The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(6) by Susan Mallery
She looked more closely at the clothes and realized the blouses were all light or bright colors, while the skirts were more subdued. At first she marveled at the insightfulness of the boutique’s manager, then she remembered that she’d given them her sizes—the top half of her body differing from the bottom by a full size less.
Dora shrugged and returned her attention to her reflection. She’d never looked better. The boutique’s manager had created an attractive illusion, sight unseen. Then Dora glanced at the price tag hanging from the sleeve of the dress. Her mouth dropped open and she made an audible gasp.
Twelve hundred dollars.
She blinked. Twelve hundred dollars? For a dress she would wear to the office? She looked at the crumpled wedding gown, the one she’d bought on sale at an outlet.
She stared at the clothes she’d tossed carelessly on the bed and realized she didn’t dare calculate how much all this had cost. It would make her nauseous. Instead she hung them up in her walk-in closet, then washed her face, changed into a plain cotton nightgown, which probably cost more than her wedding gown, and got into bed.
As she settled back against the fluffy pillows, she thought about her day. Which was a mistake because it forced her to think about Gerald. The man was a weasel. A walking, breathing snake of a weasel. She was better off without him. Better to live alone than to live a lie.
She believed what she was saying, even as the words broke her heart. It was one thing to find out that her fiancé had never loved her, it was another to have that information thrown in her face. She rolled onto her side and pulled her knees up to her chest. Was it her? Had she been to blame? After all, in her whole life, no one had ever wanted her.
Gerald hadn’t wanted her, either, she thought as the first tears formed beneath her closed lids. He’d only pretended. He—
The sound of soft, female laughter drifted through her closed door. Dora raised her head, then relaxed as she realized her handsome prince had company for the evening. What kind of woman would Khalil Khan of El Bahar have in his bed? Someone beautiful, she thought, but the woman would have to be bright. After all, Bambi had driven him crazy.
She smiled at the memory of his encounter with the former centerfold. Who was this man who had changed her life, if only for a few days? What was he like? Was he a weasel, too, the same as Gerald? Were all men? Or was he different? Was he honorable and did he tell the truth?
She didn’t want to think about him too much, preferring not to risk her temporary job by creating a fantasy world. But if she didn’t think about Khalil, she would have to think about all she faced back in Los Angeles. At least she could cancel the wedding long distance. That would be humiliating enough, but better than doing it in person.
Tears came again, and she fought them. She was done crying over Gerald. He wasn’t worth a single one of her tears. Except, she thought as she pulled the covers higher, she’d wanted so much for him to love her. No man ever had. But he’d only pretended. And she’d believed him. It was a sad statement about both herself and her life.
“Yes, I understand, Mr. Boulier. The restaurant’s wine list is most impressive, however the prince prefers to make his own selections from his private cellar. These wines have been flown in from El Bahar. He is happy to pay the corkage fee to use his wines, but if this is too much of an insult to you and your staff, then we’ll simply have to reschedule the dinner elsewhere.”
Dora heard the spluttering on the other end of the phone, but she wasn’t listening. Instead her attention focused on the fax coming over the second line. She caught the phrase “developments in memory chips” and knew it was the information she’d been waiting for.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Boulier, what did you say?”
“Of course I understand the prince’s preference. We will be honored to accommodate his request.”
Dora gave a little smile, although she kept any note of triumph out of her voice. “I’ll be sure to inform him of your cooperation. The final count is thirty-five for dinner.”
“But you’re closing my restaurant, and we can easily accommodate twice that many. The price I quoted you was for seventy-five dinners.”
“I understand. However, privacy is of the utmost importance to the prince. You’ll be paid for seventy-five dinners, but you need only prepare thirty-five. Is that a problem?” She could practically hear the man tapping on his calculator keys. He was about to make a small fortune for very little work.
“Of course not,” Mr. Boulier said, his voice quivering slightly. “We’ll be ready.”
“Thank you so much for your help. See you tomorrow evening.”
She hung up the phone, then picked it up when it rang immediately. The man identified himself. Dora checked his name against a long list, then accessed the scheduling program on her computer, made an appointment, and hung up again. Before the phone could ring a third time, she flipped the switch that sent calls to voice mail and rose from her desk. On her way out, she grabbed the waiting fax, three folders and her notebook.
Khalil’s office was next to hers. He left the door open and had told her to feel free to interrupt with information or questions. In the past five days, they’d developed a rhythm in their working style, with her giving him updates once in the morning, then again in the afternoon.
She crossed the Oriental rug and took a seat in front of his desk. He gave her an acknowledging nod. “I’ll just be a minute,” he said.
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