Authors: Ella Brooke,Jessica Brooke
The Sheikh’s Offer
By: Ella Brooke & Jessica Brooke
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright 2015-2016 Ella & Jessica Brooke
to subscribe to our newsletter & get EXCLUSIVE updates on all offers, special previews, and new releases!
This is a spin-off to the popular story “The Sheikh’s Wedding Assistant.”
to read it now if you haven’t already!
Table of Contents
“He’s adorable,” Kelly Kentworth said as she smiled at her godson, Gabriel Hassem.
About eighteen months ago, Alana Fiora, her best friend had married into the royal family of Al-Marasae. It hadn’t been the smoothest of arrangements at first since Sheikh Dharr had tricked Alana into coming to his palace and becoming his bride. At first, she’d simply started out as the wedding planner. When the actual bride stepped out of the running, Alana had been upgraded. The couple worked through the rocky start though.
Kelly had known Alana for over a decade, even as middle school kids, and she’d never seen her best friend happier. Alana wore such a constant and broad smile on her face.
It definitely had a lot to do with her favorite munchkin. Gabriel had the beautifully wide, almost turquoise eyes of his mother. They were so large on his tiny face that it made him look like a character from an animé show. It was beyond precious. His olive-hued skin came from both of his parents, but the mop of curly hair seemed to be more from the Hassem side like his grandfather and his Uncle Asam.
Gabriel was a toddling monster, going everywhere and sticking everything in his mouth. She’d caught him not five minutes ago sucking on oversized Legos. Now she understood why parents freaked out over checking labels on toy boxes and making sure there weren’t any small parts. Gabriel would probably have stuck marbles and any number of other choke-tastic items in his mouth if Alana gave him access to them.
Precocious was apparently parental code for “I’m never sleeping again” and “please, help me watch my child 24/7.”
Good to know.
“He’s my precious flower,” Alana said, wrapping her burnt-orange kaftan more tightly around her shoulders. “That said, if you want to keep him for about a month so I can get some rest, that would be amazing.”
Kelly chuckled. “As if you don’t have a ton of loyal and waiting servants who are more than happy to help their sheikha with the future heir.”
“Technically,” Alana said, looking at the stick Gabriel had brought her from the garden as if it were the Holy Grail, “Faaid is the oldest. His children are in line for the actual ruling duties. I’m sure Grandpa Azhaar is more interested in making sure my family keeps Hassem Petroleum, Inc. running. It’s slightly less pressing.”
“Still, you have tons of ways to sleep. There must be nannies on top of nannies here!”
“That’s true, but Dharr and I like to be as hands-on as we can. Our son is the light of our lives. I know he has Grandma Yahira to watch him while I’m working on legal cases or while his dad is in the boardroom, but we don’t want a legion of caretakers. Dharr grew up that way and, while he loves his mom, it’s just too isolated of a childhood. My family has always been so tight. I want that for Gabriel too.”
Kelly nodded and smiled down at the blossoms her godson had handed to her too. She was pretty sure they’d once been red rose petals before the leave had been mashed into a bit of a paste. Her grin grew wider, and she patted the soft mop of brown curls atop Gabriel’s head. “That’s so sweet. You’re on your way to wooing the ladies, little man.”
Alana laughed and stroked her son’s back. “Don’t give him ideas. His uncle is already so notorious, and it’s not like Dharr wasn’t a wild child either. I’d rather have to worry about him leaving a string of broken hearts across the Middle East than him developing a penchant for Formula One racing.”
“And street racing.”
Her best friend frowned and nodded after a pause. Sheikh Dharr had been forced to start his marriage hunt early because of his father’s ultimatums. That had all started because Dharr’s his wild pastimes dragged the Hassem family name through the mud. Outside of Faaid, the oldest brother, all the Hassem siblings had bad boy reputations that preceded them to say the least.
“Dharr would never want Gabriel to get into anything wild like that.”
“Well, you have about fourteen years before he’s even old enough to take driver’s ed,” Kelly said and then she blinked. “Wait. Is there a minimum age here in Al-Marasae to learn?”
“No, not really, but sixteen was good enough for me. Besides, we’re driven everywhere anyway.”
Chuckling, Alana ducked her head. “You know what I mean. I still prefer to do as much of my own stuff as I can. I’m not turning into a diva.”
“Turning into? You were always a little high-strung and high-maintenance.”
“I’ll plead the Fifth.”
“Sure you will, lawyer-gal,” Kelly said with a wink. “But speaking of bad boy sheikhs, how is Asam doing?’
“Oh, so you’re just taking a poll, are you? Did you start working for
Arabian Heir Monthly
“No, but if I said it was just scientific curiosity, you’d let it go at that, right?” She pushed a lock of her long golden hair out of her face. Alana kept hers at shoulder length, but Kelly loved having hers flow halfway down her back. It could be a pain even back home in Las Vegas, but it was getting unbearable after a week in the one hundred and twenty degree days in Al-Marasae. She was sweating everywhere. Her hair was limp, and beads of sweat dripped down her neck.
She’d be glad to be back in Vegas soon, not that it was that much cooler, but in the fall, it was at least bearable. Of course, when she went home, she would be alone in her empty apartment that she used to share with Alana before her friend upgraded from legal eagle to sheikha of an exotic land.
It was tough. She didn’t begrudge Alana her happiness, but Kelly wished she could have some of her own as well. She struck out all the time on MatchMe.Com. The few guys she’d had more than a first date with seemed to be crazy or uninteresting. The one who collected stamps had been a real standout in the loser Olympics. Besides, none of them compared to the one who got away.
