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Authors: Alexandra Sellers

The Ice Maiden's Sheikh

BOOK: The Ice Maiden's Sheikh
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“I Can't Marry You,” She Protested.

“Can't?”

“You said it yourself,” she accused. “I don't belong here, Latif. It's not my home.”

“A woman belongs with her husband. His home is her home. You belong with me. You are Bagestani. Your blood is here. Your heart is here. Your people call to you. I call to you.”

His hands tightened on her, as if he knew that he had lost. He bent and kissed her again.

“Answer me,” he commanded.

“Please take me as a lover,” she sobbed, “and don't ask me for more.”

“If I love you, I make you mine!”

Her heart twisting with hurt, she drew back from him. But fear was more powerful than the pain. She knew this was not a question of heart, or even of love. This was powerful sexual passion, masquerading as love, and she would be ten times worse than a fool to be swayed by it….

 

Dear Reader,

Welcome to another stellar month of smart, sensual reads. Our bestselling series DYNASTIES: THE DANFORTHS comes to a compelling conclusion with Leanne Banks's
Shocking the Senator
as honest Abe Danforth finally gets his story. Be sure to look for the start of our next family dynasty story when Eileen Wilks launches DYNASTIES: THE ASHTONS next month and brings you all the romance and intrigue you could ever desire…all set in the fabulous Napa Valley.

Award-winning author Jennifer Greene is back this month to conclude THE SCENT OF LAVENDER series with the astounding
Wild in the Moment
. And just as the year brings some things to a close, new excitement blossoms as Alexandra Sellers gives us the next installment of her SONS OF THE DESERT series with
The Ice Maiden's Sheikh
. The always-enjoyable Emilie Rose will wow you with her tale of
Forbidden Passion
—let's just say the book starts with a sexy tryst on a staircase. We'll let you imagine the rest. Brenda Jackson is also back this month with her unforgettable hero Storm Westmoreland, in
Riding the Storm
. (A title that should make you go hmmm.) And rounding things out is up-and-coming author Michelle Celmer's second book,
The Seduction Request.

I would love to hear what you think about Silhouette Desire, so please feel free to drop me a line c/o Silhouette Books, 233 Broadway, Suite 1001, New York, NY 10279. Let me know what miniseries you are enjoying, your favorite authors and things you would like to see in the future.

With thanks,

Melissa Jeglinski
Senior Editor
Silhouette Desire

THE ICE MAIDEN'S SHEIKH
ALEXANDRA SELLERS

Books by Alexandra Sellers

Silhouette Desire

*
Sheikh's Ransom
#1210

*
The Solitary Sheikh
#1217

*
Beloved Sheikh
#1221

Occupation: Casanova
#1264

*
Sheikh's Temptation
#1274

*
Sheikh's Honor
#1294

*
Sheikh's Woman
#1341

*
The Sultan's Heir
#1379

*
Undercover Sultan
#1385

*
Sleeping with the Sultan
#1391

*
The Playboy Sheikh
#1417

*
Sheikh's Castaway
#1618

*
The Ice Maiden's Sheikh
#1623

Silhouette Intimate Moments

The Real Man
#73

The Male Chauvinist
#110

The Old Flame
#154

The Best of Friends
#348

The Man Next Door
#406

A Gentleman and a Scholar
#539

The Vagabond
#579

Dearest Enemy
#635

Roughneck
#689

Bride of the Sheikh
#771

Wife on Demand
#833

Born Royal
#1118

Silhouette Yours Truly

A Nice Girl Like You

Not Without a Wife!

Shotgun Wedding

Occupation: Millionaire

ALEXANDRA SELLERS

is the author of over twenty-five novels and a feline language text published in 1997 and still selling.

Born and raised in Canada, Alexandra first came to London as a drama student. Now she lives near Hampstead Heath with her husband, Nick. They share housekeeping with Monsieur, who jumped through the window one day and announced, as cats do, that he was moving in.

What she would miss most on a desert island is shared laughter.

Readers can write to Alexandra at P.O. Box 9449, London NW3 2WH, UK, England.

One

T
he bride was missing.

Jalia ran along the balcony, anxiety beating in her temples. The soft green silk of the bridesmaid's veil fell forward yet again to cover her face, half blinding her, adding to the helpless confusion she felt. But she had no time now to struggle with it.

What was wrong? Where had Noor gone, and why?

Oh, please let it be just one of her games. Let her not have changed her mind like this, in the most embarrassing possible way….

“Noor!” she called softly. “Noor, where are you?”

A confused, murmuring silence was replacing the earlier sounds of celebration coming from the large central courtyard of the palatial house, and Jalia's heart sank. Hopeless now to think she might find
Noor quickly so that the wedding could proceed without an obvious delay.

