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Secrets Of A Pregnant Princess
By Carla Cassidy
Harlequin EnterprisesCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePrincess Samira Kamal clutched the ends of her armrests as the small, private jet began its descent. Takeoffs or landings - she wasn't sure which she hated more.
"May I get you something, Princess?" Samira looked at the man seated directly across from her. Farid Nasir ... her bodyguard. Even here, on her father's private jet with no one else in the plane but the crew, Farid was on alert with no relaxation in any part of his firmly muscled body.
"No, thank you. I'm fine," she replied and turned her attention to the window where the island of Montebello had come into view.
It wasn't a long flight from her country of Tamir to the neighboring island of Montebello, but this flight had seemed endless. Each moment had been sheer agony since she'd made the decision to fly to Montebello and meet Desmond Caruso.
She shot a glance at her traveling companion. Farid had been her bodyguard for less than three months, but in that time she hadn't seen him crack a smile or display any hint of a sense of humor. She would concede that he was handsome, with his short raven hair and firmly chiseled features. He had beautiful eyes, dark brown with thick, long lashes. However, they were cold ... soulless, never giving a hint of the man within.
She dismissed thoughts of Farid as thewheels of the small royal jet hit the runway. If things went as she planned during this visit to Montebello, she wouldn't need her father to provide her with a bodyguard. She would have a husband to provide all that she needed.
A slight trepidation shot through her as she realized that within the next hour she would see Desmond again. Surely all her dreams were about to come true. She and Desmond would marry and hopefully live happily ever after.
She closed her eyes, remembering how it had felt to be in Desmond's arms, imagining how wonderful it would be to be his wife for the rest of her life.
She'd spoken to him on the phone only the week before and he'd told her how much he missed her, how much he wished they could be together. He'd told her he thought of her day and night and longed for the time they could be together again. He had to be the right man for her. He just had to be!
"Princess ..." She frowned at the interruption into her pleasant daydreams. Opening her eyes, she saw Farid standing up, waiting patiently for her attention.
"There is a car waiting to take you to the palace."
"Yes, of course." She stood and allowed Farid to escort her off the plane and into the limo with a miniature Montebellan black, white, and gold flag flying from its antenna.
Farid didn't sit back in the seat and relax, but rather sat forward, his gaze going from window to window with the alertness of a big cat on the prowl.
As usual, he was stoically silent on the brief ride from the airstrip to the massive grounds of the royal palace. Just once she'd like to see what his face looked like with a smile curving his lips, with warmth shining from his eyes.
Since he'd been assigned as her personal bodyguard, she'd found him not only to have more than his share of arrogance, but also to be exceptionally good at his job. It was the latter quality that had her worried.
Somehow, someway, in the next couple of hours she desperately needed to escape Farid's watchful eyes to rendezvous with Desmond. She did not want to meet her lover with her bodyguard hovering nearby. She needed time alone with Desmond, time to tell him her news, time for them to make the plans that would seal their future together.
Within minutes they had passed through the guarded gates of the palace grounds. The car pulled up in front of the impressive entrance to the grand palace.
Set on top of a cliff overlooking the sea, the palace was a two-story whitewashed stucco and marble with traditional Mediterranean touches. A large fountain was set amid lush greenery in front of the palace, giving it an added touch of elegance and grandeur.
As they stepped out of the car, Samira could instantly smell the salt brine in the air, could hear the distant sound of waves breaking against the jagged rocks at the base of the cliff where the palace was located.
They entered a large, marble-floored entry with cathedral-height ceilings and ornate gold trim. A butler, who introduced himself as Rudolpho Sabira, led them up the grand staircase to the private quarters of King Marcus Sebastiani and his wife, Queen Gwendolyn.
Samira couldn't help but think that if all went well with Desmond, she would be related to the king and queen of Montebello through marriage, as was her brother Rashid.
"Princess Samira." The lovely Queen Gwendolyn took her hands and greeted her warmly. "It's such a pleasure to have you here as our guest."
"Thank you," Samira replied, then looked at the white-haired king who stood next to the queen. "King Marcus, my father sends his regards."
"And they are returned," King Marcus said. "I understand you've come to explore the beauty of our island."
"Yes. I was quite captured by the beauty of Montebello the last time I was here and thought it would be a perfect spot to spend a week of vacation time. I'm also eager to visit with Princess Anna. I so enjoyed spending time with her when you were all in Tamir for my brother Hassan's wedding."
"Ah, yes." King Marcus's eyes lit with obvious affection as he thought of his youngest daughter. "Unfortunately, Anna is not in residence at the moment. She and her new husband, Tyler Ramsey, are spending some time in the United States."
Samira had known before she left Tamir that Anna wasn't in Montebello, a fact her own father had been unaware of. When she'd told her father, Sheik Ahmed Kamal, that she wanted to go to Montebello to visit Anna and to explore the sights of the island, he'd given his blessing, knowing how much she enjoyed Princess Anna's vivaciousness and enthusiasm for life.
"I'm so sorry to learn she isn't here," Samira exclaimed, hoping she sounded genuinely surprised at the news.
"However, the beauty of Montebello awaits you and we have put you in one of the private guest quarters on the ground. We hope you'll be most comfortable," King Marcus continued.
"I'm sure you'd like to freshen up after your trip." A tiny wrinkle appeared in Queen Gwendolyn's forehead. "Has your maid traveled with you or would you like us to provide you one for the duration of your visit?"
Excerpted from Secrets Of A Pregnant Princess by Carla Cassidy Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.