The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(36) by Susan Mallery
She was dressed in her usual skirt and blouse. Her short, spiky hair was
slightly damp, her makeup fresh. Tiny gold studs decorated her earlobes. She looked prim and proper and it was all he could do not to rip the clothes from her body and take her right there.
“Morning,” she said with a shy smile.
Rafiq smiled back. “How are you feeling?”
“God. This is kind of a first for me. A sleep-over. Although, we did at the hotel, so I guess not technically. Maybe it’s the whole workday thing. Plus, I’m tired. We didn’t get much sleep either night. Not that I’m complaining. So, how are you?”
“Well. Did you want to rethink our living arrangement?”
“What? No. Of course not. I like being here.”
“But you are not comfortable.”
“I will be. Just give me some time. It’s not every day a girl signs up to be the love slave of a prince. Ohh, maybe they’ll make a cable movie about my life.
What do you think?”
That she charmed him. That he wanted her in more than his bed, he wanted her in his life.
The realization surprised him, and not in a pleasant way. He knew about commitments, what they meant and what happened when people grew tired of them.
He knew that love didn’t exist, and whatever feelings people claimed in the heat of the moment faded over time.
“Go eat breakfast,” he said as he sat up. “I will join you shortly.”
She smiled and left the bedroom while he considered why Kiley had the ability to make him wish that things were different, that marriages could be happy and long lasting.
Perhaps it was her family, he thought. They embodied what most people aspired to. But how much of it was real? Did Kiley’s sisters’ husbands really stay faithful to their wives? Did they love them through childbirth and teething and job losses?
He doubted it. In his world, love was a convenient word used to manipulate. His father had claimed to love him and then had disappeared for months on end. His mother had claimed she hadn’t wanted to leave him all those years ago. It wasn’t her fault—the money was too good. And the women who moved in and out of his life—how many of them claimed to love him? And when it was over, how quickly did they take up with someone else?
Even Kiley, who was soft-hearted and inherently honest, had forgotten about her fiancé quickly enough. Although, in that case, he was willing to believe she hadn’t loved the other man in some time.
No, this was better, he told himself. Taking for the moment. Better to have her leave while he could still think of her fondly than to have things end badly with recriminations on both sides.
He showered and dressed quickly, then found Kiley in the kitchen, eating breakfast and chatting with Sana, his housekeeper.
The tiny, dark-haired woman nodded approvingly as he walked in.
“This one appreciates my cooking,” she said, pointing at Kiley’s plate of pancakes and fresh fruit. “Not like the others who only want coffee. As if their skinny hips would appeal to any man.”
“You’ve made a friend,” he told Kiley, accepting the cup of coffee Sana handed him.
“I love her cooking, and she’s telling me all of your secrets. What’s not to like?”
He raised his eyebrows, but his housekeeper only shrugged. “I am an old woman.
You won’t throw me out, so I can do what I like, hey?”
Kiley grinned. “And she likes to talk.”
“I have no secrets,” he said, refusing to be intimated by a woman older than his mother.
“So you would like to think. What about the one who threw things? You wouldn’t want me talking about her, would you? Or the one who sunbathed naked out there on the deck for all the world to see. The teenage boys in the neighborhood would stand on the sand with their binoculars.”
Kiley wrinkled her nose. “That’s kinda tacky, Rafiq. I’m surprised at you.”
He narrowed his gaze. “We should change the subject.”
“Oh, look,” Kiley said with a grin. “He’s getting imperious. I love it when that happens.”
“You’re not going to be like this at the office, are you?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
“Oh, please. I’ll be perfectly professional.” She waited until Sana walked to the far end of the kitchen, then looked him in the eye. “No one but you will know I’m not wearing any underwear.”
Heat boiled his blood. He glanced down at her skirt. “You’re kidding, right?”
She picked up her plate and carried it to the sink. “I guess you’re going to have to wait until tonight to find out.”
She returned to the island and picked up her handbag. “Thanks, Sana. That was fabulous. And what you suggested for dinner sounds perfect.” She turned to Rafiq. “By, honey. See you at the office.”
He followed her to the garage. “Not so fast.”
She blinked at him. “Are you going to attack me right here in the hallway? I wouldn’t want to get on Sana’s bad side and have her think I’m tacky.”
“You’re more concerned about my housekeeper’s feelings than what I want?”
She opened the door to the garage, stepped into the large, four-car structure and came to a complete stop. Rafiq put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed.
“What do you think?” he asked.
Kiley didn’t know what to think. She’d been having fun, enjoying her morning, her breakfast, the possibility of a new friend and feeling at one with the universe. She liked that she felt confident enough to tease Rafiq about not wearing underwear, even though she was, and that he wanted her. She liked knowing what would happen when they got home that evening. She’d been quiet, shy and uncertain a few weeks ago, and today she was a different woman. Or she had been until five seconds ago.
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