The Sheikh and the Virgin Secretary(Desert Rogues, Book 10)(51) by Susan Mallery
Rafiq glanced at her. “Are you all right?”
“No,” she croaked, barely able to form the word.
“I can cure them.”
He bent down and pressed his mouth to hers. The kiss was hot, long and very demanding. She felt her anxiety fade away as passion took its place. His tongue claimed her and taunted her until she could only think of her need.
He shifted and pressed his mouth to her ear.
“I want you.”
Desire made her shiver. The rear door of the limo opened and the night exploded as dozens of flashes went off, but all she could think about was Rafiq.
The walk into the hotel ballroom passed in a blur. When their party stepped inside, the orchestra immediately began playing the Lucia-Serrat national anthem, followed by the one for the United States. At the end, Prince Nasri stepped up to the microphone and welcomed everyone to the event.
Later, when they were at last free to escape to the dance floor, Kiley smiled at Rafiq. “You rescued me.”
“The situation can be intimidating. You’ll get used to it.”
“I doubt that, but thank you, anyway.” She bit her lower lip. “Does this mean we’re no longer fighting?”
“We never were.”
That surprised her. “What would you call it, then?”
“A conversation of little consequence.”
She didn’t like the sound of that. They’d had a serious disagreement. Their first. Sure, it was bound to happen and she was okay with that. She just wasn’t sure she liked him denying it had ever taken place. Had he not been affected or did he simply not care enough to worry? And did she really want to know which it was?
The evening passed in a blur of dancing, introductions and speeches. Kiley found herself feeling both welcomed by the guests and uncomfortable with being the center of attention. Phoebe assured her she would get used to it, but Kiley couldn’t imagine that happening. Still, two months ago she would never have imagined marrying a prince, either, so who was she to say?
She excused herself from a large group and made her way toward the restroom. As she entered a quiet hallway, she felt someone touch her arm. She turned and was stunned to see Eric standing there.
“Why are you here?” she asked, sure this couldn’t be good, and uncomfortable to be seen speaking with him.
“I had to talk to you.”
Oh, please. Was he really going to make a fuss now? “Eric, go away. There’s nothing between us.”
“I don’t care about that,” he told her. “I’m here because I’m worried about you.”
“That’s a new one.”
“You’re making a terrible mistake. Everything is happening too fast. You don’t love this guy and he doesn’t love you. You’re reacting to what happened between us.”
He took her hand and stared into her eyes. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am about that. I was such a jerk.”
She pulled free of his touch. “Jerk doesn’t begin to describe it. I don’t know why you’re here, Eric, but it’s time for you to leave. You’re a cheat and a liar and I’m glad to be rid of you.”
She walked back toward the ballroom. She had a feeling that if she went into the ladies’ room now, Eric would simply follow her, and she didn’t need that kind of trouble.
“He doesn’t love you,” he called after her. “Has he said it? Has he ever actually said the words?”
She shook her head and did her best to ignore him. What a creep. But as she spotted Rafiq at the edge of the crowd and saw him smile, she realized Eric was right about one thing. Rafiq had never actually said he loved her.
Rafiq sat on the deck off the bedroom and listened as Kiley told their dog all about her evening.
“I can see that in addition to learning about the history of Lucia-Serrat and the protocol of being a princess, I’m going to need some dance lessons. I think I stepped on a lot of toes tonight, which can’t be good. You want to learn to dance with me?”
Fari yipped in agreement. Rafiq smiled as he thought of the tiny puppy twirling around a ballroom.
Kiley stepped out onto the deck and plopped down next to him. She’d changed out of her ball gown and into a silk robe. Her makeup was gone, as was her jewelry.
She looked young and fresh and very beautiful. But her eyes were troubled and he wanted to know why.
“You are still angry with me,” he said.
“What?” She picked up Fari and set the dog on her lap. “Of course not. Why would I be mad?”
“Because of our conversation before.”
“You mean when you were being unreasonable and stubborn? I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She leaned back in her chair. “I think you’re wrong.
I think it’s important for you to let go of the past and meet your father as the man he is today. If you could simply walk away from him and wanted to do that, I would support it, but that’s not the plan. You’re moving back to the island where the two of you will work in close proximity. I can’t imagine that going well if you can’t get the past behind you where it belongs.”
He liked that she held to her opinion even if he didn’t agree with it. “Anything else?” he asked.
She shrugged. “You’re not going to listen to me, which I accept but it makes me think you’re not as bright as you look.”
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