The Desert Prince's Mistress
are very sweet, Lara,’ he said softly.
    A pain stabbed at her heart. What would he say if he knew? And how could she suddenly just blurt it out—Darian, I am almost certain that you are the illegitimate brother of the Sheikh of Maraban?
    ‘I am not sweet,’ she contradicted, and bit her lip.
    ‘And so modest, too,’ he teased. ‘Now, don’t frown. Relax.’ Casually, he reached out to capture a handful of her hair, and began to trickle his fingers through the silky curls so that they touched and tickled the back of her neck. ‘Relax,’ he whispered softly.
    ‘Darian, don’t,’ she said weakly.
    A woman didn’t cross and uncross her legs in quick succession and then wriggle her head back into your hand if she meant don’t.
    ‘Don’t what?’ He moved closer, moved his hands from her neck to her shoulderblades. ‘You’re tense,’ he exclaimed softly, and began to gently massage the tight flesh. ‘Very, very tense.’
    If only he knew why! ‘This…this isn’t such a good idea—’
    ‘What isn’t? A simple massage? I’m very good at it, you know.’ His fingers continued to knead away, lulling her into a dreamy and hypnotic state. ‘Relax, Lara—if you don’t like it, then I’ll stop.’
    Which made it even worse. He was giving her a let-out. The decision was completely in her hands. She could stop him whenever she wanted to, and she should stop him now. Except that she did like it; that was the trouble. She liked it a lot. It’s only a massage, she told herself dreamily.
    ‘Is that good?’ he whispered.
    Helplessly, she closed her eyes. ‘I, oh…yes.’ The decision wasn’t in her hands at all, she realised—he had all the power.
    ‘Why not lie down?’ he suggested. ‘You’ll be more comfortable that way.’
    It was, after all, only a massage. She tried to tell herself that as he was gently pushing her back against the sofa.But the word ‘push’ implied force, and there was no force involved—merely a delicious compliance as she sank down onto the leather, her cheek resting on its soft surface, her eyelids fluttering to a close.
    Darian worked on her neck and her shoulders, gradually feeling some of the tension released by the rhythmical movement of his fingertips. ‘Is that better?’
    ‘It’s…heaven,’ she mumbled.
    It felt pretty good from where he was sitting, too. A little too good. Darian shifted his body slightly as the tight-ness easing away from her body was replaced by a growing tension in his own.
    Lara’s limbs felt as fluid as water, her blood as thick as warm honey, and the pulse-points around her body began to deepen and speed. She could feel their slow and relentless pounding in her temple, her wrists, and somewhere deep in her groin. This is sheer craziness, she told herself. But she couldn’t move; she didn’t want it to end.
    He heard her sigh, and his hard mouth glimmered in a brief smile, his eyes drifting over the tight, firm curve of her bottom.
    ‘Am I sending you to sleep?’
    ‘Well, yes,’ she murmured drowsily, knowing that was only half the story.
    ‘Then I’d better stop. We can’t have that.’
    He took his hands away. ‘Oh!’ Lara whispered disappointedly.
    ‘Turn over,’ came the soft command.
    Somehow she managed to, even though her body felt so deliciously lethargic that it took all her energy.
    Her hair was all mussed, her cheeks pink and flushed, and behind her half-hooded eyelids her blue eyes glittered hectically. He read in them self-doubt and utter confusion and, almost without intending to, dipped his head andbrushed a featherlight kiss over her lips, felt her shiver in response.
    ‘Shh.’ He kissed her again.
    This was dangerous. The brush of his lips was barely there and then gone again, only to return. Tiny, butterfly kisses which coaxed and maddened. ‘Oh,’ she murmured instinctively.
    His mouth smiled against hers, and this time his lips stayed longer, teasing and caressing until hers opened

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