“They only want me to do better.”
“Why do they treat you so?”
Aurora didn’t answer.
“And why are you letting them?”
Aurora retrieved her hand, and although the loss of her touch made him feel hollow, the sheikh was more disturbed by the way she suddenly couldn’t seem to meet her eyes.
“Look at me, Aurora.”
When she shook her head, he cupped her chin and left her no choice but to do as he bid.
What he saw made him curse. “You’re crying.”
She wrenched her face away. “I’m not—-” She ended up gasping when the sheikh suddenly rose to his feet.
“I will not stand for this.”
Aurora was aghast when the sheikh suddenly walked away, clearly intending to have a word with her family.
Mik’hail was about to reach the door when he felt slim arms wrapping around his waist from behind.
“No, akh, please!”
Her sweet, small breasts were pressed against him, but so was her tear-stained cheek, which slowly soaked the back of his shirt.
The sheikh expelled his breath in an angry hiss. “Let go of me.”
But this only made Aurora tighten her arms around him and caused her breasts to press harder against the muscled wall of his back.
“Please, akh. Please. It’s as Mother said. My sister only wants to make sure that I do not accidentally shame you. Please do not be mad at any of them.” Her voice shook as she whispered, “Please, Your Highness, I’m begging you.”
When she begged him like that, he found himself unable to resist her. He gently took hold of her hands and unclasped them so he could turn around to face her. “It will be as you wished…for now.” He intended to tell her as well that she shouldn’t expect to always get her way, but before he could speak again, Aurora had already tiptoed to place a gentle kiss on his cheek.
The sheikh froze.
The kiss didn’t last for more than a second, but ah, the feel of those soft, ruby-red lips. His cock stirred, arousal dominating his senses even though the sheikh knew it was forbidden.
“Thank you, akh.” Her voice wove a spell around him, tormenting his cock even more. “You really are the best brother I could ever wish for.”
The sheikh could only smile tightly, thinking that Aurora, on the other hand, was the worst sister-in-law he could ever have.
Aurora smiled up at him. “Walk me to my room?”
The two walked out of the dining hall, both of them with their hands clasped behind their backs, and their heads bent towards each other as the sheikh and his betrothed’s sister spoke of how their respective days had gone.
It was a beautiful moment, marred only by a pair of eyes that followed them with jealous fury.
Traitors, the unnoticed woman screamed silently at the two. You will pay, I will make you all pay for your treachery!
THE RIFT BETWEEN THE sheikh and his intended only worsened with the passage of time. As it had become increasingly harder for Mik’hail to hold his tongue and not defend Aurora as he wished, he had taken to spending most of his days working either in his study or performing manual labor in the conservatory, personally tending to the roses that had been the late queen’s legacy.
And it was on such a day, when Mik’hail had just entered the conservatory, that he heard an unexpected sound.
“Welcome back, Mik’hail.”
The sheikh was startled at the husky voice that floated towards him. “Aurora?” That was her voice, wasn’t it? What was she doing here and why the hell was she calling him that?
“Over here,” she sang.
The sound of her voice made him hesitate, his body stirring in ways that it should never do, and for the only eighteen-year-old girl in the kingdom that he must never touch.
Even as he told himself it was better to turn away and leave, the sheikh found himself doing the opposite, the pull he felt towards Aurora as irresistible as ever. Walking further inside the conservatory, he finally found her next to the garden beds, down on her knees, smudges of dirt on her face.
“What are you doing here?”
“What are you doing here?” she returned cheekily.
“Escaping,” he said bluntly, but neglected to tell her that it was her sister he was trying to escape. He liked the peace and quiet the trees and flowers in the conservatory gave him, something that was the exact antithesis of what Aretha currently symbolized in his life.
Her eyes narrowed at him. “You look bad, akh.”
He winced, for her. That was not exactly the proper thing to say to a sheikh – and especially the she who owned the palace where she currently resided for free. “Do me a favor,” he said dryly, “and do not let your parents and sister hear you talk to me like that.”
Below him, Aurora’s grin had only widened at his words. “I’m only being honest – and concerned. You do look bad, you know.” Her arch tone, combined with her hair pinned up in a ponytail and the faded, oversized dress she had on, made Aurora appear more like a child playing grown up than anything else.