Her reward was his sharp intake of breath. He might have been issuing the commands, but he was also surrendering himself to the experience. His excitement surged against her bare leg and a responding eagerness spread through Zhang.
She dropped his shirt and circled behind him, rubbing her bare chest against him as she went. Loving the heat of him, the strength of him. Hers for the taking.
She ran her tongue lightly across the base of his spine and gloried in the shiver she felt rock through him. Moving around him, she teased his stomach with the heat of her breath, undid his pants and slid his boxer shorts down along with his formal wear.
Kneeling before him, she sat back on her feet and savored the view of him standing fully erect above her. When she made no move to touch him further, a line of concern creased his forehead. “Zhang?”
She gave him what she hoped was her most reluctantly obedient look.
Although his expression was stern, his words melted her heart. “Don’t do anything you don’t enjoy.”
Had she been the type who was moved easily to tears, she would have spilled a tear or two at his concern for her. Instead, she cocked her head to the side and said, “I’m merely awaiting your instructions.”
His shudder of excitement was visible.
“Take me in your mouth, Zhang. Feel what you do to me. Taste my desire for you. Learn how to make me forget everything but you.”
For one night, the voice in her head reminded.
One night will be enough.
It has to be.
With renewed resolve, Zhang leaned forward and took his large member into her mouth. Instinct guided her through her inexperience. She sucked and licked, paying attention to which moves made him tense and jut against her mouth.
Somewhere along the way, it stopped being about pleasing him and became about them. His need for her. Her need for him. He was both in control of the situation and completely at her mercy at the same time, and she found the experience uniquely intense.
Every touch, every wet lick sent him closer to the edge. Her hands experimented and found the caresses that changed his breathing and had him moaning helplessly for more.
He tightened in her mouth and he looked down at her, those black eyes hot and wild. Both of his hands came down to hold her head as he spilled into her mouth and she tasted him joyfully.
My sexy sheikh.
She pulled back and rested her face against his shuddering stomach. He reached down, lifted her into his arms and carried her across the cabin. He opened a small door in the rear of the plane, revealing a small bed. With a flip of his hand, he threw the blanket back and eased her beneath it, quickly sliding in beside her.
Tucked against his side beneath the blankets, Zhang studied the strong lines of Rachid’s face. She ran a hand over the slight hair of his chest and said, “I’m too tired to pretend I don’t love this.”
He kissed her forehead, closed his eyes and smiled. “Good, because we have to save some energy for the desert castle. I didn’t order it decorated with silk pillows for nothing.”
Zhang raised her head and looked down at him until he opened his eyes. “You did that for me?”
Amusement transformed his face and made him look years younger. “An argument could be made that I did it for myself.”
Zhang’s eyes blurred with emotion. “I will never forget this, Rachid.”
He hugged her to him and tried to lighten the mood with a joke. “I should hope not.” When she opened her mouth to say more, he silenced her with a deep kiss. He didn’t stop until excitement once again burned within her again and she squirmed against his side. Then he said, “Sleep, Zhang. We have a few more hours of travel and then a half day left of your fantasy.”
How is a half of a day ever going to be enough?
Just before she succumbed to slumber, a voice tickled her consciousness.
You didn’t ask for forever, Zhang. There is a much steeper price for that.
Anything, she answered in a fervent whisper. I’d do anything.
With that, she broke one of her own fundamental beliefs: Never offer more than you are willing to give.
An hour later, tucked against her lover’s side, enjoying the warmth of Rachid’s bare skin against hers, Zhang wasn’t about to move. She didn’t want to think about yesterday or tomorrow. She breathed in the slight scent of the man holding her and closed her eyes again.
Rachid absently rubbed her shoulder as if he were savoring the moment along with her. “Zhang?” he asked softly.
She didn’t respond.
His chest rumbled with relaxed humor. “I know you’re awake.”
She opened one eye and peered at him. “I might not have been.”
He smiled down at her and gently kissed her lips. “Do you really wish to sleep through half of your fantasy?”
His tenderness confused her, pulled at her emotions. “When I told you about it I never expected you to go along with it.”
He ran a finger lightly down her back and said, “We have more in common than you know.”
She pulled back a bit so she could see his face and asked smartly, “You also fantasize about desert sheikhs?”
His chest rumbled again, and her reward was a light reprimand of hand to rump beneath the sheets. “No, but I understand what it’s like to want to step outside your life for a day.”
His serious response stilled her teasing. She laid a hand on his chest and said, “We don’t know each other, but . . . ”
He nodded and finished her sentence: “But somehow we do.”
“Yes,” was all she could say.
“Today is also a gift for me,” he said.
She held her breath as he gave of himself in a way she’d never expected.
