When he’d come here to discuss a better working relationship with Kilar, he hadn’t anticipated meeting such a lovely creature. And he suspected by the irritated and dumbfounded expression on Sheik Ramzi’s face that he hadn’t intended for this night to be a matchmaking attempt.
But despite Princess Shantra’s objections, the match truly was a good idea. He wished he’d thought of it before and floated the idea, started the conversations so that negotiations could begin now.
He wanted to take the woman out of this palace and make love to her, hear her talk about butterflies and insects while he did his best to distract her. Ah, the lovely woman had an enticing tendency to blush, which he was thoroughly enjoying.
She was smart too! The gentle beauty was talking about the various chemicals that were currently used in agriculture, and some better chemicals to use that weren’t as destructive to the environment.
He also noticed that she was avoiding looking in his direction. Not for long, he thought as he wondered what her soft, full lips would feel like when he finally kissed her.
“So what about a move towards more environmentally friendly pesticides?” she suggested and looked across the table at her brother.
Ramzi’s eyes narrowed on his baby sister, not sure what was going on. Why was Shantra discussing chemicals and butterflies? She wasn’t making any sense. “I’ll bring it up with my advisors tomorrow.”
She smiled, but the look was tremulous. “Did you know that butterflies actually taste with their feet?” she offered, glancing at the other man’s chin and ignoring her brother’s scowl. She knew she should shut up, but her mouth just kept on going. And going. And going! “And butterflies are nearsighted.” She nodded her head to emphasize her point.
Shantra heard the other man make a noise and she suspected that it was laughter, but she wasn’t going to look at him to find out.
Ramzi sighed and looked at her as if he wanted to strangle her. “Enough about butterflies, Shantra. We don’t want to know what it eats or if it sleeps at night.”
“Nectar. And mud puddles,” she said, and compressed her lips when she saw her brother’s glare.
Looking down at her plate, she forced her mouth to remain shut while the men discussed tariffs, or something equally boring and tedious. The wait staff came and went, bringing in additional courses, taking away the other plates. She nibbled at what was in front of her, but couldn’t really do the exquisite meal justice. Instead, she pushed the food around on her plate, pretending to eat, looking at her brother when asked a question directly or the other man’s chin or tie when she absolutely had to look in his direction. She couldn’t look at the man, finding him too…intimidating.
Just before dessert was served, Rais and Turk walked into the dining room and Shantra breathed a sigh of relief. Taking her brothers’ entrance as a way to make her escape, she stood up and laid her napkin on the chair. “It was very nice meeting you. I enjoyed dinner immensely,” she lied but didn’t care. All she wanted to do was get out of that room and away from the man’s strange gaze. He knew things about her that she didn’t want him to know! What those things were, she couldn’t fathom but he knew!
Okay, so she was being ridiculous again but she didn’t care. She was hotfooting it out of the room even as the conversation between her three brothers and the man started again. She pulled the door open and was about to step out, but her mind needed to steal just one more look. And yes, the man was staring right back at her. She froze for a moment, almost as if he had silently commanded her to stay. That trembling, that silly, ridiculous fluttering that attacked every limb on her body, started up again with his look.