“How would this work?” Her voice sounded rusty, as if she hadn’t used it in ages and her vocal cords didn’t want to let the words go.
Kadir sighed and bowed his head for a brief moment. She wanted to tell him that she had not yet agreed, so he shouldn’t get all relieved and everything—but they both knew she was going to. It was simply too good an opportunity to pass up.
No matter how it terrified her.
“My attorneys will draw up the paperwork. We will sign it. That is all that is required in Kyr—a legal marriage document, with both signatures affixed. We can have a ceremony in Kyr, if you like, but the documents will suffice.”
She couldn’t imagine standing at an altar—or wherever one did these things in Kyr—and pledging everlasting love to this man. To her boss.
No matter how fake it would be.
“I don’t need a ceremony.”
He tipped his head, as if he’d known she would say that. “Then there will not be one.”
She clasped her hands in her lap, twisted them together. It was incongruous to be discussing marriage with her boss while in her pajamas in Paris, but that’s precisely what she was doing. How surreal.
“Will there be other paperwork? A prenuptial agreement? A contract detailing the terms of our arrangement?”
“Do you require either of those things?”
She could only blink at him. “It seems prudent, don’t you think? What if I decide I like being a princess so much that I refuse to divorce you and then ask for half your assets when you insist? Or what if you become unhappy with my performance and decide not to pay me?”
He laughed and she let the sound drip down her spine, warming her though she did not want it to.
“You are delightful, Emily. If I don’t tell you that enough, I am remiss.” He got to his feet then and she stood, too, more out of habit than anything. “I will have those documents done as well, if it makes you feel better.”
She sucked in a fortifying breath. “I haven’t said yes yet.”
“But you will.”
Heat rolled through her. She would, but she didn’t like how easily he could read her. Or maybe it wasn’t that at all. Maybe he just expected her to obey. Because she always had before.
“How can you be so certain? This is far different than ordering me to make phone calls or type up a new proposal.”
He came closer to her and she forced herself to remain where she was. She would not duck away like a frightened kitten. Then he put his warm hands on her shoulders and she felt as if she’d been struck by lightning again.
“I need you, Emily. More than I’ve ever needed you before. And I think you will say yes because you’ve worked for me for four years now and you are good at what you do. You won’t want to walk away when I need you. It’s a challenge, and you like challenges.”
She could only stare up at him, her insides clenching and rolling as his touch made things jump inside her. Things that hadn’t jumped in a good long while.
“I—I have conditions,” she managed.
His brows drew down, but he didn’t look angry. “Conditions?”
She swallowed. It’s for the money. For my dad. “For this to work, you can’t order me to do things. The moment we sign the documents, I am no longer your employee.”
His gaze slipped to her mouth, and she thought her knees might refuse to hold her a moment longer. But then he looked at her again, an expression of curiosity and bemusement on his handsome face. “Do you want to be more, Emily? Oddly, I find I might enjoy such a notion—”
“No.” She cut him off, and immediately wanted to gasp. She had never done such a thing before. He was gazing at her steadily so she hurried on. “Partners. We will be business partners.”
It was the only way she could do this. If she continued to think of herself as his employee, she would never manage the deception. Because she knew what happened when bosses and employees crossed the line. And she was too professional to do so, even if it was only an arrangement. For her own peace of mind, she had to separate those parts of her life.
“Fine.” He didn’t seem angry in the least.
Her heart throbbed painfully at what she was about to say. “Then I’ll do it. I’ll marry you.”
Kadir seemed to relax slightly, as if he’d believed for a moment she might actually refuse him. His hands slid almost sensuously down her arms, left a trail of flame in their wake. Her skin prickled and tingled. She wanted to shrug away, to get out of his grasp—and she wanted to move closer at the same time.
“There are only two things left to do in order to seal this deal.” His voice was like silk and she shivered in response.