Yes, I thought. It could only be one thing—-
“The sheikh is your rebound guy, isn’t he?”
And that was…what?
“It’s true, isn’t it?”
I shook my head. “You have it completely wrong—-”
“Do I?” Dahlia let out a humorless laugh. “Then why doesn’t he know about Johnny? Guys like your sheikh would have acted possessive and territorial if he knew what Johnny means to you, and he obviously doesn’t. So the question is…why haven’t you told your sheikh the truth about your one true love?”
Unbelievable. Just un-fucking-believable. After all the shitty things she had done, how the fuck did this woman have the gall to accuse me of…of…hell, I don’t even know what exactly Dahlia was accusing of, but whatever it was, it was definitely something more up her alley than mine, and I was just tired…just fucking tired of becoming her fake resolution to her personal issues.
I’m done trying to make Dahlia and Portia love me.
I’m just fucking done, and for the first time in my life, I felt free.
I pointed to the door. “I think it’s time for you to leave.”
“Aww. Cat got your tongue, bitch?”
“I never want to see you or Portia again after this. I hope you and Johnny will be happy—-”
“How the fuck can I be happy with that wimp,” Dahlia hissed, “now that I know I could’ve had all this? All this—-” She gestured angrily at her surroundings. “—-should have been mine! Mine!”
“The sheikh would never have wanted you—-”
“Because you fucking lied to him about me!”
This woman was insane. Clearly fucking insane, and the sooner I got rid of her, the better. “Think whatever you want.” I pointed to the door again. “I just need you to go—-”
A wild, crazed look suddenly entered her eyes. “Why don’t we trade places right now?”
Insane, I thought again.
“We can style our hair the same way,” Dahlia added eagerly, “swap clothes, and no one will ever know. You can have the boy you’ve secretly loved for years, and I can have the sheikh—-”
“I’m not going to ask you again,” I cut in flatly. “If you don’t leave this instance, I’ll call security on you.”
I’m sorry about what happened earlier. Can we talk?
Message received at 2246h from Johnny
The sound of the door opening woke me up, and I rubbed my eyes groggily even as I pushed myself up to a sitting position. I switched the lights on just as the sheikh entered the bedroom, and when I glanced at the bedside clock, I was surprised to see it was already four in the morning.
“Hey.” It was rare for him to work this late, but before I could ask him about this, I noticed the way his lip curled at the sound of my voice, and I went from semi-sleepy to slightly confused in an instant. “Is something wrong?”
Instead of answering, he reached for my iPhone and handed it to me, saying, “Your brother-in-law—-”
“They’re not married,” I corrected absently as I took my phone from him.
There was a slight pause, and then the sheikh said coolly, “My apologies. Johnny texted. He says ‘hey’, too.”
Okaaaaaay. I totally didn’t get why he’d have to mention that. Was it some kind of dig about my lack of formal conversation skills?
“Aren’t you going to read it?” he prompted.
“I’ll read it later.” I finally noticed the shadowy edges of his face and the unusually brooding tone of his voice. “Is something wrong?” I forced myself to ask the question a second time even though a part of me already knew whatever this was, it definitely had to do with Dahlia.
It always did, every time something in my life went wrong.
I watched the sheikh walk towards the balcony doors and turned his back on me. “It was rather awkward earlier, habibti.”
“Your sister’s boyfriend and I thought we’d join you, just to make sure you two didn’t accidentally kill each other. Imagine our surprise…”
“Let’s just say…it was not pleasant for him to hear his wife offering to trade places with you.”
I could feel my blood turning cold even though I knew I hadn’t really done anything wrong. “How much have you heard?”
“I’m sorry for not telling you about—-” My voice faltered when the sheikh turned to look at me in surprise.
“What are you apologizing for?”
I blinked. “So…you’re not angry?”
“Why should I be?”
There was something I was missing, I thought. Something about him…
“After what I heard…”
It was the sheikh.
For the first time since we met, he was wearing a mask…while with me.
And it hurt.
“I think it’s time we speak of the truth,” the sheikh said gently.
My blood kept getting colder as I listened to him speak, and I couldn’t understand why.
“The only reason I had indulged your romantic whims and let you believe that I have feelings for you was for the sake of my heir—-”
I shook my head. “You’re lying.”