But there was no denying the tightness in her breasts when his eyes stopped and stared. And she couldn’t slow her breathing down as his gaze continued to heat up her body.
When his eyes moved back to hers, there was a higher level of heat, intensity, in that look. A part of her wanted to shrink back from that look, her body feeling like he’d just caressed her even from ten feet away. Trembling, she told her feet to back away, to retreat. But nothing happened. She stood there, her eyes taking him in even as his own did the same.
She should feel violated after his perusal. She should be angry that his gaze had sharpened on her breasts. She knew that she should speak up and put him in his place, but the appropriate set-down wouldn’t form in her mind.
She could not handle this man! He was too intense, too fired up. But another part of her was drawn to him in a way that she didn’t understand. She wanted to run away while, at the same time, step closer. She was the moth that knew the flame was dangerous but wanted to be closer to the heat regardless.
“I apologize for the delay,” another voice called out.
Shantra jerked away, looking down at the floor as her oldest brother, Ramzi, came back into his office holding a thick file folder. He stopped when he saw her and Shantra immediately tried to step back out of his office.
“I’m sorry,” she gasped, feeling like the heat was increasing. Or maybe that was just the ridiculous, childish blush that bloomed over her cheeks. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”
Ramzi looked down at his baby sister with an odd look. “You’re fine. Did you need something?” he asked.
Shantra shook her head. “No. I’m…” she looked around but she couldn’t remember what she’d stopped by his office to discuss. “I’ll just be on my way.”
“Shantra,” his reproving voice stopped her desperate retreat.
Shantra stopped but the trembling increased. She knew what her brother was going to do and her eyes pleaded with him silently to not do it. “I really am in a hurry,” she almost whispered.
Of course her oldest brother ignored her almost silent plea. “Let me introduce you to my guest,” he said, putting a hand to her elbow as he urged her forward for the introductions. “This is my youngest sister, Princess Shantra Samara. Shantra, this is Sheik Laithir del Hassam of Piora.”
Shantra could feel the tremors in her body as the man’s name was revealed. Of course, she thought. This would be him. That man. Now that she had his name, she remembered pictures of him but he had been out of the press for the past five years. Not him, of course, because he was a powerful ruler, but there had not been any new pictures of Sheik del Hassam after, well, after the tragic event.
Realizing that she was still staring rudely at the man, she jerked out of her silly, frozen state and stepped forward, praying that he wouldn’t recognize her trembling for the intense awareness of him as a man. Hopefully, he would just think she was shy. Which she wasn’t! Normally, she was eager to meet guests, enjoying the company of even the most ornery diplomat or aide.
It was just this man, she thought as her brainwaves pinged around in her head, making her feel more flustered.
Remembering her manners, she blinked and focused on the man in front of her, not allowing herself to act the ditz. Her brothers already thought she was flighty and superfluous. For some reason, she didn’t want this man to walk away with that same perception of her as a person.
Squaring her shoulders and lifting her chin, she looked back at the man as calmly as her trembling body would allow. “It is an honor,” she said. She knew she should extend her arm, shake the man’s hand. But she couldn’t do it! Not with this man! Oh goodness, she wanted to run and hide!