The Sheikh's Virgin(Desert Rogues, Book 13)(17) by Susan Mallery
“No. We are too many and too well protected, but they prey on those foolish enough to travel the desert on a whim. Or those who are too small to protect themselves.”
Her gaze seemed drawn to his cheek. “I heard you were kidnapped when you were younger.”
He nodded. “I was fifteen and out riding with my friends. They were lying in wait and took only me. The other boys returned here, but the raiders covered their tracks well. They demanded money from my father.”
Millions, he thought, remembering how afraid he’d been. Not of the raiding party but of his father and Bahjat. He knew both men would be furious with him for being so foolish.
“Did the king pay?”
“I escaped before the negotiations could begin.” And killed a man in the process, he thought grimly, not proud of his actions. But there had been no choice and taking that life had matured him well before his time. Word had traveled to the village, giving him a level of acceptance he hadn’t experienced before. Even the king had been pleased by his bravery.
He hadn’t ever told anyone taking a life wasn’t brave.
“At least you got a scar out of it,” she said. “You know that makes you a chick magnet.”
“I do not need a scar.”
She smiled as she spoke, making him aware of her mouth. He liked that she teased him, probably because no one else did.
When they finished dinner, she asked, “Am I expected to clear?”
“Next time I want to play the role of the handsome prince,” she grumbled. “You can be the serving girl.”
She rolled her eyes, then stood and reached for his plate. As she leaned toward him, the neckline of the dress gaped enough to allow him to see her br**sts. They were perfectly formed and the right size for his hands. She straightened before he could look his fill, but the glimpse had been enough to show him that he would enjoy making love with her.
After putting the dirty plates on the tray, she hovered by the table. “Now what?”
“Coffee.” He nodded at a folded screen in the corner.
She walked over and pulled it aside, then stood with her hands on her hips. “You have got to be kidding me.” She stepped aside so he could see what he already knew was there.
“What happened to being one with nature?” she demanded, then pointed at the espresso machine on the table. “You can foam milk with this. People who are one with the desert do not foam milk.”
“Maybe it’s goat’s milk.”
“Maybe you’re just a metrosexual in disguise.”
“You mock me?”
“Yes. This is me mocking you. An espresso machine? I can’t believe it. You probably expect me to make you coffee.”
“I hope it keeps you up tonight.”
It wouldn’t but she might, he thought, his gaze lingering on her waist and hips as she turned away and studied the machine.
“You’re lucky,” she said, picking up a pitcher of water and pouring it into the machine. “We have one just like this in the assistant’s lunch room. I know what I’m doing.”
He was more intriguing by the way she moved than the coffee she prepared. Her skin was pale, her legs long. She was beautiful, all curves and sass. Longing stirred and he knew it was for Victoria specifically rather than the itch of a biological need.
He had only ever wanted Cantara. What did it mean that he desired Victoria? Was it because he knew her and he hadn’t bothered to know any of the other women he’d been with? Was it proximity? Or was it her specifically?
He knew that behind the humor and the big blue eyes beat the heart of a mercenary. She had come to El Deharia to marry Nadim, knowing she would never love him. It had been about getting what she wanted. And yet…
“Foam?” she asked. “No foam?”
She set the cup on the table. “Anything else?”
He leaned back in the cushions and thought about her body next to his.
“You may kiss me.”
The eyes he’d admired widened. “You promised.” The words seemed forced out, against her will. She went pale.
He sensed her fear and reached for her hand. “I’ll keep my promise,” he told her, not sure why he felt compelled to reassure her. She was here to do his bidding, yet he didn’t want her to be afraid. He squeezed her fingers. “A kiss isn’t sex.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“One kiss.” He pulled her down on the pillows.
She knelt next to him. “Is this the same as a guy saying ‘Come up for coffee. Nothing will happen’?”
“I’m not a guy. I’m a prince.”
“A technicality. Seriously, Kateb, I’m really not ready to…”
He raised his eyebrows.
She sighed. “One kiss.”
“You might enjoy it.”
“Maybe.” She sounded doubtful.
She bent over him. Her long, curly blond hair tumbled down and lightly brushed his chest, making him wish he hadn’t put on a shirt.
She braced herself on either side of his shoulders, leaned down and pressed her mouth to his.
At first there was nothing. Just a warm, skin-on-skin reaction that was pleasant, but not erotic. Then she moved slightly and he felt a jolt of fire burn through him. Need and hunger consumed him until he could only think that she must not stop kissing him.
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