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The Sheik and the Christmas Bride Susan Mallery 2022/8/5 16:56:45

Kayleen did her best not to blush, although she could feel heat on her cheeks. “It was fine. Good. I really liked meeting everyone in the village. They’re wonderful people. Dinner was good. They let me help a little with the cooking. Everyone was friendly.” She realized she was babbling and pressed her lips together, then blurted, “Nothing happened.”

Lina slowly raised her eyebrows. “Excuse me?”

“Nothing happened. With As’ad. In case you were, you know, wondering. Nothing happened.”

“I see.” Lina smiled. “You’re protesting an awful lot, especially when you consider I never asked if anything happened.”

“Oh.” Kayleen shifted. She needed to stop talking now or Lina would find out about the kiss. Not that Kayleen regretted it—on the contrary, it was a delicious secret she wanted to keep to herself.

Lina waited another few seconds, then walked to the door. “I’ll see you later, then.”

“Uh-huh. Thanks again for staying with the girls.”

“Anytime,” Lina said, and then left.

When she was alone, Kayleen tiptoed into the girls’ bedroom. All three of them were asleep. She smoothed covers, adjusted the nightlight, then went into her own room. When she had shut the door behind her, she sighed with happiness, spun in a slow circle, then sank onto the bed.

She’d been kissed. Really kissed and it had been wonderful. Better than she could have imagined.

She’d liked everything about kissing As’ad…the taste of him, the heat, the way he’d held her. She wanted to kiss and be kissed again. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the sort of thing she could simply ask him to do. Worse, she wasn’t sure why he’d kissed her. Had he wanted to, or had he just been proving a point in the village? And why did it suddenly matter which?

Several days later As’ad returned to his rooms to find Kayleen sitting at his dining table in front of a sewing machine. Fabric covered every available surface. She’d pulled over a floor lamp for additional light and didn’t notice his arrival.

His reaction was as powerful as it was instantaneous. Not about the fact that she’d once again ignored his request that she take care of all things involving the girls. Instead his body recognized the woman who had most recently brought him to his knees with a single kiss.

A virgin’s kiss, he reminded himself, still annoyed and aroused at the sight of her. What should have been meaningless, done only to prove a point, had instead started a fire within him that still burned hot and strong. He’d been hungry before kissing her—now he was starved.

He hadn’t been able to sleep for wanting Kayleen. The kiss had shown him potential where he’d seen very little. She’d felt right in his arms—all soft curves and innocence. Yet there had been heat in her, an instinctive passion that had matched his own.

The event should have meant nothing. He should have been able to walk away without thinking of it again. Instead it was all he could do not to cross the room, pull her to her feet and kiss her over and over until she surrendered. He wanted her wet, naked and begging. He wanted all of her.

She looked and saw him. “As’ad.” She smiled. “You’re back.” She stood and held up both hands. “I know what you’re going to say. This is a big mess. I’m sorry. I meant to get it cleaned up before you got home. I lost track of time.”

Her mouth. He couldn’t seem to look away from it. The shape, the hint of white teeth and nimble tongue. His brother Qadir was right—he should have gone to Paris and spent the week mindless in an unknown woman’s bed. Now the opportunity was lost. He had a bad feeling it would be some time before he could use someone else to forget the appeal of Kayleen.

“What are you doing?” he asked, pleased his voice was so calm. Nothing of his turmoil must show.

“Making costumes for the Christmas pageant. All three girls are in it. I want the costumes to be a surprise.”

“The school will not provide them?”

“I suppose they could. They asked if some of the parents could help out. I said I would. Lina found this machine for me. It’s fabulous and practically sews on its own. You should see the instruction manual—it’s as thick as a dictionary. But I’ll figure it out.”

He fingered a length of fabric. “I am sure there are employees in the palace who could do this for you.”

She looked as if he’d slapped her. “But I like sewing. Besides, it’ll matter more if I make the costumes for the girls.”

“I’m going to guess you’re not into crafts.”