The Happy Ever After
The sheikh and his betrothed were in his suite that night, with no one the wiser about it, thanks to the secret passageway between their rooms. He was on the bed, still fully dressed, and his beloved on his lap. She was gazing at him with wide-eyed incredulity, having just been told of how Khal and Mik’hail had worked together to save her.
“I thought you hated him!”
“He is another man, unmarried, and dared talk to you without my permission.” The sheikh’s tone was icy. “Of course I despised him, and I will continue to despise him until he is safely married.”
“And yet you begged for his help—-”
“Shut up,” the sheikh snarled, not liking to be reminded of how desperate he had sounded when he asked for the other man’s aid.
Ella burst into laughter, and the sound made the sheikh grimace, thinking it an omen of days to come. Clearly, she was no longer afraid of him, but strangely enough, it didn’t bother him at all. In a way, he found it amusing that his bride, tiny and young as she was, had always found it easy to defy him while the rest of the world tended to tremble in fear in his presence.
“I do have a question to ask, ukhayyah,” he murmured darkly. This was the only thing that had never become clear to him, and he hated having any loose ends. When she turned to look at him, the sheikh asked, “What were inside the letters?”
A saddened look crossed Ella’s face. “Oh. That.” She took a deep breath. “You must first promise that what I’m about to tell you shall remain our secret.”
The sheikh said icily, “If this is a prelude to an admission that he’s kissed you—-”
“No, no.” She shook her head hastily. “You misunderstand, Your Highness.” With a sigh, she continued, “There truly was nothing between us, and those letters are proof of it. You know about Sheikh Mikhail’s first betrothed?”
Khal frowned. “Yes. What about her? Did she and her family not perish in some kind of accident?”
“One survived, or rather Lady Aretha’s younger sister had been at the palace with Sheikh Mik’hail when the accident happened. The girl became the sheikh’s ward, and she goes to the same school as I do.”
“And?” He still did not see what this had to do with the letters.
“I caught them kissing one day.”
Khal’s brows shot up.
“So that little fib Sheikh Mik’hail said? It was inspired by my role, since I was their bridge in real life.” Ella frowned. “And now, it’s my turn to ask you a question. How did you know where to send Sheikh Mik’hail to find me?”
She only blinked at him.
“It had GPS.”
“Oh.” sheikh pause. “Oh. So it was really you who gave me—-”
The sheikh rolled his eyes, asking sarcastically, “Who else would have given it to you? Your fairy godmother?”
Ignoring the jibe, Ella said feelingly, “Those shoes saved my life.” She shivered. “I don’t think your half-sister’s completely evil, but she must have been insane at that time when she gave the orders to her henchmen—-”
“You need never worry about her again.” The sheikh’s voice was hard. While he had not gone as far as having Lady Dezza imprisoned, he had taken precautions to ensure she would never have the power to hurt his beloved again.
And it had been such a close fucking call, the sheikh thought savagely. If Ella hadn’t brought those shoes with her…
The sheikh shuddered at the thought of what could have happened to her, and his fury resurged anew.
Ella started when the sheikh suddenly turned her head his way, and she paled when she saw the anger glinting in his eyes. What had she done this time?
Her expression was extremely easy to read, but her cluelessness only made the sheikh grind his teeth. “Do you know you almost killed me with worry when I found out you had willingly gone with those men?”
“Nothing would have happened if you had simply followed me and did not come to the ball,” the sheikh growled.
“But…” She wasn’t quite sure what to say, she only knew she had to start defending herself before the sheikh snapped and committed murder. And that was her murder.
“I would have taken care of everything on my own. I would have taken all the blame, and you would never have—-”
It came to her then, and Ella quickly placed a finger on his lips to silence him. “You’re right. If I had not forced your hand about attending the ball, I would never have had to dodge bullets, run into a forest, or have dogs coming after me.”
The sheikh sucked his breath sharply at the love suddenly shining so brightly in her eyes.
“But don’t you see, Your Highness? If I hadn’t chosen to come to the ball, the world would never have known how much I loved you either. The world would have always thought I was after your money, your crown – and I just can’t stand the thought of that.” Removing her finger on his lips, she said softly, “And that’s why I think all that happened was meant to happen. I want the world to know how much I love you, and now they do.”