Authors: Leslie North
The Botros Brothers Series
By Leslie North
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I dedicate this book to you, my loyal readers. Thank you for all the lovely e-mails, reviews, and support. Without you, this wouldn't be possible.
And especially to Kim Schlack – thank you for sharing Tariq with me! ;)
I’d also like to say a special thank you to
who have had a huge role in making this book – you’re the best! THANK YOU for all your support:
Sara tapped her foot impatiently as they waited at yet another red light. Leaning her head back against the headrest, she grumbled at the traffic.
“Relax,” Aaliyah told her. “We have plenty of time. We’ll be out of the city soon enough.”
“You do not understand how much I have been looking forward to this,” Sara replied as she grumbled at the cars in front of them.
As one of the vice presidents for Botros Oil, she rarely had the opportunity to travel, as her work and family kept her busy at home. But when this project came up, she decided to combine this work trip with a much-needed girls only outing. She’d invited her sister-in-law, Soraya, her cousin, Aaliyah, as well as her best friends and twins, Keira and Kaleena, to come with her. This way work would not seem like work. That was the plan anyway. Since giving birth to Leylah, more than four years ago, quickly followed by the twins, Nabil and Nasim, she had not had much of a break.
When Sara had first moved to Saudi Arabia to work for Botros Oil, she never anticipated that she would marry the oldest Botros brother, Tariq. And while their relationship was off to a rocky start, they both grew to love each other deeply. Sara thanked her lucky stars every day that Tariq was in her life and she adored their beautiful, but lively children.
Sara pulled out her phone to call Tariq and check on the children.
“We are fine,” Tariq said to Sara as soon as he picked up. He knew exactly why she was calling him.
Sara laughed. “I was not calling to ask if you were fine,” she lied but no one was convinced.
“Yeah right,” Aaliyah said from the driver’s seat. She knew how much Sara loved her family and she had spent very little time apart from them. It was natural for her to be worried.
“If you say so,” Tariq replied. Sara could hear Leylah singing in the background.
“Hey baby,” Sara shouted.
“She just ate, so she is happy.”
“I bet she is.”
“She is her mother's daughter,” Tariq joked. Sara had not even been away from Tariq for more than an hour and she was already missing him.
“Thankfully, she also looks like me.”
“Woman, what do you mean, thankfully? You melt at the very sight of me.”
Sara laughed, even though it was very true. “Don't flatter yourself baby,” she said to him. “It’s the heat that makes me melt. How are the boys?”
“That's good.” Sara worried about Tariq being alone with the children for the first time. When the boys started crying, it was hard to calm them both down at the same time. Sara was good at it but Tariq had not mastered the trick yet. Luckily Fiddah had offered to visit and promised not to make it look like she was checking up on her grandson.
“Hurry back,” Tariq said to her after a few seconds. He couldn't bear being so far away from his wife.
“I will, love you.”
“I love you,
Sara put her phone away, as Aaliyah rubbed her arm. “The two of you make such a lovely couple,” she told her.
“Thank you,” she replied.
“I am the only single one here, it's not fair.”
“You will find someone soon, don't rush it habibti,” Sara said and rubbed Aaliyah's shoulder. Soraya giggled. Sara turned to look at her. “Why is she giggling?” she asked.
“She has been messaging her husband non-stop since we got in the car,” Kaleena said.
“You see, everyone is happy,” Aaliyah said with a little sadness in her voice.
“You're a beautiful girl, you won't be single for long,” Keira said.
“If I can find someone, trust me you can and you will. There is no need to rush,” Sara said as she sipped her drink. Suddenly they heard a siren. Aaliyah looked in the rear view mirror and saw a police car behind them with its lights flashing.
“Is that siren for us?” Soraya asked.
“She finally lifts her head up from her phone,” Kaleena joked. Soraya laughed and put the phone in her purse. She had been married to Amir for less than a year and they were still in their newlywed phase.
“I think he wants us to pull over,” Aaliyah said as she slowed down and pulled off onto the side of the road. The police car stopped behind them.
“We were probably going too fast,” Keira said.
“Really?” Aaliyah had not even realised. She suddenly remembered how her cousins, Tariq and Amir, always told her that she drove too fast.
“Check him out,” Sara said and nodded in the direction of the police officer as he approached the driver’s side. Aaliyah opened the window and looked at the police officer. She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out, as she simply stared at him.
“Good afternoon sir, is there a problem?” Sara asked. The officer too was staring at Aaliyah.
