The Sheikh's Purchased Bride

By: Holly Rayner





“Warm climate, hmm?”



She skimmed through the vast wardrobe, resisting the urge to salivate, and eventually settled on white kitten heels and a floor-length navy blue gown with capped sleeves. She felt like the combination of navy and white screamed classy lady, while the silhouette of the dress said success.



“Warm climate,” he nodded. “I suppose I should tell you now that we’re headed to my home country, Rabayat.”



“Rabayat…” she repeated with some hesitation. “Which is…?”



“It’s a small nation in the Middle East,” he laughed. “With that, said I’m sure you have a lot of questions for me, and we’ll get to those shortly, but for now I think it’s best you compose yourself and get ready for your opening night!”



When Malik had left the room, Amie slid into her gown. She had just enough time to refresh her curls and makeup before Malik was calling for her to fasten her seatbelt in preparation for landing.





FOUR





So, this was the Middle East. Images of camels, markets, and pyramids filled Amie’s head, and she nearly swooned. Along with the rest of Malik’s team, she descended from the jet and was quickly ushered into a limousine that was waiting outside on the tarmac. The airport behind them was silver in color and vast in size. There was something sleek and almost futuristic about the architecture. The next thing to hit her was the heat; a humid 76 degrees.



The small group sat inside the limousine and Amie couldn’t help but steal a glance at the clock. 9am. The flight had lasted 15 hours, so by Chicago time, it would have been somewhere around midnight. Still, Rabayat was eight hours ahead, making the time difference something of a shock to her system.



She stretched back into the comfortable leather seats of the limo, the cushions seeming to hug her back. She couldn’t help thinking that her current surroundings sure beat the trashy cab she’d been in earlier. She could hardly believe the splendor she’d encountered so far, and had a feeling that that was only the tip of the iceberg.



Before leaving the jet, Malik had presented her with a crisp leather case, inviting her to take a collection of her choice of items from the incredible closet. She looked around the limo and felt like giggling. The last time she’d been in a limo was… wow, prom.



Amie breathed slowly and stared out the windows, trying in vain not to listen to the conversations happening around her. This crew clearly had a lot of money to spare, making her wonder just how big the production was going to be, let alone what the theater would look like. She could just imagine a grand, old building encrusted with jewels and sand bricks.



Why would it be encrusted with jewels? Why not! This was her fantasy theater, after all.



After some time driving, Amie awoke with a start, as Malik lightly shook her shoulder. Looking through the window, she could see they were pulling into town.



“You nodded off,” Malik explained with a laugh. “This is the capital, Rabayat City—it’s nearly time for the performance to start.”



“Is this where the theater is?” she asked sleepily.



He cocked a brow and smiled, obviously wanting to remain tight-lipped about the job. “Sort of,” was all he said.



Sometime later the limo finally came to a stop—but not in front of a theater. Instead, before them stood what looked to be a huge, grand art gallery with beautiful Arabic lettering scrawled across the front.



While she couldn’t make out the text, it seemed to Amie like there was some kind of ball being held inside. Beautifully-crafted stone statues lined the gold carpet that led inside; crowds of people waiting in line to enter the building.



“It’s a gala,” Malik confirmed, suddenly seeming nervous. “My family are patrons of the gallery.”



Before Amie could ask what they were doing at a gallery and not a theater, she was distracted by the brilliantly shining ring—an engagement ring—her employer now pulled from his pocket. The ring was white gold, with an oval-cut diamond in the center.



He gestured for her hand and when she gave it, he slipped the ring easily on her ring finger.

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