Sheikh's Hired Mistress(6)

By: Sophia Lynn & Ella Brooke

“Have you been here before?” Laine asked.

“Sometimes, when I am in the city.”

She drew in the fresh air. Lights were strung along the top of the awning, creating a cozy, twilight effect. In the center of the patio a large fountain babbled away. She smiled, remembering how she’d convinced the owner to have it installed. Laine walked slowly toward the seating area where Aziz reclined, his arm spread over the back of the sofa and one leg crossed over the other at the ankle. She could imagine him lounging exactly that way upon a golden throne with red velvet seats, as men on either side fanned him.

“Come closer.” Aziz smirked and gave a quick jerk of his chin to summon her forward.

Laine took a seat next to him, but left half a seat of space between them. He smiled at her, lounging back languidly like a great cat lazily observing prey he could grasp at any time. With a raised hand, he caught the attention of a waiter who stood nearby the other couple and ordered him to bring them some water.

“You are having a good time now?”

Laine smoothed her hands over her legs, banishing a few wrinkles from her dress. “It’s much better than the party, I’ll admit. I didn’t think I was the clubbing type of girl.”

“What type of girl do you think you are?” he asked.

“The workaholic type.” She lifted her eyes and pursed her lips knowingly. “The type that your type usually ignores.”

Aziz smiled and caught her hand. He stroked his thumb over her fingers. “And what type of man am I? You’ve figured me out so soon?”

“Don’t you know yourself?” Laine teased. “You're the ruthless playboy, aren’t you? You could’ve brought any woman from that party here.”

“Could have, yes,” Aziz agreed. “Would have…?”

“Are you going to deny it? How many women have you seduced away from parties? How often do you take a woman in your limo and show her the time of her life?” Laine challenged.

Aziz rubbed his fingers over his lips. “Perhaps a few,” he replied demurely.

“A few.” Laine narrowed her eyes.

“Perhaps more than a few.” Aziz shrugged and held his hands out. “I am who I am. Are you disappointed with this?”

“No, I—” Laine turned as the waiter put down two cold glass bottles of water. “Thank you!”

Aziz looked up at the waiter briefly before turning to Laine again. Laine watched the waiter leave.

“Do sheikhs not say thank you?” she asked.

“He was doing his job,” Aziz said flatly. “Americans are so strange. You are generous and kind to strangers, but cold to everyone else.”

“How are we cold?” Laine shook her head with a laugh.

Another shrug. “When we meet, you talk about your job, about things that don’t matter, but not your family. I think you don’t value these things the way we do. You care more about what the man who brings the water feels.”

“I told you who my sister was,” Laine pointed out. “I don’t have a noble lineage to recite, or anything.”

“And your father? Your mother?”

Laine opened her water and took a long drink. “Americans talk about their families with people they know and trust. It’s separate for us. But if you really need to know, my dad lives upstate.”

“Ah.” Aziz leaned forward, trailing his fingers along Laine’s cheek. “Americans like to separate things out, so they can pretend that one feeling goes here, and another here.” His fingers moved slowly down her neck. “But everything is connected to emotion.”

Laine’s eyes flickered to where the other couple had been sitting, but they’d disappeared.

“You cannot cut your life up and put it into separate boxes, even if you believe it would be more convenient to do so,” he whispered breathily, leaning in close to her.

“I can try!” Laine argued.

Aziz looked surprised and then laughed. “Maybe that’s why I like you American women so much—you make us work for the things we desire the most!”

“Is that what you really desire the most?” Laine took the hand that had been hovering around her collarbone and looked Aziz in the eye as she moved it away.

He seemed about to laugh again, his eyes twinkling mischievously. He somehow had closed the distance between the two of them, and he was practically on top of her now. He could do what he wanted with her out here. He could scoop her up and have his way with her, right here on the sofa. No one was watching. But he didn’t make a move, just stared at her intently, waiting.

“What do you desire most, Aziz?” Laine asked. She let go of his hand and leaned back onto her palms, waiting for his answer. The low cut of her dress and the movement caused her chest to give a small bounce, and of course, this was exactly where Aziz’s eyes had fallen.