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The Sheikh’s Accidental Heir

By:Leslie North


Ahmed Al-Qasimi was watching the only thing of interest in the entire penthouse. In fact, he’d been watching the brunette with the stunning green eyes all afternoon as she worked silently with the rest of the catering staff, carrying trays of finger foods to the clusters of businessmen about the room, clearing plates, and filling pitchers.

More than once, he tried to catch her eye as she tucked her shoulder-length dark hair behind an ear to keep it out of her face. The smiles she gave the guests as she paused to check on them caused an unfamiliar pang of jealousy. Wishing she’d turn her smile his way, he’d watched, admiring the way her black pants hugged her legs and hips. Her white, button-down blouse did not show off her breasts as well as he would like, but the hint of soft curves intrigued him.

She remained focused, paying more attention than any of the staff to fanning out the paper napkins artfully, wiping the condensation from the pitchers of ice water, or pulling a wilting flower from one of the arrangements. If she wasn’t the supervisor, she ought to be.

He’d been waiting for a chance to strike up a conversation with her, but he wanted more privacy than afforded by a room full of Americans whom he and his brothers had been sent to meet. While their father, Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, had spared no expense, renting out the entire top floor of the hotel to introduce his sons to various vendors and businesses, Ahmed found himself unable to focus on anything except the scenery.

Golden afternoon light poured into the spacious room through windows that overlooked Manhattan’s West Side. From the lush couch where he sat, he could see an infinity pool that seemed to plunge over the edge of the roof. He almost wished this visit was for pleasure.

Such a waste to spend the afternoon stuck inside, listening to the plans and ideas of men in designer suits, when they all could have better enjoyed a dip in the pool as they sipped from the delectable beverages the bartender was serving.

Shaking his empty glass and interrupting the conversation he wasn’t listening to, he stood. “Excuse me, gentlemen. I’m parched.” He nodded to everyone and walked to the bar. Placing his empty glass on the counter, he turned. The slender brunette was slipping through the glass doors and out onto the patio. Her gaze slid across the room as she slid the door closed. When she saw him, she paused for a moment, a hint of a smile playing on her lips. He held her gaze. The way the color went up in her cheeks was lovely, but he didn’t wait for her to break the spell.

He strolled through the penthouse, maintaining the easy carelessness that had become his habit—and for which his father had chastised him many times. He nodded to those who made eye contact and brushed past the others.

His brothers were working the room quite efficiently, and he saw no need to duplicate their efforts. He also didn’t want to stop to talk. He might have to work later—right now he only wanted to personally thank the woman who’d been working tirelessly to make sure this event ran smoothly.

Slipping out the glass doors, he took in a breath as the noise of the city and lingering heat of the day hit him. It was not as hot as his homeland, but New York clung to a muggy humidity that stuck his shirt to his back. The sounds of car horns and traffic and the wail of emergency vehicles echoed from the other buildings, distant and far below the penthouse. Turning, he walked away from the pool, past a large sitting area and fire pit. He found the brunette just around the corner, leaning against the wall and staring at her phone. Her ankles were crossed, emphasizing both her slender legs and the curve of her hips.

“Beautiful,” he muttered.

Glancing up at him, she frowned and lowered her phone. “I’m sorry, what?”

He gestured to the skyline. “The view. It’s beautiful, yes?”

She looked where he was pointing and nodded. The sun pulled rays of gold and red from her dark hair and touched a little gold to her skin. “When you live here, you don’t often get the view from the thirtieth floor.”

“Would you like a drink?” He waved back toward the bar. “I could fetch us each something wet, miss…?”

“It’s Melanie, and no, thank you.” She smiled with just a curve of her lips, and he noticed her lower lip was full and sensual. “I’m still on duty.” Her voice was light, but her words carried a tinge of sharpness.

Ahmed chuckled and put out his hand. “I’m Ahmed. And now you sound like one of my father’s security men. My father would certainly prefer the bartender serve only our American business partners.”

She shook his hand, her grip firm. He liked her utterly Western attitude. Pulling her hand from his, she asked, “A traditionalist?” She tucked her phone back into a back pocket.