Authors: Jackie Ashenden
An International Bad Boys Romance
Never Resist a Sheikh
Copyright © 2015 Jackie Ashenden
The Tule Publishing Group, LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
elicity Cartwright didn’t
take her eyes from her phone screen as the large, black SUV ferrying her through the narrow, twisting back alleys of Shara began to slow yet again. They’d had to go slow so many times already on the trip from Al-Harah’s international airport to the palace that she just didn’t bother looking to see what the problem was this time.
First, there had been
road repairs. Second, a major traffic jam on the freeway into the city. Third, they’d had to pull over for an ambulance. Fourth? Well, she didn’t much care right now. The trip from New York to Al-Harah had been long and she hated flying, and, now that she was on the ground, she felt nothing but exhausted. She wanted familiarity, a bed, and some sleep. Not particularly in that order, but definitely
not until she’d finished answering her emails.
And speaking of… She frowned at the screen as her email app timed out for the umpteenth time. Damn patchy 3G coverage. Good thing she was here. Looked like Al-Harah needed her and Red Star, the tech company that was her pride and joy. The country’s telecommunications industry was still fledgling, the government particularly interested in a piece
of software she’d created that helped developing nations get cheap and easy Internet access.
The Al-Harahan government was a little suspicious of her—Red Star was new and she was young. But on the upside, she was a certified genius. Twenty-four, with a PhD from MIT, and a brand new tech start-up. She was also ambitious, fierce, a woman with something to prove in the male-dominated tech industry.
And she wanted to put Red Star on the map.
Once she had decent Wi-Fi, at least.
She scowled as her signal disappeared completely. Great, just great. How was she was supposed to be ambitious and fierce when she couldn’t even get her damn emails?
Lowering her phone, she looked up, belatedly realizing the car had come to a stop in a very narrow street. There were blank stone walls of buildings
on either side of her, very old buildings from the looks of things, while the street itself was laid with dusty cobblestones. Clearly they were in the old part of the city.
She leaned forward, trying to peer through the front windshield to see what was holding them up. In front of them was an ancient and very dirty-looking truck that seemed to be parked right in the middle of the street, completely
blocking the way.
Her driver muttered something in Arabic that didn’t sound very polite, then slammed his hand down on the car’s horn.
Felicity pulled a face at the noise, sitting back in her seat again and looking down once more at her phone. Looked like they were going to be here a while so she might as well do something productive, such as going over her presentation once again.
led to believe that Sheikh Altair himself might attend the presentation, a fact she thought unlikely since the sheikh was due to be getting married in the next few days.
A pity. There were few things she’d learned from her distant lawyer father, but if she wanted something, going to straight to the top to get it had been one of them.
The driver sounded the horn again, and Felicity lifted her
head to suggest that perhaps he might want to not honk the horn so loudly when there were jet-lagged geniuses in the back of the car. But the words died in her throat.
Because the street ahead of them was no longer empty of anyone but the truck. It now appeared to be full of a veritable crowd of very tall men, all of them in dusty desert robes and carrying…holy crap. Were those…guns?
blinked. Because no, surely there were no guns anywhere near here. Or men who looked like they’d escaped from a
Lawrence of Arabia
movie shoot. And they definitely weren’t coming over toward the car. No, most
The driver said something sharply and put his foot down on the accelerator. At least she thought that’s what he was trying to do because just then one of those very tall
men reached for the door and jerked it open. He grabbed her driver and pulled him out.
Shock held Felicity rigid. The driver was babbling something incoherently, his voice abruptly cut off as the man who’d pulled him out of the car suddenly hit him over the head with the butt of his gun. The driver collapsed onto the stones of the street, unconscious.
A deep shiver of fear went through her.
Oh, God. What was happening? There had apparently been some unrest in Al-Harah, but since the sheikh had gotten engaged things had settled down. At least, that’s what she’d been told. But maybe it hadn’t settled down. Maybe these men were sent to…do something awful to her.
She looked down at her phone, suddenly frantic to find a signal, alert the authorities, whichever authorities there were.
