Pregnant by the Sheikh(7)

By: Olivia Gates

Then he’d seen her in the flesh, and all thoughts of swallowing the bitter pill of necessity had been decimated by the thunderbolt of his response to her. Compulsions he’d never even imagined had taken him over the moment he’d laid eyes on her across the distance.

No. They’d done so even before he had. He’d felt her first.

Not that he’d realized what it had been he’d felt when a charge of energy had zapped him as soon as he’d entered this ballroom. He’d told himself it must have been a surge of resolve, obliterating any aversion to being here, to launching his mission. Those sensations had strengthened with each step he’d taken until he’d become certain it wasn’t internal, but a response to another person. A woman. Though he’d never felt anything like that toward one, the awareness he’d felt had been definitely...sensual.

Once sure of that, he hadn’t wanted to find the source of the disturbance. It would have been self-sabotaging to make contact with someone who’d triggered such an aberrant reaction in him when he was here in pursuit of a specific woman.

Then that beacon of sensations had moved, and before he could rein himself in, his gaze had been dragged toward it. And he’d found himself looking straight into her eyes. The heart that never faltered and barely sped under extreme conditions, that he almost never felt at all, had dropped a few beats before it had started thundering. It continued to do so.

As their gazes had meshed, so much had collided inside him. Disbelief, wonder, elation and a dozen other things. His target was the same woman who’d had this inexplicable influence on him. He hadn’t even thought what his mission would be like, but had been bound on seeing it through regardless. But this presented what he hadn’t even considered a possibility. That it would be enjoyable, even pleasurable.

Then he’d followed her, no longer out of calculation but compulsion. Everything he’d said and done since had been spontaneous. And real. One thing had been driving him, the one thing he was certain of.

He wanted her.

Then she’d shocked him yet again when she’d given him the means to the very thing he was here to achieve. Stopping her marriage to Hassan Aal Ghaanem.

But since he’d let go of all premeditation, he hadn’t even hesitated. His response had been instantaneous.

The moment it had left his lips, he’d wished it back. This wasn’t how he’d intended this to go. He’d intended to maneuver her, to reel her in slowly, to spoil Hassan’s marriage arrangement by seducing his bride-to-be and claiming her for himself. What he’d just offered wouldn’t serve his purpose.

But he couldn’t take it back. Not when she’d looked up at him with such hope and entreaty as she’d made her request.

Nothing remained on her face now but shock. She must have expected him to say just about anything else but his succinct promise.

He watched the smooth column of her throat working, and he hardened all over as he imagined his lips soothing the convulsive movement, swallowing her moans at their origin.

Then in that velvety voice that strummed every male fiber in his body, her husky question validated his assessment of her incredulity. “Just...done?”

That was his cue to add some qualification, to drive his own bargain. But he couldn’t bear to think of interrupting the unrehearsed progression of events.

Deciding to let this play out and adjust his direction later, he nodded. “I did say I’d do anything for you. I intend to.”

And the strangest thing was, he did. Apart from what he had to gain by intervening, what drove him now was the need to wipe this trapped expression from her face. He’d come here thinking she’d agreed to marry Hassan to have access to his bottomless oil-money resources. While her history painted a picture of an independent, successful woman, he’d known of many such women who preferred being subsidized once the opportunity presented itself. That she’d refused to marry Najeeb, then consented to marry his father had made him think she’d preferred the older man who’d make far less demands, and who’d be far easier to manipulate.

But one look at her had told him that she found Hassan and the idea of marrying him abhorrent on all levels. How she was being forced to enter that marriage, he had no idea yet, but he didn’t doubt that she was, and that she was seething with futile rage at having no choice. A choice he would now give her.

Not that she believed he could, not as easily as he’d implied. He saw the flare of hope in her eyes dim with the gloom of reality. “Intentions are one thing, executions are another.”

“Not to me. Anything I intend, I execute.”

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