Home > The Sheik's Reluctant Lover

The Sheik's Reluctant Lover
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Sheik's Reluctant Lover

The Sheik's Reluctant Lover
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

“Dad, I just don’t think…” Rachel Stuart started to say.

Her father gently interrupted her before she could come up with an excuse. “Don’t say you don’t have the time. I guarantee you won’t regret this.”

Rachel bit her lip, wondering how she could say no to her father. She knew he was lonely, but…

“He’s not here, honey.” John Stuart said the words softly, but her heart ached that her father knew.

She closed her eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath as the pain of her last visit to the farm swept through her. She slowly let the air out of her lungs and straightened her shoulders, not willing to reveal too much even to her father. “I don’t care if he’s there or not Dad. This has nothing to…”

“Rach’, don’t even try it.” He softly interrupted her comment, knowing where this conversation would go if he allowed it. “Your old Dad knows what’s going on and I feel for you. Rais isn’t scheduled to arrive until late tomorrow afternoon. So if you don’t come out tonight, then you’re not going to be able to see these beauties for another month and I know you’re gonna love these guys.”

‘Beauties’? Did that mean that new horses had arrived on the farm? He knew he’d piqued her interest with that comment and she hesitated only briefly because if there was one thing in this world she loved besides her father it was horses. And she was relieved that the man in question wasn’t scheduled to arrive until the following day. “What is it?” she asked, trying to hide her curiosity but failing because whatever her father was calling about had to be big.

His relieved laughter flowed through the phone lines, knowing that he’d gotten her with those words. If there was one thing Rachel hated it was to not know a secret. He tormented her with Christmas and birthday presents, and any surprises he could think of throughout the year just to tease her. “Come out for dinner tonight and you’ll see.” He waited a moment before he said, “I’ll make you macaroni and cheese,” he said with a hopeful tone.

He’d hit her weak point, damn him. She closed her eyes, her hand gripping her cell phone as if she could find strength. “With the gorgonzola cheese?” she whispered.

“You bet,” he laughed again, knowing that she was caught now. “I’ll see you at six o’clock. Don’t be late or I start eating it myself.”

She groaned and shook her head. “Fine. I’ll be there.” He knew exactly how to lure her home for a visit. His macaroni and cheese was the best with gorgonzola cheese and chives. The man didn’t stop there. He added secret ingredients he wouldn’t even give her a hint about so that she couldn’t figure out how to make it herself. She’d tried, just so she didn’t have to risk running into the man in question, but she hadn’t come close and he was using that as her compensation for the risk involved in coming home.

After disconnecting, she stared at her computer screen, her eyes not really seeing anything. Her father knew, she thought with resignation and more than a little embarrassment. He wasn’t a stupid man, so it was ridiculous of her to think that he hadn’t noticed her reaction to the man over the years. But it would have been nice if it had just been her secret.

With resignation and embarrassment, she accepted that there were just some things a daughter couldn’t hide from her dad.

Three hours later, she shut down her laptop and packed up her office, forcing a smile as she walked out of the building so her co-workers didn’t know she felt like she was facing a death squad. She usually timed these things better but she’d already committed to the visit. Coming out tonight was cutting things a bit closer than she preferred.

It took her two hours with heavy traffic because she worked in downtown Washington, D.C. and her father lived out west of the city. It felt as if everyone and their brother were heading out west along Interstate 66 so there were long periods when she was crawling in traffic, and those were the good moments. There were other times when she just sat there, the autumn sunshine beating through her window while traffic came to a standstill. This was why she used public transportation, she thought with frustration as she pulled her jacket off during one of the many sitting spells. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any way to get all the way out to the farm on public transit so she had to drive herself, inching along in rush hour traffic.

When she finally pulled up behind the stables, she was hot, miserable, irritated and painfully hungry.

She walked into her father’s cottage and dumped her overnight bag by the door, already feeling better once she smelled the macaroni and cheese scent wafting through his small home. “Dad? I’m home!” she called out. “Can you tell me what the surprise is that couldn’t wait another month?”

Her father stepped out of the kitchen, tossing a dishtowel over his shoulder. The look in his eyes told her something was very wrong. “Glad you’re here!” he said, a little too loudly, his eyes darting from her to the kitchen, then back again worriedly. “Dinner is almost ready. Why don’t you go change and I’ll get everything ready.”

Rachel watched her dad carefully, noting the odd look in his eyes. “Didn’t you mention that you made macaroni and cheese for dinner? I can already smell it so there’s no need to change. I can just dig in.”

He hesitated, glancing behind him and Rachel peered into the kitchen, wondering what he was trying to see.

When the tall man emerged from the tiny kitchen, he took her breath away and her body immediately reacted to those dark, penetrating eyes. He was taller, his shoulders broader and his eyes darker, more dangerous. Everything about him was just….more. She gasped at the sight of him, her eyes taking in the overwhelming presence of the man she’d been avoiding for the past six years. And she’d been doing a damn good job if that until tonight.

Her father shuffled around for a moment before he said, “I’ll just go check on dinner.” And he disappeared into the kitchen, leaving her alone to face her demons.

“Rais!” she breathed, her heart instantly racing, her knees starting to feel weak and wobbly. She couldn’t believe that he was actually here, in her father’s small cottage. It had never felt this tiny before but Rais was so large, he actually had to duck between the kitchen doorway leading to the den area so he didn’t bump his head. And shockingly, he had to angle his shoulders to get through the doorway? Ridiculous, she thought, trying to pull her eyes away from him.

It was difficult, but she finally did it. Unfortunately, her eyes only moved away from his penetrating eyes. Traveling down his body was just as bad. His broad, muscular shoulders tapered to slim hips and long legs that she knew were covered with bulging muscles, just like the rest of him. The man was the epitome of masculinity topped off with an aura of confidence that many, many women found fascinating and alluring.

She was not immune to his magnetism either, which was why she’d tried so hard to avoid visiting her father while he was in residence.

She knew that Rais’ father passed away several years ago, so he was now Sheik Rais Sayyid Tarif Zaman, Sheik of Dunari, she thought in a ridiculous train of thought that left her speechless. She couldn’t even tell him to get out since, technically, this was his cottage, his farm and all of the horses out in the stables were his. He owned the farm here in Virginia so if he wanted to come to his house earlier than anticipated, he could do whatever he pleased.

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