Sheikh's Desert Duty(14)By: Maisey Yates
She cleared her throat. “Well, in the fabric of my lifetime, fifteen years is quite a bit.”
He paused, the expression on his face strange. “How old are you?”
He stopped walking and swore, the sound harsh. “Barely older than my sister.”
“Is that a problem?” She could tell from the look on his face that it was.
“It is very young.”
“I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I imagine in many ways I’m years older than your sister, and in fact many years older than you might assume someone my age would be.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Exactly what it sounds like. People in your position have the luxury of clinging to their innocence a lot longer than people in mine.”
He laughed, the sound hollow, reverberating off the walls. “I have never been accused of being innocent.”
He turned away from her again, and continued walking down the corridor, and she took a deep breath, and went after him, doing her best to keep up. “Would you care to elaborate?”
“Do I hear a hint of the journalist in your tone?”
“You ought to. It’s the only reason I’m here.”
“That, and you were essentially forced into coming.”
“For the sake of my pride, let’s not speak of that.” Not that one really had any pride to speak of when one was tromping down the hall after a stranger in last night’s dress, trying not to twist an ankle on the uneven mosaic floor.
“Well, then, for your pride.”
“My pride thanks you,” she said, her tone dry.
“Somehow I doubt it.”
“I’m trying to make small talk,” she said.
“Perhaps it’s best if you don’t.”
It seemed that this area of the palace was deserted. Such a strange thing. Especially when she knew there had to be hundreds of members of staff and residents. Especially when the house she’d grown up in could easily fit inside one of the large antechambers.
The cavernous, empty feel was kind of unsettling.
They came to the end of the hallway and he stopped at a pair of double doors, inlaid with gold and jade. They were a stunning piece of art, rather than just a means of entry or exit.
“This is your room.”
He didn’t make a move to open the door, so she cautiously reached past him and pushed it open.
Calling it a mere room was a grave disservice. It was a suite of rooms, with a plush seating area in front, and great pillars dividing it into sections, separating it from a raised bedroom area at the back. The bed was large and plush, swaths of fabric hanging from the ceiling, sweeping outward before being caught by an ornate golden canopy that guided the lush silk to the floor.
To the right, through a domed entryway, she could see what looked like a bathing chamber. Not a mere bathroom, that was way too tame of a description for a room so grand, with what looked like a sunken bathtub that was larger than some backyard pools.
Zayn turned to face her. “I trust you will find everything you need here. And if not, do not hesitate to ask a member of staff, or myself, for something that might make you more comfortable.”
“A computer with internet?”
He shook his head. “Anything but that.”
“You can’t have that, either.”
She tapped her chin. “So when you said anything...”
“I meant a cold drink, or shoes in a different size or color.”
He looked down at her feet, at the platform high heels that were starting to make her feel achy all the way up her calves. “I thought that you might be in need of something else to wear.”
“Well, you’re not wrong. But did you seriously...buy clothes for me?”
“I had my sister’s personal shopper do it, but yes.”
“And how do you know what size I wear?”
“I took a guess. And anything that doesn’t fit can be returned.”
“You did not take a guess at what size my feet were.”
He shrugged. “All right, I looked at the bottom of your shoe when you were sleeping on the couch in the plane. I could see the number. But your dress size I did take a guess on.”
The thought of just what him guessing her dress size might entail sent a shiver through her. He would have had to look at her awfully closely. Taken visual measurements...
She closed off that line of thinking, and quickly. “Well, indeed.”
He inclined his head. “I will leave you now, you are formally invited to dinner tonight.”
“And at dinner we discuss the scandal?”
“All in good time.” Then he turned and walked from the room, leaving her standing there alone.