The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(62) by Susan Mallery
She wished it were just a matter of pride. That would be easy for her to overcome. But it wasn’t that simple. The truth was, despite loving Khalil, she didn’t fully trust him. She needed to know that he cared for her as much as she cared for him. She needed to know that any unborn children would be welcomed and raised by adoring parents as part of a strong family unit. She desperately needed to know that he would never grow tired of her and move on. She wanted to hold the key to his heart as much as he held the key to hers.
“Why don’t you admit your feelings?” she asked. “You’re being stubborn as well. Tell me you love me and that you’re sorry and all will be well.”
He dismissed her with a wave of his hand. “How much longer do you plan to play this game?”
“Forever, if necessary.” She looked at him, then planted her hands on her hips. “You know my terms, Khalil. You resist them, you deny them and you want them changed, but nothing is different today than it was when I first arrived. You lied to me. You took advantage of the misfortune in my life and told me that you cared for me. You implied that you loved me, then you railroaded me into marriage and brought me here without giving me time to consider other options.”
His dark eyes blazed with fire. “I married you. You seem to forget that fact, but it remains the central issue of this discussion. I have honored you by taking you as my bride.”
She glared at him. “Oh, and you weren’t the least honored by my agreeing to marry you?”
“Of course not,” he said. “Look at the life that you had before we met. So small and pitiful. You were nothing, and I gave you the world. I am Prince Khalil Khan—”
She took a single step toward him. “Don’t start that. I’m warning you, I’ll throw you out of my room right now and never let you back.”
She had to grit her teeth to keep from crying out. The wound from his thoughtless words went deep, all the way down to her heart. Nothing? Is that what she’d been to him? Had he really thought so little of her when they were first married? She closed her eyes and forced herself to breathe slowly. She knew the answer to the question. It was as obvious as his quick and easy response. Yes, he had thought nothing of her or of their marriage. He’d been in a difficult situation, for reasons that had never made sense to her. She’d been slightly appropriate and very available. End of story.
Something warm stroked her cheek. She opened her eyes and saw that her husband had moved closer. He cupped her jaw. “I spoke hastily,” he told her, smiling faintly and with what she wanted to believe was affection. “At the time I didn’t know you enough to be honored by the thought of you as my wife, but I have learned. You are a great woman, and I am fortunate to have you in my life.”
She wanted to give in to him. She wanted to take off the rest of her clothes and have him do the same, then stretch out with him on the big bed and make love until morning. She wanted to hear words of love and have him hold her close, then find the courage to tell him what she thought might have happened…that their lovemaking could have produced a child who was, at this very moment, growing inside of her.
But she did none of those things. Because Khalil was a stubborn man. Nearly as stubborn as herself, she thought, trying to find a crumb of humor in the situation.
“Tell me you were wrong,” she murmured, wrapping her arms around him. “Tell me you’re sorry. Tell me that you care.”
He pushed her away. “You cry after the moon. You still want your dreams. I am Khalil Khan, prince of El Bahar, and I will not be dictated to by a woman. Accept what we have between us, and be grateful.”
She straightened her spine. She was sick of hearing him announce his name and title as if those words had the power to change the tides.
“That may be true, Prince Khalil, but you are forgetting one very important fact.”
He raised his eyebrows expectantly. “What is that?”
“I am Dora Khan, princess of El Bahar, and I do not sleep with liars.”
With that, she walked to the front door of her suite and held it open. Khalil moved slowly toward her.
“Is this what we’ve come to?” he asked. “A battle of wills.”
“It’s always been a battle of wills. The only difference is this is the first time you haven’t won.”
He glared at her. “You will not win this one. Don’t push me too far, wife, or you will be sorry.”
She thought of all her hopes and dreams. How she’d come so far in some areas and not made any progress in others. “I already am, Khalil. You think I turn away from you out of stubbornness or a desire to punish, but the truth is the pain in my heart drives me.”
Then, because she couldn’t think of anything else to say, she gently closed the door, shutting out her husband and leaving herself very much alone.
Khalil stood in the hallway. He wanted to rage against circumstances or fate or whatever it was that had brought him to this place. He did not deserve to be shut out from the bed of his wife. Didn’t she understand that?
He glared at the shut door and thought about ordering her to let him back in. The problem was Dora might choose to ignore him. She could be stubborn that way. Actually she could be stubborn in many ways. She was infuriating. She was also bright and good at her new job. She saw the possibilities in El Bahar that no one had seen before.
If only she would give in on this one simple matter. How dare she expect him to apologize for what he’d done? It wasn’t as if she’d had such a great life and he’d taken her from it. She’d been alone, jobless, abandoned by her fiancé. She’d been…
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