Harlequin Presents #2747
Originally published: 08/01/08
Sheikh Amir bin Faruq al Zorha lives in New York, but the desert is where his heart lies. Now it’s time for him to marry….
Grace Brown, Amir’s plain but indispensable assistant, isn’t exactly queen material. No matter how tempted Amir is to take her innocence, she’s off-limits. Until he returns to his homeland, where the barbarian prince replaces the businessmanand resolves that Grace will be his!
Also available in Manga.
“Please, Your Highness, let me alert the sheikh to your presence.” Agitation laced Grace’s usual even tones as the doors to Amir’s inner sanctum opened.
But then his family tended to have that effect on people – though rarely his always efficient and coolly composed personal assistant. Five years of exposure had almost made her immune, but an unexpected visit from a family member they’d both thought in Zorha was enough to unnerve even her.
Amir stood up behind his sleek glass topped desk. “I see you are still harrowing the help,” he said to the tall man who’d opened not one, but both of the double doors leading into Amir’s office.
Grace made an offended sound at his use of the word help while his brother simply strode into Amir’s office with a somber air that belied the possibility of a simple family visit.
“To what do I owe the honor of your arrival?” Amir asked.
He had a feeling he already knew the answer, but admitting knowledge was as good as admitting culpability and he was not willing to do that…yet. But he should never have gotten involved with Tisa. The sex-kitten had a love affair with the paparazzi that few could rival. However, at the time, Amir had needed a diversion badly and he had seen Tisa as the answer. For a while it had even worked.
Zahir did not answer, but simply stared at Amir for several tense, silent seconds. Being the youngest of three brothers had taught Amir many things, one of which was when it was politic not to talk. Now happened to be one of those times. He would not make the mistake of breaking the silence first.
He traded oblique look for oblique look with the man that could have been his twin but for the seven years that separated their ages.
They shared the same dark hair worn neither too short nor too long. While Zahir’s was styled in a way that reeked businessman, Amir wore his in an artful tousle. They also shared the same square jaw line, angular cheekbones and aquiline nose. All three brothers were tall, but he topped their brother Khalil by an inch and at six and a half feet tall, Zahir exceeded them both in height. Taking after their father, they all had whipcord lean bodies. Amir’s muscles bulged slightly more from his time in the gym while Zahir showed the development of a man who spent time several hours a week riding. They were both dressed expensively, but while Amir favored designers like Hugo Boss, his eldest brother wore cool Armani.
Their matching brown-eyed stares did not waver until Grace cleared her throat and both their attention swung to his willowy assistant.
Below her red hair pulled back into a severe bun, her perfectly formed nose was wrinkled with displeasure. Full pink lips adorned with nothing but clear balm tilted in a downward curve. Behind the narrow dark frames of her glasses, her hazel eyes shimmered with disapproval at the brothers’ stare down.
“Is this a meeting you need me for?” she asked Amir pointedly.
Bless her. Unquestionably loyal, she was letting his brother know that while Zahir might be in line to their father’s throne, it was Amir who called the shots here in his New York office. She was also subtly encouraging his brother to answer Amir’s initial inquiry without him having to repeat it.
Zahir might ignore him, but he would not show bad manners by dismissing Grace’s question with his silence.
Zahir stepped forward and dropped a tabloid on the desk. It was quickly followed by one after another, each folded open to the page of interest – if the story wasn’t on the cover. Which it was with most of them. Every headline screamed some lewd innuendo about The Playboy Prince and his latest conquest.
Grace made another noise of disapproval. And Amir had no way of knowing whether that disapproval was directed at him or his brother for bringing the scandal sheets into his office. Grace didn’t think much of the revolving door in his bedroom, and she’d let him know it on more than one occasion.
Zahir looked at Grace. “You have something you wish to say, Miss Brown?”
