The True King of Dahaar

By: Tara Pammi

Once he was a crown prince with a kingdom to rule…

But when heartbreak drives him to recklessness, Azeez nearly loses everything, including his life. Now he must make a choice. Spend his life in the shadows of the past, or embrace his future as the true king of Dahaar.

Behind every strong man…

Dr. Nikhat Zakhari left Azeez because she couldn’t give him what he needed to rule. But now the only man she’s ever loved needs her healing touch, and she is powerless to refuse him.

Azeez knows he must assume the crown—but will this unforgettable woman agree to be his desert queen?

“Stop looking at me like that.” His low growl rumbled over the silent courtyard.

“How am I looking at you?” Nikhat said, tucking her feet beneath her legs.

Azeez leaned his head back, giving her a perfect view of the strong column of his neck. Even dressed in the most casual clothes, he epitomized supreme male arrogance and a confidence that had always messed with her usually practical personality. And continued to do so, if she was ready to admit the truth. “Like you cannot stop. Like you want to eat me up alive.”

The heat rising through her cheeks had nothing to do with the sun. “That’s not true.”

He leaned forward, his gaze thoughtful. “Yes, it is. There’s a temerity in your gaze now. You always knew your own mind, but now it’s like your body has caught up.”

She shrugged, holding herself tight and still under his scrutiny. The look Azeez cast in her direction was thorough. “I’m not a shy twenty-two-year-old anymore.”

“I can see that.” A lick of something came alive in his gaze. “I can almost see you staring down your patients into good health.”

Nikhat laughed, half to hide the little tremble that went through her. “I do have a reputation as the scary doctor. If only things could be fixed so simply. And you’re right. I can’t stop looking at you. I can’t stop wondering what in Allah’s name you think you’re doing to yourself.”


DR. NIKHAT ZAKHARI followed the uniformed guard through the carpeted corridor of the Dahaaran palace, assaulted from every side by bittersweet memories. Eight years ago she had known every inch of these corridors and halls, every wall and arch. This palace, the royal family, they had all been part of a dream she had weaved as a naive girl of twenty-two.

Before it had come crumbling down upon her and shattered her.

She stepped over the threshold into the office and the guard closed the door behind her. The formal pumps she had chosen instead of her usual Crocs sank into the lush carpet with a sigh.

She had been in this office one night when the Crown Prince had been the man she had loved, the two of them slipping in like thieves in the night.

All because she had voiced a juvenile wish to see it. Her long-sleeved thick silk jacket couldn’t dispel the chill that settled on her skin at the memory.

Drawn to the huge portrait of the royal family behind the dark sandalwood desk, she gave in to nostalgia.

King Malik and Queen Fatima, Ayaan and Amira, each member of the royal family was smiling in the picture except Azeez. Because of what Nikhat had told him that day eight years ago.

A cavern of longing opened up inside of her. Even thousands of miles away, she had felt as if she had lost her own family when she heard of the attack. Her throat ached, her vision felt dizzy. She ran trembling fingers over Azeez’s face in the photo.

She leaned her head against the wall. Seeing this familiar place without him was shaking the very foundations of the life she had resolutely built for herself.

And she couldn’t—she wouldn’t—give that much power to a memory. Couldn’t let it undo everything she had accomplished.

“How have you been, Nikhat?”

She turned around and stared at the new Crown Prince, Ayaan bin Riyaaz Al-Sharif, the boy she had once tutored in chemistry. His copper-gold gaze shone with warmth. The cut of his features, so similar to Azeez’s, knocked the breath out of her.

She had gone into shock the day she had heard of the terrorist attack. To see Ayaan again, so many years later filled her with a joy she couldn’t contain. Nikhat reached him, and hugged him.

Something she wouldn’t have dared do eight years earlier.

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