Sheikh's Scandal

By: Lucy Monroe

CHAPTER ONE

NOT EASILY IMPRESSED, Liyah Amari very nearly stopped to gawp upon entering the Chatsfield London for the first time.

Flagship of the Chatsfield family’s hotel empire, the lodging preferred by Europe’s elite was magnificent.

San Francisco’s property where her mother had worked since before Liyah’s birth was beautiful, but nothing compared to the opulence of this hotel. From the liveried doormen to the grandeur of the ballroom-size lobby, she felt as if she’d stepped into a bygone era of luxury.

A decidedly frenetic air of anticipation and preparation was at odds with the elegant surroundings, though. One maid rushed through the lobby—which Liyah was certain was anything but a normal occurrence—while another polished the walnut banisters of the grand staircase.

It looked like an impromptu but serious meeting was happening near the concierge desk. The desk reception staff were busy with the phone and computer, respectively, checking in an attractive elderly couple.

“Welcome to the Chatsfield London, Mr. and Mrs. Michaels. Here is your room key,” the young man said, “and here is your complimentary hospitality pack. We very much hope that you enjoy your stay.”

Both staff were too busy to pay attention to who might be entering the hotel. Behind reception, Liyah saw a row of photographs depicting the Chatsfield London’s staff. Something in her chest tightened as she caught the image of Lucilla Chatsfield staring back at her from within a frame.

One of the Chatsfield siblings Liyah admired and wished she could get to know, Lucilla was too far up the hotel’s ranks for that to ever be likely.

A noise from behind her dragged her attention to where maintenance was replacing a bulb in the giant chandelier that cast the saffron walls with an elegant glow. Ecru moldings and columns added a tasteful but subtly lavish touch and the faint but lingering smell of fresh paint indicated they’d had a recent tidying up.

Liyah’s sensible shoes made no noise as she crossed the black-and-white marble-tiled floor, heading directly for the elevator as she’d been instructed to do.

A man stepped in front of her. “May I help you find someone?”

His tone and expression were polite, but it had to be obvious to him that Liyah in her well-fitting but conservative black gabardine suit was not a guest at the Chatsfield.

“I have an appointment with Mrs. Miller.” As was her usual habit, Liyah was fifteen minutes early for her meeting with the senior housekeeper.

The man’s eyes lit up. “Oh, you must be the maid from Zeena Sahra.”

No. That had been her mother. “I am familiar with Zeena Sahran culture, but I was born in America.”

Liyah had been hired as a floor supervising chambermaid on the presidential level with special concierge services, just below the hotel’s penthouse suites. With hospitality as well as housekeeping duties, she would be working in tandem with the concierge team in a new initiative designed to increase customer satisfaction.

It would be a much more satisfying job for Liyah than the one her mother had held for almost three decades and Hena would have approved wholeheartedly.

“Yes, of course. The elevator is right this way.” The man started walking. “I will have to key your access to the basement level.”

“Thank you.”

Liyah was still a few minutes early when she knocked on the senior housekeeper’s office door.

“Enter,” came from within.

Mrs. Miller was a tall, thin woman who wore a more severe version of Liyah’s suit with a starched white blouse buttoned all the way up.

“I’m pleased you are here, Miss Amari, but I hope you’ve come prepared to begin work immediately,” she said after the pleasantries were out of the way.

“Yes, of course.”

“Good. Your concierge floor has been booked for the sheikh’s harem.” Mrs. Miller gave a disdainful sniff with the word harem.

“Excuse me? A sheikh from Zeena Sahra is coming to stay?” And he needed an entire floor for his harem?

No wonder they’d wanted to transfer her mother from the Chatsfield San Francisco.

“Yes, Sheikh bin Falah will be staying with us for two weeks. His fiancée will be joining him for the second one.”

Liyah schooled the shock from her features. “Sheikh al Zeena, or Sheikh bin Falah al Zeena, but he would not be referred to as Sheikh bin Falah. To do so would cause offence.”

Liyah wasn’t sure about correcting her boss, but she assumed this sort of knowledge was why she’d been hired.

At least now she understood the need for her expertise. Not just a tribal sheikh but the crown prince of Zeena Sahra was coming to stay at the Chatsfield London.

Probably the single most gorgeous man alive, he could easily be an international playboy with a string of supermodels hanging on his arm. However, he had a reputation for being buttoned-down and focused entirely on his duties as emir of Zeena Sahra.

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