Maggie Collins had come to the exotic kingdom of El Deharia to restore Prince Qadir's antique car...not to get married. The no-frills mechanic had been burned by love before, and marriage--even to a seductive sheik--didn't top her agenda. But then Qadir made her an offer she should have refused.
It was meant to be a temporary engagement...until Maggie discovered she was pregnant. Now Qadir was honor-bound to give Maggie and her child the protection of his name. He never expected her to sweep him off his feet.
Would there be a royal wedding after all?
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February 29, 2008
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Excerpt from The Sheik and the Pregnant Bride by Susan Mallery
Maggie Collins hated to admit it but the reality was, she was a tiny bit disappointed by her first meeting with a real, live prince.
The trip to El Deharia had been great. She'd flown first-class, which was just as fabulous as it looked in the movies. When she'd landed, she'd been whisked by limo to a fancy hotel. Until then, her only other limo experience had been for her prom and then she and her date had been sharing it and the expense with six other couples.
Arriving at the exclusive Hotel El Deharia, she'd been shown to a suite with a view of the Arabian Sea. The living room alone had been about the same size as the two-bedroom house she'd grown up in back in Aspen.
She also couldn't complain about the palace. It was big and beautiful and historic-looking. But honestly, the offices where she was supposed to be meeting Prince Qadir weren't anything special. They were just offices. And everyone was dressed so professionally in conservative suits. She'd been hoping for harem pants and a tiara or two. Of course, as she'd mostly seen men, a tiara was probably out of place.
The thought of the older British gentleman who had shown her into the office wearing a tiara made her giggle. She was still laughing when the door opened and a tall man in yet another suit walked in.
"Good morning," he said as he approached. "I am Prince Qadir."
Maggie sighed in disappointment. Yes, the prince was very handsome, but there was nothing different about him. No medals, not even a crown or a scepter or some proof of rank.
"Well, darn," she murmured.
Prince Qadir raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"
Had she said that aloud? Oops. "I, ah..." She swallowed and then squared her shoulders. "Prince Qadir," she said as she walked toward him and held out her hand. "Very nice to meet you. I'm Maggie Collins. We've been corresponding via e-mail."
He took her hand in his and shook it. "I'm aware of that, Ms. Collins. I believe my last note to you said I preferred to work with your father."
"Yet the ticket was in my name," she said absently as she dropped her arm to her side, aware that even though she was five-ten, he was still much taller than her.
"I sent you each a ticket. Did he not use his?"
"No, he didn't." She glanced out the window at the formal garden below. "My father..." She cleared her throat and returned her attention to the prince. This was not the time to get sad again. She was here to do business. "My father died four months ago."
Qadir glanced at his watch. "A car will return you to your hotel."
"What?" Outrage chased away any threatening tears. "You're not even going to talk to me?"
Of all the annoying, arrogant, male ways to react. It was just so typical. "I'm more than capable of doing the job."
"I don't doubt that, Ms. Collins. However, my arrangement was with your father."
"We were in business together." The last year of her father's life, she'd run the car-restoration business he'd started years ago. And lost it, although that hadn't been because of anything she'd done wrong. The medical bills had been massive. In the end she'd had to sell everything to pay them, including the business.
"This project is very important to me. I want someone with experience."
She wanted to deck him. Given the fact that she was female and he was well-bred, she could probably get one shot in, what with the element of surprise on her side. But to what end? Hitting a member of the royal family was hardly the way to get the job.
"There were exactly seven hundred and seventeen Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIs built between 1936 and 1939, plus ten experimental cars," she said as she glared at him. "The earlier models had a maximum speed of ninety-two miles an hour. Problems started showing up early because the cars weren't designed to be run at maximum speed for any length of time. This became an issue as owners took their cars to Europe where they could drive on the newly built German autobahn. The company's initial fix was to tell the drivers to go slower. Later, they offered a modification that was little more than a higher-ratio fourth gear that also made the car go slower." a professional." A professional who desperately needed job. Prince Qadir had a 1936 Phantom III he wanted restored. was no object. She needed the money he offered to pay the last of her father's medical bills and keep her promise of glanced down at her chest, then back at him. "Really? I that explains the breasts. I'd wondered why they were "Squeeze my hand," he said, staring into her green eyes. "As hard as you can."
She wrinkled her nose, as if she couldn't believe what he was asking, then she did as he requested.
Her fingers crushed his in a powerful grip.
Impressive, he thought. Perhaps she was who and what she claimed.
"Should we arm wrestle next?" she asked. "Or have a spitting contest?"
He laughed. "That will not be required." He released her hand. "Would you like to see the car?"