The Sheikh's Heir(6)

By: Sharon Kendrick

‘Plenty. When I was a boy, I used to come and visit Alex and sometimes we would go to England, to play the polo at which we both excelled. It was there that I learned that the smell of newly mown grass was one of the most seductive smells in the world.’ He smiled against her hair. Particularly if there was a nubile and willing female lying in it, with most of her clothes undone.

Ella could now feel the gentle caress of his fingertips on her bare skin and she knew she had to stop this before it went any further. Before his sexy voice and sure touch made her do anything else she regretted. Turning her face up, she flashed him a smile which was completely insincere. ‘You must have been amazed to find someone tolerably attractive to dance with among all these women here tonight,’ she observed. ‘Should I be flattered?’

Hassan frowned at the unexpected change of topic, some subtle emphasis in her words nudging at a faint memory. ‘Perhaps you should.’ He moved his hand to allow his fingers to tangle briefly in the spill of curls which danced around at the base of her waist. ‘Though I imagine that flattery is something you’re quite used to.’

The easy compliment slipped off his tongue and it helped fuel her indignation. Ella wriggled a little in his arms. ‘Are you always this predictable when you talk to women?’

‘Predictable? You want me to be a little more original, do you, Cinderella?’ he questioned, feeling the provocative thrust of her beaded breasts pressing into his chest. ‘But that would be exceedingly difficult with someone who looks like you. What can I tell you that countless men haven’t said before? You must be bored with hearing that your eyes are the blue of a summer sky. Or that your hair is so lustrous that if I moved a little closer, I’d swear I’d be able to see my face in its reflection.’

He positioned his head as if he intended to do just that, but instead he found that his eyes were closing and that he was breathing her in and pulling her against his body. And that suddenly he wanted her very much. It had been, he realised achingly, a long time since he’d held a woman in his arms. Particularly a woman who sent out messages as conflicting as this one…

Ella felt his arms tighten around her and was appalled at how much she wanted to sink further into that embrace. To feel the beat of his heart and to listen to those admiring comments which he probably said to every woman and which meant precisely nothing.

‘Hassan,’ she said, realising how thready her voice sounded. But why wouldn’t it sound like that when he had just splayed his hands so proprietarily over her back? She was wearing a dress which left a lot of skin on show. Skin to which he now had access. She felt the almost imperceptible caress of his fingers and she shivered with a strange kind longing. She had to stop this.

‘Or the most beautiful pair of lips I’ve ever seen. Tell me, does that lipstick come off when a man kisses you and does it taste of roses, or berries?’

‘Hassan,’ she said again, more weakly this time.

‘Mmm? I like it when you say my name. Say it again. Say it as if you want to ask me a big, big favour and let me see if I can guess what that favour might be.’

With an effort, she ignored the shockingly erotic command and pulled away from him so that she could see his reaction. ‘What do you think of the bride-to-be?’

A look of displeasure crossed his face as the sensual mood was broken by her unexpected question. For a moment back then, he’d almost forgotten where he was—and he did not care to be reminded. ‘I don’t think you want to know,’ he said, an unmistakable note of finality in his voice warning her that he did not wish to pursue the topic.

‘Oh, but I do,’ argued Ella. ‘I’m fascinated to hear your opinion. I’m sure it’ll be really enlightening.’

He drew back. She was enchanting in her own way, but he thought that she was in danger of overstepping the mark. Didn’t she realise that if he wanted a subject closed, then it was closed? Immediately. And that persisting with her girlie questionnaire to test out his views on marriage—which was clearly what this was all about—would put a complete dampener on the rest of the evening? Because if he told her the truth—that marriage was not for him—wouldn’t her beautiful scarlet lips inevitably crumple with disappointment?

He wanted to dance with her, to feel the softness of her skin and the press of her flesh against his. If she continued to please him, then he might later take her to his bed, but she must quickly learn that his word was law.

‘I think that the less said about the bride-to-be, the better, don’t you?’ he drawled dismissively.

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