Grace might be shy in most circumstances outside her role as his personal assistant, but here, she was in her element. No doubt, he was her employer. However, there was also no question that she reigned supreme in his office. At least in her own mind. They’d had a few discussions about that fact as well over the years.
She gave them both a look of displeasure. “I don’t know which one of you gets the wooden spoon for having the poorest taste, Amir for getting involved with a media hound or you for bringing that trash here into the office, Your Highness.” She straightened her inexpensive and incredibly banal suit jacket. “Regardless, I can see this is not a meeting I need to be included in, so I will take my leave.”
With that she left, closing the doors with a definitive double-snick behind her.
Zahir actually smiled. “I thought Mother was a tough audience.”
“Grace keeps me in line,” Amir said with some humor, while he willed his libido back into check.
These moments of attraction for his indispensable assistant were coming too frequently for his comfort. But the spark in her eyes when she chastised his brother and him had lit a fire somewhere else entirely in Amir.
Zahir shook his head. “I only wish that were true.” And just like that, the air of gravity was back.
“Tisa was a mistake,” Amir admitted.
Amir refused to allow his pride to elicit offense at his brother’s honesty. Tisa had been a mistake. In more ways than one. “Are you here on your own, or did Father send you?”
“Father sent me.”
A cold fist tightened around Amir’s heart. Some might think that King Faruq sending his eldest son in his place was an indication that he did not place as high of an importance on the message as he would one he delivered personally. However, Amir knew that was not true. Sending Zahir said more than Amir wanted to hear about how disappointed in him his father truly was. It implied the king was so angry, he did not even want to see his youngest son.
“You know, I realize that Tisa courts the limelight a bit too much and maybe I showed up in more than one story with her, but damn it…I never moved in with one of my flings like Khalil did with his mistress. He lived with Jade for almost two years before he decided to marry her.”
And in any other universe that would have made Jade untouchable in the marriage stakes for a man in his family, but she had friends in high places. Their uncle had taken an interest in Jade and Khalil’s romance and seen to it that Jade had a place in the royal family of Zorha.
Zahir’s frown said how little he appreciated the reminder that his sister-in-law had been his brother’s live-in lover. “Misdirection will not undo the results of your actions.”
“You can assure the king that his youngest son will be more circumspect in choosing companions in future.” Amir’s jaw tightened against words he wanted to add, but would regret saying later.
“Unfortunately, such an assurance will not be enough. Our father has grown weary of you dragging the family name through camel dung. It is time for you to tame your wild ways permanently.”
Once again, Amir had to bite back words it would be impolitic to speak. But his father and brother’s attitude grated.
He was loyal to his family and to his people. He had put the needs of each ahead of his own on more occasions than he could count. He lived away from his desert home to oversee the royal family’s business interests. His position left him little time to himself and if he chose to spend that time with beautiful women in uncomplicated liaisons, how did that make him a bad person?
“I don’t date innocents or married women. My companions are aware of the transitory nature of our association before I ever take them on the first date.”
“So is the rest of the world.”
Amir winced, but he said, “So what?”
“Your lifestyle reflects negatively on our family and our people.”
“There is nothing wrong with my lifestyle.”
“Our father does not agree.”
“What does he want me to do, remain celibate?”
A brief flash of pity flared in his eldest brother’s dark eyes. “The king has decreed that you shall be married.”
The king? So, this was coming as a royal command. Camel dung was right. “And has he chosen my future wife?” Amir asked in disbelief.
Zahir had the grace to look at least a little uncomfortable. “Yes.”
“That’s positively medieval.”
Again that short flicker of pity, but then Zahir’s expression hardened. “Are you refusing the king’s command?”
Foreboding skated up Amir’s spine. He knew that to deny his father would come with a very heavy cost, maybe even his position within their family. His father almost never pulled royal rank, so when he did so, his family knew he would not be moved. If Amir refused to marry the woman his father had chosen, he might as well start looking for a new job. One that didn’t have prince in its title.
