Home > The Sheikh’s Surprise Delivery

The Sheikh’s Surprise Delivery
Author: Holly Rayner

Chapter 1






I looked up at the stage, where yet another boring presenter was making yet another boring speech—complete with slides and handouts and a whole lot of glasses-wearing, oh-so-educated-don’t-you-know looks—and stifled a yawn.

On the list of ways I wanted to spend my life—hell, even my weekend—being stuck in London at a medical supply conference, listening to people talk about how great the newest version of some kind of surgical tape was, definitely didn’t rank very far up the list.

I was in London, for God’s sake! I wanted to go out, see the sights, take in the ambiance, and enjoy the accents around me and the new people! I wanted to drink hot chocolate—the British kind, which was so much richer than the American stuff—and eat shortbread cookies until I felt like I was about to burst.

I wanted to sit in a corner café and read one of the half-dozen books I’d brought with me. Or better yet, write.

And that was the real problem, wasn’t it? I wanted to be somewhere writing, and I didn’t even particularly care what it was, as long as it was words on paper. Or letters on a screen, I guessed, which was a lot more realistic these days.

My favorite thing to work on was fiction—preferably of the romantic, historical type—but I could write nonfiction too. I could even write self-help, if the situation called for it. Anything that had to do with words. Anything that had to do with my brain, and my imagination.

Instead, I was standing here in an extremely crowded conference hall in the Millennium Conference Centre, listening to… well, see the aforementioned note about surgical tape. Though maybe at this point they’d moved on to something else. I glanced at the stage again, wondering if maybe I should actually start paying attention rather than daydreaming.

But the same guy was up there, with the same slides, talking about the same sort of tape that was evidently going to revolutionize the entire tape industry.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think what he was talking about was important. As a purchasing rep for one of the largest medical supply firms in the US, my job was incredibly important. I had to make sure our company had all the materials we needed so we could supply the country’s hospitals if and when they ran out of their own goods. I had to make sure I knew about the best new equipment—and how we could get it for the least amount of money, so we could sell it to our customers for something more reasonable. I had to know what we absolutely had to have, and what we could take a pass on. I had to make sure we were on the leading edge all the time.

And that was all really vital stuff. The hospitals—all those doctors and nurses, and the patients—were counting on us. Plus, I was good at it. I’d figured out pretty early on that I had a good instinct for the stuff that was important, or that would make a big splash, in the industry. I made really good money because I had that instinct, and I’d moved up quickly in the company for the same reason.

But that didn’t mean I found it even a little bit interesting.

Still, it was why I was in London. Why I was in this exact conference hall, listening to these exact people talk about that exact thing. So I made a superhuman effort to bring my attention back to the stage and actually listen to what the speaker was talking about.

No, it wasn’t as exciting—or as romantic!—as thinking about sitting in a corner café with a big mug of hot chocolate and jotting all my thoughts down into one of the three journals I’d brought with me. But I’d never be able to accomplish my dream of traveling the world and writing about everything I saw and imagined if I wasn’t good at my job. My savings account wasn’t nearly big enough yet. So, back to medical supplies I went.

The guy on the stage was finally finished with his speech, though, and was now making his way to the stairs to give way to the next presenter. This one was a woman, and the subject of her presentation had caught my eye when I’d spotted it in the program. New defibrillators, which were more energy efficient and guaranteed to break less often. Yeah, they were more expensive than what was already on the market. But if it meant the hospitals could pay less to maintain them—and count on them to save more lives—it was a good idea.

I listened to this presentation with interest and glanced down at the program in my hand to remind myself what company was presenting and make sure their contact information was included there.

The thoughts of cafés and hot chocolate—and the pub I’d picked out for tonight’s dinner—flew out of my mind as I remembered suddenly why I loved my job. This was what it was about. Discovering something new that could help people—could help hospitals help people.

This was why I’d fallen into the job right out of college, when I was a poor English major who wanted to be a writer, but also needed to pay the bills.

I looked up at the stage again and let my eyes slide across the stage to the projector screen, scanning through the speaker’s PowerPoint and looking for anything that indicated the price. Because I was definitely going to recommend that we look into this. As long as the price was right.

Then I froze and looked back at the person I’d just scanned over, standing to the left of the screen.

The person who was an absolutely, unbelievably, otherworldly beautiful man.

He was drop-dead gorgeous. The most stunning man I thought I’d ever seen, right out of a historical fiction adventure. Dark olive complexion, dark hair cut tight around the sides but left longer—and curlier—at the top, full lips, a dimpled chin, a nose that was sharp but regal, and eyes so dark a brown that they were almost black.

Eyes that were looking right at me. Eyes that had just caught me looking back to stare right at him.

I opened my mouth as if I was going to say something to him—from across the conference room, and over a crowd of at least three hundred people—and then shut it again, realizing that there was absolutely nothing to be said. And that he wouldn’t have heard me even if I had tried.

Instead, I shifted my eyes quickly away from him and started shuffling to the right—simply to try to get out of his sight, simply to get away from those eyes that had just caught me staring. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I was also standing on a sort of stage, too. There was a raised platform at the back of the room, and I’d climbed up on it to be able to see over the heads of those in front of me, since I was only five foot two.

I’d also been at the edge of it, where I thought I’d be able to get the best view.

Which meant that when I shifted to the side, my right foot slipped right off of it, hovering in the air for a split second and then taking the rest of me with it toward the ground.

I felt that moment of sheer panic when you know you’re falling, and then another moment of embarrassment when I was about to hit the floor—and then everything went black.



Chapter 2






I watched the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen—wavy blond hair, green eyes, petite frame, like a fairy princess—disappear right in front of me. One moment I was matching gazes with her, and the next…

She was just completely gone.

The shocked—and somewhat excited—rush and murmur of the crowd around where she’d been, though, told me exactly what had happened. Because as they rushed around with the buzz that only comes when something dramatic has happened, I could see that she’d actually been standing on some sort of platform back there.

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