Authors: Elizabeth Lennox
The Sheik’s Beautiful Intruder
By Elizabeth Lennox
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Any duplication of this material, either electronic or any other format, either currently in use or a future invention, is strictly prohibited unless you have the direct consent of the author.
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Table of Contents
Nikki braced herself, prepared to have huge, beefy men grab her arms and carry her back out of the hotel’s ballroom. Were her actions illegal? She had no idea, but they probably were. After all, she was entering a secure environment with stolen press credentials.
The guard stopped in front of her, waving his hand to indicate she should open her bag. Nikki held back a bit, not sure what this next level of security might be for. “I’ve already gone through the x-ray,” Nikki said, trying to assume an air of assertiveness when, in reality, she was quaking inside.
The man’s eyes narrowed and Nikki realized that she might be kicked out before the “party” even started. With a grimace, she opened the bag she’d snagged from Brianna’s apartment that Nikki had “borrowed” for this venture. Brianna was one of Nikki’s best friends, and the only reason she’d shown up at a boring press conference was because she suspected this man had something to do with her friend’s disappearance. She knew almost nothing about him, except that he controlled an enormous portion of the oil produced in the world.
“Nothing but notebooks and pens,” Nikki said as the man peered inside the bag.
When he nodded, allowing Nikki to move inside the rapidly filling ballroom for the press conference, she breathed a sigh of relief. She took a seat off to the side, not sure what she might discover here today. But this was her only lead.
Brianna was missing, Nikki couldn’t reach Rachel, she and her new husband were still out of the country doing something wonderful, and the only link Nikki had to Brianna was an e-mail she’d received just recently. It was from Brianna and showed the Sheik of Yafar’s family crest in the corner and some questionable wording. Unfortunately, Nikki had no idea where Brianna was or even how the e-mail with this man’s family crest was connected to her friend’s disappearance.
The other reporters were walking around, talking with each other as they waited for the press conference to start. Nikki stood over on the sidelines, watching, trying to figure out the mystery of her friend’s disappearance. She was more worried than she wanted to admit; her mind kept going over the words of the e-mail. Brianna hadn’t gotten a good picture of it, so only some words were visible, but they didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Just a bunch of words that related to markets and oil prices.
Shoot! She wished Rachel were here! Rachel could figure this out, Nikki was sure of it. Of the three of them, Rachel was the one who understood math, markets and logic. Nikki was a high school English teacher. She felt like this whole situation was way out of her league, but the police wouldn’t do anything! They didn’t believe Brianna was missing since, apparently, Bri’s editor had given her a long weekend. But Nikki knew that Bri would have called, told Nikki what was going on, probably even asked Nikki to do something with her. Bri was the sweet, quiet one. She preferred cooking a meal at home and inviting people over versus going out to a restaurant. None of them liked the loud bar scene, but Bri was especially eager to avoid crowds.
Someone came to the podium at that moment and Nikki looked around, trying to find a seat. The chairs quickly filled up and Nikki just plopped down in the first one that was vacant. Unfortunately, it was in the front row. Nikki would prefer to be sitting in the back, observing the scene, trying to connect the dots.
She twisted slightly, trying to see if there were any seats behind her. Unfortunately, since this was such a highly anticipated press conference, the room was packed. She could either sit right here, or she could stand up and move to the back where the reporters and photographers were already standing five or six deep, shifting in an effort to find enough room for themselves and their equipment.
So instead, she chose to stay where she was and observe. She could be quiet, she told herself. She wouldn’t interfere no matter what the man said. She rolled that thought around in her mind and had to cringe inwardly. Perhaps being quiet and unobtrusive wasn’t exactly her forte, but she could do it. This was too important to mess up. She had to find out what happened to Bri!
The person at the podium cleared his throat and the room instantly quieted. “Good afternoon, everyone,” he said with a very strong accent that made some of his words difficult to decipher. The man went into the various issues that would be discussed between this sheik guy and the president. While he droned on, Nikki thought she might just fall asleep. The issues were so tedious and dry. Was the man
to bore the room?
Suddenly, there was a wave of energy that hit her full force. She looked around, not sure what was going on. She watched the other reporters but none of them seemed to have noticed.
How was that possible? Couldn’t they feel the tension? The spark?
Apparently not. The woman beside Nikki was doodling and the man on the other side of her was texting a message to someone. No one felt the change in the atmosphere, but she couldn’t deny that something had changed.
