Shantra watched him, fascinated for a long moment. When she realized that she was simply staring, she jerked her focus back to her own glass.
Where was her brother? Why wasn’t he here with her? She’d only agreed to sit in for Mia, not to entertain the man for the whole evening?
She smoothed her hand down over her stomach again. Peering around the man’s ridiculously broad shoulders, she realized that the door was closed. Another subtle message from her brother?
She was going to kill him, she thought with a blush when she glanced up at the tall man, realizing that he was just waiting for her response.
Goodness, he was good! She couldn’t take the silence. She’d never been good at enjoying the simplicity of quiet, always needing to fill a silence with something. Anything! In Shantra’s mind, silence was the enemy.
She took a sip of the wine, then almost choked on the crisp liquid. Coughing, she held onto the back of one of the elegant white and gold chairs, furious that she was being so immature.
She should talk about something! Wait, he’d asked a question.
Looking up into those dark eyes had been a mistake though. She looked away and started pacing, trying to figure out how to diffuse this situation.
The truth seemed like the best answer, although it was unnerving to feel him simply watch her, waiting.
“Um…well…I was…” she took a deep breath and started over.
Closing her eyes, she focused on what she needed to say. Just get it out there, she encouraged herself. Say it, blurt it out and just acknowledge the issue so it wasn’t hanging out there like a pink elephant in the room.
Turning back to him, she squared her shoulders once more and gripped the glass of wine with both hands. Not looking him in the eye, she said what needed to be said.
“Here’s the thing. I think my brother is trying to match us up together, to see if the two of us might work out,” she told him. “And I know it is very sweet of him but,” she laughed slightly, “well, you and I both know that we’re not right for each other. I mean, your previous wife,” she felt awkward bringing up the beautiful woman who had died, “she’s gorgeous and the complete opposite of me. From what I’ve read, she knew how to throw a party. Beautiful, lavish parties that everyone fought to attend.” Shantra shrugged. “I’m not that kind of woman. I don’t really like parties. I can throw a ball if I have to, but we actually have a staff that organize all of the political and social events for the palace.” She stepped away, pacing again to work off some of the nervous energy. “And talking! Goodness, I am so inept at simple social conversations!” She cringed. “I can’t even really stop talking right now, but that’s just another issue against me. You don’t want a woman on your arm who chatters all the time. And I’m a chatterbox!” she sighed with a shake of her head. “Oh, and I love to eat!” she announced. “I’m not fat. I know that, but your previous wife, she was beautiful and could wear just about any of the fashions that were popular. I’d probably embarrass you with my eating and the fact that I can’t wear…” she realized where she was going with that statement and blushed, “well, certain styles. I just…can’t.” She couldn’t believe she’d brought attention to her full breasts and hips like that! “I just…” Shantra had no idea what else to say. She was making a muck of this and looked down at her glass of wine.
“We’re completely unmatched,” she finally finished lamely.
The door to the living room opened up again and her brother walked in. “I apologize for being late,” he said and moved over to the bar, pouring himself a glass of wine. “Hopefully, Shantra has filled in during my absence.”