Marrying the Sheikh

By: Holly Rayner





He paused as he stared into her emerald-green eyes. He knew he could get lost in those eyes so easily. Again, he forced himself back to reality.



“But I cannot make that commitment to you,” he paused and motioned toward the window. “At least not today.”



Ella looked outside and saw the rain start to come down.



“I have engagements in New York that I must attend to. But I promise you,” Karim said, his face softening as he spoke. “I promise you I will make time to come back here with you and work out all of the details.”



Ella was about to speak when a staffer ran over, soaking wet from the rain. “Your highness,” he said, out of breath from running from the waiting car.



Karim looked at him and spoke. “Djaron, tell Stephen to ready the jet. We will be heading back to New York momentarily.”



The man opened his mouth to say something but Karim dismissed him and turned back to Ella. “Okay, so we’re agreed? We go back to New York today and schedule another trip back here in, say, a week or two?”



Ella flinched at the sound of thunder cracking overhead. The storm had picked up and the wind was causing the shutters to bang loudly against the wood siding of the hotel.



She nodded at Karim, unable to answer. Ella had always had a fear of thunderstorms. She loved warm weather and had even contemplated moving to Florida when she started her business. What better place to plan weddings than a state where it's summer all the time? But deep down she knew she couldn’t live in a place that was at risk for hurricanes six months out of the year.



Karim grabbed Ella’s hand and led her out the front door of the lobby and into the waiting car. They closed the doors and sat inside, waiting for Djaron to start the engine, when the radio went off.



The pilot’s crackling voice came over the line, saying something in Arabic, and Ella watched as Djaron and Karim looked at each other, not saying a word. When the radio went silent, Karim sat back against the lush leather of the limo.



“What is it?” Ella asked, sopping wet from the heavy rain.



Karim looked at her and spoke. “It’s too late. The storm has already closed in. We can’t get off the island until it breaks.”



“What?” Ella asked, unable to believe what she was hearing. Couldn’t leave the island? For how long? She knew that spring storms could last a day or more on the tropical islands. She leaned back against the seat and closed her eyes.



Well, she thought. It seemed like she might be stuck on a tropical island for a day or two with Karim. Things could be worse. Things could be much, much worse.





FIVE





Another strong gust of wind came rushing at them, rocking the car. “We better get back inside,” Karim said, looking at Ella.



She nodded and opened her car door. The two ran inside just as the sky opened up and a deluge of rain came down.



“Whew,” Karim said, shaking his thick black hair. “That was close.”



Ella laughed, looking down at her sopping wet suit. “Too close,” she said, wiping the water off of her as Djaron ran to the hotel clerk to get towels for them all.



“Well, I guess you get me after all,” Karim said, drying himself. Ella watched as he ran the towel over his face and peeled the wet suit jacket off, revealing a white dress shirt that showed off his muscular physique.



She swallowed hard, trying not to stare but unable to keep her eyes off of him. “Um,” she said, finally breaking her eyes free. “Yep, looks like I do.”



She dried herself off and handed the towel back to Djaron. “Thank you,” she said as he bowed slightly and disappeared behind the desk.



“So, let’s get started,” Karim said, pointing in the direction of the glass room they had been in just moments before.



They began walking in that direction when a short man in a hotel uniform stopped them. “I’m sorry,” he said, holding his hand up to them. “You can't go in there.”



Karim and Ella looked at the man with confused expressions.



“Why not?” Karim asked, and as if on cue, the lights flickered on and off.



The man looked up at the ceiling and then back at Karim and Ella. “The power is going to go out and we have sent all but a few staff members home. Our concierge will not be available until after the storm has passed.”



Ella’s body sagged; no concierge meant no wedding planning. How ironic, she thought. First she had the concierge and the venue, but no Karim. Now she had Karim, but no venue or concierge.



“Well, it looks like we’ve got only one option,” Karim said, looking quite happy that the wedding planning had been put on hold.

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