The sheikhs purchased br.., p.27
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       The Sheikh's Purchased Bride, p.27

         Part #3 of The Sheikh's Every Wish series by Holly Rayner
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  Amie tried to overcome her misgivings about the situation, but her nerves welled up again once she entered her private car. The driver knew where to take her: the theater. That Malik sure had a sense of humor.

  The outside of the theater was done up with white flowers and the marquee read Malik and Amie. At first, she had been infuriated by the fact that wedding was to take place at the theater. And yet, the more she looked around, the more she realized Malik had chosen a venue that truly meant something to them. Not only had she been in love with the theater since she was a little girl, it had been the first place they ever set eyes on each other. Not only that, she had also fallen in love with Malik the night they saw their first play together.

  Shock overcame her when she saw the red carpet outside and the crowd of friends, family, and media assembled there. She grinned as she glimpsed Azim and Galina—as immaculately turned out as ever—waving at her as the limo pulled up outside.

  Reporters swirled around the building, snapping photos to commemorate the marriage of Sheikh Mahumet’s son. She had known, since Malik was the ruler’s son, that the wedding would be a bit of a big deal, but not this.

  Seeing the sheer amount of friends and well-wishers, Amie realized she deeply missed her own family. She wished they were here, even if it wasn’t a real wedding.

  Suddenly she began to worry that her name would be dragged into online reports about the wedding. What if her mother saw? She had no idea how her mother would come across an Arabic news story, but stranger things had happened.

  She watched as the hundreds of guests piled into the theater until only she and the news media were left outside. She took a deep breath and stepped out of the car, walking down the red carpet, being bombarded by questions from eager reporters. She gulped; maybe her instincts were right, maybe she’d finally bitten off more than she could chew.

  “Miss Shaw! Miss Shaw!” a reporter yelled, gesturing for her to turn toward him.

  She did so and gave him her best Hollywood smile; doing her best to show off her dress and to come off charming yet respectful. Her heart beat out of her chest as she entered the building, finally escaping the paparazzi.

  As the music started up, an usher signaled to Amie that it was time to make her way down the aisle. The aisle was actually the theater aisle, where she was to make her way onto the main stage. How fitting, she thought darkly, that their fake wedding was going to consist of her humiliating herself on stage.

  The music was traditional, with a Middle-Eastern spin, and Amie couldn’t help but feel giddy as she began to walk down the aisle. The photographers’ flashbulbs popped, making her feel even more glamorous as she made her way to the stage.

  Amie’s heart all but leaped out of her chest as she approached Malik. For six weeks straight, she’d spent basically all day, every day, by his side. But now, on her faux wedding day, she hadn’t heard a peep from him, and the sight of him filled her with glee.

  Malik wore a sharp beige suit and looked every inch the confident, handsome sheikh and future ruler of a nation.

  As Amie approached, however, a nervous anxiety seemed to cloud his expression. He looked at her in shock, his eyes filling with affection and awe as he eyed her up and down in her dress.

  “You look beautiful,” he whispered, nearly stumbling over his words.

  Amie blushed and looked down bashfully as another usher hooked both of them up to microphones, so the audience could better hear them giving their vows.

  The officiant made his way to the stage; he was an older man, dressed in traditional Middle-Eastern attire and also hooked up to a microphone. Malik had assured Amie over and over again that the man was a hired actor, so she wasn’t too concerned about the legal consequences. No, at this very moment, she was more concerned about getting sick all over the stage.

  She grinned nervously at Malik as they were instructed to hold hands before the audience. She stared at the man in front of her as the minister began to speak, listing off reasons why this couple was going to be ever-so-happy together, painting a fairytale image of their future lives together. Laying it on a little thick there, buddy, Amie thought.

  Watching Malik, she wondered again about the consequences of their actions. She loved him, and he’d told her he felt the same. She should have been over the moon, but their farcical behavior only made her worry what would happen when his parents inevitably found out the truth. How long would it be before Zafina told them?