She looked up, her eyes somehow drawn to the right side of the low stage. And that’s where she saw him! She almost felt like she was falling off of her chair, his eyes looking straight at her tipped her world sideways. The man wasn’t just handsome, he was gorgeous! But in a scary, dark and dangerous way that titillated the secret part of her that she was always trying to suppress. The part of her she was ashamed of.
His black hair and black eyes looked out at her, capturing her attention and the rest of the world faded away. She no longer felt the uncomfortable chair, heard the tedious words of the speaker, or the heat caused by so many bodies and bright lights in one room. There were only those dark, intense eyes capturing her gaze, not releasing her. She wanted to inhale, but there was a problem with that. It simply wasn’t possible!
Her tongue slipped out and she licked her dry lips. She tried swallowing, but that was apparently another bodily function that refused to happen while this man continued to control her. She wanted to turn away, to stand up and run out of the room, but something kept her still, in her chair. Was it those eyes? Was he able to control her simply with his eyes?
And then he moved! Nikki felt as if she had been released, but her body betrayed her by feeling…wrong! She wanted his eyes back, wanted that crazy, spiraling intensity back!
The rest of the reporters sat up straighter in their chairs. The man glanced around the ballroom filled with strangers, his eyes coming back to her twice before he was standing at the podium. Nikki took deep, gulping breaths of air and wiggled in the chair, trying to figure out how she could stand up and speed out of this room. She didn’t like the way he’d just controlled her and was shivering in reaction. The thought occurred to her that he was about to speak and she tensed, worried about what was to come. Something inside of her instinctively knew that his voice would have the same, or even more powerful impact on her senses that his eyes had.
She had to run, to get out of here before he spoke. She didn’t want to hear his voice, didn’t want to be controlled by this man again. She looked right and left, her eyes latching onto the exit door on the side wall, then back to him. And that was her mistake. The man stood there staring at her, daring her to leave. How had he known what she was thinking? How could he read her mind and her actions so clearly?
The shivering increased and she leaned back against the chair, wanting to hide behind the person next to her. Wanting a break from those eyes and that look that told her he could read her thoughts.
And then he started speaking.
Her whole body immediately began trembling. And that horrible man smiled when he caught her eyes again, as if he knew exactly what kind of an impact he had on her.
That voice! The deep, baritone voice spoke with an accent that sent additional thrills throughout her body. How was this possible? Men simply didn’t affect her in this way. She’d been around handsome men in college, and there were several teachers in her school who were physically attractive. But none of them compared to this man. None of them warranted even a second look, unlike this man whom she couldn’t look away from.
He wasn’t exactly like a male model, but more of…a lion, she thought, startled. Yes, this man reminded her of a lion: stalking his prey, watching, waiting, closing in. He never relented. As he spoke, he showered her body with sensuous shivers, alerted her mind to his masculinity and left her trembling. Even while he answered the other reporters’ questions, he would glance over at her as if to tell her that he was still in charge, that she needed to stay in her seat.
Suddenly, he stopped and signaled to someone to his right. His aide stepped forward and the sheik-guy whispered something in the aide’s ear who immediately nodded, then disappeared.
With that small action, Nikki resented the sheik guy instantly. He acted like the whole world was here to do his bidding. And perhaps he was used to people bowing and scraping, but she wasn’t like the others with whom he surrounded himself. She didn’t like to be controlled. She did the controlling. She went her own way, traveled her own path in life, and woe be to anyone who tried to stop her.
She stuffed all this shivering and nervousness away, determined to turn the tables on this man. Standing up at his next pause, she asked, “How do you think the markets are going to react to your latest project?” pretending like her knees weren’t wobbling. She watched him carefully, saw his eyes narrow and knew she’d scored a point. Unfortunately, she wasn’t completely sure what that point meant. But it was there in his eyes, and she reveled in her power. Would he discuss his latest market manipulations? She knew she hadn’t phrased the question well enough, which irritated her further. Her whole life was words and teaching people the power of words. But here she stood, fumbling for the words that would pierce his confidence and would somehow give her back control.
The odd, mincing man who had spoken first stepped forward. “Can you state your name for the record, please?” he asserted.
The sheik-guy put a hand on the shorter man’s shoulder, as if silently letting him know that he could handle this latest question.
When the aide stepped back, those dark eyes once again pierced through her bravado. Nikki and her stomach clenched, her trembling increased and she had trouble taking a deep breath.
“Markets are not in my control, although we work hard to make the markets work for us, within the confines of the law, of course.” All the other reporters laughed and some looked at her curiously. “I appreciate your question though.” With that, he once again turned and faced the rest of the crowd, taking a question from another reporter.