This balcony overlooked a smaller courtyard. If Noor had come out here, surely she would have realized at once that she had gone the wrong way?

“Noor?” She leaned over the railing. Below, the courtyard was empty. A fountain played with the sunlight, creating an endless spray of diamonds; flowers danced in the breeze; but no human shadow moved across the beautiful tiles.

Ahead of her, in a breathtaking series of arches and columns, stretched the shadowed balcony, leading to an ancient arched door like the secret door of childhood dreams. No one.

“Noor?” A bead of sweat dropped from under the veil onto her hand. Half heat, half nerves. Was the bride's flight her—Jalia's—fault? People would think so. Jalia would be blamed, by some more fiercely than by others.

Latif Abd al Razzaq Shahin, for one, would condemn Jalia's interference in her cousin's sudden engagement to his friend Bari. He already had, and Jalia was still smarting from the contact.

“Noor!” she cried more loudly, because secrecy was impossible now. Oh, how like Noor to create a melodramatic, self-centred, eleventh-hour panic, instead of taking the calm, rational course Jalia had advised. All the princess bride had had to do was insist on taking a little more time before committing herself irrevocably to a stranger in a strange land!

And how like Noor, too, to leave her cousin to pick up the pieces. Thanks to Noor's open-mouth policy, Jalia's opposition to the hasty wedding was well-
known in the family. People would blame her for this outcome.

He
would blame her. Not that she cared a damn for Latif Abd al Razzaq's opinion, but his criticism could be biting and cruel, and he disliked Jalia almost as much as she disliked him. He would probably relish this opportunity to put her so drastically in the wrong.

As if the thought had given rise to the devil—or the devil to the thought?—the man himself appeared before her on the balcony a few yards away. He was wearing the magnificent ceremonial costume of a Cup Companion, but she shivered as if at the approach of menace and dodged behind one of the columns of worn, sand-coloured brick.

But she had been mesmerized a second too long, and he struck fast, like the falcon he was named for. The next moment he was before her, blocking her path.

“Where has your cousin gone?” demanded Latif Abd al Razzaq Shahin, Cup Companion to the new Sultan, in a commanding voice.

Jalia's skin twitched all the way to her scalp. She shrank against the pillar in instinctive animal alarm, then forced herself to stand straight. Her face was totally covered. How could he know who she was, behind the veil? He was only guessing.

“I dant now vot you are tawkeen abowt,” she said in a deep, breathy voice. “You are made a meestek.”

He shook his head with the unconscious, bone-deep arrogance she so hated. Whatever Latif Abd al Razzaq decided to own was his, whatever he decided to
do was right, and everyone else—life itself—had to submit. That was the message.

Anger sang through her blood and nerves. How she detested the man! He was everything she most disliked about the East.

“The game is over, Jalia,” he said through his teeth. “Where did she go?”

She wanted to walk away, but her path was blocked by his body. She would have to push past him, and she discovered that she was deeply reluctant to do so.

“I am not who you sink. Lit me pess,” she commanded, with icy disdain.

He raised a hand, his teeth flashing as she instinctively flinched. Slowly and deliberately he caught a corner of the scarf that covered her to draw it back over her head.

Her thick, ash-coloured hair lay over one side of her face, a heavy wave curving in against the high, delicate cheek, half masking one slate-green eye as she lifted her chin with a cool, haughty look.

His hand remained tangled in the scarf, the pale hair brushing his knuckles as Latif and the Princess gazed at each other. Deep mutual hostility seemed to warp the air between them.

After a curious, frozen moment, his fingers released the supple silk and his hand withdrew. With the breaking of the connection the air could move again.

“Where has your cousin gone?” he asked in a harsh, low voice.

Her chin went up another notch, and her jade eyes flashed cool fire. She showed no embarrassment at having been caught in a lie.

“Don't speak to me in that tone of voice, Excellency.”

“Where?”

“I have no idea where Noor is. Perhaps in a bathroom somewhere, being sick. I am looking for her. You waste time by keeping me here. Let me pass, please.”

“If you are looking for her in the house, it is you who waste time. She has fled.”

Jalia's heart dropped like a diving seabird. “
Fled?
I don't believe you! Fled where?”

“That is the question Bari sent me to ask you. Where has the Princess gone?”

“Are you telling me she's left the house?”

“Don't you know it?”

Involuntarily she glanced down at her own closed fist. “No! How would I know? I was waiting with the other bridesmaids….”

His eyes followed hers. Her fist was clenched tight on something. In a move that was almost possessive, his hand closed on her wrist. Calmly he forced her hand over, so that the fingertips were uppermost.

“What is it?” His eyes flicked from her hand to her face and rested there, with a grimly determined look.

“None of your bloody business! Let go of me!”

