The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(29) by Susan Mallery
“I’ll have to be careful,” Zara said. “It’s going to be strange not knowing if a man is interested in me for myself or for my connections.” She grimaced. “Actually, I already have that answer. I’ll know exactly what he’s interested in.”
Cleo scooted close and touched her arm. “Zara, you’re too hard on yourself. Just because you’ve picked stupid men in the past doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens of wonderful guys who would think you’re incredible. Because you are. Someday you’re going to meet the right guy and he’s going to knock your socks off and you’re going to make him not care about getting his head chopped off.”
Zara laughed. “Oh, sure. Who would risk death to sleep with me? I couldn’t get anyone to do it before.”
“It’ll happen. You’ll see.”
Zara appreciated Cleo’s support, but didn’t believe a word of it. As for someone knocking off her socks, Rafe had done a darn good job. She’d also aroused him. But apparently not enough. He’d practically left skid marks in his haste to warn her off.
Someone knocked at their door precisely on time. Zara smoothed down the front of the bronze-colored dress she’d slipped into and headed for the door. Marie and her staff had worked magic, nipping and tucking the fabric until the soft folds created the illusion of curves. A strapless padded bra gave her a couple of inches on top.
Nearly an hour and a half before, Renee had arrived with a suitcase full of cosmetics, followed by Eric who did hair. Between the two of them, Zara had been transformed. Her long hair had been piled high on her head in an elaborate style that swept up and around. A servant had brought a diamond tiara, along with several jewelry choices. Cleo had nearly drooled in delight. The sparkling diamonds and sapphires made Zara nervous and as she reached for the door handle, she rubbed her fingers against the diamond drop earrings she’d chosen.
Rafe stood in the hall. He’d changed into a tuxedo, which fitted him perfectly. No doubt his association with a royal family required formal wear.
Her gaze lingered on his handsome face, most especially his mouth. She could instantly recall how his lips felt on hers and the way she’d trembled in his embrace.
Rafe smiled. “You look good.”
“Thanks. You, too.”
She winced as soon as the words passed her lips. Could that have sounded more stupid? But Rafe didn’t say anything to make her feel bad. Instead he stepped into the living room and glanced at his watch.
“We have to be at the reception anteroom in ten minutes.”
“If that’s a comment about me being late, you can forget it,” Cleo said breezily. “I’m hardly the kind of girl to be late for her first chance to meet real, live handsome princes.”
Cleo glided into the room, her eyes bright with humor and anticipation. Zara had been caught up in wondering if anyone she knew had ever actually been in an “anteroom” when she registered her sister’s appearance.
On the one hand, she’d meant what she’d said about Cleo’s beauty keeping people distracted so they wouldn’t notice anything else. On the other hand, she felt like the country mouse come to town.
Cleo’s cobalt-blue dress clung to every luscious curve, no padding required. The shimmering fabric caught the light, reflecting and dazzling as Cleo’s br**sts strained to the point of threatening to spill out. It wasn’t enough of a display to be in bad taste, but it was enough that men were going to be catching their breath in private expectation.
Eric had styled Cleo’s short hair into soft curls that framed her round face. Sapphire and diamond earrings decorated her ear lobes, while a matching bracelet glittered around her wrist.
Zara waited uncomfortably for Rafe to fall under her sister’s spell, but after a brief word of greeting, he turned away from Cleo and motioned for the door.
“If you ladies are ready?”
Could he really not be attracted to Cleo? Zara remembered his arousal and felt a thrill of excitement. Had she finally found a man who was interested in her for her? Then she reminded herself that Rafe wasn’t interested in her at all. He’d made it completely clear that he didn’t do relationships.
He held out an arm to each of them. Cleo instantly snuggled close, while Zara felt slightly awkward as he escorted them down the hall.
Her sister laughed. “Rafe, you’re armed.”
Cleo looked around him. “Zara, the man takes his job seriously. You might want to remind your watch-dog here that you wouldn’t object to a man asking you to dance. Or is that a security breach?”
“Zara is free to do as she wishes,” Rafe said calmly.
“Oh, I see. As long as she can do it with you watching.” Cleo raised her eyebrows. “I wouldn’t have taken you for that kind of guy. Somehow you strike me as someone who wants to be in the middle of the action, not standing on the sidelines observing.”
Zara knew that Cleo didn’t mean anything by her conversation. She didn’t know about the kiss so she couldn’t see how embarrassing her comments were. Still Zara wished there was some way to change the subject. But before she could try anything, they turned a corner and entered the anteroom.
Over a dozen people stood in small groups, chatting with the ease of those who know each other well. The moment the three of them entered the arched doorway, the room went completely silent. Zara found herself the uncomfortable center of attention.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online