The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(1) by Susan Mallery
“I wondered if you were currently looking for a mistress,” Kiley Hendrick said quietly.
Prince Rafiq of Lucia-Serrat stared at the woman sitting across from him. He had thought the biggest surprise of his Monday had been to find Kiley at her desk that morning, instead of on her honeymoon.
He had been wrong.
“You speak of yourself?” he asked.
She nodded, keeping her gaze firmly on the pad of paper she clutched on her lap.
He hadn’t seen his secretary in five days. She’d taken off part of the previous week to prepare for her impending marriage. “I take it the wedding on Saturday was not a success,” he said.
“There was no wedding.” She raised her head and stared directly at him. “Eric and I are no longer together.”
He allowed his gaze to return to her tightly clenched hands and saw that the modest diamond engagement ring was no longer on her left hand. A thin indentation on her pale skin was the only proof it had existed at all.
“I know that you are currently between, ah, women,” she said and blushed. “That is, I sent the final gifts and letter so I thought that you had broken up.” She pressed her lips together as if not sure how to continue.
“I am no longer seeing Carmen,” he offered helpfully.
Kiley nodded. “Yes. I thought so. And while I know you usually have one or two candidates waiting in the wings, I wondered if you would consider me. Even though I’m not your usual type.”
He had a type? “Meaning?”
She released her death grip on her pad of paper and shifted in her seat.
“Glamorous. Beautiful. Sophisticated. I’m okay looking, but not in their league.
But you’ve only seen me in work clothes. I clean up pretty well. I’m smart, I have a sense of humor.” She paused and bit her lower lip. “I’ve never had a conversation like this. I don’t know what you’re looking for when you pick a woman for, um, well, that.”
The blush returned. She swallowed but didn’t look away. “Right. Your bed.”
Rafiq had not discussed things so openly before, either. He leaned back in his chair and considered what he looked for in a mistress.
“Obviously some physical beauty,” he said, more to himself than her. “But that is less important than one might think. Intelligence and humor are required. Not every waking moment is spent making love. There is plenty of time for conversation.”
He thought of Carmen’s shrill demands. “An even temper would be desirable.”
“You’ve known me for two years,” Kiley reminded him. “I’ve never gotten angry.”
“Agreed.” She had not. She was efficient, organized and very much responsible for the ease with which his workday progressed. But his mistress?
While Kiley was attractive and he would admit to finding pleasure in watching her move, he had never considered that more than a bonus. Beautiful, sensual women were easy to find. An excellent assistant was not.
The most sensible course was to politely thank her for the offer, then refuse the invitation. He would—
“There will be advantages,” she said, as if trying to convince him. “I understand your work. We can discuss it, if you’d like. Plus I won’t mind if you have to stay at the office late.”
“Most likely you will be working late with me,” he said, wondering why this was so important to her. What had pushed the normally reserved Kiley to make such an outrageous—for her, at least—request?
“Yes, there is that.” She cleared her throat. “I don’t know what else to say. I just hope you’ll consider me.”
He had never been approached so openly by a woman intent on joining him in his bed. He would have bet a considerable part of his fortune that she was not the type to be interested in an affair. He still believed that.
“Why do you want to do this?” he asked.
Kiley returned her attention to him. Her dark-blue eyes flashed with pain.
“A noble motive. I assume this revenge is because of your fiancé?”
She paused, as if considering how much to tell him. Rafiq could guess the basic scenario, but he wanted to hear it from her. He wanted to gauge her emotions and her intent.
While she chose her words, he looked at her. Really looked—not at the ever-present secretary who anticipated his needs and made his life flow pleasantly, but at the woman.
She was of average height—perhaps five foot four or five inches. Her hair, worn short and layered, was the color of gold. Or perhaps the north-shore beaches of Lucia-Serrat at sunset. Her large eyes dominated her face. He’d noticed how the deep blue darkened or lightened with her mood. He had always been able to tell if she was annoyed with him.
She was delicately built, small-boned, with curves that intrigued him. Now he took in the slight swell of her br**sts and the shape of her calves below the hem of her knee-length skirt.
She was attractive, he thought. He found her easy to be with. She did not scream or annoy him. Like every other woman of his acquaintance, she wanted something from him. Unlike the others, she had been honest from the first.
But did he want her in his bed?
“He cheated,” Kiley said at last, obviously fighting tears. “I’m sure you guessed that. He spared me the cliché of the groom sleeping with the bride’s maid-of-honor-slash-best friend, but he more than made up for it in other ways.
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