All for love 3 series.., p.56
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       All for Love - 3 Series Starters, p.56

           Kris Pearson

  “Nosy old nanny and sharp-eyed chauffeur,” Laurel added, sending Yasmina and Malik a grin.

  The guests smirked with delight.

  “Something about this cheeky woman,” Rafiq said, slipping an arm around her shoulders, “totally captivated me. She was brave, she was beautiful, and she showed me life could be fun again. Laurel and I plan to have a lot of fun together, and to create our own family.”

  “Enough for a polo match?” she suggested.

  His eyebrows rose in mock alarm. “You expect me to do it that many times, wife?”

  “My Lord Rafiq—I expect you to do it whenever I flutter my eyelashes at you or crook my little finger in your direction.”

  He smiled broadly as the whole wedding erupted into laughter.

  “Hen-pecked already,” he said, bending to drop a fond kiss on her lips.


  A year later Rafiq peered through the narrow gap where the bedroom door sat ajar. Laurel needed to sleep. No way did he want to wake her after her labour, even though he could hardly wait to see his son again.

  The Interflora courier had just delivered a spectacular bouquet of white lilies from King Muhammad and Queen Raniket, and he clutched it in both hands—grateful for his uncle and aunt’s instant generosity and also chagrined he hadn’t yet managed flowers of his own for his beloved wife.

  He breathed in their amazing fragrance and felt the tickle start in the back of his nose. No matter how he tried to stifle it the first sneeze exploded out, his face bobbed down into the flowers, and he lurched against the door, Two more noisy sneezes shook him.

  “Is that you, Rafiq?” Laurel called, just as the nurse came bustling across to try and shut him out.

  “Flowers from the King and Queen,” he croaked, sniffing and shaking his head. The door was wide open now, so he decided to stay. Laurel was obviously awake.

  “Lovely,” she murmured. “Bring them closer so I can see.”

  The officious nurse, hired at great cost from the most prestigious agency, backed away and resumed her seat.

  “Would you like a break while I visit my wife?” he asked, fixing her with his best anti-terrorist glare.

  The nurse turned to Laurel. “Would that be acceptable to you, Mrs bin Khalid?”

  “That would be fine, Geraldine. Could you maybe bring back a nice big vase when you return? Ash will show you which cupboard.”

  Rafiq shook his head. “Ash is out riding. I’ll bring a vase in a minute.”

  “Trying to wind down, is he?” Laurel asked. “First great-grandchild,” she said to the nurse.

  “Always nice for the grandparents,” the nurse agreed, averting her gaze from Rafiq’s and bustling away.

  He laid the bouquet on the top of a chest of drawers and hesitated between bending to kiss Laurel or taking another few steps into the room to admire his miraculous son.

  “Go on—I know you want to,” Laurel said, waving him toward the crib and trying to raise herself to sit higher. “Owww! That’s going to take a few days to come right…”

  Instantly he turned back to her and slid an arm around her shoulders, easing her up and tucking another pillow behind her. Laurel sent him a radiant smile and he dropped a kiss on her brow.

  “When can I hold him again?” he asked, gazing across to the little dark shape just visible above the firmly tucked sheet. How could the poor child even move?

  Laurel glanced at her watch, still smiling fit to bust. “Now, if you want. His next feed’s almost due.”

  He loped across to the crib and cupped a hand around his son’s head, stroking gently over the downy hair, running a tender finger past the curve of a tiny ear. “You did so well,” he said looking across to Laurel again. “I was very scared for you, and very proud of you.” He attempted to loosen the sheet to reveal more of his son. “She’s tucked him in so tightly I can’t get at him,” he objected.

  Laurel chuckled. “He’s been tucked in tightly for a while now. The books say new babies feel safer if they’re firmly swaddled.”

  “Doesn’t work that way for foals,” Rafiq said, still trying to edge the sheet clear.

  “Well, they can walk soon after they’re born. Your boy will take a few months to be so clever.”

  “My boy…” he echoed, finally peeling the top of the sheet free.

  The baby slitted his eyes open and gave a fretful grizzle.

  Rafiq glanced across at Laurel. “I really didn’t see this in my future, doing the work I did. When I first met you, being a family man was the furthest thing from my mind.”

  The baby gave a louder wail.

