The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(24) by Susan Mallery
Kiley really didn’t, but doubted that was the point. “Of course. How can I help you?”
Marcy laughed. “Actually, and this may sound a bit strange, I need you to talk to Rafiq.”
“He’s right here. You can speak with him yourself.”
“I know I could but I think it would be better if you did. I work with a children’s charity here on the Westside. We would very much like Rafiq to sponsor one of our events. I’d like to send you the information to look over. If you like what we’re doing, you can talk to him about it.”
It took Kiley a minute to figure out what was going on. “You think there’s a better chance he’ll say yes if I ask him?”
Marcy laughed again. “Are you kidding? We all saw the way he looked at you. He wouldn’t refuse you anything. And it’s for sick kids, Kiley. I wouldn’t ask otherwise. I’m going to pop the information into the mail. My business card will be there. Check it out, then give me a call.”
“Talk to you soon.” Marcy hung up.
Kiley did the same, then stared at her phone. It wasn’t that she minded helping sick children, she thought grimly. It was that she didn’t like being manipulated. Her relationship with Rafiq was private. No one had the right to use that to influence either of them. She felt uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. If the cause had been anything else, she would have simply ignored the material. But sick children? She couldn’t just turn her back.
“I need the quarterly reports,” Rafiq said from the doorway between their offices.
“I’ll get them right away.”
He waited until she’d returned with the files, then took her hand. “What’s wrong?”
He stared at her. “Was that Eric on the phone?”
“What? No. He hasn’t called.”
Rafiq continued to study her. “We have an agreement of fidelity.”
She smiled. “Trust me, I’m not about to forget it. Eric didn’t call, hasn’t called, isn’t going to call. If he did, I wouldn’t be interested. I swear.”
He nodded once, as if satisfied, then returned to his office.
“I’m glad we’re finally spending the evening together,” Rafiq said Thursday night as he and Kiley were shown to a corner table in the small Italian restaurant in Santa Monica. He’d chosen to give up the view of the ocean in favor of privacy.
“Me, too,” she answered. “You’ve been busy.”
“Unexpected meetings and out-of-town associates. Fortunately, they are over now.
There shouldn’t be any more interruptions.”
She smiled at him and put her napkin in her lap. She was beautiful in her low-cut blue dress. She would have been more beautiful without it, but he was not about to share her charms with the other patrons.
The waiter hovered until Rafiq requested the wine list, then sent him away. But instead of glancing at the pages of available bottles, he stared at Kiley.
“You have something on your mind,” he said.
She blinked. “Not really.”
“I have felt it for the past day or so.”
She shook her head, denying the charge, but he doubted her. Kiley had been forthcoming in the past, but she wasn’t now. Did she worry that the topic would distress him? There was only one reason for that—she missed Eric.
He shouldn’t be surprised. A few short weeks ago, she’d wanted to marry the man.
She had told him she wanted revenge and he had believed her. Perhaps that had been a mistake. Was a woman’s heart truly capable of revenge?
“The food here is excellent,” he told her, knowing he would come back to the subject of her distraction later. “The chef is very popular. Would you like wine with dinner?”
“Yes, thank you. I’m going to let you pick because what I know about wine wouldn’t impress anyone.”
“Do you have a preference?”
He smiled. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
She opened her menu and studied the options. He did the same, then picked a wine. When they’d ordered, she leaned forward.
“My sister just had a baby. My mom called the night before last to tell me all about it. This is Heather’s first. She’s my baby sister. She’d always said she wanted complete natural childbirth. She’s into organic everything. So when the time came, she refused to let them give her anything for the pain.”
Kiley’s mouth twitched slightly. “But Heather isn’t very accommodating when she doesn’t feel well. Apparently she was screaming so much, the other women in labor came into her room and begged her to take something. She was distracting them. My mom said it was pretty funny. Heather agreed and quieted down, and the baby was born. She had a girl.”
Her expression turned wistful.
“You had planned to have children with Eric,” he said.
“Three or four. He wanted to wait, but I was willing to get started right away.
I always thought a big family like mine would be great. Sure it was messy and loud being one of three, but there was so much love.”
She grinned. “Does that horrify you? No possibility of heirs?”
“It isn’t a concern for everyone.”
“That’s true. I think my dad likes being the only guy in the house. We all treat him very well.”
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