“Ladies, you were going faster than the speed limit,” he finally said. “Licence and registration please?” he added. The three women in the back seat leaned forward to look at the police officer.
“Were we?” Aaliyah asked and cleared her throat. “I did not even realise,” she added as she turned to the console to search for her license and registration. The police officer didn’t take his eyes off Aaliyah.
“Is it hard being a police officer?” Keira asked cheekily.
“No ma'am, it is not,” he replied.
“It looks like you can handle it,” Kaleena said.
“He looks built for the part,” Sara said in reference to his muscular physique. Aaliyah looked at her wide-eyed and tried not to laugh.
“You ladies sound like trouble,” he said. Aaliyah handed him her licence and registration. She felt a tugging feeling in her chest as their eyes met.
What the hell?
“Oh, we are not,” Sara said with a mischievous smile on her face.
He smiled as he inspected the documents, which gave Aaliyah a chance to run her eyes over him. He was tall and his muscles filled out the uniform well. He had thick, dark hair that curled slightly at his nape. His skin was a nice caramel colour and when he took his sunglasses off; his eyes were the colour of chocolate. He handed the documents back to Aaliyah.
“I will let you off this once,” he said, as he stared at her. “A beautiful lady like you should be more careful on these roads,” he finally added. He smiled as he walked away.
“Bye,” the other four chimed out at once as Aaliyah buried her head in her hands and started laughing.
“That is one handsome officer,” Sara said. Aaliyah shook her head as she started the engine.
“I think he knows that you think so,” Aaliyah said.
“Me? You were so taken by him, you could not even speak.” The other girls laughed and agreed.
“It was not that. There was something familiar about him. I think that I have seen him before.” Aaliyah could not put her finger on it. She knew she had seen him before but where exactly?
“Well, he was staring at you too,” Soraya said.
“So much so that he did not even care about us teasing him,” Sara added.
“He was, wasn't he?” Aaliyah agreed. She had noticed him staring at her too. She had felt some kind of connection, but she couldn’t quite remember why. It made no sense to her at all. Starting the engine again, she shook it off and decided not to dwell on it any longer.
The girls finally arrived at the resort. Relatively new, the builders had incorporated aspects of the countryside, as they worked to blend the buildings in with the surrounding landscape. Two porters immediately greeted them as they loaded their luggage onto a bellman’s cart. As they walked toward check-in, the receptionist recognized Sara from her photos in the newspaper.
“Mrs Botros, welcome,” she told her.
“Thank you,” Sara replied with a smile.
“Look after them. They are important guests,” the receptionist instructed the porters, as they headed toward their rooms.
“Oh that isn’t necessary,” Sara said. She still was not used to her notoriety simply because she was married to Tariq Botros. However, people always treated her differently.
“Enjoy your stay,” the receptionist said with a smile. “And if there’s anything you need, please call the front desk.”
After Sara unpacked, she opened the connecting door to Soraya’s room. Her sister-in-law was lying on the bed messaging Amir. Sara smiled and approached her quietly before pouncing on the bed.
“Are you that into your messages that you cannot even hear me walking in?” Sara asked her. Soraya jumped out of her thoughts and looked up.
“You gave me a fright,” she said as she sat up.
“I won't ask you how it feels to be married because I can see you enjoy it,” Sara said as she sat on the bed next to her.
“I hope we stay this happy.”
Soraya stared blissfully into the distance. If someone had told her four years ago that she would be this happy married to Amir Botros, she would have laughed. It had taken him years of asking her out and she had refused him several times until she finally gave in. They had dated for more than a year before he proposed to her, but they waited until she had finished with her studies before marrying. There were times where she felt as though she needed to pinch herself. He was not the billionaire playboy the gossip sites depicted him as. Instead, he was a loving, thoughtful, romantic man who knew exactly how to make her laugh. He never ceased to amaze her.
“What was it like for you when you first got married?” Soraya asked Sara.
Sara laughed before she answered. “It was interesting,” she said.
“We started off as two people that hated each other but accidentally slept together at the office.” Sara still felt shy talking about it.
“And then you got pregnant?”
“Yes. Then he moved me into his house, did I not tell you how it all happened?” Everyone knew about their story. She assumed that Soraya did as well.
“I only know a tiny bit. I’ve yet to hear the full story.” Soraya propped herself up on her elbows, eager to hear.
