Awakened by Her Desert Captor(6)

By: Abby Green

  But the pied-à-terre wasn’t suitable for this occasion: a party to celebrate the announcement of her little sister’s Arkim Al-Sahid.

  Sylvie could still hear the shock in her sister’s voice when she’d phoned her a few days ago: ‘It’s all happened so fast...’

  Nothing would have induced Sylvie to come into the bosom of her family again except for this. No way was she going to let her little sister be a pawn in her stepmother’s machinations. Or that man’s.

  The man she’d been avoiding thinking about ever since that night. The man who had at first dismissed her and then... She shivered even now, her skin prickling with awareness at the thought of meeting him again.

  The memory of what had happened was as sharp and humiliating as if it had happened yesterday. His voice. The disgust. ‘Don’t ever come near me again.’

  The shrill tones of Sylvie’s stepmother hectoring some poor employee nearby stopped her thoughts from devolving rapidly into a kaleidoscope of unwelcome images.

  Her hands closed over the rim of the sink in the bathroom as she took in her reflection.

  Despite her best efforts she could still remember the excoriating wave of humiliation and exposure when she’d watched Arkim Al-Sahid walk away and realised that her breast was bared and her legs still splayed in wanton abandonment. Panties pulled aside. One shoe on, one off. And she’d been complicit—every step of the way. She couldn’t even say he’d used force.

  He’d crooked his finger and she’d all but come running. Panting. Practically begging.

  The true magnitude of how easily she’d let him—more or less a complete stranger—reduce her to a quivering wreck was utterly galling.

  Sylvie cursed herself. She was here for Sophie—not to take a trip down memory lane. She stood up straight and checked her appearance. A far cry from the gold dress she’d worn that night. Now she was positively respectable, in a knee-length black sleeveless shift and matching high heels, her hair pulled back into a low bun. Discreet make-up.

  She didn’t like to think of the reaction in her body when her sister had informed her of the upcoming nuptials. It had been a mix of shock, incomprehension, anger—and something far more disturbing and dark.

  Sylvie made her way into the huge dining room, which had been set up for a buffet-style dinner party. She was acutely aware of Arkim Al-Sahid, looking as grimly gorgeous as ever, and made sure to stay far away from him. It meant, though, that she couldn’t get Sophie to herself. And she needed to talk to her.

  The evening was interminable. Several times, as Sylvie made mind-numbingly boring small talk, she felt the back of her neck prickle—as if someone was staring at her...or more likely glaring at her. But each time she looked around she couldn’t see him.

  Not seeing her sister anywhere now, Sylvie determined to find her and went looking. The first place she thought to look was in her father’s study/library, and she opened the door carefully, seeing nothing inside the oak-panelled room filled with heaving shelves of books but the fire, which was dying down low.

  The warmth and peace called to her for a minute, and she slipped in and closed the door behind her.

  Then she saw a movement coming from one of the high-backed chairs near the fire. ‘Soph? Is that you?’ The room had always been her little sister’s favourite hiding place when she was younger, and Sylvie felt a lurch near her heart to think of her sister retreating here.

  But it wasn’t Sophie—which became apparent all too quickly when a tall, dark shape uncoiled from the chair to stand up.

  Arkim Al-Sahid.

  Instinctively Sylvie backed away, and said frigidly, ‘At the risk of being accused of following you I can assure you I wasn’t.’ She turned to go, then stopped and turned back. ‘Actually, I have something to say to you.’

  He folded his arms. ‘Do you, now?’

  He was as implacable as a stone pillar. It infuriated Sylvie that he could so effortlessly arouse seething emotions within her. She stalked over to the chairs and gripped the back of the one he’d been sitting in. She hated it that he looked even more enigmatic and handsome. As if the intervening months had added more hard muscle to his form. Made his features even more saturnine.

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