The Sheikh's Virgin(Desert Rogues, Book 13)(15) by Susan Mallery
“He must be tired,” she whispered. “He’ll want to go to bed early, won’t he?”
Was this the mistress equivalent of whistling in the dark?
She laid out several possible outfits for the evening, all the while knowing that she’d come here to be Kateb’s mistress and that the spirit of their agreement insist she cooperate as best she could. Which meant wearing one of the traditional harem dresses left for her. After a few moments of indecision, not to mention a writhing stomach, she went into the dressing area to study the clothes.
They were all beautiful. Swirling diaphanous silk with exquisite stitching and beading. She picked up one done in tones of purple and dark green, then noticed a long cloak next to the dresses. It came to the floor and would cover her completely.
So no one else would see the prince’s mistress, she thought, both horrified and relieved. She wouldn’t have to parade half-naked in front of the palace staff. But wearing it seemed so…submissive. As if she’d agreed to all this.
Which she had.
She collected the dress and carried it to the bath. She was about to sacrifice herself in the name of family honor. But before she did, she was going to have the best shower of her life and take a few laps in her new bathtub.
Victoria was ready on time. She’d put off the final stage of dressing until the last minute, then slipped the dress she’d chosen over her body. It was beautiful, whispering against her skin, cool and soft at the same time. As Yusra had promised, she wasn’t as exposed as she’d feared. But her body was at least partially visible and she was naked underneath. Not exactly a style designed for peace of mind.
She just slipped on the cloak when a young woman appeared in the hallway, no doubt using the old servant’s entrance. She nodded at Victoria.
“If you will come with me,” she said.
Victoria followed her out the main door and through the palace. She saw dozens of rooms filled with low sofas and tables, three different dining rooms and a large library before being led into a maze of hallways that ended in front of a door as big as the one guarding the harem. Two guards stood on either side of it.
One of the men opened the door. The girl stepped back and motioned for Victoria to enter. She hesitated only a second before sucking in a breath and stepping over the threshold into Kateb’s quarters.
She had a brief impression of space and light, beautiful sofas, a small table set for two and surrounded by cushions instead of chairs. There was a cart next to it with covered dishes. Dinner, she presumed, although she was too nervous to even think about eating.
Before she could figure out what she was supposed to do or where she was supposed to go, she saw Kateb walking toward her.
He wore loose white trousers and nothing else. His bare chest, honey-colored and thick with muscles, gleamed in the lamplight. He had one towel around his shoulders and was using another to dry his hair. He didn’t see her right away.
Her first reaction was that he almost looked like a regular guy—if one was in the habit of hanging out with underwear models. His loose-fitting clothes hadn’t prepared her for his physical perfection. As views went, this was a nice one.
Her second reaction was that he didn’t seem as intimidating or powerful. Maybe it was the towel, or the wet hair. But she found herself being slightly less afraid.
He dropped both towels onto a table, then ran his fingers through his hair, smoothing it into place. Only then did he see her.
One eyebrow raised. “Interesting outfit. Very Little Red Riding Hood.”
She fingered the cloak. “I assume it’s traditional to keep the harem girls protected. Apparently my status here is for your eyes only.”
“So there’s more?”
Was he teasing? Did he tease?
“Can I see it?”
Both nervous and afraid, she unfastened the tie at her neck and let the cloak fall to the floor.
Kateb’s eyes widened slightly. His jaw clenched. Otherwise he didn’t move, but she still wanted to cover herself. And maybe scream. As if the sharp sound could protect her.
“Yusra’s doing?” he asked, turning away and walking to the table. A bottle of wine sat there. He poured two glasses, then shrugged into a shirt left draped across the pillows.
“It’s not something I would buy,” she snapped. “There are four more just like it. She told me that she wore something similar when she was young.”
“I didn’t need to know that,” he muttered, then sipped the wine. He held out a glass to her, but she shook her head. “Are you hungry?”
Did he expect her to eat before he had his way with her? Or was she just supposed to stand there, practically naked and be the evening’s entertainment? It was all she could do not to pull off one of her strappy gold sandals and throw it at him.
“Okay, look,” she snapped. “This has gone on long enough. I’m tired, I’m jet-lagged or desert-lagged or whatever it is. I’m in a strange place and you’re scaring me. What happens now? What does being your mistress mean? What are the ground rules? Daily sex? Weekly? Am I just supposed to assume the position whenever you say? And what kind of sex? Who’s on top? What are you going to do to me?”
She had about a thousand more questions, but these seemed like enough for tonight. She folded her arms across her chest and did her best not to give in to the tears she could feel forming.
Kateb stared at her. “It is not my intention to frighten you.”
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