When Jesslyn knew him in London, Sharif Fehr was a playboy prince, and their romance was carefree and fun.
Now Jesslyn has been summoned to the desert land that Sheikh Sharif rules. The intervening years have proved harsh and cruel, and Sharif has grown used to his word being law. No one dares challenge him--except Jesslyn! But for all her sweet insolence, Sharif is sure of one thing: Jesslyn will obey his ultimate command and submit--to becoming his wife and queen!
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March 31, 2008
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Excerpt from The Sheikh's Chosen Queen by Jane Porter
The low heels on Jesslyn Heaton's practical navy pumps clicked briskly against the sidewalk as she left the administrative office.
It was the last day of school and mercifully the students had finally been sent home stuffed full of cupcakes and gallons of shocking red punch. All she had to do now was close her room for the summer.
"Going anywhere fun for holiday, Miss Heaton?" a student asked, his thin, reedy voice breaking on her name.
Jesslyn glanced up from the paperwork she'd pulled from her faculty mailbox. "Aaron, you haven't left yet? School ended hours ago."
The freckle-faced teen blushed. "Forgot something," he mumbled, his flush deepening as he reached into his backpack to retrieve a small package wrapped in white paper and tied with a purple silk ribbon. "For you. My mom picked it out. But it was my idea."
"A present." Jesslyn smiled and adjusted the pile of paperwork in her arms to take the gift. "That's so thoughtful. But Aaron, it's not necessary. I'll see you next school term--"
"I won't be back." His shoulders rose and he hunched miserably into the backpack he'd slung again onto his thin back. "We're moving this summer. Dad's been transferred back to the States. Anchorage, I think."
Having taught middle school at the small private school in the United Arab Emirates for the past six years, Jesslyn had witnessed how abruptly the students--children of ex-pats--came and went. "I'm sorry, Aaron. I really am."
He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets. "Maybe you could tell the other kids? Have them e-mail me?"
His voice cracked again, and it was the crack in his voice along with the way he hung his head that nearly undid her. These children went through so much. Foreign homes, foreign lives, change the only constant. "I will, of course."
Nodding, he turned around and was gone, rushing down the empty corridors of the school. Jesslyn watched his hasty departure for a moment before unlocking the door to her deserted classroom with a sigh. Hard to believe that another school year had ended. It seemed like only yesterday she was handing out the mountain of textbooks and carefully printing children's names in her class register. Now they were gone, and for the next two months she was free.
Well, she'd be free as soon as she closed up her classroom, and she couldn't do that until she tackled her last, and least-favorite task, washing the chalkboards.
Twenty minutes later her once-crisp navy dress stuck to the small of her back, and perspiration matted the heavy dark hair at her nape. What a job, she thought, wrinkling her nose as she rinsed out the filthy sponge in the sink.
A knock sounded on her door and Dr. Maddox, her principal, appeared in the doorway. "Miss Heaton, you've a guest."
Jesslyn thought one of her students' parents had shown up, concerned about a grade on a report, but it wasn't Robert.
Heart suddenly racing, she stared stunned at Sharif Fehr. Prince Sharif Fehr.
She convulsively squeezed the wet sponge, water streaming through her now-trembling fingers.
Impossible. But he was here, it was without a doubt Prince Fehr standing in her doorway, tall, imposing, real. She stared at him, drinking him in, adrenaline racing through her veins, too hot, too cold, too intense.
Dr. Maddox cleared her throat. "Miss Heaton, it is my pleasure to introduce you to our most generous school benefactor, His Royal Highness--"
"Sharif," Jesslyn whispered, unable to stop herself.
"Jesslyn," Sharif answered with a slight nod.
And just like that, her name spoken in his rich, deep voice made the years disappear.
The last time she'd seen him they'd been younger, so much younger. She'd been a young woman in her first year of teaching at the American School in London. And he'd been a gorgeous, rebel Arab prince who wore jeans and flip-flops and baggy cashmere sweatshirts.
Now he looked like someone altogether different. His baggy sweatshirts were gone, and the faded, torn jeans were replaced by a dishdashah or a thoub, as more commonly known in the Arabian Gulf, a cool, long, one-piece white dress and the traditional head gear comprised of a gutrah, a white scarflike cloth, and the ogal, the black circular band that held everything together.
He looked so different from when she'd last seen him, and yet he still looked very much the same, from the piercing pewter eyes to his chiseled jaw to his dark, glossy hair.
Confused, Dr. Maddox glanced from one to the other. "You know each other?"
Know? Know? She'd been his, and he'd been hers and their lives had been so intertwined that ending their relationship had ripped her heart to shreds.