Her fingers had gone cold and she fumbled on the buttons.
But before she could even punch in a number, a very large, very warm, blunt-fingered hand closed completely over hers. She let out a squeak of panic and jerked her head up.
And went still as a prey animal before a tiger.
A massively built man had leaned over the front seat to grab her phone, seemingly filling the entire front of the
SUV. He had a dusty, white head covering pulled over his hair and partially obscuring his nose and mouth, leaving only his eyes uncovered, black as a midnight sky and sharp as shattered obsidian.
Her mouth dropped open, a scream of pure terror building in her throat. Because there was death in those eyes, violence and raging fires, a howling storm. The end of the world.
He leaned forward, a
surprisingly fluid movement given the awkwardness of him having to reach into the back seat, and one of those large, warm hands was over her mouth, stopping her scream dead, while he pulled her phone away with the other.
He said something in Arabic, his voice deep and harsh, rumbling like an avalanche, words she didn’t understand. But it definitely sounded like an order.
She was trembling all
over, shaking with fear and also, strangely, anger. Because she was exhausted, she had no damn signal for her phone, she was in a strange country, and this was supposed to be the start of something big for her and her company.
It was not supposed to be the day she was attacked by strange men in robes.
She had no idea what came over her, where she’d gotten her courage from, since by rights she
should have been catatonic with fear. But she’d always had a temper when she was really pushed and all she knew was that she was royally
and she did not like having this guy’s hand over her mouth.
So she bit him hard in the fleshy part of his palm.
It was a stupid idea, she knew that as soon as her teeth closed down on him, as soon as those terrifying dark eyes widened in surprise. Only
for the surprise to be swiftly replaced by something else. Anger.
That’s right, bite the hand of the scary, veiled man who’s just knocked your driver unconscious. That’s a really good move.
The man took his hand away so suddenly she almost gasped. Then he lunged forward, his fingers closing around her throat instead.
Felicity’s mouth opened again, but this time absolutely nothing came out.
There was no pressure behind the grip, but his fingers were firm, his palm heavy. And she didn’t need to meet that frightening black gaze to know what he was trying to tell her, but she looked anyway. He was giving her a warning. All he needed to do was close his hand and she would literally be gasping for air.
Dimly, in the far recesses of her mind, something was screaming that she should be
panicking, collapsing on the seat in floods of frightened tears or fainting, or something along those lines.
But like a threatened animal, she found herself sitting very, very still instead. Not wanting to draw the attention of the man-eating tiger that was looking at her as if he was deciding whether she was worth the bother of killing or not.
She stared back, her ragged, frantic breathing
loud in the interior of the car. And she realized, with an almost detached kind of surprise, that the veil around his face had fallen away. It must have done so when he’d reached forward to grab her.
He was younger than she’d initially thought, his features unexpectedly and brutally handsome, compelling as those dense black eyes. A strong, hard jaw shadowed with the dark stubble of a beard. High,
aristocratic cheekbones. A crooked nose that looked as if it had been broken at some point, with thick, slightly winged, black brows on either side of it. The face of some primitive, warrior god of old.
It made something deep inside her shudder inexplicably.
His gaze narrowed and she found herself looking down in instinctive acquiescence. Perhaps if she just sat here and didn’t say a word, stayed
quiet as a mouse and didn’t cause a fuss, they’d go away.
Her heartbeat was loud in her head, panicked and fast, all her awareness concentrated on the strong hand around her throat. Weirdly, the only thing she could seem to think about was how warm his skin was.
You’re crazy. Jet-lagged and insane.
Yeah, clearly. Here she was, being ambushed, with a scary man’s hand around her throat, and all
she could think about was the warmth of his skin.
After a moment, he released her and she could tell by the sudden change in the atmosphere inside the car that he’d gotten out.
She looked up slowly and, indeed, he was now striding toward the group of men standing in the street in front of the car, her cell phone in his hand.
Shivers of reaction had begun to set in and for some reason that,
too, fueled her weird anger. She didn’t like feeling helpless and she didn’t like feeling afraid, and she felt enough of both those emotions to last her for life.