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Sheikh's Untouched Woman

By:Kylie Knight

Prologue

One year ago

“Serena my love, it is time for me to choose a wife.”

Serena O’Brien stilled, one hand still tangled in her auburn waves from Raffir’s passionate kiss. She was in love with Raffir al-Jazzari, crown Sheikh from the land of Maju-ul but until this moment she hadn’t been sure of his feelings. Sure he always called her ‘my love’ or ‘love’ but the only time he truly displayed emotions was in the bedroom. Now, she smiled, he was getting ready to propose. “You must do what is expected of you,” she calmly agreed knowing that to lead his country he would need a bride at his side. She was more than prepared to leave the life she had planned back in Auckland behind in order to be with him.

He smiled, those beautiful white teeth sparkling between a set of dimples so stunning she was momentarily blinded. “I’m glad you understand.” Raffi’s posture relaxed at her understanding tone. He was prepared for tears, screams and pleading but Serena had, of course, acted true to her name.

She gave him a sweet smile like she always did, from the first day she’d met him in the gardens of Versailles. She’d only been in Paris for a week when she’d made her first trip to the famed castle, determined to soak up all the history and culture she could during her graduate studies.

Raffi startled her out of her reverie of the statutes hidden in small coves along the gardens. “Such a beauty exploring the beauty Versailles has to offer. Appropriate, I think.”

She’d turned at the sound of the deep voice with the intoxicating accent and gasped in surprise at the man before her. He was the most beautiful man she had ever seen, including the photos she’d studied as a History major in Australia. His ebony hair was wavy and natural. She had a feeling no curls would dare fall out of place. His eyes captivated her, they were mostly gold with flecks of brown and green and his knowing smile showed off dimples that added a boyish charm to his intimidating good looks. “This place has a lot of beauty to offer.”

“As do you, I’m sure.”

She’d noticed his smug smile and was sure he’d pegged her as an easy lay. Boy would he be surprised, she thought as she took the hand he offered. “Serena O’Brien,” she offered, immediately ripping her hand away from his at the electric charge that stung her.

“I am Raffir al-Jazzari, but you Serena may call me Raffi.”

And she had called him Raffi when he picked her up for their first date at a quiet restaurant overlooking the Seine and again when he’d kissed her goodnight on the steps of her apartment in the Quarter Chinois. She’d absorbed that kiss as the sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown swarmed around. It was sweet but it held a passion she had never experienced. “Wow,” was about as eloquent as she could be while her knees were threatening to upend her.

“Wow, indeed,” he’d said with a chuckle.

She knew her inexperience had shone under the onslaught of his expert kiss and her fair skin couldn’t conceal her response. “I’ve never had a kiss quite like that before,” she murmured her fingers brushing over lips that still tingled.

She’d called him Raffi when he returned day after day with flowers, gourmet macaroons, and delicious Parisian food. He’d been a better guide than she could have possibly imagined, showing her nooks and crannies of the city she would never find on her own.

From that moment on Raffi was never far from her side. He’d moved her into a nicer apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower and lavished her with gifts. When she wasn’t in class or working on her dissertation, she was with Raffi exploring every kilometer of France and making love sweeter than she had ever known.

She knew he’d have to return to Maju-ul soon and let his CEO takeover his business interests as he took up the throne. She would still be in Paris finishing school for another year and a half and their relationship would be over.

Never in a million years had she thought she would be standing here in Paris wearing fancy silk pajamas while Raffi, a Sheikh was preparing to make her his wife. She smiled, after she said yes she would tell him of the baby they had created that weekend two months ago in Rome.

“I must return to Maju-ul and begin looking for a bride.”

“What?” Serena rubbed her chest, willing it to start beating again. “You’re l-l-looking for a wife? What about me?”

His head fell, thumb and forefinger pinching the bridge of his nose. A sign of frustration she knew well. “Serena you said you understood.”

“I understood that you needed to take a wife, I guess I misunderstood that it wouldn’t be me.”

