The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(2) by Susan Mallery
Sabrina spent summers in Bahania with her father, supposedly learning the ways of his people. Not that he could be bothered to teach her anything, but some of the servants took pity on her and she’d picked up a thing or two. One tidbit had been that hospitality was guaranteed in the desert.
However, she spent her school years in Los Angeles, California, where her mother’s maid had warned her never to speak to strangers. Especially men she didn’t know. So should she stand her ground or run for the hills? Sabrina glanced around. There weren’t any hills.
She studied the men as they galloped closer and seemed to get larger. They were dressed traditionally in burnoose and djellaba. Their long cloaks swept along behind them. As a way to distract herself from her growing apprehension, she tried to admire the strong yet elegant horses they rode. Bahanian horses, bred for the desert.
“Hi,” she called as the men approached, trying for a breezy, confident tone. Between her dry throat and growing fear, she wasn’t entirely successful. “I’m lost. The sandstorm caught me flat-footed. You wouldn’t have happened to have seen a horse and a camel anywhere would you?”
No one answered her. Instead they circled her, speaking in a tongue she recognized but didn’t understand. Nomads, she thought, not sure if the men being nomads was good or bad for her.
One of the men pointed at her and gestured. Sabrina stood in place, even when several moved their horses very close to her. Should she tell them who she was, she wondered as she turned slowly. Nomads would respond to her father’s name, but what about outlaws? Of course outlaws would want to hold her for ransom and she might impress them by telling them that even though she didn’t look like much, she was actually Sabrina Johnson, aka Princess Sabra of Bahania. Or they might just kill her and leave her bones to bleach in the desert.
“I have want of a slave girl, but I doubt you’d do well at the job.”
She spun toward the speaker. His clothing hid most of his features. She saw that he was tall in the saddle, with tanned skin and dark eyes. Lips curled up in a smile as he laughed at her.
“You speak English,” she said stupidly.
“You do not speak the language of the desert,” he replied. “Nor do you know its ways. She is not a forgiving lady.” The humor fled his face. “Why are you out here alone?”
“That’s not important,” Sabrina said with a dismissive wave. “But maybe you could loan me a horse. Just to get me back to the outpost. My truck is there.”
The man jerked his head. One of the others scrambled off his horse. For a second Sabrina thought she was going to get her wish. The man had actually listened. Most unusual in a Bahanian male. They generally ignored—
The nomad reached for her head covering and pulled it free. She screamed. The circle of men around her grew still. Sabrina sighed.
She knew what they were looking at. Long, curly red hair tumbled down her back, a legacy from her mother. The startling combination of brown eyes, red hair and honey-colored skin often caught people’s attention, but no more so than here.
The men talked amongst themselves. She strained to understand what they were saying.
“They think I should sell you.”
She glanced toward the English-speaker. She had the impression he was their leader. Panic fluttered inside of her, but she didn’t let it show. Instead she squared her shoulders and raised her chin.
“Do you so need the money?” she asked, trying to fill her voice with contempt…or at least keep it from shaking.
“It makes life easier. Even out here.”
“What happened to the hospitality of the desert? The laws of your land won’t let you mistreat me.”
“Exceptions are made for one as foolish as you.”
He motioned to the man still standing next to her. In the split second before he reached for her, Sabrina spun on her heel and began to run. She had no destination in mind, just a burning need to be as far away from her captors as possible.
She heard hoofbeats behind her. Fear added speed, but not enough. She’d barely gone twenty yards when she was swept up onto a horse and held tightly against the hard, unforgiving chest of the nomad.
“Where, exactly, did you plan to go?” he asked.
She squirmed, but he didn’t release her. Instead she found herself getting tangled in his robes.
“If you continue to try to get away, I’ll tie you and drag you behind my horse.”
She could feel the strength of him, and his heat. He was as unyielding as the desert. Just her luck, she thought glumly, and stilled.
Tossing her hair out of her face, she glared at him. “What do you want from me?”
“First, I would like you to remove your knee from my stomach.”
She glanced down and saw that her jean-clad knee was indeed pushing against his midsection. It felt as if she were butting up against a rock, but she didn’t share that thought with him. Instead she shifted slightly, so that she was sitting on the saddle, facing his left.
She sucked in a deep breath. The sun had slipped below the horizon. There was no way she could escape now. Not at night. She was lost, thirsty, hungry and held captive by who knows who. At least it wasn’t raining.
“Ah,” he said softly. “So you can be reasoned with. A most pleasant attribute in a woman. And rare.”
“You mean beating all your wives doesn’t keep them in line? What a surprise.”
She glared at him as she spoke, telling herself that she didn’t care if his gaze narrowed slightly.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online