Sara sighed as she relayed the story to Soraya who sat there staring at her. “You mean, he actually threw you over his shoulder and carried you out?” she asked in disbelief.
At Sara’s nod, Soraya burst out laughing. “Oh my. I mean, I know that Tariq can be domineering, but that is utterly caveman.”
“Tell me about it,” Sara said dryly, as she stood up to stretch. “We need to go out.”
Soraya raised her eyebrows. “Where?” she asked.
“Anywhere. Let’s go have some fun. I’ll go tell the others while you finish unpacking.” She left the room to tell the others who were all eager to explore the area.
Later on after dinner, they left the hotel together in search of a suitable destination. Since they were in a small town in the country, there were not many options. They followed the sounds of loud music and came upon a bar at the end of the street and decided to go inside.
“I have never been in a bar,” Sara said. Aaliyah whipped her head in her direction.
“That is hard to believe,” Aaliyah said as Sara raised an eyebrow.
Kaleena gave Sara a puzzled look. “Yeah, you are so spontaneous and adventurous.”
“That is true but bars and clubs were never for me.”
“We used to go all the time when we were in school,” Keira said as Kaleena nodded.
Sara shrugged. “I've been to clubs but I do not enjoy it.”
“You are strange,” Kaleena joked.
“Come on, let's go in,” Soraya said. This would be her first time in a bar and she was curious.
As they walked in, they immediately felt out of place. Dressed up for a night on the town, the girls looked around at the crowded bar, which was mostly men. As they looked for a place to sit, one man whistled at them. “Ignore him,” Kaleena said, as they found a pub table near the bar.
As they sat down, the bartender arrived with a bottle of wine. “A gentleman wishes to buy you all a drink,” he said. They exchanged puzzled glances.
“I do not feel comfortable accepting a drink from a stranger,” Soraya said.
“I agree, besides I do not even drink wine.” Sara said.
“Please return the wine and thank him for us,” Aaliyah said to the bartender. He did as she asked. They watched him return the wine to an older looking man who did not look pleased.
“I hope he is not too offended,” Keira said.
“He looks it,” Soraya replied.
“Well, never mind,” Kaleena said and ordered herself a drink. Sara was not sure what to get, since she did not like alcoholic drinks, she opted for something non-alcoholic as she munched on a bowl of nuts the server left on the table.
Moments later, a man walked up to Aaliyah. “Fancy a night with me, sweetness?” he asked her. He seemed to be in his early thirties and was dressed casually.
“No, thank you,” she replied. “I’m here with friends.”
“Stupid bitch,” he said to her.
“Excuse me, there is no need to speak that way,” Sara said.
“No one was speaking to you,” he said to Sara with a frown.
“Walk away buddy,” Sara said through clenched teeth.
“He is probably drunk,” Soraya said.
“Goodnight,” Aaliyah said to him. She thought being polite to him would ease his irritation but she was wrong. He grabbed her arm.
“Come with me,” he said to Aaliyah as he pulled her from her seat. Sara immediately jumped to her feet.
“Take your hands off my friend!” she shouted. Another man came towards them. Sara thought he was coming to help but he seemed to be friends with the man that was harassing Aaliyah. In a gruff, slurred tone he asked him what was the problem.
“She's a stubborn one,” he said. Aaliyah shook her arm free from him and pushed him away. He pushed her back.
“Back off,” the bartender said to him. Sara was furious. They were only trying to have a drink. How dare he push her friend? Making a fist, she swung, punching him in the jaw. But he was either too drunk or she didn’t hit him hard enough because he merely grunted and rubbed at his chin before slapping her. Just as Aaliyah was about to hit him, his friend grabbed her by the hair and pulled her away. Soraya smashed a bottle against his head, which caused him to release Aaliyah as he dropped to his knees in pain.
Keira, hopped up and down hoping for an intervention. When the fight got too close to her, she grabbed her glass to throw, but missed and hit the wrong person. She gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. The music was so loud; it took others a while to notice what was going on.
The man Keira hit turned to see where it had come from and she quickly looked away. As the second drunk stumbled to his feet, the man went to confront him thinking that he had thrown the glass. Kaleena had jumped on the back of the first drunk and kept smacking him on the head as he attempted to throw her off.
The bartender finally stopped the music and called the police. All eyes turned to watch the fight. A few jumped in to break up the fight as they pulled the girls away from the two drunks. Sara was still so furious that she took her shoe off and whacked the harasser on the head as someone grabbed her around the waist and lifted her away from him.