Authors: Jennifer Moore
“Does your father know you’re asking me?”
Hakim gazed over her shoulder and took a deep breath. “He knows.”
“But he doesn’t want me to come, right?”
“I will bring a companion of my choice tomorrow.” He locked his gaze onto Shelby’s and leaned toward her. “
are my choice. Will you please come?”
The Sheik apparently doesn’t buy into the whole “guests are gifts from Allah” idea.
“Of course, I would love to come.” She smiled, but knew it didn’t appear convincing. She hated feeling like she was the source of their discord.
“You are nervous. Please do not feel uncomfortable.”
“I’m worried I’ll say or do something stupid.” She winced. “I’m not exactly a refined debutante who knows how to act in formal situations. I don’t want to embarrass you, Hakim.”
“I do not want you to be a refined debutante. I have spent enough time with those people to know they are not what I want.” Hakim maneuvered his horse until he faced Shelby and their legs were nearly touching. He leaned closer, his gaze earnest. “What I want is you, Shelby Jo.” He cupped her cheek in his hand.
Shelby felt her heart flutter and her nerve endings tingle as she lost herself in the deep brown pools of his eyes.
His thumb stroked her skin, leaving a trail of heat in its wake. He slid his hand into her hair and drew her closer, his lips covering hers.
When she drew away, Shelby inhaled deeply and grinned. “Hearing you put it that way, how could I possibly refuse?”
Praise for Jennifer Moore
“What a fun read!
THE SHEIK’S RUBY
is a fabulous Cinderella story with both ancient and modern tones you don’t want to miss.”
~Josi, award-winning author of the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series
THE SHEIK’S RUBY
is a perfect blend of romance and adventure, set in locales both familiar and exotic. When I finished, I wanted to start over and enjoy it again!”
~Nancy, award-winning author of the Faith Of Our Fathers Civil War series
The Sheik’s Ruby
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
The Sheik’s Ruby
COPYRIGHT © 2015 by Jennifer Moore
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
Tina Lynn Stout
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Sweetheart Rose Edition, 2015
Print ISBN 978-1-5092-0132-7
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-0133-4
Published in the United States of America
For Josi and Nancy, my besties.
You always believe in me.
This is the first book I ever tried to write, and when I started six years ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I’m so thankful to the people who took the time to help me research, as well as improve my craft.
Thanks so much to the Harris family who let me come down to their branding weekend, to Brent Hardy for giving me a tour of his company jet. Thanks to my husband, Frank, for taking me to the Middle East where I completely fell in love with the culture and the people. To my dad for teaching me to ski, to Dr. Jeff Gardner for answering crazy medical questions.
And thank you to Gary for inviting me to join your critique group and for Angela, Chelsea, Chris, Cindy, Gaynelle, and Susan, for reading chapter after chapter and helping me get it just right. Josi Kilpack and Nancy Allen, I couldn't ask for better critique partners and friends. Thank you to Jacob Roundy for accepting the manuscript and helping with my preliminary edits. And so many thanks to Leanne Morgena for hours and hours and round after round of edits. You have been so patient with my questions and mistakes, and easy to talk to, and an absolute dream of an editor.
Mostly, thanks to my super supportive husband and sons for giving me the time to do what I love. It's a sacrifice for everyone whenever a mom takes time away from her family. And I love you for all the times you've pitched in around the house and never complained when dinner was cold cereal.
Shelby gazed at the fifty-foot drop below. Her exhilaration sent a thrill skittering over her skin, leaving tingles in its wake. She rode the ski lift alone, reveling in the freedom of flying through the frigid mountain air. Snow fell the night before, blanketing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in a soft powder. Today, the sky shone clear and bright—the kind of day skiers called “bluebird.”
Her legs, heavy with their skis, swung back and forth, as the bright sun streamed on her face and cold bit her freckled cheeks. The smell of mountain snow carried on a frosty breeze awakened her senses and ramped up her impatience to get on the slopes while they were still pristine. Tourists usually slept in for a few more hours before swarming the slopes and churning the perfect powder.
She neared the summit. The runs had been groomed into neat corduroy lines, which Shelby planned to avoid as she stuck to the powder on the fringes. Moguls covered the first fifty or so yards—carved over time as skiers followed the paths, executing their turns. Skiing on moguls was especially difficult, even for the most experienced skiers, and Shelby smiled in anticipation of the challenge. Sliding off the chair, she strapped her poles to her wrists while she glided the fifteen yards to the crest.
When she arrived at the summit, she saw someone already there. A small pang of disappointment washed through her at not being the first one on the fresh powder.
A man crouched down on one knee, checking his bindings.
The idea of flying past him and beating him to the untouched snow flitted through her mind. She pursed her lips as her sense of fair play and skier etiquette squelched the thought.
get here first.
