Page 52 of To Defy a Sheikh

And people seemed to want to talk to her, as well. As if she carried influence. As if she mattered. It was so very different to the life she’d had before she’d come here. So very different to the life she’d ever imagined she might have.

“Now,” Ferran said, “I think it’s time for you to dance with me.”

“I think I could skip the dancing,” she said, looking out across the expanse of marble floor, to where gorgeous, graceful couples twirled in circles, in eddies of silk and color. She doubted very much she would be that graceful. Martial arts was one thing. She kept time to the beat of the fight. Of her body.

She wasn’t sure if she could follow music.

“I will lead you,” he said. “As I think I’ve established.”

“So you have,” she said, but in this instance she was grateful.

Sex and dancing were Ferran’s domain, it seemed.

He led her through the crowd, and to the center of the floor. The other dancers cleared extra space for them, as if in deference to Ferran’s royal personage.

He grasped her hand, his arm curling around her back as he tugged her against his chest. She lost her breath then, captivated wholly by the look in his eyes. So dark and intense. Simmering passion. The kind he’d unleashed last night. The sort she craved again.

And he was telling her now that they would wait. That he could control himself.

She didn’t like it. It made her feel powerless. It…hurt her. And she would not have it.

She’d waited all of her life. She’d spent countless nights cold and alone, and she’d be damned if she’d spend any more that way, not now that she’d been with him.

“I think we need to discuss what you said in the hall,” she said.

“Which thing?”

“About abstaining until the wedding,” she said.

He looked around them. “Are we having this conversation now?”

“I take your point. However, you just said some very explicit things in the hall and then we were cut off. And I’m not done. I just thought I should tell you that I’m not doing that.”

“Excuse me?”

“It might interest you to know that I have obtained some very brief underthings.”

“Samarah…”

“They’re intended to arouse you, and I have it on good authority they will.”

He looked torn between anger, amusement and, yes, arousal. “Whose authority?”

“Lydia’s. She provided them for me when I asked.”

“And they are meant to…”

“Arouse you,” she said, her face heating. “I had thought, seeing as I was to be your wife, I should set out to…behave like a wife. And then you told me…you told me no.”

“Tell me about them,” he said, his voice lowering, taking on that hard, feral tone he’d had in the hall, as he leaned nearer to her.

“The uh…the bra is…made of gems. Strung together. It shows…a lot of skin.”

“Does it?”

“Yes,” she said, swallowing hard, her face burning.

“And the rest?”

“I don’t feel like you deserve to know,” she said, lifting her head so she was looking in his eyes, so their noses nearly touched. “If you want abstinence, you don’t want to know about my underwear.”

“That isn’t the case. And I never said I wanted to abstain. Only that it’s the right thing.”

“For who?”

“For you.”

She growled. “Stop doing that. Stop trying to protect me. I don’t want you to protect me I want you to…to…” Love me.

Where had that come from? She did not need that thought. No, she didn’t. And now she would forget she’d ever had it. And she would never have it again.

“I just need you to be with me,” she said, which was much more acceptable. “I’m tired of being alone. Now that I don’t have to sleep by myself anymore I would just…rather not.”

He pulled her closer, his lips pressed against her ear. “Yes, habibti, but do you want me? Do you want my body? Do you want me to touch you, taste you. Be inside you. If all you want is companionship, I would just as soon buy you a puppy.”

“I want your body,” she said, leaning in and pressing a kiss to his neck. “I want you. I don’t want a puppy. I’m a woman, not a child. I know the difference between simple loneliness and desire.”

“And you desire me?” he asked, his eyes growing darker.

“Yes.”

“Tell me what you desire.”

“Here?” she asked, looking around them.

“Yes. Here. Tell me what you want from me. What you want me to do to you. You said you wanted my passion. You said you weren’t afraid. Now tell me. Remember, I have much more practice than you at abstaining when temptation is present. So if you intend to break my resolve, you’d better damn well shatter it. If you want to take my control, you prepare for what you will unleash.”

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