Emily drew in a breath. It suddenly didn’t seem like the time. And yet he already knew what was bothering her. She gestured at the bed. “There is only one.”

He stalked toward her, his expression not softening in the least. “Yes, because husbands usually sleep with their wives, even in Kyr.” His gaze dropped over her body as he came to a halt. Her skin prickled with heat. “Perhaps especially in Kyr.”


She tried not to let the sensual tone in his voice get to her.

“This isn’t a public place, Kadir.”

His eyes glittered hot. “No, it is not. But if I ask for another room, or another bed to be brought into this one, there will be questions. And I am not willing to answer those questions, habibti. It defeats the purpose of our agreement.”

She turned her head to look at the bed. At least it wasn’t small. Maybe if they put pillows down the center, it would work. It would have to work.

“Fine. But you stay on your side.”

“If you insist.”

She lifted her chin at the mocking note in his voice. “I hope you plan to wear more than you usually do.”

One dark eyebrow arched. “I don’t know, Emily. The desert is very hot. And one does not wear flannel pajamas to bed in Kyr.”

Heat flared inside her at the thought of him naked. Beside her.

Oh, dear.

That simply could not happen. She’d seen him without clothing, yes—but not often and only briefly. The barest flash of male flesh before he robed himself.

This, however, was different. She drew herself up.

“Yes, but this is a palace, not the desert. And I saw a thermostat, which tells me there is air-conditioning. Turn it down and put on some clothes before you come to bed.”

Kadir laughed, but the sound was low and sensual and her belly tightened into a knot. “I will consider it.”

“You need to do more than consider it.”

He looked amused, which was a nice change from when he’d entered the room. She wanted to ask him what was wrong, but she felt as if it would be prying to do so. She was still getting accustomed to this shift in their relationship, however temporary, and she didn’t want to cross any deeply personal lines.

“Afraid of losing control, sweet Emily?”

“What? No!” She put her hands to her blazing cheeks and shook her head, her heart thumping in response. “You’re outrageous, Kadir.”

He walked over and took her wrists gently in his, pulled her hands away from her face. She felt as if she was going to hyperventilate, and he stood there so calm and in control that she almost envied him. Yes, damn him, control was precisely what she was afraid of losing.

Control of herself, of her needs and desires, of her reactions. Kadir had a way of making a woman want to lose control. She was beginning to realize how very dangerous he was to her sense of well-being.

He frowned down at her. “There is no need to panic. I won’t do anything to make you uncomfortable, Emily.”

“Then why did you say—”

“I like teasing you,” he said softly. “You are quite emotional, as it turns out. I had no idea.”

Emily fought her natural inclination to drop her gaze from his. Instead, she pulled in a deep breath and kept her chin up. “I’m sorry, but this is outside my comfort zone. I know what to do when I’m your PA. I don’t know what to do as your wife...especially your fake wife.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and rubbed. Another jolt of sensation shot from where he touched her straight down to her sex. She wanted to whimper with it. Had she ever reacted this way to another man? Or was she just so deprived of contact lately that her body was starved for it?

“Just follow my lead and it will all work out.”

She closed her eyes for a moment. She was in over her head. She should have realized it before. “I don’t like deceiving your family. I should have said no.”

“Ah, but you want the money.”

She bit her lip. She wanted to explain herself, but he wasn’t looking for an explanation. He was stating a fact. And mentioning her father’s health issues would only distract attention from Kadir’s problems right now.

“I do.”

His hands dropped away from her shoulders and disappointment bit into her. He turned away and removed the flowing headdress. His dark hair was a sensual shock to her system, though she’d seen it a million times before. But there was something about the kaffiyeh and its removal that set up a drumbeat in her veins.

Kadir was thankfully oblivious as he set the fabric down and then continued into the outer suite where the seating area was. Once there, he collapsed onto one of the sofas and tilted his head back, his eyes closing. He looked troubled now, no longer angry or amused.

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