  “He’s hungry,” Laurel said. “Give him a cuddle and then bring him here.” She undid some buttons on the front of her nightdress.

  Rafiq pushed the covers right back and found his son wrapped up as neatly as a little sausage. At least it made it easier to slide a hand underneath him while the other supported his head. He held the baby out in front of him, marvelling at the new life they’d created. “Shall we call you Amir?” he asked. “Amir, our little prince.”

  In reply his son opened his eyes wider and bellowed loud and long.

  The volume from such a small being was impressive. “Not Amir then?” Rafiq looked across at Laurel and raised an eyebrow. “Maybe Ash?”

  “We could name him for your brothers? To remember them?” she said, holding out her arms.

  Rafiq drew the howling bundle in against his heart and walked slowly around the bed, rocking his son to and fro. “He doesn’t like me,” he said.

  Laurel smirked. “Well, if you could see what he and I do, maybe you’d understand why he’s objecting. Give him to me and take a look in the mirror.”

  Rafiq lowered the baby into Laurel’s waiting hands and crossed to the big dresser. His face was spotted with dabs and streaks of dark brown, and the harder he rubbed, the further they spread. “What the…?” he exclaimed.

  “Lily pollen,” Laurel said, snorting with giggles. “Now it looks like you’re wearing war-paint. No wonder poor old Geraldine beetled off so fast.”

  Rafiq rolled his eyes at her reflection. “I’ll give you lily pollen,” he said, fingering one of the denser patches. He crossed to the bed and surveyed his son, now suckling peacefully at his mother’s pale breast.

  “What a sight,” he said, bending lower until she raised her lips to his for a kiss.

  Then she sighed and leaned back into the pillows, holding their son safe in both arms. It was just the opportunity he needed to draw a curving pollen smile on the white skin a few inches above that busy rosebud mouth.

  “Rafiq!” Laurel exclaimed, looking down at his handiwork.

  “Yes, my love?” He grinned down at her, and completed the happy-face with two brown eye-dots.

  She shook her head and smiled back at him. “Geraldine will say that’s unhygienic.”

  He pressed his lips together, trying not to laugh. “Do we care what Geraldine says?”

  “Not much,” she murmured. “You, me and our little boy. Together and safe. What else matters, after all?”

  He kissed her again. “Nothing in the world, Miss Kiwi. All our happiness is right here in this room.”


  Thank you for reading Taken by the Sheikh. I hope you enjoyed it and will also try Craved by the Sheikh will follow eventually.

  Excerpt from Book 2, Sheikhhs of Al Sounam



  Royal family, Al Sounam. Stacy Cassano keyed it into the search box, pushed her unruly bundle of hair back over her shoulder, and jiggled one foot impatiently.

  She needed the King. King Muhammad al-Husayn bin Khalid. And there he was. Black beard. Fierce eyebrows. Surrounded by other men with black beards. Possibly with less fierce eyebrows. A sea of white robes. It wasn’t going to be easy to pinpoint him in a crowd like that.

  She scrolled down. Could she find him through
the Queen? Queen Raniket. In a spectacular purple gown with lots of beading. And there again in Sounamese clothing, dark eyes made up to kill.

  There were sons—one looking very like his father in traditional garb, one wearing sunglasses and a sharp suit, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. A daughter, obviously younger—although Stacy knew you could never guarantee how old the photos were. Lots more of the King. Lots more of sons. In white robes. In military uniforms. At the races. At the White House! Looking so different every time there could be a dozen of them.

  She sighed, and printed the best one she’d found of the King. It would have to do for her undercover mission.


  Akil Da’ud al-Husayn bin Khalid planted his royal elbow on the cashmere blanket and supported his determined chin on his fist as his gaze returned yet again to the beach-volleyball players. Foreigners. Playing in hundred degree-plus heat. One dark brow quirked in amusement.

  Although the resort of Kalal caught the best of the available breeze off the ocean, it was still scorching out there on the sand. Better to be back where he was—listening to his music in the shade of the palms, with a mesh sided shelter for privacy, and luxurious blankets to cushion his hard used body.

  His black eyes focused intently on the brunette in the blue bikini. A tall, tanned girl with a torrent of dark wavy hair. He’d watched as she bundled it up out of her way before she joined one of the teams. Watched as she snapped the sides of her skimpy panties in and out against her curvy butt, releasing a small shower of sand after a frantic dive to reach the ball. Watched as her luscious breasts bounced gently against the two inadequate triangles of her bikini top.

