“I hear you’re the last one standing.”
Jaymin turned to the giggling female voice next to him and stiffened. She’d linked her arm through his and was running a finger up his arm. “I’m not sure what you mean,” he said with a frown.
“All your brothers are married. So what are you waiting for?” she cooed.
The woman clearly had been drinking. Jaymin managed to unhook her arm and latched her on to some other unsuspecting man. He had far too much on his plate to deal with drunk women.
Sheikh Jaymin Khalidizack hated these kinds of parties. It was all gossip, greed, and envy. Three things he didn’t have time for. As the next crowned sheikh of his country, these parties would become more commonplace. His youngest brother, Adil, was much more suited to these types of events, but now that he was with Samine, he had far less interest in socializing.
“Sheikh Khalidizack? A word, if you have a moment.” An older man stepped in front of him and offered him his hand. Jaymin recognized Emirez and shook the man’s hand, giving him a rare genuine smile.
“Anything for you, Emirez. Enjoying yourself?”
The man’s eyes roamed over the party. “I’m having an excellent time. The food is good, the wine is better, and the company is quite lovely in all their fancy accoutrements. It also doesn’t hurt that you’re stealing my money for a worthwhile cause.” Emirez tipped his wine glass.
“You have more than enough money to donate,” Jaymin said dryly. “And as you know, improving the education of our young, regardless of gender or circumstance, helps all of us. Now, what can I do for you?”
“Your father is pushing to extend territory lines in the east.”
Jaymin raised an eyebrow. “Yes, the extension is three feet. We have to push the lines for some property development. Does that concern you? It’s public lands.”
“It is public lands, but it’s also home to the rare Grus Hermista.”
The sheikh blinked. “The what?”
“It’s a bird, Jaymin. I’ve been pushing for their protection so that they can be studied. We need to protect their reproduction before they go extinct.”
Jaymin reached out to clap Emirez on the shoulder. “If this is important to you, I will make it important to me.”
The older man beamed. “Excellent. I knew that I could count on you. And really, tremendous job on the party.”
Seeing someone he wanted to talk to, Jaymin raised his hand to get his attention. Pushing forward and not looking where he was going, he slammed into another body.
Immediately, he reached down to grab whoever had run into him. “Excuse you,” he said darkly. Looking down, he stilled. The woman in his arms was absolutely stunning. Her dark hair was streaked with subtle blond highlights and curled softly at her shoulders. She blinked her chocolate eyes at him before frowning.
“It is a party,” she pointed out sassily. “People run into each other.”
“People don’t run into me,” he said arrogantly. Surely, she knew who he was.
Instead of apologizing or recognizing him, she crossed her arms and stared at him. “Just because you are an important person doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to run into you at a crowded party. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to run into other people.”
Interest sparked inside him, and he couldn’t help but smile a little. Few people talked to him like that, and none of them were this beautiful. “So, you’re saying this is my fault.”
“Did you see me?”
“So then, you are at fault,” she argued.
Intrigued, Jaymin crossed his arms. “Who are you, exactly?”
“Tamrin Lewis,” she said with a cocky smile.
“Mrs. Tamrin Lewis?” he asked softly.
“First, you want to blame me for something that wasn’t entirely my fault, and now you want to flirt with me?” Tamrin asked in disbelief.
Jaymin didn’t usually flirt with women, but he felt compelled to find out as much information as possible in what little time he had with her. He took very little time to truly enjoy himself, and she seemed like she’d be well worth the time and effort. “I just want to make sure I address you correctly when I apologize,” he explained softly.
“Oh, so you’re going to apologize?” she asked coyly. “Tamrin Lewis is just fine.”
“Very well, then. Tamrin Lewis, you really should pay better attention to where you’re going,” he teased.
Her smile lit up her whole face, and he was captivated. “You think you have the upper hand here, don’t you, Sheikh Jaymin Khalidizack.”
“See how the proper title works so well?” His eyes dropped down to her chest where she wore a stunning amber pendant. A single green gem in the center shone brilliantly. “I always have the upper hand. That’s a beautiful necklace, Ms. Lewis.”
“Ms. Lewis? You sound so certain that I’m not married.”
Jaymin blinked. “Excuse me?”
She reached up and touched the pendant around her neck. “It’s called the Menalik amulet. Legend has it that it belonged to the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.”
“Really? Are you aware that we have a world-class archeologist currently working in our lands? My country used to belong to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. We’re discovering new things about that family line every day.”
“I did know that,” she said with a smile. “At an event like this, it’s hard to stand out. Everyone here is beautiful and rich. It helps to have a little something unique.”
The woman was unique all on her own. Wearing a simple black dress, she was adorned only by the pendant. Simple. Elegant. But she was easily the most beautiful woman in the room. “I don’t think I’ve seen you at one of our events before.”
“That’s because I usually avoid parties where the wealthy fleece the wealthy,” she said as she looked around. “It seems to be a contest of who has more and who can donate more. It’s usually not my thing.”
“This is for a good cause,” Jaymin said with a frown. “Or are you generally in the habit of making a donation before you attend a party?”
“Sensitive. Serious. You live up to your reputation. I also believe that it’s a good cause, which is why I’m here. I like a man who believes in education,” she said softly. He didn’t see any of the coyness that had been there before. She really was here for the cause.
“Mrs. Lewis,” he said as he exaggerated the married label. “I’m happy that you’re here to support my desire to improve the education of my country.” He took her hand and brought it to his lips as she smiled.
“Tamrin would be just fine,” she said as she took her hand back. “You’re charming. That’s not what I expected. I like to be surprised.”
A shadow fell over them, and Jaymin looked up. Rameez Molamid, an old friend of his father’s, stood over them with raised eyebrows. “Jaymin, is it possible that I could steal you away?”
“Actually,” Jaymin said, not wanting to be interrupted.
“It’s fine.” Tamrin backed away. “I’m sure there are quite a few people who would like to speak to you, and I would not want to monopolize your time. It was nice to meet you, Sheikh Jaymin Khalidizack.”
Before she could melt away completely, he reached out and snagged her hand. “Come find me later.”