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The Sheikh’s Christmas Proposal

Written by Abby Green

Chapter Ten

Riad looked at Cassidy. Reluctantly. Saw the bright red splash of her long hair around her shoulders, highlighting her pale skin and blue eyes. And like a switch being flicked, his desire flamed to life. All he had to do was look at her…think of her.

Cassidy looked concerned. ‘The grandparents in Geneva, they’re your parents?’

Riad emitted a curt laugh. ‘Yes, they’re my parents. My dear deceased wife’s parents have no interest in their granddaughter.’

He saw how Cassidy paled slightly. He knew she was adopted—not that she’d spoken of it much; they were both careful not to delve too deeply into personal stories. But now he found himself wondering about that.

‘Elise must miss her mother, though…’

Riad’s eyes narrowed on Cassidy as a familiar sense of bile rose inside him. ‘She’s better off without her.’

Cassidy gasped. ‘How can you say such a thing? She was her mother.’

Riad knew they were straying into territory he never liked to explore, but something perverse within him wanted to wipe the shocked look off Cassidy’s face. How could she be so naive?

‘Melissa only got pregnant to force me into marriage and as soon as she had Elise, any vague pretence that she’d actually wanted a child was gone. She died in a car crash with her lover, so if Elise misses anything, it’s a fantasy of a benign mother figure who didn’t exist.’

Cassidy wanted to say something to refute Riad’s bleak picture, but what could she say? Her own biological mother—whom she’d tracked down eventually—hadn’t wanted anything to do with her. Any illusions she’d had were well and truly shattered. Still, though, that didn’t stop her from yearning for a family of her own—which was either incredibly naive or just plain needy.

She said stiffly, ‘I didn’t know that, I’m sorry.’

Riad shrugged minutely, his shoulders broad in his white shirt. He’d taken off his jacket. ‘I’d underestimated the lengths a woman could go to to feather her own nest.’

Cassidy was indignant. ‘Not all women are selfish or cruel, Riad. Just like not all men are cynical or downright mistrustful. There are people out there living perfectly normal, happy lives—loving their children and nurturing them. It’s not a myth.’

Riad turned towards her and she cursed her runaway mouth.

‘Is that what you believe, Cassidy? Is that what you want? A normal life? Do you really think that after a taste of the life you’ve led so far you could go back to a normal existence?’

His words were like a blow to the gut. Life after Riad would never be normal. He’d ruined any sense of normal she might have ever had. He’d shown her the true depths of her sensuality and the heights of ecstasy. Not to mention the luxury and security that only extreme wealth could afford. Him. Not her. This wasn’t her world.

Now. Now was the moment to say something, to let him know that it was over. Before she lost her way completely.

Before her nerve failed, she said, ‘Actually, that’s exactly what I think I can do. Go back to a normal existence. When we get back to Paris, I think it’s best if we go our separate ways, Riad. This relationship has run its course.’

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About the author

I spent my teens reading (devouring) Mills & Boon romances. After ...

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Abby Green

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