  Someone like Miss Bikini set his blood sparking far more than any of the well-bred ‘suitable’ girls who were constantly paraded in front of him.

  With hopeful eyes.

  By fathers with hopeful eyes.

  Every scrap of news about him in the press and on TV carried the same speculation; that the woman currently by his side might soon be Al Sounam’s new princess—mother of an heir who’d cement an alliance with the neighbouring countries.

  The pressure was unrelenting, although it was beyond Akil’s understanding how they expected this to tip the scales when the threats from thousands of fanatical insurgents grew in fury every day.

  He continued to watch as the girl leaped and dodged and laughed—a welcome diversion from his sombre thoughts. Yes, she ticked all his boxes, but fat chance he could contemplate a future with someone like her. Obviously foreign. Almost naked. Seen cavorting in public with multiple men.

  He sighed and rolled onto his belly, stretching the muscles in his long legs and flexing his shoulders as he considered the week ahead. He’d played squash earlier in one of the palace courts. Played hard, because his opponent was Qadir. When you were the oldest son and Crown Prince, you did all you could to stop your baby brother getting the upper hand, even if the role life had handed you severely curtailed certain freedoms.

  He’d been scheduled for more frequent regal duties than usual because his parents were taking a break at the old hunting lodge in the desert. He was expected to attend tomorrow night’s big diplomatic reception, to host a lunch for the visiting engineers, to accompany a party of British professors as they toured the university… the usual grind. All important public relations stuff, no doubt, but he hated being used as a figurehead; hated being put on display because his royal status added extra gloss to an occasion; hated it almost as much as the constant opportunities people found to parade nubile young women in front of him.

  He hadn’t studied long and hard just to be trotted out like a damned celebrity when it suited his father, but every project he instigated seemed destined to be taken over by someone else once he’d got it moving, and every woman he found the least bit attractive was dismissed by the palace advisors as unsuitable for strategic reasons. The familiar sourness of frustrated ambition sat heavily in his stomach. For all his wealth he was far from free. Nowhere near as free as the girl in the blue bikini.

  He pulled out his ear-buds as she soared up from the sand and slammed her arms against the ball, punting it back over the net without mercy.

  “Go Stacy!” one of the onlookers yelled.

  She turned to acknowledge the cheer, raised a hand to her flushed face, and staggered sideways.

  Akil sprang to his feet, grabbed a bottle of chilled water, and covered the distance between them in a dozen swift paces. He grasped her arm and steadied her.

  “What the—?” she demanded, trying to shake him off.

  “Come and sit in the shade,” he insisted. “And drink.” He thrust the water toward her. “You’re half dehydrated already, and if you keep this up you’ll keel over.”

  “Hey, leave her alone,” the vocal onlooker protested.

  Akil saw Faruk, his bodyguard, rise from the beach chair under the palms. He chopped a hand through the air to indicate he was in no danger. Faruk sank down again, eyes sharp under beetling black brows.

  “You too,” he added to the would-be protector. The hatless boy’s face ran with perspiration. “There’s plenty of water.”

  He walked the girl into the shade, enjoying his closer view of her and the feel of her soft skin under his fingers. Now he saw bright blue eyes, a few freckles across her nose, and her golden breasts rising and falling against the far from decent bikini top as she tried to regain her breath. Strands of silky hair trailed toward him like smoke in the hot breeze.

  Akil’s shelter was suddenly Refreshment Central for half a dozen noisy young men who sprawled on the blankets, glugged down his chilled water supply, and fell ravenously on the tray of mezze the palace kitchens had provided.

  In minutes, the olives had gone, the stuffed grape leaves and roasted watermelon seeds had been hoovered up, and the pita chips had descended into the spicy Mahamarra dip again and again until the bowl was empty.

  “Man, that’s good,” Sweaty-face exclaimed, his eyes fixed on the empty bowl, now cradled between the girl’s breasts just below a deep green jade pendant. Akil watched as she wiped her forefinger repeatedly around the sides of the bowl to gather up the last smears of dip, then licked, closing her eyes to appreciate the flavours.

  His groin thudded every time her lips parted and she sucked her finger.

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