  Furthermore, how close could she possibly get to somebody who’d put on such an explosive lie? No matter what her feelings for him, she knew it could never be.

  Her eyes went wide and she squeezed his hand, gritting her teeth with nerves.

  “We are gathered here today to unite Sheikh Malik bin Malehdi and his bride, Amie Shaw. This couple is to be united in love, under God and the watchful eyes of their friends and family.”

  The man turned to Amie and her stomach flipped. “Amie, please repeat after me.”

  She listened to his words carefully and took a steadying breath. Don’t fall over on stage, don’t humiliate yourself… Remember, your, lines!

  “I, Amie Shaw, offer you myself in marriage in accordance with the Holy word. I pledge in honesty and with sincerity, to be a faithful wife to you, giving you all my love for as long as I live.”

  “Perfect!” the officiant shouted with a laugh and the guests began clapping.

  Amie could see Sadira from the corner of her eye; the older woman had erupted into tears and a smile of joy was strewn across her face. She could see that Malik was watching her; his face suddenly serious as the officiant addressed him.

  “Now, Malik. Please do our guests the honor of repeating your vows to your beautiful bride.”

  Malik watched the audience, both of his hands clasped around hers, before catching her eye. “I pledge, in honesty and sincerity—”

  He stopped.

  He stared at the floor and pressed his eyes shut; flicking them open suddenly and looking up at Amie once more. “To be for you a faithful and helpful—”

  He stopped again.

  What was going on? Was he seriously considering ditching her at their fake wedding?

  He stared at her and pursed his lips unsurely, scratching his stubble and taking a step back. Something was wrong.

  “I love you,” he whispered to Amie and let go of her hand, backing away from her and rubbing his hands across his forehead.

  She could nearly feel his hesitation flowing through the room as he turned to address the crowd.

  “Father, mother,” he said, walking closer to the edge of the stage. “I love Amie Shaw. She has been the lightest part of my dark days and will never cease to challenge me and amaze me, and show me the respect and honor that I hardly deserve.”

  Amie looked to Malik’s parents and watched his mother’s tears and the pride in his father’s eyes turn to shock as he continued. “But she is not my fiancée. Nor is she my girlfriend. She is an actress.”

  Amie covered her face; her hands shaking at the sudden admission. Why was he doing this? Why now?

  “I love you both so much,” he said, his voice now trembling with emotion. “And I know that all I have done is disappoint you. I wanted you to see that I was happy; that I was responsible and respectable enough to win the heart of someone as wonderful as the woman who stands before me now. She agreed, under my coaxing, to pretend to be my fiancée, so that I could alleviate your fears and make you proud of me.”

  The reporters were going wild with their cameras as the whole auditorium erupted with whispers and gasps. Malik’s father hung his head, shaking it sorrowfully, and just as she feared, Sadira was staring at her in shock and confusion.

  “All I can say is that I’m sorry. Sorry to my family for putting them through these proceedings, all because of my insecurities. I know they fell in love with Amie Shaw, just as I have.”

  He finally walked back to Amie and brushed her hair behind her
ear. “I love you, Amie. I have fallen so deeply in love with you that I can’t bear to put you through this any longer. You were right about everything. This…” He looked around before shrugging helplessly; laughing despite himself. “This was a very bad idea.”

  Amie couldn’t help but stifle a giggle. “You think?”

  He nodded. “I should have listened to you. I should always listen to you. You make me better in every way possible and I honestly can’t imagine my life without you. Please, don’t make me,” he said softly; his eyes vulnerable as he waited for her next move.

  She looked up at him and smiled; her first genuine smile in a long time. Despite the bizarre circumstances that brought them together, he reminded her of adventure; of the risk and reward that comes with taking a chance. Somehow, in all of the wild moments she’d had in her life… all of the most notable ones had happened with Malik.

