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The Sheik's Dangerous Lover
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Sheik's Dangerous Lover

The Sheik's Dangerous Lover
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

Shanelle Basara tugged the formal gown higher, irritated that she even had to wear such an outfit. It was ridiculous that she was here, much less all dolled up for some arrogant, conceited jerk. She’d made it quite clear to the powers-that-be that she wanted nothing to do with this weekend, but here she was.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t like she could simply ignore the summons. He was the sheik!

But why was she here? As Shanelle looked around, there were so many eager, excited women, most of whom were much more beautiful and poised than she was. Of course, some of those differences she had fostered intentionally. She’d purposely played down her looks with almost no makeup and possibly the most unflattering dress she could find. The halter style dress was a silvery grey which she thought made her skin look pale and sallow. The cut of the dress made her hips look huge and her boobs were barely visible, unlike many of the other choices on the ladies present. The cut of the hemline probably showed a bit too much leg, but it was the best she could do on such short notice.

She wasn’t fat by anyone’s definition, but she refused to starve herself like so many other women. She had a tiny waist but who cared about a waistline? Her legs were fine, but not overly toned like the woman to Shanelle’s right. Nor were they long and slender like the woman to her left. She walked beside her mother and father feeling inadequate, self-conscious and resentful, wishing she were anyone and anywhere else.

She didn’t understand why so many women had been invited to a huge ball at the palace. If the rumors were true, then the sheik was trying to find a wife. But the man was thirty-six years old and had remained unmarried until this point. Why would he bow to tradition and marry now? It didn’t make any sense. Of course, it didn’t make much sense for her and her parents to be here either. Her father was well off and well liked in the government, but he wasn’t a high ranking officer or agency leader. Her mother didn’t work, but she helped her father through socializing, which Shanelle knew was a very powerful part of life in Kanaan. As in many government political careers, much of the work of government was done during social events, during quiet negotiations over a glass of wine or bourbon, ending in a handshake.

But that had nothing to do with Shanelle, so it was very strange for her to be invited when she’d never been a part of their social network before now. So the rumors must be true about the sheik needing to find a wife. Since that wasn’t a position to which Shanelle aspired, she wanted to turn around and head back home, curl up on her overstuffed chair and read a good book. Of course, she could also afford to put in a few more hours studying for the law exams which she’d signed up to take next month.

As she waited in line to be announced, she looked around, trying to figure out how to get out of this ridiculous charade. She didn’t want to be noticed, she wanted to blend in. To be in the background.

“Dad, I need to run to freshen up,” she said and slipped her hand from his arm before he could argue with her. She smiled at her mother to reassure her, but spun around on her heel and headed in the opposite direction. She stopped one of the servants who was carrying a tray of champagne glasses, asking where the ladies’ room was, and then made her way there as quickly as possible. If she were very lucky, she could stay in the luxurious area until all the announcements were finished. Shanelle had a plan. It wasn’t a very good plan, but it would allow her to remain invisible.

Slipping back out after ten minutes, she surveyed the hallway. There was still a line of people moving towards the ballroom, but at least her parents were already inside. That meant she didn’t have to go through the formal announcement of her arrival. That meant she could be anonymous!

She grinned as she picked up her skirts and slipped down the hallway where all the waiters were moving back and forth. It would be so much easier to be invisible if she could go in through the servants’ entrance instead of the main doorway. She suspected the sheik and his entourage were waiting at the bottom of the staircase, greeting each of the guests as they were introduced.

With a smile of delight, she peered down the hallway, excited to have snubbed the sheik in such a way. It was small and possibly petty, but with such a powerful man, it wasn’t a good idea to snub him blatantly. So these small rebellions were all she could safely contrive.

She stopped at the corner, then turned slightly and peered down the hallway, trying to figure out if it was safe to enter through this hallway or if she should find another.

Malik Badri del Rahal, Sheik of Kanaan, spotted the flash of silver out of the corner of his eye. Raising his hand, there was immediate silence from his aide who was walking beside him.

If there hadn’t been numerous attempts on his life recently, he never would have agreed to this weekend. But even Malik accepted that the best way to stop the assassination attempts was to marry quickly and produce an heir. Or several heirs, as he had been advised on numerous occasions.

Malik had resisted the idea, preferring to concentrate on keeping the country growing. The idea of taking the time out to marry and produce an heir seemed like a ridiculous waste. But after the fourth attempt on his life, Malik knew that something drastic had to be done.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like the company of women. No, he definitely enjoyed that part of life. With great relish, even! It was just the idea of being tied down to one woman that bothered him. His advisors had told him over and over again that being married didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy variety. He’d just have to be more discreet about it.

The idea left a bad taste in his mouth, but he’d gone along with the marriage idea. And the most expedient way to accomplish the task was to gather as many eligible women to the palace and simply select one that would get the job done. This was the third such weekend, and so far, no woman had captured his attention. At this point, Malik was willing to just point to one of them and have the decision over with. It seemed crude, but he was tired of these weekends filled with balls and elaborate dinners. He had things to do, and taking time to socialize with a group of overly made up, primped and starved women just didn’t seem like a good use of anyone’s time or money.

The flash of silver disappeared down the servants’ hallway and Malik walked quickly in that direction, determined to capture whoever was sneaking into the ballroom. He knew it wasn’t a servant, since they were in gold and maroon uniforms.

The thought crossed his mind that, if he could capture the silver flash, perhaps he could get some answers on the plot to get rid of him. If he could find out who was trying to kill him, he could eliminate the threat and there wouldn’t be an urgent need for him to marry and produce an heir.

Malik knew that his aide was following, uncertain as to why they weren’t heading towards the ballroom. People were gathering already, eager to see the sheik and present their daughters for inspection.

But what he saw as he turned the corner was more fascinating than any criminal intent. The curved, lush bottom pointing in his direction caused his body to react with unexpected interest. Why would someone send a female to kill him?

When the cute bottom disappeared under the voluminous ball gown, he watched with rising interest as a long, slender leg protruded from the front. The woman pulled the silver material over that leg but Malik didn’t mind since that only drew his eye up higher. The lovely, enticing view of the woman’s breast captured his attention. He could only see the side, and most of her breast was covered in the fabulous dress, but there was enough of a glimpse to capture his interest.

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