Hello, my darlings!
I’m late tonight, due to the family descending….
Here’s Chapter Thirteen, and a turning point…..
Copyright © C C MacKenzie 2014
It was hard not to laugh, but Khalid battled to keep his expression fierce and disapproving.
He’d never seen two people look more guilty as the women who sat before him.
As he took in Charisse’s flushed cheeks and the empty bottle of vintage champagne his brows lifted.
“Well, well, and what have we here?” he said in a silky voice that had his fiancée fight a losing battle with helpless laughter.
Charisse was not used to alcohol.
He wondered if either woman had considered how the heat and strong painkillers added into the mix might affect his beloved?
Charisse turned to him and those big blue eyes, filled to the brim with mischief, made his heart trip in his chest. The wide smile on her fabulous mouth caught the breath in his lungs. She looked so beautiful. The loose, thin fabric of her clothes couldn’t hide how willow slim she’d become. Along with the silver colour of her hair, the ivory silk of her gown and gold slippers she wore, she resembled a ray of vivid sunshine.
His fingers itched to paint her.
In an attempt to rise, Charisse swayed on her feet.
Khalid moved fast to scoop her up into his strong arms.
She’d lost too much weight and was as light as a child.
Then Charisse wound slim arms around his neck.
Her fingers slid through his hair.
She ran her fingernails gently across his scalp.
A move which did amazing things to his libido.
Khalid’s blood pooled between his legs.
She smiled and blinked up into his face with big blue eyes brimming with sheer devilment.
“Thank you, Rock Star,” Charisse purred in her throat in a way that fired his groin and made his mother hastily suppress a delighted smile behind her hand.
With a narrow-eyed stare at his helplessly laughing mother, Khalid turned and strode towards the palace.
Someone, he decided, needed a siesta.
Charisse rested her blonde head against his shoulder and stared up at him with sleepy eyes.
Then she inhaled and moved in to sniff his neck.
“You smell wonderful,” she told him. Then she nuzzled and pressed a soft kiss under his ear. “You always smell wonderful.”
All the good intentions he’d fought so hard for over the past days leaked away, fast. She was in no fit state to be made love to and he was a man not used to waiting. His desire for her rode him so hard he winced from the pain of it.
Taking a shaky breath, he stared down into his fiancée’s happy face and tucked his tongue firmly in his cheek.
“Do I?” he drawled.
“Yep. Give me a kish.”
Khalid bit down hard on his bottom lip, determined not to laugh.
He merely shook his head, slid her a look.
“A kish? How many glasses of champagne did you have?’
With a deep frown creasing her smooth forehead, and totally unaware it made her look absolutely adorable, Charisse thought very hard.
“Two!” she announced. Then she pouted her fabulous mouth in a way that made his pulse thrum through his system. “I wanna kish,” she slurred.
Heart full with nothing but love for her, he watched those big eyes, with their thick lashes, close.
Her head lay on his chest.
As Khalid entered the blessed coolness of the palace he saw Sarif and Arabella Faulkner deep in conversation.
The bodyguard’s head jerked up and she raced forward.
“What’s the matter?”
Since Khalid still hadn’t forgiven her for taking Charisse into the desert, his tone was not friendly. “Too much heat. Too much champagne.”
“You gave her alcohol?” she asked in a disbelieving voice.
His temper spiked at the tone.
Who the hell, Khalid thought furiously, did she think she was speaking to?
Sarif took one look at his face and stepped into the breach.
“Miss Faulkner, I believe you have work to do?” The cool reprimand in his voice made the bodyguard go stiff and her face flush.
She nodded once, turned and stalked down the corridor.
“That woman forgets herself,” spat Khalid.
“She’ll be out of your hair soon enough. I’m taking her into my close protection staff.’ Now Sarif’s dark eyes rested on Charisse. “What happened?”
The woman Khalid carried slept soundly.
He held her close as her arms fell from around his neck and her body went limp.
“Charisse will not agree to your plan for Arabella. They are very close, and I do not want her upset.” Then he spoke in a long-suffering tone. “In answer to your second question, our mother happened to her. They shared a bottle of bubbly in the garden. And I doubt it occurred to either of them how the heat might affect the patient. Or, that she’s on strong painkillers. This… is the result.”
Sarif’s granite hard features broke into a grin that took years off him.
“Seriously? I can’t remember the last time I saw mama drink wine.”
“Yeah? Well, you can go and sort her out. I left her crying with laughter under a magnolia tree. And she sounds as if she’s back in Texas.”
“I need to see this,” Sarif muttered under his breath before strolling out the doors into the gardens.
Khalid strode quickly up the stairs, and down a wide corridor to Charisse’s rooms.
Sitting on a chair outside the room, he noticed there was a new nurse on duty.
Her dark eyes went wide when she saw him carrying Charisse.
She followed them into the bedroom and stood by as Khalid laid her on the bed.
“Is it time for her painkiller?” he asked.
It wasn’t unusual for new staff to be nervous around him, but he frowned at the way the young nurse trembled.
She kept her eyes downcast and nodded.
“Yes, Highness. I need to inspect the dressing on her wound.”
Her eyes clicked to his, and he recognised surprise as he made himself comfortable in a chair.
With a flick of the wrist he indicated that she continue.
The nurse unbuttoned Charisse’s top.
She unfolded a surgical pack.
Then washed and dried her hands before snapping on latex gloves.
Taking great care, she removed the dressing.
