Both of them were shaking their heads. “Nope. We don’t like this woman, Shantra. You can’t follow in her footsteps. That’s not you,” Keith finally said.
Shantra pretended like her heart wasn’t sinking with their words and the information about the kind of woman that the man preferred. “Exactly,” she replied through lips that could barely form the word. “So can we please get some work done?”
Keith chuckled. “Sounds a bit touchy, doesn’t she, Jo?”
Joline smiled as well, but there was a concerned look in her eyes. She knew her friend well, and clearly Shantra was not immune to the man. “I think she does. But let’s move on.”
They were all business after that and Shantra was relieved to focus on something other than the man who had…okay, she could admit it to herself…he’d rocked her world. She couldn’t deny that she’d been interested, but the stories of his previous wife, they were not anything she could imitate. Shantra was more of a homebody. She liked order in her life, schedules and knowing what was going to happen. She couldn’t plan out elaborate parties and she definitely couldn’t justify spending exorbitant amounts of money on those parties just to be mentioned in the press.
By the time the meeting was over, Shantra was still a mess of conflicting emotions. Joline had waddled away to do her own stuff, and Keith had signed off to hit more of the fashion shows. Shantra was sitting by herself at her design board but nothing was coming to her. The paper in front of her was blank. She was trying very hard to concentrate, but images of the man from her brother’s office kept seeping into her mind.
She finally gave up on trying to work and logged into her own laptop, running a search on the man in question. For some crazy reason, it hurt her to look at the pictures of the beautiful, spirited woman on his arm. It occurred to her that Sheik Hassam didn’t appear very happy, but how could he not be with that kind of lively wife to lighten his days and electrify his nights? She continued to scan through the pictures, torturing herself. Except for their wedding picture, he was never looking down at his wife with any sort of affection. He was always staring straight ahead, as if he were irritated about something.
Thinking back to her introduction to the man in her brother’s office, he hadn’t had much expression on his features this morning. Well, that had been a short meeting, she told herself. It might have felt like a long time to her, but it had probably only been a few minutes.
With a sigh, she leaned back in her chair, staring up at the ceiling and trying to figure out what was going on with her. Okay, so she’d had a strong reaction to the man, but that didn’t mean anything. She was the complete opposite of his previous wife, so she needed to banish him from her mind.
A sudden thought occurred to her and she jerked upright. Dinner! She’d agreed to fill in for Mia at dinner tonight! She couldn’t have dinner with that man! She just couldn’t do it! She couldn’t sit across the table from him and make idle conversation, to talk about mundane issues, knowing that she’d never measure up!
And then something else struck her. Was her brother’s request simply an appeal for help? Or was he doing a bit of matchmaking? Ramzi wasn’t really the kind of man who would even think about something like that, but then again, he’d changed significantly after marrying Mia. Rais and Turk had changed after finding their wives as well. They were kinder now, more observant.
Shantra groaned as she realized that her brother was most likely trying to set her up with a man he thought was a good match. And theoretically, Sheik Hassam was the perfect man for her. Or the other way around, she was a princess and a perfect match for the man.