Sold To The Sheikh Bidder

By: Holly Rayner



“Thanks, boss. I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” Lauren all but chirped her reply.

She turned and exited the office briskly, but not hurriedly. She might have been a mess inside, but there was no way she was going to give this awful man the pleasure of knowing what she was really feeling.





Chapter 5





Lauren





Lauren drove into the large circular driveway and stopped, parking the car in front of the house. There was a three-car garage off to one side and an area clearly intended for guest parking, but if he wanted her there, he should have said something. She was parking right in front of the door, no matter what it looked like.

Not that the neighbors could see where she was parked; the closest house was hidden behind a tall stone fence and a screen of palm trees. It was a giant lot, even though it was a part of the city where the houses were spread out with lots of room around each of them.

The house itself was a sprawling Tuscan-style mansion built of warm natural stone. There was a fountain sitting off to the left of the main entrance, water splashing merrily from the tiered stone into a round, mosaic-tiled basin. A wide stone path led up to the glass double doors, which were framed in curls of wrought iron. Arched windows covered the front of the house, flanked by more palm trees.

It was a pretty enough house, Lauren thought, but big and a touch impersonal. The kind of house you live in because you’re supposed to, not because it’s what you want. Or maybe she was projecting the man onto the house. Either way, from the outside, it just didn’t feel like someone thought of this place as home.

She wondered if anyone else besides Hakim lived there. There weren’t any other cars around, and after double-checking the tabloids and industry magazines the night before, she knew he wasn’t dating anyone seriously.

Lauren had finally done the research she should have done before going to Hakim’s office. She’d read through everything she could find about his company online, including some accounts of the conflict between the Khalif Group and Sanders & Company. She’d also seen quite a few stories about Hakim’s personal life, which was apparently more interesting than his business existence.

Grabbing her bag, Lauren steeled herself for the day ahead and got out of the car. As she approached, she realized that there were two sets of doors, creating a sort of courtyard in between the entrances. Hakim was waiting for her, leaning against the doorframe.

It really wasn’t fair that such a cold-hearted jerk looked so good, especially at this time of the morning. But look good he did, smiling dispassionately as she walked toward the house. Lauren reached the entrance, and when he didn’t move, she rolled her eyes.

“Look, if you don’t want me here, I’ll gladly go back home and sleep a few more hours. I’ve already arranged to take the week off of work, so I could use the downtime,” she said.

Hakim pushed himself off the doorframe in a fluid motion. “Honestly, I’m a little surprised to see you here. I thought you’d change your mind and ask your mother for the money.”

Lauren smiled and shook her head. “You don’t scare me.”

He huffed a bit of a laugh. “Oh, but your mother does?”

She tried not to flinch, but noticed him catching her reaction. Oddly enough, he didn’t say anything in response, and instead just opened the door for her. Lauren walked through without waiting for him. She went ahead and entered the house, looked around, intrigued by its grandeur.

The interior matched the exterior—beautiful, but impersonal. Just from a glance, she could tell that everything was top of the line. Expensive and high quality, everything looked like it had been picked out by an exclusive designer. Oddly enough, it made Lauren feel bad for Hakim. It was nothing like her place, all warm, bright colors and comfortable fabrics.

Hakim followed her in, closing the door with a slight thump that made her startle. She gathered herself and turned to face him with a bright smile.

“So, what do you want me to do today, boss?” Lauren asked, injecting as much positivity in her tone as she could.

He jerked his chin in the direction of the back of the house. “There’s a uniform for you in the staff bathroom. Put it on, and then I’ll give you instructions.”

“Yes, master.” Lauren’s tone implied she meant something else entirely. As she turned to go, she could have sworn she saw him crack a smile.

She walked through the first floor, back behind the kitchen, to find a small bedroom and bathroom. Hanging on the hook in the bathroom was a black and white maid’s uniform. Lauren was relieved to find that it was utterly boring and ugly, nothing that would be considered remotely sexy. The pants were polyester and the shirt was scratchy, but it was functional.

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