The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(26) by Susan Mallery
“She’s out with her husband and won’t be back for a couple of hours. I’d be happy to give you my opinion.”
Zara eyed him doubtfully. “Do you know anything about these kind of functions?”
“I’ve been to dozens. Show me what else you’re considering.”
This had been a stupid idea, Rafe told himself fifteen minutes later as he stood in the center of Zara’s bedroom and watched her model a strapless number in emerald green. Even though she disappeared into the bathroom to change, he could hear clothing rustle as she dressed, which was practically the same as seeing her change into each gown. The cut of the current one made it impossible for her to be wearing anything but panties underneath. Which made him think about joining her in the bathroom the next time she disappeared. Which made him think about very personal contact. Which made him hard.
He swore silently and shifted, then sank into a corner chair. With luck, the combination of shadows and her relative innocence would keep her from figuring out that he was aroused.
Zara turned back and forth in front of the full-length mirror. She put her hands on her waist and sighed.
“I don’t know if this looks weird,” she muttered. “Is my neck too long? Do I look like a skinny bird?”
“You look beautiful.”
She met his gaze in the mirror. “Why do I suddenly think that being nice to me is part of the job?”
“It’s not in the contract. Zara, you look great in that dress. So far I’ve liked all of them. What’s the problem?”
“I don’t know. I want to look—” She shook her head. “I guess I want to look like someone else.”
“Because. I’m just ordinary. My skin is a decent color and it’s clear, so that’s nice. I guess I like my eyes, but my mouth is weird.”
He thought it was full and sensual. Her mouth made him think of kissing…intimate kissing. It made him wonder how her lips would feel on his body, his hands tangling in her hair as she—
Down boy, he told himself.
The bedroom door opened and Cleo breezed in. “I’ve found it,” she announced, grinning.
Zara looked at her sister and visibly wilted. Cleo’s dress was similar to Zara’s but in a deep cobalt blue that matched her eyes. The bustier bodice hugged lush curves that threatened to spill out with every breath. The straight skirt skimmed over Cleo’s full hips before falling to the floor. Zara looked cool and elegant, like an ice princess. Cleo was a walking, breathing invitation to have sex.
The two sisters looked at each other. Cleo’s smile faded. “Oh, no. We can’t be twins. If that’s the dress you want to wear, I’ll find something else.”
“Are you kidding?” Zara tugged at her loose bodice. “Even with padding, I’ll never do this dress justice. There’s another one I like just as well. I’ll wear that.”
“Are you sure?”
Zara managed a smile. “Cleo, you have to wear that. You look so fabulous that no one will notice me, which is exactly how I want things.”
Cleo saw him and gave a little wave. “You’re taking this protecting thing a little too seriously, aren’t you, Rafe?”
“Just here to give my opinion.”
Her expression turned knowing, making him wonder if she’d figured out that Zara got to him.
Cleo sashayed out the door, closing it behind her. Zara covered her face in her hands.
“Did you see her?” she asked. “I can’t believe it. She has the most incredible body and I’m left with all the appeal of a green bean.”
“That’s not true.”
She lowered her hands. “You’re being nice and I appreciate it, but we both know the truth. All the padding in the world isn’t going to disguise my shortcomings.”
Without thinking, he rose to his feet and crossed the room to stand in front of her. “There’s nothing wrong with you.” He turned her so that they were both facing the mirror. “What would you change?”
Without considering the intelligence of the move—or the potential consequences—he spun her toward him, pulled her close and kissed her.
Rafe couldn’t possibly be kissing her, Zara told herself, trying to stay calm. But even as the thought formed, his arms came around her body and pulled her close while his mouth settled on hers. It really felt like a kiss.
His lips were firm and warm, yet so tender she wanted to melt. His height allowed her to feel delicate and feminine as she snuggled in his embrace. She placed her hands on his shoulders, savoring the tense muscles shifting against her fingertips. Then he moved his mouth, and she couldn’t think anymore. Not when sweet sparks exploded in her chest, making her want with an intensity she’d never felt before.
His tongue swept against her bottom lip. Instinctively she parted for him, then waited expectantly for the first, intimate touch. He didn’t disappoint her. After tracing the inside of her lower lip, making her shiver, he moved closer and swept inside.
The first brush of his tongue nearly made her faint. Hot pleasure filled her body, starting in her chest, then moving lower. Her skin seemed to tighten and become more sensitized. She was aware of his hands on her body—one at the small of her back, one higher, on bare skin.
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