“Then perhaps you should choose women based on their intellect and not their bra size.”

He burst out laughing and a prickle of something ran up her spine. It wasn’t fear. It wasn’t even embarrassment. Perhaps it was relief. Relief that she’d said the words after all.

“I will take your charming suggestion under advisement, I assure you.”

“You did ask.”

“Indeed I did.” He raised his arms, stretching like a supple, sleek cat. The robe fell open to reveal the tight muscles of his abdomen—along with that damn arrow of hair again. Thankfully, he was wearing a pair of black silk boxers that were perfectly decent. Emily averted her gaze as her heart rate picked up once more. Fresh fire licked across her skin, shortened her breath.

She forced it down again, buried it beneath the mountain of decorum and duty she always lived by. She was not the sort of person to be ruled by urges. She was not the sort of person to have urges—not anymore. She’d worked very hard to make sure of that.

So what on earth was the matter with her today? He was devilishly attractive, but that was nothing new. She’d thought herself inoculated a long time ago. Apparently, he could still rev up her pulse under the right circumstances.

Perhaps she should make an appointment with her doctor. Her hormones were surely out of whack or something. It was the only explanation.

Kadir moved with liquid grace, sauntering back into his bedroom while Emily stood and gulped in air. He didn’t close the door and she soon heard the sound of the shower. She imagined him dropping the robe, sliding the silk boxers down his lean, hard thighs—

Emily gripped her notebook hard enough to make her fingers ache. Then she smoothed her hair, straightened her clothing even though it was perfectly straight already, and went to check on Kadir’s breakfast.

* * *

The day had been long and productive. Kadir sat in the limo as it moved through the brightly lit streets of Paris and rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, easing the kinks of sitting at a desk for the past few hours. He’d been going over the projections for his newest project. This office building in Paris’s business district was simply the latest in a series of buildings he’d constructed over the past couple of years.

But he loved the process, loved watching the steel skeleton rise high above the city and take on a life of its own. This building wasn’t as tall as some he’d built, but it was modern and sleek and efficient. The company that had hired him would be very pleased when he was finished. He prided himself upon it.

Beside him, his assistant typed away on her laptop. He slanted a glance toward her. Miss Emily Bryant was quite possibly the best assistant he’d ever had. She was eager to work, professional, and she’d taken over his life with the kind of efficiency he valued.

Nothing escaped her notice. Nothing remained undone. In spite of this morning’s episode, a thousand Lenores could not ruffle her calm for long.

He’d come to look forward to her marching into his room, in whatever city they might be staying in, and standing over him in her crisp black-and-white—or sometimes navy-blue or gray—business suits and ugly shoes as she told him about his day.

Emily was blessedly uncomplicated. The only female in his life who was. Thank goodness he wasn’t attracted to her, or he would no doubt ruin what was the longest relationship with a woman—unrelated to him—that he’d ever had.

He thought of her this morning, telling him to choose women based on intellect rather than bra size, and wanted to laugh again. She’d shocked and amused him at the same time. He’d asked her opinion, but that was not the answer he’d expected. Emily was always so circumspect that it hadn’t crossed his mind she had anything remotely sarcastic to say.

He’d loved it because it was so unexpected from his proper assistant. That was something he almost never got in his relationships with anyone: honesty. No one wanted to disagree with a prince.

His mobile phone began to buzz. He took it from his pocket and handed it to Emily. He was too tired to deal with anyone just now. She answered with that voice of hers that sounded so young and fresh, as though she was still sixteen instead of twenty-five. Kadir closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the seat. Tonight, he would sleep the sleep of the dead. No parties, no manipulative fashion models, no distractions.

“Your Highness.” Emily sounded a touch breathless. Her pale green eyes were wide as she held out the phone. “It’s your father.”


KADIR GRIPPED THE balcony’s iron railing with both hands as he stared at Paris spread out below. The Eiffel Tower glowed ocher against the skyline as cars slid through the streets. He could hear laughter coming from somewhere in the hotel where he’d booked an entire floor, and a soft breeze slid across his skin, cooling him.

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