Authors: Leslie North
By Leslie North
The Sharqi Sheikhs Series –
Hardworking waitress Carolyn Michaels doesn’t even have time to sleep, so of course she stood up the charity auction date she agreed to. But her date has other ideas, and she soon wakes up halfway around the world in Sheikh Mahil Sharqi’s luxurious palace. With some very scary men expecting her back home, Carolyn needs to figure out a way out of this. But Mahil’s brooding good looks and overprotective nature make it clear that won’t be easy.
When Mahil tracked down the stubborn blonde beauty that stood him up, it was obvious she was in some kind of trouble. She won’t open up to him about her problems, but that won’t stop him from keeping her safe. He failed a girl once before, and he refuses to let history repeat itself.
Their attraction becomes undeniable, but Carolyn learned early on not to rely on others, and Mahil has never forgiven himself for the past. Can these two unlikely lovers ever move on and allow themselves to take a second chance?
Thank you for downloading ‘The Sheikh’s Kidnapped Bride (The Sharqi Sheikhs Series Book 3)’
full-length, highly-rated Leslie North Novellas
Sign-up to her mailing list and start reading them within minutes:
“You stood him up?” Kerri asked in surprise, her voice ending on a squeak as she continued to wipe down the diner counter.
Not looking at her friend, Carolyn Michaels nodded her head in response, “Yeah. I didn’t have a choice.”
She’d just finished wiping down all of the salt and pepper shakers, and she was more than ready for a break, as she tossed her rag into the sink.
“You want a soda?” she called out, scooping ice into a plastic glass and sticking it under the soda fountain.
Kerri smiled and wiped her hands, “Might as well. It’s not been this quiet around here all day long.” Taking the glass Carolyn handed her, she used one of the paper napkins from the metal container on the countertop to wipe the sweat from her brow.
“So, tell me all about Ryan’s soccer game.” Carolyn suggested as the two women slid into one of the booths, carefully avoiding the cracked and torn vinyl in the process.
“It was great! I can’t thank you again for covering for me yesterday morning. I haven’t made it to any of his games this season, and since there are only three games left, I really needed to make this one.”
“No problem. I can always use the extra hours you know that. How did he do?”
“He scored the only goal of the game
I managed to catch it on my cell phone. He was so excited. I took him out for pizza after to celebrate and he was telling everyone about it. When the manager offered to put it up on the big screen so he could watch it for himself, he stood there in front of the screen with his little feet moving as he dribbled the ball. When he scored, everyone in the pizza place cheered. It was adorable. I’m so proud of my little man.”
“Oh, Kerri, that’s fantastic. He’s growing up so fast.”
“Tell me about it. He’s already outgrown his school clothes.”
Carolyn took a drink and caught Ken watching them both from the kitchen service window. “Don’t look now, but eyes are a’watchin’.”
Kerri glanced towards the kitchen window and waved her fingers in Ken’s direction, “He better not say a thing. We don’t have anything else to do right now, and I’m not scrubbing those bathroom floors again. I told him last time that until he managed to fix the leaky plumbing, I wasn’t setting foot in there again.”
Carolyn made a face and then hid a yawn behind her hand, “He’s only putting off the inevitable. There’s no way the health inspector is going to sign off on things around here his next inspection.”
“Yeah. I don’t want to be here after that visit,” Kerri told her.
Carolyn agreed with a nod of her head, “I’m with you on that one. Maybe we’ll get a heads up he’s coming and we can both call in sick that day.”
“Sick? I thought we were supposed to never be sick, never need a day off, and never need a break,” Kerri joked with her. Seeing a tired smile flit across Carolyn’s face, she immediately saw an opportunity and changed the subject. “So, you took on my shift, and then pulled extra hours stocking shelves? I was hoping to live vicariously through you by hearing all about your hot date with the man who bought you.”
“He didn’t buy me,” Carolyn corrected her. “He bought two hours of my time.”
“He still paid good money to spend time with you. I wouldn’t have asked you to cover for me if I’d known you were going to blow your hot date off!”
“I didn’t stand him up because I took your shift. I needed the extra money and an opportunity arose.” Carolyn yawned behind her hand, “Besides, I might have fallen asleep while we were at dinner, and what fun would that have been?”
“Car, when was the last time you did something purely for the fun of it?” Kerri asked, giving her best friend a knowing look.
The two had been friends for almost eight years, and Kerri was always giving Carolyn a hard time about how she worked all the time and never took time to have any fun. It was true, but Carolyn was usually too tired to argue the point. Tonight was no different.
She scooped her dark hair up in one hand and held it up, allowing the lukewarm air to waft across her neck. She gave it a slight twist, wrapping it into a loose ponytail high on the top of her head. She didn’t care if it looked messy or not, she was hot and she was tired. Her muscles were sore, and she felt her eyelids’ start to droop. She hid another yawn behind her hand, but a quick glance across the table showed she hadn’t actually hidden anything.
“When was the last time you slept? And before you try to convince me otherwise, five minutes leaning up against the deep freeze in the back doesn’t count as actual sleep.” Kerri looked at her with a mothering look that had Carolyn ducking her head and trying to pretend a keen interest in the chipped sparkle tabletop.
