The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(14) by Susan Mallery
“I wish I could be as positive.”
“Are you nervous?”
She dropped her gaze. “Of course. When I think about us, you know, doing it.”
He smiled. “It will be more than just ‘doing it.’”
“Oh.” She swallowed and returned her gaze to his. “You have a lot of experience, don’t you? I know how many women there have been just since I’ve been working for you. Doesn’t that get old? Don’t you ever want more than an endless parade of beautiful, willing women?” She shook her head. “Never mind. I answered my own question.”
“The variety is nice.”
“Okay. I get that, but what about really knowing someone? What about feeling connection and a place to belong?”
“That does not come from a relationship. That comes from within.” He rubbed his thumb across her mouth. “I say how long. I say when it’s over. Then they walk away and I am free.”
“So no one gets hurt?”
“I hope they don’t,” he said. “I make the rules as clear as I can. Sometimes they get too involved and I feel bad about that.”
“What about you? Do you ever get hurt?”
“Not so far. I am fairly impervious to most female charms.”
He smiled. “Do you take that as a challenge?”
“I can’t tell you how much I want to say yes, but I don’t think I can. I get nervous just being in your car. But someone, somewhere is going to get to you.”
“Do you think so?”
“The law of averages are in my favor.”
“Do you want to be there to see it happen?” he asked.
“No. I don’t want to see you hurt. Is that what you think of me?”
He studied her blue eyes and the intense honesty he saw there. “No. You worry too much about other people’s feelings.”
“Not Eric’s,” she reminded him. “I hope he’s feeling horrible, but I doubt it.”
He watched the play of emotions as they drifted across her face.
“Are you still sad?” he asked.
“Sometimes. But I thought it would hurt more. I thought I’d be devastated and I worry that I’m not. I keep telling myself the pain hasn’t hit yet.”
“Perhaps you were not as in love with him as you thought.”
She shook her head. “If that’s true, it’s not good news. I was going to marry him.”
“Love is not required.”
“It is in my world. It’s bad enough that he treated me like an idiot. If I went through all that and didn’t love him, then I’m going to need some serious therapy to get my life on track.”
He chuckled, then leaned forward and lightly kissed her. “I always enjoy your perspective on things.”
“My sister says I’m twisted.”
“Only in a good way.”
“I’m not sure that’s possible.”
She smiled as she spoke. Rafiq realized that he liked Kiley. He’d always thought of her as efficient and attractive, but the more he got to know her as a person, the more he found himself enjoying her company. He could not always say that about the women in his life.
When this was over, he was going to have to do something for her. Perhaps he would buy her a house and pay off the rest of her wedding. Something that would help her future.
But first there was the present—this night and their shopping expedition. He usually found shopping sessions boring, but not this time. Not with her. He had very specific plans to further her seduction.
Kiley had nearly relaxed when the car pulled up in front of a very elegant-looking boutique in the heart of Beverly Hills. Instantly tension exploded in her stomach, making her midsection ache and her mouth go dry.
She took in the custom awnings, the expensive window displays and the sign for valet parking and knew she was in over her head. Then she saw the Closed sign on the glass front door and nearly giggled with delight.
“Gee, they’re not open,” she said, trying not to sound delighted.
“To the general public,” Rafiq said as Arnold walked around to open the rear door. “I have made special arrangements with the owner.”
Bummer. “Do you always come here?” she asked.
“It is one of my favorite stores, but no, there are others I frequent. However, I thought the selection here would suit you best.”
“Have you slept with the owner?”
Rafiq looked at her and raised his eyebrows. “Why do you ask?”
She shrugged. “I thought a place like this would be owned by some elegant woman from France or Italy. You know the type—impossibly beautiful with a fabulous accent.”
“While Gerald is a delightful g*y man, he is not my type, so no. We are merely friends.”
Kiley felt the heat on her cheeks and knew she was blushing. Hopefully Rafiq wouldn’t notice.
She vowed she would keep her mouth shut at all times and only speak when spoken to. That was the only possible way to get through this. Being Rafiq’s mistress had seemed like an easy solution to her problem of how to hurt Eric back, but in reality, it wasn’t that simple at all.
He led her into the boutique. The sign might say the store was closed, but the door wasn’t locked, and as soon as they stepped inside, they were greeted by a tall, thin, well-dressed man who kissed both her hands and declared her to be completely “precious.”
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