The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(3) by Susan Mallery
“There is also the matter of fidelity,” he continued. “During our time together, there are to be no other men in your life and no other women in mine.”
“That one’s easy,” she said. “I’m not the unfaithful type.”
“Consider carefully,” Rafiq said. “The human heart is a contrary organ. Your goal is to punish Eric and make him jealous. During the course of our affair, he could try to win you back. By the terms of this agreement, that would not be allowed.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. There is nothing Eric can ever say or do to make me think of him as anything but a lying worm.”
Rafiq didn’t look convinced. Kiley knew it didn’t matter what he thought. Eric was her problem. She could still feel the disbelief that had flooded her when she’d walked into his apartment. He’d given her the key several weeks ago but she’d never used it. Somehow it hadn’t felt right. But on the day before their marriage, she’d decided to pay him an unexpected visit and take him breakfast.
Only, she had been the one to get the surprise.
She was still in shock. It had been three days, and the truth of what had happened had barely begun to sink in. Part of her was glad. She wasn’t looking forward to the moment when the pain hit full force.
“There is also the matter of us working together,” Rafiq said. “You are too efficient for me to let go.”
“That’s fine. I want to keep working. I need to pay my parents back for all the money they spent on the wedding. I have most of it already. You pay me very well and I’ve been saving so Eric and I could have a down payment for a house. This is Los Angeles and real estate is expensive so I’ve been putting aside every penny I can. I wanted to give them all of that, but they wouldn’t let me. They think I should buy a condo. Maybe they’re right. I just…”
She realized she was rambling. “Sorry. The point is, I need the money.”
Rafiq stared at her.
“What?” she asked, carefully running her tongue over her teeth to see if she’d gotten a piece of food caught in them.
“You wish to repay your parents for the wedding?” he asked.
“Of course. It was thousands of dollars for nothing. I’m the one who picked Eric. I’m the one who wanted to marry him. So this is my responsibility.”
Her parents had disagreed that it was her fault, but it wasn’t as if they were rolling in money. Her dad would be retiring in a few years and her mother had only ever worked part-time.
“And while we’re on the subject,” she said. “If we do this, I don’t want work to be weird. We’d need to keep our personal life separate from work. People will probably find out but I’d rather we didn’t flaunt things.”
“And when it’s over, you can’t fire me.”
“I give you my word. Should working together be too uncomfortable, I would help you find another position that was to your liking. If you stay here, we will never mention the affair again.”
Fair enough, she thought. “It won’t be uncomfortable for me,” she said. Being his mistress was about her wanting revenge, not finding a new boyfriend. Still, this was by far the most surreal experience of her life. “I’ll be fine.”
“How flattering,” Rafiq murmured.
“Nothing. In addition to our sexual relationship, I would expect you to accompany me to various social events.”
“That’s the part I’m most looking forward to,” Kiley told him with a smile. “I want to be seen and have word get back to Eric.”
Rafiq’s expression didn’t change, but she had the feeling she’d said something wrong. She ran over her statement. Oh. Yeah. Maybe that wasn’t the most flattering thing to say.
“Of course, I’m really excited about sleeping with you,” she added, feeling both embarrassed and uncomfortable.
“I can see that.”
She wanted to bang her head against the desk. “Have I blown it completely?”
“No. You offer something unique. An honest relationship in which we both get what we want. There is no pretense of more-tender feelings.”
“And you’re okay with that?”
“Perfectly. I would think a time period of three months would satisfy both of our needs.”
“Sounds good to me,” she said. In three months Eric was bound to find out about the affair. She could only hope that the news would devastate him as much as learning the truth about him had devastated her.
“Good.” He stood. “Then there is only one more detail to be worked out.”
“You mean you’re seriously considering me?”
She couldn’t believe it. Coming to Rafiq had taken all the courage she had and then some. Relief now combined with her sleepless nights and emotional pain and left her light-headed.
“Yes.” He walked around the desk and held out his hand to her.
She stared at it, then at him. He obviously wanted her to take his hand.
“Why me?” she asked, not yet ready for actual physical contact. “I’m not your usual type.”
His dark gaze settled on her face. “That is part of the appeal. You would present a unique perspective on the male-female relationship. I find you attractive. I believe you will be my mistress with the same efficiency that you use here at the office. Which means there is only one question left unanswered.”
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