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The Sheikh's Unwilling Wife (the Desert Princes)
It's been five years since Alexa set eyes on Giovanni de Verrazzano--five years since she walked out on their pretense of a marriage and took with her a precious secret.
Since discovering that he is the son of a powerful desert ruler, Giovanni is determined that Alexa resume her role as his wife and accompany him to his desert kingdom. But how will this proud Italian, of Kharastani descent, react when he discovers he has a son?
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February 28, 2007
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Excerpt from The Sheikh's Unwilling Wife (the Desert Princes) by Sharon Kendrick
YOU didn't have to be drowning for your life to flash before you. Nor to be sleeping to feel you had stumbled into a nightmare.
And this was her worst.
Alexa blinked her eyes rapidly, like someone emerging from the water--their vision blurred so that they couldn't see clearly--and found herself thinking that maybe it wasn't him. For a split second a fragment of optimism floated before her as she narrowed her eyes to watch the man who sauntered with such careless grace down the cobblestoned street. But hope died as he grew closer and she saw a group of women stop talking mid-sentence and turn their heads to follow his path.
He walked like the leader he undoubtedly was--a man born to money, as well as having made more than enough of his own. Tall and striking, he had crisp dark curls, hard black eyes and a proud and haughty look on a face which in repose looked faintly cruel.
His olive skin was dark--even for a Southern italian--and a shamelessly exotic air had only added to his mystique in his native city of Naples. Glamorous mother; father unknown.
He was wearing a perfectly cut pale grey suit over a lean, hard body, and as he walked the women watching him almost melted on the spot. it would almost have been comic if it hadn't made Alexa's heart ache with a pain which should have disappeared a long time ago and yet deep, deep down was a feeling far more acute than pain.
She licked her lips. Giovanni.
Jealous, possessive, unrealistic, idealistic. GiovannI-- Silently she said the name she had tried to forget but never would--for how could she, when she was still tied to him by law, unresolved feelings and by something deeper still? Something so precious that if--if."
Alexa swallowed. Had he seen her? Her heart skipped a beat as that stupid hope flared into life once more. Did he know she was here?
But even before she met the ebony glitter of his eyes, training themselves on the shop window like a hunter's gun, or watched him beginning to cross the road towards the building, she knew that it was a dumb question to ask.
Of course he knew she was here. Why else would the black-hearted millionaire be wandering down a quiet English road instead of swanning around his hot and noisy Naples in that sleek little sports car he used to drive, with all the men shouting Gio! and the girls smiling and swaying their hips as he passed?
What else did he know? Had he--found out?
Oh, please. the world began to blur again, and she clutched the flimsy piece of silk she was holding. Please don't let him know.
Skin icing and heart beginning to pound, Alexa could feel the palms of her hands growing damp, and she put down the silk T-shirt she had been folding with shaking fingers. No wealthy customer would part with cash for an over-priced item if it was covered in splodges of her sweat. She licked her dry lips, telling herself it was insanity to try to second-guess the situation. Just see what he has to say and play it cool--surely you can do that, considering what's at stake?
The shop door pinged, and she looked straight at him as he walked in, fixing a smile to her lips which she hoped was just the right mixture of formal politeness and mild curiosity. the kind of smile that any estranged wife would give to a husband who had given the dictionary a new definition for "unreasonable behaviour".
"H-hello, Giovanni," she said, but she heard her voice tremble, and he heard it too, for she saw the black eyes briefly narrow as he tried to interpret its origin. "This is a--"
"What?" he questioned, deadly as a snake. "Surprise." She swallowed, feeling her throat constrict on the word.
"Ah! Such understatement, cara mia!" he murmured "Did you really expect to go through the rest of your life without ever seeing me again?"