The sheikh's last challenge...
Stepping off his private jet in his designer suit, Sheikh Asad returns to his kingdom ready to secure his legacy. For beneath the starched white shirt beats the heart of a desert warrior!
Iris Carpenter barely recognizes the man standing before her. He's more magnificent than he was six years ago and even more dangerous. Especially when the searing heat of his eyes burns hotter than the fierce desert sun.
Iris can resist all she likes, but Asad knows it's just a matter of time before the flame-haired temptress is back in his bed--where she belongs!
If you enjoyed this Harlequin Presents story by Lucy Monroe, don't miss her tempting new title, One Night Heir!
"You look like you're ready to face a firing squad."
Her field assistant's words stopped Iris at the top of the grand palace staircase.
Suppressing a grimace at what she could not doubt was his all too accurate assessment, she turned to face the college intern and forced a smile. "You look hungry."
"Seriously, this is just dinner right?"
"Of course." Just dinner.
Where they were supposed to meet their liaison while in Kadar; Asad, Sheikh Hakim's second cousin, or something, and sheikh himself to a local Bedouin tribe, the Sha'b Al'najid. Asad was a fairly common Arabic name, meaning lion. An appropriate name for a man destined to be sheikh. Right? There was no reason to think that the man was her Asad.
No reason other than this awful sinking feeling that had not gone away since Sheikh Hakim had mentioned the liaison's name earlier. Ever since agreeing to this Middle Eastern assignment, she'd had a feeling of foreboding that she'd done her best to ignore.
But it was getting harder with every passing moment.
"I'm not feeling reassured here," Russell said as he stepped onto the stairs, his tone only half joking. "Dinner isn't a euphemism for kidnap and sell to white slavers, is it?"
The ridiculous assertion shocked a laugh out of Iris. "You're an idiot."
Still, her legs refused to move.
"But a charming one. You've got to admit it. And who wouldn't want to kidnap this?" he asked with a wink, having stopped to wait for her.
With his shaggy mop of red hair and pale skin, he could have been her baby brother. If only. Her childhood would have been a lot less lonely with a sibling. Her parents hadn't been cruel, only supremely uninterested. Their lives were complete with each other. They worked together, they played together, they traveled together and none of it included her.
She'd never understood why they'd had a child at all and had long since decided her advent into the world had been one of those "accidents" of faulty birth control. Though nothing had ever been said.
She couldn't imagine what they would have done with a child like Russell; he didn't fade into the background with grace.
No, no matter how many surface resemblances they shared, he would have been an even bigger cuckoo in their family nest than she'd been.
Nevertheless, Iris and Russell really did look like they could have come from the same gene pool. Oh, he had freckles and she didn't, and his eyes were green rather than her blue. However, they both had curly red hair--like her mother--slightly squared chins--like her father--and skin as pale as the white sands of New Mexico. At five foot ten, Russell was average height for a man, just like she was for a woman at five-five.
They both tended to dress like the science geeks they were, though tonight she'd donned a vibrant blue sheath dress and a black pashmina. Instead of her usual pony-tail, she'd pulled her hair back in a loose knot and even gone so far as to put on mascara and lipstick, though she almost never wore makeup. She was dining with a sheikh and his family after all.
Two sheikhs, her worried brain reminded her.
Russell was in his own version of dress formal, khaki slacks and a button-down oxford instead of his usual T-shirt and cargo pants.
Still, neither of them were all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips.
She groaned at his humorous conceit. "Anyone with half a brain would know better than to go through the trouble of kidnapping you."
He laughed, not taking offense and not entirely masking a...