He had been raised to do his duty and could not imagine refusing his father, unless the dictate were so untenable he could not possibly live with it. This one was not.
“I will marry the princess…I assume the woman he’s chosen is a princess.”
“Actually, yes.” If Zahir was surprised by his youngest brother’s acquiescence, he did not show it.
“Who is it?”
“Princess Lina bin Fahd al Marwan.” Zahir dropped another sheet of paper on the desk.
This one was a single page dossier on the princess, including a picture of the beautiful woman. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. The last thing he wanted was to marry for love and if he was honest, he would admit that the transitory nature of the women in his life was starting to get old.
He wouldn’t have chosen to marry for some time yet on his own, but he wasn’t completely against the idea.
Besides, he had his own reasons for wanting a more permanent distraction than Tisa and the others like her.
“When’s the wedding?” he asked.
“What did you say?” Grace felt like Amir had just punched her right in the solar-plexus, but all he’d really done was ask her a question.
“I want you to find me a wife.”
She closed her eyes and opened them again, but he was still there, her gorgeous, totally sexy, only man in the world for her boss. The expression of expectation on his too handsome face said he had actually made the request that she was desperately hoping had been a figment of her imagination.
Hadn’t it been awful enough when he’d announced to her a mere six weeks ago that his father had decreed Amir was to marry some princess from a neighboring sheikhdom? Grace’s heart had shriveled and come close to dying at how easily her usually independent and stubborn boss had so easily submitted to his father’s demand.
Then a reprieve had come for Grace’s bleeding emotions when Princess Lina had ended up eloping with an old flame and nullifying the contract the two powerful sheikh’s had signed. That had happened almost two weeks ago and Grace was just overcoming the jagged edges of pain left by the king’s edict and his youngest son’s acceptance of it.
Now Amir wanted her to find him a wife? Just kill her now because life couldn’t get much worse.
Okay, maybe it could, but even plain PAs has the right to their moments of drama.
“What? Why?” He was happy in his serial liaisons, or at least he’d always acted like he was.
Definitely, he’d never fallen in love with any of them. As far as she knew, (and she knew him better than anyone else in his life, including his family) Amir had not been in love since he was eighteen years old. Not that he admitted now that it had been love then.
But she knew the signs of a true and abiding love. Didn’t she live with them on a personal basis every day?
Amir had loved his Yasmine enough to ask her to marry him. They were only engaged for three months, the wedding less than month away (which in Grace’s mind showed just how much he had loved the other woman to press for such a speedy wedding) when Yasmine was killed in a freak accident. It was Grace’s personal belief that the loss of his first love had impacted Amir more strongly than he ever wanted to admit to himself or his family.
But even so, this was unbelievable.
“My father wants me to settle down,” Amir said with a shrug.
How could he be so blasé about this? Didn’t he care that he was breaking her heart into tiny, bitty, never to be put together again pieces? All right, so he didn’t know, but did that excuse him? The jury was still out on that one, just like it was out on the issue of the pain he caused her regularly with his little liaisons.
“But he hasn’t said anything about selecting another wife for you, has he?” she asked with desperate logic.
“I see no reason to wait on him to do so. If you find me a wife, at least I’ll have control over the final choice and will get married on my own terms, not his.”
Grace had to stifle a groan and the urge to smack her own forehead. She should have expected this. Amir was far too alpha to let another man choose his wife. Now that he’d been given a reprieve, rather than wait for his father to exert control again, he would pre-empt the king by acting on his own. She understood the reasoning, respected it even, but no way in the world was she going to help him.
That was simply asking too much.
His dark chocolate eyes widened almost comically. “What do you mean no?” His shock at her refusal was so blatant, she could feel it like a physical presence between them.
“I mean that if you want to find a wife,” she said very slowly and very firmly, “you’ll have to do it on your own.”
The shock melted under his obvious discontent. “Don’t be ridiculous. I can’t make this kind of choice without your input.”
