The Sheikh's Purchased Bride

By: Holly Rayner





“Don’t tell me you’ve fallen for me already,” she joked.



“As of this moment, you’re officially in character,” he said quickly. He gave her a curious look that she couldn’t quite decipher and suddenly Amie felt her face go white.



“What’s… going on?” she asked with a raised brow, as her new boss let out a bashful sigh and bit his lip. “What?” she repeated; her worry mounting.



As the driver opened the door, Malik exited the limo and assisted her out, looping her arm through his and grabbing her hand.



Oh no.



She could feel sweat suddenly forming down her back as everything started coming together. She wasn’t going to be starring in a play or taking part in a reality show—she was going to be playing Malik’s fiancée!



***





Amie gritted her teeth as she walked alongside Malik, into the gala. She wasn’t sure whether she should scold her new boss, or crawl back to the limo with her tail between her legs. It was so like her to pick up the world’s strangest role.



Taking a deep breath, she told herself that as long as she was here, she would be game for anything. She walked further inside and was shocked again by the grandeur of the gallery. Ancient statues stood behind velvet ropes next to intricate, abstract paintings all among a crowd of important-looking people.



An older gentleman suddenly shouted something at Malik from across the gallery and started making his way over. He was elderly, perhaps 70 or older, and wore a black and gold robe with a black and white keffiyeh on his head. He may have been a little older, but he sure had style.



“My apologies, Azim, Amie doesn’t speak Arabic!” Malik shouted back with a laugh.



“My dear, my dear,” the man began in his best English. His smile was bright and genuine as he nodded towards Amie. “Beautiful, just as you said,” he continued, looking at Malik.



“My love, this is Azim, one of my family’s oldest and dearest friends, as well as a very busy diplomat,” Malik explained, and she smiled towards the man. “Azim, this is Amie Shaw.”



“Soon to be Bin Malehdi,” Azim corrected. “Sheikh Malik’s American fiancée,” the man mused. “So tell me, Ms. Shaw, what is it that you do? Where in the States do you come from? Have you set a date for the big day? Malik has been so tight-lipped about you; you’ve been his little secret!”



“One question at a time, Azim!” Malik chuckled. “Amie is an heiress, who happens to own a theater. The most historic theater in all of Chicago, actually.”



“Ah… the theater,” Azim said wistfully; his eyes suddenly elsewhere. “Don’t you just love the theater?”



“Oh, who doesn’t,” Amie said nervously.



“How are you liking Rabayat? And our gallery! What do you think of our gallery? Tell me Malik is taking you on a tour of the theater. You’ll adore it. Not quite American in style—even more beautiful, in fact!”



“Azim!” Malik laughed, setting his hand gently on the older man’s shoulder. “Don’t overwhelm her, we’ve only just arrived!”



Amie let out an elegant laugh and gently batted Malik on the arm. “Oh don’t be silly, darling! Azim, I may have only just arrived, but I am absolutely charmed by Rabayat. It’s so beautiful here, and I have no doubt that if Malik intends to charm me further, he’ll be showing me all the sights.” She laughed once more. “Forgive me if I turn into a stomach-turning American tourist, but I cannot wait to see more of your country.”



“Oh!” Azim’s mouth went wide in an ‘O’ shape; his expression quickly turning to one of delight. “That American charm,” he said in a sing-song voice, addressing Malik. “You’re in for trouble.”



A moment later, a lady that Amie guessed to be Azim’s wife had made her way over. She wore a matching black and gold gown, with a beautifully embroidered hijab covering her head. Though older, her eyes were done up with black liner and she looked every bit the polished and elegant older lady. She grabbed Azim’s hand and whispered something into his ear.

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