The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(2) by Susan Mallery
She entered the cabin, taking in the plush leather seats, matching sets faced each other. The incredibly beautiful young blonde woman she’d noticed earlier glanced up and frowned.
“Who are you?”
Dora tried to think of a witty response, but there wasn’t one. She muttered, “Nobody,” as she made her way down the aisle and collapsed into a seat at the rear of the plane.
The man, the tall, dark, incredibly handsome stranger who was her rescuer, sat directly in front of her. She leaned forward and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Excuse me. I know you wanted me to be quiet, and at the risk of being asked to leave the plane, would you mind if I made some coffee?”
The man turned and stared at her. “You know your way around the galley?”
She resisted the urge to say “Well, duh.” After all, it wasn’t hard. But his brown-black eyes didn’t contain a lick of humor, and this had not been her day. She allowed herself a simple “Yes,” and waited.
He waved toward the tiny kitchenette. “Please. I would like some as well. Can you make it strong?”
“I can make it anyway you’d like.” She figured she would use two of the premeasured bags, then cut hers with hot water.
“I would ask you to show my assistant, but I suspect the details of the process would be beyond her.”
Dora stared at him, not sure he was kidding, yet knowing there was no way he was telling the truth. Anyone could learn to make coffee. She glanced up toward the beautiful blue-eyed blonde in her clinging clothes, and perfect makeup. Or maybe almost anyone.
Dora stood up, yanked her dress into place and made for the galley. Three minutes later, she had the coffeepot brewing. She took her seat, fastened her seat belt, and closed her eyes. Her life had taken a disastrous turn. Somehow she was going to have to get it back on track. Easier said than done.
She drew in a deep breath and then released it. The pilot made an announcement, which she ignored, then the plane began to move toward the runway. In a couple of minutes, they were airborne. Dora didn’t bother looking out the window. Flying in corporate jets had been a part of her job, and it no longer impressed her.
When they’d reached ten thousand feet, she got up and poured herself a half cup of coffee, filled the rest of it with water and popped it into the microwave. She took the man his cup. He thanked her absently. She supposed that some other time she might have been insulted to be treated like a piece of furniture, but today it suited her mood. She wanted to disappear. What she didn’t want to have to do is deal with the mess that was her life.
Why hadn’t she waited to mail the invitations? Why had she fallen for such a jerk? She should have known about Gerald, she told herself as she carried her steaming mug back to her seat. Maybe that was the problem, she thought sadly. Maybe some part of her had always suspected he was little more than a snake, using her to protect himself.
She continued to stare out the window, not really seeing anything, thinking and planning, wishing the next couple of weeks were already behind her. They’d been in the air nearly forty minutes when a heated exchange broke through her thoughts.
“I told you to line up these figures,” a frustrated male voice said. “You’re not doing it right.”
“Don’t be mad, Khalil,” the woman purred. “I’m trying.”
“Trying is not good enough. I need this report before we land. Never mind. When we get to New York, get off this plane and get out of my sight.”
Dora glanced up in time to see Khalil wrestling a laptop computer from the blonde. At least he hadn’t asked the woman to leave right now, she thought with a slight smile. She should be grateful.
Khalil turned to go back to his seat. When he saw Dora watching, he grimaced. “I suppose you think I’m unnecessarily cruel.”
Dora shrugged. “Not if she can’t work a spreadsheet program and that’s what you hired her for.”
“I was promised an efficient temporary assistant,” he said. “This is what I received instead.” He pointed to the woman in question.
The blonde was about as dumb as she was pretty. She half stood and waved at Dora. “I’m Bambi.” She smiled at Khalil’s retreat. “He’s a prince.”
Prince was not the word Dora would have used to describe the man, but he had given her a ride. “What computer program are you in?” she asked.
He glared suspiciously, then told her.
She shifted to the aisle seat and held out her hand for the computer. “Trust me,” she said when he hesitated. “If you don’t like my work, you can always personally escort me off the plane.”
He gave her both the laptop and a slight smile. He was amazingly good-looking, she thought, staring into deep, dark eyes. She didn’t know if it was genetics or sun that had darkened his skin, but it didn’t matter. The color suited him. Even the thin scar on his left cheek added to his appeal.
His chiseled features—straight nose, strong jaw, high cheekbones—made him look like an ancient statue come to life. He wore a gray suit that she guessed cost more than she’d made the entire previous quarter. With his broad shoulders and narrow hips, he was a walking, breathing cliché. She had to admit, she kind of liked that in a man.
Then she reminded herself that she was thirty, not pretty, and that every single one of the extra twenty pounds she carried were firmly planted below her waist. She was, to be slightly euphemistic, pear-shaped. Men like him did not notice women like her. Or to be a little more honest, no man noticed a woman like her. Except Gerald…and she’d discovered that morning that he’d just been pretending. It was all too much to think about right now.
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