The Sheik & the Slave Ch. 10byNicola_Italia1©
Dedicated - as always - to the fans of The Sheik and the Slave
For all the comments and emails I received to finish and continue the sheik - I thank you. I have a new job which leaves little time to write but I know the fans of the sheik would be disappointed so I continue the story.
As usual, this is not the end - so bear with me in the next chapter.
Hope you enjoy – Nic
* * * * *
Kat idly watched the young maid in the mirror as she pinned her hair up. Unlike in Arabia where her hair had been long and flowing, in England – a proper young woman kept her hair pinned and tucked away. She sighed. She thought she had hated Arabia. The sun, the heat, the food, the women! But more and more she found herself thinking of her life there. And more and more she dreamed of him. She dreamed of him and the dreams were always the same. He summoned her and she obeyed him, she couldn't stop herself. She ached for his touch and only in her dreams was she satisfied.
In the mornings, she awoke to the cool, crisp English air, the rolling green hills, the light rain – and loneliness.
She had been in England for a month. Her father and mother had been very patient with her. They had not pressed her for details and she was sure they assumed the worse – which was true. She had become the plaything of an Arab. But she had done the unthinkable- she had fallen in love.
They didn't know his name or anything about him – they never asked and Kat never said anything. In the beginning when she had returned home – they had given her space. They thought she had returned to them wilder than ever but they were wrong.
She tried to look away from her reflection in the mirror. She had lost weight since coming home and her manners were barely recognizable to her family. The wild girl who would not be tamed – spoke very little and interacted even less.
She had no desire to resume her life in England as wild Lady Kat. Her father had not mentioned a suitable husband but when he did – she would agree ... provided he was not ancient or terribly ugly.
"Are you pleased, my lady?" Asked the timid Irish maid after her hair had been pinned up.
"Thank you. You are very gifted." Kat said as the young maid blushed.
She bobbed a curtsy. "Will you be wanting to dress for dinner?" Her Irish accent dipped low and it caught Kat's attention.
"The pink frock is fine." Kat said and gestured to the pastel dress lying across her bed.
"Begging your pardon ma'am, but the color washes you out. Perhaps the purple or salmon colored gown – "
"No. The pink is fine." Kat had no desire to look charming or alluring. Everything in England seemed cold and serious and her heart yearned for the warmth and burn of Arabia. And for him, a small voice said.
Lady Anne sipped her soup delicately as Edward watched his daughter from cross the mahogany table. She barely touched her food and said little.
"Daughter, I won't have you wasting away before my very eyes." Edward spoke to her as she looked away.
"I'm not hungry Father that's all." She shrugged her slim shoulders.
"Come, come." He pushed his empty soup bowl away as he eyed his beautiful girl.
"Perhaps we should tell her about our plans, Edward. That should put a bloom in her cheeks." Lady Anne smiled encouragingly at her husband and then looked fondly at her daughter.
"Indeed. Your mother and I are planning a large ball in two months time. A grand affair to welcome you back and perhaps a betrothal." Edward looked across to his wife Anne –who both looked over at Kat.
Kat's head jerked up. "You have a husband in mind for me?"
Edward took his time in replying. He had chosen poorly with the Earl of Benton. His heart had been in the right place, to see her married with a family, but the Earl had been ancient and not worthy of his Kat.
"Well several, my dear. But you will have the final say." Edward assured her.
"Who are they?" Kat asked absently.
Edward rattled off several names. Most of them were silly dandies and older men but one name caught her attention.
"Did I hear you say James Clifton?" Kat caught his eyes.
"Yes, you knew Jamie well enough when his family lived nearby. Grew up together I dare say." Edward nodded as his glass of wine was refilled.
"Well, he's older than me by ten years but I remember him to be a good, kind man."
Lady Anne smiled in relief at her interest.
"Could you arrange a meeting with him here?" Kat asked her father.
"Of course, of course. Capital idea, splendid." Edward smiled broadly.
Kat stared absently at her soup. If perhaps she could marry and have children her heart wouldn't ache so much. Maybe she could live half alive in England knowing that she had lived too much in Arabia.
