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Written by Caitlin Crews

Chapter Nine

If I put my mind to something, I could do it. I had told myself that all my life and one way or another, I’d made it happen.

I was no princess. I was a rough-and-tumble sort of girl, who had left home at sixteen when it was clear my mother and I had nothing more to say to each other. I’d made my way in the big, bad city on my wits. Or on my attitude, when all else failed. I’d talked my way into jobs I shouldn’t have had and talked my way out of bad situations with the same ease, and one way or another, I’d been fine.

I knew nothing about luxury hotels. Much less former royal palaces that had been made over into lavish getaways and catered to the sorts of clients who had money to burn. Not to mention I had never been out of the country before that trip to Germany, much less to a place as wildly different as the vast, mysterious desert kingdom of Sadat. It was all the way across the planet and what I knew about the place came from a quick internet search.

But I had made my devil's bargain: one night in Zain's bed. And only I knew how very, very little it had taken for me to both obey him and agree to his terms. Much less call him sir, like the kind of girl I’d never been.

I was the one who made men crawl, not the other way around. I’d never had the slightest interest in turning that dynamic inside out. But there was something about Zain that made me feel like a stranger to myself.

It was that dark, steady gaze of his. The hard curve of his sensually cruel mouth.

As if he knew by looking at me that I would dream about what his lips might feel like on mine, until I woke up every morning sure that I could taste him on my tongue.

I told myself this obsession with a man I’d met twice and didn’t know at all was my way of distracting myself from a far more unsavory truth: I was trading my body for my father’s hotel.

But that didn’t upset me the way maybe it should have, because it was my choice. My body. My right to barter it if I wanted. I’d known when I’d set out to find Zain what the price might be. I’d worn that short little dress and I’d been prepared to slink all over him there in that party, if necessary.

All he’d done was make me wait to do a thing I’d already planned to do.

And infuse the doing of it with that particular, shivery tension that didn’t seem to leave me when I walked back out of his town house in Greenwich Village.

I decided on the plane ride to Sadat that if I was going to sell myself in this way, to this man—and I had every intention of holding up my end of the bargain, I told myself piously—I would do it having fulfilled the terms of my father's will. Not having failed.

So that was what I did.

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About the author

I discovered my first romance novel at the age of twelve. It involved...

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Caitlin Crews

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