She closed her eyes. “Oh, God, yes.” She waved a hand at him without looking at him. “Because you’re so, well, you. And I just can’t picture you with the remote and a bag of potato chips, settling in for the latest episode.”


She cracked open one eye. “Yes?”

“I think you are blowing this out of proportion. I may have seen something while in a hotel room once. I also read the newspapers. The American fascination with the perfect wedding has not escaped my notice. And what I am saying is that couples in my country don’t feel that same need. They have ceremonies. They throw parties—or their families throw them—but this is how it begins. At a table, with marriage documents.”

She focused on the papers. “Yes, of course. I didn’t mean to insult anyone. It’s just not what I expected I would do someday.”

“I am not insulted. Daoud is not insulted. Philippe is French—and he is most certainly not insulted.”

Her eyes were warmer than he’d ever seen them. So green, like fresh fields in summer. She made him think of sunshine and long afternoons with a book and a bottle of wine—things he’d not done in a very long time. Since he’d started Hassan Construction, he’d had no time for anything but work and the kind of erotic play that happened with the opposite sex.

He did not mind that so much, usually.

“Good.” She put her hand on the marriage documents and took a deep breath. “Do I sign first, or do you?”

“The bride signs first.” The words were tight in his throat for some reason.

Emily picked up her pen and wrote her name quickly. Then she sighed and pushed the papers toward him. Kadir signed and handed everything to Daoud, who affixed the official seal of Kyr. Then both lawyers stood and bowed to Kadir and Emily both before taking their leave.

Soon, the room was empty but for the two of them.

Kadir had stood to see the lawyers out, but Emily was still sitting in her chair and looking somewhat shell-shocked. He sat down beside her, took her hand in his. She gasped softly and stared down at their clasped hands. A current of warmth slid through him.

“They bowed to me,” she said. “I didn’t expect that.”

“You are a princess of Kyr now. Emily al-Hassan, Her Royal Highness and Beloved of the Eagle of Kyr.”

She blinked. “Eagle?”

He rubbed his thumb inside her palm. Her skin was soft, warm. And he enjoyed the slight tremors vibrating through her. As a man, he knew it was not a fear response. It was a response to him, to his skin against hers.

It was a response he understood. A response he could work with. If necessary, he would seduce her into perfect compliance with his plan. A real performance instead of a fake one. A part of him rather liked that idea.

“I am the Eagle of Kyr.” He shrugged. “My brother is the Lion of Kyr, and my father is the Great Protector. This is tradition. Perhaps you find it silly, like the wedding documents.”

For the first time, he was aware of how foreign this must all seem to her. How very strange. He could tell her that her culture was just as strange to him sometimes, but he didn’t think that would help matters at all.

She looked stricken, and he wanted to kick himself. “I don’t think that at all. I really don’t.”

He squeezed her hand. “I know. This is all a bit overwhelming, I imagine. Yesterday you were my PA. Today you are my wife.”

Her head dropped, her gaze falling to her lap. “It is somewhat stunning, I have to admit.”

He tipped her chin up with a finger, forced her to look at him. She seemed younger than her twenty-five years at that moment. A bit lost, maybe. He didn’t like the guilt that pierced him at that look on her face.

“It will be fine, Emily. We’ll get through these next few days and then everything will go back to normal.”

“Yes, of course we will. I won’t disappoint you, Your Highness. You can count on me.”

“I know that. And it’s Kadir, Emily. It’s important you call me by my name from now on.”

She pulled in a breath. “Kadir.”

He smiled to reassure her. “That was not so difficult, was it?”

“It will take some getting used to.”

He let his fingers glide down the column of her neck, more out of curiosity than anything. Her eyes widened—and then she pushed her chair back, out of his reach.

“We’re alone.” She sounded almost scandalized.

There was a stirring deep inside him, a primal urge to capture and claim. He would not act upon it, however. It was simply a reaction to her moving away. Her flight response triggered his male desire to pursue.

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