Awakened by Her Desert Captor(9)

By: Abby Green

  Yet his conscience pricked him. It had been him who had fallen for her all too obvious charms. He’d had to fight it from the moment he’d laid eyes on her, when she’d stood in the reception hall of her father’s house with her hand on her hip, her beautiful body flaunted to every best advantage.

  He could still see her eyes landing on him, widening, the familiar glitter of feminine awareness, the scenting of his power. Sensing a conquest. And then she’d sashayed over as if she owned the world. As if she could own him with a mere flutter of her eyelids. And, dammit, he had almost fallen right then—as soon he’d seen those amazing eyes up close.

  One blue and the other green and blue.

  An intriguing genetic anomaly in a perfect face—high cheekbones, patrician nose and a mouth so lush it could incite a man to sin.

  His body had come to hot, pulsing life under that knowing feline gaze, showing him that any illusion that he mastered his own impulses was just that: a flimsy illusion.

  His mouth compressed now as he stared unseeingly out of the window, as if he could try to compress the memories.

  The full repercussions of his weakness sat like lead in his belly. The marriage to Sophie Lewis was off. And Arkim’s very substantial investment in Grant Lewis’s extensive industrial portfolio was teetering on the brink of collapse. Losing the deal wouldn’t put much of a dent into Arkim’s finances, but the subsequent loss of professional standing would.

  He was back to square one. Having to prove himself all over again. His team had been fielding calls from clients all week, expressing doubts and fears that Arkim’s solid business reputation was as shaky as his personal life. Stocks and shares were in freefall.

  The tabloids had salivated over the story, featuring a caricaturised cast of characters: the stoical and long-suffering father; the scandalous daughter bent on revenge borne out of jealousy; the sweet innocent bride—the victim—and the ruthless social-climbing mother.

  And Arkim—son of one of the world’s richest men, who was also one of its most infamous, dominating the world’s porn industry.

  Saul Marks lived a life of excess in Los Angeles, and Arkim hadn’t seen him since he was seventeen. He’d made a vow a long time ago to crawl out from under his father’s shameful reputation, even going so far as to change his name legally as soon as he’d been able to—choosing a name that had belonged to a distant ancestor of his mother’s as he hadn’t thought her present-day immediate family would appreciate their bastard relative making a claim on their name.

  Arkim’s mother had come from a wealthy and high-born family in the Arabian country of Al-Omar. She’d been studying in the States at university when she’d met and been seduced by Saul Marks. Naive and innocent, she’d been bowled over by the handsome charismatic American.

  When she’d become pregnant, however, Marks had already moved on to his next girlfriend. He’d supported Arkim’s mother, but wanted nothing to do with her or the baby...until she’d died in childbirth and he’d been forced to take his baby son into his care after Zara’s family in Al-Omar had expressed no interest in their deceased daughter’s son.

  Arkim’s early life had been a constant round of English boarding schools and impersonal nannies, interspersed with time spent with a reluctant father and his dizzying conveyer belt of lovers, who invariably came from the porn industry. One of whom had taken an unhealthy interest in Arkim and given him an important life lesson in how vital it was to master self-control.

  But a week ago, when the society wedding of the decade had imploded in scandalous fashion, all those ambitions and his efforts to distance himself from shame and scandal had turned to dust.

  And all because of a red-haired witch.

  A witch who had somehow managed to sneak under his impenetrable guard. It was galling to recall how hard it had been to let her go that night in the study. How hard he’d been. From the moment he’d first seen her appear. Looking like a schoolteacher. With her hair pulled back, her face pale. Covered up.

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