“Open your hand, Princess Jalia.”

She struggled, but his strength was firmly turned against her now, and she could not get free. After a moment in which they stared at each other, she had the humiliation of feeling the pressure of his finger between her knuckles, forcing her hand open.

On her open palm a diamond solitaire glittered with painful brilliance.

Again his green eyes moved to her face, and the expression she saw in them made her stiffen.

“What is this?” he demanded as, with long, strong fingers, he ignored her struggles and plucked the ring from her palm. He let her wrist go so suddenly she staggered.

He held it up in a shaft of sunlight that found its way into the shadows of the balcony through some chink in the ancient arched roof. It glowed and flashed, but even the fabulous al Khalid Diamond couldn't match Latif Abd al Razzaq's eyes for glitter.

“What is this?” he repeated accusingly.

“A cheap imitation?” Jalia drawled with exaggerated irony, because Noor's engagement diamond was unmistakable. The al Khalid Diamond was probably worth about a thousand times what had been paid for the modest engagement band of opals encircling Jalia's own finger.

The ring's value, as much as its stark, flashing beauty, had delighted Noor, but it didn't tempt Jalia one bit. She knew too well what came with a ring like that—a man like Bari al Khalid…or Latif Abd al Razzaq.

“Tell me where your cousin has gone.”

“What makes you so damned sure
I
know? Back to the palace, I suppose! Where else would she go?”

Her scarf was slipping forward over her face again. Jalia began irritably tearing at the pins that held it. What a stupid bloody custom it was, the bride having to be chosen from among a group of bridesmaids, all with scarves draped over their heads, to test the
groom's perspicacity! Everyone knew the groom was always tipped off as to exactly what his bride would be wearing, and today anyway Noor had infuriated all the diehards by wearing Western white. Bari would have had to be blind and ignorant to miss her, even under the yards of enveloping tulle.

But everyone had insisted on playing the ancient ritual out, nevertheless. It was just one of many reasons why Jalia was grateful that her parents had fled Bagestan years before she was born, and why she was not happy about their plans for coming back.

Latif Abd al Razzaq was another.

He gazed at her, incredulous. Jalia knew he would never believe that, as opposed as she had been to Noor's hasty, ill-conceived wedding, Jalia had had absolutely nothing to do with this last-minute sabotage.

But what did she care? What Latif Abd al Razzaq thought of her mattered precisely nothing to her.

She flung the beautifully embroidered scarf away from her, not caring that it caught on a rosebush bristling with thorns.

“You have her ring.”

“Yes,” Jalia admitted coolly.

“How did you get it?”

“What makes it your business to ask me that question, Excellency? And in that particular tone of voice?”

His voice shifted to a deep growl. “What tone of voice do you want from me, Princess?” he asked abruptly.

Jalia's skin twitched, but she brushed aside her nervous discomfort.

“I would be quite happy never to hear your voice at all.”

Jalia was glad of Latif Abd al Razzaq's dislike, of the fierce disapproval that he didn't bother to hide. A man like him could only be an enemy—she knew that much—and it was safer to have the enmity in the open. Then no one was fooled.

Looking up at him now, in the deep green silk jacket that intensified the dangerous depths of his emerald eyes, a thickly ornamented ceremonial sword slung from one hip, she felt the antipathy like a powerful current between them.

She didn't know why he should dislike her, though she understood her own deep dislike of him clearly enough: he embodied everything she least liked in a man. Autocratic, overbearing, sure of himself, super-masculine, proud of it.

“Did Noor speak to you before she fled?”

She sighed her outrage. “What do you hope to gain by this?”

“Did she drop any hint? Did she say she was heading to the palace?”

“Will you stop imagining I stage-managed this? Whatever Noor is doing, and whoever is helping her, I had nothing to do with it! Has it occurred to you
at all
that this may not be what it looks like? For all you or I know, Noor was enticed out of the house by some threat—”

“Ah! She did not leave of her own accord?” The emerald eyes glinted with mocking admiration.

“I don't know! Can't you get it past your rigid mind-set that I have no idea why Noor has left—if she has?”

“If?”

“Well, I only have your word for it, Excellency, and you have now and then shown a predisposition to wanting to see me put in the wrong!”

His Excellency gazed at her without speaking for a moment.

“We must talk to the others. Come.”

He turned on his heel and started along the wide, roofed terrace, then entered the arched passageway that led into the main courtyard of the house.

Jalia's jaw clenched, but she had to talk to Noor's parents, and that meant apparently obeying Latif's command. Besides, she reminded herself, he had the ring, and if she wasn't present he would be sure to put some damning interpretation on the fact that he had found it in Jalia's own hand.

BOOK: The Ice Maiden's Sheikh
13.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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