Bought For One Night: The Sheikh's Offer (The Sheikh's True Love 2) - Page 7


Once Nareem had disappeared into the front section of the plane, I threw myself dramatically onto the plush bed and sank into the clean linens with a sigh. The quiet hum of the engines was comforting as I lay there with my eyes closed, breathing deeply. This deal might have been an odd, sketchy idea, but so far, I was enjoying the perks. Katherine hadn’t been kidding when she called this guy loaded. Who else would bother with the decadence of a chandelier in his plane cabin?

I missed this. The A-list treatment was addictive, and being here made me realize how little of it I had received in the last few months. I had movie star treatment when I went out, sure, but there was richness in the way the A-list lived that was easy to lose. Being on the Sheikh's plane made me realize just how much I had already lost, and how much was slipping away every day. Maybe I was shallow for wanting it, but who wasn’t? And I was talented enough to earn it, even if my industry wished I was younger.

Thoughts of the Sheikh's quid-pro-quo rang in the back of my mind. I would be his companion for twenty-four hours, and he was already treating me to luxuries of great expense. There was certainly value in being seen with someone of my level of fame, but this man was already rich and famous; I doubted he was lacking in esteem from his peers or countrymen. He probably just wanted me around for personal reasons. Sometimes people in power were lacking in human contact because everyone around them just wanted to suck them dry, enjoying the perks and pretending to be friends or lovers in order to stay close. Power and money were isolating.

Maybe he wanted the chance to seduce a movie star, sweep her off her feet, and make it impossible for her to reject him. It was how some of the very wealthy operated. Society pretended to hate gold-diggers, but blindly ignored how a man's drive for riches and success was often just so he could impress women. No matter how unattractive or boring a personality, money would get him a wife. It was just how things operated.

There was every possibility that the Sheikh was no different. He was giving me a taste of what he could offer his romantic partners, probably because that’s what he wanted me to be.

But I reminded myself of my personal promise: I wouldn't be blinded by all this glitter. I would set my boundaries and I wouldn't deviate from them. Sheikh or not, my body was not for sale.

I kicked my heels off and lay there until I heard footsteps approaching on the soft carpet.

Nareem's voice sounded from the doorway. “Miss Wood, we are fully prepared for takeoff. You will need to strap in safely for this portion of the flight.”

“Of course,” I answered cheerfully.

Before I could put them back on, Nareem tucked my shoes into a one of the drawers lining the bottom of the bed, and winked at me. “No need for those if you don't want. It's twelve hours of flight time, plus a short layover to refuel in Germany. Make yourself comfortable.”

I smiled. “I like the way you think.”

I took a seat in one of the recliners. It felt like a marshmallow under my body—supportive and yet impossibly plush, and somehow smelling of jasmine. I strapped on my seatbelt and watched as Nareem and Raj did the same on the other side of the cabin. Together we watched out the windows as the plane began to taxi on the small airstrip before making a smooth takeoff into the bright blue California sky.

Between Nareem and Raj, I didn't want for a single thing during the flight. They served me mimosas, decadent chocolate cake, and silver trays of fresh fruit. After eating much more than I normally would, just for the sake of the mini-vacation, I retired to the plush bedroom cabin. I was going to ask for access to my luggage, but a set of blue silk pajamas had been provided, and I happily slid into them. I curled up under the down comforter, watching the fluffy clouds pass by the windows as I drifted off into a deep sleep.

Nareem woke me up gently about two hours before landing, apologetically telling me that she wanted to ensure I had time to prepare myself for the Sheikh. I took my sweet time rolling around in the bed, watching the sky, which had turned as bright as a jewel. I walked to one of the windows to get a view of Al-Dali, the home of the Sheikh, a place I had never even dreamed of going. The view was spectacular, with the hazy yellows and oranges of desert sands interspersed with glittering cities and lush, irrigated farmland that defied nature herself. A great blue river churned, cutting its way south, lined on both sides with ancient greenery. I had never seen anything like this view, and wondered just what it was like to rule a place with such beauty and history.

It took me only a moment to change back into my summery red outfit, and Nareem was kind enough to bring me my personal bag so I could touch up my makeup and reset a few of the blond curls that had gone flat during my nap. I rejoined the crew in the main cabin after I was finished, and Raj immediately brought me a cold glass of exotic juice with a glowing smile.

The capital city of Al-Dali approached outside the windows, growing closer, its skyscrapers tall and magnificent, gleaming in the desert sun. I knew Al-Dali was one of the richest nations in the world, but I didn’t expect the elegance—and extravagance—of its presentation. Scattered throughout the modern steel were temples and ruins, a testament to the millennia-old history of this region of the world. The Sheikh was only the most recent in a long line of titans; his ancestors had conquered half the world and invented things like algebra and medicine. His city perfectly showcased this ancestral pride alongside the achievements of its modern sons.

The scratching sound of the pilot’s intercom broke through my thoughts.

“We’re beginning our descent to the airfield,” he said. “Will passengers please make sure you are buckled in. We’ll be touching down in ten minutes.”

Suddenly, my nerves skyrocketed as I realized I was minutes away from meeting Sheikh bin Alaman for the first time, still without any idea as to what this job entailed. Was I going to ride in some parade with him, a famous American girl to be a spectacle like some enormous cartoon-character balloon? Would he have some urgent plea for me to help his country? Or was this just a simple case of a lonely, isolated leader with endless resources who decided to live out a fantasy and go on a date with a movie star?

Whatever it was, I didn’t have long to prepare for it.

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