The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(68) by Susan Mallery
As she traced the blunt side of the blade, an idea formed. It was outrageous and ridiculous, and it just might work. A quick glance at the clock told her that the party should be over by now. Dora grinned as she rose to her feet. There was no time like the present. And if she was wrong about Khalil and he was currently with Amber, then she was better off knowing before she made a complete fool out of herself.
Less than a half hour later, she moved quietly through the halls of the palace. She’d dressed in one of her most elegant gowns, a low-cut designer original that exposed more cle**age than she usually liked—but tonight she needed to be armed in more ways than one. She held the dagger in her right hand, pressing it flat against her body. She doubted anyone would notice the weapon.
Fortunately she made her way to Khalil’s chamber without being seen. Once there, she let herself inside and quietly locked the door behind her. Then she walked toward him.
Her husband was alone. She took in that information with a brief glance around the room. He sat at his desk, which faced the ocean. So far he hadn’t noticed her presence.
She studied him. The French doors were closed, but he hadn’t drawn the shutters, so the lamps in the room made the windows reflect like mirrors. She could clearly see the dark lock of hair that fell across his forehead. He’d discarded his tuxedo jacket and tie and tossed them across the sofa. His shirt was unbuttoned, and his sleeves were rolled to his elbows.
He was the picture of masculine casualness, and his male beauty took her breath away. How she wanted him, she thought as the longing swept through her. Not just in her bed, but in her life. She wanted to grow old with this man. As far as she could tell, there was only one way to find a compromise between what she wanted and what he was able to give. Dear Lord, please let her be right.
She took a step toward him, then another. Her heart pounded so hard, she thought she might faint. When she was six feet behind him, Khalil finally looked up and caught her reflection in the mirror.
“Dora, what are you doing here? Are you all right?”
She watched his face, noting the transformation from delight at her unexpected appearance, to concern. Then she moved up behind him and held the dagger to his throat.
He didn’t even have the courtesy to look surprised, she thought in disgust as Khalil simply set down his pen and met her gaze in the window.
“If you sought to gain my attention,” he said calmly, “you have done so.”
She pressed the blade against his skin. “If I ever find you’ve been unfaithful to me, I will cut you, Khalil, but it won’t be across the throat.”
“I see. Thank you for telling me in advance. However, I’m not concerned. I have no desire to be with any woman save my wildcat of a wife.”
She watched as a slight smile pulled at the corners of his mouth. “Don’t for a moment think I’m bluffing,” she informed him. “I will do it. You are my husband and the possessor of my heart. As such you owe me respect and honor.”
His smile disappeared as if it had never been. In one quick movement he grasped her wrist and pulled it away, then spun in his seat until he faced her. When he rose to his feet, he pulled the dagger free and tossed it to the ground where it skittered against the tile and slid into the corner.
“What did you say?” he asked, his gaze intense.
She stared at his face noting the tightening of the muscles around his mouth and the light of some new fire in his eyes.
“Tell me,” he insisted. “Tell me again that I am the possessor of your heart.”
This wasn’t exactly the turn she’d expected for their conversation, and his scrutiny made her a little nervous. “You heard me the first time.” She wiggled to free herself, but his hold on her wrists only tightened. “Let me go.”
“Never,” he said fiercely and swept her up in his arms. He carried her across the room and lowered her onto the bed, then settled next to her. “I will never let you go, wife of mine.” He stroked her face, then brushed his thumb across her lips. “For you are mine, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” she whispered, unable to deny the truth. “I love you with all my heart.” She glared at him. “But don’t think that’s going to change things between us, because you love me, too. I want a real marriage. I want us to live together like man and wife, and I want you to swear you’re never going to sleep with anyone else, especially Amber.”
At the mention of the younger woman, some of the light faded from Khalil’s eyes. He drew her close and wrapped his arms around her, urging her to rest her head on his shoulder.
“I should have known she would make trouble,” he murmured. “I should have told you the truth about her, but I was ashamed.”
Dora looked at him. “I don’t understand. You were engaged to her.”
“Yes, but it was an arranged match, and one I was frantic to avoid. I never wanted to have anything to do with her. She disgusts me. For several years Amber has been something of a hedonist. She finds sport in hopping from bed to bed. I didn’t want to tell the truth about her because of her father.”
Dora had learned enough of El Baharian law and custom to understand that. “Aleser is a good leader for the country,” she said. “If you told him about his daughter, he would be forced to resign.”
Khalil nodded. “When we were in New York, Amber came to see me. She reminded me that we were engaged and insisted we would be married. I felt trapped.”
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