Woman in a Sheikh's World(2)

By: Sarah Morgan


‘Don’t be. I’m fine.’ The words had been repeated so often they fell out of her mouth on their own. But they didn’t convince Jenny.

‘The man you loved is marrying another woman. How can you be fine? In your position I’d be screaming, sobbing, eating too much and drinking too much. You’re not doing any of those things.’

‘Because I didn’t love him. We had an affair, that’s all. An affair that ended. It happens to people all the time. Shall we get to work now?’

‘It was so much more than an affair, Avery. You were in love.’

‘Good sex doesn’t have to mean love; I don’t know why people always think that.’ Did she sound calm? Did she sound as if she didn’t care? Would anyone guess that the numbers on her screen were nonsense? She knew that people were watching her, wondering how she was reacting as the wedding of the Crown Prince drew closer. There were times when she felt like an exhibit in a zoo. It seemed that the whole world was waiting for her to drop to her knees and start sobbing.

And that, she thought, was a shame for them because they were going to be waiting a long time. She’d throw out her stilettos before she’d sob over a man. Especially a man like Mal, who would take such a display of weakness as a sign of another successful conquest. His ego didn’t need the boost.

The ringing stopped and then immediately the phone on her desk rang.

Jenny looked at the phone as if it were an enraged scorpion. ‘Do you want me to—?’

‘No.’

‘He’s very insistent.’

‘He’s a Prince—’ Avery muted her phone ‘—he can’t help insisting. Mal only has two settings, Prince and General. Either way, he’s commanding someone.’ No wonder they’d clashed, she thought numbly. No relationship could have two bosses.

There was an urgent tap on the door and Chloe, the new receptionist, virtually fell into the room in her excitement. ‘Avery, you’ll never guess who is on the phone!’ She paused for dramatic effect. ‘The Crown Prince of Zubran.’ Clearly she expected her announcement to have more impact than it did and when neither of them reacted she repeated herself. ‘Did you hear me? The Crown Prince of Zubran! I tried to put him through but you weren’t picking up.’

‘Insistent and persistent,’ Jenny murmured. ‘You’re going to have to answer it.’

‘Not right now. Chloe, please tell him I’m unavailable.’

‘But it’s the Prince himself. Not his assistant or his adviser or anything, but him. In person. Complete with melting dark voice and a very cultured accent.’

‘Give him my sincere apologies. Tell him I’ll call back as soon as I can.’ As soon as she’d worked out her strategy. As soon as she was confident she wasn’t going to say, or do, something she’d later regret. A conversation like that had to be carefully planned.

Chloe gaped at her. ‘You sound so relaxed, like it’s normal to have someone like him just calling on the phone. I can’t believe you know him. I’d be dropping his name into every conversation. He is so gorgeous,’ she confessed in a breathy voice. ‘Not just in the obvious way, although I wouldn’t object if he wanted to take his shirt off and chop wood in front of me or something, but because he’s just such a man if you know what I mean. He’s tough in a way men aren’t allowed to be any more because it’s not considered politically correct. You just know he is not the sort to ask permission before he kisses you.’

Avery looked at their newly appointed receptionist and realised with surprise that the girl didn’t know. Chloe was one of the few people not to know that Avery Scott had once had a wild and very public affair with Crown Prince Malik of Zubran.

She thought about the first time he’d kissed her. No, he hadn’t asked permission. The Prince didn’t ask permission for anything. For a while she’d found it exhilarating to be with a man who wasn’t intimidated by her confidence and success. Then she’d realised that two such strong people in a relationship was a recipe for disaster. The Prince thought he knew what was best for everyone. Including her.

Jenny tapped her foot impatiently. ‘Chloe, go to the bathroom and stick your head under cold running water. If that doesn’t work, try your whole body. Whatever it takes because the Prince is not going to be kissing you any time soon, with or without permission, so you can forget that. Now go and talk to him before he assumes you’ve passed out or died.’

Chloe looked confused. ‘But what if it’s something really urgent that can’t wait? You are arranging his wedding.’

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