Her body jerked as if the words were knives directed at her heart rather than the backhanded compliment Amir intended them to be. “I’m not being anything of the sort. I’m your personal assistant, not a matchmaker. Finding wives is not even remotely in my job description.”
“That’s exactly right. Your title is personal assistant, not administrative assistant because you help me with more than just business.”
“The selection of a wife is way too personal.”
“No, it isn’t. You’ve picked out gifts for my companions, how is this any different?”
“How can you ask me that?” She loved this man more than her own life, but sometimes he was so dense she was tempted to question the obscenely high I.Q. level he was purported to have.
Amir leaned his hip against her desk and crossed his arms, a sure sign he was settling in for the siege. “We’re just arguing in circles here, Grace. I need your help.”
“No. I won’t do it.” She would never survive it.
It hurt enough to love him like she did and know there was no chance between the two of them, but to be forced to find a woman to hold the place she wanted more than anything? That was too much. Much, much, too much.
“Come on, Grace. Don’t let me down now. I’ll make it worth your while.”
That was all she needed, the promise of a bonus for doing the one thing she never, ever, ever, not in a million years, wanted to do.
Before he could continue the argument, the phone rang and Grace leapt for it like a drowning victim going for a lifeline. When she managed to drag the call out past a minute, Amir’s natural impatience got the better of him and he pushed away from her desk.
The look he gave her over his shoulder said he wasn’t finished with their discussion however.
Amir paced his office. What was the matter with Grace? She’d been acting strangely ever since his father had insisted he marry. At first he’d thought it was because she was worried she’d lose her job when he took a wife, but he’d assured her the opposite was true. He couldn’t imagine trying to function without his insightful and efficient PA.
She’d continued to act oddly and had only settled down in the last couple of weeks. Since the marriage plans with Princess Lina had fallen through.
Try as he might though, he didn’t understand why Grace was balking at finding him a wife. She didn’t approve of his lifestyle any more than his father did. She’d made that clear enough, though she’d never gone as far as the king and suggest Amir resort to marriage.
He would think she’d want input into choosing the woman that would play a key role in her life. As his PA, Grace would no doubt find herself conferring with the woman Amir married in order to arrange schedules and the like. In fact, he would expect her to help select his spouse’s personal assistant so the two would work together seamlessly.
Grace had to know this wasn’t something he wanted, or even felt qualified, to do alone. She understood what he needed, often before he did. She would be able to find the best candidates to fill the role to compliment his life.
He wasn’t looking for love, but he didn’t want a wife who didn’t fit in with the lifestyle he was most comfortable living. Grace understood the sheikh under the Western clothing. She understood how important his family and home were to him, even if he lived in Manhattan and reveled in his New York existence.
He thought of how she had looked when he first asked her. Stunned. Totally shocked, which actually surprised him. He would have thought she would have foreseen this move on his part. She was usually much better at anticipating his actions.
She knew he didn’t want his father controlling his life, even if the older man was King of Zorha. If not now, then sometime in the future, his father would come back with another parentally approved bride. Amir’s only choice was to get there first. And he would have sworn Grace would realize that.
He had half expected her to have a list of suitable candidates already compiled. This intransigent refusal to help was completely out of character for her. Not to mention unacceptable.
It didn’t help that Grace was kind of cute when she was startled like that. It wasn’t a look he saw often and frankly, that was probably for the best. He couldn’t afford to ruin the most important relationship with a female that he had in his life for sex.
His mother might be hurt to know he placed Grace above her (and everyone else) in importance, but there was no contest. His PA impacted his reality in both big ways and the minutiae on a daily basis. No one had more influence on his day by day existence than she did.
Unfortunately, she was not the type of woman he could have a fling with and then go back to life as normal. Or he would have scratched this particular itch a long time ago. And he wouldn’t have ended up with Tisa either, thus preventing the subsequent edict by his father. Regardless, he recognized that working together afterward would be impossible.
