The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(9) by Susan Mallery
A massive bed dominated the large, open space. Dark, carved furniture made the room seem masculine but not unwelcoming. There was a deck that overlooked the ocean, a low dresser, an armoire and a beautifully framed mirror hanging directly across from the door.
She could see herself in it, with Rafiq behind her. He was tall, several inches above her own five foot seven, and dark to her blond. They looked good together, if slightly wicked.
His eyes met hers in the mirror. She found herself caught in his gaze, thinking how handsome he was and how, just twenty-four hours ago, she could never have imagined herself in this exact position. Here. In his bedroom. Watching him watch her.
He put his hands on her shoulders, then bent down and lightly kissed the side of her neck.
Her entire body erupted in goose bumps as she both felt and saw the tender caress. His lips barely grazed her skin, but the warm, soft contact was enough to make her want to turn in his arms and beg for more. When he straightened, she found she’d stopped breathing and she had to consciously force herself to draw in a breath.
“Perhaps we should see about dinner,” he said, his voice low and sensual.
Dinner? Oh, yeah. That evening meal she’d been too nervous to eat before. The good news was she wasn’t nervous anymore. The bad news was she hadn’t just jumped into the deep end of the pool, she’d taken a flying leap into the middle of the ocean.
“You completed college with two degrees?” Rafiq asked as he poured Kiley more wine. It had taken her most of the meal to drink the first glass. He knew she didn’t smoke, it seemed she barely drank and, based on her bright, cheerful, early-morning demeanor, she didn’t party.
“Business and early-childhood development.” She pushed a slice of chicken around on her plate. “Odd combination, I know.”
“Not if one plans to open a day-care facility.”
She looked at him and smiled. “You’re right. I’d never thought of that. I love kids. Honestly, I never wanted much more than to be a wife and mother. The business degree was so I could get a good job, and the other studies were to help me to be a good mother. Although, my mom didn’t study anything and she was the best. I want to be just like her.”
Kiley nibbled on a slice of carrot. “You’re probably disappointed.”
He’d always known she was intelligent, so her multiple degrees didn’t surprise him. She’d carried her half of the conversation at dinner and she continued to surprise him.
“What exactly would have disappointed me?” he asked.
“Me being a secretary and wanting to be a mother. Not very big aspirations. A lot of my friends were shocked when I admitted it to them. They think I should be more. Do more. I guess I feel guilty. These days women are supposed to have it all. But I don’t want it all. I just want a little house with a garden and a couple of kids and a man who loves us as much as we love him.”
He had been born into royalty, so not many of his acquaintances shared his lifestyle, but Kiley was farther removed than most.
He’d never longed for a small house with a garden. While a wife and children were in his future, the assumption that he would one day marry and father children was far more about providing his country with an heir than any personal desire on his part.
She put down her fork and leaned toward him. “I know that I shouldn’t care about what other people think, or the expectations of our society in general, but sometimes it bugs me.”
Her expression was earnest, her blue eyes wide and intent. The soft light from the chandelier brought out the strands of gold in her hair. She was beautiful and sincere and he could honestly say he’d never had a conversation like this with a woman he intended to seduce.
“Do you spend much of your day worrying about the expectations of society?” he asked.
“No. Just sometimes.” She shook her head. “I’m guessing you can’t relate to any of this. You knew who and what you were from the time you were born. Is that a good thing?”
“It simply is, for me. I haven’t imagined another life. What would be the point?”
“Plus you’re really rich and can pretty much do what you want. That has to be a good thing.”
She smiled. “So you’re not married, right? I just realized I never asked about a Mrs. Rafiq sequestered back on the island.”
“I wouldn’t be here with you tonight if I was.”
“Really?” She sounded surprised. “You’ll be faithful when you’re married?”
“Do you question me specifically or all men in general?”
“I guess the whole fidelity issue is a sore spot for me, but right now I’m asking about you specifically.”
“I’m faithful now.”
“With very short-term relationships. Marriage is forever. At least it’s supposed to be.”
“The expectation for me is that my wife and I will only be parted by death.”
“And you’ll be faithful all that time?” she asked.
“You’re going to have to be really sure you love her.”
Love? As if that mattered. “My choice will be based on more practical matters.
She will be the mother of my children.”
“But if you don’t love her…”
Rafiq found it intriguing that, after all she had been through, she was still a romantic. “Respect and shared goals often last longer than love.”
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