The sheikhs tempted prot.., p.19
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       The Sheikh's Tempted Protectress, p.19

         Part #4 of The Sheikh's Every Wish series by Holly Rayner
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  “Oh,” he gave a half-hearted frown. “Didn’t I mention that we’d be whisking you away?”

  “Okay, yes…” She turned to face him with a giant smile that bordered somewhere between flirtatious and horrified. “But I didn’t think you meant like, right now. I didn’t even pack!”

  “You have your purse with you?”

  She paused. “Yes…”

  “And your passport?”

  “Well, yeah, in my purse but—”

  “Then that’s everything!” he finished cheerfully.

  “Hey there, did we miss the part where I don’t even have luggage? I’m pretty sure wherever we’re going will require that I wear clothes—and if it isn’t then I’m not sure it’s a place I’m willing to go!”

  Malik laughed and signaled one of the men on board to give them a minute. He turned back to her and smiled. “The jet features an onboard wardrobe. Anything else you need will be provided to you.”

  “Yeah, but…” she looked down at her purse in vain and then back up at Malik. “I don’t even have any makeup with me.”

  “Then it’s a good thing you’re a natural beauty,” he grinned. His sentiment didn’t receive the reaction he’d hoped for and he raised both his hands in front of him as if to reason with her. “Makeup, clothing, long-distance charges to your cell phone, expenses for your home here in Chicago… all will be taken care of.” He sighed blithely and continued, “I did tell you the project would be starting immediately.”

  “Okay, but maybe next time you could be a teeny-tiny bit more specific? Like, ‘Oh hey, so that job I was telling you about? Prepare for anything! Sandy, rocky, mountain, valley – and be ready at 8am!”

  Malik watched her carefully, before stifling a laugh. “My apologies. Can we stop fighting now?”

  “Are we fighting?” She blinked and felt her cheeks burn with a blush. Was she mouthing off to her new agent? “I mean, am I even allowed to fight with you? You are my boss and all.”

  “…And yet here we are.”

  She crossed her arms loosely and suddenly felt overly attached to her purse. Was this seriously the only personal item she would be taking on a six-week vacation? She sighed inwardly; her mom was right—this was her personal karma for always over-packing.

  She looked at the jet and then back at Malik, smiling once more and trying to remember that this was a job, after all. “All right, I’m game.” She continued walking towards the jet. “Where are we headed?”

  “Let’s leave that a surprise for now.”

  She laughed. “Seriously?”

  Now she wouldn’t even have time to mentally prepare for what was possibly the strangest role she’d ever taken? Amie stopped once more on the staircase ascending to the jet. She felt a tingle of apprehension in her stomach and then quickly inhaled. She was doing this for half a million dollars. Half. A. Million. She pressed forward and stepped on board.


  The jet's interior was the height of luxe; expensive-looking wood grain covered the cabin walls, along with smooth leathers and soft taupe fabrics. In the main area was a clutch of leather recliners with mounted tables in between. Across from the seats was a long sofa, covered with a scattering of taupe pillows. Amie thought absently that the carpeting alone was probably worth more than her entire apartment. Off the living area was a bedroom with a queen bed and silky-looking linens. She was almost in shock at the amount of furniture that was inside the small luxury jet.

  “Wow,” she said plainly as Malik ushered her to one of the recliners. He sat her down and she blanched; staring down at the chair. “Sorry,” she winced, “I can’t sit sideways. It’s… a thing. I can’t do it on trains and I almost definitely can’t do it on a jet…”

  Malik reached behind her and adjusted the seat so that it faced forward. “You sure are making this whole diva actress thing come to life.”

  She blushed. “I’m… so sorry.”

  “Just kidding,” he grinned and sat down on the seat beside her. “Sort of.”

  With that, Malik introduced her to three of his associates; Jessica, Clint, and Samuel, as well as the pilot and co-pilot. She exchanged pleasant hellos and watched as they dispersed and went to their respective seats. Before long the jet took off and, once the aircraft stabilized, Malik undid his seatbelt and leaned into Amie.

  “So,” she chuckled, “Am I allowed to ask how long the flight is?”

  “We’ll be on board until much, much later tonight, for sure; about 15 hours,” he said casually.

  Amie tried not to make a face. Don’t be a spoiled actress. She looked her new agent up and down. He wore dress pants and a loose button-up that currently had the top two buttons undone; no tie. Her eyes widened as a fresh worry occurred to her, but before she could protest he said, “We have pajamas, undies, all that stuff at your disposal.”

  “Did you just say ‘undies’ to me?”

  He laughed. “Is that a problem?”

  “You can’t say ‘undies’ to me—you’re my boss!”

  “Speaking of which,” he said, taking two cups of coffee from one of his assistants and passing one of them to her. The assistant set a tray with cream and sugar on the table between them and promptly left.

  Malik sipped his coffee for a long while before continuing. “I’d like to talk to you a little bit more about the role, if that’s okay with you.”

  “Perfect,” she agreed.

