The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(10) by Susan Mallery
Kiley didn’t look convinced. “So, is there a place one goes to find a woman fit to be a princess? Like a princess store?”
Her eyes were bright with humor and the corners of her mouth curved up.
“There’s an Internet site,” he said, pretending to be serious.
“Oh, I’d love to see it. Do you type in specifications? Height, weight, number of sons required.”
“Of course. Along with how many languages I want her to speak and what accomplishments she should have.”
“You really need to get going on that,” she said with a smile. “So you aren’t too old when your kids are born. You want to be able to play ball with them.”
“I have a few good years left.”
“I don’t know. You’re over thirty.”
“By a year.”
“Still. You’re looking a little creaky.”
“How charming,” he said dryly. He liked that she was feeling comfortable enough to joke with him.
“How many children do you want?” he asked.
“Three or four. I was one of three and it was great. There was always someone to play with, and with three of us, the blame for whatever bad thing we’d done could get spread around.”
He could see her in a small house, raising her children, working in the garden.
She would bake cookies and sew Halloween costumes, and ask for almost nothing for herself. He could imagine birthdays and Christmases when the children would receive piles of presents and there would only be one or two for her. But she wouldn’t mind, because her world would be defined by her family.
He studied the gold hoop earrings she wore and the delicate chain around her neck. Modest pieces at best. She would look good in jewels, he thought.
Sapphires. The traditional blue stones would match her eyes. He would like to see her in pink sapphires as well. And diamonds. Diamonds and nothing else.
The image of a Kiley wearing only diamonds filled his mind. Desire licked through him, heating his blood. He enjoyed the sensation, even knowing he would not have her for some time. In this case, anticipation would sweeten the union.
“I have been invited to a fund-raiser on Friday evening,” he said. “The event is formal and I would very much like you to attend with me.”
“Sure.” She wrinkled her nose. “How formal?”
“I’ve never been clear on what that meant, but I get the general idea. The only really fancy dress I have is my wedding dress, and that would probably be tacky to wear, huh?”
As soon as she spoke, she covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh, no. Is it okay that I said that? Are you offended?”
“It was your wedding, Kiley. You may speak of it as you wish.”
“Good. Either way, the dress isn’t a good idea. I’ll come up with something. I need to take off a little early one day this week to get to the post office and ship back the rest of the gifts. I’ll go shopping after that.”
Dismantling a wedding sounded like as much work as putting it together, he thought. “Where were you and Eric going to live?”
“We rented an apartment together. The lease doesn’t start until the end of the month and we’d discussed maybe painting it before moving in, so I haven’t given notice at my place, fortunately.” She sighed. “I have to break the lease on the new place, which won’t be fun.”
“I’ll take care of it,” he said.
She looked at him. “I appreciate the offer, but it’s not your responsibility.”
“You are right. It’s Eric’s. But he is not here and I am. Besides, now you are my responsibility.”
“Is this a mistress perk?”
He smiled. “One of many.”
A faint flush darkened her cheeks. “Are you going to get all imperious if I say I want to do it myself.”
“Absolutely. I do imperious very well.”
She laughed. “Okay, then I’ll give in graciously and say thank you. It’s really nice of you to offer, and to be honest I wasn’t looking forward to making that call.”
“Now you don’t have to.”
Kiley had no idea why Rafiq had taken on the chore. Under other circumstances she would wonder if he was going to pass it on to his staff, but this time she doubted it. After all, she was part of that staff, and as his secretary, she would know.
“Have you finished?” he asked, nodding at her plate.
“Yes. It was delicious.” And she’d eaten more than she’d thought. Funny how once they got talking, she forgot to be nervous.
He stood, walked around the table and waited until she stood. Then he put his hand on the small of her back and guided her through the living room, out onto the deck.
The sun had set some time before, so the ocean was barely visible. She could see the faint white of the waves as they crashed into the shore and, in the distance, lights from another house. He moved in close behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, drawing her against him.
The night was cool; the man, warm. She liked the feel of him pressed against her, liked the way he held her close.
“I enjoyed dinner,” she said. “We have a lot to talk about.”
“Are you surprised?”
“A little. I thought things might be awkward, but they’re not. Why is that?”
“You’re intelligent and don’t want to talk about clothes and shoes.”
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