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The Sheikh’s Christmas Proposal

Written by Abby Green

Chapter Four

Tabat City, the capital of Tabat—in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula—was ancient and crumbling and utterly spellbinding to Cassidy, who had never seen anything like it before. It was as if the city had been sent to sleep in a fairy tale hundreds of years ago, and it had just awoken with the arrival of their new King—who would be crowned in two weeks.

Cassidy covertly observed Riad and the prospective King now, conversing not far from where she stood, half engaged in her own conversation.

Sheikh Salim Al-Noury was undoubtedly related to Riad, with a similarly tall and very masculine build. And that bone structure. The Sheikh had piercing blue eyes, but their intensity matched his distant cousin’s darker ones.

Cassidy had met Sheikh Al-Noury’s brother recently in Paris, King Zafir Al-Noury of Jandor, a neighbouring country to Tabat, and he was another example of intimidating masculine beauty and power.

To her shock and surprise, he’d been with one of her oldest modelling friends, Kat Winters, who had previously been his lover and who had disappeared off the scene over a year previously, much to Cassidy’s dismay because Kat had been a true friend.

Since then Cassidy had discovered why Kat had disappeared—due a catastrophic accident. She’d since reunited with Zafir, and they’d been married in a very emotional and beautiful ceremony just recently.

Cassidy didn’t like to recall how seeing her friend, so truly happy and obviously in love, had roused dark emotions. She’d felt happy for Kat, of course, but also deeply envious. If anything, witnessing that bond and commitment had been the catalyst for Cassidy to decide to break away from Riad. She wanted more than he would ever be prepared to give.

‘If you’ll excuse us..?’

Cassidy nodded and smiled politely as the two women she’d been talking to distractedly walked away. Alone for a moment, she took in the unbelievably opulent ballroom, the scene for this impromptu party thrown by Salim to celebrate his upcoming coronation.

The guests were the crème de la crème of European royalty, international movie stars and dignitaries. It was glittering and exclusive. Cassidy smiled wryly to herself—this scene was wasted on her; she would have been perfectly happy curled up with a book and in her comfy sweats.

But then she thought of how Riad had looked at her in their suite earlier, after he’d zipped up her strapless dress, and she had to admit that there were some perks to getting dressed up.

She’d asked Riad on their journey over about the country he owned here in this same region and why he didn’t call himself Sheikh in public. He’d glanced at her and shrugged, saying, ‘The territory’s not habitable—workers commute in and out to service and manage the oil wells. It’s a business concern, not a home.’

Cassidy could well imagine the kind of man who would relish wearing the title of Sheikh for its effect, but Riad didn’t need to bolster his ego with such things. It only made her fall for him even more.

She turned and studied him now, taking in the way his classic tuxedo molded to his body like a second skin. As if it couldn’t contain him. A familiar heat sizzled through her veins, making her hyperaware of her surroundings and of him.

Drawn to him as irresistibly as a moth to a flame, Cassidy came to where the men stood just in time to hear Riad say to his cousin in low but emphatic tones, ‘I’ve paid my domestic penance as you well know, and the only good thing to come out of that situation was my beautiful daughter. She’s all I need. I will never let another woman close enough to cause havoc in my life again—they can’t be trusted.’

Cassidy wasn’t even aware she’d made a sound until both men turned to look at her, Salim’s blue eyes widening on her face and Riad’s dark and impossible to read. Obsidian. Like his heart.

She had a moment of praying her face wasn’t showing what she was feeling and then every instinct urged her to run, before Riad might see how his words had struck at the very heart of her. She’d almost forgotten for a moment what she intended to do this weekend, but this was a brutal reminder of the hopelessness of this relationship. She turned and fled.

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About the author

I spent my teens reading (devouring) Mills & Boon romances. After ...

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Abby Green

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