The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(24) by Susan Mallery
She rested her forearms on the balcony and leaned forward. “It sounded better from half a world away. Back home I could dream about the possibilities. Now it’s all just scary.” She turned her head and glanced at him. “I don’t suppose I could persuade him not to give me any money.”
“I don’t think so. The king is pretty stubborn.”
“Great. So I get to be popular for all the wrong reasons. How am I supposed to know if the people I meet like me for me or because I’m Hassan’s daughter?”
“I can’t answer that.” He would be far better at planning a kidnapping or taking out a foreign government.
Zara nodded. “It’s really late, and we should both try to sleep. You’ve been really sweet to stay out here and talk to me, but I’m sure you’d rather be in bed.”
She’d read his mind, he thought. Unfortunately they were thinking about two different kinds of “in bed.” She meant alone and he wanted to be with her.
“Good night, Zara.”
He waited until she walked back into her bedroom before sitting back on the bench. As he stared at the stars in the desert sky, he willed his body to return to normal.
But the need was slow to leave him and it was nearly dawn before he finally closed his eyes and slept.
The Princess Sabra…aka Sabrina…did not make good on her promise to lend her new sister clothes. Instead, the following afternoon shortly before two there was a knock on the suite door.
Zara stopped pacing long enough to watch Cleo answer it. So far she’d had a short but intense meeting with her father, and someone from his office had delivered a thick pile of reports, books and brochures on Bahania and the ruling family. Zara couldn’t shake the feeling that she was going to get grilled on the information sometime later.
“Maybe it’s the guy who’s gonna give you your pop quiz,” Cleo said cheerfully as she opened the door.
But the people who waited in the hallway obviously had nothing to do with tests or questions. Three loudly speaking, broadly gesturing French women entered the suite followed by servants pushing large clothing racks. Someone brought in a pallet of shoe boxes. There were also dozens of shopping bags filled with lingerie and knits and hat boxes.
“I am Marie,” a petite redhead said as she approached Zara and smiled. “Ah, you are the one. I see the likeness.” She winked broadly. “Nothing is to be said yet, I know. You can trust Marie. And this beauty is your sister.”
After squeezing Zara’s hand, Marie glided over to Cleo and embraced her. She fingered Cleo’s short, spiky hair.
“The color is amazing. Natural I am thinking, yes?”
Cleo nodded. Her blue eyes widened as she took in all the clothes. Marie followed her gaze.
“Ah. You have noticed my humble offerings. Princess Sabra called this morning and explained that you two had need of everything. And there is the dinner tonight. You must look perfect.”
Zara had been doing her best not to think about the state dinner. King Hassan had promised that there would be a protocol meeting later that afternoon. Zara preferred to skip the entire event, but the king wouldn’t hear of it.
She looked at the racks of clothes. There were formal gowns, plus more casual clothing. “I don’t understand. I’ll admit that Cleo and I each need a dress, but you’ve brought a lot more than that.”
Marie beamed. “The princess insisted that you completely redo your wardrobes. She said you were from a much colder climate and were not prepared for the heat of Bahania.”
Zara pressed her lips together. At least Sabrina had been tactful. What she could have said instead was that the woman who might be her new half sister dressed in bargain-basement chic. Zara didn’t think she’d ever spent more than a hundred dollars on an outfit, with the possible exception of one of her suits. Cleo preferred in-style and cheap to classics that would last more than a season.
Zara moved to the rack and fingered a pink chiffon dress. Her movements caused the price tag to flutter slightly. She gasped and hastily released the fabric. The dress cost twelve thousand dollars. Twelve thousand dollars. That would practically pay for a new car.
“We can’t,” Zara said, tucking her hands behind her back. “This isn’t right.”
Cleo frowned. “Zara, what’s the problem?”
Zara nodded at the rack. Cleo looked at a couple of dresses, sighing audibly when she brushed against a midnight blue velvet gown. Her breath caught a second later. She looked at her sister.
“I prefer to spend my take-home pay on rent and food, but everyone has different priorities,” Cleo said brightly, but Zara could see the shock in her eyes.
“My thoughts exactly.”
Marie looked confused. She exchanged an unintelligible conversation with her two assistants. Zara had taken French in high school, but her only memories of the language included telling someone her name and asking the time. Not that she would be able to understand the answer to the question.
Marie motioned to the clothes. “You are not happy with the quality of our things? I assure you, these are the finest designer originals. The styles are both contemporary and flattering. If you would be so kind as to tell me what I can change, I will do so.” She appeared more worried than annoyed.
“It’s not your clothes,” Zara said. “We can’t afford these ourselves, and I’m not comfortable accepting them as a gift.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online