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The Sheikhs Reluctant Bride ()Brothers of Bha'Khar)
Jessica Sterling has just discovered a life-changing secret. In the desert kingdom of Bha'Khar is the family she never knew she had! Little does she realize that includes the man she's been betrothed to since birth....
Sheikh Kardahl Hourani is rich, gorgeous and just a tiny bit arrogant. He's happy to marry, but this brooding prince doesn't have love on his agenda. Can Jessica see the man behind the playboy persona and find her way into his guarded heart?
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April 09, 2007
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Excerpt from The Sheikhs Reluctant Bride ()Brothers of Bha'Khar) by Teresa Southwick
"Fear is my friend."
As the plane touched down on Bha'Khar's runway, Jessica Leigh Sterling prayed she spoke the truth. Except the statement was fundamentally flawed. Fearful flyers usually freaked out on takeoff, not so much on touchdown. But nothing about this flight was usual and she'd learned there were lots of ways to be afraid.
This wasn't like when she was a girl and her mother had gotten so sick that Jess had been sent to the state home. This was scary like the hopeless romantic who finds out it might be possible to get what she's wanted her whole life only to find out her dream really is hopeless.
She was afraid it was going to be like that old joke: everyone who has a family, step forward. Not so fast, Jessica. there are people who share your DNA, but they don't want to know you so forget about them helping out if you need a kidney or bone marrow transplant.
Oh God, to be this close to meeting someone who'd known her mother, someone who might care about Jessica because of that connection. Might. But, maybe not. And she was still a little weirded out because the family she'd come to meet lived in a country halfway around the world from California. But the potential benefits trumped fear and, although important, matching kidneys and compatible bone marrow were not an issue, thank goodness. it was the simple things she wanted to know--like where her brown hair and hazel eyes had come from.
And, just this once, couldn't life come down on the side of the hopeless romantic? That's what she was here to find out.
As the plane slowly turned toward a group of buildings, it hit her that this was really Bha'Khar, her mother's country-- the country Jess had never known about while Mary Sterling was alive. the mounds of paperwork necessary to make this visit happen had made her eyes cross and--good lord--the king of Bha'Khar had sent an aide to cut through the red tape. Why had her mother kept secret her connection to royalty? Jessica never would have known if an attorney from the Department of Children and Families hadn't contacted her about the letter from her mother that he'd found in her old file.
The King had sent a plane, too. When it stopped, the captain turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign and she released hers, then stood, stretching cramped muscles. She'd been told that someone would be here to meet her, but her nerves didn't seem to care. then the curtains parted in the forward cabin and a tall man in a close-fitting and elegantly tailored navy-blue suit walked toward her. He looked familiar, but no way could she have ever met him.
He looked about thirty and moved with confidence, predatory grace and an air of controlled power. His thick black hair was long enough to scrape the crisp white collar of his dress shirt. the barest suggestion of arrogance mixed with the sensual curve of his mouth and his straight nose flared a little at the nostrils, hinting at a depth of passion that could rock a girl's world. Only a vertical scar on his lip and a crescent-shaped one on his sharp cheekbone marred his male perfection. And mar was the wrong word. If anything, the imperfections enhanced his masculinity.
He stopped in front of her and smiled. "Jessica?"
That smile could start the average woman's world rocking, but she wasn't the average woman. His deep voice and attractive accent made her name sound like a caress.
"Welcome to Bha'Khar." He took her hand and bent over it.
Along with the plane ride, this was a first. Kids from the state home didn't grow up and rub shoulders with the sort of men who kissed women's hands. it made her feel awkward and ill at ease. Like that first night after being taken from her mother's hospital room to share a room with other girls who had no one. All the hopeless, empty, scary feelings came back in a rush.