I mustn’t read anything into it, I told myself. I mustn’t. Even if he did enjoy my company, that was it. It didn’t change a thing. He was still the one I couldn’t have. Nothing would – could – happen between us, and I had to remember that.
The sheikh came back the next day, and this time I didn’t think twice about joining him for supper. I had again dressed up for the occasion, choosing a long-sleeved robe with loose transparent sleeves and a tight-fitting bodice. But even now, I couldn’t admit to myself that I wanted to be pretty for him.
Seated on the head of the table, the sheikh was dressed in the formal traditional robes of his kingdom. It made him appear more regal than usual for some reason, and so much more beautiful, too, that it had me faltering in my steps.
The sheikh frowned when he saw me nearly stumble. “You are all right?”
“Umm, yes.” But with the sheikh’s bright blue gaze following my every movement, I ended up stumbling twice more, and the sheikh made a frustrated sound.
I looked up and saw him already rising to his feet. “It’s fine—-”
But he was already striding towards me, and as soon as he reached my side, he asked right away, “Is it your shoes? Is it giving you a hard time?”
You’re the one giving me a hard time, I thought, but since that would be even more embarrassing, I forced myself to nod instead. “They’re new,” I said lamely.
“Can you walk on your own then?”
“Yes,” I said stiffly.
The sheikh walked back to the head of the table, and after a moment’s hesitation, I followed behind him.
“Are you lost, Lady Ella?” The sheikh’s voice was acerbic when he saw me placing a hand on the chair next to him.
He raised a brow. “Let me make it clear to you then.” He nodded towards the other end of the table, which was a full dozen feet away. “That is your place.”
I knew that. I even told myself to get moving. But instead, an imp inside me made me ask, “Why do I have to sit all the way there?”
“Why do you even have to ask?” the sheikh snapped.
I crossed my arms over my chest. “Why won’t you answer my question?”
We stared at each other again, the sheikh’s blue eyes frosty with displeasure. But then all of a sudden, a calculating gleam appeared in his gaze—-
Unease skittered over my spine.
I might have bitten off more than I could chew here, I thought, gulping. I started to take my words back, but it was too late.
“Forgive me.” The sheikh spoke in a lazy voice, the purring tone mesmerizing me. He stepped towards me, and I jerked when I felt his hand on the small of my back. The simple touch had heat exploding inside me, and all I could think of was how wonderful it felt to have him touch me.
“It would be my greatest pleasure to have you seated beside me, ukhayyah.” He gestured to the chair. “May I?”
It took me more than a second to realize what he wanted and, flushing, I stepped aside so the sheikh could pull out the chair for me.
The moment we were seated, attendants immediately came forward, placing napkins on our laps before serving us the first course.
We ate in silence.
I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t think of anything to talk about. Once in a while, I would sneak glances at the sheikh but he appeared fully concentrating on his meal, his every movement slow but graceful. Even after all this time, I could honestly watch him eat forever. It was like art in motion, and I wondered if all members of royalty ate like this.
The sheikh suddenly looked up, his spoon pausing mid-air, and once again he caught me staring at him.
Shit. Why did this man keep catching me at the worst possible moment?
“Is something on my face, Lady Ella?”
“Yeah, I think…umm…there.” I pointed at a random part of his face before quickly looking down.
“My thanks for pointing it out,” the sheikh murmured, but the smirk in his voice told me I wasn’t fooling anyone.
The attendants cleared away the plates from the second course. When they were gone, that was when I felt it—-
The sheikh’s hand on my knee.
I froze, my eyes flying to him in shock.
“You see, ukhayyah, it is for your benefit that I gave you that seat,” the sheikh said silkily. “If you are this close to me, I would not be able to resist.”
His blue eyes captured mine. “And you would not be so foolish to think of resisting me, will you?”
I shook my head mutely.
His fingers started trailing up my thigh, and it was all I could do not to cry out loud.
The attendants came back to the hall just as the sheikh’s fingers found my sensitive flesh. I froze, and I tried not to look like anything was happening as the sheikh started to stroke me. My panties were drenched in seconds.