The Sheikh's Virgin(Desert Rogues, Book 13)(25) by Susan Mallery
“If I’m not pregnant, he said I could go,” she told Yusra.
“Is that what you want?”
She thought about how he had been the previous night. The passion that had consumed them. She thought about the man who had brought her electricity for her curling iron, despite the fact that they were in the desert.
There was kindness there—perhaps a good and gentle man. But she wasn’t interested in giving her heart and he would never see her as anything but a woman out for what she could get.
“Yes,” Victoria said. “I want to leave. I guess it will take a couple of weeks to know if that’s going to happen.”
Yusra stared at her. “You would go so easily?”
“I’ve barely known Kateb a week.”
“Still, he is the prince.”
“You sound disappointed.”
“I am. Kateb must marry soon. If he does not pick a bride, one will be found for him.”
An arranged marriage? “I wouldn’t think he would allow that,” she said. “He’s too stubborn to let someone else influence his life that way.”
“Yet he will let it happen.” Yusra looked as if she had more to say, but she was silent.
“I’ll believe that when I see it.”
“No, you will not. You will be gone.”
She was right, something that should have made Victoria happy. But it didn’t. Talk about trapped, she thought sadly. She didn’t want to stay and maybe, just maybe, she didn’t want to go. Which left her nowhere.
Kateb found himself so distracted during his late-afternoon meetings that he had to reschedule them for the next day so the points in question could be addressed. He resented his inability to focus on the concerns of the elders and knew there was only one cause.
Tomorrow would be better, he told himself as he made his way back to his rooms, only to find the cause of his inattention waiting for him there.
Victoria sat on a sofa, reading a fashion magazine. She hadn’t heard him approach, so she didn’t look up. He was able to study her without being observed.
Her long, curly blond hair tumbled down her shoulders. The soft gold color made his fingers ache to feel the silkiness. Her lush curves threatened to spill from the sleeveless top she wore and the long, layered skirt seem to call to him to explore what was hidden.
How could he want her? Knowing what he did, he should resent her, or at least not think of her. But she had haunted him all day. Even through his anger, he wanted her and that offended him most of all.
He must have made a sound because she looked up, then dropped the magazine onto the cushion before standing.
“They’re saying navy is going to be big this fall,” she told him. “It’s the new black. Have you noticed they’re always saying this or that color is the new black? There actually isn’t a new black, no matter what they want us to believe. There’s just the old black.” She paused, then sighed. “You have no idea what I’m talking about, nor do you care.”
His voice was rough. “Why are you here?”
“To talk to you about Rasha and the other women making jewelry. We were so busy with your overwrought accusations that we never got to talk about that.”
For some reason, he couldn’t seem to summon the anger. It should have been there—she had earned it—yet it was nowhere to be found.
“I am not overwrought,” he told her sternly.
“Want to take a vote on that?” She held up her hands. “Never mind. I’ll stay on topic. The women should be selling in places other than the city marketplace and to the camel guy.”
“That is their decision, not mine.”
“Au contraire, great prince. You’re the man, or at least you will be when the elders pick you. Everyone knows it’s going to happen, so they’re acting as if it already has. Rasha got all quivery when I mentioned talking to you about them selling elsewhere. They need your permission. And as I don’t have a computer of my own to get started on this…I do, too.”
She didn’t sound happy about the fact.
“You are very persistent.”
“Someone has to be. They deserve a chance at this. A chance to make a living.” Her blue eyes flashed with annoyance. “And while we’re on the subject of making a living, I’m going to need access to my savings account while I’m here.”
“To buy things.”
“Whatever you want will be provided.”
“Does a little man with a bucket of gold follow me everywhere I go? What if I want to go into the bazaar and buy a dress or something?”
“They’ll bill me.”
“I don’t think so.” She glared at him. “I have money, I just need access to it.”
“While you are here, you are my responsibility.”
“Not really. I’m just the money-hungry tramp who tricked you into sleeping with her. Isn’t that the story you’re telling yourself?”
He crossed to the armoire in the corner, opened the doors and poured himself a drink. “You want anything?” he asked, before picking up his glass.
“No, thank you.”
He swallowed the scotch, knowing it wasn’t nearly enough to help. He turned back to her.
“It wasn’t what you think,” she said. “Nadim was very much more a theory than a man. I didn’t want to be that little girl in the charity clothes. I didn’t want to have to stand in line to get a special meal. I don’t expect you to believe me, but it’s the truth.”
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