The Sheikh's Heir by Sharon Kendrick - Fiction
Stop the Press: Unexpected Baby Shock for Sheikh and Jackson Party-girl!
Unconfirmed sources report that celebrity wedding planner Ella Jackson is pregnant! Currently single, Miss Jackson caused quite a stir at her princess-to-be sister's royal-studded engagement party last month when she tossed a glass of vintage champagne over Sheikh Hassan Al Abbas following a very public argument.
What happened in private is anybody's guess. But a palace insider confirmed that Miss Jackson was seen leaving the Sheikh's opulent suite the morning after the party....
Could this Cinder-Ella beat her sister to a royal title...and a royal heir?
Would this damned party never end?
In the softly lit anteroom of his friend's palace, Sheikh Hassan Al Abbas let out an irritated breath and turned to the man standing a few deferential paces away from him.
'Do you think there's any chance I could just slip away and leave them to get on with it, Benedict?' he demanded, knowing only too well how his loyal English aide would respond.
There was a pause. 'Your absence would almost certainly be noticed, Your Highness,' answered Benedict carefully. 'Since you are one of the most esteemed guests present. And furthermore it would offend your oldest friend if he knew that you could not be bothered to stay to wish him happiness on the night of his engagement.'
Hassan's fists clenched against the unaccustomed lounge suit which clothed his hard body, hating the strictures of collar and tie. He wished he was wearing soft and silken robes against his naked skin. That he was galloping free on his horse, with the warm desert wind blowing against his face. 'And what if I believed deep in my heart that such a wish would not only be futile but hypocritical?' he iced back. 'That I think Alex is about to make the biggest mistake of his life?'
'It is often difficult for two men to see eye to eye when it comes to the subject of women,' answered Benedict diplomatically. 'Particularly regarding the subject of marriage.'
'It's not just his choice of fiancée I don't agree with!' Hassan said, unable to contain the frustration which had been growing inside him since his oldest friend, Prince Alessandro Santina, had announced that he was to marry Allegra Jackson. 'Though that is bad enough. Even worse is that he has abandoned the woman to whom he has been betrothed since he was born! A woman of noble birth, who would make a far more suitable bride.'
'Perhaps his love is too strong to be--'
'Love?' interrupted Hassan, and now he could feel the bitter lump which had risen in his throat like a ball of nails. A brief yet undeniable pain clenched at his heart. For didn't he know better than anyone that 'love' was nothing but an illusion which could wreck lives with its seductive power?
'Love is nothing more than a fancy name for lust,' he bit out. 'And a ruler cannot allow himself to be guided by the stir of his loins or the beat of his heart. He must put duty before desire.'
'Yes, Highness,' said Benedict obediently.
Hassan shook his head in disbelief, still unwilling to accept that his high-born friend had let his standards dip so low. 'Did you realise that Alex's future father-in-law is some grubby ex-footballer with a long list of wives and mistresses he has been publicly unfaithful to?'
'I had heard something along those lines, Highness.'
'I cannot believe that he is willing to marry into such a disreputable family as these Jacksons! Did you see the way they were behaving at the ball? It turned my stomach to watch them quaffing champagne as if it was water and making fools of themselves on the dance floor.'
'This woman Allegra cannot possibly become the wife of a Crown Prince!' Angrily, Hassan slammed the flat of his hand against an adjacent table and its delicate frame juddered beneath the contemptuous force. 'She is a tramp--just like her mother and her sisters! Did you witness the spectacle which brought me seeking refuge in here, when the sister with the voice of a crow stormed the stage and attempted to sing?'
'Yes, Highness, I saw her,' said Benedict softly. 'But the Crown Prince has made up his mind that he will marry Miss Jackson, and I doubt whether even you will be able to change it. And should you not now...