Shelby wants to break away from the mold of her small town and make a name for herself in the big-city journalism world. While skiing, she meets mysterious stranger Hakim who is actually the prince of the Middle Eastern kingdom of Khali-dar. When his enemies learn of Hakim’s connection to an American girl, they target Shelby. Fleeing to the safety of Khali-dar, Shelby falls deeper in love not only with the prince, but with his country. As she struggles to survive terrorist attacks, withstand the Sheik’s prejudice, and find her place in a world she doesn’t understand, she must choose which life she is willing to sacrifice—the comfortable one she has worked so hard to create, or the one with the man she loves.
Shelby felt her stomach tighten. Heads of State? Dinner? Reception? The last thing she wanted was to say or do something that would embarrass herself or Hakim again. And she couldn’t imagine the Sheik would be pleased to have her at an event so important.
He watched her with his head tipped to the side.
She ran the reins through her fingers. “Does your father know you’re asking me?”
Hakim gazed over her shoulder and took a deep breath. “He knows.”
“But he doesn’t want me to come, right?”
“I will bring a companion of my choice tomorrow.” He locked his gaze onto Shelby’s and leaned toward her. “You are my choice. Will you please come?”
The Sheik apparently doesn’t buy into the whole “guests are gifts from Allah” idea. “Of course, I would love to come.” She smiled but knew it didn’t appear convincing. She hated feeling like she was the source of their discord.
“You are nervous. Please do not feel uncomfortable.”
“I’m worried I’ll say or do something stupid.” She winced. “I’m not exactly a refined debutante who knows how to act in formal situations. I don’t want to embarrass you, Hakim.”
“I do not want you to be a refined debutante. I have spent enough time with those people to know they are not what I want.” Hakim maneuvered his horse until he faced Shelby and their legs were nearly touching. He leaned closer, his gaze earnest. “What I want is you, Shelby Jo.” He cupped her cheek in his hand.
Shelby felt her heart flutter and her nerve endings tingle as she lost herself in the deep brown pools of his eyes.
His thumb stroked her skin, leaving a trail of heat in its wake. He slid his hand into her hair and drew her closer, his lips covering hers.
When she drew away, Shelby inhaled deeply and grinned. “Hearing you put it that way, how could I possibly refuse?”