“I often feel like I am two men – and neither of them the one I wanted to be. Outside of Najriad I am a foreigner. It doesn’t matter how well I speak English or blend in. Perhaps because of my title or the state of the world, I don’t know the precise reason, but I am always a stranger even within countries where I have lived for a decade.”
“And when you go home?” Zhang knew what he was going to say even before he spoke.
“It’s worse. I’m still an outsider because I have spent so much time away. I don’t understand half of the jokes. I’m not even sure I want to. Proximus is hugely successful, and soon I will take my father’s place as King of Najriad. Both are an honor I should rejoice about.”
“I understand,” Zhang said softly.
He gave her a gentle smile. “I believe you do. I have never met a woman like you, Zhang. If the consequences were mine alone to bear, I would . . .”
“I know,” she said, cutting off something she was sure she couldn’t bear to hear, and laid her head on his chest. She couldn’t choose him over the people she employed back in China. Her schedule was tight with meetings, projects and commitments. She sighed and hugged him. “I can’t either. My business keeps me tied to China. I love my country. There is a piece of me that rejoices each time I smell the familiar scent of peach blossoms. How can I love my country so deeply and still feel that I don’t belong there? Is it possible to have many houses and not a home?”
He didn’t provide an answer to her question, but she hadn’t expected him to.
He said, “Come, we should get dressed. We will arrive in Najriad soon.”
Zhang closed her eyes instead and said, “Just a few more minutes.”
He tapped her rump lightly again and said, “You are not a very obedient sex slave.”
She murmured, “I’ll work on that when we land.”
His hand settled possessively on her bare rump, easing her hips intimately forward to rub her moist center on one his thighs. “I wish we had time to work on it now . . . however, in a few moments the pilot will announce our descent.” He kissed her deeply. “And I have no intention of rushing with you.”
Zhang laughed up into his eyes. “Yes, master.” As she spoke, she slid her hand beneath the sheet and gave his already erect member a quick caress. “We must wait.” With that she broke contact and rolled out of bed.
In all his naked splendor, he joined her near the door of the small bedroom with a speed she hadn’t expected from a relaxed Rachid. “Are you always so brave?” he asked, leaning over her.
Playfully, she opened the door behind her and backed out of the room with a smile on her face. “You should see me when I’m angry.”
“I hope I never do,” he said softly, following her to where they had both left their clothing. “Although I may enjoy the experience.”
“If you survive it,” she answered lightly.
Fantasy and friendship blended in a shared smile while they gathered their clothing. Moments later, dressed, Zhang took a seat near one of the windows and prepared for the landing. The dark desert below was illuminated by the lights of the airfield they circled. She said, “I feel like a teenager sneaking around in the middle of the night, hoping we don’t get caught.”
Rachid claimed the seat beside her and secured himself in. “It’s imperative that no one discovers you’re here. There are those who would . . .”
She took his hand and squeezed it. “Trust me, you don’t have to explain. No one can ever know about this.”
“I have to be in Nilon, the capital city, by tomorrow evening. If we fly you out around eleven, you should be back on Isola Santos by evening. Will that work for you?”
Who knew heaven came with an itinerary?
Odd as it was to step outside their passion and define the parameters of their time together, it was also somehow reassuring. They were free to be as honest and intense as they wanted to be without real risk – safe in the knowledge that, although exciting, this would change nothing.
The lush gardens of the Salnyra Oasis buffered the ancient castle from the harshness of the surrounding desert. It was easy to imagine the luxurious comfort it had once provided weary travelers in the past. A reprieve sustained by the teasing generosity of an underground river that kept its precious, life-giving waters otherwise hidden.
The castle itself proudly displayed the scars of time. Outside of the modern lighting visible through the windows, it looked as it probably had for centuries. A place outside of time. The perfect place to escape to.
A lone man dressed in a long white robe and matching white keffiyeh met them on the airfield. Rachid issued a few curt instructions in Arabic. The man said something quickly, then bowed and disappeared back into the castle.
Rachid’s expression softened when he looked down at Zhang and said, “Come, everything is prepared.”
But am I? Zhang thought nervously.
When you’re going to do something outrageous and spontaneous, you really shouldn’t give yourself time to think about it. We’ve already been intimate. What am I afraid of?
He led her down immaculate but aged hallways to two ornate wooden doors. Releasing her hand, he opened the doors, and Zhang gasped at what his move revealed.
In every direction, tapestries hung from the center of the tall ceiling and cascaded down the walls, creating the illusion of being inside a lavish tent. The room was lit softly by candles that were scattered on small tables around the room. The entire floor was covered with a ridiculous number of richly colored pillows.