Home > To Tame a Sheikh (Pride of Zohayd #1)

To Tame a Sheikh (Pride of Zohayd #1)
Author: Olivia Gates

One

Johara Nazaryan had come to see the only man she’d ever love.

Before he married someone else.

Her heart sputtered on a mixture of anticipation, dread and despondence as her eyes scanned the throngs of top-fashion, highest-class denizens of the party being thrown in his honor.

There was still no sign of Shaheen Aal Shalaan.

She drew in a choppy breath and pressed deeper into her corner, hoping to continue avoiding attention. She was thankful for the extra time to compose herself even as she cursed it for giving her more of a chance to work herself up.

She still couldn’t believe she’d decided to see him after twelve years.

Oh, she’d drunk in every drop of news of him for all those years, had stolen glimpses of him whenever she was near where she’d heard he’d be from the time she’d started traveling on her own. But this time, she was determined to walk up to Shaheen and say, Long time no see.

Shaheen. To the world he was a prince of the wealthy desert kingdom of Zohayd, the youngest of King Atef Aal Shalaan’s three sons from the deceased queen Salwa. He was also a businessman who’d risen in the past six years to become one of the most respected powers in the worlds of construction and transportation.

To Johara he’d always be the fourteen-year-old boy who’d saved her life twenty years ago.

She was six then, on her first day in Zohayd, where she’d come to live in the royal palace with her family. Her Armenian-American father had been appointed first assistant to the royal jeweler, Nazeeh Salah. It had been “Uncle” Nazeeh, her father’s mentor, who’d suggested her name, jewel in Arabic.

During her father’s interview with the king, she’d slipped onto the terrace and ended up falling off its balustrade and dangling from the ledge. At her screams, everyone had come running. Unable to reach her, her father had thrown her a rope noose to slip around her wrist. As she’d tried to put it on, someone below her had urged her to let go. With panic bursting in her heart, she’d looked down.

And she’d seen him.

He’d seemed too far away to be able to catch her. But as her parents had screamed for her to hang on, she’d let go of the ledge and plummeted down the thirty-foot drop, just knowing he would.

And as fast and precise and powerful as the hawk he was named for, he had. He’d swooped in, plucked her from midair and welcomed her into the haven of his arms.

She still dissected those fraught moments from time to time. She knew she would have been able to slip the rope on. But she’d chosen to trust her safety to that magnificent creature who’d looked up at her with strength and assurance radiating from his fiery-brown eyes.

From that day on, she’d known. She’d always be his. And not only because he’d saved her. With every day that passed, the knowledge that he was the most incredible person she’d ever met had solidified, as he became her older brother Aram’s best friend and far more than that to her.

But as she’d grown older, she’d realized that her dream of being his one day was impossible.

Shaheen was a prince. She was the daughter of a servant. Even though her father had become the royal jeweler, who both designed new jewelry for the royal family and had the all-important responsibility of maintaining the nation’s highest treasure, the Pride of Zohayd royal jewels, he was still an underling, a foreigner who came from a poor background and had worked his way to his current position through his extraordinary talent.

And then, Shaheen wouldn’t have looked at her that way even if she were the daughter of the noblest family in Zohayd. He had always been incredibly nice to her, but when it came to romantic partners, he’d had the world’s most beautiful, sophisticated women falling at his feet from the time he turned seventeen. Back then, she’d been certain she possessed no beauty and would never attain any sophistication. But she’d found it enough to be near him, to love him.

For eight blissful years, Shaheen had offered her indulgence and friendship. To stay near him, she’d chosen to remain with her father when her parents had separated when she was twelve and her French mother had left Zohayd to go back home and continue her career in fashion design.

Then, suddenly, it was over. Just before her fourteenth birthday, Shaheen had abruptly pulled away from both her brother and her. Aram had told her that Shaheen thought it time to stop fraternizing with the “help” to observe his role as a prince of Zohayd.

Though she couldn’t believe it of Shaheen and thought Aram’s bitterness had other origins she couldn’t guess at, Shaheen’s sudden distance was still a wake-up call.

For, really, what did she have to look forward to but to love him, unrequitedly, until he one day entered the marriage of state that was his destiny? He might even have turned away from her because he suspected her feelings for him and was being cruel to be kind. His withdrawal had influenced her decision to leave. A few weeks after her birthday, she’d left Zohayd to live in France with her mother. She’d never returned.

Ever since that day, Johara had found comfort from the sense of loss only when she found news of Shaheen, saw that he was doing phenomenally well on every front. She’d felt she was entitled to hold on to that secret, one-sided love.

But now, the blade was about to fall and she’d never again have the right to indulge her emotions, even in the privacy of her heart and mind. And she had to see him. Really see him. One last time…before he committed himself to another.

She’d slipped into the farewell party that one of his business partners, Aidan McCormick, was throwing for him in New York City. If anyone questioned her presence, she’d easily defend her right to be there. As a jewelry and fashion designer who’d been making a splash beyond France in the past couple of years, she was considered one of the glitterati who were expected to stud such a function.

But validating her presence wasn’t the difficult part. That was still to come. Working up the nerve to approach Shaheen.

She was praying one thing would happen when she did. That she’d find out that she’d blown him all out of proportion in her mind, and her feelings for him, as well.

Suddenly, a wave of goose bumps swept her from toes to scalp.

She turned around, the rustle of her taffeta dress magnified in her ears.

Shaheen was here.

For a long moment, she couldn’t see him. But the people-packed space receded into a void where his presence radiated like a beacon. Not from the entrance, where her gaze had been glued for the past two hours, but from the other side of the room. It made no sense, until she realized he must have used McCormick’s private elevator.

 

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