Out of the shower he wrapped his hips in a towel and opened a hotel toothbrush and that niggle that something didn’t sit right started to multiply.
No woman, no woman he had ever been with, possessed so little. There was a hairbrush and a small toiletry bag with a lipstick and, thank God, James thought, there was a packet of contraceptive pills.
His businesswoman from Dubai sure travelled light.
Leila watched as he came out of the shower. She could see the tense set of his unshaven jaw as he walked towards the large fitted wardrobe.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Just getting a robe.”
James pulled one from the hangers but he wasn’t there for a robe; instead he had confirmed his suspicions, for there were no clothes, no shoes, no bags.
Instead of putting on the robe he dried himself and looked over to the mystery woman who lay in bed.
Was she a journalist? James wondered. They were all over him at the moment. God knows he’d told her far too much last night.
Had Isabelle hired her as some sort of plant when she’d heard that James was at the hotel? That would make more sense because Isabelle would do anything to discredit the Chatsfield name.
‘Do you want to go down for breakfast?’ James said.
‘We could have it here,’ Leila answered, for she knew she could not put on last night’s dress and shoes.
‘Why don’t we go somewhere,’ James pushed, and Leila stared back. Her eyes felt gritty from a lack of sleep, and as she looked at James she started to realise that whatever they had found last night had gone.
‘Come on,’ James said, ‘let’s go down for breakfast.’ He wanted her to tell him that her luggage had been delayed, he wanted her to tell him her reasons, yet Leila did not.
‘Why are you getting dressed?’ Leila asked.
‘I’ve got a meeting at nine,’ James said.
It was just after six.
He was actually conflicted.
For the most part he did not want to leave, yet it wasn’t just getting involved with her, or even her innocence, that unnerved him, but her deception.
He simply couldn’t leave it there though. It would seem for Leila he broke every rule.
‘Call me...’ James said, writing down his cell phone number and putting it by her bedside. ‘Give me your number...’
‘Your cell phone.’
‘I don’t have one...’ Leila said, and then remembered she was supposed to be a businesswoman from Dubai and of course she would have a cell phone. ‘I mean, I don’t have it to hand...’
‘Of course you don’t,’ James said tartly, and then finished dressing and left.
No, angels did not fall from heaven.
SHE HAD BEEN worth the trouble he now found himself in.
The stars that James saw, as his head was slammed against a wall, were not dissimilar to the ones he had glimpsed that night all those weeks ago with Leila.
For a second the world was a deep navy, with glimpses of silver.
It consisted of nothing more than that.
James closed eyes and took in the simple scenery and would rather have liked to stay there but an angry voice was demanding his return.
A night, such as the one he and Leila had shared, could not come without consequence, James thought, and now here it was.
That’s right, James remembered as he opened his eyes to hostility, he was in an alley behind The Chatsfield and about to be beaten to within an inch of his life by the Royal Prince Zayn Al-Ahmar of Surhaadi for deflowering his sister.
He’d known that Leila was lying from the very start.
He understood why a little better now.
No wonder she had needed to escape, James thought, for Zayn spoke of possession and dishonouring not just Leila but the royal family and his people.
‘That’s a very heavy burden to place on one woman’s body,’ James responded to Zayn’s furious rant, and got a hand around his throat as a reward for his words, but it didn’t stop him speaking. ‘I was not aware that the integrity of the nation rested upon your sister’s maidenhead.’
‘You have no place to comment on integrity,’ Zayn said, and James felt the grip tighten around his throat. ‘You are a man in possession of none.’