Rescued by the Sheikh(6)

By: Jennifer Lewis

Or in bed.

“If I need to liberate Samantha from an unfortunate union         with the wrong man, then so be it. Fortune smiles on the bold.”

Samantha’s wrinkle-proof, easy-care travel attire looked rather frumpy in the full-length mirror, with its hand-tooled silver frame. At least her long, dark hair was clean and shiny after a hot shower. Osman had led her to an ornate chamber draped in rich fabrics. It had electric light, which she was beginning to wonder about as they walked through the ancient stone palace, and a luxurious bathroom with every amenity.

Definitely a palace.

And Osman Al Kilanjar was heir to the throne. She didn’t have too much respect for inherited wealth and power. Still, she had to be nice enough to him that he’d help them find a mechanic in the morning and hopefully drive them back to their car. If he didn’t slit their throats, of course.

She smoothed a not-supposed-to-be-there wrinkle out of her khaki skirt and tugged at the shapeless patterned tunic the catalog had described as a “blouse.” She looked like a nun, which was probably a good thing when she thought about how the tall, commanding sheikh had kissed her hand.

The effect was alarming and made her feel uncomfortable in his presence.

She hoped Allan was holding up okay. He liked to think of himself as intrepid and unflappable, but once again, she had to take charge and make things happen. Of course, that was why she’d become a producer, but every now and then it would be nice if someone else could shoulder the load. And apparently neither of them had the nerve to suggest sharing a room.

A knock on the door made her jump.

“Who is it?” Maybe it was Allan coming to check on her.

“It’s Osman.” Of course it was. His bold voice boomed through the heavy door.

“I’m almost ready.”


She frowned. “What do you mean?”

“You can’t be ready when I have your evening attire in my hands.”

“I don’t need anything.” She took a disapproving glance at her drab ensemble. “I’ve changed for dinner.”

“Every woman must dress for the festival. Surely you don’t want to flaunt local traditions while you’re here?”

Local tradition. Hmm. She did like the idea of experiencing the culture for herself. She squinted at her frumpy, beige-clad reflection. Then she walked to the door and gingerly opened it.

Osman beamed. He was a full head taller than her, which was just annoying. She was five-foot-seven, for crying out loud! He must be nearly six-five, which was far too tall to be useful. Looking him properly in the face for the first time, she noticed his eyes weren’t dark brown like she’d assumed. They were an interesting olive-green color, brighter than a generic hazel.

She glanced down at the pile of colorful fabric in his hand. At least it was unlikely to be revealing. Women in this part of the world were generally covered from head-to-toe. Curiosity pricked her as he lifted a garment with one large hand. A bright-pink dress with a lot of gold disks sown along the hem and cuffs.

“That’s really not my style.”

Osman’s eyes rested on hers for a moment. Then they drifted lower, to her lips and chin, to her neck, raking over her body and heating the skin beneath her practical khakis and shirt. “I can see that. Is this some kind of camouflage?”

“It doesn’t show dirt.” She brushed at an imaginary speck.

“It doesn’t show you, either.” He thrust the pink dress forward, and she grabbed it as he dropped it. Then he lifted some matching pink pants with more gold discs around the cuffs. “You’ll feel more at home in this, here in Ubar, dressed the way women have adorned themselves for centuries.”

“I’m not sure it will go with my coloring.” The token protest felt essential somehow. Besides, she hadn’t worn that garish shade of bright pink since she left nursery school.

“It will bring out the natural roses in your cheeks.” He said it with deadly seriousness that made her want to laugh.

Part of her wanted to try on the colorful silks. The fabric felt unbelievably luxurious. Part of her wanted to defy him. His arrogant gaze, taking in her whole body as if she were simply a mannequin, had left her rattled. “I’m quite comfortable as I am.”

“Suit yourself.” He said it quite pleasantly, then closed the door and left.

Sam was left staring at the door, holding the pink dress and leggings that he’d managed to foist on her. She’d expected some high-handed insistence, so for him to simply disappear left her poised for a battle that had been canceled.

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