  He smiled as he looked down at their hands, still clasped together. He looked up at her as if to say ‘whoops’ and began untwisting his fingers, but Amie kept her fingers firmly locked with his, leaning in closer to him.

  Malik’s thick, dark hair prickled against her fingers as she worked her free hand up the back of his head. They stared at each other in silence with a feeling that needed no utterance or declaration.

  He stared at her eyes and then her lips. He leaned in closer, pausing before reaching her lips, feeling her breath ghosting over his mouth, before embracing her so vigorously that their guests burst into cheers and claps.

  “I can’t be without you, either,” she said softly, kissing him once more. “I love you so much, Malik.”

  Her heart spun with joy; he had made the right decision. He had made it all right, and she could once again believe that the good heart she’d seen all along was real. This was the man she fell in love with.

  Malik’s eyes filled with tears and he smiled at her once more before walking off the stage and finding his family amongst the crowd. “Forgive me,” he said sadly. “I was lying to you, to all of you, just so I could pursue…” he chewed his lip before finally affirming, “a life that I no longer want. All that I want is standing right here next to me; the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

  Sadira wiped the tears from her eyes and embraced her son. Amie knew Sadira would understand; she knew the goodness in Malik like nobody else.

  Malik swallowed hard, grabbing Zafina’s hands at the same time as his mother embraced him. “Can you forgive me?” he asked sincerely as his mother backed away from him. He looked his father in the eye, man to man, and asked again, “Will you all forgive me for being so unworthy?”

  Zafina wiped away a single tear, nodding silently and giving her brother a proud smile. Mahumet grabbed his son by the shoulders and nodded towards him, his emotion evident in his expression. “We can forgive you, son. I think the more important question is, can Amie?”

  Malik turned back to Amie, walking back to the stage and kneeling down on both knees before her. “Amie, I love you. You brought me back to life, and without you there is nothing. It would only ever be for you that I would make a fool of myself on stage like this, begging you to forgive me.”

  Amie chuckled; tears of joy and confusion now streaming down her face. “Of course,” she said. “Now, get up here.”

  “There’s just one more thing. I need to make you an offer—without any acting involved, don’t worry,” he chuckled and tapped his nose. “Amie Elizabeth Shaw, would you do me the great honor of growing together in love and life, for all of eternity?”

  She blinked at him, dumbfounded, her heart racing with joy. “W-what?”

  “Oh, Amie,” he laughed. “Will you marry me, the right way this time?”

  She grabbed Malik’s hand and pulled, gesturing for him to stand back up.

  “Yes!” She shouted. “Yes, yes, yes!”

  Her mind couldn't escape the immense love that had grown between them over so many weeks. The wild romantic gestures; dancing in the gardens to no music at all, the way he spoiled her with affection, the way his whispers at the theater had made her feel truly cared for. Still, these seemed like nothing compared to all of the small moments they had shared together; the first night she had found him downstairs watching black and white movies, the hidden caresses, and their night together making love.

  All of these moments together made her feel like she had already lived a lifetime with this man, and it still wasn't enough. She wanted all that he could give, and she wanted to give him everything. If he had grown because of her, she had blossomed because of him. Talents aside, his presence in her life had brought her back to the land of the living. Life had meaning again; life had excitement. A reason to wake up in the morning was something entirely overlooked by the average person, and she finally had her reason, for everything.

  They shared a passionate kiss and once more Amie found herself enveloped in the arms of the man who had spun her world upside down and made her heart beat again after so long without love. Sure, they didn’t exactly meet at a coffee shop. They didn’t date for years only to find out they were meant to be together. No, their story was full of unbelievable twists and turns; a whirlwind fairytale of exotic travel and late night talks. Their story was anything but conventional.

  But, more than anything, it was theirs.

  The End

  Holly Rayner

  Thank you for reading. As promised, here are the first few chapters of my book, The Sheikh’s Secret Princess



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