The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(37) by Susan Mallery
She stared at the shiny red convertible parked next to her old sedan. The big white bow and ribbon gave her an idea it was a present. For her.
“You’re giving me a car?” she asked, not sure what to think.
“Yes. Do you like it?”
It was gorgeous. Sporty and sleek, no doubt really fast.
“If you prefer a different color, we can exchange it.”
Sure, she thought, not quite able to catch her breath. Just like socks.
“You don’t like it,” he said, sounding disappointed.
“No, I’m just surprised. No one’s ever bought me a car before.”
“But Eric gave you gifts.”
“Not a car.”
He turned her until she faced him. “Is it the money?”
He smiled. “I am Prince Rafiq of Lucia-Serrat. Do you think this was any more financially significant to me than a book would be to one of your sisters?”
“No.” She could do math. This wasn’t even a drop in the bucket for him. It was barely a molecule of water. But…”It’s a car.”
He took her hand and brought it to his mouth, where he pressed his mouth to her palm. “You delight me in more ways than I can explain. It would give me great pleasure if you would accept this small token of my admiration for you.”
She looked at the car, then at him. “What do you give when you want to offer a big token of admiration?”
She smiled. “I understand your point, but this is really strange for me.”
“Would you rather have something else?”
Time, she thought. She would rather have more time with him. But to say that would break the rules, and she was determined to abide by them.
“I don’t want anything except what I already have,” she said. “You.”
“But what about what I want? Take the car. When we are finished, you may sell it if you prefer. It is yours.”
“I’ll drive it while I’m here, but when it’s over, I’m leaving it behind,” she said.
“I will convince you otherwise.”
“Not a chance,” she told him. “I have a will of iron. You just haven’t seen it yet.”
She could tell he didn’t believe her, but that wasn’t important right now.
Instead she focused on the kiss he gave her, then settled into her sassy red convertible and reminded herself this was all about living for the moment.
“No,” Kiley said later, her blue eyes wide with something that looked very close to terror.
Rafiq feigned surprised. “You are refusing me?”
“That’s generally what no means. Although if used with another word such as ‘no kidding,’ it sometimes means something else entirely.”
“I’m very familiar with the English language.” He shook his head. “We are barely a month into our relationship and already you ignore my modest wishes.”
She stood in the center of the bedroom, a silk robe clinging to her curves. Her hair was wet, her face scrubbed clean of any makeup. She shouldn’t have aroused him, and yet she did. He was very familiar with the rush of desire he experienced whenever she was around.
“I’m not ignoring your wishes,” she told him. “I’ll take care of all your wishes, just not this one.”
“It is a simple matter,” he said.
She raised her arms and tightened her hands as if she wished to strangle him.
“It’s entertaining. You never said anything about entertaining. I don’t entertain. Oh, sure, I can have a few friends over for casual party or a football game or something. But not like this. We’re talking about the American ambassador to Lucia-Serrat. That’s not casual. That’s really formal. I’m living here. I’m your mistress. What will he think? What will his wife think?”
Rafiq held in a smile. “Actually, the new American ambassador to my country is a woman.”
Kiley made a half-growling, half-laughing noise low in her throat, turned and collapsed facefirst on the bed. “That would be my point. I don’t even know who the new ambassador is. I can’t be responsible for entertaining. You do it. Have a great time. Save me some leftovers.”
“Kiley, it’s not so bad.”
She rolled to her side and glared at him. “You didn’t make Carmen entertain any ambassadors.”
“She was not up to the task.”
“Neither am I. What are we supposed to talk about? My idea of staying on top of
current events is whatever I get on the local news radio station during my drive to work. I don’t know social-economic policies or what’s happening in Bosnia. I don’t even know if I could find Bosnia on a map.”
He frowned. “Why would we discuss Bosnia?”
“I don’t know. It could come up. Or another country. And then what? I’ll stand there with my mouth open, looking really fishlike. It’s not a plan for success.
You have the party and tell me all about it.”
“Social events are part of the deal,” he said.
She shifted onto her back and covered her eyes with her forearm. “You never said I had to entertain.”
“Would you have refused me if I had?”
“Maybe.” There was a pause, then she sighed. “No. I wouldn’t have. But this is really, really a mistake.” She sat up and looked at him. “I’ll do anything if you don’t make me give a party.”
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