The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(60) by Susan Mallery
King Givon glared at her. “Schools mean buildings and teachers. That requires a large financial commitment.”
“You’d need scholarships, too,” Khalil reminded him. “Very few families could afford to send both sons and daughters to college.”
The king frowned. “You want too much.”
“It’s not possible to have too many dreams, Your Majesty. Especially when those dreams reflect what is best for El Bahar.”
“Oh, so now you want to tell me how to run my country?”
Khalil forced back a grin. If the king thought he was going to intimidate Dora, he was in for a shock. Khalil had long since learned that his wife had a mind of her own. He glanced at his two brothers who had wisely stayed out of the discussion. Their gazes moved from Dora to Givon and back. He noted the faint flicker of respect in their eyes when they looked at his wife, and he was proud. He might have chosen her because she was convenient and met many of his criteria, but he wanted to keep her because he could not have found anyone more suited to himself and his world.
Dora smiled at the king. “Your Majesty is a wise and compassionate ruler. I would never presume to tell you how to oversee your country. I’m merely pointing out that there is no point in trying to move forward with the heavy weight of a silly tradition holding El Bahar back.”
The king glared at Jamal and Malik. “Have you nothing to say?”
The two brothers exchanged a glance. Malik shrugged. “We don’t want to get involved.”
“They’re afraid,” Dora said.
Malik looked at her as if he was going to protest, then he grinned. “Let’s just say that Jamal and I have no desire to take you on, Princess Dora. You would be a most formidable enemy.”
“And a most advantageous ally,” Jamal added.
The king made a low growling sound, then turned to his youngest son. “Have you nothing to say, or are you content to let your wife speak for you?”
“As a man married to one of the bright, articulate women Dora mentioned earlier, in this matter I’m quite comfortable letting my wife speak for us both.”
The king did not look pleased with his response. He returned his attention to Dora. “I will consider what you have discussed with me and take it up with members of the inner council. That is not a promise or a commitment, Dora, it is my word that I will not dismiss your ideas. Your heart is in the right place.” The king softened his words with a faint smile. “Even if you remain a Western woman filled with foolishness about equality for your gender.”
“Who’s the fool?” she asked. “She who speaks the words, or the man who listens?”
Givon laughed. “Leave me, all of you. I have work to complete this afternoon.”
They rose and left the king’s private dining room. Malik and Jamal headed toward their offices, but Khalil put his hand on Dora’s arm to stop her.
“Let’s go for a walk on the balcony,” he said. “I think you probably need to calm down.”
“I’m not upset,” she told him, but she allowed herself to be led outside onto the balcony.
The summer heat was nearly upon them. Already, midday temperatures climbed to a hundred degrees. They stayed in the shade, but even so they walked slowly so as not to get overly warm.
“I appreciate what you said,” Dora told him, slipping her hand into his. “When you told the king that I was bright and articulate and that you didn’t mind me speaking for you. That meant a lot to me.”
“I told the truth,” he said lightly, although he found himself pleased by her praise. “You are bright and articulate, and in this matter, I’m quite pleased to have you speak for me.”
“Oh, I see. In this matter, but not others.”
He stopped and turned so he faced her. “In some matters,” he said. “Just as you would be content to let me speak for you in some things, but not others. That is all I meant, and I believe you know that. Why do you want to fight with me?”
She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then opened them and exhaled. Some of the stiffness left her body. “You’re right, Khalil. I’m being difficult. I guess I’m still frustrated by my conversation with the king. There’s so much to be done, and I feel like it’s all going to happen so slowly.”
“Perhaps, but it will happen. You are committed to my people and that means more than you can know, to both myself and the king. He will listen. My father is a wise man.”
“I know. I’m being a child, wanting what I want, when I want it, which means right now.”
He understood her feelings, for that is exactly how he felt about her. He wanted her on his terms, and he wanted her now.
They started walking again, moving toward their offices. “There’s so much opportunity here,” she said, again taking his hand. “I want to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
While he wanted to continue the conversation, a part of him was distracted by the feel of her fingers laced with his. Ever since the kiss the previous week, there had been more touching between them. She had initiated much of it, and while it gave him hope, it also made him want to have the trouble between them already fixed. But along with being bright and articulate, she was also quite stubborn.
They walked into the main corridor of the office complex and found themselves in the center of bustling activity. Martin walked quickly toward them, saw Dora, stopped and smiled.
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