Khalid leaned forward and saw the wound no longer looked inflamed. But the livid bruise had spread under Charisse’s armpit and down over her hip. The nurse inspected and re-dressed the wound. Then she turned to her bag and brought out a syringe and a small glass vial filled with clear liquid.
Her colour was high and her hand shook.
Watching her, Khalid frowned.
Charisse normally took her medicine by mouth.
The nurse turned to him and he saw she was very pale now with perspiration beading on her forehead.
“An anti-inflammatory. I don’t want to disturb Her Royal Highness.”
That statement made absolutely no sense.
Of course a sharp sting would waken her.
In an instant the atmosphere in the room changed.
He moved fast but not fast enough to stop the needle pierce Charisse’s arm.
She moaned and blinked awake.
Khalid grabbed the nurse’s slim wrist as his arm went around her neck.
His strong fingers twisted the wrist of the hand holding the syringe, and the nurse cried out as she dropped it. She sobbed, but didn’t put up a struggle as Khalid roared for help.
Arabella burst into the room along with the young army medic Khalid recognised from the helicopter. The medic bent down to pick up the syringe.
“Do not touch it,” Khalid bit out. “We don’t know what’s in it.”
Now he turned to the nurse being held by Arabella.
He grabbed the nurse’s black hair and tipped up her face.
The sheer hatred seething in her eyes threw him for a moment.
“What did you give her?”
She lifted her chin. Her eyes were wild with a certain satisfaction that turned the blood in his veins to ice.
“She’ll tell me,” Arabella ground out as she muscled the nurse out of the room.
The medic used a tissue to pick up the vial and syringe to inspect them.
“Not all of it was administered, Highness. It appears to be an opiate. She needs a receptor blocker.” He rushed out of the room.
Heart thundering in his ears, Khalid took Charisse in his arms.
Her beautiful white blonde hair spilled over his arm as her head lolled forward.
He tipped up her chin.
“Talk to me!” he commanded, his voice hoarse with fear.
His thumb lifted the tissue thin skin of her eyelid. Her pupil, he saw with something like terror in his heart, was fully dilated.
Where the hell was the medic?
Moments later the physician flew into the room, ripped open the sleeve of Charisse’s top and inserted the antidote into a vein.
She was so fucking fragile and helpless as she lay in his arms.
The medic measured her vital signs and still Khalid held her, he simply could not let her go.
Charisse gave a low moan.
Her eyelids fluttered as she tried to focus.
Overwhelmed, he buried his face in her neck and just inhaled the scent of her.
Flowers and warm woman.
Christ. Again, he’d almost lost her.
He lifted his head and her face swam as the truth in his heart almost made him sob out loud.
“I am here, my darling. I am here.”
Dear God help him, he loved her.
Dropping to his knees at the side of the bed, he took her hand to his lips as his heart threatened to explode through his ribs. He couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. To lose her would destroy him in ways he dare not contemplate. Then other truths hit him. She wasn’t the only one who was vulnerable. Love made him vulnerable, too. His love for her made him face up to hard facts of life. He’d failed to protect her.
The young medic’s face was pale but determined.
His dark eyes met Khalid’s as he listened to the beat of her heart through a stethoscope.
“I can give her epinephrine, adrenaline. It should make her more alert and assist her heart and lungs. With your permission, Highness?”
While the medic administered the medication, Khalid kept a hold of her hand, brought it to his mouth to nuzzle ice cold fingers. His eyes never left her face. She was too white. And moments later he almost wept as her fingers squeezed his in a weak response. All the while the doctor listened to her heart and lungs.
He smiled now at Khalid and nodded. “We need to monitor her, but the worst is over.”
With difficulty, Khalid swallowed the rock wedged too tight in his throat.
“Can I have some time alone with her?”
The medic nodded once. “Of course, I will be outside when you need me.”
When the bedroom door closed, Khalid laid his head gently on the flat belly of the woman he loved…
He took a shaky breath and inhaled her scent as Charisse’s frail fingers attempted to explore his hair.
“That’s the last time I’ll ever drink champagne,” she murmured.
He found himself crying and laughing at the pissed-off tone in her voice.
“Look at me, Khalid,” the words, softly spoken, were a command.
He raised his head to drown in dazed blue eyes and what he read there, understanding and unconditional love, humbled him as a human being and, as a man.
She licked her lips and continued, “The time has come for nothing but the truth between us. Agreed?”
He spoke from the heart, “I love you, baby.” His words were the merest whisper.
Her wide smile almost made him want to weep, because he knew he wasn’t man enough for her, wasn’t good enough for her, or for Onuur and its peoples.
Charisse and Onuur deserved so much more.
“I love you, Rock Star.”
The words brought joy to his heart. But they also brought a sense of desolation and despair. He thrust the negative emotions aside. His fears meant nothing. The most important thing was to assure her safety, and to give her his love.
He bent his head and took her soft mouth. Her lips opened under his, and he knew he’d come home. Her tongue, shy and untutored, explored his bottom lip and his whole body shuddered in response.
The breath sobbed from his throat as he buried his face in the heady cent of the delicate skin of her neck.
“Dear God, Charisse, I thought I’d lost you.”
He lifted his head, and again his mouth took hers.
This kiss was supposed to be gentle and tender. But it didn’t last. And soon a mutual hunger that could not be denied, overcame shock and fear. He clung to her as she clung to him. All that mattered was their love. A love that would endure no matter what challenges the fates threw in their path to happiness.
Copyright © C C MacKenzie 2014
Thank you so much for the feedback, I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the story…..
More to come.