The Sheikh and the Virgin Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 5)(54) by Susan Mallery
Rafe stared at her. “You’re kidding?”
“No. It was a real mood breaker, let me tell you.” She smiled at his look of disbelief. “I told you—I’ve had really bad luck in the man department. At least sexually.”
“Zara, your fiancé was g*y. I would say your bad luck stretched to more than just sex.”
She ducked her head. “If you’re trying to make me feel better, you’re doing a lousy job.”
“No. You’re right.” She sighed, remembering that night with Billy. “We didn’t go out again. I guess he was really mad about his car and embarrassed, too. We’d gotten as far as him unzipping his pants and me, well—” she took another drink of wine “—I touched it for a second.”
The corners of Rafe’s mouth twitched. “It?”
“You know exactly what I mean.”
“Okay. Who else?”
“Steve. We dated for a while. He actually touched me, you know, there. I don’t know—he was really rough and it didn’t feel good. But I wanted to know so I figured we’d go ahead. This was a couple of years after Billy. Anyway, he lived in a really small apartment, but at least it was private. We were both pretty close to naked and I was just about to catch my first glimpse of, you know, when his parents walked in.”
She closed her eyes as the memory and the humiliation washed over her. “He’d given them a key and they were bringing back his laundry.” She opened her eyes and looked at Rafe. “Can you believe he actually took his dirty clothes back home and his parents delivered them to him when they were clean? Geez.”
She took another drink of wine and cleared her throat. “So, that sort of broke the mood. Then his mother called me and said he had recently broken up with his girlfriend of five years and did I know he was on the rebound.” She grimaced. “I didn’t see Steve after that. I figured that whether or not he was still getting over his ex-girlfriend, the bigger problem was his parents. They were way too involved with his life.”
Rafe looked at her. “I have to tell you, I don’t know what to say to that.”
“I know.” She sighed. “It’s really sad. There were a couple of other guys, with equally disastrous results. Then Jon. I’ve told you about him. After that I just had a series of short-term relationships that ended when the guys found out I was a virgin.”
She looked at him hopefully. “I don’t suppose you’re asking because you’ve changed your mind?”
Rafe hesitated, then he glared at her. “You have to know you’re a hell of a temptation,” he growled. “We’re stuck on this damned island with no chaperons. You spend your days practically naked, flaunting yourself in front of me.”
She gasped at the unfairness of the accusation, not to mention her excitement at the fire in his eyes. “I don’t flaunt anything. My one-piece bathing suit is incredibly conservative. It’s not like I’m this bigchested babe going topless.”
He stood up abruptly and crossed to the balcony. Like nearly every room in the house, this one opened onto a view of the sea. Rafe grabbed the metal railing and held on so tightly she could see his knuckles go white.
“I can’t even blame it on the wine,” he grumbled. “I haven’t finished my first glass.”
She was both confused and hopeful. “Blame what?”
He spun to face her. Involuntarily her gaze dipped to below his waist. He wore khakis and a short-sleeved shirt. Even with her inexperience, she was able to see all was not as it should be. He seemed to be very…large and very…aroused.
He wanted her. She knew it with a certainty she couldn’t explain. Contentment stole over her. Rafe. Always Rafe. He would make everything right, she thought happily. He would be gentle yet sexy and aggressive. He was experienced enough to make her first time good. She trusted him. More important, she wanted him.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he told her in a low voice.
“Like I could save the world.”
“Oh, I wasn’t thinking that at all.” She rose to her feet. “I was thinking maybe we could play dangerous sheik and the harem girl. After all, except for my relatives, you’re the only sheik I’ve ever met. I’ll probably never get another chance.”
His jaw tightened. She watched him struggle between conscience and need. She couldn’t believe that this wonderful, amazing, powerful man actually wanted her. Still, she wasn’t stupid enough to question her good fortune.
“This can’t mean anything,” he said at last, taking a single step toward her.
She couldn’t help smiling. “Of course not.”
“I mean it, Zara. I’m not interested in engaging my heart. Don’t try to make this more than it is.”
He continued to move toward her, stopping only when he was close enough to pull her against him.
He was hard and hot and she wanted him with an intensity she’d never felt before.
“No hearts,” she promised. “Just cheap, casual meaningless sex.”
Rafe’s mouth came down on hers with a kiss that left Zara breathless. Everywhere they touched—especially their mouths—she felt a connection as powerful as the will to live. She needed him, needed his arms around her, his heart thundering with the same rhythm as her own. She clung to him as he swept his tongue across her lower lip. Even as she parted to admit him, she clutched the back of his head with one hand, determined to never let him go.
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