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Traded to the Sheikh [Secure eReader]
eBook by Emma Darcy

eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Will she succumb to the sheikh? Who dares trespass on Sheikh Zageo's palace on the exotic island of Zanzibar? Zageo demands that the intruder be brought before him! Emily Ross is appalled to find she's the sheikh's prisoner. To prove her innocence she needs Zageo's help. If the price is giving herself to him, then it's one she'll have to pay."

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2006


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CHAPTER ONE

SHEIKH ZAGEO bin Sultan Al Farrahn was not amused. Not only had there been criminal trespassing in the walled grounds of this family property—his mother's pleasure palace on the legendary spice island of Zanzibar—but also criminal use of the private harbour by a drug-running French yachtsman who was actually offering him a woman to warm his bed in exchange for letting him go.

Did the sleazy low-life think he was speaking to the kind of man who'd indulge in indiscriminate sex?

'She's very special,' the drug-dealer pleaded with all the oiliness of a practised pimp. 'A genuine strawberry-blonde. Hair like rippling silk, falling to the pit of her back. Beautiful, bright, blue eyes. Lush breasts…' His hands shaped an hourglass figure. 'Fantastic legs, long and…'

'A virgin, as well?' Zageo cut in mockingly, despising the man for thinking he could trade his whore for his own freedom, for thinking the trade could even be an acceptable possibility.

'Completely untouched,' Jacques Arnault instantly replied, a consummate liar, not so much as a flicker of an eyelash nor the twitch of a facial muscle to betray any unease with the question, despite the impossibility of there being anything virginal about a woman who had to be his partner in crime.

'And where is this precious pearl?' Zageo drawled, barely holding back his contempt for a man who was prepared to sell flesh to save his own skin.

'On my yacht. If you get your security people—' he glanced nervously at the guards who'd caught him '—to take me out to it, they can fetch her back to you.'

While he silently sailed away in one hell of a hurry!

Zageo gave him a blast of scepticism. 'On your yacht? You've managed to sail from the Red Sea, down half the east coast of Africa to this island, without being tempted to touch this fabulous jewel of femininity?'

The Frenchman shrugged. 'Stupid to spoil top merchandise.'

'And where did you get this top merchandise?'

'Picked her up from one of the resorts where she was working with a dive team. She agreed to help crew the yacht for free passage to Zanzibar.' His mouth curved into a cynical smile. 'A drifting traveller who could go missing indefinitely.'

'A fool to trust you with her life.'

'Women are fools. Particularly those with an innocent turn of mind.'

Zageo arched a challenging eyebrow. 'You take me for a fool, as well?'

'I'm being completely straight with you,' came the swift and strongly assertive assurance. 'You can have her. No problems.' His gaze flicked around the lavishly rich and exotic Versace furnishings in the huge central atrium which had always served as the most public reception area. 'With all you have to offer, I doubt you'd even have to force her. Unless you enjoy force, of course,' he quickly added on second thoughts.

Anger burned. 'You are breaking another law, monsieur. The slave trade was abolished in Zanzibar over a century ago.'

'But a man of your standing and influence…who's to question what you do with a woman no one knows? Even if she runs away from you…'

'Enough!' Zageo gestured to his security guards. 'Put him in a holding room. Have his yacht searched for a woman. If there is one onboard, bring her to me.'

Arnault looked alarmed as two of the guards flanked him to escort him elsewhere. He spoke quickly in anxious protest. 'You'll see. She's everything I said she is. Once you're satisfied…'

'Oh, I will be satisfied, monsieur, one way or another,' Zageo silkily assured him, waving his men to proceed with the execution of his orders.

Zageo doubted the woman existed, certainly not with all the attributes ascribed to her by Jacques Arnault. He suspected the Frenchman had been dangling what he thought would be a tempting sexual fantasy in the hope of getting back to his yacht and somehow ditching the men escorting him. Even though the security guards carried guns, a surprise attack might have won him time to escape.

However, if there was a female accomplice, she had to be brought in and handed over to the appropriate authorities. While she might not have been actively involved in drug-dealing, there was no way she couldn't know about it and would surely be able to supply useful information.

He relaxed back on the thronelike sofa, reached over the elaborately rolled armrest to pick up the mango cocktail he'd previously set down on the entwined monkeys table, and sipped the refreshing drink slowly as the anger stirred by the Frenchman's attempt to use sexual currency turned onto Veronique, who had declined the invitation to accompany him on this trip.

'Your mind will be on business, cheri,' she had prettily complained. 'It will not be fun.'

Was the amount of fun to be had the measure of their relationship? His three-month tour of checking the hotel chain he'd established throughout Africa could not be called a hardship on anyone's agenda—luxurious resorts in exotic locations. How much fun did she need to feel happy and satisfied?

He understood that for the much-in-demand French-Morrocan model, pleasure was inextricably linked with exciting leisure and being taken shopping. He understood that what he provided in this context was the trade-off for having her as his mistress. He had not understood that Veronique was only prepared to give him her company on her own totally self-indulgent terms.

Intolerable!

He had indulged her far too much. It wasn't enough recompense that the sex was good. It wasn't enough that Veronique was invariably a splendid ornament on his arm, superbly dressed to complement her dark-skinned exotic beauty. He found it deeply insulting that she had so little respect for his wishes.

His father was right. It was time he ended this too long fascination with women of different cultures and found one of his own kind to marry. He was thirty-five years old and should be thinking of settling down, having a family. He would cut his connection with Veronique and start considering more suitable candidates for a lifelong commitment—well-educated women from other powerful families in Dubai, women whose background ensured they would share his life, not just his bed and his spending power.

Copyright © 2005 by Emma Darcy.


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