From the Inside Flap
The Prince raised my fingers to his lips and kissed them. "You are stunning," he said. "Exotic, with your skin white as paper and your hair like beaten gold. You fascinate me. Stay with me, marry me, and you will be safe and content--that I can promise you. My harem is a happy one--my wives look after and support each other. And I will never force you to share my bed."
He shrugged, a smile playing on his lips. "I cannot promise I will not try to persuade you, though."
"He is very good at that," Farah said. "Be warned."
He gave her another exasperated glance, then rolled his eyes. He smiled and raised my hand to his lips. "Stay with me," he repeated. "For now, at least. If you do not want to sleep with me, I will have to content myself with admiring you from afar."
I looked into his eyes. They were wide and sincere, filled with smiles.
I thought of Farah's words. "You are going to try to seduce me to your bed, though."
He gave a little shrug, but his eyes told me he had every intention of doing just that.
"You would be disappointed in me," I whispered. "I do not know how to please a man."
"It would be fun to teach you. And to learn what pleases you, too." The look in his eyes suggested he relished the thought.
Sex and pleasure had never gone together for me. Would he be able to eradicate all the bad memories I had of being abused and taken against my will?
I swallowed down my nerves. "I will come with you," I whispered. "For now."
He held my gaze, and slowly a warm smile spread crossed his face. "Good," he said.
He pushed himself to his feet, lifted my veil, and then leaned down until his lips were only inches from mine. My heart hammered, but I forced myself to sit still. I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted to know--however briefly--what Nedira had felt when he kissed her, and why Farah spoke of him with such love.
The Prince waited a moment, maybe to see if I would object. When I said nothing, he smiled and closed the distance between us.
My husband's kisses had been wet and slobbery, carried out with force, as if he were a dog lapping at my face.
The Prince's kiss was light, like the brush of a summer breeze on a hot day. His lips were firm and dry, and all he did was press them briefly against mine. My eyelids fluttered shut, and I became aware of the heat of the desert beyond the shade, the jangle of harnesses and the murmurs of men in the distance as they packed up camp, and the smell of sandalwood, arising from the warm skin of the man before me.
It only lasted seconds, but in that blink of a moment he cleansed me of every ugly thing that had ever been done to me. I would never forget that life, but whereas before the sky had been iron-gray and heavy with rain, suddenly the sun came out, filling me with light.
He moved back and lowered the veil. He didn't say anything, but the look in his eyes warmed me from the inside out.
I watched him walk away, trying to remember to breathe, then looked at Nedira and Farah, who had been watching the scene unfold with interest.
"Told you," Farah said, and bit into a peach.