Shelves: angst-by-misunderstanding-lies , harlequin-presents , author-sarah-morgan , desert-sheikh , angst-by-mommy-daddy-issues , 5-star Im not a fan of Sheikh stories or royalty stories. But I do love a misunderstood bad girl paired with a serious hero. And that is the romantic dynamic in this story. Fans of Sheikh stories might not like the world-building in this one. There are the usual desert delights sand, heat, starry skies, silky waters in the oasis.
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And if that had been possible, no doubt he would have signed the cheque, Bella thought bitterly as she curled her bare toes into the coarse sand of the desert and stared across the stark landscape.
Come to think of it, this might as well be the moon. Or maybe Mars. The red planet. Why a retreat in the middle of the desert? Why not a nice spa on Fifth Avenue? It was barely daylight. Reluctantly, she turned. None of this was his fault, she reminded herself. She tapped her empty palm impatiently against her thigh and then looked down at her fingernails with distaste.
Given the choice between a coffee and a manicure, she would have opted for the manicure. When I am ready, I will move on. Left alone at a time when she desperately needed human comfort. Brought the Balfour name into disrepute. And the fact that no one had considered her feelings simply increased her sense of abandonment.
Remembering everything that had happened on the night of the Balfour Ball, Bella felt a lump build in her throat.
She wanted to know how her sister Olivia was feeling about the whole thing—she wanted to make amends. Her behaviour had been bad—she knew that. Sand and silence are a lousy combination. Just for an hour. The stables are privately owned. Why would a stable need guards? I find it easier to relax to music.
He has turned what was once an ancient desert city into an international centre for commerce. The buildings on the waterfront are as modern as anything you would find in Manhattan or Canary Wharf, but only a few streets away is the old city with many wonderful examples of Persian architecture.
Al-Rafid Palace is the most breath taking of all, but it is rarely opened to the public because it is home to Sheikh Zafiq and his family. He obviously hates the sand too. But he has never forgotten his roots. For one week every year, he allows himself time alone in the desert. Time for reflection. He is a powerful man—some would say ruthless—but he is also a man deeply aware of his responsibilities.
Bella squirmed uncomfortably, trying to ease the sharp prick of her conscience. Is he married with eight wives and a hundred children? His family background is complicated. Unfortunately she died when he was a baby. She felt compelled to find out more about the powerful, ruthless Sheikh, forgetting that her original objective had been simply to discover the distance to civilisation.
Bella watched as the rising sun set fire to the dunes, changing the colours from dull red to bright gold. She felt a strange affinity with the mysterious Sheikh. He was out there somewhere across the bleak, featureless mountains of sand.
Had he discovered things about her that would have been better left a secret? Was his mind as much of a mess as hers? Bella dug her hands into the pockets of her cotton trousers and reminded herself that regret was pointless. Her mother. But he was bred to rule.
Must have had a pretty grim childhood. Marriage can be a nightmare. My father has done it three times. Nothing winds you up like family. Except maybe having your laptop, your phone and your iPod removed at the same time.
Your own ability for quiet reflection can be an oasis in the storm of life. The truth was she envied his sense of calm. She wanted that, but had no idea how to achieve it. And see you at nine for yoga. The excitement might just kill me. No more meditation.
No more desert. She was going to find the keys to a Jeep and get out of here even if it meant tying someone up in their tent. She was about to return to the Retreat and go on the hunt for trans port when she noticed that the guards had disappeared from the entrance to the stables. No one knew her in the stables, did they? If she walked with enough confidence they might even think she worked there.
A fountain bubbled in the centre of the deserted courtyard and only now could Bella see that the stables were both sophisticated and extensive. But the stables appeared deserted. No guards. No one. Strange, Bella thought, glancing around her. Where was everyone? She knew from experience that stables were busy places. A horse stuck its head over the door of the stable and whickered at her. Bella walked across to him. Done any meditation? Knotted any of your legs into a lotus?
Sipped any herbal tea? Peering over the stable door, she took in the quality of the horse. Pure-bred Arab. Why would anyone keep a horse as special as you hidden away out here? I know the feeling. Where is everyone? Why are you on your own here?
She had a desperate longing to spring onto her back and just ride and ride until her thoughts were far behind. And why not? Why take a Jeep when she could ride to the city? She could remember the way. Once there she could arrange for the horse to be returned with her compliments. Bad Bella.
Bella and the Merciless Sheikh
Bella and the merciless sheikh