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Her desert knight(7)

By:Jennifer Lewis

He laughed. "I can't picture you in something that loud."

"Me, either." She sighed. "Truth be told, I prefer to disappear into the scenery. I suppose I always have."

"Even before you were married?" He burned with curiosity to know more  about her marriage, but didn't want to jump the gun and scare her off by  asking too much.

She nodded. "I guess I'm a wallflower at heart."

"You could never hide against a wall, even though your dress today is a  similar color to this rosy clay." He picked up the end of her scarf and  felt the soft fabric between thumb and finger. Desire stirred in him as  he imagined lifting more of the fabric to discover what lay beneath.

Her breath quickened and he thought he saw her pupils dilate a little.  The attraction between them was definitely mutual. She turned from him  and hurried over to a shelf with a display of big brass serving  platters. To him they looked like something he could buy in the souk  this afternoon if he wanted. She seemed riveted by one of them, though.  He moved right behind her, so he could almost feel the heat of her body  in the cool air. She peered at the largest dish. "What a pretty scene.  It looks like the Dhofar mountains. It's quite unusual to depict  something representational in the post-Islamic era-"

She turned to him, that glorious mouth still talking, and he fought an almost unbearable urge to kiss her.

He managed not to, though. Desire raced through him like fire along a  line of gasoline and he tried hard to fight it back. You just met her.  You don't know her.

Heck, that had never stopped him before. The best way to get to know a  girl was to become intimate right away. Let the chemistry mingle and see  what kind of explosions happened.

Not this girl, though. Dani had been hurt, and he didn't know the  details. She was recovering from a bad marriage and the last thing she  needed was to be seduced by a roving stranger who was only in town for a  couple of weeks.

Well, he didn't know how long he'd be here, but it wouldn't be long. He  was just visiting family and trying to figure out what to do next.

And all he wanted to do right now was kiss Dani.

Mercifully she'd moved away, and was examining a series of khanjar  daggers hanging on the wall. Most of the sheaths were ornately carved  silver, but she was bent over the least elaborate one. "This must be  camel leather and camel bone. I suppose this is what they all looked  like many centuries ago, when people carried them for use, not for  ornamentation."

Keep your dagger sheathed, he commanded himself.

"Why are you smiling?"

"I told my brother I wouldn't indulge in anything but conversation with  you today. And I was just thinking that you're making it very  difficult." He was nothing if not honest.                       


She looked startled for a moment, then regained her composure. "Why did you tell your brother that?"

"He's worried about me embarking on an unsuitable romance. He doesn't trust my judgment."

"You'd better keep your distance. As an Omani he's not going to approve  of me since I'm divorced, so you can go ahead and think of me as  off-limits."

"What if that just makes me want you more?"

"Then you're incorrigible."

"You wouldn't be the first to call me that. Actually you might. That's a  pretty unusual word. Impossible is a more popular choice."

A smile tugged at the edges of her mouth. "An impossible man is the  very last thing I need, so I think we can mutually agree to be  platonic."

"Speak for yourself."

"I think I just did." She smiled and walked quietly over to a display of large, ornate coffeepots.

Dani wasn't playing hard to get. She was hard to get. In fact kissing  her might take the same amount of effort required to climb Mount  Kilimanjaro. On the other hand, it might well be worth it, and he did  enjoy a challenge.


How could a simple glance get her excited? Especially from someone who  was an obvious playboy. He wouldn't be this confident and flirtatious if  he weren't. He was exactly the kind of man she needed to stay away  from. She shouldn't be here at all. And when she looked at her watch,  she realized she'd be lucky if she got back home in time. "I really do  have to get back to Salalah now." They'd been browsing in the museum for  nearly two hours. She'd endured many exciting brushes against him as he  leaned over a new oil jar or polished brass mirror to get a closer  look. His scent filled her senses like an intoxicating drug. It was  lucky he hadn't made a move on her as she wasn't at all sure how she'd  react.

Like a junkie, probably.

"Of course. Let's go." He pushed the door open from behind her. "I have  to admit that I thought of this stuff as a bunch of old junk last time I  was here, but seeing the pieces through your eyes brings them back to  life."

Seeing herself through his eyes was bringing her back to life. When  Quasar looked at her she almost felt as if he could see right through  her billowing traditional attire to her body beneath. Her skin hummed  with awareness of his interest in her. The desire racing along her veins  shocked her, when she'd been so sure she'd never feel it again.

"I'd love to learn more about the history of the site." She tried to  distract herself from the mysterious sensations tingling in her blood.  To focus on the unusual townlike layout of the resort, with its central  oasis and native plantings.

"You need to talk to my sister-in-law-Celia. I know she did some research in order to plan the landscaping."

Dani swallowed. She couldn't imagine that he'd really introduce her to his family. They'd be bound to disapprove of her.

Quasar led her past the bubbling fountain and back through the spacious, open hotel lobby.

"What a lovely place."

"Very profitable, too, apparently. It got recommended in Condé Nast  Traveler almost as soon as it opened and it's been booked solid ever  since."

"Tourism will be good for the Omani economy. It's important to diversify. The oil won't last forever."

"Too true. I should probably be paying more attention to business  opportunities while I'm here. Usually that's foremost on my mind, but I  seem to be a little distracted." His flashing glance made something  ripple inside her.

A valet had Quasar's car ready before they even reached the main  entrance. Quasar opened the door for her himself, a thoughtful gesture  that touched her. She told him about her Ph.D. thesis as they sped back  across the desert.

"Persian painting, huh? Aren't some of those erotic?"

"Absolutely. Some were even intended as instruction in the art of lovemaking."

"Have you tried following the instructions?"

She laughed. "No. That would not have been my ex-husband's style at  all. He didn't like being told what to do." Sex with Gordon had been  very wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am. At first she'd enjoyed it anyway for the  sheer physical pleasure and the emotional connection she thought she'd  felt. Later it had become just another wearing encounter with him that  she wanted to avoid.

"I wonder if it's worth attempting."

"If what is?" She'd got lost in unhappy memories about her marriage, staring through the windshield at the bare, brown desert.                       


"Following the advice in the erotic paintings." He shot a dangerous glance that made her stomach quiver.

"I suppose there's only one way to find out." She lifted a brow.

"Is that an invitation?" She saw that smile tug at his mouth.

"Not even slightly." Her body begged to differ. In fact he had quite  literally brought her dormant libido back to life. She didn't think  she'd ever be attracted to a man again after the depressing downward  spiral of her only serious relationship. For two years now she'd felt  nothing, until Quasar had looked at her in that bookshop. As they  talked, she'd sensed her body literally switching back on, like an  electrical circuit that had been disconnected for a while and was now  plugged back in so current could flow through it. Right now it was  flowing to all kinds of nooks and crannies she'd all but forgotten.

She watched his long, elegant fingers resting on the wheel, and  wondered what they'd feel like on her skin. Good thing she was too  sensible to find out. Her reputation was already in tatters and she  certainly wasn't going to rush headlong into another unsuitable  relationship. A glance at the dashboard clock made her nervous. "Will we  really be back by four?"

She felt the car surge forward as he accelerated. "If it can be done, I'll do it."

"Let me guess, that's your personal motto."