  “The role actually begins the moment we land. As I said earlier, you’ll be playing the role of a wealthy heiress; bride-to-be to a prince from a country with a rich history, unique culture, and beautiful countryside.”

  She nearly burst out laughing. It was a good thing she was confident in her acting chops because this role couldn’t be further from the reality of her life. Wealthy heiress? Since moving to Chicago, she’d never had more than $200 excess in her bank account. Struggling for years to find acting roles, buying a tube of mascara felt like a splurge. Refocusing back on Malik’s directions, she began to feel giddy.

  “What?” he said, a choke of laughter in his voice. “You’re making a face.”

  “No! No face!”

  “I hired you because I believe you’re a fantastic actress who’s up to the challenge.”

  She laughed into her hands. “Thank you.”

  “This is going to take a lot of skill and a considerable amount of improvisation on your part. Saying that, you just need to follow my lead and we’ll be fine.”

  “Oh! I didn’t realize you’d be taking part, too.”

  “What, you mean I don’t scream ‘actor’ to you?”

  She shrugged. “You don’t really scream ‘casting director’ or ‘real estate guy’ either, so…”

  “A man of mystery, I’ll take it.”

  The two laughed and slowly the cabin went silent once more, aside from the constant hum of the engine.

  As the hours passed, Amie found she had all manner of things to do to pass the time. The jet was outfitted with a television, an extensive collection of movies, old and new, as well as Wi-Fi and a small library. Malik gave her a brief tour of the jet and after several hours of polite, occasionally flirty chit-chat, Amie finally decided to get some shut-eye. She sprawled across the queen bed, unable to believe just how comfortable being on board a jet could be.

  By the time she awoke it was almost time to land. Malik had walked in and gently woken her, and she freshened up in the washroom before meeting him back in the bedroom.

  “I have something to show you that I’m told is something of a… thrill, to women.”

  She tussled her hair with her fingers and raised a curious brow. “Am I going to have to put on a sexual harassment video?”

  “Trust me, you’ll like it.” He grinned and pulled open the closet doors to reveal the most intensely decorated closet Amie had ever seen, bursting full of a range of gorgeous gowns and professional attire. “Since we’ll be landing shortly, and our performance is about to begin, it’s important that you
look the part.”

  “Oh my gosh…” she gaped; her eyes practically glistening with cartoonish sparkles as she ran her hands along the sequins, lace and feathers. “W-well,” she stammered with delight. “What kind of scene are we going into? What should I choose?”

  “Think… meeting the parents. Nothing too sexy, but still suitable for a warm climate.”

  “Warm climate, hmm?”

  She skimmed through the vast wardrobe, resisting the urge to salivate, and eventually settled on white kitten heels and a floor-length navy blue gown with capped sleeves. She felt like the combination of navy and white screamed classy lady, while the silhouette of the dress said success.

  “Warm climate,” he nodded. “I suppose I should tell you now that we’re headed to my home country, Rabayat.”

  “Rabayat…” she repeated with some hesitation. “Which is…?”

  “It’s a small nation in the Middle East,” he laughed. “With that, said I’m sure you have a lot of questions for me, and we’ll get to those shortly, but for now I think it’s best you compose yourself and get ready for your opening night!”

  When Malik had left the room, Amie slid into her gown. She had just enough time to refresh her curls and makeup before Malik was calling for her to fasten her seatbelt in preparation for landing.


  So, this was the Middle East. Images of camels, markets, and pyramids filled Amie’s head, and she nearly swooned. Along with the rest of Malik’s team, she descended from the jet and was quickly ushered into a limousine that was waiting outside on the tarmac. The airport behind them was silver in color and vast in size. There was something sleek and almost futuristic about the architecture. The next thing to hit her was the heat; a humid 76 degrees.

  The small group sat inside the limousine and Amie couldn’t help but steal a glance at the clock. 9am. The flight had lasted 15 hours, so by Chicago time, it would have been somewhere around midnight. Still, Rabayat was eight hours ahead, making the time difference something of a shock to her system.

  She stretched back into the comfortable leather seats of the limo, the cushions seeming to hug her back. She couldn’t help thinking that her current surroundings sure beat the trashy cab she’d been in earlier. She could hardly believe the splendor she’d encountered so far, and had a feeling that that was only the tip of the iceberg.

  Before leaving the jet, Malik had presented her with a crisp leather case, inviting her to take a collection of her choice of items from the incredible closet. She looked around the limo and felt like giggling. The last time she’d been in a limo was… wow, prom.

  Amie breathed slowly and stared out the windows, trying in vain not to listen to the conversations happening around her. This crew clearly had a lot of money to spare, making her wonder just how big the production was going to be, let alone what the theater would look like. She could just imagine a grand, old building encrusted with jewels and sand bricks.

  Why would it be encrusted with jewels? Why not! This was her fantasy theater, after all.

  After some time driving, Amie awoke with a start, as Malik lightly shook her shoulder. Looking through the window, she could see they were pulling into town.

  “You nodded off,” Malik explained with a laugh. “This is the capital, Rabayat City—it’s nearly time for the performance to start.”

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