He refused to risk something as important as his relationship with his perfect for him personal assistant for something as ephemeral as sex.
The fact that his desire to experience that side of his dowdy assistant was getting stronger all the time only enhanced his certainty that finding a convenient wife was the best course of action for him. Which meant he had to convince Grace to help him.
They both needed the protection. Because he knew that Grace would be far too easy to persuade into his bed. She watched him with an innocent hunger that had caused him to hide more than one hard-on behind his desk. He’d long since stopped questioning why a woman so unaware of and poor at showcasing her feminine attributes would affect him this way. He simply accepted that he craved pulling her long, curly mop from its tight bun and run his fingers through the red silk.
He also wanted to expose and taste the expanse of her alluring skin…the light dusting of freckles looked like sweet spice on the untouched creaminess. Did those delectable little dots cover her whole body? Were her delicious looking apple shaped breasts adorned with the cinnamon looking specks?
He adjusted the hardness in his trousers. Damnit. He had to stop thinking like this or he was going to have to start taking mid-afternoon showers – of the cold variety.
He must convince Grace to help him find a convenient wife…the only kind he wanted.
Memories of the one emotional entanglement of his life and its aftermath sent chills through his heart. No love. No intense emotional connections. He was never going there again. Not in his mind, not in his heart and definitely not in his life.
Grace settled into her seat beside Amir at Fenway Park. They’d flown to Boston on business and he had surprised her with Infield Dugout Box seats. She loved the Boston Redsox and any other time would be in absolute alt over his generosity. Only she had a bad feeling they were by way of a bribe.
He hadn’t said another word about her finding him a wife in almost a week, but she was too smart to think he’d forgotten about it. That wasn’t Amir’s way. She’d worked with him for five years and couldn’t think of a single instance he had ever given up something he wanted after only one argument. He was much too confident and strong willed to be easily dissuaded from a path he’d chosen.
And he’d made it clear he wanted her on that path, choosing with him.
This wasn’t right. Or even remotely fair. She should be enjoying the game. Instead, her mind was whirling with ways to convince Amir she meant business and fears that she wouldn’t be able to hold the line against him.
It was hard saying no to the man you loved, even if he saw you as a piece of handy office furniture.
Amir looked sideways at her. “Everything all right?”
“Yes. I’m really happy to be here. Thank you.”
The smile he flashed her was both sincere and incredibly sexy. “I am glad. And you are welcome. You deserve much more.”
Okay, so not a piece of office furniture. Guilt suffused her. She sighed. She’d be willing to bet that if asked, Amir would not only describe her as a top notch personal assistant, but he would claim they were friends too. And they were. The truth was, Sheikh Amir bin Faruq al Zorha was her best friend. She was pretty sure he considered her the same or close to it.
The problem for her was that she longed to be more than his friend and knew that could never happen. He was so far out of her league, she might as well be considered a player in pee-wees while he was definitely a top player in the major leagues.
None of which was anything new to her, so why was she allowing the situation to ruin her current experience? The answer was, she wasn’t going to. This was a wonderful treat for an obsessive baseball fan like her and she wasn’t going to diminish it with depressing, but old and familiar thoughts.
Grace forced her attention back to the men on the field. And if her senses were more in tune with the man beside her, no one had to know.
Amir had been biding his time before approaching Grace again about the issue of finding him a wife. Whatever had caused her to be less than receptive the first time around would not doubt get better with time.
This strategy had worked before. He would put an idea to Grace and give her time to think about it. If her first reaction was negative, more often than not she would talk herself into it more effectively than he could. Usually. He was hoping this was one of those times. But if it wasn’t, he’d taken care to soften her up with a trip to Fenway Park and was in the process of buying her a team jersey after a rousing win by her favorite team.
She’d chosen one that was made for men and obviously at least a couple of sizes too big. When he’d pointed out one that would have been more form fitting, she’d shaken her head.
