Sheikh's Forbidden Conquest(58)

By: Chantelle Shaw

‘You can’t think of any reason to stay?’ Kadir’s jaw hardened when she shook her head. ‘I thought you had enjoyed the days we spent together, and I know I gave you pleasure every night, just as you captivated me with your sensuality. We’re good together, Lexi.’

Pride forced her chin up to meet his gaze. ‘I don’t deny we had some fun. But it didn’t mean anything, did it? Now we know there is no baby it’s time to move on.’

She was leaving him. Kadir’s heart gave a painful jolt. In his mind he was seven years old, running down the palace steps after his mother, tears running down his face. ‘Why do you have to go back to England, Mama? Why don’t you want to stay here with me and Baba?’

‘I’ll still see you, darling, when you come to stay at Montgomery Manor. But I don’t belong in Zenhab. I can’t live with the restrictions of being the wife of the Sultan.’ Judith had bent down and kissed his cheek. Kadir still remembered the scent of the perfume she had worn that day. ‘The truth is that I want to be free to live my own life.’

Was that why Lexi had decided to leave him? Did she care more about her freedom and her career than him? ‘I suppose you want to continue flying helicopters,’ he said tersely.

‘Yes, I love being a pilot.’ Lexi made a show of checking her watch. ‘Look, I really need to go if I’m going to catch my flight. You still have my passport,’ she reminded him.

He was silent for a few moments before he gave a shrug. ‘I’ll tell Yusuf to bring it to you. The helicopter will take you to the airport but you’ll have to wait while it’s being refuelled.’

He moved suddenly and Lexi gave a startled cry when he pulled her cap off, freeing her hair so that it tumbled around her shoulders. Kadir slid his hand beneath her chin and tilted her face up, subjecting her to an unsparing appraisal that took in the dark circles under her eyes and the tears sparkling on her lashes. A fierce emotion stirred inside him but he ruthlessly suppressed it.

‘Goodbye, angel-face,’ he murmured before he strode out of the room, leaving Lexi with the exotic scent of his cologne and a heart that felt as though it had splintered into a thousand shards.

* * *

Her plane was due to leave Zenhab’s main airport in less than an hour, Lexi fretted. She had been delayed at the palace because apparently there had been a problem with the fuel pump for the helicopter, and once that had been sorted out she’d still had to wait for Yusuf, who had eventually appeared with her passport and a rambling explanation about how it had not been where he had thought it was and he had spent ages looking for it.

In half an hour it would be dark. She was used to the way the sun set quickly over the desert. Right now, the sun was a huge ball of fire that was turning the sea orange.

The sea!

Frowning, she turned to the helicopter pilot and spoke into her headset. ‘Mitch, you’re going the wrong way. The airport is in the opposite direction.’

‘This is the direction I was told to fly. I’m just following the Sultan’s orders.’

Below them, Lexi saw the black silhouettes of palm trees rising up from a desert island, and her heart gave a jolt as the chopper swooped lower over an empty beach. Jinan. ‘Why have you brought me here?’ she asked Mitch fiercely.

The pilot landed the chopper on the sand. ‘This is where the Sultan told me to bring you.’ Reaching under his seat, he handed her a jar of honey. ‘He said to give you this.’

Thankfully, the fading light hid her scarlet face from the pilot. Memories of Kadir’s unconventional use of honey when they had been trapped on the island flooded Lexi’s mind. Was he playing some sort of cruel mind game with her? She made a muffled sound in her throat and curled her hand around the jar. ‘It’ll make a useful missile to throw at him,’ she muttered.

‘The Sultan said you’d probably say that.’ Mitch grinned. ‘It seems like Sultan Kadir knows you pretty well.’

What the devil was Kadir playing at? Lexi’s heart was pounding as she marched up the beach. She scrambled over the sand dunes and saw the oasis and next to it the tent, illuminated by glowing lamps that cast shadows onto the canvas.

Pushing through the flaps, she stopped dead and stared at Kadir, sprawled on a pile of silk cushions. He was wearing a black robe tied loosely at the waist and revealing his bare chest. In the lamplight his body gleamed like polished bronze, and as he propped himself up on one elbow Lexi’s eyes were drawn to his hard abdominal muscles and the line of dark hairs that arrowed lower. She remembered that the very first time she’d met him she had imagined the Sultan lying on silk cushions, beckoning to her to join him.