“You’re extremely transparent,” Alana said, smiling that Mona Lisa smile of hers as she held her son on her lap. “If you want to know how Asam’s doing, you should call him. I can get you his number, and he’s always flying in and out of the States. Heck, that’s his biggest problem. His father, Azhaar, is always frustrated with him about it. It’s London one weekend and then New York or Chicago the next.”
“Do I want to know why?” Kelly asked, terrified of the answer. She and Asam hadn’t spent a lot of time together. She’d only visited Al-Marasae a few times, including her best friend’s wedding to Dharr. But they’d also had a few massive arguments during that trip and once during Ramadan.
The first time they ever met, she honestly felt like they hit it off. They’d had such an easy and fun repartee at the Marquee’s poolside, but then he’d ducked out on her for a fire-eating stripper. It was Vegas, of course. That was one of the bachelor party options because what wasn’t.
When she saw him later, she hated herself for missing him. The connection they’d had for a few hours had fizzled so fast. As mad as she’d been the other two times they’d met, she still had feelings for him. Lust would have been the easy answer since he was handsome, but that wasn’t all of it. Something about Asam’s charisma intoxicated her.
She hated she was so prone to falling for it, but no matter how many blind dates or online dating sites she went on, she couldn’t help but want his hazel eyes staring back at her instead of the man she actually got. She wanted the charming sheikh who smelled of thyme and just a hint of paprika. She craved those strong hands clutching her own. Their first encounter still haunted her mind even almost two years. Maybe a relationship with him would simply be an excuse to live in Al-Marasae near her best friend. Or maybe the poor selection of guys on MatchMe just weren’t doing it for her. Still, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get Asam out of her thoughts.
He was like a drug coursing through her veins that she’d never get her fill of.
Of course, if he were jetting off to a new city every weekend to enjoy the clubs and the multitudes of women—his family weren’t so orthodox that he couldn’t party like a frat boy—then Asam was likely over her.
Alana waved her hand. “Earth to Kelly?”
Kelly blinked and shook Asam from her thoughts. Ugh, shoot her now. She couldn’t even pay attention to a conversation with her best friend. “So Asam’s living it up, huh?”
Sighing, Alana patted Kelly’s hand again. “It’s not like that.”
She rolled her eyes. “Really?”
“Okay, it is, but Dharr tells me he’s always been that way. The least responsible and the biggest party animal. I guess that goes with being the youngest. Besides, tell me about the guys in your life. You have to have someone.”
Kelly laughed and leaned over to kiss her godson’s chubby cheek. “I have someone. His name is Jasper. He’s white with a fluffy coat and long whiskers. Oh, and he's definitely been fixed because tomcats are a pain in the...ah...rear to deal with.”
“Thanks for watching your language,” Alana said, chuckling. “I swear both Dharr and Faaid are tempted to curse in Arabic when on the line for business dealings. My child will be a proficient curser if I’m not careful. At least I can try to keep it down to one language.” She sighed. “I’m so sorry, though. Not that Jasper isn’t a great cat. But, he’s not as great a cat as Pumpkin is dog.”
“Uh huh, keep digging deeper.”
“I miss him! But I couldn’t bring Pumpkin all the way here, and it’s too hot with that thick of a coat. It’s good that dad’s therapist recommended he get a dog to help him. If he feels anxious about wanting to gamble, he just has to bond with Pumpkin instead.”
Kelly kept a smile planted on her face. Alana’s dad had been struggling with a gambling addiction for a while. He’d gotten better with therapy that Dharr had generously paid for. He was still even working at his law firm, but he was managing and a big part of that was Pumpkin’s daily comfort.
Not that dogs were so special. Cats were clearly the superior species. After all, which animal ruled the internet with millions of viral videos? Hint, it wasn’t any of those slobbering machines.
“But I do worry about you. I’m all the way over here, and I don’t want you to be lonely.”
“Working at Paradiso and cooking for a mega-buffet set up on Sundays keeps me busy, and Jasper has my back. He’s a good scratcher, so he’s good protection too. I have a full life, really.”
“So that’s why you’re asking after Asam after all this time?”
“What? I was just taking a survey. You were telling me how you’re getting along with Yahira and giving me the lowdown on all of Gabriel’s uncles and cousins. See? I’m just making conversation.”
“Sure, Kel. If you change your mind, I can get you the number in a heartbeat. After all, maybe he’s flitting around so much because he already found what he wanted but doesn’t think he can have her.”
Kelly lifted her chin higher. “He can’t. He chose a fire-eater who was a very
dancer to boot. I just…I was only curious. Just dish on the rest of the Hassem clan while you can.”
Going home was hard.
The palace was always bustling with energy. After all, it wasn’t just Dharr and Alana who lived there. Faaid and his family were in one of the many wings as well as Dharr’s parents. There were tons of servants and even the old sheikh’s retired harem. It was its own thriving metropolis behind the compound’s gates.
But there was more than that. Her best friend lived there, and now she couldn’t hear that laugh any time she wanted or give Alana a big hug at the end of a hard workday. Life wasn’t the same. Kelly longed to see the bright, smiling face of her godson or even cute glimpses of Dharr and Alana holding hands or cuddling.
It wasn’t about the number of people living in the palace, but the warmth and family vibe there. As she walked into her apartment, Kelly sighed. Her place had been a mess when she left. She’d been running late with packing and had shirts and pants flung all over her bedroom. The pet sitter she’d tried to space out last cleaned the litterbox yesterday and, after being gone for over a week, she grimaced at the intense odor of cat urine again.