He couldn’t complain about her propensity to wear either shapeless or oversized clothing (or both) because it was one of her habits that helped him control the frustrating desire that plagued him around her. Though even that habit was rather endearing.
He had never known a woman so clueless regarding her feminine appeal, or how to showcase it.
For this small mercy, he could only be grateful.
He waited until they were in the limo before broaching the subject on his mind and in the end, she made it easy for him.
She settled back against the leather seat facing him. “Okay, what gives? As if I didn’t know.”
He poured her a glass of lime Perrier and himself a finger of Absolut. Too bad she did not drink. Enhancing her malleability right now could only improve his cause. “If you already know, there’s no point in me saying it.”
She took the sparkling water. “Thank you.”
He inclined his head.
She took a sip, regarding him over the rim of her crystal tumbler.
“Thank you also for not denying that tonight has all been about buttering me up.”
Now that stung. “Do you really think so?”
She just shrugged, her hair for once not pulled up in a tight bun, but barely confined in a wild ponytail than made her look younger than her twenty-five years. She was dressed in a Redsox t-shirt he’d bought her the year before and a pair of jeans that made her legs look a mile long. Thank goodness, they were in her typical baggy style.
He gave her a chiding look. “You’re not being fair, Gracey-girl. And that’s not like you.”
She pouted, her lip protruding adorably and he had to slam down on the urge to kiss her.
“Oh, all right…it’s not all about buttering me up. Even if you didn’t have something you wanted, you probably would have arranged tickets for the game.” She rolled her eyes. “And bought me the jersey, which I’m sleeping in for the foreseeable future…so, thank you.”
The image of Grace in bed was not one he could afford, so he thrust it from his mind with ruthless precision.
“I might have gotten regular box seats.” Though he wasn’t stingey with her and she knew it.
Grace had few passions and baseball was one of them. He indulged her as much as possible. An excellent PA like her deserved a few perks.
“Maybe…but regardless, I know you aren’t above using my good mood and sense of gratitude toward you for your own ends right now.”
“If I were above it as you say, I wouldn’t be a very good negotiator, would I?”
“I suppose not.” She bit her bottom lip and looked out the window for several seconds of silence.
“What is holding your interest? It is simply the clogged traffic we encounter after every one of these events I’ve taken you to.”
She sighed and turned her attention back to him, her hazel eyes troubled. “You want me to find you a wife.”
“Yes.” He had her, he knew it. And no, he didn’t feel the least guilty for getting her in a moment of weakness.
She glared at him. “You think you’ve won, but you haven’t.”
Her frown grew more fierce, but she didn’t deny it.
“If you really wanted my cooperation, you should have arranged for me to meet Big Papi.” Her eyes glowed with something that disturbed him on many levels.
“I have no desire to introduce you to your hero. Sports stars like him could benefit from have a good personal assistant too. I will not lose you so easily.” He said the words as a joke, but felt them deeply.
Was he not willing to marry to protect her position in his life?
“You think so? I’ll have to keep that in mind.”
“I am not amused.” The idea of her leaving him to work for the Red Sox’s lauded designated hitter filled him with annoyance, even though he knew it was in no way possible.
She laughed, but then sobered almost instantly.
“I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but if I did, what are you looking for in a wife?”
The question took him unawares, though it shouldn’t have. He opened his mouth and closed it again immediately. Nothing came instantly to his normally agile brain.
She stared at him, the knowledge in her eyes growing. “You’ve got no idea, do you?”
“That’s why I asked you.”
“But Amir, this is your wife we’re talking about. I can’t just make a list of candidates and ask you to choose.”
“Because you have to tell me what you want first!” For some reason, her agitation made him feel better.
“You know what I want.” Probably better than he did.
“You were happy with your father’s choice.”
“All but the fact that it was his choice, that is true.” Was that pain that chased so quickly across her features? She had no reason to be hurt. It must be the subdued lighting in the limo playing tricks on him. “I prefer to pick out my own wife,” he said when she did not respond.
