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By Sarah Morgan. 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. Reluctantly, she turned. None of this was his fault , she reminded herself. He was dressed simply in a white robe, the fabric glaring under the beginnings of the Arabian sun. 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. How could her father do this to her? 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. And Olivia had said things too…. Sand and silence are a lousy combination. Just for an hour. 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. 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? 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? Bella dug her hands into the pockets of her cotton trousers and reminded herself that regret was pointless. Must have had a pretty grim childhood. Marriage can be a nightmare. My father has done it three times. You have to admire his perseverance. 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. The excitement might just kill me. 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. Indulging in a brief fantasy about fleeing across the desert in a horsebox, she slid past a sign that said Strictly No Admittance and walked down a sandy path that led to a stable block. 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. 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? The place was eerily deserted and Bella looked around uneasily, trying to shake the feeling that something was very, very wrong— that something bad was about to happen.
The horse moved restlessly in its box and Bella murmured to the animal sympathetically, sharing that restlessness. She had a desperate longing to spring onto her back and just ride and ride until her thoughts were far behind. She could remember the way. Once there she could arrange for the horse to be returned with her compliments.
Bad Bella. I place you in sole charge, Rachid. His young brother paled, clearly daunted by the responsibility. The oil negotiations have reached a crucial stage. They are expecting you to come back with a lower offer. How do you know? How do you always know the right thing to do? You never reveal your emotions. Hearing the angry squeal of a stallion, Zafiq walked purposefully in the direction of the commotion. Zafiq watched as his Master of Horse led the half-wild, prancing stallion into the yard.
Zafiq reflected on that question, a grim smile touching his mouth. He could have told his brother that his childhood had felt like nothing more than a rigorous training camp for instilling a sense of responsibility and duty. I have had plenty of experience.
Upload Sign In Join. Home Books Romance. Create a List. Download to App. Ratings: Rating: 4. Length: pages 3 hours. Description Sheikh Zafiq Al-Rashid is furious when his week of solitude is interrupted by Bella Balfour, lost in the desert! While his fierce honor demands he rescue her, the willful heiress is a little less grateful than he'd expected. Zafiq is tempted to leave the spoiled socialite wandering the wilderness but where would be the challenge in that?
He's powerful enough to tame the rebellious beauty. However, when they depart from the seclusion of the oasis, will Zafiq leave the memory of the fiery passion behind or announce to his kingdom that he is taking a queen?
Related Categories. Why a retreat in the middle of the desert? Why not a nice spa on Fifth Avenue?
Bella and the Merciless Sheikh
By Sarah Morgan. 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.
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