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Desert Fantasies(7)

By:Trish Morey

‘You think?’

‘I know.’ She held out her hands as if she was preaching. Maybe she thought she was, because she was suddenly fired up with her building argument, her eyes bright, her features alive. He was struck again with how beautiful she was, how fine her features, how lush her mouth. His groin stirred. No, it would be no hardship bedding her. No hardship at all.

‘My father loves me. He would never make me marry a man I didn’t love, not for anything.’

‘Not for anything?’ He arched an eyebrow. ‘Not even for the continuing alliance between our two countries?’

‘So, maybe …’ she said, with sparks in her eyes, really getting into it, ‘maybe it’s time we drew up a new agreement. Times have changed. The world has moved on. We could lead our respective countries into a new future, with a new and better alliance, something more applicable to the modern era that covers communication and the Internet and today’s world instead of one that doesn’t exist any more.’

He crossed his arms, nodded, fought to keep the smile from his own face as he pretended to give it serious thought. ‘A new agreement? I can see how that would appeal.’

She failed or chose to ignore the sarcasm dripping from his words. ‘Besides, of course, there is my work in Jemeya. My father would not expect me to walk away from my duties there.’

‘Ah, yes, your work. Of course, someone like you would consider sitting down with a bunch of homeless kids and reading them fairy stories to be work. Very valuable work, no doubt. Makes for a few good photo opportunities, I dare say.’

Her eyes glinted, the smile wiped clean from her face. ‘I teach them our language! I teach them how to read and write!’

‘And nobody else in Jemeya can do that? Face facts, Princess.’ He kicked himself away from the column. ‘You are needed by Jemeya as much as a finger needs a wart.’

‘How dare you?’

‘I dare because someone needs to tell you. Jemeya does not need you, and the sooner you face facts the better. You have two older brothers, one of whom will inherit the throne, the other a spare if he cannot. So what good are you to Jemeya? Don’t you see? You are surplus to requirements. You’re a redundant princess. So you might as well be of some use to your country by marrying me.’

Her eyes were still glinting but now it was with ice-cold hatred.

‘I have told you—I will not marry you and my father will not make me. Why would anyone in their right mind want to marry you? You led me to believe I had been rescued from one mad man when all along you were planning captivity of the same kind with another.

‘Maybe it’s time you faced facts yourself—you’re arrogant beyond belief, you’re a bully and you’re so anxious to be Al-Jirad’s next king that you would stop at nothing to get on that throne. I won’t marry you now and I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man left on earth!’

Blood pounded in his temples, pounding out a drum-beat of fury, sounding out a call to war. What must he have done wrong in some former life that he would be lumbered with this selfish little princess for a wife? What gods had he somewhere and at some time insulted that they would visit upon him this poisoned shrew? For if he had a choice right now, if he didn’t know Mustafa would otherwise get the crown, he would take her back and dump her back in that desert camp and be finished with her.

‘Do you actually believe that I want to be king? Do you actually think that even if I wanted a wife I would want to marry someone who does not know when she is being offered the better end of the deal? Do you really think I want to marry such a spoilt, selfish little shrew?’

‘Bastard!’ He heard the crack, felt the sting of her hand hard across his cheek, and the blood in his pounding veins turned molten.

He seized her wrist as it flashed by, wrenching her to him. ‘You’ll pay for that!’ She tried to pull her arm free and when he did not let go she pounded his chest with her free hand, twisting her shoulders from side to side.

‘Let me go.’

Like hell.

He grabbed her other wrist, and she shrieked and tugged so hard against his restraint until she shook the hair loose behind her head and sent it tumbling down in disarray. ‘Let me go!’

‘Why?’ he ground out between clenched teeth. ‘So you can slap me again?’

But she twisted one arm right around, her wrist somehow slipped free and she raised it to lash at him again. He caught it this time before she could strike and pulled her in close to his body, trapping her arm under his and bringing her face within inches of his own. She was breathing hard, as if she’d just sprinted a mile, her chest rising and falling fast and furiously against his, her eyes spitting fire at him, her lips parted, gasping for air and showing those neat, sharp teeth, whose bite he could still feel on his hand.

