The Sheikh's Heir(9)

By: Sharon Kendrick

‘By telling the truth, you mean?’

‘It’s not—’

‘Oh, please, spare me the empty defence!’ His eyes took on a look of challenge. ‘You’re denying that your father is no stranger to the bankruptcy court? Or that your sister’s awful singing brought the house down, but not in a good way? Or that the Crown Prince has dumped his long-term girlfriend and fiancée in order to marry your other sister?’

Ella gritted her teeth. ‘If only there was another waitress nearby, I’d happily upend another drink all over you!’

‘Would you now?’ He tilted his head to one side and studied her. ‘And do you make a habit of resorting to playground tactics?’

‘Only if I’m forced to deal with the class bully!’ Ella stared at him with growing bewilderment. Why did she feel this overpowering sense of frustration which was making her want to pummel her fists against the solid wall of his chest? ‘Actually, I’ve never done anything like that before.’

‘No? You just thought you’d make an exception for me, did you?’ He stared at her, wanting to crush her rosy lips beneath his. Wanting more than that. Wanting to feel the soft surrender of her body as it gave itself up to the hard dominance of his own. ‘I wonder why?’

The arrogant flick of his gaze made her skin grow heated. ‘Because you’re overbearing, overopinionated and ridiculously traditional? Could that give you some sort of clue? You spout such outdated and macho comments that it’s obviously made me react to you in an uncharacteristically primitive way!’ Raking her fingers back through the wayward spill of her curls, she glared at him. ‘And you obviously haven’t got a clue what the modern world is like.’

His eyes narrowed. ‘You think that I am a stranger to the modern world?’

Suddenly, Ella wasn’t sure what she thought. Not any more. Not when he was staring at her so intently and every cell in her body was responding to that black-eyed scrutiny. Her senses seemed to be short-circuiting her brain, but there was one thing she was certain of. He’d just lumped her in with the rest of her family and he seemed stubbornly unrepentant about doing it. Maybe it was time he discovered how it felt to be treated as if you were simply a stereotype, instead of an individual.

She met the challenge in his eyes with one of her own. ‘Yes, I think you’re a stranger to the modern world! How can you not be? How can you know how most people live if you’re stuck in some remote desert country where you probably travel round by camel and sleep in a tent?’

For a moment Hassan could scarcely believe his ears. Camel? It was true that his most recent months had been spent on horseback as he had battled to settle the long-running dispute on the borders of his country. But although much in his life involved the ancient and the traditional, he had also insisted on embracing every new technology, for he recognised that there could be no real progress without it. He thought about his fleet of cars, the state-of-the-art aircraft and the engineers he employed to search for ever more eco-friendly alternative travel.

‘Now you insult my land,’ he observed furiously. ‘And thus my honour.’

‘As you did mine!’

He met the rebellious gleam in her blue eyes. ‘I said nothing which isn’t true. Whereas you have just passed judgement on my homeland without knowing a single thing about it.’

‘Well, that’s tough. Deal with it. And now, if you wouldn’t mind stepping out of the way, I’d like to leave.’

Hassan tensed. Was it her continuing defiance which made something inside him tighten? Something which had been tightening ever since he’d first started dancing with her and felt her soft and fragrant body in his arms.

Women never answered him back like this. They usually went out of their way to accommodate him. They didn’t hurl champagne at him and then storm away, wiggling their silver bottom in a provocative movement which was designed to ensnare his fast-hardening body. For all her professed disdain of him and all he stood for, there was an undeniable sexual charge sparking through the air between them. It had been there from the outset and nothing they’d said or done had diminished it. He could read her hunger in the darkening of her eyes and in the flagrant thrust of her nipples as they pushed against the tiny silver beads of her dress.

He felt urgent sexual desire fire him up, heating his blood with its insistent throb. He’d barely been a week back from battle when he had flown here to Alex’s party and the contrast between this glittering event and the months of arid hardship could not have been greater.

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