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Written by Caitlin Crews

Chapter Eleven

"Second thoughts?" Zain asked.

He stood so close to me that I could have touched him, if only I leaned the slightest bit forward. If only I tipped myself into him the way every cell in my body demanded I do—but I kept myself from it.

Not yet, I told myself.

My rooms in the Desert Oasis had been upgraded to reflect my new position as manager—and now owner, thanks to my father’s will— and this suite put my previous dormitory-like room to shame. I had a private pool that gleamed now in silvery moonlight as the sky darkened all over the kingdom of Sadat. One courtyard flowed into the next, welcoming in the lush oasis gardens all around us, and hinting at the desert beyond. Tonight, there was a bright moon that shone down, but in no way took away from the mystery of the dark.

In the middle of all this luxury, Zain was like some kind of myth. A story I might have told myself when I was fighting my way through all those harsh New York years, except unlike most stories that were ruined by a dose of reality, the man before me now—come to collect what I’d promised him— was far more intense than any old daydream.

He wore a dark suit that I didn’t have to know anything about clothes to see was shockingly expensive. I didn't understand how he could wear something like that without looking stuffy and stiff, the way I thought men usually did dressed up that way.

Not Zain. He looked as lethal and deliciously hot as he had in jeans and a T-shirt. More so, perhaps.

I wished that I had access to my own preferred arsenal of revealing dresses, skimpy and tight, showing off my tattoos and operating as my first line of defense. But this was Sadat, and during my months here I’d learned to employ a different range of weapons.

My brain, for example.

Tonight I was dressed in a flowing caftan that covered my body demurely enough—yet somehow hinted at all my curves.

It flowed around me like a cloud, making me feel as soft and feminine as it was.

I should have been furious that I was letting this man of all men see me like this. I liked to be hard. Tough. And when I’d imagined what would happen when it came time to pay my debts, I’d assumed I’d face Zain the way I had before—dressed to kill, as resilient as I was irresistible to this man who had already shaken me. Deeply.

Zain made me feel things I refused to put into words, even inside my own head.

He made me want.

“Of course I don’t have second thoughts," I said then, spanning the scant few inches between us as forthrightly as I could. "This was all my idea, in case you've forgotten."

“Was it?” His cruelly sensual mouth didn’t curve then. But his dark eyes gleamed. “Are you sure?”

“You're the one who came up with the one-night payment plan, sure. But don’t forget that I'm the one who propositioned you in the first place.”

I felt more like me when I said that. And less like the soft, silly woman dressed in a cloud who couldn’t seem to stop quivering.

As if at any moment, I might shake myself apart.

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About the author

I discovered my first romance novel at the age of twelve. It involved...

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Caitlin Crews

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