The Sheikh's Tempted Protectress (The Sheikh's Every Wish 4) - Page 3

“Where to, sir?” Adil asked.

“Home, Adil. I’m ready to get some rest.”

“Very good,” Adil said. As they drove on, he added, “Good news, Your Highness! The security guard Mr. Bates recommended will be here tomorrow for her interview.”

“Excellent. When can we expect her?”

“She should be in by late afternoon. Would you like me to pick her up from the airport, sir?”

Osman thought for a minute. He was a man who was often told what he wanted to hear because he was wealthy. With the disaster that was his last group of guards, he wanted to really see what this woman was like for himself.

“No,” he said, and Adil glanced back briefly in surprise.

“Sir?” he said.

Osman grinned. “I think I’ll pick her up myself. Remind me of her name, Adil?”

“Beth Coolidge, sir. From Pennsylvania.”

Such a strange, foreign name. Osman was determined to find out just exactly what kind of person Beth Coolidge was.



Beth gazed out at the gleaming city below, surrounded by a seemingly endless stretch of desert. She had often wondered how anyone could live this way, in the searing heat. Being from Philadelphia, she loved the cold, and having four distinct seasons. Still, the party scene in the capital of Al-Merindha was definitely an experience, and she had fond memories of the place.

She yawned as her plane touched down, wondering how long it would take for her to adapt to the massive time difference. She pulled out her cell and quickly texted her mom to say that she’d landed. Pocketing her phone, she stretched her aching limbs before grabbing her old camouflage carry-on bag and heading into the airport.

The city was just as she remembered it. The terminal was filled with a mixture of people in long white robes, turbans and black abayas, while others wore T-shirts and jeans. While Western culture was embraced here, no one was wearing shorts or baring their legs, though Beth remembered shorter dresses being acceptable inside the clubs. She was glad for the time she had spent traveling, learning about different cultures. She had known exactly what to pack the moment she’d accepted the offer to come.

As Beth made her way through the terminal, she reached for her phone again and opened up her interview acceptance email, from a man named Adil. It said she would be picked up at the baggage claim area, where a man would hold up a sign for her.

Stepping onto an escalator, she clung to the railing as it transported her the impossibly long distance from her terminal to the baggage claim area. Honestly, everything in this city was at least forty stories too tall.

She waited, tapping her foot impatiently against the step, stretching her neck out to see what was going on at ground level. A sea of people rushed around, crowding the baggage claim belts and grasping at bags as they circled around. A long line of suited men stood in a corner, each of them holding a sign.

Beth strolled over and began scanning for her name. When she found it, her eyes darted up to the man holding the sign, and she nearly gasped.

He was stunning. His brown eyes were dark as chocolate, his hair perfectly set in a way that made him look more like a frat boy than a driver. It was clear that he worked out, from the wide expanse of his shoulders under his suit jacket, and boy, he was tall. Beth always noticed tall men; she was the kind of woman that could rarely wear heels for towering over people.

She nervously brushed a strand of brown hair behind her ear, straightening her plain black T-shirt. Suddenly she wished she’d dressed a little nicer, even though there was no way she’d have survived a sixteen-hour flight in a suit.

The man was staring at her, his gaze intense. When she approached, his eyebrows shot straight up to his perfect hairline.

Beth gave him a shy smile. “Hi,” she said, wondering if all the men in the Sheikh’s employ would be this handsome.

“Hi, can I help you?” he smiled, and Beth picked up an unusual accent; a melodic combination of something European with an Arabic twist.

“Um, yeah. I’m Beth Coolidge,” she said, pointing to his sign.

The man tilted the sign up, then looked back at Beth. “The Beth Coolidge. Like, the one from this sign?”

Beth sighed. She’d been awake for a really long time.

“That would be me,” she said flatly.

“You seem grumpy,” he said, not moving.

This man could be her future coworker. She might even be responsible for his life. Beth tried to put on a better face.

“I’ve been traveling for a really long time,” she said simply.

The man eyed her military bag, then her face. He looked deeply at her, like he was sizing her up, his intense gaze creating unwanted butterflies in Beth’s stomach. A part of her wanted the attention of this handsome man. Looking at him, who wouldn’t? But at the same time, she had a job to do.

Beth frowned. “When you’re done ogling me, can we please get out of here? I’d really like some time to prepare for this interview, and don’t appreciate being looked at like meat at the market.”

The man frowned and moved to take her bag for her. “Apologies, miss. Here, let me take that. Of course you are weary from your journey. The car is just this way, and I’ve had an order placed to have your other luggage sent directly to the house. Your bags should arrive before we do.”

Beth’s eyes widened in surprise. “You can do that?” she said, and the man laughed.

This must be Adil, she thought. He had seemed so different in their email exchanges. Less confident. This man walked with purpose, his posture straight, his shoulders back. Very curious.

