The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(8) by Susan Mallery
“Accept the invitation to the Pediatric benefit,” he said. “Refuse the others.”
“Sure,” she said, a little surprised that he was doing as she’d suggested. But then, he frequently surprised her.
The first day, when he’d invited her to dine with him at lunch, she’d gotten all flustered and nervous. But Dora had quickly learned Khalil simply didn’t like to waste time. They had much to discuss, they had to eat—why not accomplish both tasks at the same time?
She pulled out a chair and took a seat. Khalil did the same, then opened his first folder. “About the embassy party,” he began.
Two hours later the table was clear, and she had enough work to keep her busy well into the night. However, she didn’t mind the long hours. If nothing else, they kept her from thinking about the mess she’d left behind. Unfortunately she couldn’t avoid it forever. When it was obvious their meeting was nearly over, she cleared her throat.
“Khalil, I need to take a little time off this afternoon.” She hesitated. “I think an hour should do it. I have several phone calls to make to Los Angeles. I don’t have a telephone credit card with me, of course. Perhaps you could deduct them…”
He was already waving away her offer. She figured he would, but she had to make the attempt.
“The calls are not an issue,” he said. “Are you having problems replacing the contents of your wallet?”
“Not really. A couple of credit cards have already been delivered. Someone I know at work has express-mailed my passport to me, so I have a picture ID and can fly home when the time comes. But it’s time for me to pick up the pieces of my personal life.”
Until that moment it hadn’t occurred to Khalil that his new assistant might have a personal life. She was so good at her job that he barely thought of her as a person. He frowned as he remembered the circumstances of their meeting—;the airport in Kansas, her wedding dress that didn’t button up the back, the lack of luggage.
“I assume this has something to do with why you were alone at the Salina airport.”
Dora flushed slightly. She folded her arms over her chest and tugged at the hem of her sweater. “Yes, well, it does of course.” She hesitated.
He was about to tell her that she was welcome to keep her private life to herself when he found himself wanting to know the details. “What happened?” he asked. “Are you in some kind of trouble?”
Dora looked startled. She had brown eyes, like many of the women in El Bahar, but the similarity ended there. Dora’s skin was pale, her face more round than angular. She had that undeniable quality that set American women apart from women in other countries.
“I’m not in trouble the way you mean it,” she said, then sighed. “The abridged version of this mess is that I was flying to Boston with my boss, who was also my fiancé. The wedding gown had been delivered that morning. I wanted to try it on and see how well it fit. Sometimes they need alterations.” She pressed her lips together. “Anyway, I went into the back to try it on and when I came out, Gerald—he’s my boss—had his hand up Glenda’s skirt, and they were about ready to do the wild thing right there on the plane.” She spoke matter-of-factly, but he could see the hurt in her brown eyes. “At least I found out before we were married.”
Khalil didn’t know what to address first, the fact that her fiancé had so dishonored his intended, that she’d been engaged to her employer, the identity of the mysterious Glenda, or Dora’s use of the phrase “the wild thing.”
He went with the most simple. “Who is Glenda?”
“One of the executives where I worked. HTS is a family-owned company. Mr. Greene does not like his employees fooling around. He actually doesn’t like anyone fooling around. Glenda’s married, which makes the whole thing more sleazy. I just hate it.”
Usually a small, slight smile lurked at the corners of Dora’s mouth, but now her lips pulled straight. Khalil felt a flicker of compassion. Dora had many fine qualities. She was intelligent and hardworking. He enjoyed her sense of humor, although that piece of news would probably surprise her. She was naturally more aggressive and less deferential than he liked his women, but that was because she was American. All in all, she was an excellent employee, and it annoyed him that her previous boss had treated her badly.
“Obviously there was a big fight,” she said. She dropped her hands to her lap, then twisted her fingers together. “I was angry and hurt and humiliated. Glenda just sat there like a little female toad. Smiling her blond-girl smile. I hate her.” She shrugged. “When the plane landed in Salina, I just wanted to get away from them all. I stomped off the jet and refused to get back on. I wasn’t thinking.”
“How unlike you,” he murmured.
“Isn’t it? Gerald demanded that I rejoin him, and when I refused, he told the pilot to take off. There I was, trapped with no luggage, no purse, no money. Nothing. I never thought he would leave me. But then I never thought he would bop Glenda, either.” Her voice dropped to a discouraged whisper. “I guess I never knew him at all.”
Whatever opinion he’d previously had of Gerald dropped even lower. Khalil thought longingly of times in ancient El Bahar when the law allowed a prince to horse-whip a man for any offense.
“Now I have a wedding to cancel,” Dora said. “Three hundred invitations had gone out the previous day. Talk about timing.”
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