The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(23) by Susan Mallery
“Yes, it’s a gift and one we can all take advantage of tomorrow. Now get out of here.”
She pushed on her brother, but as he was about ten inches taller and oh, sixty pounds of muscle heavier, he didn’t budge.
“What’s your problem?” he demanded.
“I told you. I’m busy.”
Doyle folded his arms over his chest and raised his eyebrows. “With what?”
She planted her hands on her hips and did her best to look stern.
“I have a date.”
His expression hardened. “With whom?”
She knew he was mad whenever he started using really correct grammar. “I’m over twenty-one and you don’t own me, so I don’t have to say.”
“I’m not leaving until you give me all the particulars.”
She laughed. “Doyle, this isn’t the nineteenth century. There aren’t any particulars. A man asked me to dinner and I said yes. Get over it.”
“You have a responsibility to this company.”
“Oh, please.” She rolled her eyes. “How many times have I covered for you? A thousand? I would say I’m entitled to a night off when I want it.”
His gaze narrowed as he studied her. “It’s that damn prince, isn’t it?”
“I’m not sure you want to swear in front of his title. They might string you up for that.”
He swore again. “Billie, I know you’re mad about what we’ve all been doing.”
“What? Oh, you mean running my life and warning off men behind my back?” She wanted to punch him but she knew that not only would she fail to really hurt him, she might mess up her freshly manicured nails.
“You were a pig,” she told him instead. “All of you. You had no right and I deeply resent it.”
“Fine. Be mad. Go out, but not with him.”
“What’s wrong with Jefri?”
“Nothing, except he’s a damn prince.”
“I actually know that.”
He dropped his arms to his sides. “Billie, you’re out of your league with a man like him.”
She knew what he meant. That she was just the hired help and Jefri was royal.
“I’m not expecting anything more than dinner, Doyle. You don’t have to get your panties in a bunch.”
His mouth twisted. “I don’t wear panties.”
“I know, but you get my drift. You’re making too much of this. It’s just dinner.”
“Uh-huh. That’s why you’re spending five hours primping.”
“I haven’t spent five hours.” It had barely been two. “Besides, grooming is fun.”
“You’re not good at this kind of thing,” he said. “You don’t have the practice.”
“Oh, right. And who’s fault would that be? Hmmm. Yours?”
“Fine. Blame me. But at least start on someone easier. A regular guy. I could set you up with someone.”
“No, thanks. I’m not interested in who you think is right for me.”
She shuddered to imagine what kind of man Doyle would send her way. Someone bland, sexless and terrified of her brothers, most likely.
“He’s completely wrong for you,” Doyle told her.
“Maybe, but he asked me out to dinner and I said yes. I suggest you get over it.” She walked to the door and held it open. “I have to get dressed now.”
He walked toward the door, then paused. “You’re making a mistake, sis. He could crush you like a bug.”
As she knew he was genuinely worried, she decided not to kill him. “I appreciate the concern, but I need to do this. Maybe I’m jumping into the deep end, but I’m a big girl. I know how to swim.”
“Swimming won’t help if he’s a shark.”
With that cheerful statement, Doyle walked out and she slammed the door behind him.
“Men,” she muttered.
“The city planners wanted more than a typical high-rise skyline in the financial district,” Jefri said as their car turned down the main boulevard. “While the
buildings are tall, there are levels with gardens and art museums.”
Billie leaned toward the window. “Is that one hollow?”
He chuckled. “Parts of it are. There is also an illusion of seeing through to the other side. That is part of the design.”
“They’re beautiful,” she breathed as she turned her head to take in all the gleaming, modern structures.
“In the late 1970s my father realized that Bahania would not always be able to count on our oil reserves. That in three or four generations, the wells would begin to run dry and it was necessary for him to prepare his country for that future. In concert with the king of El Bahar, our neighbor, he opened trade markets and made financial institutions welcome.”
She turned back to him and smiled. “That’s some family history.”
The sun had long set, leaving the city bathed in the glow of streetlights. The illumination barely penetrated the limo, so he couldn’t see much more than her profile and a hint of her features. Still, her beauty took his breath away.
Talking about the changes in the city over the past thirty or forty years might not be interesting, but he knew the information by heart and didn’t have to consider his words. Were they to discuss something more personal, he had a feeling he might verbally stumble.
She stunned him. That the confident, capable woman who flew as if she’d been born to the sky could also look like a goddess seemed impossible. Yet it was true.
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