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Uncovering Her Nine Month Secret

By:Jennie Lucas

at him, and hadn’t had the sense to beg for his mercy.

He couldn’t remember the last time he’d found defiance anything but irritating.

And yet her eyes were extraordinary. More than extraordinary. They’d been filled with the setting sun out in that tiny little alleyway, and yet even when they weren’t they were a kind of bright, gleaming gold, like ancient treasure, and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t get them out of his head.

Why it felt as if she haunted him, as if she had already worked her odd, scowling way into the heart of him when he should hardly have noticed her at all beyond her potential value to him. To his country.

Khaled told himself it was nothing more than strategy that made him walk inside that room then, whether he wanted to do it or not. Politics and power and the fate of his country besides.

Because it couldn’t be anything else. He knew better.

“I apologize,” he said, summoning up that charm of his that felt rusty from disuse, as though his smile was made from cut glass.

“And as it happens, I do require an apology,” she said drily. “I accept.”

But she stopped when her eyes met his, as if the sound of her own voice in the elegant room was alarming, somehow. Or he was.

“That regrettable scene in the street must have alarmed you, Miss Churchill.”

She stared up at him in that same bright, golden way she had before, direct and clever at once, and Khaled couldn’t name the thing that moved in him then, powerful and dark.

But he could use it. And he would. He would do anything for his country. Even this. Especially this, a rebellious little voice murmured deep inside him. Maybe she is your gift.

Khaled smiled wider and settled himself in the chair at an angle to the settee where she sat, looking delicate and amusingly put out against the bright cushions scattered around her—

Looking like the small, frightened mouse she is, he corrected himself. Caught between much larger and sharper claws than she could imagine. He leaned in closer, aware of the way her eyes widened slightly, the way her breath caught, and he knew it wasn’t fear.

She was aware of him as a man. Good.

He’d use that, too.

Something unexpectedly hot wound through him when she licked her lips, her eyes still fixed on him. And then she frowned at him, and he liked it. Far more than he should.

“I hope you’ll allow an overprotective brother to make it up to you as best he can,” Khaled said, his smile even brighter.

He was going to enjoy this.