“I sleep,” she muttered, another yawn taking over the end of her statement.
What I wouldn’t give for five minutes against the deep freeze right now. But then, Ken didn’t tolerate laziness on the job and five minutes would never be enough! Oh well, I can sleep when I get old.
Changing the subject, she turned it back to Kerri’s son, Ryan. “So, was he voted MVP in the game?”
Kerri shook her finger at her, “I know what you’re doing, and the only reason I’m going to allow it is because you want to talk about my son. And yes, he was. Whichever player is MVP for that particular game gets to take the trophy home for the week. Honestly, I thought it was silly but Ryan can’t stop looking at it. I’ve even found it in his bed.”
Chuckling, “That’s awesome!” Carolyn told her. She yawned again as a wave of exhaustion swept over her body. It was only by sheer willpower that she didn’t allow herself to slip down in the booth and rest the back of her head on the seat behind her.
“Why don’t you go home?” Kerri asked her, seeing how tired her friend was and wishing there was something she could do to help make her life more bearable.
“No, Ken’s already a little upset with me because I lost my patience with a customer yesterday.”
She yawned again, this time almost falling over in the booth while Kerri chuckled. “Girl, you need to go home and sleep. You’re like a drunk!”
“No, just a tired working girl. But, I don’t have anything planned tonight so I’ll sleep then.”
Kerri looked at her and then shrugged, “So, explain to me what was so important that you stood up that guy from the Middle East.”
“He’s not just some guy. He’s Sheik Mahil Sharqi.”
“Sheik? Wow. There is no way I would have stood him up. Not for all the money in the world…well, okay, maybe for all the money in the world. But you probably made what, thirty bucks last night?”
Carolyn shook her head, “No, I made almost a hundred. We were doing inventory so they pay us time and a half.”
“I don’t care; I still don’t think I would have passed up a date with the man. That picture you showed me was extra yummy. And those eyes…a girl could get totally lost in those blue eyes. Why did you agree to do that charity auction anyways?”
Carolyn shrugged, “Extra credit. Professor. Sanders was offering enough extra credit to help offset that crummy grade I got on the research paper this term.”
“If you weren’t working so many hours, you would have had more time to do your homework and you wouldn’t need extra credit,” Kerri reminded her.
“Yes, mother! Anyway, it is what it is and with the extra credit I might actually pull a B this semester.”
“So what happens when the Sheik tells the university that you stood him up?” Kerri asked.
“Well, I’m hoping that maybe his pride will keep him from saying anything. At least for another three weeks. The semester will be over by then and I’ll already have my grade in Sanders’ class.” Carolyn sighed and rolled her neck forward, her ability to fight her exhaustion now that she was sitting down was almost gone.
“So where exactly were you supposed to meet this date of yours? I bet it was somewhere fabulous,” she said on a wistful note.
Carolyn nodded her head and named a five star restaurant connected to one of the most expensive hotels in the city. Kerri’s eyes went wide and Carolyn waved off her look, “I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the food there anyway. Too expensive for my taste. My taste buds aren’t used to such high end stuff.”
Kerri heard the door to the diner open and looked up, a slow smile spreading across her face. She leaned forward without taking her eyes off the newcomer and told Carolyn, “Well, I hope your hot date can say the same. Cheap coffee isn’t for everyone.”
Carolyn glanced up at Kerri, but when she saw where her attention was fixed, she quickly looked over her shoulder and felt the blood drain away from her face.
No way! What is he doing here! And how did he find me to begin with?
Carolyn glanced at Kerri and then slid from the booth, biting back a curse when the cracked vinyl bit into the back of her thigh where the short skirt of her diner uniform had ridden up. She reached a hand back to rub the scratch, grimacing when she pulled her hand away and a thin line of blood greeted her. “Great!” she muttered under her breath as she headed for the tall man standing there staring right at her.
Too upset to stand on ceremony, she locked her hands together in front of her and asked baldly, “What are you doing here?”
His eyes took in her appearance, and Carolyn resisted the urge to squirm beneath his all-too-knowing gaze. Her uniform had seen better days, it was a size too small, and several inches shorter than she was normally comfortable with. She was surprised when she saw the warmth in his eyes, which had her stomach flip-flopping and dizziness threatening to overwhelm her. When she bit her lip to keep from dropping her eyes, he smirked and suddenly she had no problem looking at him.
“I came here looking for my date,” he told her, his Middle Eastern accent very pronounced. His voice was steady and even, and he didn’t sound upset, but then again, she didn’t know him well enough to make that assumption.
“I’m sorry about last night, but I had to work.”
Had to. Chose to. Same thing in her book.
Looking at the man standing in front of her, she doubted he’d ever
to work a day in his life. He wouldn’t understand and she wasn’t about to waste time and energy trying to explain how common people lived to him.
to work? But we had an agreement,” he reminded her. When she offered no other comment, he explained, “Since you weren’t able to meet me, I came here to eat dinner. With you.”
