He’d led with his own desire, and had given no thought to anything else. He’d thought he was better than that now. He had to be. The alternative was unthinkable.
He stalked into the water, in spite of the fact that he was already wet, and submerged himself. It was much colder today, with the sun behind the clouds and the rain pouring down.
It didn’t do anything to assuage his arousal. He was still so hard it hurt, need coursing through him like a current. He ground his teeth together and walked back out of the water, his jeans heavy and tugging downward, chafing against his erection.
That had been a stupid, damn idea. And it hadn’t even worked.
He walked back toward the house and shrugged his jeans off at the door. Hopefully Samarah wasn’t around because he didn’t really want to ambush her with his body like this.
He could hear the shower running and he said a prayer of thanks for small mercies.
He went into his bedroom and started digging for dry clothes. They needed to get back to the palace. Back to civilization and back to sanity.
There, he would be reminded to keep his distance. He would be reminded of all the indignity she’d already suffered without him adding to it.
His weakness had caused her suffering.
He paused at that thought. She deserved to know. Because if there was one thing Samarah truly cared about it was honor. It was doing right.
Though, there was a limit to what he could say without adding to her pain. Without uncovering himself completely.
One thing was certain. Before he tied her to him for the rest of her life, before he jailed her in a whole different way than she’d originally threatened, she had to know at least in part, what sort of man it was she was tying herself to.
THEY ARRIVED AT the palace late that evening. The ride back had been torturous. Samarah had spent so much of her life without human interaction, she’d never fully understood just how awkward it could be to sit in an enclosed space with another person when you had nothing to say.
And when you had something obvious and tense hanging between you.
That morning seemed like a lifetime ago, and yet it had only been about fifteen hours since Ferran had held her in his arms. Since he’d pulled her against him and kissed her. Since he’d brought her to the peak of pleasure on the ground outside in the rain.
She could hardly believe that had been her. And that it had been him.
In the cold of the night, she could not understand what had possessed her to go outside in a rainstorm. What had possessed her to fall into his arms and kiss him as if he was the only source of water in the desert.
She moved through her chambers and stopped cold when she saw Ferran in the doorway. “What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I came to speak to you about tomorrow. We’re to have lunch with the palace event planner. To speak to her about the upcoming engagement party and the wedding.”
“Oh,” she said. “I had forgotten about the party.”
“As had I. Since I’m not particularly interested in parties, it was easy to let it slip my mind.”
“I can’t say I’m a real party animal, either,” she said, her tone dry.
“I imagine not. I have brought you something.”
“Oh?” She really had to try and find something more intelligent to say than that.
“I feel we got off track today.”
“Oh.” Well, dammit. That was not more intelligent.
“I should not have touched you like that. Not knowing how innocent you are. And I regret that I frightened you.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to say he hadn’t frightened her at all. She’d frightened herself. But honestly, his assumption was so much less revealing that she felt like letting him have it.
Yes. But so what? He was about to apologize and since he owed her many, in reality, she would take one for this. Even though he didn’t owe her one for that incident in particular. She bore the full weight of the consequences for the foolishness of her body.
“I lost sight of what it is we are doing. This marriage is to benefit our nations. And to heal the past. What I did accomplished neither of those things.”
“Well…no I suppose not.”
“This is to remind you, to remind me, of what this is about.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black box. “I spoke to the palace jeweler, and he managed to come up with something very quickly. It is not my mother’s ring. All things considered I felt no monuments needed to be built to that marriage.” He opened the lid of the box and revealed an ornate, sparkling piece of art. Gold with diamonds set into an intricately carved band. “But this is from the crown jewels, as it were. And it has been in my family for many generations. It’s lasted longer than a marriage. Than the rule of any one sheikh or sheikha. And I hope what we build forges a bond between our countries that is the same. I hope that what we build transcends a simple marriage, and becomes something lasting that benefits both of our people.”