She desperately didn't want to marry the sheikh to whom she was betrothed...
There was more to the darkly handsome, dark-hearted desert stranger escorting her back to the altar than met the eye...
And, having kissed that stranger once, she was never going to be the same again...
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May 01, 2011
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Excerpt from The Inherited Bride by Maisey Yates
He wasn't Room Service. That was for sure. Princess Isabella Rossi looked up, way up, at the tall, forbidding man who was standing in the doorway of her hotel room. His muscular frame was displayed to perfection by the tailored black suit he was wearing. But the suit was where any semblance of civilization ended.
His expression was inscrutable, his dark eyes blank, his lips flattened into a firm line. His squared jaw was clenched tight, the tension mirrored in his stance. His golden skin was marred with scars in some places; his cheek, the exposed part of his wrists.
She swallowed hard. "Unless you have my dinner stashed on a cart somewhere, I'm afraid I can't allow you to come in."
He uncrossed his arms and held his hands out, as if to show that they were empty. "Sorry."
"I was waiting for Room Service."
He tapped the top of the door with his open palm. "They make peepholes in these doors for a reason. It's always wise to check."
"Thank you. I'll remember that." She made a move to close the door, but it didn't budge. He was propping it open with his shoulder. She tried to close it again, this time putting more weight behind it. The door still didn't move, and neither did he. His expression did not betray even a hint of strain.
"You've caused a lot of big problems for quite a few people. Including your security detail, who now find themselves without jobs."
Her heart sank into her stomach. He knew who she was. She didn't know whether to be relieved or even more upset by that. Relieved he wasn't here to hurt her, but...but he was here to take her back. Either to Umarah or to Turan, and she didn't want to go to either country. Not now. Not when she'd fallen so short of everything she'd wanted to accomplish.
One night of freedom. That was all she'd gotten. A glimpse of the world as she would never know it.
"Do you work for my father*"
"You work for Hassan, then." That should have been obvious. Judging by the faint accent that tinged his deep voice, she should have guessed that Arabic was his native language. She should have known that he was in league with her fianc�.
"You're in breach of contract, amira. You should have known the Sheikh could not allow such a thing."
"I didn't imagine he would be thrilled about it, but."
"You did a very foolish thing, Isabella. Your parents were concerned that you'd been kidnapped."
The guilt she'd been holding at bay for the past twenty-four hours made her stomach feel tight. But with that tightening came a strange fluttering sensation that seemed to grow stronger when she looked into those dark, fathomless eyes. She looked down. "I didn't mean to scare anyone."
"And what did you think would happen when you disappeared* That everyone would go about their daily lives as if nothing had happened* You did not believe that your own parents would be frantic with worry*"
She shook her head mutely. In truth, she'd known her family would be upset, but she hadn't considered that they'd worry about her. Be angry, yes. She'd imagined they would be angry. That they might be afraid the sheikh would want to renege on their bargain if there was a chance she'd been out in the big bad world long enough to become damaged goods, or something.
"I...no. I didn't really think they would be worried."
He shifted his focus to the hallway, to a young couple standing a few doors down, kissing passionately against the wall. "I am not going to continue this discussion in the hallway."
She sneaked a glance at the passionate duo and her face began to burn with embarrassment. "Well, I can't let you in!"
He looked past her and into the simple room. "Slumming it*"
"No. This is a perfectly nice hotel. Anywhere too upmarket and--"
"They would have known who you were. And they would have wondered."
She nodded mutely.
"I will be coming in," he continued. "With your permission or without it. One thing you'll learn about me very quickly, Princess. I don't take orders."
"There are two months and ten days until the wedding," she said, desperation clawing at her. "I need...I need this time."
"You should have considered that before you ran away."
"I didn't run away. That makes me sound like a naughty child."
"Then what would you call it*" He looked down the long corridor, back at the couple, whose activities had heated up in the past minute, and then back at her. "I'm waiting to be let in. I find I've been extremely patient."
She could tell from the fierce glint in his eyes that he absolutely would push his way into the room if she didn't allow him access. She could tell by all of the barely harnessed power of the body, the strength that was radiating from him, that he was only seconds away from doing it.
A sound that could only be described as ecstatic came from the couple in the hall, and Isabella jumped slightly, releasing her hold on the door.
"Wise decision." He stepped past her and into the small hotel room.
He stood rigid, his posture straight, his expression neutral. He was handsome. Extremely handsome. She realized that now. She'd been so struck by the immensity of his power, the energy that seemed just to radiate from him, that she hadn't had the time to really look at him. But she was looking now.
Now that his mouth was relaxed she noticed that his lips were full and well shaped, even with the small scar running through a corner of his mouth. He had the darkest eyes she'd ever seen. Nearly black, and so intensely focused that she felt as though he could see everything about her--as if he was looking into her. He was the sort of man who evoked a visceral reaction that was impossible to fight or ignore; one she didn't fully understand, and one she definitely didn't know what to do with.
"I wasn't letting you in. I was startled, that's all." she said, hoping she sounded at least mildly imperious. She was a princess; she ought to be able to do imperious.
"I did tell you I was coming in regardless of whether you wanted me to or not."
She cleared her throat and focused on a spot just past him. Everything seemed to slow down a bit as she looked at him. Even the air felt thicker, making breathing a labored thing. He was just so...He was a force rather than a person. "Yes, well, now you're in."
"Yes. I am. And we're leaving."
She took one step backward. "I'm not going with you."
One black eyebrow shot up. "You think not*"
"Are you going to carry me out of here*"
He shrugged. "If I have to."
The thought of being touched, held closely by this man, this stranger, was entirely off-putting.
She took another step backward, trying to put some space between them. "I don't really think you would do that."
"Make no mistake, Princess, I would. You have a binding agreement with the High Sheikh of Umarah, and I have been charged with bringing you to him. That means you're coming with me one way or another. Even if I have to carry you kicking and screaming down the streets of Paris."
She stiffened, trying to look composed, trying to hide the nerves that were making her hands shake. "I don't think you would do that either."
He leveled that intense focus onto her. "Keep issuing challenges and we'll see just what I will and won't do."
He appraised her slowly, his gaze lingering on her curves. Something about the way he looked at her, the way his eyes glittered in the dim light, made her feel like she was exposed, like she was undressed.
Her heart rate sped up, something unfamiliar and hot racing through her bloodstream, making her pulse soar. Her heart was pounding so loud she was almost certain that he must hear it. She sucked in a deep breath, trying to calm herself, trying to slow her racing blood.
She looked away from him, trying to grab a shred of sanity that might be lying around somewhere in the corner of her mind. And her eyes locked onto the big bed that was in the corner of the room. It made her think of the lovers out in the hall. Blood roared into her face, and she could feel her heart beating in her temples, her cheeks so hot they burned.