He looked at her mouth and wondered how she would taste—something spicy and sweet with a chili bite. He looked at those wide, lush lips, parted like an invitation, looked at the teeth again and decided it might even be worth the risk.

And then he shifted his gaze and realised she was watching him watching her, her eyes wide, her pupils so dilated they were turning her eyes black.

‘I hate you!’ she spat, twisting her body against his, friction turning to heat, heat turning to desire.

Desire combusting to need.

‘I know,’ he said, breathing just as hard and fast. ‘I hate you too.’ Before his mouth crashed down hard on hers.

And even as she turned rigid beneath him, even though shock stilled her muscles, he felt the warmth of her blossoming heat beneath his kiss, tasted the honey and spice he knew he’d find there, tasted the chili heat— and there, in the midst of the honey, cinnamon and chili, he tasted the promise of a woman beneath the princess.

And he wanted more.


SHOCK punched the air from her lungs, sent all thoughts scattering from her mind. But God, she could still feel!

He seemed to be everywhere, the strong wall of his chest pressed hard against her, the steel bands of his arms surrounding her, the rough of his whiskered cheek against her skin and the press of his lips against her own.

Even the very air that intermingled between them, their heated breath, seemed full of his essence, his taste.

And for a moment that recognition blindsided her because it was so powerful. She did recognise his scent and the very feel of him, and she knew it was truly him—the man who had cradled her tightly in his arms, whose chest she had turned into to breathe more of him in while his horse had carried her away from the desert camp and away from that slug, Mustafa, who thought he could just take her at will.

Revulsion blossomed inside her, welling up like a mushroom cloud, giving her frozen limbs strength and purpose and her blank mind the will to act.

She thrust her chin up, twisted her face away, seeking escape from his relentless kiss. ‘No,’ she cried. ‘No! ‘

But he did not stop. He gave her no space, no release. He showed no mercy. Instead she felt herself lifted from her feet and swung around until she felt the hard marble of a column at her back. She felt herself sandwiched between it and him, pinning her to his long, lean body while his seeking mouth found hers again and she was full of him and the taste of him. Coaxing. Demanding. Persuading.

So persuasive.

Her body stirred. Her body responded, and she hated herself for it, even as she angled her head to give his mouth and his hot tongue better access to her mouth.

Then his hand slid down her arm, brushed one aching nipple on a straining breast, and suddenly it was Mustafa’s greasy fingers she saw in her mind’s eye, it was the smack of his lips as he walked towards her …

Oh God.

And that image was enough to give her the strength she needed. ‘No!’ she cried, twisting hard against the steel-hard shackles of his strong limbs. ‘Get away from me!’ And somehow she managed to unleash one wild hand and lashed out with it to push him away, her nails finding purchase on flesh as she dragged them down.

She heard his curse and suddenly she found herself thrust away, panting and reeling and having to search for the bones in her legs in order to stay upright while he stood there looking like a thundercloud, dark, grim and threatening, rubbing his scored cheek. She waited, gasping for air, shocked by what she had done, appalled that she, a princess of the royal house of Jemeya, had performed such a base act. Yet she was not sorry she had done it. Not one bit.

But she was afraid.

The reality of her position was never starker, never more terrifying. For she was alone in this palace, with no allies, no-one to protect her. He was big, powerful and angry, and she had struck him and drawn blood.

The way his chest heaved, the way his pulse pounded angrily at his temples and his eyes looked wild and vengeful, she knew he would not let her get away with that.

Just when she feared he would act, that he might actually raise his hand to strike her, he surprised her by smiling, a long, lazy crocodile smile. ‘What quaint customs you Jemeyans have. What does this second brand signify, I wonder? Eternal fidelity? Ever-lasting love? Or a promise of many years of wild, passionate nights in my bed?’

‘You flatter yourself! You know exactly why I hit you. How else was I supposed to make you stop acting like a barbarian?’