Carolyn shook her head, the loose ponytail from moments ago falling out and scattering her hair around her shoulders in disarray, “I don’t have time to eat right now. I still have a few hours left of my shift.”
“No matter, I will sit at one of your tables and you can bring me some American cuisine. I admit I haven’t eaten in such an establishment before, so I will leave the choice of my meal in your capable hands.”
He wanted to eat here? No way!
“That’s not a good idea. You need to leave. You really don’t want to eat…”
“Carolyn! Is there a problem here?” Ken asked, having witnessed his waitress and the very affluent looking man talking for more time than was necessary to simply seat a customer.
Carolyn looked at Ken and thinned her lips, “No. There’s isn’t any problem here.”
“Good. Why don’t you get back to work and I’ll make sure our guest is seated properly.” Ken suggested with a hint of steel in his voice.
Carolyn looked at the man who’d paid for her time to have dinner with him and then walked away. She overheard Ken apologizing for the poor service; promising him an excellent meal with a proper server. “Can I get you something to drink? A cold beer perhaps?”
Carolyn didn’t stick around to hear her date’s answer, but ducked into the small alcove where the waitresses kept their supplies and silently fumed.
How dare he come here and jeopardize her work? He may not have to work for a living, but she certainly did!
“What’s wrong? Why is Ken seating him in my section?” Kerri asked a few seconds later.
Carolyn scowled, “Because Ken’s a busybody and didn’t mind his own damn business.” She saw Kerri’s eyebrows go up at her use of the curse word, but she didn’t apologize. She was mad and too tired to worry about self-control at the moment. “I was trying to get Mahil to leave, but he says he wants to try some American cuisine. Since when does anything we serve here even come close to being considered
Kerri shook her head, “It doesn’t. But he sure is hot to look at,” she told her.
“What does Max think about you drooling over other men?” Carolyn asked, unsure why her tone came out harder than she expected.
Peeking over the small wall, “What? He’s my boyfriend. It doesn’t mean I don’t look at others. Especially when a ten comes walking into Ken’s Diner. I mean has that
Carolyn joined her friend as she watched Mahil. His dark, wavy hair was longer than when she saw him last and his piercing blue eyes seemed to take so much in, as he swept his gaze around the restaurant taking in the torn seats and cracked tile. Even beneath his flawless dress shirt and jacket, he was gorgeous with his broad shoulders and narrow waist. His tailored pants did nothing to hide his muscular legs as he turned to follow Ken.
“Oh girlfriend, that man is candy on a stick! You need some of what he’s got!”
Carolyn was about to reply when suddenly Ken was standing there, looking at both women with a sneer on his face, “He wants you to serve him.”
“Me?” Carolyn squeaked when Ken pointed a finger in her direction. “But it’s Kerri’s table.”
Ken shook his head, “I don’t care if it’s the freaking Pope’s section. He wants you to serve him, and with the amount of money he’s already promised to leave as a tip, you’ll serve him or find another job!”
Ken kept half of their nightly tips, saying it was part of his building renovation fund. Both women knew it was against the law for him to do so, but since they both needed their jobs, and complaining was a sure way for them both to be fired, they said nothing and simply gave him half of their tip money each night. It sucked, but Carolyn had learned early on that most of the things that happened to her in this life did so.
Carolyn glanced at Ken, seeing his eyes narrowed at her in challenge, and silently fumed. She wanted to refuse so badly she could taste it, but she needed this job. Desperately. She looked over her shoulder and saw Mahil watching her closely, his ice blue eyes seeming to see everything at a glance.
“Carolyn?” Ken demanded an answer. “He’s waiting. Are you going to stand here all night?”
Carolyn reluctantly nodded her head, “Fine. I’ll take his order.”
“And you’ll be so sweet his teeth ache or next week you won’t have to worry about how to spend your time. You’ll be hitting the streets looking for another great job, because this one will have vanished!”
Ken stomped off, a pleased smile on his face at having told Carolyn what to do. She fervently longed for the day she could tell him where to shove his measly job.
Why do I put up with this place?
“You okay?” Kerri asked, touching her arm lightly and searching her face.
“Yeah.” Carolyn hid another yawn behind her hand and her shoulders slumped in defeat. “I can’t believe he tracked me here.”
“You weren’t kidding when you said you hoped he’d just forget about your date were you?”
Carolyn shook her head and reached for a menu, “No, I wasn’t kidding.”
Kerri looked over the wall and then back to Carolyn, “Did this man actually meet you the night of the auction?”
Carolyn nodded, “Only for about half an hour or so. There was this small cocktail party after the auction was completed. God, why couldn’t he have just forgotten about me and found some other female to chase after?”
Kerri looked at her with an astonished and disbelieving look upon her face, “You’re kidding right?”
Carolyn shook her head, “No. Why would I be kidding?” She grabbed a service set and the coffee pot and stepped out to go take care of business.
“Look in the mirror sometime and really see yourself. You’re beautiful,” Kerri told her, to which Carolyn shook her head and made a face before heading towards her unwanted guest.
Kerri watched the way the Sheik tracked Carolyn’s movement across the diner floor and smiled before walking back out to the floor to take care of a customer.