Marrying the Sheikh

By: Holly Rayner





“Thank you,” Aurora said, meeting his gaze and smiling gratefully. “It’s been a hell of a day and it’s only barely the afternoon.”



The bartender chuckled. “Don’t I know it.” He smiled again and turned away to begin cleaning the bar down.



Aurora took an experimental sip of her drink. It was complex, fruity—tart and sweet, with a spicy undercurrent and a bite from the alcohol that warmed her all the way down to her stomach. She sighed happily and climbed down from the chair, moving away from the bar and towards one of the lounge chairs stationed around the pool.



She kicked off her shoes and sat down, tilting her head back against the cushion and looking out over the sea as she took another sip of the alcoholic elixir. Members of the crew, running around on errands, paused in their paths from one end of the deck to the other, some frowning at the sight of her lounging; but no one said anything.



Aurora watched the ocean, the gulls and other sea birds wheeling and darting around the yacht, while she contemplated her situation. So much had changed, so drastically, in such a short time, that she had barely had the opportunity to process what had happened to her from the moment she’d gotten up with her alarm at four in the morning to make the opening shift at the café.



She finished her drink and got another one, mining the buffet table for a few more choice treats before heading back to her lounge chair. She thought to herself that, had she been in Khaleel’s place, she would not have been convinced anywhere near as easily to let the stowaway stay on board. At the very least, she thought, she would have kept the intruder confined. Is he really a better person than me? Or am I just getting too tipsy to think straight?



She asked Chris for a glass of water to even out the effects of all the alcohol and sipped at it slowly, watching the light of the afternoon shift and change on the deck. It was beautiful, but more boring than she would have thought to just sit there, admiring the view and doing nothing. It’s been ages since I’ve done nothing for more than maybe thirty minutes, Aurora thought. Even when she’d been in Vietnam, or Thailand, or Singapore, she had crammed so much activity into every day that by the time she’d stumbled into her hostel bed, she’d been thoroughly exhausted.



Aurora wished she had a book, or something she could do on her phone—anything to pass the time that wasn't eating, drinking and lounging. She thought briefly that it almost would have been better if she had continued her charade of being one of the crew; she could have found something to do around the ship if she had really wanted to. But she had been too hungry, too angry, and filled with too much spite to try and maintain her cover when the person she had most needed to deceive had already blown it.



Her irritation rose once more at the thought that if she hadn’t confronted Khaleel about the ridiculousness of his “initial evaluation,” she might still be cleaning his room, wearing herself out for a man who wasn’t ever going to pay her for her trouble.



She took a long sip of her cocktail, grateful that the day hadn't taken a more dramatic turn, with her being arrested by the coast guard, and that all she had to worry about, for the moment at least, was keeping herself entertained.





The Sheikh’s Captive Woman is available on Amazon by clicking here.


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