She probably thought I was a slut, and I couldn’t exactly blame her, could I?
“All done, habibti.” The sheikh smoothed my dress down as he spoke, and I let him hold my hand and help me down the bar bench.
As we walked past the other table, I couldn’t help glancing at the woman’s direction, couldn’t help wondering if I’d catch her sneering at me…but what I saw instead was her staring at me…with envy.
“Unbelievable.” My turn to say it under my breath, and it wasn’t even because I was mocking her or anything.
The sheikh glanced down at me. “What’s unbelievable?”
Before I could answer, someone had called my name out, and the voice was terribly familiar.
“Is that you?”
Anyone but her, dammit.
“Stop pretending you didn’t hear me. I know it’s you, Story.”
The teasing note in the woman’s voice had me biting back a groan, and when the sheikh was about to turn us both around to face her, I quickly latched on to his arm. “No, don’t. Ignore her—-”
But it was already too late.
My club advisor was already tapping me on the shoulder. “There’s no point hiding, you guys.”
“Damen said I was mistaken, but I recognized you two the moment we came in.”
The sheikh stiffened, and so did I.
A second later, and both of us had turned sharply to face each other, and the incredulous question in his gaze pretty much mirrored mine.
You know Mairi Tanner-Leventis?
Hey…it’s me, Johnny.
I need to talk to you. I’ll call you tonight at ten?
Message received at 0641h from an unidentified number
“You can drop me here.” I half-expected the sheikh to ignore my words just because, but he actually did as asked, and in moments his black SUV was parked by the curb and just a short distance away from my dorm.
I turned to him then, my conscience not letting me leave until I had the words out. “So…um…thank you.” I fought against the urge to throw up and forced myself to continue. “You could’ve embarrassed me back there, but you didn’t.” Gaaah. This was so hard. “So…thank you.” And with that I was done, thank fuck.
“I didn’t quite get that,” the sheikh drawled. “Could you say it all again, and possibly with a bit more groveling—-”
“Fuck you, seriously. Fuck you.”
But of course the SOB only laughed, impervious as always to all insults. “Your gratitude is unnecessary, Ms. Teller. I only said nothing because it also suited me to let Damen’s wife draw her own conclusions. She’s a good woman, but it’s best not to have her involved in our business.”
“How do you know those two?” I tried to sound all casual as I asked this, but the way his gaze bored through me made it obvious he was aware of my ulterior motives.
“If you’re thinking of using either of them to find out who I am,” he said dryly, “you can kiss that thought goodbye. Damen is honor-bound to keep my identity a secret, and as for your professor, she simply knows me as “sheikh” as well.” His lips twitched when he saw me shoot a dubious look at his direction. “You may ask them if you wish,” he offered. “I only hoped to save you from some embarrassment.”
I couldn’t help bristling at his words. “What do I have to be embarrassed about?”
“Apologies,” he said at once. “I had assumed you’d find it embarrassing if your professor finds out you are not in possession of the name of the guy you’re fucking—-”
I got out of the car without another word and slammed the door as hard as I could. Asshole. Jerk. Bastard. But even as I called him all sorts of names as I angrily strode off, I couldn’t help wondering once again…would he or wouldn’t he?
I had my answer when I reached the front steps of my dorm, and I heard his car race away.
He wouldn’t waste time coming after me, and I hated myself for even caring if he did or didn’t.
My phone started ringing when I made it to my room, and in spite of all of the crazy things that had happened, I couldn’t keep my heart from doing a mini backflip when I saw the caller’s name flashing on the display screen.
I cleared my throat before answering the call. “Hey.”
Johnny’s voice was just as I remembered: warm and friendly, with just a hint of gentleness that never failed to make me feel feminine. The sound of it transported me back to the day we first “met”, and the memory made me smile.
It had been months after Dahlia’s single-handed demolition of my previously ordinary but happy existence, and I had been miserable as fuck.
None of my friends were still talking to me, and photos of my name being immortalized on the walls of the boys’ locker room as the girl to call for blowjobs had made the rounds on social media.