“Then why are you demanding I do it?”
“It’s different, and you know it. Now stop being difficult.”
“I’m not the difficult one. How can you possibly expect me to do what you ask without giving me some guidelines in which to work?”
“Fine. She needs to be physically attractive.”
“Is that all?” Grace asked with a sarcasm few could match.
“No. She has to be cultured and diplomatic.”
“I see.” Her formerly animated attitude had become subdued.
Was his lack of helpfulness bothering her that much? “I want to marry a woman who will complement me and my position, both in the business world and within the political realm when I am operating within my role as sheikh-slash-prince.”
“I got that.”
“I’m not sure what you mean by attractive.”
“Are you being deliberately obtuse?” He would not put it past her. His PA could be very stubborn and going passive aggressive was not beyond her repertoire.
“You think so? You once said you did not see what made Jade so special for Khalil. Obviously, you two have differing tastes. Most people do.”
“But you know the type of woman that attracts me. You’ve seen and spoken with, hell you’ve shopped for, the women I’ve dated.”
“But one must assume these women lack something, or you would have married one of them by now.”
“I am ready to marry. Perhaps if I had been before, I would be married to one of my former companions.”
“But you never loved any of them.”
“I don’t plan to love my wife either. This is a marriage of convenience.”
“So, then what difference does it make if your future wife is attractive, or not?”
“Now you are being naïve. A beautiful wife can only benefit me.”
“You mean like a trophy wife.”
I mean like a feminine companion that will add to my éclat, not detract from it.”
“That is so shallow.”
“It is realistic.”
He had disappointed her…again. She was very good at her job, but still very innocent to the ways of the world. He decided to explain in a way that might embarrass her, but would not offend her sense of fairness.
“I do not wish the need to remain faithful to become a Purgatory for me, either.
“So, you plan to be?”
“Faithful? Yes, of coursse. The men in my family are not philanderers.”
“Everything you have listed up to now, is superficial…what about you and she having interests, likes and dislikes in common?”
“Not necessary. It’s not even preferred. As long as we are compatible in bed, we can live totally separate lives.”
She looked at him like she questioned his sanity, which was frankly a marginal improvement over her doubting his integrity.
“That’s not the best environment to raise children in, or didn’t you plan to be a father?”
“I do not have to be a besotted fool to be a good father.”
“Your parents love each other.”
“Are you saying you don’t want that for yourself and your family? Not even a little?”
Thoughts of the only time he had ever known anything close bombarded his brain, leading to memories of Yasmine.
The time right after Yasmine died, his mind shied away from what those images, and the pain and wekness they represented. “Not everyone craves that kind of relationship. I definitely do not.”
Her frown was back full force. “With an attitude like that, it would serve you right if I did it.”
“That’s exactly what I’m hoping.”
But she wasn’t listening, or at least she wasn’t looking at him. She was too busy glaring out the window again. What was her problem?
Was it possible his ultra efficient secretary who dressed like a dowd and never dated had a severely hidden but equally deep romantic streak? It would certainly explain her negative reaction to his proposed marriage of convenience…both the one his father had decreed and the one Amir himself was trying to facilitate with her help.
It would also explain why she never dated. Because no matter how dowdily she dressed, he knew other men had to have noticed the latent sensuality in his Grace. But apparently, she was waiting for Mr. Right…the knight in shining armor to come along and sweep her off her feet. In a way, he was glad she had this hidden streak of romanticism. It kept her working by his side rather than off dating and/or married to another man.
“Will you just think about it, Grace?” He played the card she’d never been able to ignore in the past. “Please.”
Her gaze slid to him, another expression he could not read settled in her hazel eyes. “Okay, I’ll think about it.”
Victory was his, if he just waited.
Something of his certainty must have shown on his face because she pursed her lips with affront. “Don’t look so smug. I may yet say no.”
It was so unlikely as to be an impossibility, but he was savvy enough to her ways not to say so.