She could speak the word, but it was hardly real to her. It was the same as saying she was going to wake up an aardvark. A princess? Her? Not possible.
“I see,” As’ad murmured. “What were her instructions?”
Kayleen tried to remember them all. “I shouldn’t go out by myself. I shouldn’t talk to any man who isn’t staff or a member of the royal family. I shouldn’t wear my ring until the engagement is officially announced. I shouldn’t talk to the press, dress inappropriately.” She paused. “There’s more. I wrote it all down.”
He touched her cheek, then lightly kissed her. “It seems there are many things you should not do. Perhaps it would have been easier to give you a list of what is allowed.”
“That’s what I thought.”
His dark gaze settled on her face. “Kayleen, you may do whatever pleases you. In all things. I would ask that you not travel outside of the palace walls without a bodyguard, but you may come and go as you wish. You are my fiancée, not my slave.”
She liked the sound of that. “But Fayza was very insistent.”
“I assure you, she will not be again. Would it please you to wear your engagement ring?”
She nodded. Somehow wearing the ring made her feel as if she belonged.
“I would like you to wear it, as well.”
She went into her bedroom and slipped on the ring. When she turned, she found As’ad behind her. He pulled her close and settled his mouth on hers.
His kiss was warm and insistent, with just enough passion to make her breath catch. She liked the feel of him next to her, the way he held her as if he would never let her go. She liked the taste and scent of him, the fire that burst to life inside of her.
“What are they doing?” Nadine asked in what Kayleen guessed was supposed to be a whisper.
“They’re kissin’,” Pepper told her.
As’ad straightened. “There are issues with children I would not have guessed,” he told her. “Such as privacy.”
She smiled. “It’s because they’re excited about the surprise. You never said what it was.”
“You’re right. I did not.” He led her back into the living room and faced the girls. “We are going shopping. All three of you need new wardrobes, now that you are to be my daughters.”
Nadine spun in place. “Pretty dresses and party shoes?”
“Of course. Riding clothes, as well. Play clothes and whatever else Kayleen thinks you require.”
“I want a crown,” Pepper announced.
As’ad laughed. “I am not sure the store carries crowns, but we will ask.”
Kayleen laughed. “Maybe we can make one here.” She turned to him. “Thank you. The girls will love getting new things. They’re all growing so quickly.”
“You will be shopping, as well,” he told her.
“You need a wardrobe that befits your new position.” He shook his head. “What you have will not do.”
She felt herself flush and tried to tell herself that it made sense a prince wouldn’t be impressed by her plain, inexpensive wardrobe.
“I’ve never been much of a shopper,” she admitted. Growing up, she’d made do with hand-me-downs and donations. When she started working, she’d never made a lot of money and her clothing budget had been modest at best.
“You will have to learn,” he told her. “You are a beautiful woman and you deserve to wear beautiful things. Silks and lace with jewels that glitter. You will sparkle like the stars in the sky.”
She’d never heard him talk like this before, she thought happily. She liked it.
The store was like nothing she’d ever seen before. It was on a quiet street with pale buildings that had striped awnings at all the windows. There was no sign overhead. Just discreet gold lettering on the door.
“I have called ahead,” As’ad told her as they got out of the limo. “Wardrobes have been collected for each of the girls.”
“How did you know the sizes?” she asked, wishing she’d had something nicer to wear into the store. She felt frumpy.
“Neil phoned the laundry and asked them to check. A selection has been made for each of them but the final decision is yours. If something has been forgotten, it will be ordered.”
Kayleen had a feeling this was going to be a different experience than the sixty-percent-off sales at the discount stores she usually frequented.
A tall, slender woman greeted them graciously. She was beautifully dressed and smiled as she bowed to Prince As’ad.
“Sir, you are always welcome here. How delighted we are to be of service.”