Hidden in the Sheikh's Harem

By: Michelle Conder

‘It is important if I say it is. You know how I feel.’

‘Yes, but I think there are more...pressing things to discuss, don’t you?’

‘Those things are in play now. There is nothing that can be done.’

A sudden weariness overcame him and he flopped back onto the cushions, his expression looking suspiciously like regret. Farah’s heart clenched. ‘Is he...is he at least okay?’ She cringed as visions of the prince beaten up came into her head. She knew that would only make things worse—if that was even possible.

‘Apart from the son of a dog refusing to eat, yes.’

‘No doubt he thinks the food is poisoned,’ she offered.

‘If I wanted him dead, I’d use my sword,’ her father asserted.

‘How very remiss of him.’ Fortunately her sarcasm went over his head, but it didn’t escape Amir, who frowned at her. She rolled her eyes. She knew he thought she overstepped the boundaries with her father but she didn’t care. She couldn’t let her father spend his last years in prison—or, worse, die.

‘Perhaps that is the answer,’ Amir mused. ‘We kill him and get rid of the body. No one could pin his death on us.’

Farah gave him a fulminating glare. ‘I can’t believe you said that, Amir. Apart from the fact that it’s completely barbaric, if the palace found out, they would decimate our village.’

‘No one would find out.’

‘And no one is going to die, either.’ She shoved her hands on her hips and thought about how to contain the testosterone in the room before it reached drastic levels. ‘I will go and see him.’

‘You will not go near him, Farah,’ her father ordered. ‘Dealing with the prisoner is a man’s job.’

Wanting to point out that her father was doing a hatchet job of it if the prince was refusing to eat, Farah wisely kept her mouth shut. Instead she decided to take matters into her own hands.

‘Where are you going?’

She stiffened as Amir called out to her in a commanding tone. Slowly she pivoted back around to face him. ‘To get something to eat,’ she said tightly. ‘Is that okay?’

He had the grace to look slightly uncomfortable. ‘I would like to speak with you.’

She knew he was waiting on her answer as to whether she would accept his courtship but she wasn’t in the mood to face his displeasure when she told him no. ‘I don’t have anything to say to you right now,’ she informed him.

His jaw tensed. ‘Wait for me outside.’

Farah smiled sweetly. Like that was going to happen!

Quickly stepping out of the tent, she took a moment to pull her headdress lower and bent her head to shield her eyes against the setting sun. The air temperature had already dropped and the nearby tents flapped in the increasing wind. She looked for signs of a storm but found nothing but a pale blue sky. That didn’t mean one wasn’t coming. In the desert they came out of nowhere.

Deciding not to waste time on food, she stomped off to the only tent that had a guard posted outside, anger rolling through her. Anger at her father for his outrageous actions and anger at the prince himself—the lowly offspring of the man who had inadvertently caused her mother’s death and changed her once-happy life forever.

She tried to get her emotions under control but it felt like she was fighting a losing battle. Still, she needed to remain calm if she was going to work out a way to get her father out of this mess before he did something even more insane—like listen to Amir!

                      CHAPTER THREE

ZACHIM SHIFTED HIS hands and feet and felt the ropes chafe his wrists and one of his ankles where it had slipped beneath his jeans. His stomach growled.

Ordinarily he wouldn’t say he was a man who angered easily. Three days in this hellhole at the hands of a bunch of mountain heathens had ensured that his temper not only festered, but also boiled and blistered as well. And it wasn’t just directed outwards. It had been stupid to drive so far from the city without alerting anyone as to where he was going.

He rubbed the ropes binding his wrists against the small sharp stone hidden in his lap. He’d picked it up when he’d ‘fallen’ during a toilet break the day before. Since refusing to eat, his ropes had not been checked, which was to his advantage, because it had taken that long to work through the thick layers, but he was just about there. Once his hands were free it would be a simple matter to untie his ankles and get the hell out of there.

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