The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(44) by Susan Mallery
He stared into her eyes. “That is not what I wanted.”
“It’s what you got and now you’re stuck.”
As was she. She glanced around on the pretense of looking for Muffin. “I need to go find my dog,” she said and hurried away.
She wouldn’t care, she told herself. Not about him. Not about what could have been. There was no future here. When the contract was up, she would get in her plane and fly away without once looking back. There was no alternative.
The morning crawled by. Jefri had not considered the torture of being confined with Billie in the small area of the shop and having to pretend she didn’t matter. He couldn’t touch her or have her close to him. He had to keep his attention on Tahira, enduring her overeager smiles and attempts to please him.
The girl had no opinions of her own, no thoughts, save his. He supposed he should have enjoyed that, but he did not.
Billie kept carefully out of reach, as elusive as a beam of light. She disappeared on the pretext of looking for a certain dress, or getting another size for Tahira, or finding her dog. As Muffin had curled up on a cushion on the floor and gone to sleep, the latter excuse was the most feeble, but a part of him understood why she felt the need to pretend.
Tahira appeared in a light green dress that skimmed her knees. The silky fabric clung to her body. In her own youthful way, she was attractive, he thought, as disconnected from her as if he viewed a sculpture. She was reasonably intelligent and gentle of spirit. Her only sin was to not be the woman who haunted his dreams.
“What do you think?” he asked before she could request his opinion.
Tahira blinked at him. “But you are the prince.”
“So I have been told. You have not answered my question.”
She looked confused, as if her opinion had never been requested. Carefully, she faced the mirror and studied herself.
“The color is good,” she said slowly. “The length does not suit me. The hem should be an inch or two shorter or longer. Some fullness here,” she touched her hips “would soften the silhouette.”
“As you wish,” he said.
She met his gaze in the mirror. “What do you mean?”
“Have the dress altered or find another that suits you better.”
Her eyes widened. “But you did not say what you thought.”
Tahira looked as out of place and frightened as a wild rabbit. She darted back to the dressing room.
“You need to pace yourself,” Billie said as she appeared from around a rack of dresses. “Too much freedom all at once will only terrify her.”
“So I see.”
She fingered an evening gown without looking at it. “I’m glad you’re going to be kind to her.”
“Is there another choice?”
“Of course, but I like that you don’t think so.”
“You have yet to try on clothing.”
She shrugged. “This place isn’t exactly my kind of store.”
“Why do I know that is not true?” She walked around the rack of dresses and he followed. “There must be something that tempts you.”
When she didn’t answer, he began to study the evening gowns. They were all elegant and formal, but nothing about them caught his eye until he saw a beaded dress. The various shades of blue were as beautiful as the Arabian Sea. They swirled across the fabric in a glittering pattern that dazzled the eye.
“This one,” he said, pulling it out and handing it to her.
“No, I couldn’t,” she said automatically, even as her fingers rubbed the delicate fabric.
He took the dress off the rack and handed it her. “Of course you could.”
She took it and held it up against her. Her blue eyes darkened to the color of sapphires. “It’s more of a princess dress, which isn’t exactly me.”
He stared at her, wanting what he could not have and unable to want what he could.
“Try it on,” he insisted.
She gave in with a little nod and disappeared into the dressing area.
Jefri sank down in one of the chairs provided. He studied the way Muffin curled up on her cushion and the fabric of the carpet. In desperation, he reached for the newspaper lying on a small table. Anything to keep from imagining what Billie was doing right that moment—how she would have to undress down to just her panties before pulling on the dress and how she would look as she stood there nearly naked.
Wanting poured through him. Need grew until it overwhelmed him. Desperation propelled him to his feet. He had the thought that he would follow her into the small dressing area and claim her as his own.
Would she resist his touch? Would she yield? He knew how she would look, the texture of her skin and the scent of her body. He knew how he could carry her away on a wave of pleasure that left her boneless with contentment. He knew his own reaction to claiming her as his own.
Tahira’s small voice drew him back to reality. He opened his eyes and looked at the young woman in the simple black gown. The heavy fabric overwhelmed her small frame and made her seem like a girl playing dress-up.
Before he could speak, Billie appeared next to her. The shimmering fabric hugged every curve, as if the gown had been made for her. The light reflecting on the beads made her skin glow. She was a goddess next to a mortal.
Tahira stared at her reflection in the mirror and knew the dress was all wrong.
It didn’t hang right and there was something about the fabric itself. But what, exactly, eluded her.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online