The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(15) by Susan Mallery
Between the kiss and her fury at what she’d found out, she hadn’t gotten much sleep herself, which meant she’d had plenty of time to work up a head of steam.
A tiny part of her looked forward to exploding all over her brother.
As she’d expected he was asleep. She crossed to the windows and pulled open the drapes. As light spilled onto the bed, he stirred, then rolled onto his back.
“What the hell are you doing?” he growled. “Do you know what time I got to bed?”
“Ask me if I care,” Billie said as she moved close to the side of the bed and glared down at her brother. “You are so in trouble. Don’t for one second think you’re going to talk your way out of this. I mean to have your head on a platter. Or maybe a stick. I haven’t decided.”
Doyle stretched and yawned. He looked amazingly unconcerned as he sat up and leaned against the headboard. His sleep-mussed hair fell across his forehead and stubble darkened his jaw.
“You’re sure flapping your lips,” he said with a complete lack of concern for her temper. “But you’re not saying much.”
She picked up one of his boots and tossed it at him. “Don’t you dare dismiss me, you rat. How dare you run my life? You don’t have the right.”
He batted away the flying boot and stared at her. “You’ve gone over the edge.”
“Not yet, but I’m really close.” She picked up the other boot and was pleased to see him duck. “That’s right. Be afraid. Because you have messed with something you’re going to regret.”
“Put that down,” he said, lunging toward her.
She was careful to keep out of reach, knowing she was safe as long as Doyle couldn’t grab her. Like all her brothers, he slept in the nude, so he wasn’t going to be getting out of bed anytime soon. She raised the boot again and glared.
“You’ve been warning men away from me, telling them who knows what so they won’t ask me out. How dare you? What I want to know is what gives you the right? I’ve been an adult for a long time. I’m capable of making my own decisions.”
He winced. “You’re crazy.”
“Am I? I couldn’t figure out why perfectly nice guys who had been flirting with me suddenly showed no interest. I thought it was me. But it wasn’t. It was you guys. And Dad. He’s in on it, too, isn’t he?”
“We just thought—”
“What?” she demanded, threatening him with the boot. “That I was too fragile to take care of myself.”
“After what happened before, we thought it was a good idea.”
Not a surprise, she told herself. “Doyle, that was eight years ago. I’m not happy it happened, but didn’t it occur to you that I’m over it?”
“What if some guy tries to hurt you again?”
“I’ll deal with it. You can’t protect me. It’s wrong to try.” She set down the boot. Figures, they’d done the wrong thing for the right reason. “This stops right now. You get out of my personal life.”
He folded his arms over his chest. “Or what?”
She stared at him, at the familiar square jaw and blond hair. At the powerful muscles. When she’d been little and the constant subject of their endless teasing, she always thought that when she got bigger she would be able to take them on. But she’d been wrong. They still thought of her as their baby sister.
Someone who wasn’t quite big enough or grown-up enough or good enough. It didn’t matter that she could blow every one of them, including her father, out of sky in less than three minutes.
“If you all don’t stop treating me like a child, I’m leaving the business.”
Doyle stared at her. “You’re bluffing. You love it too much to leave.”
She did love it, but she wouldn’t stay somewhere she couldn’t be her own person.
“You know I get six job offers a month. I mean it, Doyle. I’ll walk.”
He swore under his breath, then held up his hands in a gesture of surrender.
“Fine. I’ll talk to Dad and the guys. It may take us a while to, you know, act differently.”
“I’m sure you’re more than up to the task.”
He grumbled something under his breath, no doubt calling her names. None of her brothers had ever been especially gracious losers.
“I need to get to the airport,” she said brightly. “I have simulation training this afternoon.” She started to walk out of the room.
“Hey. What about the drapes,” he yelled after her.
“Get up and close them yourself.”
Feeling more than a little empowered, Billie walked back toward her rooms. She still had to collect Muffin before heading to the airport. In her own car with her own driver, she thought with a grin. Ah, it was good to be her right now.
She rounded a corner and nearly ran smack into Prince Jefri. All her breezy confidence drained away, leaving her feeling awkward, silly and tongue-tied.
“You appear to be very cheerful,” he said as he stopped in front of her. “Is there a reason?”
Man, oh man did he look good, she thought as she took in the dark suit, pale blue shirt and striped tie. Princes had the best clothes and some really great tailoring.
“I, ah…” What was the question? Oh, yeah. “I just told my brother off.”
“Did it go well?”
“Not bad. I believe he got the message.”
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