The Sheikh's Accidental Heir(10)

By: Leslie North



Then they’d set off to see sights.

They’d done more than that.

Ahmed insisted she buy a few dresses—and then he’d bought her flowers. She’d left them at the 9/11 Memorial, and they’d gone window shopping and she’d bought him a small Statue of Liberty as a souvenir.

The theater last night had been amazing—Ahmed had gotten them front row seats to Hamilton, and she’d never had seats so good. Afterwards, she’d finally had that dinner in his suite—but they’d ended up naked and eating dinner off each other’s bodies before collapsing into bed.

They’d woken late—she’d barely had the energy to crawl into a bath. Ahmed had joined her and scrubbed her back, along with a few other parts that had left her gripping the edge of the tub and gasping as she came.

Right now, the sun was out and the day was just starting to get muggy. They were supposed to hit the museums, but Central Park had been too tempting. A light breeze stirred the air, and they were eating ice cream and walking near Artist’s Gate. The artists were out with their easels and chalk or watercolors to work, or with a display of their work for sale. Ahmed kept one hand on the small of her back, and Melanie wasn’t sure if she liked that almost possessive touch. It was nice—but it was also possessive. And this was a fantasy, and nothing that would last. That was a good thing—a few more days of this and she’d fall apart.

“Why don’t you have a husband?” Ahmed asked.

She gave a shrug. “I did the usual—boyfriends in high school and college. But culinary school didn’t leave me much time and then I got a job as a line cook in the restaurant of one of my teachers. That sucked up so much of my time that the boyfriends would come and go—just about literally.”

Ahmed shook his head. “They were fools.”

She laughed. “I can’t really blame them. If they hadn’t left, I’d probably have dumped them. Relationships can get in the way of what you want.” She glanced sideways at him and tipped her head to one side. He’d bought them cones—hers was strawberry and he’d gone for plain vanilla, which so wasn’t him in bed. No—he was something exotic and exciting. And she almost didn’t want this to end—but it would. Soon. “Which brings us to what is it you really want?” she asked.

She took the last bite of her cone and turned to him, touching one hand to his face, running her fingers over his close-trimmed beard. “This is our last night—tomorrow it’s back to work for me. And you.”

He pulled a face. “Yes. My brothers have been filling my cell phone with texts and calls I have not answered, and now I hear my father wishes me to return home.”

“Really?”

He tossed the rest of his ice cream into a nearby trash can and took her hands. “I will go when I am ready—and I am not certain I am ready to give you up, Melanie.”

She laughed and pulled away from him. “Ready or not, we both have lives waiting for us. This Cinderella turns back into a pumpkin tonight. And you still haven’t told me what it is you really want.”

Turning, but keeping hold of one hand, he waved at the artists around them. “How many of these painters will make a living from what they do?”

She glanced around at them, figuring most worked other jobs. “Does it matter if they’re doing what they love?”

“Ah, but they must eat—and pay the rent. The lucky ones do more than that—and that is my gift.”

She laughed again and shook her head. “You’re lucky? That is not a skill.”

“But it is. It is why my brothers drag me here and why my father encourages me to do more even though I do not need to. I have a nose for the lucky deal. I can look at a building and a tingle in my gut tells me it will become popular enough that the rents will go up. I look at land and know it will have oil or water. I read up on a company and some sense tells me its stock will go up. I just know. My father does not approve of stock markets—he calls them gambling.”

“Which is close enough to true. My uncle dabbled in stocks and lost his retirement.”

“Ah, but he was not me. It is business if you buy smart and sell smarter.”

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