FREE Online Read: His Stolen Desert Bride by Carol Marinelli
About His Stolen Desert Bride:
One night will never be enough…
Alasdair McClelland has a reputation for sin—since the death of his wife, he has sought to block out his pain with mindless sensual pleasure! But when he interrupts Princess Yasmin al-Lehan mistakenly trying to enter his hotel suite, even Alasdair is surprised by their instant chemistry…
Yasmin is pure, untouched…and temptation personified! Alasdair cannot resist initiating this virgin princess into the world of desire. But one night with Yasmin will never be enough. To claim her again, he must steal her as his desert bride!
The Sultan of Sultans is not to be disturbed.’
Princess Yasmin al-Lehan of Zethlehan had heard those words from her father’s senior aide many times before and usually they were enough to halt her.
‘I need to speak with my father,’ she insisted as guards moved closer to prevent her from opening the heavy ornate doors.
Yasmin was slight, and her soft-soled jewelled slippers meant that the aide and guards had barely heard her approach. In truth they had been caught a little unawares, for few would dare demand a sudden audience with Oman.
‘The sultans are in a meeting,’ Mahmoud informed her but Yasmin refused to be swayed and shook her head.
‘It’s hardly a meeting—my father is speaking with my brother.’
‘Yes, but they are discussing royal business,’ Mahmoud responded, assuming that would be enough to deter the young princess.
‘Then why are you outside?’ Yasmin asked and watched the senior aide blink in surprise.
With a curtain of long dark hair and huge grey eyes, Yasmin was delicate in appearance; though that belied a spine of steel—especially when it came to her family.
‘Step aside!’ she ordered the guards, and so determined was her tone that the aide gave a reluctant nod and the guards parted.
Yasmin gave only a cursory knock as she opened one of the heavy wooden doors and walked in. Her father stood as she entered, though not in polite greeting, more in exasperation at the sudden intrusion.
‘Yasmin!’ he snapped. ‘I told Mahmoud that I was not to be disturbed.’
‘And he told me the same,’ Yasmin responded. ‘But surely palace business can wait for a moment, given that I have some very exciting news.’
The sultan took in Yasmin’s wide eyes and bright smile but unlike his aide was not fooled for a minute, and neither was her brother Alim.
Yasmin was trouble!
Alim stood to the side of their father and suppressed a smile. No doubt he knew full well the reason for her urgent appearance.
‘I have just come from speaking with my brother,’ she told them.
‘And how is Kaleb?’ the sultan asked, though immediately wished that he hadn’t when Yasmin offered her response.
‘I was not speaking with Kaleb.’
She heard her father’s tense inhale.
Alim was the next in line to the throne and stood to his father’s right. Kaleb, his younger son, was living a wild life in Paris, and his daughter stood before him.
The Sultan of Sultans’ children were all accounted for!
For there was another—the sultan’s firstborn—and his name should remain silent.
When his lover, Fleur, had fallen pregnant Oman had hoped that it might force the then ruler to bend the rules and that he would choose Fleur to be his eldest son’s bride. Oman’s plans had backfired spectacularly though—a wedding had taken place, but instead of taking Fleur as his wife the Sultan of Sultans had chosen a far more suitable bride—Princess Rina.
Alim, Kaleb and Yasmin’s mother.
Yasmin chose not to oblige.
‘James is soon to marry.’
‘You should not listen to rumours.’ Oman’s voice held a warning for Yasmin to leave things there.
‘But it isn’t a rumour. I have just been speaking with James and Mona online.’
‘Will you be at the wedding?’ Yasmin asked.
‘James is my son,’ he said. ‘Of course I shall be there.’
‘And James is also my brother.’
‘Half brother,’ her father countered.
‘Don’t!’ Yasmin snapped. Few argued with Oman and certainly no one leaned on his highly polished desk and got right up to his face.
Save for his daughter.
‘Don’t make my relationship with my brother less.’
‘Yasmin,’ Alim spoke up. ‘Leave it to me to sort out.’
‘If I left it to you I would find out after the event.’ She shot her brother an angry glare and then looked back to her father. ‘I have told you that I shall not marry until all my family can be there. In the same vein I want to be there for James on his special day.’
‘Impossible!’ Oman shook his head. ‘Yasmin, even I shall not be attending the actual service. It would draw too much attention.’
‘You’ll be in Rome though?’ Yasmin checked. Her words were slightly tongue in cheek, for her father was a frequent visitor to Rome as he had gifted his lover with an apartment there.
‘Yes, I’ll be in Rome.’ Oman nodded. ‘I shall be in residence at Alim’s hotel—the Grande Lucia, where the reception is being held. That way I can wish James well before he heads to the service, and on the morning after the wedding I shall take breakfast with the newlyweds.’
‘Who is going to be at the service for James?’ Yasmin looked to her brother. ‘Apart from his mother?’
Fleur’s name was never mentioned in the palace out loud.
‘James will have his close friend Alasdair as his best man. They attended university together.’
‘It’s not enough! He needs all his family to be there.’
‘Yasmin, it is not possible!’ Oman snapped. Try as he might to rule his children with the same iron fist he ruled his land, he was often thwarted. He had raised three defiant heirs and one illegitimate son, and all were independent thinkers and challenged him at every turn. ‘I am not taking you to Rome when you have never even been out of Zethlehan.’
‘Whose fault is that?’ Yasmin responded hotly. ‘Alim practically lives in Rome and Kaleb spends most of his time in Paris, yet the only time I can leave the palace is to attend my studies.’
She had fought hard for that too. Her father would far prefer a tutor to come to the palace for her language studies but Yasmin had pleaded to attend Zethlehan University. It was her one escape and the only place she felt almost free. ‘I want to go to Rome.’
‘I am going to be far too busy to…’ Oman started but then halted. Possibly wisely. Yasmin’s grey eyes could freeze molten lava in its tracks and the slightest hint that her father would be too busy with his lover to entertain his daughter would not go down well.
‘You don’t have to worry about taking care of me, Father,’ Yasmin said. ‘I shall be absolutely fine by myself.’
She looked now to Alim and saw him motion for her to hush, though he gave a small nod that told Yasmin he had heard her pleas and would do his best to facilitate her wishes.
Alim always looked out for her.
She turned to leave but as she reached the door her father halted her, and for the first time to Yasmin he said his lover’s name out loud.
‘Fleur will be there.’
Yasmin did not turn around but her shoulders stiffened at the mention of his lover’s name. Then she spoke. ‘It shall be nice to meet her after all of these years.’
Oman played his final card. ‘It would hurt your mother.’
It was a low blow indeed for he knew that family meant everything to Yasmin and that she eternally kept the peace in the hope they might one day come together.
But it was too late for that now.
Her dream of a close family had finally died.
‘I cannot help that it will hurt my mother.’ Now Yasmin turned around and stared coolly at her father. Oh, Fleur had been pregnant long before Oman had married her mother but the affair had continued long after, and she despised her father for that. ‘After all—I was taught by the master.’
Yasmin rapped on the door and it was opened, and she ran through the palace and up the stairs and down the long corridor towards the princess suite.
Yasmin saw no one.
Her mother had her own wing, her father another.
The brothers each had residences of their own within the complex.
Oh, the al-Lehans were strong rulers and loved by their people but behind palace walls there was a less than united front.
It was a lonely life indeed.