The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(42) by Susan Mallery
Sometime later she felt a slight prickling down her spine. She sat up and turned to see Rafiq walking toward her. He’d changed into jeans and a shirt and, like her, he hadn’t bothered with shoes. He carried a towel or something against his chest.
She rose to her knees and waved at him. As she watched him approach, she felt the love filling her heart and knew she would have to say something before she left. Whether or not it mattered it him, the information was important to her.
“How are you feeling?” he asked as he stopped beside her but didn’t sit down.
“Better. I’ve cleared my head.”
“Good.” He lowered himself beside her. “I have brought you something.”
She rolled her eyes. “Not again. Rafiq, no. You have to stop buying me things.
I’ve told you and told you I’m—”
He cut her off with a kiss. “I think you should stop talking now because when you see what I have, you will not be able to resist.”
He drew back the towel and leaned toward her. Kiley stared down at a sleeping pile of white, fluffy fur.
“A puppy,” she breathed quietly, wanting to pet it but afraid to wake it up.
“Yes. She is a Maltese. Ten weeks old.”
She looked at him. “You bought me a puppy? Why?”
“Because you said you wanted one.”
Just like that. Would he get her the moon, too? Tears burned in her eyes, but she blinked them back. No crying, not over something this wonderful.
“I did some research. I thought you would want a small dog, but one with a big personality. She seems quiet now, but trust me, when she is awake, she takes over the room.”
Kiley laughed and threw her arm around him. The puppy woke up and immediately began to lick her face.
“Look at you!” Kiley said, scooping her up and holding her out at arm’s length.
“You’re so cute!”
She was all white, except for her black eyes and black nose. Her entire fanny swayed from her enthusiastic tail wagging.
“What a pretty girl,” Kiley said as she set the puppy in her lap. The dog immediately tumbled into the sand, stood, shook herself and scrambled back into Kiley’s lap.
“She seems to have taken to you,” Rafiq said.
“Good, because I adore her.” She leaned in and kissed him. “Thank you.”
He feigned surprise. “What? No protests, no threats to leave her behind when you go?”
“Nope. She’s family.”
“Good.” He put his arm around her and fingered her hair. “Are you feeling better?”
“Yes.” She patted the puppy who promptly flopped onto her back, exposing her tender, pink belly for rubbing. “I wasn’t sick, just tired, I guess.”
“My mother has that affect on people.”
She looked at him. “You told me not to meet her. You warned me she would be difficult.”
“And was she?”
“Sort of.” She sighed. “Okay, yes. She was difficult and rude and I don’t know why she wanted to meet with me. What was the point?”
“What did you discuss?”
“Me? Not much of anything. She knew we were living together, although I don’t know how. I didn’t think you spoke to her very much.”
“I do not.”
“That’s what I thought. She wanted to make it really clear that our relationship wasn’t going anywhere, and she said you were supposed to be getting married and I was in the way of that.”
She held her breath after she finished, not sure what he would say back. For a long time there was silence. At last he kissed her neck.
“She’s a foolish old woman. I hope you didn’t let her upset you too much.”
Hmm, that was a neutral. “I tried not to. I told her that if you wanted or needed me out of your life, you would simply tell me.”
“True enough. But I don’t want you to go. I want you right here.”
Just where she wanted to be. “You sure know how to turn a girl’s head.”
He smiled at her. “Do you doubt my affection?” he asked.
“No. I think you like me a lot.”
“Is that enough for you?”
Dangerous, dangerous territory. She could see the flashing red lights all around her. The puppy wiggled to get more comfortable, then closed her eyes. And sighed.
“Yes,” Kiley said, knowing it was the closest she’d come to lying to Rafiq.
Then, to change the subject, she stood and cradled the puppy in her arms.
“Have you thought this through?” she asked. “Puppies can be a challenge. There’s the whole house-training bit, and chewing and all kinds of trouble. Oh, and she’ll shed. You live in a really nice place.”
“I’ll survive,” he said. “We may have to bribe Sana, if there is extra cleaning for her.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll clean up after this little one.”
He reached over and stroked the dog’s head. “You’ll probably want to take her into work with you while she’s so small. A workday is a long time for her to be left alone.”
“I’d like that. Thank you.”
They walked back to the house, his arm around her. Kiley did her best to remember everything about this moment so that she could have it with her always.
Rafiq knocked on the door of his mother’s Century City high-rise.
“This is a surprise,” she said as she opened the door for him and returned to the living room. “You don’t usually just stop by. I assume there is a purpose.”
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