Kade stepped forward, placing his hand on Piper’s shoulder. He was solemn as he replied in his mother tongue. “I do so promise.”
Piper looked around as though figuring out something important was happening. She frowned, but remained silent.
“I do so promise,” Rafe said, pressing a kiss to her temple.
All eyes shifted to him. His throat felt almost unaccountably swollen. He had to push the words out. “I do so promise.”
The judge squeezed her hand. “So be it. Take your concubine. Bind her to you. Make her long to be your wife. I will be back in thirty days for her answer. The best of luck to you all.”
He let Piper’s hand go and nodded, turning and walking out.
“Uhm, did I offend him?” Piper asked.
The Prime Minister laughed, the sound booming. “Absolutely not, dear. He welcomed you to Bezakistan. He was honored to meet you. I wish you all the best. Your Highness, please let me know if I can help you in any way.”
He left and they were alone with their brand new concubine. Their almost wife.
According to all the laws of their country, she was theirs. Theirs to care for. Theirs to protect.
Theirs to fuck.
The banquet went on behind him, but Tal was only thinking of one thing. His cock pulsed in his slacks.
“They were so nice,” Piper said, turning to Kade. “I’m hungry. Can we try the tabouli?”
They walked in, talking about the dinner yet to come.
It was going to be a long few hours before they could sequester her alone with them for the night.
Piper seriously thought about running. She could just shuck the Givenchy shoes Rafe had insisted on and run like hell.
But where would she run to? Her crappy apartment? Her lonely life?
She stood in the doorway of Talib’s master suite and everything in her felt electric. Her heart pounded. Her breath shuddered. Her female parts throbbed. This was it.
“Piper, please come in.” Tal stood in the hallway, his smile warm, his hand gesturing her inside.
She forced her feet to move. The wine she’d indulged in was a pleasant warmth in her belly. Twenty-five years and she hadn’t managed what would happen next. Twenty-five lonely years without male flesh pressed against hers. The night she’d spent with Rafe and Kade had been one of the best of her life. She could still feel the way her whole body had tightened, the blood pounding through her system, reminding her she was alive.
She wanted more.
A hand pressed against her back. “Habibti, you’re here.”
Kade’s smooth tones soothed her, reminding her she wouldn’t be alone with Talib, who both intrigued and scared her. Not because she was worried he would hurt her, but he was so charismatic, she worried about her heart. Kade was different. Kade had spent days and days convincing her that he wanted her. Of course it wasn’t long term, but Kade’s desire was real and she’d grown comfortable in his presence. Same with Rafe.
She wasn’t so sure about Tal. She knew he liked her. She knew he and his brothers shared. What if he was only willing to make love to her because Rafe and Kade wanted her? Tonight should be simple, but her pride kept complicating matters.
She felt another hand on her waist. Rafe. “Piper, beloved, please come with us.”
How could she possibly deny them? They were so sweet. Rafe had spent days teaching her how to fit in. Kade had made her laugh even when she’d been so stressed she’d thought she would break. And Talib had been her friend for months, trading barbs online about their research and making her feel like she had something special to contribute. Even this week, he’d deferred to her on economic matters. It would have been so easy for him to take control of the meetings, but he’d allowed her the power.
She wasn’t sure he would give her any power tonight. She’d lost her power the moment she’d said yes. Now she would belong to them for the night.
Two hands cradled hers. Rafe and Kade. They gave her such strength.
“Did you enjoy the banquet?” Rafe breathed the words against her ear.
She’d loved every minute of it. It had been worlds away from anything she’d ever experienced. She’d eaten new food, talked to interesting people. It had been a wild magic carpet ride, and she’d loved every surprising turn. “Yes, I did.”
“I didn’t,” Kade said. “I spent the whole time wondering when the hell the damn thing would be over.”
Talib chuckled. “You should know Kadir is the most impatient of us all. He will make you crazy.”
She could enjoy Kade’s kind of crazy. Especially since she had Rafe’s perfect patience. “I can handle him.”
She could handle both Kade and Rafe. Her smile fell. Talib was another story.
“You certainly can.” There was a rumble to Kade’s voice that made her skin sing. His hand came up and turned her chin toward him, his face glancing down. “You handle me quite well, habibti.”
His lips smoothed over hers. Heat infused her, making her heart rattle and surge. This was what she’d been waiting for. Connection. That was what she felt when they touched her. She’d never known just how alone she was before Rafe and Kade had pulled her into their world. The sense of belonging was so much stronger when they both had hands on her.
What would it be like when Talib touched her?
He’d been so careful, only kissing her that once. But she couldn’t forget it.
“I’m a little scared.” She couldn’t seem to take her eyes off Tal. He stood there looking so gorgeous and remote. He’d removed his tuxedo jacket and tie, exposing the long line of his throat and the terrible scar Alea had explained. Golden skin peeked out from where the snowy white dress shirt had been unbuttoned.
Tal took a step toward her. “There’s nothing to be afraid of Piper. I have no desire to hurt you.” A little grin ticked his lips up making him look decadent and sinful. “Well, not in any fashion that won’t enhance your pleasure. I like to play games, Piper. Do you understand what I mean?”
She was pretty sure he wasn’t talking about checkers. “Sex games?”
A chuckle rumbled from his throat. He was close now, his hand coming out to cup her face. All three men had a hand on her. “Yes, Piper. I enjoy sex games. Sex should be fun, no?”
It should be. It should also have meaning. This had a lot of meaning for her, and it went beyond how much she adored the three men in the room. This was proof that her life was starting. Finally. Mindy was happy in school, and now it was time to truly live, even if it meant her heart would ache when this affair was over. At least she would have felt. And she was going to be brutally honest, with them and herself, about it all.
