Pursued by the Desert Prince(2)

By: Dani Collins

She wanted Trella to be all better.

But she wouldn’t press. Trella had made such progress getting over her phobias, especially in the past year. She was determined to attend Hasna and Sadiq’s wedding and was showing promise in getting there.

It will happen, Angelique reassured herself.

In the meantime... She rolled her neck, trying to massage away the tension that had gathered over hours of soothing every last wedding nerve.

At least she didn’t look too much worse for wear. This silk blend she and Trella had been working on hadn’t creased much at all.

Angelique stood to give a quick turn this way and that in the freestanding mirror in the corner of her office. Her black pants fell flawlessly and the light jacket with its embroidered edges fluttered with her movement while her silver cami reflected light into her face. Her makeup was holding up and only her chignon was coming apart.

She quickly pulled the pins out of her hair and gave it a quick finger-comb so her brunette tresses fell in loose waves around her shoulders. Too casual?

Her door guard knocked and she didn’t have time to redo her hair. She moved to open the door herself.

And felt the impact like she’d stepped under a midnight sky, but one lit by stars and northern lights and the glow of a moon bigger and hotter than the sun could ever hope to be.

Angelique was dazzled and had to work not to show it, but honestly, the prince was utterly spectacular. Dark, liquid eyes that seemed almost black they were such a deep brown. Flawless bone structure with his straight nose and perfectly balanced jawline. His mouth—That bottom lip was positively erotic.

The rest of him was cool and diamond sharp. His country was renowned for being ultraconservative, but his head was uncovered, his black hair shorn into a neat business cut. He wore a perfectly tailored Western suit over what her practiced eye gauged to be an athletically balanced physique.

She swallowed. Find a brain, Angelique.

“Your Highness. Angelique Sauveterre. Welcome. Please come in.”

She didn’t offer to shake, which would have been a faux pas for a woman in Zhamair.

He did hold out his hand, which was a slight overstep for a man to demand of a woman here in Paris.

She acquiesced and felt a tiny jolt run through her as he closed his strong hand over her narrow one. Heat bloomed under her cheekbones, something his quick gaze seemed to note—which only increased her warmth. She hated being obvious.

“Hello.” Not Thank you for seeing me, or Call me Kasim.

“Thank you, Maurice,” she murmured to dismiss her guard, and had to clear her throat. “We’ll be fine.”

She was exceedingly cautious about being alone with men, or women for that matter, whom she didn’t know, but the connection through Hasna and Sadiq made the prince a fairly safe bet. If a man in the prince’s position was planning something nefarious, then the whole world was on its ear and she didn’t stand a chance anyway.

Plus, she always had the panic button on her pendant.

She almost felt like she was panicking now. Her heart rate had elevated and her stomach was in knots. Her entire body was on all-stations alert. She’d been feeling drained a few seconds ago, but one profound handshake later she was feeling energized yet oddly defenseless.

She was nervous as a schoolgirl, really, which wasn’t like her at all. With two very headstrong brothers, she had learned how to hold her own against strong masculine energy.

She’d never encountered anything like this, though. Closing herself into her office with him felt dangerous. Not the type of danger she’d been trained to avoid, but inner peril. Like when she poured her soul into a piece then held her breath as it was paraded down the catwalk for judgment.

“Please have a seat,” she invited, indicating the conversation area below the mural. There were no pretty views of actual Paris in this windowless room, but the office was still one of her favorite places for its ability to lock out the world. She spent a lot of time on her side of its twin desks and drafting tables.

Trella’s side was empty. She was home in Spain, but they often worked here in companionable silence.

“I just made fresh coffee. Would you like a cup?”

“I won’t stay long.”

That ought to be good news. She was reacting way too strongly to him, but she found herself disappointed. So strange! She took such care to put mental distance between herself and others. The entire world would have this effect on her if she didn’t, but he only had to glance around her private space and she felt naked and exposed. Seen. And she found herself longing for his approval.

He didn’t seem to want to sit, so she pressed flat hands that tremored on the back of the chair she usually used when visiting with clients. “Was there something particular about the wedding arrangements you wanted to discuss?”

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