Chapter Three

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Opening the car door, Zaid offered his hand to help her out to stand at his side. The stunning dress, an embellished, high neck, skater dress, with mesh back of olive green, they had bought, made Lottie ran hands nervously down the front, over the Georgette material with satin lining. "You don't think its too much?" she turned to him placing a hand on his jacket chest. "You don't have to do this Zaid. I could say you were called away on an emergency meeting with Josh."

"What are you really scared of Charlotte?" he asked covering her cold hand with his warm one. He frowned. "Perhaps we should've gone for something warmer, you're frozen."

"With fear," she gave a weak smile.

"These are your friends," he reassured.

"You didn't see me today. It was a joke. We -no I have changed. They are a clicky, correction clucky motherhood friends club."

"Then it's a good thing I have came then, we can't have all those wives jealous over you been here all by yourself with their husbands around."

She had to chuckle, leaning in towards him, feeling better. "There is no guarantee these days, there is husbands, just partners, de facto, or single mothers."

"If your trying to shock me it isn't working," he noted dryly, eyes narrowing slightly.

"Glad to hear it. Have no idea, hopefully all happily married. Don't look now, we are being watched," she stated, pulling away at the flicking curtains behind them.

He gave her a smile, and eyes warmed with mischief. "Shall we give them something to talk about?"

"Oh, great, now having a fling with my boss," she laughed. "They would never believe it. You're safe Zaid, and thank you for coming."

"It's time I met the other people in your life."

"As long as it's not my family, you'd never survive." She placed on a smile, hooking an arm through his as the door opened. "Take a deep breath, and welcome to Australia."

"Land of debauchery, boisterous rude humour, and speaking one's mind."

She laughed out loud at his dry tone. "Gawd, I hope not. However, I think they would be on best behaviour," she noted as Annie opened the door further, dressed in a very classy dress, make up on, and hair do for a gala event. Then again she might dress like that all the time, and dressed down to meet her that afternoon. She glanced around. A very upmarket area. They had been a mixed group at school. Bounded together, because they never really fitted in.

"Annie," she greeted, "this is Zaid, my boss." He had insisted in keeping it informal as possible.

"Boss," he hissed in her ear.

"You are, and they know it." Of course they did, because that's all she talked about, she came to realise. Zaid this, Zaid that.

"So nice to finally met you, Sheikh," Annie greeted him warmly. "All we have heard about is you."

"Nothing bad I hope," he said all smiles.

"No way," Annie beamed. "That's all our Lottie gushed over was how marvellous you were."

Dark eyes danced at Lottie. "Really, how interesting."

"Damn," Lottie muttered as colour flooded her cheeks. Sprung. "There goes my pay rise."

"We can negotiate," he promised,placing a hand on the middle of her back to guide her inside to be emerged into a group of people. Instead of a private dinner party, it had been turned into a major event held by Annie Storm and her husband Jeff. All dying to meet the Sheikh, who was led through the gathering as some prize. Lottie stayed back, swamped by it all. The walls seemed to be closing in on her. It was supposed to be a get together. A dinner that had turned into sort of show and tell, and Zaid was the show. She felt sick to the stomach.

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