In Pursuit of His Wife(9)

By: Kristi Gold

Rafiq took a step toward the stairs. “She does not want you here.”

“I invited him, Rafe,” Nasira said. “But only for the night. Now if you will excuse us, we are both exhausted from the evening’s events.”

“Quite memorable events,” Sebastian added knowing he would probably incur his wife’s wrath.

Rafe pointed at him. “I do not wish to see you here when I awaken.”

Sebastian saluted. “Yes, sir, commander sheikh.”

Without looking back, Nasira hurried up the stairs and paused at the landing before regarding Sebastian again. “Are you coming?”

He suddenly realized he should attempt to turn Rafe into an ally, not an enemy. “In a moment. I’d like to have a word with your brother.”

He saw a fleeting look of panic in her eyes. “All right, if you two promise to remain civil.”

A promise Sebastian hoped he could keep. “I have no problem with that.”

She glanced past him toward her brother. “Rafiq?”

“I will maintain my calm,” Rafe said.

“I am counting on that,” Nasira said before she climbed the remaining stairs and disappeared.

Sebastian decided he could use a bit of a pick-me-up and with that in mind, he grabbed up the smaller bag, set it on the sofa, unzipped it and withdrew a bottle of mediocre scotch, the only thing he had been able to find at the lone liquor store in town. “Would you care to join me in a drink?”

“No, I would not,” Rafe said.

“Then would you mind providing a glass. I find it somewhat uncouth to drink from the bottle.”

Without speaking, Rafe left through a door at the back of the parlor. He returned a few moments later with a crystal tumbler he set on the white coffee table before taking a seat in a club chair across from the sofa. Sebastian poured himself a glass of the amber liquid. Though he preferred ice, he thought it best not to press his luck.

After taking a long drink, Sebastian settled in on the settee as the low-quality scotch burned down his throat. At this rate, the combination of booze and jet lag could very well land him on his arse. Of course, he could rest assured he would sleep well...on the bedroom floor.

“Where is your lovely fiancée?” he began when Rafe failed to speak.

“She is sleeping,” he replied. “The pregnancy has fatigued her greatly.”

Sebastian remembered that all too well from the time when Sira was carrying their child. He also remembered the sound of her mournful cries when she had lost that child. “I’m sure the wedding plans have also contributed to that fatigue. How are you faring with that, by the way?”

Rafe crossed one leg over the other. “I have left the preparation up to the women. I only require knowing where I need to be and when I should be there.”

Sebastian doubted he would escape that easily. “I suppose that is probably best.”

Rafe inclined his head and studied him. “I suspect you did not detain me so you could speak about wedding plans.”

Sebastian finished off the scotch with a grimace and poured another glass. “No. I felt it necessary to outline my intentions toward your sister. Has she mentioned me at all?”

“She only intimated your marriage is in shambles and hinted the breakdown is due to your inattentiveness.”

As hard as it was to hear, he couldn’t debate that assessment. “I’ve only had her welfare in mind since the miscarriage. I wanted to give her as much space as she needed. I realize now that was probably a bloody bad idea to show up, unannounced.”

“Yes, and it has created a problem that will not be easy to rectify.”

It occurred to Sebastian that he could possibly elevate Rafe’s opinion of him if he appealed to his ego by asking for advice. “You seem to be a man who knows the workings of a woman’s mind. Do you have a suggestion on how I could get back in Nasira’s good graces?”

Rafe didn’t seem to be flattered, though. “Perhaps you should return to London and allow her to decide if she wants to resume the marriage.”

Not the answer he’d hoped for. “Look, Rafe, we’ve invested ten years in this union     —”

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