You resist and you want in equal measures, my desert cat. Which part of you is going to win?”
He shifted as he spoke, turning on his side until he faced her, slipping one knee between her legs and pressing it against her swollen woman’s place. It took every ounce of strength not to arch against him. The need was as instant as it was powerful. How could her body betray her this way?
“I’ll never surrender willingly,” she told him, staring into his eyes. Her words were a vow. “You might be able to make my body react, but you’ll never touch my heart.”
“Is that a challenge? Didn’t I warn you about making challenges? You are destined to be defeated.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “In the most delicious way possible, of course. Besides, the chase is part of the appeal.”
She wanted to scream out her frustration. How could this be happening to her? How could she have allowed herself to get into this position—both figuratively and literally? Even as she lay next to him, she felt his growing arousal pressing into her hip. Her woman’s place dampened in response, readying for him. It didn’t matter that he’d hurt her and lied to her and used her—every cell of her body still ached for his possession.
“You will be mine,” he said confidently.
“Never. I’ll keep turning away from you.”
“And night after night, I will seduce you.” He laughed. “If you’re looking to punish me, Dora, you’re going to have to find something better than that.” His humor faded. “Then, in time, you’ll grow to love me as a dutiful wife should.”
She didn’t know if he was still teasing or not, but it didn’t matter. Inside she’d grown empty and cold again, as she had the night before. She knew that he would be true to his word. He would seduce her as often as it amused him, and regardless of how much she resisted, she would eventually submit. In time his relentless assault would leave her spirit crushed and broken.
“I will never love you,” she promised.
“You say that now, but I wonder if you’ve already fallen a bit in love with me. Am I your fantasy, my desert cat? Am I who you dreamed about in your lonely virgin bed?”
She wrenched herself free of him and stumbled out of bed. As she glared at him, he merely smiled and tossed away the covers so that she could see that he was hard and ready.
She turned her back on him and made a feeble effort to gather some kind of control. She had to learn how to protect herself from him. She had to be strong. If she didn’t figure it out, his words would become a prophecy. He was an arrogant, selfish bastard…and he was right. He was the kind of man she’d dreamed about through her loneliness. Not the self-centered prince who forced his will on his reluctant wife, but the charming lover who had seduced her that first night.
She dreamed about the kind man who had rescued her in Kansas and the intelligent businessman she’d worked for in New York. Those were the men who had captured her attention and perhaps even a bit of her heart. But she did not love the Prince of El Bahar.
She found her lace dress and drew it over her head, then pulled on the heavy silk robes. Only when she was completely covered did she turn back to face him.
“I cannot speak for loving,” she said quietly, “but I will never like or respect you. If you insist on keeping me here, you will have to be content with duty.”
He raised dark eyebrows. “A dutiful wife during the day and a wildcat in my bed at night. You, my dear, are my fantasy.”
She felt the tears begin to burn, but she blinked them away. “How fortunate for you, Khalil. To me you are nothing more than a nightmare from which I can only pray to awake.”
She continued to stare at him, but not even by the flicker of a lash did he betray his thoughts. Then she turned away because she could feel her pain growing stronger, and she was determined to never let him see her cry again.
They drove back to the palace in silence. Khalil waited for Dora to comment on the beauty of the morning, or their four-car escort of guards, but instead she sat quietly in her seat, staring straight ahead, saying nothing. Fine, he thought angrily. If she wanted to play that game, he could do it as well…or better.
What had started out as a simple, even logical arrangement had turned into something more—something difficult. Why did she have to be so emotional? Perhaps he had misled her about his feelings at the beginning, but why did that matter now? He’d married her. He intended to treat her with the respect and consideration his wife deserved. They would live at the palace, have many sons. By virtue of their marriage, she had entered a life of wealth and privilege. What was she so upset about?
He gripped the steering wheel more tightly and told himself he would never understand women. They were difficult, emotional creatures, best left to their own devices. In time, Dora would see that this was all for the better. She would come around.
Or would she, a voice in his head whispered. Dora was not like other women he’d known. She was by far the most intelligent and certainly more independent of all his female companions. He quickly glanced at her, then returned his attention to the rutted track that became paved road as they neared the palace. She would not allow herself to be manipulated, and while he respected her for that, he also resented the extra work it was going to mean for him.
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