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Authors: Kris Pearson

Taken by the Sheikh (24 page)

BOOK: Taken by the Sheikh
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Deciding a dash of French charm was called for he stood and enclosed her little hand in his own much larger one, raised it to his lips and kissed her fingers.

“I bet you do that to all the women,” she said.

“Not the very ugly ones.” He arched a dark eyebrow for good measure.

Miss Hiccups grabbed her hand back, produced her business card and took a deep breath. Alexandre’s eyes zeroed in on the pale upper slopes of her breasts, framed by the lapels of her black suit jacket. His groin buzzed.

No blouse. A silky camisole maybe? A lacy scrap of a bra? Anything at all? 

He cleared his throat, averted his gaze, and eased the little card from her outstretched fingers.

“I’m very pleased to see you’ve made a full recovery, Miss...Kerrigan Lush.”

“It takes more than a coughing fit to wipe me out,” she said, dredging up a business-interview smile.

“And those extraordinary hiccups? Quite the most impressive I’ve ever seen or heard.”

“Are you trying to wind me up?” she demanded, smile waning. “I’m here to write a nice flattering story about you, but if you want a nasty one I can always oblige.”  

Alexandre suppressed his answering grin and waved her into the other chair.

“As fierce as a tiger,” he said, shaking his head.

She drew another sharp breath, which gave him the pleasure of her breasts rising between the black lapels again. Then she slapped the mini-recorder down just a little too hard on his desktop.

“Please, not until I’ve finished complimenting you,” he said, eyeing the small machine.

“If that’s your idea of being polite, you’re on the wrong track.”

“You look more a tiger than a meek little pussy cat.”  

“Damn right! You’re a control-freak. I don’t like being bossed around in front of other people. Who said you could grab my neck and force my head down when I had the hiccups? I almost overbalanced.” 

“In shoes like those, I imagine it would be easy...” He cast an admiring glance down to her ankles.

“Try being five-foot-three. I bet you wouldn’t like it,” she said, running her scorching gaze down his very long legs in return.  

Alexandre imagined he felt the leather burn and crisp around his thighs, his knees, his calves, and ankles in turn. Did those gorgeous big brown eyes have built-in lasers?  

“Miss Lush,” he began.


“Ms Lush. I was perhaps hoping you were single?”

She rolled her eyes at that. “I just bet you were.” 

“You do a lot of betting, Ms Lush. In less than sixty seconds you’ve bet I kiss the hand of every woman I meet...that I wouldn’t like being five-foot-three, and that I was hoping you were single.”

Another sharp breath. Another delightful lift of her outraged breasts.

“No, I wasn’t betting you hoped I was single. I was being...facetious.”

He hid a further smile. “But you’re still a betting woman?”

“I like a little flutter,” she allowed. “A few dollars each way on the horses, a lottery ticket now and then. Normal Kiwi stuff.”

“And that’s where the danger lies,” he couldn’t help inserting. “So many people get swept up in the excitement of gambling they take ever more unwise chances. You’re not one of these unwise people, Ms Lush?”

“Oh for God’s sake, call me Kerri. Ms Lush sounds like an old-fashioned school-teacher.”

Alex leaned back in his chair and finally allowed his grin to show. “A very curvaceous one, possibly. So you prefer Kerri to Kerrigan? And yet Kerrigan is pretty and most unusual.”

“My mother’s maiden name. Her surname. I was supposed to be a boy.”

“Which would have robbed the world of a beautiful woman.”

“Oh puh-
.” She reached out and clicked the little recorder on.

“So the flirting really is done and now it’s on to business?” he asked, enjoying the faint flush staining her cheeks. Enjoying more than that, if he was honest. Kerri Lush looked like a firecracker about to explode. Small but delightfully dangerous. Her eyes sparkled with intense tawny fire. Her hair swirled around her head in a bouncing dark cloud. It appeared to have very fine bright streaks running through it at least as red as her sexy shoes.  

