The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(4) by Susan Mallery
“Ain’t gonna happen.”
She shook her head at the familiar sentiment. It was hard enough being the baby of the family, but being the only girl made things worse.
Still, she’d gotten used to their high-handed treatment years ago and for the most part was able to ignore it. When she didn’t care one way or another, she usually gave in. But not this time. Not when there was a bathtub on the line.
The car rounded a corner and Billie felt her eyes widen. “I can’t believe it,”
she breathed as she took in the multistory pink palace sprawling in front of her.
The main building was huge—the size of a museum or a parliament building.
Balconies circled every floor. There were turrets and arched windows and guards on the ground and lush gardens for as far as the eye could see.
“Not bad,” Doyle said.
Billie cuffed him. “You’re impressed. It’s amazing. Too bad Dad and the guys can’t be here to see it.”
Her father was in South America attending a multinational conference and her two oldest brothers had special assignments in Iraq. Which left Doyle and her in charge of the Bahanian job. Easy work, Billie thought. She could train an air force pilot in her sleep. Flying was something she loved and one of the few things she did well.
The limo pulled to a stop and a uniformed guard stepped forward to open the rear door. Doyle stepped out first. Billie grabbed Muffin and slid across the slick, leather seat. As she stepped out into the sunlight, her eyes took a second to adjust. During that second or two, her gaze landed on Prince Jefri and she would have sworn she saw him bathed in shimmering gold.
Neat trick, she thought as her mind whirled from the beauty of the palace and her body swooned from the beauty of the man.
“Ms. Van Horn.” The prince nodded.
“Billie,” she said with a smile. “As I’m going to be shooting you out of the sky on a regular basis, there’s no point in being formal.”
She thought the prince might have winced at her words. No doubt he thought he would get good enough to win against her. They all thought that, and they were all wrong. Which meant he would get more and more crabby as the training went along. Oh, well. It had happened before and she had survived.
The prince spoke to a uniformed young woman who nodded, then gestured toward Doyle. Her brother gave Billie a quick wink as he followed the maid into the castle. Billie stepped up for her escort and tried not to drool at the thought of the riches within.
“This way,” Prince Jefri said.
She blinked at him. “Excuse me?”
“I will show you to your room.”
Did royalty do that? She figured about the only thing a prince did for himself was breathe. Hadn’t she read somewhere that some royals even had a special servant to put toothpaste on the toothbrush?
“You don’t have to do that yourself,” she said, thinking of her bath and how long she was going to soak. At least an hour. She had a good book she wanted to finish and a…
“Is this your first visit to my country?” he asked.
“Um, yes.” She shifted Muffin to her other arm and trailed along beside the prince. “I wasn’t part of the sales presentation when our firm bid for the training job.”
They entered into a foyer the size of a small arena. The gold inlaid ceilings soared a good fifty feet above them. Mosaics of ancient battles lined the curved walls. Not exactly like the flocked wallpaper in that hotel in Bosnia.
He noticed her interest and paused in front of a mural of several fierce men on horses. “My people have always been fighters. A thousand years ago, we defended our land against the infidels.”
She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “That would be us, right?”
“Only if you are European.”
“I’m a bit of everything.” She looked at the elaborate chandelier and the stained glass windows. “Beautiful place.”
“Thank you. The Pink Palace is a treasure for the people of Bahania.”
“How many of them get to stay here on a regular basis?”
The prince surprised her by smiling. “We hold it in trust.”
“I’m sure they’re grateful.”
He started down the main hallway. Billie followed, noting they could have easily driven a tank and not come close to bumping into any walls.
“I did some research before I got here,” she said, her high-heeled sandals clicking loudly on the tiled floor. “Your country is not strictly Muslim.”
“No. Our people celebrate many faiths, and respect all.”
That’s what all her reading had told her. While the rest of the Middle East couldn’t seem to get it together, Bahania, and their neighbor El Bahar, offered religious freedom to all. The monarchies had ruled for over a thousand years with no hint of uprising. Ultimate power that didn’t corrupt? Was it possible?
“So why the air force?” she asked.
“To protect our oil fields. With so much unrest around us, we need to be able to secure our resources.”
“The oil won’t last forever.”
“True, which is why even now we are diversifying our exports. Bahania will not be left behind in the world market.”
Pretty and smart, she thought with a little smile. Now if only he could see her as a desirable woman, her life would be complete. Her research had informed her that Prince Jefri was single, but she’d seen pictures of the women in his life.
There wasn’t a fighter pilot in the bunch.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online