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The Sheikh’s Accidental Heir(2)

By:Leslie North

He leaned his shoulder against the wall next to her. This close, he could smell a hint of something like lemon—her shampoo perhaps. “Old fashioned is a better description. And angry.”

She tipped her head to one side. “Sounds like there must be a story there.” She nodded again, but didn’t ask questions.

Gesturing back to the door behind them, he found he wanted to tell her more. Something about those sparkling green eyes, shimmering with intelligence and a touch of sympathy invited a confidence. “My brothers and I aren’t above enjoying a good party or three. Things got out of hand at one of them, and word got back to him. So now we must work—and report back daily as if we are all still boys.”

She gave a laugh, and he liked the sound of it. A throaty chuckle, deep and genuine. “Dads always find out. But…aren’t you three pretty big to be doing what Dad always wants?”

He shrugged. “Habits are hard to break. Our father has trained us well to do as he asks—and to risk his temper…well, it is not always us who suffer but those around him. So we try carefully to protect them.”

“Ah, more of a when the cat’s not looking, the mice—” She broke off the words and looked him over, her eyes warming and the smile lifting the corners of her mouth again. “Okay, that image won’t work with any of you guys… Foxes loose in a hen house? Wolfs in the fold?”

Laughing, he shook his head. He forced his mouth down and tried to look serious. “We are most definitely not foxes.”

“Ah, I noticed you didn’t say anything about wolves.” Her voice was lovely, like music drifting past on a warm, summer night. Her lips perfectly formed every word as she spoke, taking their time as if carefully tasting each sound as it passed.

Ahmed looked her up and down again, making sure she saw his gaze was drifting over her body. “I’d like to make use of that pool at some point. Seems a shame to waste such a temptation. You should join me.”

Tipping her head to the side, she met his stare, her own equally assessing and—he thought—interested. But she shook her head and her mouth pulled down ever so slightly. She had a very straight nose—almost a little too strong for her face—and strong bones. And a determined chin. “A swimsuit isn’t part of my uniform.”

Leaning toward her, he let his arm brush hers. “Perfect. We can—”

She put a hand over his mouth. Her fingers weren’t soft, but were roughened by work. She also smelled of champagne and shrimp. “Don’t say it. Let’s not spoil the evening with clichés about skinny dipping. I gave that up in my college years.”

Taking her hand, he held onto the tips of her fingers. “I was going to say, we can sit with our feet in the water, looking over the city as if we owned it.”

She gave another soft, deep laugh. “Sure you were.”

“Now I am determined to figure out how to get you away from work. What if I pay your boss to let you take the rest of the day off?”

Pulling her hand out of his, she lifted one dark eyebrow. She had high, arched eyebrows, perfectly shaped—her one vanity, he thought, for she wore little makeup. “My boss is a total slave driver—always has to put the catering business first and never even gives me a full weekend off. In fact, I usually have to work extra on the weekends and maybe get a few hours during the week to simply crash.””

Ahmed tucked his hands into his pockets—the temptation to touch her, to tuck that stray strand of dark hair back behind her ear, to stroke a finger down her cheek, to try and take her hand back was almost too much. “And yet here you are, lounging outside?”

She patted her back pocket and he glanced down at her, wishing he could do the same to that lovely, round ass. “Juggling business calls. As I said, work never ends.”

“But you must eat, yes?”

“Yes, but—”

“But what? You must eat, as must I. And who does not want to show off their homeland? What one place must I not miss while I am here? Some place with New York pizza or a street hot dog or some delicacy I could never obtain anywhere else.”

She shook her head and waved back to the glass doors. “There’s not enough to tempt you—lobster straight from Maine, Creole sausage rolls, chicken a la—?”

“A la la—I am speaking of real food.”

Crossing her arms, she stared at him. “Now I’m starting to feel insulted.”

Ahmed couldn’t help laughing. “No disrespect meant. The food is wonderful—delicious. But who can live on tiny bites of this or that? I am speaking of real food—the food of the people. Now that is an experience everyone wishes.”