The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(30) by Susan Mallery
She was very much a part of her world and he could see she’d come by her desire to be a wife and mother honestly. Jan Hendrick clucked over everyone. She’d spent lunch filling plates, passing out sodas and mop-ping up after the little ones, and she’d done it with an easy grace that had impressed him.
He liked that they’d accepted him and even occasionally forgotten who he was. As he stood on the rear patio and admired the fading colors in the roses, he wondered what he would have been like if he’d been raised in a family like this instead of on Lucia-Serrat.
The back door opened. He turned and saw Jan step out.
“May I join you?” she asked.
“I would be delighted.”
She sighed. “You have the nicest manners. I guess you get that, growing up as a prince and all.”
“I had nannies and tutors who took etiquette very seriously.”
“I can’t even imagine.” She leaned against the patio railing and looked at him.
“I want to thank you for being there for Kiley. These past few weeks have been hard on her.”
He studied the older woman’s blond hair. There were only a few streaks of gray and, oddly enough, they added to her attractiveness. She had big blue eyes her daughter had inherited and a ready smile. She glowed with life and contentment, as if she’d gotten everything she’d ever wanted.
“Kiley has handled herself well,” he said. “You should be proud of her.”
“I am, as always. She’s a good girl. Or should I say woman. She’s all grown-up.
And now she’s had a big disappointment. I never took to Eric the way I took to the other girls’ husbands, but I thought we’d learn to love him. Now, looking back, I can see there were signs, but none of us wanted to pay attention.”
“Better she find out now rather than after the wedding.”
“I agree.” She studied him. “I can’t tell you how much I want to ask you your intentions, but I won’t. Kiley can handle herself. Still, I can’t help worrying about her.”
“She’s a remarkable woman and I have great respect for her. I don’t want to hurt her.”
“Sometimes we don’t get what we want. I’d like you to be careful with her heart.
You’re the kind of man a woman dreams about finding.”
He grimaced. “Because I’m a prince?”
“I won’t say that’s not interesting, but it’s not the main reason. There’s something about you.” She touched his arm. “Be kind to my little girl. That’s all I can ask.”
She walked inside the house. Rafiq watched her go. He almost wished he could have told her the truth. That she didn’t have to worry. Kiley had come to him in order to get revenge and she had no interest in making their relationship about much more than that.
As he stood alone on the patio, he found himself wondering what it would be like if he were different. If he was the kind of man who believed in love and happily-ever-after. Then he would have to regret letting her go. But he didn’t believe, and when the three months were up, he would walk away without looking back.
“My mother approves,” Kiley said as they drove toward the hotel that evening.
Rafiq glanced at her. “I doubt that.”
“It’s true. She told me. She said you’re everything a woman could want in a man.” Her mother had also told her to be careful about getting her heart broken, but Kiley already knew that.
“I enjoyed meeting your family,” he said. “They are good people.”
“Thank you. I’d been afraid things would be awkward, but you fit right in.” She glanced at him. “I had no idea you were a college football fan.”
“I’m a man with many interests.”
“Apparently.” Right now she was one of them—but for how long?
Don’t go there, she told herself. Don’t think about the future. There was only now. This night, this week, this month. Or three of them, to be precise. And then he would let her go.
When she’d asked about being his mistress, she’d been interested in revenge, nothing more. She hadn’t thought about Rafiq as a person. Now she knew more of the man, and she liked him. She also admired him. Being in his company made her happy. She trusted him, laughed with him, wanted him. It was, she acknowledged, a recipe for emotional disaster.
She also knew that if she told him she was afraid of falling for him, he would break things off immediately. So she wouldn’t say anything. She would live life to the fullest and deal with the consequences when their time was up. She would also abide by their agreement of an affair—nothing more.
She wanted to believe she mattered to Rafiq, and in some ways she was sure she did. But he was a prince, and the woman he chose to marry had serious implications. He wouldn’t choose lightly, and he would never choose a regular woman from a completely normal middle-class American family. It just wasn’t done.
There would be pain when the relationship ended, but she would survive. And in the surviving, she would learn and grow. Having been involved with Eric and then with Rafiq, she would know what to look for in a man and what to avoid. She would find the right partner, fall in love and start the family she’d always wanted. And for the rest of her life, she would have the memories of these three magic months.
They drove into the hotel parking lot and stopped by the valet. As their luggage was unloaded by the bellman, Rafiq took her hand and led her inside.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online