The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(15) by Susan Mallery
She jumped. “Gerald?”
He raised his head and looked at her. His thick dark hair was no longer perfect and several strands fell over his forehead. His eyes burned with anger and possession. She blinked. Possession? Of her? Impossible.
“I heard you on the phone with him. He is a disgusting excuse for a man. How dare he treat you so badly? He is stupid and worthless. You, sweet Dora, you are a prize. Lovely and intelligent, you are all that a man could want in a woman. I swear I will have him shot, or if you won’t agree to that, I’ll at least have him horsewhipped.”
They’d fallen into an alternate universe. It was the only possible explanation for what was happening. Because this sure wasn’t her life. Men did not profess her to be a prize, and if one were to do that, he wouldn’t be someone like Khalil.
“I d-don’t understand,” she managed to say, her voice trembling.
“You’re better off without him,” he said. “Gerald doesn’t deserve you. Be happy that you’re free of him.” He gripped her hands more tightly. “I want you,” he told her hoarsely. “I’ve wanted you since the first moment I saw you at the airport. It’s been as torturous as the fires of hell working with you these past two weeks, playing the employer when the role I truly sought was that of your lover.”
His hot, dark gaze held her captive. She wanted to look away, but she could not. She also wanted to believe him, but she couldn’t do that, either. Maybe he’d overheard part of her conversation with Gerald and felt sorry for her. While the sentiment was admirable, she wasn’t interested in anyone’s pity.
“I don’t understand what you think you’re doing,” she began. “It’s very nice of you to be concerned, but I’m fine.” She thought about her tears, then shrugged. “Okay, saying I’m fine is pushing it, but I will be fine, eventually. You don’t have to pretend that you—”
His sharp word cut her off in midsentence. She gawked at him.
“Don’t patronize me,” he ordered harshly. “Don’t for a moment believe you understand what I’m thinking or what I want. And don’t you dare assume that this is out of pity. I’m not pretending anything.”
He stood up in one quick, fluid movement, then reached for the buttons on his shirt. “You believe him, this son of a jackal. You listen to his lies and make them your truth. Why? Why do you allow him to hurt you? He knows nothing of you.” Khalil jerked the last few buttons free then yanked off his shirt and tossed it on the ground. “He had his chance, and he destroyed it. Now it is my turn. I will not make his mistake.”
Dora half rose into a sitting position and scooted against the headboard. She wasn’t afraid, exactly, but it was clear Khalil was going to take off his clothes. Part of her thought it might be a good idea to make a timely escape but the rest of her figured she might not get another shot at seeing a naked man. Lord knows she’d been dying for the experience for years. Besides, he was so beautiful, she couldn’t find the strength to look away.
Light from the lamp illuminated his skin, adding shadows and hollows to the movement of muscles and bone. Dark hair began at the top of his broad chest, then narrowed down to his waist. As his fingers worked his belt, then unfastened his trousers, she found herself holding her breath in anticipation.
But he didn’t push them down or otherwise expose himself. Instead he drew off his shoes and his socks, then placed his hands on his hips as he stared down at her.
“I want you,” he told her. “Only you. I want you in my bed, in my arms. I want to touch all of you, caress you, with both my hands and my tongue. You are my heart’s desire. It is not pity, it is not to thank you or heal you. I’m not that selfless. I am here because of the ache in my body.” His gaze narrowed. “There are things a man can’t pretend. The desire must be real. You understand?”
She nodded slowly. She understood all too well. Gerald had cut her to the core when he’d told her that he’d thought it would be difficult for him to become aroused around her. She knew that she wasn’t the prettiest woman in the world, but she’d never thought of herself as so undesirable that no man could want her. Then Khalil tucked his thumbs inside the waistband of his slacks and pushed down.
The fine wool fabric bunched low on his belly. It was only then that she realized the unusual shape she’d barely noticed was the hard proof of what he said. He reached inside and drew out his erection. The trousers slipped un-hindered to the floor.
“I want you,” he said softly.
“Yes, I can see that.” She pressed her hand over her mouth. “Sorry,” she mumbled, “I didn’t mean to say that aloud.”
But he didn’t get angry. Instead he grinned at her. “You’re impressed.”
“Yes, well…” She waved in the general direction of his…his member. “It’s quite lovely.”
He took a step toward her. “Do you doubt me now?”
He’d given her fairly substantial proof. She wanted to believe him, but she couldn’t quite. There were the things Gerald had said, plus why on earth would Khalil be interested in her?
He growled low in his throat. “Stop,” he commanded, moving closer, then kneeling on the bed. “Stop the voices in your head and listen only to me. You will be my woman. Mine and only mine. Do you understand?”
She stared into his eyes. He was fierce and possessive, and as she looked at him she could see the wild desert behind the man. A shiver rippled through her. Anticipation? Perhaps. Fear? Certainly. But fear of the unknown, not fear of him.
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