The Sheikh's Bargain Bride (Desert Kings)(5)

By: Diana Fraser



“Let’s get this straight. You want me for sex and in return I can live with my son? You’re a twisted man.”

“I am an honorable man. I will not force myself on you. You will come to me soon enough.”

She shook her head. “Never.”

“Four years ago I had to merely enter the room and you wanted me. You could barely wait to get me in the elevator, in the hotel room before your hands found my bare skin, before they explored my body, unzipped my trousers and before your lips—”

“Stop!”

“How many times did we make love that night, Anna?” His voice had dropped to a roughened whisper.

She swallowed hard and felt a surge of heat rise with the pounding of her heart and a dull ache of longing settle between her legs. It was true. She’d wanted him then and she wanted him now.

She shook her head helplessly. “I can’t remember.”

“I think you can. I think you do remember; I think you relive those moments because, like you, I can’t forget them either. You will come to me. Make no mistake.”

He was so close now that she could feel the quickened rise of his chest rub against her breasts, could feel the seductive slide of his silk robe brush her skin. Unable to meet his gaze, she kept her eyes lowered, focussed on his mouth, on lips so soft, so utterly at odds with the rest of him that they conjured up images she was desperate to forget.

She could see that he knew where her thoughts led by the smile that gently quirked those soft lips.

“You see? The needs of your body are greater than anything else. You want me and you shall have me.”

“How can you do this?”

He continued as if he’d not heard her words. “And then, you will also have your child. Only this time, I will not be your husband’s inconvenient brother. I will be your husband.”

“You want me to marry you?”

“Of course. Marriage is the only respectable way. We have my heir, your son, to consider remember.”

“But you don’t love me. Why marry me?”

“You are from the West. Marriage is not for life—surely you know that—and nowhere more so than in my country. When I tire of you I may take another wife. Or simply remove you to another palace. It is not a problem.”

“You are an immoral bastard.”

“That’s no way to talk about your future husband.”

“And you, such as you, want to be the father of my child.”

“I will care for him. He is of my blood.”

They were close now, their eyes trained on each other, holding both the power of attraction that had originally brought them together and the anger and bitterness that had followed. She could feel his breath quicken against her cheek, as he must have felt hers.

“No.” The single, despairing word floated between them—too soft to be any real show of force against him.

“Yes.” His voice was also soft—he had no need to prove anything. He moved even closer to her, until there was nothing between the two of them. No separation and no escape.

He dipped his head to hers, as if to inhale her and her breath caught.

In that one instant she absorbed the details of his face as if she could actually feel the dark stubble of his jaw roughly abrading her own jaw, could feel his silky hair fall gently against her own cheek. She closed her eyes in order to break the connection, willing herself to dispel the confusion of hate and need; the clash between mind and body.

When she re-opened them he’d stepped away, a defiant weariness in place.

“Come, you need to rest and then I will have Matta brought to you.”

She shook her head as if to free it of the nightmare that was unfolding. He was right. She had only one choice left open to her. She felt herself literally crumple then. Her legs buckled under her and all fight vanished.

Suddenly she felt his arm around her, steadying her, giving her the strength she needed.

“It will not be so bad, Anna. You will have everything you need, more than you could imagine. You will be gaining far more than you will be leaving behind.”

She pushed him away. “You know nothing. All I would be gaining would be my child. I would be losing everything else that I’ve treasured and worked towards my whole adult life.”

He swung open the double doors and stood back for her to pass.

“What could you possibly be leaving behind that you treasure so much?”

She walked out into the warm light of the evening sun and looked away, far away, out to the distant mountains now a bluish haze against a soft apricot sky.

“My independence.”

The hollow echo of the banging doors swallowed her words. She doubted he’d even heard them.

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