“I hope sex is fun. I don’t actually know much about it.” She hoped that didn’t sound too stupid.
Talib’s eyes warmed as his hand moved down her body, fingers trailing toward her chest. The touch was light, causing her to shiver. Already her body was heating up. “Yes, my brothers mentioned you are a virgin. Is that why you’re afraid?”
Honesty was painful sometimes. And hard to keep track of. They were distracting her. Rafe was nuzzling her ear, licking at the shell. She’d never thought of an ear as particularly sexy, but wow, she felt that touch in her female parts. In her pussy. They were right. There was no place for silly euphemisms here. Rafe’s tongue traced the line of her ear and the sparks went straight to her pussy. Kade pushed her hair back and kissed the back of neck. So sensitive. The play of his lips sent shivers down her spine. And with one finger, Tal traced the V of her bodice. The dress Rafe had selected left a generous amount of her skin on display, and Tal seemed intent on exploring it all.
“Piper?” Tal’s deep voice pulled her out of her thoughts. “Darling, I asked you a question. You should answer me. Unless you want a spanking.”
Piper took a long breath. He was talking about games again. What had he asked before? Why was she scared? “I’m worried I won’t be able to please you.”
She knew next to nothing. The evening she’d spent with Rafe and Kade had been about them pleasing her. She wanted to learn, wanted to be more than a doll they passed between them.
Tal’s mouth was a sensual line, just the slightest hard edge of desire making him look ruthless. “You wish to please me?”
She wanted to please them all. Pleasure, romance, sex—that was a whole portion of life that had been closed off to her before this moment. “Yes.”
“You want to please the sheikh?”
That question felt like a landmine, and she wasn’t exactly sure why. She answered as honestly as she could. “I want to please Tal.”
Her friend. Her secret crush. She knew he’d never really existed. He’d been a facade to protect the sheikh, but she’d dreamed stupid girlish dreams of him for months.
An almost sad look crossed his face. “Sweet Piper, they are one in the same.”
He took a step back, unbuttoning the rest of his shirt as he moved. He shrugged out of it as he walked past the arched doorway that led from the living area of the suite. She hadn’t been past this gorgeously decorated set of rooms before. This was Talib’s private sanctuary, and it consisted of an entire wing of the palace. The most she’d seen of the bedroom was the balcony, and even that had been from the outside. The sheikh’s bedroom opened to a huge sun-dappled courtyard. Rafe had given her the tour and explained that when he and his brothers had been born, each was brought out on to the balcony and presented to huge crowds of cheering citizens.
She was just a girl from a dusty West Texas town. When she was born, she’d been presented to a herd of farm animals.
The marbled floors under her feet felt cool and too unfamiliar.
“All is well, Piper,” Rafe promised. “We will take care of you.”
“Don’t be afraid.” Kade hugged her from behind.
“Present her to me.” Talib commanded to his brothers as he disappeared behind those arches.
She pressed her lips together to hold in a gasp. Her stomach knotted. Present her?
Rafe moved to her front so they enveloped her. “Let us show our brother how beautiful you are.”
“He will be so crazy about you, habibti.” Kade’s erection brushed against her backside. “Trust us.”
She did trust them. They’d been nothing but kind to her. Sometimes she didn’t understand their customs, but she had come to care about them very much. She was in love with them. It was stupid to lie to herself. She might only have a few stolen days, a month at most before she had to return home and they got on with their royal lives. She wasn’t going to beg off now because she was afraid. “Just tell me what to do.”
Rafe touched his nose to hers. “Be your beautiful self, love.”
“Follow our lead. We’ll have the sheikh at your feet in no time at all.” Kade took her hand and led her down the hall.
She followed, her heart racing . There was no turning back now. She’d come so far. She had to see where this led.
Her heart threatened to burst out of her chest when she finally entered the room. Bedroom didn’t seem to cut it. It was a magnificent slice of the palace. With high ceilings and columns, the “bedroom” was larger than her parents’ entire house. An enormous, curtained bed dominated the space. The flowing curtains were tied back, and the bed had to have been custom made because she’d never seen one so big. It surely fit three or four people. Maybe five.
There was a sitting area just to the left of the bed. The room was lit with soft candles and a small buffet had been set to one side, complete with everything they could need for a romantic evening. Despite the beautiful nature of the room, the man sitting on the chaise was what really took her breath away.
Talib al Mussad, Sheikh of Bezakistan, reclined on a wide, plush lounger. He’d shed his confining clothes, and his body was laid out in all its glory. He looked up as she walked into the room, his eyes narrowing. He was built on bigger lines than his brothers, every inch of golden flesh muscled and toned. Her eyes caught on his erection, and she tried to avert her gaze. It was too intimate.
“No,” Rafe commanded, his voice going hard. “Do not turn away. Look at his cock. It’s for you, as mine is for you. As Kade’s is. You are woman enough for us all. Never think yourself anything less.”
She gulped and forced her gaze up. She wasn’t a girl anymore. She hadn’t been for a long time. The minute she’d taken responsibility for her sister, she’d left girlhood behind and become a woman. Sex didn’t make a woman. Responsibility, devotion, sacrifice. Those things already marked her, and she’d done a damn fine job. Rafe was right. She was woman enough for them.
Piper stared boldly at the sheikh. He was a gorgeous predator, every line of his body hard but graceful. And he was definitely interested in her. If she’d been worried he was just going along for his brothers’ sake, his erection put that idea out of her mind. His cock stood straight up, thick and long, reaching almost to his navel.