Home > The Duke's Runaway Princess (Love by Accident Triology #3)

The Duke's Runaway Princess (Love by Accident Triology #3)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - Love by Accident Triology #3 - The Duke's Runaway Princess

The Duke's Runaway Princess (Love by Accident Triology #3)
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

The lightning slashed across the black sky and Zarah grabbed hold of the wet railing, bracing herself for the next ocean wave. It came just as the thunder erupted with vibrations that she could actually feel and she bowed her head, praying that the wave wasn’t too large this time. The freezing cold rain was driving down onto the deck of the ship hard, feeling like needles against her skin and she couldn’t understand why her long sleeved shirt wasn’t protecting her more effectively. How had she gotten into this mess? How was she going to get out of it?

The wave of water crashed but it knocked her against the wooden railing of the ship. She had to ignore the pain tearing through her side, forcing her mind to focus on just surviving the storm. There was a door off to the side and she rushed towards it but it was locked! She tried to grab hold of the wheel of the ship, tried to steer out of this insane storm, but the waves and current were too strong and the downpour from the heavens made it difficult to see more than a couple of feet in front of her. The moment she tried to steer, the current ripped the wheel out of her hands, hurting her fingers. Looking around, she peered through the darkness, desperate to find something to protect her from this storm.

It was her own fault, she thought as she tripped her way towards the bow of the ship, wishing her legs would move faster. She had known that this storm was coming and she hadn’t done anything to avoid it. There were so many things she could have done to steer around this storm but she’d just sailed along, pretending it wasn’t coming.

Suddenly, she tripped and looked down, surprised by the coarse ropes that were wrapped around her ankles and the scrapes along her legs where the rough wood of the deck had torn her wet skin. How had she missed those huge rolls of ropes? Why hadn’t she walked around them?

Another wave was coming. More lightning slashed and the thunder boomed but she ignored those problems. The thing she feared the most was almost upon her and she told herself that the wave was the worst. She could deal with the thunder because it wouldn’t hurt her while the lightening was too far away at this point. The wave! She had to get out of the way! She had to find shelter or the wave would take her out to sea! Run faster! She tried to dash to safety but the rope was still tangled up around her legs, holding her back. Her numb fingers couldn’t unravel the rope from around her ankles and she kept glancing at the wave then to the rope that was now knotted to her legs. Panic filled her chest as she watched the wall of water build higher, the fear that she would be washed off the deck and drowned at sea terrified her. The wave was coming closer, closer….her fingers ripped at the knots but nothing would unravel them and the wave was almost upon her now!

Someone was coming! More lightning but it didn’t illuminate the man’s face. He was terrifying. Large and dark, coming directly towards her. Why wasn’t he affected by the storm? He seemed dry and he stepped over the ropes, not getting tangled up even though they were everywhere.

The wave! She could see the swell in the distance. It was coming faster! She had to find something to hold onto!

But it was too late. The swell rushed over the top of the ship and she hadn’t made it to the railing yet. She had nothing to hang onto and she felt the water wash over her, taking her with it out to sea.

And then it was all gone. Zarah sat up in bed, gasping for breath as her mind shifted away from the nightmare, trying to orient herself to the present and wakefulness. She looked around, confused because the storm…it had been so real! She squinted her eyes trying to figure out where she was and what had just happened. Her breathing was heavy as reality slowly returned. “It was just a dream,” she told herself, trying to calm her racing heartbeat and orient herself to her bedroom. Just a dream.

The doorbell rang.

She looked around, seeing the blanket wrapped around her ankles and she sighed, taking in deep, cleansing breaths to try and release the nightmare from her sluggish mind. She’d taken a nap after her last exam and now it was early evening.

The doorbell rang again, sounding more insistent.

Zarah looked at her watch and gasped. “Rashid!” she whispered and hurried out of her bedroom and over to the apartment door. Looking out through the peep hole, she saw her older brother, Rashid, and his wife, Sidra, standing outside. Rashid looked impatient as he reached for the doorbell again while Sidra simply looked concerned. Zarah wondered how long the two of them had been there but didn’t take the time to figure it out. The dream had muddled her mind and gave her an odd sense of time so she just pulled open the door and threw herself into her brother’s arms.

“Rashid! It’s so good to see you!”

She felt safe and secure in her brother’s strong arms. As sheik of her country, she knew he was extremely busy but he always made time for her, evidenced by the fact that he flew all the way to New York just to take her out to dinner. After hugging her brother, she spied her sister-in-law and grinned broadly. “Sidra, you look stunning, as usual,” she said as she put her hands on her sister-in-law’s growing stomach. “How far along is he?”

Sidra smiled and touched her stomach as well. “She,” Sidra replied, emphasizing the feminine pronoun, “is about five months along. We’re in the twenty-fourth week and she’s really starting to prance around.”

“Come in!” Zarah laughed. “I’m sorry, but I sincerely hope that this one is another boy. Believe me, you do not want to have a baby girl. Can you imagine Rashid with a girl? He’d never let her out of the palace!” She glanced at her older brother who was looking down at her with exasperation. “Trust me, I know. It took me years of arguing just to get him to let me go to school.”

“But you’re finished,” Rashid announced emphatically. “And you’re ready to come home. I’m very proud of you,” he said and kissed her on the top of Zarah’s head.

Zarah bit her lower lip, wondering when it would be a good time to bring up her suggestion regarding her future to her older brother. She knew what Rashid expected of her. She was to be married, become the wife of an important ally of Tasain, her home. Rashid was a very powerful man and she could help him by marrying someone who could give him support in either the region or on the international scene.

But she didn’t want to go home. She didn’t want to become some man’s trophy wife or his political asset. Her older sister Isla had accepted her role as a female in their country but Zarah had always rebelled against their place. She wanted something more.

Although she had to admit that Isla was extremely happy with her current place. She was expecting their second child any day now and was still madly in love with her husband after several years of marriage.

Sidra noticed Zarah’s forlorn expression and glanced at her husband but he seemed to be more interested in his baby sister’s apartment. He was currently surveying the small space filled with well worn furniture, chipped plates on the shelves above the counter and a bookshelf that was propped up by broken pieces of wood to ensure that it didn’t topple over from the weight of all the books lining its shelves.

“Is this where you’ve been living all this time, Zarah?” he asked, his voice coming out as harsh and disapproving.

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