The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(6) by Susan Mallery
“The balcony circles the entire palace. From the south end you can look toward Lucia-Serrat.”
“I’ve heard of the island. It’s supposed to be very beautiful.”
“Much of this area is.”
She shook her head. “I had a mental picture of sand as far as the eye could see.
But the city sprawls over a much bigger area than I would have thought. Of course when it ends, there are miles of sand.”
“You noticed that while you were flying today?”
She nodded. “Not much else to do up there. The first few days of dogfighting are pretty boring what with…”
Her voice trailed off. He saw her swallow, then she glanced at him from under long lashes.
“So that was bad, right?” she asked, sounding more resigned than contrite. “I’ve just insulted a prince. Is there a punishment? Do I get sent to the dungeon?”
“Why the sudden concern?” he asked. “Back at the airport you told me I would never beat you.”
“Oh, you won’t,” she told him. “But I should probably be more subtle about it all.”
“Because of the palace?”
“It does sort of put our lives in perspective. I’m a small-town girl and you’re…not.”
“Indeed. I would not even qualify as a big-city girl.”
Her beautiful mouth twisted. “You know what I mean. Maybe you could get me a brochure or some notes. Something along the lines of twenty ways not to insult royalty.”
“There is a person in charge of etiquette. Perhaps I should have him drop by.”
Billie wrinkled her nose. “You’re making fun of me.”
“Only a little.”
“Wow. You have a sense of humor. What’s next on the surprise parade? Do you do your own laundry?”
“A guy thing. My brothers don’t do theirs either. But then that’s fairly typical of—”
A sharp yowl cut through the conversation. He turned toward the sound but Billie was already moving across the marble flooring. Several sharp barks were followed by a yip.
“Muffin!” she cried as she plunged into a fray of fur, paws, teeth and tails.
While Jefri had no desire to rescue her pet, he felt obligated to offer assistance. He eyed Billie’s bare legs and hands, then moved behind her, wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her out of the way.
She squealed, adding to the din. He had a brief impression of curves, heat and potential before he set her down behind him.
“I’ll take care of this,” he said as he reached into the swirl of cats and plucked out a small growling, yelping ball of fur.
For his trouble he received several scratches, a bite from the dog and enough hair on his suit to change the color from black to gray.
“I believe this is yours.” He handed the small, shaking dog to her.
She pulled the creature close and brushed her hands over its body. “Muffin! Are you hurt? Did those horrible, mean killers hurt you?”
After reassuring herself that Muffin had indeed survived, she turned her attention to him.
“I don’t know what to say,” she breathed, her blue eyes wide and anguished.
“They could have killed her.”
He examined his hand. Muffin’s bite hadn’t broken the skin, but several of the cats had left their mark.
“I think she would have survived the encounter.”
He crossed to the main door and opened it, then shooed the cats out of the suite.
“There may still be one or two left in here,” he said. “Just give them a push out the door.”
She glanced around uneasily, then moved close. “How can I thank you?”
Her voice was low and intense. Had she been someone of his usual social circle, he would have assumed she was offering more than a polite acknowledgment of what he’d done. But with Billie, he wasn’t so sure. Besides, as much as he wanted her in his bed, he intended to seduce her every step of the way. He had a feeling that with her, anticipation would only make the experience sweeter.
“It was no matter.”
She shook her head and set Muffin on the sofa. “It was a huge deal. Those cats were so horrible.” She reached for his hand and took it in hers. “You’re bleeding!”
A few of the scratches seeped blood. Jefri wasn’t the least bit concerned, but he didn’t object when Billie dragged him into the large bathroom and ran water over his hand.
Her skin was smooth and warm against his own. She stood close enough for him to feel the heat of her body and the light brush of her br**sts against his arm.
“You were very brave,” she said.
“They were only cats.”
“Killers by nature,” she murmured as she reached for a towel.
He wiped his hands then touched his finger to her chin. “What happened that made you so afraid of cats? While I’ll agree they are hunters, they are small enough that you would never be in danger of them.”
She shrugged. “I don’t like them.”
“I gathered that. The question is why?”
Billie sighed. Her breath teased his skin and he dropped his hand to his side.
“When I was young, I desperately wanted a pet,” she said. “Something of my own.
But my mother was concerned about getting me one because my brothers were so wild. She doubted any pet big enough to hold its own with them would be a good animal for me. But on my seventh birthday, my brothers pitched in and got me a white mouse.”
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