"Thank you, Father. May I be excused?" Kat asked quietly.
Kat settled herself on the window seat overlooking the vast gardens.
Why was she cursed to dream about him at night? Why did he have to be so masculine, intelligent, strong willed and sensual? Could he have at least one flaw that she could focus on forever? Her dreams were too vivid in detail and he was always relentless. He never allowed her to say no and his will demanded she bend to him.
The latest dream held a beautiful little boy with honey colored skin, dark curly hair and blue eyes. Kat had woken up in tears.
She rested her head against the cool window. She hated sleeping. He was always in her dreams. And she hated being awake – without him. But in her heart she knew she had done the right thing. They were too different. Their lives together would never have worked. It was best that she marry in England to a gentleman and he stay far away in Arabia.
She dressed in a sky blue gown that accented her slim curves and eyes but was too pale and washed her out. She chose the gown on purpose. She waited for James Clifton to arrive. Her father had arranged the meeting. They would go riding, enjoy a light supper in the house and Kat was to decide.
Would she even like him? Would they have anything in common? She would have to wait and see.
Her father was beside himself with joy. He hoped to see her settled and happy at last. She was the last and only child not to be married with a family of her own.
Her mother and father introduced James to Kat in the large sitting room decorated in gold and cream colors.
"Lady Katharine. I'm glad to see you well." He bowed over her hand kissing it lightly.
"I remember you and your family when I was a little girl. We played together as monkeys in the trees," Kat remember a childhood game.
The adults laughed at the image and James and Kat began to reminisce as Edward withdrew to his study and Anne settled herself in the far corner of the room to give the two young people some privacy yet still remained as chaperon.
"I remember you too. A delightful, lovely little girl, turned into a beautiful woman." He complimented her easily.
"You're very kind." Kat smiled lightly as her blue eyes flashed up to his.
After they spoke for a half hour, Kat and James decided to go riding. Kat switched into appropriate riding clothes and they disappeared for two hours as they rode across her father's vast estates.
They slowed their pace to talk. "How is your father, Jamie? Well?"
"Yes. And my mother. They are anxious to renew acquaintances with you and your family."
"As am I." Kat remembered a kind older man named Henry and his mother Lizbeth. Though Henry was sweet and good natured, his mother was a vicious gossip and took her position as Henry's wife too far.
She could be curt and rude and had a cutting tongue. She knew she would not like her baby son renewing a friendship with Kat let alone contemplating marriage.
"Jamie, I want to tell you what happened in Arabia so there will be no misunderstandings later."
Jamie reigned in his horse to stand beside hers.
"Kat, what's past is past. I have things that I would prefer be kept silent because they do no good to bring into the light. I would ask only friendship, companionship, and loyalty from you. If you agree, I would like to pursue this, and if you are in agreement, we could marry. But I will make no demands on you. Ours will be no grand romance but I will treat you with respect and affection. However, I would like to start a family after a few months of marriage."
Kat's lashes swept down to hide her tears. He would leave her with the memories of Arabia so that she could keep them secret in her heart forever. In return, they would marry and have a life in England.
She could ask for no more.
"Jamie, we could announce our betrothal at the ball if that pleases you?" She gave him her gloved hand.
"Yes, very much." He kissed her hand and they road back to tell her parents.
"Oh my dear, such news, such news!" Lady Anne dabbed at her eyes as Edward smiled broadly at the couple.
Kat smiled lightly but wanted to escape to her room. She felt a headache coming on.
She made plans with her mother for the expensive ball that was rearing its ugly head sooner and sooner. Kat knew it would be a chance to have neighbors point at her and whisper behind their fans because no one would dare anger her powerful father and say such things to her face.
She spent almost every day with Jamie except when he had to journey to London on business.
He was a quiet man with blonde hair and sky-blue eyes and taller than she was but not by much.
She enjoyed his company and neither of them made demands on the other. It was an unspoken pledge that their marriage would be one of mutual friendship, family desires and little else.
He knew she enjoyed spending time alone reading and riding, and he would leave her be. She in turn knew he had obligations and another life in London and she would allow him his freedom.
