The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(28) by Susan Mallery
“This isn’t a movie,” he growled. “There are a lot of reasons why I’m not giving in to temptation.”
He continued talking but she wasn’t listening. Temptation? Rafe—the walking, breathing hunk who could have any woman he wanted on this planet and probably several others—thought she was a temptation? Wow.
“Zara, you’re not paying attention.”
She smiled. “I know.” He sounded so serious when she just wanted to freeze-frame the moment so she could have it always.
He crooked his finger and pushed his knuckle against her chin. “I’m trying to make a point here. What would have happened if we’d continued?”
She was a little fuzzy on that part of things, which was her point.
“Things would have gotten hot and heavy pretty fast,” he said when she didn’t speak. “About two seconds after that, your dress lady would have come strolling back into the bedroom. Want to think about that for a second?”
Zara most definitely did not. She’d forgotten about the fitting. “Oh.”
“Yeah. Oh. Scandal isn’t pretty. Trust me on this. And while I finally have your attention, listen to this. I’m not some handsome prince looking for true love. I don’t believe in commitments or forever. I don’t believe in settling down. I live for the moment and then move on. I’m about the worst kind of man for you, so stay clear of me.”
Her embarrassment returned. She pulled free of his light touch and turned away. “No one said anything about commitments,” she mumbled. “I thought we were talking about sex.”
“I doubt you can separate them.”
She spun toward him. “I wouldn’t know that, would I? Just once I would like to meet a single man who would be willing to make love with me. That’s all I want. Just one guy. Everyone else on the planet seems to be having a fine time in bed and I can’t even come close to getting naked.”
She walked to the far side of the room. The vanity drawer just below the mirror was partially open. She slammed it for good measure. While she couldn’t regret the kissing, Rafe’s reaction was taking all the fun out of it. She wasn’t interested in a commitment. Okay, maybe she would be one day. After all she’d always wanted a husband and family. But not yet. Not before she’d actually done the wild thing.
“There’s another, more compelling reason I chose not to give in to lust,” he said casually, as if they were talking about the weather. “I intend to keep my head right where it belongs.”
Zara glanced at him. “What are you talking about?”
“You’re the daughter of a ruling monarch. Men like the king have a thing against their virgin daughters being defiled. Especially not by the hired help. Punishment is swift and permanent.”
Her eyes widened. “That’s crazy. He wouldn’t cut off your head.”
Rafe shrugged. “If you don’t believe me, ask him yourself.”
With that he turned and headed for her bedroom door.
“They’d cut off his head?” Cleo asked later that afternoon when Zara recounted her conversation with Rafe. “That is so cool!”
Zara hadn’t gone into all the details. In fact she’d left out the most interesting bits. The part about Rafe kissing her and having physical proof of his arousal. She still wasn’t ready to tell that to anyone…not even her sister.
“I don’t think I share your opinion of the information,” Zara said glumly. “I already have trouble getting dates. What’s going to happen when the men I meet find out that the price of having sex with me is death? They’re hardly going to be jumping for joy.”
They were in Cleo’s room, sitting on her bed. A light snack had been delivered by a servant just a few minutes ago, along with a written note from Sabrina, telling them what time to be ready and that they would be escorted to the event. Zara didn’t like the fact that Sabrina had written rather than called. It didn’t bode well for her future relationship with her new half sister. Like she didn’t already have enough problems.
“You don’t have to tell every guy you meet the truth,” Cleo said, then picked up a slice of melon and took a bite.
“If they meet me here, they’re already going to know I’m the king’s daughter.”
Zara fingered a cracker, but found she couldn’t actually eat. Nerves were doing tai chi in her stomach. Between her passionate encounter with Rafe, her trepidation about meeting the rest of her potential family, the formal dinner and Sabrina’s cold shoulder, she found herself wanting to head back to the States and pretend that this had never happened.
“Maybe your run of back luck in the man department is about to change,” Cleo said cheerfully. “It couldn’t get worse.”
“Don’t tempt fate by saying that.” Zara nibbled on the cracker. “I can’t believe how complicated this all is. Rafe also told me that men were going to be interested in me because of my position as Hassan’s daughter.”
“Well, duh.” Cleo shook her head. “You are so unprepared to handle this.”
Zara knew that her sister meant the comment kindly, but it still stung. Sometimes she really hated that Cleo was so “man” experienced. No doubt tonight she would create a sensation. What would it be like to be so incredibly attractive to men? Just once Zara would like to think that someone could find her irresistible, too.
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