The sheikhs accidental b.., p.4
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       The Sheikh's Accidental Bride, p.4
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         Part #2 of The Sheikh Wants A Wife series by Holly Rayner
FOUR

  The fear of Other Nadya’s arrival began to fade from Nadya’s mind as the dinner wore on. It seemed less and less likely that she was going to arrive if she hadn’t already.

  “And what about you?” he asked her, over their third course. “What did you study?”

  “Political Science. But I didn’t finish.” The truth burst out of her without her meaning it to.

  “Where?” he asked, and she told him. “And why didn’t you finish?”

  There was a trickier subject. It would have been difficult to answer even if she hadn’t been pretending to be someone else. But now she wasn’t sure what to say. How would a Middle-Eastern royal ever feel the way that she did? How would it play with Salman if she told him how she really felt?

  Maybe it was the light of the night, with the stars beginning to peek out through the glowing sky above them that made her do it. Whatever the reason, she continued. “I just realized the reasons that I got into politics weren’t something that politics can really change. Not well, anyway. Everything’s just power-mongering, isn’t it? The rich and the powerful squabbling over what they have. The people who have nothing aren’t even in the game.”

  She held her breath, the stillness between them punctuated by a car horn many stories below. She prepared for him to be offended, or to tell her that she couldn’t possibly be who she said she was. But to her surprise, Salman sighed.

  “I feel the same. Take you, for example.”

  “Me?”

  “No, I don’t mean it in a bad way,” he reassured her, seeing her nervousness at the attention. “I mean take my family choosing you as a bride for me. It didn’t matter who you really were, just what family you were a part of. It’s all loyalties, and alliances. Even now, with everything we are so fortunate to have, and all the power that my family has... Still we give our lives to defend it.”

  She liked the way that he looked when he was riled up. It made him seem less like he was the perfect model of a man, and more like he was an actual, living, breathing human.

  He moved on quickly, not lingering in the point of pain. “And, of course, they picked you to make sure then don’t end up with grandchildren named Tim and Julie.”

  Nadya giggled a little. She wasn’t prone to giggle. The wine must be going to her head, she thought. “You should name your kids Tim and Julie, anyway,” she said. “That’ll show them.”

  Salman smiled, and corrected softly: “Our kids.”

  The certainty of it all hit Nadya like a shot in the dark. Here she was, admiring and dreaming. But there were things that couldn’t be changed.

  “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve said something to upset you.”

  “No… No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to put a damper on the mood. You just reminded me of everything that’s happening.”

  They were talking about it now, really and truly. There would be no turning back from it.

  “You know, if you don’t want to do this, they can’t make you. And I’d understand. Really, I would.”

  The temptation was there. It would be so easy. She could just tell him that she wanted to call it off, at least for now. Maybe she could say that she wanted to get to know him a little bit better, first – more than three days would allow. But what would that change, in the end? Maybe she would plant a seed of doubt in his mind. Maybe she wouldn’t. Maybe Salman’s declaration that the wedding was postponed would make its way back to the real Nadya’s family, and she would choose that point to show up.

  The gears were going underneath the surface, but outwardly she only pursed her lips. “No,” she said. “I don’t mean that. It’s just a lot, very quickly.”

  They moved on from there. They’d tackled the elephant in the room, so there was no longer any need to be afraid of it. With that, conversation became easier. They talked about movies. That seemed, to Nadya, like it would be a safe subject, and for a while, it was. And with every word, he seemed more and more human, and she felt, rightly or wrongly, like he was more and more hers.

  Even there, their experiences differed. He asked her what she thought when she first saw the unedited movies from her childhood and her mind blanked.

  “I mean the ones you saw in theaters back home… when was the first time you saw them over here and realized bits had been cut out of them the first time you saw them? All the kisses?”

  She mumbled something about not really going to the movies much as a child, and he said that it was a shame. It wasn’t much, and it didn’t stick. He didn’t seem suspicious. But still, it reminded Nadya that this wasn’t her date, and that she’d better get going.

  There was no graceful way out of it. There was no good way of saying that she’d been lying to him all evening, and that she didn’t’ know where his fiancée was, but that he should probably be worried, at this point.

  Her best chance, Nadya thought, was to simply call it a night. Then she could go off to her room, find her bags, and sneak out when she thought that he was asleep and wouldn’t hear her. This suite had to be huge; breaking out shouldn’t be too hard.

  Nadya started yawning. Subtly, at first, but then more and more often. She hoped he would catch on and comment, and luckily, he did. Just after they’d finished dessert and the dishes had been carried away by some waiter so discreet as to be invisible.

  “You must be exhausted,” he said, as though thinking of it for the first time. “You know, I had a date planned for us. I thought I might take you to the theater. But all things considered…” He had a grin that could charm a Chihuahua out of yapping. “Do you want to stay up here? There are loungers up here, hidden behind the plants. I found them earlier. I’d like to look at the stars with you.”

  “It’s hard to see the stars in New York City,” Nadya said, even as she could feel herself getting more and more carried away with the idea of laying on this rooftop by him, side by side.

  “Then we’ll have to look carefully.”

 
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