Woman in a Sheikh's World(6)

By: Sarah Morgan

‘Top floor, sir. Executive suite, but—’

‘I’ll go alone. Wait here for me.’

‘But, Your Highness, you can’t—’

‘It’s a party planning company,’ Mal drawled, wondering why they couldn’t see the irony. ‘Who, exactly, is going to threaten my safety in a party planning company? Will I be the victim of a balloon assault? Drowned in champagne? Rest assured, if I encounter danger in the stairwell, I’ll deal with it.’ Without giving his security guards an opportunity to respond he strode into the building.

Avery had done well for herself since they’d parted company, he thought, and the dull ache that was always with him grew just a little bit more intense as did the anger. She’d chosen this, her business, over their relationship.

But he couldn’t allow himself to think about that. He’d long since recognised the gulf between personal wishes and duty. After years pursuing the first, he was now committed to the second. Which was why this visit was professional, not personal.

If he knew Avery as well as he thought he did, then pride would prevent her from throwing him out of her office or slapping his face. He was banking on it. Or maybe she no longer cared enough to do either.

Maybe she’d never cared enough and that was just another thing he’d been wrong about.

Mal passed no one in the stairwell and emerged onto the top floor, through a set of glass doors that guarded the corporate headquarters of Avery Scott’s highly successful events planning company, Dance and Dine.

This was the hub of her operation. The nerve centre of an organisation devoted to pleasure but run with military precision. From here, Avery Scott organised parties for the rich and famous. She’d built her business on hard work and sheer nerve, turning down business that wasn’t consistent with her vision for her company. As a result of making herself exclusive, her services were so much in demand that a party organized by Avery Scott was often booked years in advance, a status symbol among those able to afford her.

It was the first time he’d visited her offices and he could see instantly that the surroundings reflected the woman. Sleek, contemporary and elegant. A statement of a successful, confident high achiever.

A woman who needed no one.

His mouth tightened.

She certainly hadn’t needed him.

The foyer was a glass atrium at the top of the building and light flooded through the glass onto exotic plants and shimmered on low contemporary sofas. A pretty girl sat behind the elegantly curved reception desk, answering the phones as they rang.

For this visit he’d chosen to wear a suit rather than the more traditional robes but apparently that did nothing to conceal his identity because the moment the receptionist saw him she shot to her feet, panicked and star struck in equal measure.

‘Your Highness! You’re … ohmigod—’

‘Not God,’ Mal said and then frowned as the colour faded from her cheeks. ‘Are you all right?’

‘No. I don’t think so. I’ve never met a Prince in the flesh before.’ She pressed her hand to her chest and then fanned herself. ‘I feel a bit—’ She swayed and Mal moved quickly, catching her before she hit the ground.

Torn between exasperation and amusement, he sat her in her chair and pushed her head gently downwards. ‘Lean forward. Now breathe. That’s it. You’ll soon feel better. Can I get you a glass of water?’

‘No.’ She squeaked the word. ‘Thank you for catching me. You’re obviously every bit as strong as you look. Hope you didn’t put your back out.’

Mal felt a flash of amusement. ‘My back is fine.’

‘This is seriously embarrassing. I should be curtseying or something, not fainting at your feet.’ She lifted her head. ‘I presume you’re here to see Miss Scott. I don’t suppose there is any chance you could not mention this? I’m supposed to be cool with celebrities and famous people. As you can see, it’s still a work in progress.’

‘My lips are sealed.’ Smiling, Mal straightened. ‘Sit there and recover. I’ll find her myself.’ At least the receptionist hadn’t pretended her boss wasn’t in the building, which was good because his extremely efficient security team had already confirmed that she was here. The fact that she’d refused to pick up the phone had added another couple of coals to his already burning temper but he wasn’t about to take that out on this girl. He only fought with people as strong as him and he rarely met anyone who fitted that description.

Fortunately Avery Scott was more than capable of handling anything he dished out. She was the strongest woman he’d ever met. Nothing shook that icy composure. Apparently not even the fact that he was marrying another woman.

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