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The Sheik and the Christmas Bride Susan Mallery 2022/8/5 16:56:51

Lina’s smile never wavered. “Perhaps you are right, but I’m not convinced. I know you, Kayleen. You wouldn’t give yourself lightly to a man. I think you have feelings for As’ad and it won’t take much for them to grow. Everyone deserves love. Give him his and in time, he will give you yours.”

The idea of being loved was much more powerful than the fantasy of being a princess. Yes, the palace was lovely, but Kayleen would be content to live in a trailer at the ends of the earth if she could be with a man who truly loved her.

Was Lina right? Did she, Kayleen, have feelings for As’ad? Did he need her to care for him?

“What are you thinking?” Lina asked.

“That I don’t know what to do.”

“Then we are in a good place to start finding that out.”

Kayleen forced herself to go to As’ad’s office because it was the right thing to do. She knew that he had only been trying to help and the fact that he’d done it so badly didn’t excuse her behavior or take away his intent. Still, it was embarrassing to face him again after her emotional outburst. She’d slammed a door in his face, both figuratively and literally. He might not be so happy to see her.

She walked into his office. Neil, his assistant, didn’t immediately throw her out, which she considered a good sign.

“Is he available?” she asked.

“Perhaps. Just a moment.” Neil buzzed As’ad and announced her. There was a pause before Neil said, “You may go in.”

Kayleen nodded, then braced herself and opened the door.

The prince rose as she entered. He wore a suit, which was typical, yet everything about him seemed different.

Maybe it was because she knew him. She’d touched his bare skin, had been as intimate with him as it was possible to be. She knew his heat, his taste, his sound. She knew what he could do to her and how she could make him react. Nothing was as it had been and she wondered if it would ever be the same again.

His voice was low, his dark eyes unreadable.

Their last meeting was a blur. She’d been beyond upset, still reeling from the reality of what she’d done. While she’d tried to explain that her feelings were about herself and not him, she wasn’t sure he’d understood or believed her. Oddly, she didn’t want him to feel bad.

She crossed her arms over her chest, then dropped her hands to her sides. The silence stretched between them. It occurred to her that he might be feeling a little awkward after the way she’d rejected him.

Was that possible? Did a prince get upset when his proposal of marriage was thrown back in his face? She couldn’t decide if As’ad was too arrogant to feel rejection or if the lack of it in his life left him unprepared for the sensation.

“I’m sorry,” she told him, meeting his gaze. “You came to me in good faith and made a generous offer. I handled the situation badly. I know you meant well and I should have acknowledged that. You were trying to do the right thing.”

“I was,” he agreed. “But I have blame, as well. I could have phrased things differently and not been so…”

“Imperious?” she offered.

“That is not the word I would have chosen.”

“And yet it fits perfectly.”

His gaze narrowed slightly. “Your apology seems to be lacking humility.”

“Humility has never been a strength for me. Yet another flaw.”

“You have much to recommend yourself, Kayleen. That is what I should have told you before.”

Had he always been so good-looking? she wondered as she got caught up in his eyes. His features were perfectly balanced and his mouth…just looking at it made her remember kissing him over and over again.

Weakness invaded her legs, making it suddenly difficult to stand. Fortunately As’ad took her arm and led her to the sofa at the far end of his large office. When she was seated, he settled next to her.

He smiled. “You challenge me.”

“True, but let’s give it a minute. You have done well with the girls.”

“They mean a lot to me.”

He touched her cheek. “I do not want to see you lock yourself behind convent walls. In my arrogance, I chose to make that decision for you. I chose to seduce you so that you couldn’t return. It was wrong of me and I apologize.”

She opened her mouth, then closed it. He’d planned it? All of it? “You slept with me on purpose? You weren’t caught up in the moment?” The information stunned her and hurt quite a bit.

“I was more than caught up,” he told her. “You bewitched me.”