The Sheikh's Pregnant Prisoner(2)

By: Tara Pammi

Why did Zafir have guards?

The question shot through her and fell into nothingness like dust. His dark sensuality swathed her. Her skin shivered with awareness, her stomach churned with every step that they took toward each other.

The intoxicating power of his masculinity, her intimate knowledge of that leanly honed body, everything coiled around her, binding her immobile under his scrutiny. He stopped at arm’s reach, his mouth a hard slash in that stunning face, the burnished, coppery skin a tight mask over his features.

A regal movement of his head, his nod was barely an acknowledgment and so much a dismissal. “Ms. Hamby, what brings you to Behraat?”

Chilling cold filled her veins.

Ms. Hamby? He was calling her Ms. Hamby? After everything they had shared, he spoke to her as if she was a stranger?

Every little hurt Lauren had patched over since she’d been a little girl ripped open at that indifference. “After the way you left, that’s what you have to say to me?”

A taut nerve throbbed in his temple but that golden gaze remained infuriatingly sedate. He looked so impossibly remote, as harsh and bleak as the desert she’d heard so much about. “If you have a complaint to register with me,” he said, as now a thread of temper flashed into his perfectly polite tone, “you need an appointment, Ms. Hamby. Like the rest of the world.”

His dismissal scraped her raw with its politeness but she held on to her temper. Somehow. “An appointment? You’re kidding me, right?”

“No. I do not...kid.” A step closer and she could see something beneath that calm. Shock? Displeasure? Indifference? “Do not make a spectacle of yourself, Lauren.”

A shard of pain ricocheted inside her, stealing her breath.

“Don’t make a scene, Lauren.”

“Grow up and understand that your parents have important careers, Lauren.”

“Swallow your tears, Lauren.”

Her heart beating a wild tattoo inside her chest, memories and voices swirling through her head like some miniature ghosts, Lauren covered the last step between her and Zafir and slapped him.

His jaw jerked back, the crack of the slap shattering the silence like a clap of thunder.

The sound of quick footsteps pierced the haze of her fury, her hand jarring painfully at the impact, her breathing rough. Angry commands spoken in Arabic rang around them.

But was as if she was functioning in a world of her own.

Something ferocious gleamed in his eyes then.

Oh, God, what had she done?

Caught in that flare, Lauren shivered, something hot twisting low in her belly. His long fingers dug into her forearms as he jerked her toward him, the scent of sandalwood and musk drenching her. “Of all the—”

An urgent whisper spoken in rapid Arabic rattled behind them. Zafir’s fingers instantly relented. His gaze raked her, before the fire of his emotions slowly seeped out, settling that indifferent mask into that lethal face.

When those golden eyes met hers again, it was like looking at a stranger—a forbidding, dangerous, contemptuous stranger.

“Your Highness...let security deal with the woman.”

Your Highness? Security?

The adrenaline ebbed away, leaving her cold.

Zafir barked out a command, something short and hard in Arabic and then stepped back.

Cold sweat trickled down her back as she looked around. The most unholy silence enveloped her, and everyone watched her with curiosity and contempt.

Two men with discreet-looking guns flanked her. “Zafir, wait,” she called out, but he’d already turned his back on her.

Her gaze followed the elevator’s ascent, but he didn’t look at her, not once. She tried to step back, only to find her every move blocked.

What nightmare had she walked into? Where was David?

Trying to stem the panic bubbling inside her, she turned and noticed an older man who spoke to the guard. “What the hell is going on?”

The man’s eyes chilled. “You’re under arrest for attacking the Sheikh of Behraat.”

* * *

Zafir Al Masood stalked out of the meeting with the High Council. His displeasure must have been evident in his face because even the most audacious members quickly shuffled out of his way.

For the first time in six weeks, the outrageous complaints from the council pricked him.

Who was the woman? How could a woman, a Western woman, an American at that, have such familiarity with him as to strike him? Was he going to bring the Western world’s wrath on Behraat?

Was he going to doom Behraat for a woman like his father had done?

He entered the elevator, hit the button to hold it there. Fury and frustration pumped in his veins as he sought to control his temper.

The glass walls around him reflected his image back at him, forcing him to take stock. Forcing him to swallow his bitterness, as he had done for the past six years.

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