“A man doesn’t marry his mistress.”

It was that moment when her world stopped spinning and Serena had to grasp the sturdy wooden table to keep her standing. Mistress. This whole time she had been his mistress and she, stupid girl that she was, thought they were falling in love. She was numb as she looked around the room, failing to recognize what her life had become, who she had become. It was all a mistake. She had to move, start moving to piece together the new future that awaited her. “Okay,” she said absently as she scanned the room in search of her belongings, not the toys and frill bought for a mistress. “Okay,” she repeated in the bedroom as she pulled her casual student clothes from the drawers.

“Serena,” Raffi tried to plead with her as she moved slowly around the small apartment. “Please just stop.” He grabbed her shoulders to stop her moving but her gaze focused on a spot just past him.

“Yes?”

“Dammit Serena don’t make this harder than it has to be. Do you think I want to give you up?”

Yes I do. “You are so you must.” She pulled out of his grasp and fled to the kitchen, filling a glass with water while her hands shook too much to allow her a drink. “I’m not in the mood for company tonight.” She turned her back and closed her eyes, not moving until she heard the heavy door shut behind him.

Then Serena allowed herself to cry for the love that never was and for the baby she would raise on her own.





Raffir al-Jazzari waited impatiently for the private jet to touch down at the Wellington International Airport. He’d come to New Zealand on business both for him and Maju-ul and he was glad to be away from his homeland for a while. His father was not happy that Raffir had yet to pick a bride and take his role as leader of Maju-ul and was threatening to choose a bride if he didn’t choose soon.

He blamed Serena O’Brien for his inability to choose a woman to stand beside him as he ruled the land of his birth. The day after he’d told her he needed to find a wife he’d come to apologize because it was obvious he’d hurt her feelings. Her pale face and trembling body told him she hadn’t realized she was just a mistress, and that had gutted him. What he found though wasn’t Serena still crying and heartbroken. He found nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Inside, the apartment was far from empty. All the furniture and appliances were still there as was the laptop he’d bought because her old one was practically antique. Inside the closet he found all of the clothes he’d bought for her. Dresses, gowns, lingerie, shoes and casual wear all hung there mocking him. The drawers on the dresser were empty. All of her own clothes gone. Just like her.

He’d gone to her old apartment only to find she wasn’t there and no one at her school would give him any information on Serena’s whereabouts. He’d searched Paris high and low looking for his sweet Serena but she was gone as though he’d imagined the past year with her. Like she was just a figment of his imagination. Months later he’d returned to Maju-ul and begun his search for a wife.

Mothers and grandmothers paraded their beautiful and not so beautiful daughters, talented, rich, desperate, social climbing and indifferent daughters. It was exhausting and Raffir couldn’t get excited about a single one of them, too occupied was he with thoughts of Serena. And now here he was doing business in her homeland. Chances were slim he’d see her since his business was in Wellington and she was from Auckland, but he’d be lying if he said every woman with wild auburn curls didn’t immediately steal his attention.

For months he’d seen her in every flame haired woman he came across. But they were never her.

Now he had six months to find a bride or he’d spend his life with a woman chosen by his father. No way was that going to happen. He would spend the next month in Wellington on business. It was time to expand his fashion empire into this part of the world, while bringing the vibrant silks and handcrafted patterns that made Maju-ul famous, to another part of the world. He would partner with a famous mid-range French boutique in this new venture and despite his father’s objection, Raffir knew it would be lucrative for him and his country.

A glance at his watch told him he had less than an hour to meet with Francois and his interpreter. After that he would seek out the company of a woman and lose himself for a few hours.



~



Serena was running late. Her son, Rafael, was very fussy this morning and he still wasn’t used to being without Serena. When she’d left Paris she took advantage of her language skills and took a job as an interpreter because it paid well and offered plenty of time to spend with her son. It was the biggest perk of her job. Well that and learning about all the new business ventures popping up in New Zealand.

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