Frances Rose Maxwell hugged her friend tightly as they sat down to tea in the blue and rose-colored upstairs sitting room.
"I've missed you so," Francie told her friend as they settled across the small table laden with sandwiches and tea.
Francie was the vicar's daughter who had grown up with Kat. She had thick chestnut hair and chocolate colored eyes with the sweetest disposition Kat had ever known.
Kat instantly thought of Bashasha's kindness and almost choked on her sandwich. She had to learn to steel her thoughts better. The only time she could ever think of Arabia was when she was alone so that no one would see the tears.
"I've missed you, Francie. Missed you terribly," Kat said with tears in her eyes.
"I've heard the stories. I don't care about anything. You are safe, well and loved." Francie smiled as she poured the tea.
"Thank you." Kat reached out a hand to her friend and squeezed it.
Francie nodded. "So what is the theme of this ball that everyone is talking about?"
"I don't know." Kat laughed. "It changes weekly. Greek mythology, famous royalty, savages!"
Francie laughed, her brown eyes dancing. "I think you should have the final say, tis your party."
"I know. I think I would prefer a simply ball with no theme but lots of good friends. And you, my good friend, better arrive promptly to serve as hostess with me."
Edward read the letter over quickly and beamed. He rubbed his hands together over the fire and smiled. His little girl would have a present fit for a queen. She would have the most beautiful present in the world. He was so pleased he went in search of Anne to tell her the good news.
"Oh she will be pleased, Edward. You are too generous." Anne sat embroidering in an upper room facing the gardens.
"Nonsense. She deserves this bit of happiness. She's been complaining for years that she has had to ride her brother's castoff horse."
"True." Anne nodded.
"Now she will have a horse bred for a queen." Edward left his wife sewing as he whistled down the hall.
Kat stood still as the silk dress was altered again. She was eating very little and sleeping poorly so her jewel toned ruby dress was being taken in again.
It was a form fitting dress that scooped low across her breasts and ended almost at the edge of her shoulders. It created a lovely display of her delicate collarbone, neck and breasts. Kat's breasts were pushed into view with the gown flaring at the hem. Her shoes were delicate with small bows decorating them but Kat disliked the display of her bosom.
"Must it be so low?" Kat asked, as the French seamstress brought in her bodice again.
"Oui mademoiselle. Tis all the rage in Paris."
Kat glared over at her mother who sat watching the spectacle. "But this isn't Paris." She hissed.
Anne smiled at the flash of Kat's old spirit.
"My dear, James will love it." Anne smiled as she watched the young French girl pin the bodice about Kat.
Kat grimaced as she stood with her arms held out at the sides of her body.
"I'm sure he will. What we women do for fashion and men." Kat ground her teeth together.
"Oui, tis true." The young girl said, her mouth filled with pins. Anne and Kat looked over the young girl's red head and smiled at each other.
The ball was fast approaching but Kat was too wrapped up in other details to notice. She spent her days with James or Francie and assisted her mother with menu and music selections. She selected the flowers, colors and was tired every night.
Her parents were overjoyed at the betrothal announcement and only wanted her happy. Kat knew her father had a special present for her that night but would not even hint at it.
Kat smiled as the sun began to set and she walked with Francie down by the small creek that flowed through her father's expansive property.
"You look much better, kitty Kat."
Kat's laughter rang out. "You haven't called me that in years."
"Yes, what did you use to call me?"
"Frankincense." Kat and Francie laughed together as the water rippled past them.
"Will you be happy with him?" Francie watched the light filter across her friend's face. She marveled at the delicate bone structure of high cheekbones, lush lips and blue eyes. No wonder she attracted men like bees to honey, Francie thought.
"As happy as I can be." Kat looked away from her friend.
Francie was silent as Kat kicked a small pebble across the grass.
"Was he handsome?" Francie, who knew very little about what had happened to Kat, was by no means stupid.
"No." Kat looked down at the grass and darted her eyes over to look at her friend.
"Oh." Was Francie's reply.
Kat's cool blue eyes met Francie's warm chocolate ones. "He was beautiful. He was everything a man should be." With that, Kat walked back to the house.
