The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(18) by Susan Mallery
“The man knows what he’s doing,” she said as she fastened her blouse. “Thank goodness one of us does.”
Friday night Kiley sat in Rafiq’s Mercedes SL 600 convertible. The close confines of the car made her very aware of the man next to her. Although, she was starting to think she would be aware of him even if they were at opposite ends of a football field. He’d shown up in a tailored tuxedo, looking elegant and very princely. Just thinking about it made her toes curl.
“You didn’t have to let me off work early,” she told him as they drove onto the freeway and headed west. “Me being your mistress wasn’t supposed to change things between us.”
He glanced at her. “Are you complaining because I asked you to work less?”
She smiled. “Is that your way of saying ‘shut up and say thank you’?”
“Then I will.” She looked out the window, then back at him. “This is my first fund-raiser. Is there anything I should know?”
“Not at all. There will be a cocktail hour, dinner, dancing and entertainment. I attend to support the children’s hospital and because, as a representative of Lucia-Serrat, it is expected of me. But otherwise it is not how I would choose to spend my evening.”
“Me, neither,” she confessed. “But being with you is fun.”
“Thank you. I enjoy your company as well.”
His words made her happy. Funny how she’d been so willing to be his mistress without considering all the intimacies implied in the relationship. Not just that they would be lovers, but also that they would spend time together.
Fortunately, being with Rafiq really was easy and fun. There was also a connection she hadn’t expected, which made her wonder how they were going to go back to just working together when the three months were over. Then she reminded herself that it was barely the end of week one of her three-month affair.
Perhaps she should not be so quick to anticipate the end.
They pulled up in front of the large Westside hotel. After the valet helped Kiley out of the low-slung car, she smoothed the front of her dark-blue velvet ball gown.
“Ready?” Rafiq asked as he came around the rear of the car and offered her his arm.
“Absolutely.” She felt good. Confident and attractive. It was only after they entered the ballroom that she realized how many people were watching them.
“They’re staring,” she whispered, trying to keep smiling.
“It’s because you’re so beautiful,” he told her.
“Ha. It’s because you’re a prince. I’m used to blending in. This is going to take some getting used to.”
“Be grateful I didn’t bring over any of the really big jewelry.”
Even as she laughed, she touched the diamond and sapphire necklace Rafiq had put on her earlier that evening. The sparkling stones had delighted her. Hearing that they were just on loan hadn’t diminished her pleasure in wearing something so beautiful.
“The most expensive thing I’ve ever borrowed before was a pair of shoes from my sister. I guess I’m lucky the jewelry didn’t come with security guards.”
“The insurance company only requires them when the value is over one million dollars. This is slightly under that.”
A million? Dollars? She touched the earrings.
“I’ll be really, really careful,” she promised.
“Don’t worry yourself.”
He led her into a massive ballroom decorated in gold, silver and black. Balloons floated overhead, while mirror-covered pillars reflected light. A few hundred well-dressed people filled the space, the sound of their laughter competing with the orchestra.
Rafiq greeted several couples he knew and introduced her. Kiley smiled politely and tried not to wonder what they were thinking. No doubt they were used to seeing him with a different woman every few months. She felt odd, being considered one of his women—not because she minded the association, but because she didn’t think she was his regular type.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked. “Or would you prefer to find our table and sit?”
She glanced at the fairly empty dance floor, then back at him. “Can we dance? I took lessons for the wedding so I have some moves.” She grinned. “Okay. ‘Moves’ would be strong, but I think I can follow.”
His dark eyes flickered with an emotion she couldn’t read. “You and Eric took dance lessons.”
“Oh, please. We signed up, and he always had an excuse not to be there. But I was able to practice with other guys there. Am I explaining too much?”
“Not at all.”
He guided her to the dance floor and took her in his arms.
“This is nice,” she said as he pulled her close and settled his hand on the small of her back. The song was slow enough that she was able to just think about the moment rather than where to put her feet.
His low voice rumbled in his chest.
She closed her eyes and lost herself in the music. Rafiq held her as if she was something precious. She liked how their bodies moved together. The idea of the fund-raiser made her nervous, but being with Rafiq made it worthwhile.
Especially the later part. When he took her home.
Anticipation made her breath catch as she thought about them returning to her place. She would invite him in and they would…well, she wasn’t exactly sure what they would do, but she was sure it would be exciting. She’d stopped by a gourmet store and had picked up chocolate-covered strawberries to get things going. The price had nearly made her faint, but she’d bought them anyway. Chocolate-covered strawberries sounded exotic and sexy, and Lord knew she needed all the help she could get in both departments.
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