The Sheikh's Virgin(Desert Rogues, Book 13)(23) by Susan Mallery
“Victoria?” He sounded impatient.
She approached the desk. It was large and carved. The room itself had to be at the base of one of the towers—the window walls angled, forming a rough semicircle. There were rugs and low sofas and an air of importance that reminded her of King Mukhtar’s office in the city.
“I went to the bazaar today,” she began. “There is a small store selling locally made jewelry. I’ve seen it before and bought some.” She fingered her earrings. “The work is beautiful. Original and contemporary but with enough traditional elements to make each piece timeless.”
He leaned back in his chair and looked bored. “And?”
“They only sell here and in the city. Some guy takes their stuff to El Bahar and Bahania, but I think he might be ripping them off. Rasha didn’t sound that thrilled with him.” She drew in a deep breath. “I think they could do more. I think they could sell all over the world and be really successful. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but we could start with a Web site. I could even put it together. I’m not great at them, but I’ve taken a few classes and I’m sure I could help. I don’t know about selling to other countries, though. We’d probably need some kind of distribution arrangement or customs would be a nightmare. Maybe a catalog, too. And I don’t know about the money. There are those services that collect it for you. That would be good.”
She paused for breath and because Kateb was staring past her, as if he wasn’t listening.
Then his gaze swung back to her, only it wasn’t the least bit friendly. She felt the chill down to her ankle bracelet.
“Are you on birth control?” he asked.
He waited, practically glaring at her. “Are you?”
Birth control. As in…
Her mouth dropped open. She consciously closed it. Because they’d had sex. He hadn’t used a condom, which meant the whole protection element was up to her.
Technically she was supposed to wait to be invited to sit, but suddenly that didn’t seem so very important. She sank into one of the chairs in front of the desk.
“I never thought…” she began.
“You’re not.” It wasn’t a question.
“Because you wished to trap Nadim. Had you tried to get him into your bed? Did you hope to get pregnant, forcing him to marry you?”
She sprang to her feet. “What? Are you crazy? I would never do that.”
“And I should take your word on that?”
“He was my boss. I was completely respectful of him and his position the entire time we worked together.”
“You wanted to marry him.”
Was he being difficult on purpose? “I already explained that. It wasn’t about him, it was about feeling safe. About not having to worry about what would happen the next time my father showed up. You met him. He offered me in a card game. How would that make you feel?”
“So if not Nadim, then any rich man would do? You must be very pleased with our deal. Did you plan the whole thing with your father? Did he cheat on purpose?”
If he’d been closer, she would have slapped him. A serious mistake that could land her in jail, but right now she didn’t care.
“How dare you?” she demanded. “I told you the truth. You were there when it happened. You may have only known father a few hours, but I am confident you recognized the type. I’m not like him. I gave my word to you because I’d given it to my dying mother. There’s no other reason.”
She was so angry she wanted to throw something, or cry. But she stood there, not doing either, not giving in to the emotions pouring through her.
He rose and walked toward her. “You will not win this, Victoria. I am clear on who and what you are and I will never trust you. You chose to play the game and you lost. You will never win me.”
“I’m not interested in winning you,” she yelled. “Talk about an ego.”
“When this is done, you will gain your freedom, nothing more.”
“I don’t want anything else.” She never wanted to see him again. “Do you think I planned all this? Do you think I walked around hoping you would lose control last night and then sleep with me?”
“It was your ultimate plan.”
“You’re wrong. I would never do that.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“You’re the one who broke his word,” she snapped. “Nothing was supposed to happen. Do you remember that? You promised.”
Something flashed across his face. “You released me from my word.”
“Oh, sure. That’s a very typical male response. Don’t bother taking responsibility. You chose to have sex with me, Kateb. You didn’t bother using a condom. This is just as much your fault. But we’re not going to talk about that, are we? No, let’s just blame the woman. That’s so much easier than the truth.”
She put her hands on her hips, her anger giving her strength. “And while we’re on the subject of unprotected sex, should I be worried? Did one of your other chickies leave you a nasty gift?”
His gaze narrowed. “You dare question me?”
“Someone has to.”
“There is no reason for concern.” He seemed to speak between clenched teeth.
“Good to know. So here’s my question—you brought me here to be your mistress. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t sex implied in the position? Oh, wait. You thought so, too. You told me in the desert that I wouldn’t be in your bed until we got here. So when exactly did you plan to have the birth-control conversation with me? You’re so smart and princelike. Why would you assume? If your damn sperm are so precious, you should protect them from scheming women willing to trick you into bed.”
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