Pursued by the Desert Prince(3)

By: Dani Collins

“Just that you should send your bill to me.” He moved to set a card on the edge of Trella’s desk.

She turned to follow his movement behind her. So economical and fascinating. And who was his tailor? That suit was pure artistry, the man so obviously yang to her yin.

He caught her staring.

She tucked her hair behind her ear to disguise her blush.

“Her Majesty made the same offer and you needn’t have troubled yourself. It’s a wedding gift for Sadiq and the princess.”

He noted the familiarity of her using Sadiq’s first name with a small shift of his head. “So Hasna said. I would prefer to pay.”

His gaze was direct enough to feel confrontational, instantly amplifying this conversation into one of conflict. Her pulse gave a reflexive zing.

Why would he be so adamant—?

Oh, dear God! He didn’t think she and Sadiq were involved, did he?

Why wouldn’t he? According to the headlines, she’d slept with half of Europe. When she wasn’t doing drugs or having catfights with her models, of course.

“Sadiq is a longtime friend of the family.” She retreated behind the cool mask she showed the world, ridiculously crushed that he would believe those awful summations of her character. “This is something we want to do for him.”

“We.” His gaze narrowed.

“Yes.” She didn’t bring up her sister or what her family owed Sadiq for Trella’s return to them. The fact that Sadiq had never once sought any glory for his heroism was exactly why he was such a cherished friend. “If that was all...” She deliberately presumed she’d had the last word on the topic. “I should get back to the final arrangements for your sister’s things.”

* * *

Kasim had to applaud his future brother-in-law’s taste. Angelique Sauveterre had grown from a very sweet-looking girl into a stunning young woman. In person, she had an even more compelling glow of beauty.

Her long brunette hair glimmered and shifted in a rippling curtain and what had seemed like unremarkable gray eyes online were actually a mesmerizing greenish hazel. She was tall and slender, built like a model despite being the one to dress them, and her skin held a golden tone that must be her mother’s Spanish ancestry.

Cameras rarely caught her with a smile on her face and when they did, it was a faint Mona Lisa slant that allowed her to live up to the reputation of her father’s French blood: aloof and indifferent.

She wore that look now, but when she had first greeted him, she had smiled openly. Her beauty was so appealing, Kasim had forgotten for a moment why he was here and had been overcome with a desire to pursue her.

Perhaps this captivating quality was the reason Sadiq was so smitten?

“About those arrangements... Today went well?” He had understood it to be the final fitting of his sister’s wedding gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses as well as a private showing of other clothes made for Hasna, all taking place on the runway level of this building. Once the last nips and tucks were completed, the entire works would be packaged up and shipped to Zhamair for the wedding next month.

“You would have to check with the women who were here, but they all seemed pleased by the time they left.” So haughty and quick to keep the focus on his sister.

From what he’d heard around his penthouse, the consensus had been a high level of ecstasy with everything from the clothes to the imported cordial to the finger sandwiches and pastries.

“Hasna doesn’t seem to have any complaints,” he downplayed. “Which is why I’m willing to spare her the nuisance of replacing all that you’ve promised her.”

Angelique was tall in her heels. Not as tall as him, but taller than most women he knew, and she grew taller at his words, spine stiffening while her eyelashes batted once, twice, three times. Like she was filtering through various responses.

“All that we’ve made for her,” she corrected, using a light tone, but it was the lightness of a rapier. Pointed and dangerous. “Why on earth would you refuse to let her have it?”

“You can drop the indignation,” he advised. “I’m not judging. I’ve had mistresses. There is a time to let them go and yours has arrived.”

“You think I’m Sadiq’s mistress. And that as his mistress, I offered to make his bride’s gown and trousseau. That’s a rather generous act for a mistress, isn’t it?”

She repeatedly spat the word as if she was deeply offended.

He pushed his hands into his pants pockets, rocking back on his heels.

“It’s a generous act to arrange a private showing for such a large party at a world-famous and highly exclusive Paris design house.” It hadn’t been only his mother and sister, but Sadiq’s mother and sisters, along with cousins and friends from both sides.

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