The Sheikh's Secret Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 3)(10) by Susan Mallery
“What is your style?” he asked.
“I don’t have one.” She bit her lower lip and figured she might as well get everything out in the open. “Look, I appreciate your attentions. They’re very flattering, even though they make no sense. I mean, I’m not a fashion model, right?”
She went on without waiting for a reply. “The point is, I’m not looking for romance. I’m here to do a job.”
“At the American School. I know.”
“No, you don’t.” She turned until she was facing him. “This job is important to me. I’m a math teacher and I love what I do, but it’s not the greatest paying job. I have a young daughter and we’re pretty much on our own. It’s up to me to provide for her future. When I heard about the school, I was intrigued because the salary is generous and the living expenses are all provided. In two years working here I can save enough to fund Bethany’s college education and still have enough left over for a down payment on a small house back home. That’s what’s important to me—my daughter’s future and our joint financial security.”
Malik continued to stare into her face. It was most disconcerting, she thought, especially when his attention seemed to become as tangible as a touch. It was almost as if his fingers were stroking her cheek, her nose, her mouth. Her lips actually began to tingle, as if he’d kissed her.
She swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat. What was wrong with her? Jet lag only explained so much of her wild and strange attraction to Malik Khan.
“You have your life planned out,” he said at last. “Very forward-thinking of you, although it sounds lonely.”
She wrinkled her nose. “If you’re talking about love, I’m not interested. Been there, done that.”
“I understand. You’re a widow who mourns the unexpected and premature passing of a much-loved husband.”
She rolled her eyes. “Not exactly. I’m divorced and my ex gets on my nerves. I have no intention of going through that again.”
“There’s a small bench just past that bend in the balcony,” Malik said. “Would you please join me there for a few moments before you retire for the evening?”
His old-fashioned courtesy disarmed her. What had happened to the imperious man who insisted on getting his way? Knowing that Bethany was safe asleep, she found herself moving in the direction he’d indicated. Worse, Malik put his hand on the small of her back where the individual fingers seemed to burn against her suddenly sensitized skin. She wanted to shiver. She wanted to move closer and rub against him like a cat. She wanted to beg him to touch all of her in the most intimate way possible.
The wayward thoughts made her stumble, and she sat down barely in time to prevent herself from falling on her face. She had to get a grip, she told herself. Okay, so there was a chemical attraction between her and Malik. Or maybe it was all on her side. She couldn’t tell. Either way, she had to be very careful that she didn’t make a fool of herself.
“Why did you bring me here?” she blurted before she could stop herself.
“I find you attractive.” Malik settled next to her on the bench. They weren’t touching exactly, but he was close enough to make it hard for her to think.
“But I’m not attractive. I don’t wear a bag over my head or anything, but I’m firmly in the average category.”
Malik shrugged. “We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. I find you unique.”
Yeah, right. “Is it a blond thing? I mean, most of the women in this part of the country have dark hair.”
She wore her hair to her shoulders in layers that let the natural wave give the style body.
Malik had reached forward to touch one of her curls. “It’s not a blond thing,” he told her. “Tell me about your ex-husband. Why are you divorced?”
“Because Chuck is thirty-one going on twelve.” She sighed at the thought of Bethany’s father. “He isn’t a bad man, he’s just too caught up in his dreams to be much of a husband or a father.”
Liana allowed herself a small smile. “He was great fun in high school. He always had the fastest car around.” She glanced at Malik. “That’s what he wants to do with his life—race cars. He works to raise money to buy new engines and tires and whatever else cars need to go faster than is safe. When we were first married, we had a great plan for our lives. But then I got pregnant, and we found ourselves parents before we’d finished growing up.”
“Your daughter seems very smart and well-mannered.”
“I love her,” Liana said. “For me, Bethany was a blessing, but Chuck found being a father too confining. He would head off to the race track every chance he got.” She shifted on the stone bench. “I have some blame in what went wrong. I was raising a child, working and I’d returned to college. I couldn’t figure out a way to make it all work out, so my marriage suffered. Chuck came last more often than not. We’re equally at fault, I think.”
“How did you become a teacher? Did your parents help you?”
“Not really. My mom did some babysitting for me, but my folks are retired and not around much. They don’t have any extra money. I made it happen myself. It took me a long time to get through college and then to earn my teaching certificate, but I did it.”
“You sound like a strong woman.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online