Page 48

The Sheik and the Christmas Bride Susan Mallery 2022/8/5 16:56:52

“Glenda, this is Kayleen James, my fiancée. These three young ladies are my daughters. Dana, Nadine and Pepper, this is Miss Glenda.”

The girls smiled shyly and stayed close to him.

“A perfect family,” Glenda told him. “Although a son would be a lovely addition.”

“You speak as my father does,” As’ad told her. “You are prepared?”

“We have dozens of things to show everyone. I think you will be pleased.” She turned to the girls. “Come on. I’ll show you.” Glenda took Dana’s hand and introduced her to the clerks who were hovering. Each gathered a girl and led her off. Then Glenda turned to Kayleen.

“Such beautiful hair,” she said with a sigh. “And a natural color.” She slowly walked around Kayleen. “Good structure, excellent posture, clear skin. Prince As’ad, you’re a fortunate man.”

“All right. Let the fun begin. The dressing rooms are this way.” She glanced back at As’ad. “You will find magazines, drinks and a television waiting for you.”

“Thanks.” He smiled at Kayleen. “Enjoy yourself.”

Kayleen nodded because she couldn’t speak. Nothing about this experience was real to her. None of it had any basis in reality. In her world, boutique owners didn’t act this way. They weren’t so accommodating or friendly. At least, Kayleen thought the woman was being friendly. She could have just been acting nice because of the money that would be spent, but Kayleen hoped not.

She followed Glenda to the dressing room where the girls were giddily trying on clothes.

“I have socks with kittens!” Pepper yelled. “Can I have socks with puppies?”

“Yes,” the woman helping her said with a laugh. “We even have giraffes.”

For Nadine there were dance clothes and frilly dresses, for Dana, clothes that were slightly less girly, but still pretty. Pepper ran to Kayleen and thrust kitten socks in her hand.

“Aren’t they the best?” she asked breathlessly.

“So you’re starting them young,” Glenda murmured.

She was taken into her own dressing room where dozens of items hung. There were dresses and jeans and blouses and skirts and suits. In the corner, three towers of shoe boxes stood nearly four feet high.

“We’ll start with the basics,” Glenda told her. “The prince mentioned you didn’t have much of an appropriate wardrobe.” She laughed. “Hardly something he had to mention. Not many of us have clothing fit for royal duty. Of course you’d be starting over. And isn’t that the best place to be?”

Kayleen fingered her plain dress. “I’ve never been into fashion before.”

“That is about to change. Fortunately you can learn a lot fairly quickly. Pay attention to what looks good on you rather than what’s in style, go with classics and coordinates. And expect to be tortured by pretty shoes on formal evenings. All right, dear, let’s see what you’ve got.”

Glenda waited patiently until Kayleen figured out she was expected to undress.

Kayleen reluctantly unzipped her dress and stepped out of it. Glenda nodded.

“Excellent. Not too curvy, so you can dazzle in evening wear. That’s good. No offense, dear, but you have very ugly underwear. If you’re going to marry a prince, you need sexy and pretty. You want to keep him interested.”

She began making notes, then motioned to the rack on the right. “We’ll start there.”

An hour later Kayleen realized she’d underestimated women who shopped for sport. It was exhausting. Trying on, walking out for As’ad’s approval, then getting pinned and poked so everything fit perfectly, finding the right shoes, walking around in them, getting another nod from As’ad, then starting the whole thing over with a different dress.

She was zipping up a simple day dress when Dana walked into the dressing room.

“We’re finished,” she said. “As’ad said to tell you Aunt Lina is coming by to take us to the movies.”

Kayleen smiled. “Are you as tired as I am?”

Dana nodded. “It was fun, but work.”

“I didn’t get to see half of what any of you bought. We’ll have to have a fashion show when the clothes are delivered.”

But instead of agreeing, Dana moved close, put her arms around Kayleen’s waist and started to cry.

Kayleen sat down and pulled the girl onto her lap. “What’s wrong?”

“I miss my mom and my dad,” she said as she cried. “I know it’s wrong, but I do.”