Tears pricked my eyes, and suddenly I felt so hopeless. What was I doing? Did I really think this would lead to anywhere?

The sheikh was stiff, his jaw clenched. “Because you…what?”

I couldn’t say it. “I need to go.” The sheikh was visibly stunned, but he had to realize that he wasn’t the only one who had the right to be moody. I started to turn away, but the sheikh caught me from behind and he yanked me towards him.

I stumbled backwards, my back hitting his chest. His arm circled my waist, imprisoning me in an embrace. “Because you what?” the sheikh demanded.

I shook my head.

He pulled me closer to him, in an embrace that shouldn’t be between us. “Tell me.”

I tried to struggle away, but his lips touched my ear, making me shiver. “Tell me—-”

I choked out, “Because I care!”

We both stilled at my words.

But before the sheikh could answer, my stomach growled, the sound shattering the tense silence between us.

Oh. My. God. Did my stomach just do that?

The sheikh’s body was rocking against me with soundless laughter.

“Shut up.” I wanted to die.

This time, he laughed out loud.

“It’s only because I didn’t get to eat lunch,” I protested, shamefaced. “It’s not like I’m a glutton—-”

“I know.” The sheikh’s voice had sobered. He turned me around in his arms, and when our eyes met, I saw that his had turned brooding. “You care too much for me.”

Ouch. No ordinary guy should have such confidence to say that with a straight face either.

But the sheikh could and did because he wasn’t any ordinary guy. The thought wanted me to face-palm myself. This is what you get, Ella, falling in love with a sheikh – and the king’s heir at that.

I forced a smile for the sheikh’s sake. “I know,” I told him simply. “I wished I didn’t, but…” I knew I didn’t have to finish it.

Moments passed, and I hoped and feared what he would say next.

But in the end all the sheikh did was stroke my cheek with his knuckles, murmuring, “Later, Lady Ella. Let’s dine together for now, and after, we will have that talk I promised you.”

The Talk

It was the most nerve-wracking meal I ever had.

Seated beside me, the sheikh had not spoken a single word as he ate, only nodding in thanks at the attendants who served our food and gazing at me broodingly all the while.

Although I had lost my appetite, I forced myself to eat, not wanting my stomach to complain again. When we were done, I almost collapsed in relief. Thank God that was over. I had no idea what had gotten into the sheikh to make him so moody, but I just hoped it wasn’t because he had changed his mind about…us.

“Come. We must talk about your plans for the Chamber of History.” He offered his hand as he spoke, and I took it, hoping he wouldn’t notice how clammy with sweat my palm was.

As we strolled out of the dining hall and headed up to his suite, I asked, “What plans?” It was the first time I heard of it.

The sheikh only answered when we were inside his private suite. Waiting for the door to close behind him, the sheikh said succinctly, “I lied.” He swept me up in his arms without warning, making me gasp. “It was just an excuse to take you here.” He kept walking as he spoke, taking me all the way to his bedroom.

The sheikh’s bedroom was as elegant as the outer room, but with more muted colors. The bed was huge – bigger than anything I had ever seen – and across it was a love seat with a luxuriously detailed frame. In one corner was another thick Aubusson rug, placed before a fireplace carved from marble and granite.

He lowered me to his bed, and it was so tall that even though I was seated on the edge, my feet still ended up dangling in the air.

“You look so young like that,” the sheikh murmured moodily as he moved away and walked towards the wine bar adjacent to the fireplace.

“Or you just have an abnormally tall bed,” I countered.

The sheikh smiled briefly but didn’t say anything else.

My nervousness increased as I watched the sheikh pour himself a shot of whisky. He caught me watching and asked, “Would you like one?”

I shook my head.

His lips twisted. “You do not drink?”

“I don’t like drinking,” I clarified, stung by his tone. “It’s not because I feel I’m too young for it.”

The sheikh didn’t answer, only lowering his shot glass back to the counter.

I felt hurt and defensive. “Are you implying I’m too young?”

“Aren’t you?”

“If you think I am,” I bit out, “then we don’t need to have this talk, do we?”

“Yes, we do, actually. Because I’d like to fuck you, and I don’t think you’d let me do that without…” The sheikh’s lip curled. “A talk.”

Tags: Marian Tee Romance
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