The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(19) by Susan Mallery
Although she wasn’t sure when they were supposed to eat them. Before they started anything? During? Wouldn’t they be sticky in bed?
“You move very well,” Rafiq murmured in her ear.
“Thank you. So do you.”
“We are well matched.”
She liked the sound of that.
“Take a deep breath,” he told her.
“Take a deep breath. Eric is here.”
She heard the words, but they didn’t make sense. Eric? “My ex-fiancé?”
“Yes. He just came in. He’s alone.”
“But he’s supposed to be in Hawaii. Our reservation was through Sunday.”
Rafiq turned so that she could see the entrance to the ballroom. Sure enough, Eric stood there, looking around.
Everything else faded until she saw only him. Medium height, reddish-brown hair, green eyes. He wore a tuxedo and looked good. She continued to stare, waiting to feel devastated. Surely now her emotions would overwhelm her.
But there was only anger at what he’d done and a strong desire not to have anything to do with him.
“Do you wish to speak with him?” Rafiq asked.
She turned away from Eric and smiled at Rafiq. “No, thanks. I prefer to spend my time with you.”
One corner of his mouth turned up. “I must admit, I prefer your company to Eric’s, as well.”
She laughed. “Gee, that’s not much of a compliment.”
“How unfortunate, as I meant it as such.”
He turned her and they moved back into the growing crowd of dancers.
“Shall I distract you by telling you who else is here?”
“I’d like that.”
“There are several television stars. A few from daytime soaps. I shall have to keep you from them so you aren’t tempted by their handsome faces.”
She looked into his handsome face and smiled. “You don’t have to worry about that.”
“I’m not so sure. These pretty boys can be sly. But if they would challenge me for your affections I would take them all.”
“So speaks the desert warrior.”
He smiled and joked, but she knew he was only partly kidding. There was a strength to him, a determination. Not that she was interested in anyone else.
She’d given her word to be faithful to him for their time together and she would honor that commitment. He made it easy, she thought. Every time he took her in his arms, she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Later that evening Kiley excused herself and walked toward the champagne fountain. As she reached for a glass, she felt someone come up behind her.
“Kiley? What are you doing here?”
She picked up the glass, then turned and saw Eric next to her.
The last time she’d spoken with him, she’d caught him in bed with another woman.
Her first thought was to wonder how she could have been so stupid where he was concerned. Her second was to wish she’d stayed with Rafiq rather than getting something to drink.
“I’m attending the fund-raiser,” she said quietly, turning to where Rafiq still stood in conversation with a business associate. “I’m surprised you’re not still in Hawaii.”
Eric shook his head. “I couldn’t stop thinking about you. About us.”
“How unfortunate for you.”
She started to leave, but he put his hand on her arm. “Wait. You have to listen.”
She stared at his hand on her bare skin and waited to feel something. They’d been engaged for three years—there had to be some emotion left.
But there wasn’t. Not about Eric, anyway. All she felt was a strong need to return to Rafiq.
Which said what about her? That she hadn’t loved Eric? That he’d become a habit? Was it possible? But as much as she searched her heart, she couldn’t seem to find anything stronger than bruised pride and anger at being played for a fool.
“I’m talking to you,” Eric snapped.
She blinked as she realized he had been saying something.
“I guess I’m not interested in listening,” she said, and pulled free of his touch.
“Are you with him now?” he asked, pointing at Rafiq.
Eric’s eyes narrowed. “I always knew there was something going on between the two of you. Dammit, Kiley, you lied to me.”
“I did no such thing. Until Monday morning, he was simply my boss. Of course, all that has changed now.”
She had the satisfaction of watching Eric go pale. “You can’t be sleeping with him.”
“Really? Why not?”
“You’re nothing like his other women.”
“I suppose that’s true, but I’m okay with that.”
Eric swore under his breath. “I treated you like a porcelain doll.”
“Oh, is that what you call it? From my perspective, you were a lying bastard who cheated on me regularly. It’s not my idea of respect or affection.”
“We had something great together,” he told her.
“That would be my line to you.” She took a step back. “You could have had me, Eric, and you blew it completely. Now it’s over. Ironically, I’m grateful. A few days away from you have shown me there was a whole lot less to our relationship than I realized.” She turned to leave.
He stepped next to her. “Rafiq doesn’t give a damn about you. He’s just using you for sex.”
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