She swallowed. Part of her had begun to hope it had all been a dream. “All right. I’ll be there in just a few minutes.”

She ended the call and took another look at herself in the mirror. All the color had drained from her face until she looked pale and ghostly. God, she was really going to do this. She was going to walk into Kadir’s suite and marry him.


For the first time, a little stab of distress caught her by surprise. She should have worn something different from her usual attire. Something a bride would be happy to say she’d gotten wed in. Something special.

Emily closed her eyes. Except this was merely an arrangement and it wasn’t supposed to be special. What was the matter with her? Why did she care what she wore when all she was going to do was sign some papers?

Papers that would change her life, albeit for a short time. She really, really hoped that Kadir knew what he was doing. It was a crazy plan, but she’d agreed to it. Too late to back out now.

She took one last look in the mirror, smoothed her ponytail and went to meet her fate.

* * *

Kadir waited impatiently for Emily to arrive. He paced back and forth in the living room of his suite while the lawyers arranged the documents on a nearby table. The sun had glided above the horizon an hour ago now, and the Paris sky was clear and blue, with wisps of feathery clouds sailing across it.

A perfect day to get married.

He tried not to shudder at the notion. Marriage was not something he’d ever intended to enter into lightly, yet here he was. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in marriage, or didn’t believe in falling in love—it’s just that he’d never actually seen it work in his own life. His father had many wives and he didn’t seem emotionally attached to any of them.

Kadir’s mother had been the favorite wife before she died, but she had been desperately unhappy. Something Kadir hadn’t realized until he’d gotten older.

The door to his suite opened and Emily sailed inside, looking as cool and businesslike as ever. For some reason, that irritated him. Her hair was scraped back from her face, as always, and she wore a navy-blue suit with a coral shirt—the only bright spot of color on her—and those same damn ugly shoes as always. Low heel, boxy toe, matte black.

He’d never cared one way or the other before, but now he found that he despised those shoes. Utterly. She needed new ones, and soon.

“Are you coming to take notes or to get married?”

Her green gaze snapped to him and he had the sudden thought that she wasn’t quite as cool as she’d like to appear. That knowledge made him relax, though only marginally.

She ran a hand over her jacket, as if smoothing an imaginary wrinkle. One thing he knew about Emily Bryant was that she didn’t dare to allow wrinkles. She was always crisp and organized, and she looked just as if she was marching in for a day’s work rather than about to sign the documents that would make her his wife.

He was almost insulted she’d not made more effort. But then he chided himself. What did he care? This was about presenting his father with an unsuitable bride and declaring himself unfit for the throne, not about her current clothing or enthusiasm. So long as she appeared enthused in Kyr, he could care less what she did here.

Or so he told himself.

“I’m not carrying a notebook.” Her words were pointed. And completely unnecessary since he could quite clearly see she was not holding her characteristic pad and pen.

He swept a hand toward the table where the lawyers sat. “Then if you will come this way, Miss Bryant, we shall take care of business.”

She nodded once, firmly, but he didn’t miss the way she bit her lip or the tremor in her fingers as she tugged her jacket hem. His buttoned-up PA wasn’t as calm as she pretended to be.

Good, because he wasn’t very calm either. His entire future depended on this performance. Not for the first time, he wondered if he should have gone after Lenore, made up with her and asked her to do it instead. She would have agreed for the notoriety, and she would have horrified his father into naming Rashid his successor within hours of her arrival in Kyr.

And then Kadir would have divorced her. In spite of Emily’s remark last night about what happened if she didn’t want to divorce him, that truly wasn’t possible in Kyr. All he had to do was have the decree drawn up, sign it, and it was done. He had no fear that any woman could trap him permanently.

Emily took a seat at the table and Kadir sat beside her. He was far more aware of her than he wanted to be, but that was because she fairly vibrated with energy. One foot bounced against the other as she sat with her ankles crossed, tapping it impatiently.

Or nervously.

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