Pursued by the Desert Prince(7)

By: Dani Collins

“I’m fine,” she assured her guards as she slid away from him. She was visibly shaking. “Honestly. This was my fault. He was looking at my necklace. I should have warned him to be careful.”

Looking at her necklace? Her lipstick was smudged and she was bright red from her forehead to the line of her top. Her guards weren’t stupid.

They were professionals, however. One said, “Second level?”

“Water lily, and did you really?” She went across to a panel and reset something, then sighed and crossed to her desk to pick up her smartphone with a hand that still trembled. “Thank you. Please resume your stations.”

The guards holstered their weapons and retreated, closing the door behind them.

While her phone rang with the video call she’d placed, she plucked a tissue and leaned into a small desk mirror to hurriedly wipe her mouth. “This will only take a sec, but if I don’t—”

A male voice barked a gruff “Oui.”

“Bonjour, Henri.” Angelique tilted the phone so she could see the screen. She still looked somewhere between dumbfounded and grossly embarrassed, but was trying to paste a brave smile over it.

Kasim was utterly poleaxed. That kiss had been so intensely pleasurable, all he could think about was continuing from where they’d left off. Get off the phone.

“Je m’excuse. Totally my fault,” Angelique continued. “False alarm. Orchid, orchid. It was only a drill.”

“Qu’est ce qui c’est passé?”

“Long story and I’m in the middle of something. Can I call you later?”

“I’m looking at the security records.”

Angelique closed her eyes in a small wince. “Yes,” she said in a beleaguered tone, as though answering an unasked question. “The prince is still here. May I please call you later?”

“One hour,” he directed and they ended the call.

Angelique dropped the phone onto her desktop and let out an exasperated breath.

“Ramon will be next. My other brother,” she provided, nodding as her phone dinged. “There he is. Spanish Inquisition.” She clasped her hands and looked to the ceiling with mock delight. “So fun! Thanks.”

“You’re blaming me?” He hadn’t thought he could be more astonished by all that had just happened.

She shrugged as she acknowledged the text, then dropped the phone again.

Moving to the shelf in the corner, she said, “How about that coffee?”

* * *

Angelique moved to where the French press had been sitting so long it bordered on tepid. She shakily pushed down the plunger and poured two short cups, needing something to calm her nerves.

Yes, let’s not cause a rift with the wedding, Angelique, by having the Prince of Zhamair shot dead in your office.

What had happened to her that she’d let him kiss her like that? From the moment he’d walked in here, he’d been tapping a chisel into her. Now she was fully cracked open, all of her usual defenses and tricks of misdirection useless. It took everything she had not to let him see how thoroughly he’d thrown her off her game.

“Cream and sugar?” she asked, buying time before she had to turn around.


She finished pouring and made herself face him.

He paused in using his handkerchief to check for traces of her lipstick against his mouth and tucked it away. He looked positively unruffled as he took one cup and saucer from her, his steady grip cutting the clatter of china down by half.

She quickly picked her own cup off its saucer and took a bolstering sip of the one she’d doctored into a syrupy milk shake.

The silence thickened.

She tried to think of something to say, but her mind raced to make sense of their kiss. What had he meant about starting something new? What did he even think of her now? Her level of security on its best days had suitors running for the hills.

He wasn’t a suitor, she reminded herself. He was an arrogant dictator who had his wires crossed. That’s why she’d grabbed his arm. She hadn’t been able to let him leave thinking the worst. Demanding the worst.

“I wondered about the gauntlet of security I had to run in order to get in here,” he said, eyeing her thoughtfully. “I didn’t realize this was still such an issue for your family.”

Yes, let’s talk about my sister’s kidnapping and how it continues to affect all of us. Her favorite topic.

“We’re very vigilant about keeping it a nonissue. As you witnessed.” She was trying to forget how horrifying it had been to have her guards interrupt the best kiss of her life because she’d been too dazed by it to prevent a rookie error with the panic button.

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