And confusion.

He hurried her toward a shop as his bodyguards took care of crowd control. Another moment and they were inside the couture house he’d been bringing her to in the first place.


“Your Highness,” a man said as he came forward. “We are so glad you have come to us. Everything is ready.”

“She must be glamorous and insanely beautiful,” Kadir said, dragging his attention back to the matter at hand. He could not afford to feel softness for her right now. “Make her clothing tasteful but sexy.”

Emily gasped. “I will not—”

“It is not up for discussion, Emily. You have agreed to it.”

Her jaw worked and her eyes flashed cold fury. “You have no idea how much I’m beginning to regret that.”

He only stared at her. “Too late, habibti. You are mine now.”

He whirled and stalked out of the shop before she could say another word. And before he could drag her into his arms and silence her rebellious mouth with his own.

* * *

Emily could have chewed nails and spit fire. She was horribly, incredibly angry. With Kadir. With herself. But she had agreed to this insane scheme and now she had no choice but to endure the transformation currently taking place.

She looked at herself in the mirror, at her sleek hair, cut and styled and looking like mahogany silk. Her eyes were rimmed in dark eyeliner and there was a smudge of shadow in the crease. Her lashes had been curled and lengthened with mascara, her lips were a sultry red pout, and her dress was the most gorgeous shade of purple jersey that clung to all her curves. On her feet were tall snakeskin Louboutins with the signature red heel.

She’d endured endless fittings, the mechanical snick-snick-snick of sewing machines as seamstresses worked frantically to tailor the clothing and the ministrations of a makeup artist and hairstylist until finally Guido stood back and pronounced her fit for public viewing.

“His Most Exalted Highness is waiting in the outer room,” Guido said.

“Wonderful.” Emily gritted her teeth. She was going to have to practice being happy with her arrogant boss-turned-temporary-husband. No better time than the present.

Just thinking of Kadir caused her insides to clench. He made her so angry. He also made her itch to slide her palms over his chest while arching her body into his. That was a new development and one she did not appreciate whatsoever.

“You are a perfect princess, Your Highness,” Guido said, smiling and bowing as she picked up the buttery-soft leather handbag he’d selected to go with her outfit. Emily wanted to tell him not to bow, but she stopped herself. This was a performance, and she most definitely was a princess. For now.

She glanced at herself again and swallowed. Her mother stared back at her from beneath the sultry makeup and curve-hugging clothing and Emily wanted to scream. She’d worked too hard to bury that sensual creature that lurked inside her and now it was staring back at her, mocking her.

Just because I look like you, she wanted to say, doesn’t mean I am you.

Guido escorted Emily to the outer room, where Kadir was waiting. He looked up when she entered. His eyes seemed to widen and she told herself not to be pleased at that. The flare of feminine vanity she felt was not welcome. Oh, how she used to preen when a man looked at her with appreciation. She would not do so now.

Kadir’s gaze skimmed over her slowly. And then his mouth curved in a smile that made her heart skip a beat. “You look amazing, Emily.”

Heat seared into her. “Thank you.” Because what else did you say to something like that?

She felt self-conscious more than anything, because now everyone was looking at her in ways they never had before. She’d found it easier to blend into the background, to be unobtrusive. Her job required that of her.

Guido snapped his fingers and a pair of smartly dressed saleswomen appeared with boxes and bags.

“These will see her through the first couple of days,” he told Kadir. “The rest will be delivered to Kyr immediately upon completion.”

“Grazie,” Kadir said. “As always, you have pleased me greatly.”

A sharp feeling sliced into her then. She remembered now why Guido’s name was familiar to her. She’d been so distracted by everything today that she hadn’t dwelled too much on why. But she had seen his name on bills. For shoes, clothing, jewels, handbags and silk scarves.

Of course she had. She wanted to put her hand to her temple and rub, but she didn’t. What did she care if Kadir was buying her clothing at the same place he had bought things for his lovers?

Kadir might be a player of the worst sort, but one of the things he had never done was make Emily buy gifts for his ladies. He took care of that himself—and now she knew how. He picked up the phone and called Guido.

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