“Yes, business,” she snapped. “This is scheduled to appear in the Saturday morning paper. We run a lift-out called ‘People’—feel-good stories and so on.”

“And I’m a feel-good story?”

“Well, you’ve donated a whole building to a very worthy cause. I presume you didn’t do it only because there’d be tax advantages to the deal?”

Alex tucked his tongue into his cheek at such candor.

“Are there?” he asked, with the most innocent expression he could manage.

Kerri sent him a look of disbelief.

“Well, perhaps there are, but it was more to honor my mother’s memory.”

“The Isabelle Beaufort Centre—I’m sure she’d be pleased. You said she was a compulsive gambler, so I presume you didn’t have much money to start with?”

He nodded, and waited for her next question.

“So how did you get it?” She bit her lip and managed to look curiously contrite. “I’m sorry—that sounds terrible. I’m afraid I don’t know much about you yet.”

Alex wondered how he could deflect her interest. That was the question he had no intention of answering. But the prickle of unease shimmied away as she added, “The journalist who was supposed to be doing this interview went into premature labor at lunchtime and your story was re-assigned to me in a hurry. I’ll bet she’s not having a great time of it right now.”

“You’re making bets again, Ms Kerrigan Lush.”

“For heaven’s sake, it’s only a figure of speech!” 

“Touchy,” he teased. “Positively defensive.” Relieved the initial source of his wealth had been glossed over, he hoped it would stay that way.

“I’m not trying to hide the fact I gamble a little. Everyone gambles on something. I don’t gamble on stupid stuff.”

“So what odds do you consider acceptable?”

She narrowed her eyes, and Alexandre could have sworn he felt them cutting right into his flesh. He was enjoying their sharp exchange more than he’d enjoyed anything in months. Something about her was so

“Not Russian Roulette—six to one is beyond a joke.”

“Ten to one?”

“Getting better. Still not good.”

“For example?” He leaned further forward in the chair, pleased with the excuse to watch her animated face a little longer before they got back to the interview.

“Well...” She pushed her hair back from her eyes and gazed upwards for a moment, thinking apparently of her friend who’d just been rushed to hospital. “The chances of getting a woman pregnant are about ten to one, I suppose. She’s only really fertile for about three days in every month. That’s one instance.”

“On those days the chances are a lot higher.”

“Right into Russian Roulette territory,” Kerri agreed. “Much more than that. But there are other factors—her age, her fertility, his fertility... And you have to know when those dangerous days are. She might not tell you. Could be you’d waste all that effort with huge odds against you.”

“I’ve never considered making love a wasted effort.”  

“Maybe your ‘odds’ aren’t all that huge, either,” she said with a naughty grin.

Alexandre exploded with laughter. “My ‘odds’ have never been found wanting,” he shot back.

“So you claim.”  

He watched as the expression of mischief faded from her lively face.

“Dammit,” she said, and took a deep breath. “This is terrible. We need to get back to the interview. I can’t write about your huge—er—odds, although our readers might be absolutely fascinated.” 

His laughter escaped again. Somehow, he felt freer on this far side of the world, away from the ever-increasing weight of his responsibilities in Europe. 

“Dinner, Ms Lush? I sense the conversation could be great fun. Are you free tonight, by any miracle?”

“What do you think the chances are?”

“About a hundred to one, but I’m asking anyway.”

She smiled, and kept him waiting a little longer. 

“That could be very pleasant, Monsieur Beaufort. As long as you don’t keep grilling me about my bad habits, of course. They’re not so
bad, you know.”

“And as long as I don’t try to get you pregnant, I suppose?” 

Romances that sizzle with love, life and laughter


Keep up with Kris’s work by visiting her on:

Table of Contents


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

‘Seduction on the Cards’—now available on Amazon

Romances that sizzle with love, life and laughter…

BOOK: Taken by the Sheikh
8.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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