The day of the ball dawned bright with a clear blue sky hanging over the large estate.
Kat slept in late with only tea for breakfast. She went riding with James and then took a long nap to steady herself for the night to come. Most balls lasted well into the night and into the next morning and Kat wanted to be fresh for her guests.
Francie had spent the night and would continue to do so for a week. The invitations had been sent out weeks in advance and Kat was anticipating a few hundred guests to entertain.
The guests staying at the Fairfax mansion began arriving in the afternoon while those that would only attend the ball arrived later.
Kat grew anxious as the sun began to set. The food was being cooked and placed in the large sitting room, while the musicians were setting up in the large ballroom. The chandeliers with special beeswax candles lit the rooms and the floors had been polished to a high shine.
Francie had visited Kat once but had gone to change into her peach satin dress. Francie looked attractive in her peach dress with its square neckline and small bows at the hem of her skirt. She wore pearl earrings and a simple pearl necklace. The peach color contrasted nicely with her dark hair and creamy skin.
But Kat looked stunning in her silk ruby dress. The scooped neckline exposed her lush breasts, delicate collarbone and shoulders. The waist nipped into her small waist and the body of the dress flared out at the hem. Her small shoes were dyed the same color to match.
She wore hanging diamond earrings and a diamond choker which would cause men's eyes to take in the necklace and then dip to her breasts. She hated the effect. It was alluring and she knew she would be ogled all night long.
Her golden hair was piled onto her head with small curls escaping along her neck.
"You look quite lovely, my dear." Anne said as she kissed her cheek. Anne was gowned in deep purple while Edward looked splendid in white and black.
"You do us proud, child." He kissed her hand and led them downstairs.
The guests were gathering in groups but Edward led her astray.
"Come with me, my dear. Only for a few minutes." Edward took her hand and led her outside. They walked to the back of the large house and down a small passage that led to the stables.
"I am so happy to have you safe and home with us, Daughter. A gift for you from the bottom of my heart," Edward led her forward.
Inside the stables was a beautiful new horse. The stallion was rust colored with a muscled body that rivaled even the Irish horse breeders.
"Father! He's beautiful!" Kat gasped.
"Besides, I know your brother would like his beloved horse back, so now you have your own."
Kat threw her arms around his neck. "He came from far away. I'll introduce you to the breeder later," she heard her father say.
"Thank you!" Kat clasped her arms around him until he chuckled.
"You are welcome."
Francie had followed at a discreet distance and together they hugged each other.
"He's lovely Kat." Francie said as they admired the stallion.
Kat smiled as the proud horse came forward to her. "He's perfect."
They rejoined the party with Kat elated and happy.
She was standing with James sipping a glass of champagne when she looked across the room.
The lights flickered low and the music played lightly in the background. At least a hundred people filled the room and dozens more in clusters and groups around different rooms of the mansion. She had lost count of how many people she had greeted and smiled at. She suddenly felt light headed as the champagne drizzled into her veins.
When she saw him, she knew she had had too much to drink. He walked behind a group of people standing at the far end of the room and Kat almost dropped her flute of champagne.
"Darling, what is it?" James whispered as he felt her lean into him.
"The heat. It's the heat." She shook her head smiling. "I need some fresh air."
"Of course. I'll accompany you."
"No. Stay. I'll be a few minutes."
Kat left her glass on a table and walked outside the ballroom and into the night. A few couples were outside talking and they greeted her.
She smiled to them and then turned away. She was going mad. She brushed a hand across her forehead and cheeks. She was flushed. She had been standing next to James thinking of the stallion. She had always loved Greek mythology so she longed to give him a proud Greek name. Perhaps Ares, god of war – and then she had seen him. Or what was obviously her imagination.
A figure behind the large group of people at the far end of the ballroom. A dark figure in black and white cut in the European style. He was dressed according to court with the cut of the clothes seductively outlining his body.
They flattered the width of his shoulders, the length of his body and his hips and legs. But he was like a wild tiger in a small cage. He belonged in a hot world of sand and sandalwood incense not in a ballroom filled with dandies and champagne.