The Sheikh's Accidental Heir(3)

By: Leslie North

Pulling her hand out of his, she lifted one dark eyebrow. She had high, arched eyebrows, perfectly shaped—her one vanity, he thought, for she wore little makeup. “My boss is a total slave driver—always has to put the catering business first and never even gives me a full weekend off. In fact, I usually have to work extra on the weekends and maybe get a few hours during the week to simply crash.””

Ahmed tucked his hands into his pockets—the temptation to touch her, to tuck that stray strand of dark hair back behind her ear, to stroke a finger down her cheek, to try and take her hand back was almost too much. “And yet here you are, lounging outside?”

She patted her back pocket and he glanced down at her, wishing he could do the same to that lovely, round ass. “Juggling business calls. As I said, work never ends.”

“But you must eat, yes?”

“Yes, but—”

“But what? You must eat, as must I. And who does not want to show off their homeland? What one place must I not miss while I am here? Some place with New York pizza or a street hot dog or some delicacy I could never obtain anywhere else.”

She shook her head and waved back to the glass doors. “There’s not enough to tempt you—lobster straight from Maine, Creole sausage rolls, chicken a la—?”

“A la la—I am speaking of real food.”

Crossing her arms, she stared at him. “Now I’m starting to feel insulted.”

Ahmed couldn’t help laughing. “No disrespect meant. The food is wonderful—delicious. But who can live on tiny bites of this or that? I am speaking of real food—the food of the people. Now that is an experience everyone wishes.”

She gave a soft hum and lifted a hand to tap a finger against her chin. He found the gesture charming. She seemed to realize what she was doing for she dropped her hand, her cheeks warming slightly. Smiling at him, she said, “That’s an idea. I’ll have to think about that. Right now, duty calls. I have to head back inside.” She straightened and smoothed a hand down her blouse, tugging it straight.

Giving in, Ahmed caught her hand again. “Two minutes more. Let the others deal with everything for just two minutes. Let me show you something.”

He turned and pulled on her hand, but she hung back. “I can’t leave the work for everyone else.”

“So serious.” With a grin, he tugged on her hand again. The wind came up and again the stray strand of hair came loose and brushed her cheek. He reached to tuck it back again, wanting to see if it was as silky as it looked. She beat him to it, pushing the wayward strands behind her ear. “Come—the world will not fall apart in two minutes.”

“You’d be surprised just how fast disaster happens.”

He glanced back at her, eyebrows lifted, wondering why she sounded so serious. But this time when he tugged on her hand, she came with him. He led her around the patio to the other side of the surrounding terrace. The sun was just setting, a ball of orange in the west, its rays filtered by other buildings, turning the metal and glass into reflections of golden light.

Next to him, Melanie caught her breath. Ahmed smiled. “See—was it not worth the two minutes?”

She gave his hand a squeeze and then slipped from his grip again. “Okay, so it was. Thank you—this is a sight you don’t forget.”

Leaning on the railing, he asked, “You can’t always work. What do you do for fun?”

She shrugged and grinned. “I work—what else? I’m a driven New Yorker.” A sparkle lit her green eyes, bringing out hints of gold in the depths.

He straightened and stepped closer, leaning down to put his mouth close to hers as he spoke. “Have dinner with me. Save me from a horrible, boring evening. I want to get to know you better.”

She stood her ground, not turning away, not stepping back. Instead, she lifted her chin, her lips curving and parting slightly. He could see her chest rise a little faster as her breaths quickened. His pulse did the same. She leaned even closer and for an instant he thought she would put her mouth on his. Her scent wrapped around him—and he caught a hint of musky arousal. But instead of kissing him, she pressed her hand against his chest. “I have to go back to work, and your brothers must be wondering where you are by now. You don’t want to disappoint Daddy, do you?”

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