The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 1)(50) by Susan Mallery
“Who’s the liar now?” he asked, then kissed her.
Dora didn’t answer. Not because she was too busy kissing him back, but because she didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t deny her body’s obvious reaction to his nearness. And later, when they were both naked and his tongue caressed every part of her, she couldn’t quiet her moans of pleasure.
Once again, her husband had been victorious.
Dora paused outside the entrance to the office wing of the palace and smoothed her sweaty hands on her skirt. She’d thrown down the gauntlet, and Khalil had responded. She now had an office of her own, a title and even an assistant. The question was—did she know how to do the job?
She resisted the urge to run back to her lonely quarters and send Khalil a message telling him she’d just been kidding. Because it was a joke. Did she really think she had the training and experience required to act as liaison between the El Baharian government and Fortune 500 companies wanting to set up offices or manufacturing facilities? El Bahar was a peaceful country with a reputation of being the Switzerland of the Middle East so corporations interested in expansion in this part of the world frequently began in El Bahar. She was meddling in a multibillion-dollar arena, and she had absolutely no idea what she’d been thinking.
Except that she’d spent most of her time alone reading business magazines and books, and the common theme she’d come across was the difficulty companies had when expanding internationally. She’d had some experience with that while working for Gerald. He’d been a jerk and more than willing to let her shoulder his responsibilities whenever possible. Was that enough training? She drew in a deep breath and opened the door leading to the suites of offices. She supposed she was about to find out.
The frosted-glass double doors led into a large, plush waiting area decorated with leather sofas and fabulous Impressionist paintings. It took her a second to realize that they were all originals. She found herself wanting to pause in front of the huge canvases, then remembered she was here to work, not admire, and approached the trim middle-aged man sitting behind an oversize desk. He looked up and smiled.
“Good morning, Your Highness. I’m Martin Wingbird. Prince Khalil told me you would be arriving this morning. May I have the honor of showing you to your office?”
The man was perfectly dressed in a tailored suit, and his accent was British. From what Dora had been able to figure out, much of the staff was international. While she was still living in the harem, Fatima had entertained her with stories about wild arguments between the two head chefs, one of whom was French, the other American and a woman. Apparently while they avoided blows, they weren’t above throwing the crockery at each other.
“Thank you, Mr. Wingbird.”
Behind the main reception desk, two corridors jutted out, one going left, the other right. Martin took the left corridor, walking briskly down a long, carpeted hallway. Dora hurried after him as best she could. She’d dressed in a long, straight skirt that came nearly to her ankles. While it was conservative enough to meet any exacting standards, it also prevented her from taking long strides.
They passed several large offices, complete with computers, faxes and copy machines. The desert might be only a half dozen or so miles away, but here in the palace, the staff had long moved into the modern age.
As they approached the end of the corridor, Dora saw two massive doors standing open. Three assistants, two men and a woman, worked in front of two more doors.
“Prince Khalil’s staff is here,” Martin Wingbird said. “And that door on the left leads to your office.”
He introduced the assistants, and she found that the lone female, a beautiful Asian woman named Eva, worked for her.
Dora had to smile. “I’m curious about the staffing arrangements,” she told Martin. “Do I have a woman working for me because no man would dare work for a woman in this country, or is it a matter of propriety? And if it’s the latter, what is to prevent the staff from crossing the line?”
Martin’s serious expression didn’t change, but she saw a flicker of humor in his blue eyes. “I’m sure I don’t know, ma’am.”
“How clever of you. In your position, I wouldn’t know, either.” She nodded. “Thank you for you help, Martin.”
“My pleasure, Your Highness.” He bowed once and left.
Eva had already opened the door to Dora’s office, and now the assistant led the way inside. Dora followed her into a plush space filled with French country-style furniture, paintings of flowers and a large spray of roses in a vase on the coffee table in front of a small sitting area. Windows gave her a view of a formal English garden.
She looked around at the bright colors in the Oriental rug and the little touches of lace on the throw pillows tossed casually on the sofa. “The room is so perfect, I want to believe it has been decorated just for me,” Dora said more to herself than to Eva. But that wasn’t possible. She and Khalil had spoken about her working for him less than forty-eight hours ago. The office couldn’t have been put together that quickly, could it?
“Prince Khalil arranged everything himself,” Eva said. “He spent all of yesterday overseeing everything.” She smiled. “Your husband was most particular about the furniture he chose and had many items sent back into storage before he approved this.”
Khalil? Her husband? The man who demanded his way in everything, most especially her submission to him? She couldn’t imagine him caring about decor, let alone picking out furniture and throw pillows.
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