The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(17) by Susan Mallery
“I know you’re pissed off,” she said as she approached. “You got too cocky in that last run and didn’t think. You always have to respect your opponent because up there, the ordinance is real and you can get dead really fast.”
Light spilled in from a window and illuminated her pale skin. Color stained her cheeks, but he suspected it came from her being upset rather than a cosmetic.
“You need to let go of the fact that I’m a woman,” she told him, sounding delightfully earnest. “I have knowledge to share with you. That’s it.”
She continued to speak, expressing platitudes designed to restore a fragile male ego.
Of course, he told himself. This was her world. Every new client had pilots who resented her ability simply because she was a woman. How long had she been apologizing for being the best?
She was the most amazing woman. Bright, determined, talented. Erotically sensual.
He wanted her with every cell of his being, but even more than that, he wanted to make things all right for her.
“Meet me in an hour,” he said, cutting her off in midsentence.
She blinked at him. “Excuse me?”
“Meet me in front of the Van Horn office in an hour.” He glanced over her short skirt and tight T-shirt. “Bring a jacket.”
“I have classes. I have other students who…”
He pressed a finger to her lips to still her words and to feel the warmth and softness of her skin.
“Please,” he said. “I have something I want to show you.”
Billie walked to the front of the Van Horn office as Jefri had requested. She’d even brought along a jacket, although it had to be close to eighty degrees in the shade. Nothing in her previous work experience had prepared her for this kind of a situation and she was still figuring out how to deal with it when Jefri pulled up in an open Jeep and patted the passenger seat invitingly.
“I understand that you’re the prince and everything,” she said as she climbed inside, “but that’s not important to the rest of my students. I have a responsibility to them as well as you and I can’t disappear on a moment’s notice just because you will it.”
He grinned and drove through the airport. “Actually, you can. I promise not one of your students will complain.”
“But that’s because you’re in charge of the air force.”
Obviously she wasn’t getting through. “You need to use your power for good, not evil.”
His dark eyes crinkled at the corners. “I promise nothing evil will happen today.”
“I’m not sure that’s good enough.”
“You will have to trust me.”
Something she wasn’t prepared to do. Not completely. He was the kind of man who hated being defeated by anyone and her ability to consistently cramp his winning streak was problematic. The thing was, she didn’t know what to do about it.
Usually she accepted the situation and moved on. But with Jefri…
If he’d been a lousy kisser none of this would have mattered. Or if he didn’t make her heart beat so fast. If she didn’t like him she wouldn’t care that she had the potential to grind his ego into dust.
“Stop thinking,” he told her. “You are here to enjoy yourself and be impressed.”
“This isn’t about flying, is it?” she asked. “That’s kind of a bad place to try to impress me.”
He smiled. “We shall see.”
Maybe she could pretend to be impressed, she thought, as he circled behind the hangars for Bahanian Air and headed for a large, unmarked structure. If she could just act like other women, then she could coo and swoon and do all those girly things. Lord knows she had the hair products to go all gooey.
Jefri stopped by the door to the large structure.
“When you get out, I want you to cover your eyes.”
She glanced at him. “Not exactly my style.”
“Please. I want this to be a surprise.”
And she wanted to see him smile again. “Okay.”
She climbed down, then covered her eyes with one hand. He took the other and led her into the building. She immediately sensed the change from bright sunlight to dim shade.
“Do not move,” he said, stepping away.
She heard footsteps, then a click, followed by an explosion of light.
“Now,” he told her.
She opened her eyes and looked around. The gasp of appreciation didn’t have to be faked. She meant it all the way down to her toes.
“You’re kidding,” she breathed as she took in a hangar full of beautiful restored old planes.
She spotted a Tiger Moth, a Fokker, even a Spitfire. Billie felt her chest getting tight as she tried to take in the wonders of Jefri’s very private air museum.
“I can’t believe it,” she breathed. “You own these?”
“This is only part of my collection,” he said as he walked toward the large airplane-sized hangar doors and pushed a button. The huge metal doors began to open.
“Several of my planes are at the Bahanian national museum. A few are taken around to air shows.”
He walked over and took her hand, then led her to the Tiger Moth.
“Your headgear and goggles are there,” he said pointing to a small table beside the plane.
Her mouth dropped open. “We’re going up in it?”
“Of course.” He grinned. “They are all fully functional.”
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