The Sheikh's Pregnant Prisoner(10)

By: Tara Pammi


Tariq’s death had put an end to their affair, but he had not forgotten the mindless pleasure he had found in her arms.

The man he was in Behraat couldn’t have an affair without courting undue scrutiny from the High Council and more importantly, the wronged people of his country. He needed to create a different image, put distance between him and the scandalous life led by Tariq. Yet...

Arif stepped into his office, a tiny camcorder in his hand. “We found the man.”

Zafir’s heart pumped faster, as if he was on a stallion racing against a desert storm. “And?”

“He gave us the footage, said he didn’t want to do anything to upset the balance of power in Behraat. As long as you give him an exclusive one-on-one.”

Perversely, her friend’s indifference toward Lauren’s safety riled Zafir while she had refused to betray him in any way. “He did not inquire after Lauren?”

“He did. I took him to speak to the woman. He was satisfied about her safety and a little curious about her stay in the royal palace,” Arif said, a little hint of his own dissatisfaction thrown in for good measure.

Excitement pulsed through Zafir. He pushed his chair back and stood up. “Say it, Arif.”

“Send her away, immediately.”

No other man would have dared to suggest what Arif had said. But his old mentor was nothing if not ruthlessly loyal to Behraat.

“Why?”

“That woman,” Arif continued, showing his distaste by not mentioning Lauren by name, “is trouble. Only two days and she has already...unsettled you.”

Zafir shook his head. “I walked away, in the middle of the night, without looking back. Hid my identity from her.”

All he cared about now, or ever, was Behraat. Yet, the same thought plagued him. Did that mean he was not entitled to even the little pleasures he wanted?

“She’s due a little anger.”

His gaze steady, Arif shook his head. “You cannot let anything distract you from your path.”

And what Arif didn’t say was that he already had. Frustration and anger mixed in with a healthy dose of unsatisfied libido swirled through him.

All he had ever done was to give of himself to his father, even though he hadn’t known it then, and to Behraat. And yet, in return, he would be denied such a small thing as the one woman that tempted him no end.

No!

“Should I live my life like a monk?” It was a question he’d already asked himself. And with Lauren within reach, the answer was becoming blurry to him.

“The best thing for your future, for the future of Behraat would be to find a suitable young woman, one who knows her place in your life and marry her. Cement your position in front of the High Council.”

A pleasant, traditional, biddable Behraati woman would never talk back to him, would definitely not even think of striking him.

That’s what the future held for him. But he was in no hurry to embrace it just yet.

Tariq’s wife, Johara’s portrait caught his attention.

Johara was delicate, stunningly beautiful, shy, the daughter of a member of a powerful High Council member. Someone like her was what he needed for a future wife.

Lauren, on the other hand, was the exact opposite of Johara. Tall and lithe, hardworking, tough, prickly, and unflinchingly honest.

She asked for nothing, made no demands of him, and had nearly killed herself with flu instead of asking for help once. She had few friends outside of her work at the inner-city ER, no personal life. They had been like two perfectly matched ships crossing each other at a port.

Yet she had come looking for him, had cared enough to mourn for him.

A dangerous temptation for a man who rarely allowed himself any personal attachments...

“My life is, always will be, about Behraat, Arif. No woman will change that. Or change me into something I never could be.”

But, for once in his life, he wanted to indulge himself.

She had made the choice to come, hadn’t she? After the brutal reality of the past few weeks, maybe Lauren arriving in Behraat was his prize.

Just the thought of her was enough to tighten every muscle in his body with need.

But first, he needed to make it right with her. And he knew how to do just that.

After all, there had to be some perks to being the ruler of a nation.

* * *

Lauren pushed the French doors aside and stepped onto the private balcony. Dusk was an hour away and it painted the sky crimson. She tugged the edges of a cashmere sweater tighter around her shoulders, feeling the chill in the air.

It was something that amazed her even after a week in Behraat. As hot as it got during the day, with sunset, chill permeated the air.

She couldn’t believe she was in the royal palace, home to the royalty of Behraat, with its various turrets and domes.

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