He glanced down at her with a grin, and Beth’s heart did a little somersault. Stop it, she chided herself. The fact that she was reacting so strongly to this man was a strong indicator of just how long it had been since her last relationship. Part of her had liked it that way; military romances were rarely romantic, or very enjoyable, in her experience.

“Of course! What world are you living in?” he asked with a twinkle of humor in his eye.

“The real one, I imagine,” she replied.

He slowed his pace and glanced down at her again as they made their way through a sliding glass door and into baking hot heat. The temperature change was abrupt, and brought back vivid memories of all the times she’d served in the region. How strange to be back under such different circumstances.

“And what is life like, in the real world?” he asked.

Beth had to crane her neck to meet his gaze, which was new for her. “Oh I don’t know,” she replied, nodding as he opened her door and gave her time to slide into the refreshingly cool car. It was a black Rolls Royce, the seats made of soft, cream-colored leather.

Adil opened the trunk and put in her bag, before sliding into the driver’s seat. “You were saying?”

“What?” she asked, her gaze on the horizon, a mass of skyscrapers and palm trees.

“About the real world. What it’s really like?” He asked, pulling the car into traffic.

“Oh, right. Well, the real world is a place where people have to actually deal with little annoyances. You know, like waiting for your baggage at the claim, or waiting to hail a cab, or waiting for someone to come pick you up.”

“Sounds like a lot of waiting,” Adil said, pulling onto the highway. “I don’t think I could stand it.”

“Why not? I imagine you have to do a lot of it on behalf of your employer,” she said.

Adil cleared his throat, avoiding the question. “So, tell me about yourself. Who is Beth Coolidge?”

Beth groaned inwardly. She would already have to present her best face to some sheikh in a little while. She tried to remember the last time she’d slept, and couldn’t. She rubbed her eyes, which felt like hot, red sandpaper and leaned back into the seat.

“Well, I’m a veteran of the United States Navy, well-versed in a variety of combat styles. I know my way around a gun. I was honorably discharged a month ago, and

now I’m here trying to see if I can find a way to support my mother.”

“Does your mother need a lot of help?” he asked, glancing back in the rearview mirror.

Beth gazed out the window for a moment before she spoke. “She won’t admit it, but I think she does. My dad died two years ago, and she’s been on her own ever since. My dad had a good chunk of money put away in life insurance, but it’s not like she hasn’t had bills to pay and things to pay off. I just want to make sure she lives comfortably. I want her to be secure. I want her safe,” Beth breathed. She was so tired that she didn’t much care that she was confiding in a complete stranger.

She thought she heard him mumble, “I understand,” but couldn’t be sure.

“So what do you think you’ll be doing with us, here?” he asked.

Beth felt a surge of annoyance before she stamped it down. The smooth ride of the car was lulling her to sleep, and she needed to stay awake until it got dark so she could adjust to the time difference. Conversation was the best way to do that.

“I think I’m going to be protecting a spoiled little rich boy who thinks he can boss a woman around. Since he’s requested an American, I have to believe he must know that that will not be the case. I’m not some biddable woman; I’m here to protect and serve, and that’s what I’ll do, if I get the job.”

The man’s eyebrows lifted in surprise again, and Beth mused that that was the second time she seemed to have shocked him today. Maybe she needed to tone it down a little. She really needed this job.

“So you think a man who would specifically ask for female protection has no respect for women and their abilities?” Adil sounded defensive.

Beth was right—in her fatigued state she had gone too far. Still, she was no stranger to such attitudes. She had watched many men use their power and influence to take advantage of a woman. She had rejected advances from men before finding herself, all of a sudden, without a promotion she was previously sure to get.

“I just want to know what his intentions are. I’m curious about his motive for hiring me, if I’m being honest.”

“You seem nothing if not honest, Miss Coolidge, but I think you’ll see that my employer’s intentions have nothing to do with your gender, or your pretty face. It is strictly business.”

“I guess we’ll see,” she replied, gazing back out the window at the setting desert sun. It was so beautiful, the colors a gorgeous combination of oranges and pinks. She rested her head on the window for a moment, jerking awake a few seconds later. No sleeping. No sleeping.

Looking around the interior of the car for something to distract her from her fatigue, she quickly spotted a magazine tucked into the back pocket of the front passenger seat. Pulling it out, a familiar face mugged back at her, looking like a male model.

Her driver’s face.

“What did you say you name was, again?” she asked, her eyes narrowing.

The man glanced back at her in the mirror, then back at the road. They were approaching a golden arched gateway, and he rolled down the window, tapped in a series of numbers on a console, driving through as the gate swung open automatically.

“I didn’t say. Why do you ask?” He was smiling. She could hear it in his voice.

“That’s pretty deceptive of you, trying to fool me like that, Your Highness” Beth said, realizing she’d been fooled into an interview with her would-be employer only moments after her arrival.

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