The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(9) by Susan Mallery
“Caring for them is not required, although you aren’t allowed to injure any.”
“I’m okay with that, but Muffin may be another matter.” She glanced down at her dog and wrinkled her nose. “She’s only seven pounds, so I don’t think she could do much more than cause a lot of noise.”
The king followed her gaze, then smiled. “That is true. I will have to hope my cats are up to the challenge. If there—”
A loud howl interrupted his sentence. Billie sprang to her feet and headed toward the noise just as a black-and-white cat flew in front of her. She sidestepped to avoid stepping on the horrible creature and slid off the stone path. Her momentum didn’t help her regain her balance and she felt herself falling.
Suddenly strong arms grabbed her from behind. Someone hauled her up, rescuing her from what could have been some serious pain. Billie caught her breath as she felt rock-hard muscles, incredible body heat and the thundering beat of her own heart.
Please God let her not have been rescued by the king. He was handsome and all that, but old enough that having a visceral reaction to him bordered on icky.
She turned her head and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw Jefri gazing at
her from only a few inches away.
“Your dog seems to be in trouble again,” he said as he righted her. “She has a knack for finding it.”
Billie straightened and brushed off her dress. “I would say with all these cats stalking her, she has little choice except to protect herself.”
Remembering the presence of the king a half sentence too late, she swallowed.
“Not that the cats aren’t lovely,” she added in a small voice.
Jefri raised his eyebrows, but didn’t speak. The king looked amused. He bent over and scooped up a now calm and silent Muffin.
“So you are a troublemaker,” he said, staring into her dog’s little face.
“Perhaps you need to learn your place in the world.”
Billie hoped that place didn’t involve a cage. “She travels with me everywhere.
She’s sort of spoiled.”
“So I see.” He set the dog down on the ground and patted her head. “I would like you and your brother to join me for dinner tonight.” He straightened. “If you can bear to leave the little one in your room.”
Dinner with the king? How many times did that happen to a girl like her?
“Absolutely.” She mentally flashed on her wardrobe. “Formal? Informal?”
“It will just be family,” he said.
Which didn’t answer her question but made her wonder if the ever-hunky Prince Jefri would be there.
“Good. Would you like to inform your brother?”
Billie thought of Doyle’s reaction to dinner with royalty. He wouldn’t be amused.
“I’ll let you tell him,” she said, knowing even her brother wouldn’t dare lose his temper with a king. “He’ll be thrilled.”
Jefri’s mouth twitched, which made her wonder if he knew what she was thinking.
Not possible, she told herself. Men like him didn’t care about brains or thoughts. They wanted…She paused as she realized she didn’t know what men like
him wanted from women. But as she was neither a supermodel nor the heir to a champagne fortune, she was unlikely to find out anytime soon.
“Seven-thirty then,” the king said.
“I’ll be there.” She bent over and scooped up Muffin, then headed back to her room. If she was going to dine with royalty she needed much bigger hair.
Jefri finished knotting his tie and turned to reach for his jacket. As he picked it up, he checked the fabric for cat hairs.
“Try this,” his brother, Murat, said and tossed him a delinting roll.
Jefri went to work on his jacket while Murat lounged on the recently dehaired sofa.
“She really has a dog?” his brother asked.
“It is more of a rat with fur.” Of course Billie seemed to have an affinity for rodents, he thought remembering the tragedy of her mouse.
“And she shot you out of the sky?”
Jefri shrugged into the jacket and turned his attention on his brother. “Not literally.”
“I can see that.” Murat grinned. “I cannot wait to meet her.”
Jefri said nothing as he stared at Murat. His brother rose, stretched, then chuckled.
“I am the crown prince,” Murat said, as if Jefri needed reminding. “I may claim who I choose.”
“You may not claim this one.”
One dark eyebrow rose. “Why not?”
Jefri allowed himself a small smile. “She is mine.”
“Ah. Does she know?”
“Not yet, but she will. Soon.”
“Then I wish you luck, my brother.”
“I will not need it.”
Jefri was determined. Nothing would stand in the way of his learning all of Billie’s secrets, then having her in his bed.
Like most women, Billie had loved to play dress-up when she’d been younger, so the chance to actually put on finery for real was too good to pass up. Plus one of her job perks was attending the Paris Air Show every other year. Which meant after she and her brothers oohed and ahhed over the latest in aviation technology, she went shopping.
She stood now in one of her impulse purchases—a shimmering floor-length dark purple gown. The halter-style permitted her to show off curves and still wear a bra—always exciting. Combs held her hair off her face and allowed her to tease the curls up about another inch, while long tendrils cascaded down her back.
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