“Looking for a good line?” Shelby raised her voice to avoid catching him off guard. Based on the way he started, he hadn’t heard her approach. Since she hadn’t seen him riding the lift, she figured he arrived via the lodge lifts connecting to the network of slopes crisscrossing the resort.
He stood and motioned with his pole toward a more gradual incline to their left. “I’ll traverse the summit and start down farther that way. The slope is a little less steep over there.”
She noticed as he rose that he was close to six feet tall and had a slight accent she couldn’t place. Shelby let her gaze dart over him as she assessed his expensive equipment and all-black designer ski clothes—probably the self-heating kind. His perfect posture, tan skin, and strong cheekbones made him look like a model from a ski catalog.
, the magazine she worked for, had done a story about that apparel line a few years back.
I’ll bet that jacket costs more than all my equipment put together.
She had seen plenty of these guys, completely obsessed with their image, but never as talented as they appeared. Shelby employed every ounce of her self-control to keep from rolling her eyes. She couldn’t wait to breeze past him in a shower of powder. “Yes, that should be easier for you.” With an arched brow, she studied the path he indicated.
“Easier?” He lowered his chin and raised his brows.
“Yeah, and if you started over there, I’d have all this sweet powder on the moguls to myself.” She gave him a mischievous smile. “Unless you beat me to it.”
When he saw her expression, the stranger grinned. His teeth shined white against his cinnamon-colored skin.
Shelby’s heart skipped when she saw his smile, but she credited it to the waiting powder.
“You’re looking for a race then?” He lifted his chin in the direction of the run.
“Oh no, I wouldn’t want to embarrass you.” She flipped a braid over her shoulder to show she was teasing.
“Hmmm…” The stranger tapped his gloved forefinger on his chin and widened his smile. “I accept your challenge.” He slid his expensive goggles down over his eyes, turning her way and tipping his head toward the slope.
“I’ll wait for you at the bottom.” Shelby pulled on her own goggles and adjusted her ski cap.
Simultaneously, they pushed off over the edge and began carving parallel paths through the moguls. Shelby couldn’t help but grin as she flew through the bumpy mounds, leaving behind a spray of snow. Adrenaline spiked through her veins as she pushed herself even faster. She darted a glance at her companion. She could tell he wasn’t accustomed to skiing at such a break-neck speed. One bad judgment or delayed reaction would cause him to over-correct and lose his balance. She smirked. No way would she let this “pretty-boy” with his fancy gear and perfect teeth beat her down the mountain.
To his credit, he skied pretty well. But this was her home territory. She’d been skiing these mountains since she was a little girl, and he didn’t stand a chance. Shelby could feel him watching. Keeping her upper body stationary, leaning forward, while her knees moved to the right and left, Shelby rode over the bumps in the snow with a blinding speed. Each movement appeared fluid and effortless, and she knew it.
Shelby caught a glimpse of her companion and saw his lips were pressed together into a tight line, as if he were concentrating.
Their gazes met for an instant. The quick glance lasted just a split second too long, and the tip of his right ski veered the smallest bit off course. This mistake cost him, and he was forced to lean into the mountain to catch himself. Sliding twenty feet on his right side, he managed to stop and re-align his skis, and then pushed himself up.
“Are you all right?” she called from where she stopped farther down the slope. Her breath came in quick gasps that sent out mist clouds.
“Yes,” he yelled back, shaking his head. “I am just trying to make you overconfident.”
“I guess you’ve had enough, then?” The concern in Shelby’s voice was replaced by teasing. She bent forward, ready to set off again down the slope, and looked over her shoulder.
“Hardly.” He brushed the snow off his jacket, snatched up his poles, and pushed off.
This early in the morning, the run was nearly empty. Shelby noticed only one other skier on the entire slope. Near the bottom of the hill, additional trails merged together. The pair adopted a more leisurely pace as they passed more skiers.
At the bottom of the run, Shelby spun to a stop, sending out a spray of snow with her skis. “Who shall we declare the winner?”
“Hmmm.” He tapped his finger on his lips. “A rematch is the only fair option.”
She considered for a minute. He assumed a lot. Should she do another run? He was charming and handsome, but more than that, he was intriguing—unlike the typical ski guys she usually met on the slopes.
Maybe I’ll let this play out a little longer—see what happens
. After a moment, she gave a nod. “Agreed.” Tugging off her right glove, she held out her hand. “By the way, my name’s Shelby Walker.”
“I am Hakim Khalid. It’s nice to meet you, Shelby Walker.”
The warmth in his dark eyes surprised Shelby. When they shook hands, she was very aware of his skin on hers. In spite of the cool air, heat rushed into her cheeks. She pulled away her hand and occupied herself with replacing her glove.
They chose another run, this time a double black diamond trail, and headed to the chair lift for the north face of the mountain. The chair scooped them up and carried them toward the borders of the resort. Although more skiers arrived as the day progressed, this lift line was one of the least crowded. Shelby knew the run was quite challenging, even for expert skiers, and they had the quad chair to themselves.