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The Sheikh's Accidental Heir

By:Leslie North

The Sheikh's Accidental Heir
Leslie North

       The Sharjah Sheikhs Series Book Two



Blurb





Sheikh Ahmed Al-Qasimi is used to playing by his own rules, but when his  father decides that his lifestyle of excess is becoming a threat to his  future, he has to work fast to clean up his image, or face the  consequences. Ahmed is resigned to an arranged marriage to a woman with  whom he feels no romantic spark, until another ghost from his past comes  back to haunt him: his American ex-lover.

Melanie is working to prove her catering business is a world class  operation, so when she is offered the opportunity to provide the food at  Ahmed's wedding, she can't say no-even though they once shared a night  of passion. When a stranger offers her $100,000 to stall the wedding,  it's hard to refuse, especially when the connection between them is  reigniting with a vengeance.

Letting go of the past isn't so easy, though, when Melanie reveals a secret of her own.

Now, Ahmed will have to choose between being with the woman he's falling  for and saving his fiancée from a loveless marriage to another man.  With his entire future at stake, can Ahmed find happiness for himself  and the women in his life?





1





Ahmed Al-Qasimi was watching the only thing of interest in the entire  penthouse. In fact, he'd been watching the brunette with the stunning  green eyes all afternoon as she worked silently with the rest of the  catering staff, carrying trays of finger foods to the clusters of  businessmen about the room, clearing plates, and filling pitchers.

More than once, he tried to catch her eye as she tucked her  shoulder-length dark hair behind an ear to keep it out of her face. The  smiles she gave the guests as she paused to check on them caused an  unfamiliar pang of jealousy. Wishing she'd turn her smile his way, he'd  watched, admiring the way her black pants hugged her legs and hips. Her  white, button-down blouse did not show off her breasts as well as he  would like, but the hint of soft curves intrigued him.

She remained focused, paying more attention than any of the staff to  fanning out the paper napkins artfully, wiping the condensation from the  pitchers of ice water, or pulling a wilting flower from one of the  arrangements. If she wasn't the supervisor, she ought to be.

He'd been waiting for a chance to strike up a conversation with her, but  he wanted more privacy than afforded by a room full of Americans whom  he and his brothers had been sent to meet. While their father, Sultan  bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, had spared no expense, renting out the entire  top floor of the hotel to introduce his sons to various vendors and  businesses, Ahmed found himself unable to focus on anything except the  scenery.

Golden afternoon light poured into the spacious room through windows  that overlooked Manhattan's West Side. From the lush couch where he sat,  he could see an infinity pool that seemed to plunge over the edge of  the roof. He almost wished this visit was for pleasure.

Such a waste to spend the afternoon stuck inside, listening to the plans  and ideas of men in designer suits, when they all could have better  enjoyed a dip in the pool as they sipped from the delectable beverages  the bartender was serving.

Shaking his empty glass and interrupting the conversation he wasn't  listening to, he stood. "Excuse me, gentlemen. I'm parched." He nodded  to everyone and walked to the bar. Placing his empty glass on the  counter, he turned. The slender brunette was slipping through the glass  doors and out onto the patio. Her gaze slid across the room as she slid  the door closed. When she saw him, she paused for a moment, a hint of a  smile playing on her lips. He held her gaze. The way the color went up  in her cheeks was lovely, but he didn't wait for her to break the spell.

He strolled through the penthouse, maintaining the easy carelessness  that had become his habit-and for which his father had chastised him  many times. He nodded to those who made eye contact and brushed past the  others.

His brothers were working the room quite efficiently, and he saw no need  to duplicate their efforts. He also didn't want to stop to talk. He  might have to work later-right now he only wanted to personally thank  the woman who'd been working tirelessly to make sure this event ran  smoothly.

Slipping out the glass doors, he took in a breath as the noise of the  city and lingering heat of the day hit him. It was not as hot as his  homeland, but New York clung to a muggy humidity that stuck his shirt to  his back. The sounds of car horns and traffic and the wail of emergency  vehicles echoed from the other buildings, distant and far below the  penthouse. Turning, he walked away from the pool, past a large sitting  area and fire pit. He found the brunette just around the corner, leaning  against the wall and staring at her phone. Her ankles were crossed,  emphasizing both her slender legs and the curve of her hips.                       
       
           


///
       

"Beautiful," he muttered.

Glancing up at him, she frowned and lowered her phone. "I'm sorry, what?"

He gestured to the skyline. "The view. It's beautiful, yes?"

She looked where he was pointing and nodded. The sun pulled rays of gold  and red from her dark hair and touched a little gold to her skin. "When  you live here, you don't often get the view from the thirtieth floor."

"Would you like a drink?" He waved back toward the bar. "I could fetch us each something wet, miss … ?"

"It's Melanie, and no, thank you." She smiled with just a curve of her  lips, and he noticed her lower lip was full and sensual. "I'm still on  duty." Her voice was light, but her words carried a tinge of sharpness.

Ahmed chuckled and put out his hand. "I'm Ahmed. And now you sound like  one of my father's security men. My father would certainly prefer the  bartender serve only our American business partners."

She shook his hand, her grip firm. He liked her utterly Western  attitude. Pulling her hand from his, she asked, "A traditionalist?" She  tucked her phone back into a back pocket.

He leaned his shoulder against the wall next to her. This close, he  could smell a hint of something like lemon-her shampoo perhaps. "Old  fashioned is a better description. And angry."

She tipped her head to one side. "Sounds like there must be a story there." She nodded again, but didn't ask questions.

Gesturing back to the door behind them, he found he wanted to tell her  more. Something about those sparkling green eyes, shimmering with  intelligence and a touch of sympathy invited a confidence. "My brothers  and I aren't above enjoying a good party or three. Things got out of  hand at one of them, and word got back to him. So now we must work-and  report back daily as if we are all still boys."

She gave a laugh, and he liked the sound of it. A throaty chuckle, deep  and genuine. "Dads always find out. But … aren't you three pretty big to  be doing what Dad always wants?"

He shrugged. "Habits are hard to break. Our father has trained us well  to do as he asks-and to risk his temper … well, it is not always us who  suffer but those around him. So we try carefully to protect them."

"Ah, more of a when the cat's not looking, the mice-" She broke off the  words and looked him over, her eyes warming and the smile lifting the  corners of her mouth again. "Okay, that image won't work with any of you  guys …  Foxes loose in a hen house? Wolfs in the fold?"

Laughing, he shook his head. He forced his mouth down and tried to look serious. "We are most definitely not foxes."

"Ah, I noticed you didn't say anything about wolves." Her voice was  lovely, like music drifting past on a warm, summer night. Her lips  perfectly formed every word as she spoke, taking their time as if  carefully tasting each sound as it passed.

Ahmed looked her up and down again, making sure she saw his gaze was  drifting over her body. "I'd like to make use of that pool at some  point. Seems a shame to waste such a temptation. You should join me."

Tipping her head to the side, she met his stare, her own equally  assessing and-he thought-interested. But she shook her head and her  mouth pulled down ever so slightly. She had a very straight nose-almost a  little too strong for her face-and strong bones. And a determined chin.  "A swimsuit isn't part of my uniform."

Leaning toward her, he let his arm brush hers. "Perfect. We can-"

She put a hand over his mouth. Her fingers weren't soft, but were  roughened by work. She also smelled of champagne and shrimp. "Don't say  it. Let's not spoil the evening with clichés about skinny dipping. I  gave that up in my college years."

Taking her hand, he held onto the tips of her fingers. "I was going to  say, we can sit with our feet in the water, looking over the city as if  we owned it."

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