“And this internship, you will be under whose supervision?”
“The Sheikh of Layla, Your Highness.”
I frowned at the ambiguity of his answer. “So…do you approve?”
My eyebrows shot up. “Why not?” Wasn’t this what he wanted? For me to do stuff that was “worthy” of daughters of the royal family?
The sheikh shrugged. “It is enough that I said no.”
Now I wasn’t just confused but suspicious, too. “I don’t get it,” I declared bluntly. “Last time we talked, you told me you want to be more involved with royal duties and now that—-”
His voice chilly, the sheikh demanded, “Do I have to remind you my word is law, milady?”
Bastard, I thought. But then something occurred to me, a painful but possible truth, and I asked tightly, “Is it because you’re afraid I’d end up embarrassing you if I do something wrong, and your precious royal family would be a laughingstock?”
“Those are your words,” the sheikh said icily, “not mine.”
Those are your words, not mine. I mimicked his words out of pure spite, and I made a face at him, too. I knew I was being childish, but I couldn’t help it. Anger was my only defense to keep myself from dwelling on the hurt. More and more I was beginning to believe I had hit upon the truth the first try.
The sheikh didn’t believe in me.
“You are bordering again on disobedience, Lady Ella.”
“Yeah, well, what’s new?” I muttered.
His jaw clenched. “When are you going to stop—-”
“Stop being what?” I said nastily. “Stop being myself?” Self-disgust filled me. God, I had been so excited to see his reaction at my accomplishments, so excited at the thought that today might just be the day he’d…
I jumped to my feet. “Forget it.”
“Lady Ella, calm yourself.” The sheikh’s voice held a note of warning.
“Go to hell.” I was done with this, done with him.
I stomped towards the door, but halfway across the room, the sheikh said behind me, “Be reminded that disobedience and defying my will is also equivalent to treason in this kingdom.” A dangerous pause. “And in the mood I am in, you will not want to dare me.”
I froze, tears of helpless rage burning in my eyes.
I heard the sheikh’s footsteps, but even though I saw him stop in front of me, I didn’t look up.
I didn’t want him to see me crying.
“You are overly emotional, milady.”
True enough, but since I didn’t want him to be right, I remained mutinously silent, glaring down at the hapless floor while I fought back tears.
“It is not right for you to be under the supervision of another sheikh when you are a member of my family.”
My head shot up at his words.
“That is the reason of my refusal. That alone and nothing like the nonsense you started spouting the moment you came to my study.” The sheikh’s tone held a note of censure as he said, “The chip on your shoulder is too big, milady.”
Head still reeling at what I thought he was saying, I ignored his last insult and focused on the most important fact. “Then…you don’t mind if—-”
His face softening marginally, the sheikh said, “I will be proud to have you speak about the kingdom’s history to those who wish to learn it, but only—-” The sheikh’s voice became hard. “And I do mean only under my supervision. It is my only condition, and if you agree, I shall inform the head of the project about your intended involvement.”
“Of course I agree.” I shook my head incredulously. “I can’t believe that’s what you were objecting to. It’s crazy. You know that, right? You just want to be the one who orders me around and not other people?”
The sheikh shrugged.
A choked laugh escaped me.
His eyes blazed.
I stopped laughing, asking nervously, “W-what is it?”
“That’s the first time I heard you laugh.”
“Do it again.”
And because it was such a silly command, I ended up laughing again, a little more nervously than before. “You’re crazy,” I told him. Did he really think people could laugh at command?
“That is the second time you’ve called me crazy,” the sheikh murmured lazily. “You know I’ve sent men to the execution block for far less than that?”
My jaw dropped not because I was seriously scared but because I couldn’t believe he could be that petty.
The sheikh suddenly laughed.
My eyes widened. “You were lying!”
“And you fell for it,” he said with a smirk.
My head reeled even more, and I almost wanted to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The sheikh was always serious as hell. Always. And somehow, I had just heard him laugh! I had made him laugh.
“Lady Ella?” As he spoke, the sheikh tipped my chin up, making me jerk at the suddenness of his touch.
When our eyes met, I found my throat turning dry, the brightness of his gaze doing strange things on my body—-