Excerpt From The Desert King’s Pregnant Bride
by Annie West
‘Do you need help?’ A deep voice curled out of the roaring darkness to reach her.
Blindly she raised her head and found herself blinking in the headlights of a massive off road vehicle. A man stood silhouetted before it. He was tall, lean and unfamiliar. Something about the set of his broad shoulders and his wide-planted feet intimated he was a man prepared for anything, a man able to deal with trouble of any kind.
Maggie knew an instant’s insane craving to lean forward into his strong body, rest against those more-than-capable shoulders and slump into oblivion.
Then sense overcame instinct. She had no idea who he was. Besides, she’d just learned her judgement was fatally flawed. She’d believed Marcus to be everything she wanted in a man, a lover, a mate. She’d thought…
The shadow moved closer, near enough to make her stunningly aware of his superior height and power.
‘You’renot well. How can I assist?’ This time Maggie caught the faintest trace of an accent.
‘Who are you?’ she said, barely recognising the reedy whisper as her own voice.
Silence for a moment as the wind stirred the collar of her coat and drove the rain almost horizontal.
‘I ‘m a guest at the Tallawanta Stud. Staying up at the homestead.’
Now she recognised the latest top of the range vehicle. Only the best for those at the big house. And there was a special guest this week. The Sheikh of Shajehar, who owned the whole enormous horse stud, had sent an envoy on an inspection tour.
That explained his accent. The precise, clipped English, as if he’d attended a top British public school. It was overlaid with a slight softening of consonants that hinted at something far more exotic.
‘Or do you intend that we both stand out here till we’resaturated to the skin?’
There was no impatience in that voice, but nor was there any mistaking its steely undertone. Maggie jumped, reining in her wandering thoughts. What was wrong with her? She couldn’t seem to concentrate properly.
Only now did she realise the stranger wore no overcoat. He must be even wetter than she.
‘I ‘m sorry.’ She shook her head dazedly. ‘I ‘m not…’
‘Have you been in an accident?’ Again that easy, calm voice with just a hint of iron in its depths.
‘No. No accident. I…Could you give me a lift please?’ Maggie had no qualms now about cadging a ride from him. He was the visiting dignitary she’d heard about. They were on the estate’s private road and no one would be out in this weather unless they belonged here.
‘Of course.’ He bowed his head then preceded her to the four wheel drive. His stride was long, purposeful and easy as if pacing down a carpeted corridor instead of a muddy, uneven gravel road. Maggie stumbled after him as best she could, her limbs horribly uncoordinated.
He opened the door and stood back for her to get in.
‘Thank you,’ she murmured as a firm hand cupped her elbow and helped her into the high cabin. Without his support she wouldn’t have made it.
Maggie subsided onto the cushioned seat. Slowly she loosened her cramped fingers and let go the straps of her high-heeled sandals from one hand, her frivolous new purse from the other. They tumbled to the floor. She’d barely been aware she still held them.
The door closed and she sank back, stunned by the warm comfort of the cabin after the howling wind and teeming rain that had drummed incessantly in her ears.
This was…luxury. Heaven.
Maggie shut her eyes, overcome by the quiet peace.
‘Here,’ a deep voice filtered into her consciousness, ‘take this.’
Slowly she turned towards the velvet soft voice, fighting the intense dragging weariness that consumed her. She didn’t want to rouse herself, but he was insistent.
Reluctantly she opened her eyes. He sat in the driver’s seat and she looked up into the blackest eyes she’d ever seen. Deep set, hooded eyes that surveyed her closely, taking in every nuance of her appearance.
Maggie’s eyes widened at the sight of her rescuer in the cabin’s pale overhead light.
His jet black hair was slicked back from a face tanned almost to bronze. Her breath snagged at the strong, spare beauty of his face, each plane emphasised by the sheen of rain on burnished flesh. Lean cheeks with slanted cheekbones that mirrored the stark angle of his brows. A strong, aristocratic nose with just a hint of the aquiline. Narrow well-shaped lips that she could imagine tipping into a smile, or turning down in displeasure. A jaw that spoke of solid power and bone deep assurance.
The combination took her breath away. It was as if someone had opened a precious old book and conjured a warrior prince straight from ‘The Arabian Nights’.
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