The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(21) by Susan Mallery
When he returned to the living room, she’d kicked off her high heels. He took off his jacket, then settled next to her on the sofa and opened the bottle of wine.
“Tell me about your mother,” she said quietly. “If she’s here and your father is happily married in Lucia-Serrat, I’m guessing they divorced?”
“They never married.” He handed her a glass of wine, touched it with his, then leaned back in the sofa. “Many years ago, she was an actress. She came to the island to film a movie. My father was young, just seventeen and he fell madly in love with her. Or he wanted to sleep with her. At seventeen they can be the same thing. I’m not sure what she felt about him—she never said. I know they had an affair, and I was the result.”
Kiley sipped her wine and put the glass on the coffee table. She reached up and unfastened her earrings. “It could have been romantic. Young love, an impetuous relationship that results in a baby.”
“It wasn’t. My father was too young to marry and his father disapproved. My mother pushed hard to be a princess, but when that didn’t happen, she agreed to a cash settlement.”
Kiley paused in the act of undoing her necklace and looked properly outraged.
“Money? She took money for her baby. She let herself be paid?”
“On the condition that she leave me behind and not have anything to do with me until I came of age.”
“That’s horrible.” Her blue eyes darkened with compassion. “Rafiq, you must have been crushed.”
“I was an infant and unaware of the circumstances.” He shrugged. “I was raised by several attentive nurses and nannies. I wanted for very little.”
“I don’t believe that.” She slipped the jewelry into his coat pocket. “Don’t forget you have those. I can’t believe she left you. Her child. I can’t imagine any mother doing that.”
Her combination of practicality and compassion delighted him. She was as he had imagined—without pretense. He could gaze into her eyes and see directly into her soul.
She leaned close and touched his face. “What she did was very wrong and I’ll never forgive her.”
“I’m sure she’ll be disappointed.”
Kiley smiled. “You know what I mean.” Her smile faded. “Are you close now?”
“Not at all. We speak. I have lunch with her once or twice a year. She likes me to come to parties so she can show me off. Sometimes I agree to her request.”
He had no opinion of his mother one way or the other. She had made her choice long ago. He had grown up without her and couldn’t imagine a world in which she mattered to him.
“What of Eric?” he asked, capturing Kiley’s hand in his and kissing the tips of her fingers. “You spoke?”
She nodded. “Not for long. Did you see us?”
“Yes. He was angry.”
“I guess.” She ducked her head. “When he said you were going to take advantage of me, I informed him that it was the other way around. I was using you for sex.”
Rafiq laughed. “Good for you.”
She looked at him. “I didn’t feel anything. I tried, but there was nothing. A little anger that he was such a jerk and I’m still embarrassed by what I saw when he was doing it with that other woman, but that’s it. Shouldn’t I be really upset by now? Shouldn’t it all matter? What if I didn’t love him?”
“Then not getting married is for the best.”
“I know, but what does it say about me that I didn’t realize I’d fallen out of love with him?”
“Sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of us. You escaped. Be grateful.”
“Oh, I am. He’s the last man I would ever want to be with. What a loser.”
Rafiq had grown tired of speaking of another man. He lightly licked her palm, then asked, “What are you wearing under your dress?”
The question stunned Kiley but didn’t embarrass her. She recognized the light of passion flaring in Rafiq’s eyes and couldn’t wait to get close to the fire.
“A strapless bra and panties.”
Nothing about his expression changed, but she felt the tension in his body. Her own answered with a slight quiver. He stood and held out his hand.
“Dance with me,” he said.
She allowed him to pull her to her feet. There wasn’t any music, but somehow that didn’t seem necessary. The evening was perfect—something out of a movie, and she was the star.
He pulled her into his arms. She snuggled close and relaxed into the slow, swaying movements. She was aware of the night, the shadows in the corner, and the quiet. Her senses captured every detail of the moment—the scent of his body, the heat growing between them, the smooth fabric of his shirt, the way his cheek brushed against her temple. She wanted with an intensity that surprised her. He would be her first time, but somehow that thought no longer made her nervous.
She welcomed his touch and his instruction.
He kissed her shoulder, then her neck. She turned her head so their mouths could meet. His firm lips pressed against her own. She parted for him, wanting him to take her, to tempt her until she was willing to do anything.
He swept inside and she tasted the wine and the man. As they kissed, she felt his hands on her back. They moved up and down stroking her from shoulder to hip.
The rhythmic movement both lulled and aroused. When he tugged at her zipper, she knew he meant to undress her.
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