She spun around, aware of Ramzi talking about some sort of tariff agreement. But her brother was looking down at the papers in the file folder while the other man…he was staring right back at her. Once again, his features hadn’t changed, but there was triumph in his look.
That crazy trembling increased and she reached behind her, fumbling with the doorknob. It took her several tries and she even stumbled over her feet because the man held her gaze.
Shantra groaned silently as she exited with the least amount of grace possible. She couldn’t believe it when she actually walked into the wall instead of the open doorway. A loud “oomph” stopped her brother’s conversation and she felt both men’s eyes on her. “Sorry,” she whispered and struggled to find the open area so she could leave.
It felt like an eternity before she was finally on the other side of the doorway, door closed and breathing relative freedom. Goodness, she’d never felt like that before. Never! No man had the right to do that to her! She was strong and creative; she was a good businesswoman! Why had she let a man affect her like that?
She was leaning her head back against the wall, trying to get herself back under control. If she’d been more aware of her surroundings, she would have sensed her other brothers walking towards her. But she hadn’t, and her first realization that she was still looking foolish was when she heard, “What in the world is wrong with you?”
Shantra opened her eyes and realized that both of her brothers were staring down at her. Turk, the second oldest and Minister of Defense, was standing next to Rais, the third brother and Minister of Finance. Both of them had papers in their hands and both looked like they were ready to take her to the palace clinic for a psychological evaluation.
She stammered out something, hopefully an excuse, but the words weren’t meaningful in any way. Couldn’t something go right today? She pushed away from the wall and took a deep breath. “Um…just…uh…leaving.”
Rais lifted an eyebrow. “Doesn’t look like you’re leaving. Looks like you’re leaning against the doorway like a ragdoll.”
She glared up at her brothers. “Go away,” she muttered, trying to move around them, but they were big men and the ancient hallways of the palace weren’t wide enough for both Turk and Rais to stand shoulder to shoulder. She pushed against Rais, but he only chuckled.
“We’re going into Ramzi’s office, if you’d just step out of the way.”
Turk stopped her by grabbing onto her upper arm while he looked down into her flushed features. “Why are you looking so red?” he asked, putting a hand to her forehead. “Are you sick? Maybe you should go see Raven and get checked out. You look flushed.”
Shantra put both of her hands to her cheeks, flustered by their awareness of her blush. “No. I’m fine,” she told him firmly.
She slipped between her big brothers and hurried down the hallway, praying that they wouldn’t walk into that office and talk about how she’d looked flushed. The other man would know exactly what was wrong. He’d love that he’d done this to her!
Shantra almost ran back to her office where she slammed the door. Hard. Furious with herself for looking like a fool. “Stumbling?!” she exclaimed, disgusted with herself for acting like a clown. “Can’t even walk! Good grief! He probably thinks I’m an idiot!”
“Who thinks you’re an idiot? And where did you stumble?” a kind voice said from the corner of her office.
Shantra spun around and spotted Joline, her best friend, sister-in-law and business partner, in the corner of her office. She had her laptop on her knees and her fingers poised over the keys.