The Sheikh's Virgin(Desert Rogues, Book 13)(22) by Susan Mallery
As she explored, she told herself that she’d traveled with Kateb to be his mistress, but the concept wasn’t real to her. It was a scene in a book or a movie—not her life. No wonder she was still finding her way. Yet last night it had been very real, complete with incredible sex with a sheik she barely knew. If she’d been asked before they’d been intimate, she would have sworn she wasn’t capable of being swept away so completely. Now she knew differently.
But was it the circumstances or the man? Which was better? That she’d given in to passion because it had been a long time and the guy knew what he was doing? Or was it specifically about him? Was there something else? Something more powerful and frightening?
She didn’t want it to be the latter. If it was, she was in danger. She could be hurt or worse. Look at her mother. No—she wasn’t attracted to Kateb in a relationship kind of way. Her heart was firmly locked away and nothing was going to change that.
Which left chemistry. Fine. They were good together in bed. She hadn’t experienced that sort of attraction before but as long as she didn’t make it more than it was, she would be fine. Think of the calories she could burn in a night with him.
She made her way to the rear of the palace, then followed a couple of guys in Western dress up to the second floor. Stone walls gave way to sensible drywall and offices. She walked toward a serious man in a suit, sitting behind a large desk.
“I’d like to see Kateb,” she told him.
The man was probably a couple of years younger than her. He was the equivalent of a receptionist, but she could tell by the way he looked at her that he thought he was just a little better than everyone else.
“The prince is busy.” His tone of voice dismissed her.
“How do you know I don’t have an appointment?”
“Because I manage his calendar.”
She doubted that. Kateb would have a personal assistant who took care of the details. Desk Boy would probably have a copy on his computer, nothing more.
“You might want to tell him I’m here,” she said, smiling pleasantly.
Desk Boy looked her up and down. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Now if you’ll excuse me.”
He turned back to his computer.
Victoria wanted to slap him. Instead she gave him an even bigger smile. “The blonde thing should be a clue. Do you see many Americans out here? I’m guessing you don’t. You should also listen better when you’re getting your coffee, because I’m going to guess that there’s been plenty of chatter about Kateb’s new mistress. That would be me. Now you can take me to him or I can find my way there myself and complain about you. Either works. Which is it going to be?”
“I know who you are,” Desk Boy said with a sneer. “I know exactly who and what you are. Go away.”
Victoria took a step back. She felt as if she’d been slapped. Culturally, mistresses were slightly below the queen but above everyone else. It was considered respectable, even an honor, to be the prince’s mistress. While she’d had personal issues about sleeping with Kateb, she’d never worried about how she would be treated by his people.
She didn’t know what to do or say. Before she could come up with a plan, she sensed someone coming up behind her. A heartbeat later, she felt a warm hand on the small of her back as Kateb moved next to her.
“She is mine,” he said, his voice low and cold. “And therefore an extension of me.”
Desk Boy went pale and stood. “Yes, S-Sir,” he stammered. He turned to Victoria. “My apologies.”
Too little, too late, she thought but didn’t say. Instead she nodded and relaxed a little as the heat from Kateb’s hand warmed her.
He guided her down the long corridor, then into a huge office. Once he took his hand away, she felt herself start to shake.
“He was so rude,” she whispered. “I didn’t expect that. The look on his face…”
“It’s not about you,” he told her, closing the door. “He comes from a powerful family. His eldest brother died a few years ago. He was a good man and well liked. The family believes if he had lived, he would have been chosen by the elders as the next leader.”
“Is that true?”
“Who is to say? Probably not. Last year his father approached me, trying to arrange a marriage between me and the family’s oldest daughter. I refused.”
That could be awkward, she thought. “So basically the family hates you.”
“No. The daughter was in love with someone else and grateful I refused her.”
“Was that the reason you did?”
He shrugged. “We would not have suited each other.”
She doubted that was the real reason. Kateb had been nice and he would hate anyone to know about it. “So it’s just Desk Boy who has the attitude?”
“You know who I mean.”
“I will send him to the city. Some time working for one of my brothers will distract him.”
Victoria wouldn’t be sorry to see him go. “Now that we’ve solved that problem, I need to talk to you about something.”
He walked around to his desk and sat down. “Which is?”
There was something about the way he looked at her, she thought, unable to figure out what he was thinking. Almost as if he were angry with her. Yet he’d rescued her. Or had that been about claiming what was his? About his station rather than hers?
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