The Sheikh's Reluctant American (The Adjalane Sheikhs #3)

BOOK: The Sheikh's Reluctant American (The Adjalane Sheikhs #3)
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The Sheikh’s Reluctant American

By Leslie North

 

The Adjalane Sheikhs Series

Book 3

Blurb

Banished Sheikh Malid Adjalane has no interest in returning to the family business under the watchful eye of his controlling father. But if Malid doesn’t agree to take on a tough deal, he won’t be allowed into the palace to see his dying mothe
r. With no other choice, Malid finds himself deep in negotiations with the largest oil producer in the world. He expected hard work, but he never could have prepared himself for the gorgeous, ambitious woman on the other end of this business deal.

Nigella Michaels works hard for her father’s oil company, but she still has a lot to prove. It’s a masculine industry, and with her dad about to retire, this deal could be just what she needs to show him once and for all that she’s the right person to continue his legacy. She’s always worked well with others, and this should be no exception. But not even her meticulous research could have prepared Nigella for the instant attraction she has with Malid.

After so many years on his own, it won’t be easy for Malid to put up with his father’s terms. But with Nigella’s help, perhaps they’ll both learn to balance the weight of their family with their own desires.

 

 

Dedications

I dedicate this book to you, my loyal readers. Thank you for all the lovely e-mails, reviews, and support. Without you, this wouldn't be possible.

 

 

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Table of Contents

The Sheikh’s Reluctant American

Dedications

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

Malid Adjalane could feel Fadin’s stare on him, but he kept his eyes on the sand that stretched before them. Trust the security guy to worry. It was best to get over such shifting ground fast, and Fadin knew that. But he didn’t look comfortable. He gripped the door rest of the SUV with white knuckles, and Malid had to smile. Fadin had taught him to drive, but the older man was a cautious soul. Malid wasn’t. Not right now at least.

Fadin broke the silence between them. “We crossed back into Al-Sarid two miles back.”

Giving a nod and a shrug, Malid lifted a hand from the wheel. Fadin knew why they were making this drive. Fadin had been with Malid for years, even through the exile that Malid’s father had imposed. Right now nothing was going to keep Malid from getting to his mother’s side—even if that meant he had to jump to his father’s orders.

However, as expected, Fadin’s dark eyes sharpened. Irritation pulled his mouth down. He looked younger than his sixty years. Gray had only started to show at the temples of his dark hair, which he wore close-trimmed. His beard was also close shaven—Fadin didn’t like anything that might be used against him in a fight.

Fadin gave a disapproving sniff—or Malid was going to guess it was disapproving. Fadin hadn’t liked the idea of this return to Al-Sarid. “I hope you have no intention of trying to meet all your father’s demands. Whatever they are, you can be sure he has something else hidden.”

Malid shrugged again. He had no illusions about his illustrious father, Sheikh Nimr, head of the Adjalane family, and one of the most powerful men in Al-Sarid. Nimr was a tyrant both in the boardroom of the family company and within the family. He and Malid had never seen eye to eye, and Malid was not about to be sucked back into his father’s world of control. But he would also not allow his father to stand in the way of what was owed to family.

Next to him, Fadin studied the landscape. The deserts of Al-Sarid could be beautiful—distant mountains of purple, shifting white dunes dotted with small clumps of grasses and palms near the springs that made travel possible across the hot lands. Al-Sarid hugged the coast of Arabia—a tiny sliver of a country that relied more on tourism dollars than on oil, but the land did have a huge asset. Access to the coast.

Voice gruff, Fadin said, “Opell Oil will want their pipeline to be low cost construction—that means Adjalane land, which has the best water, the best level ground.”

Hands tight on the steering wheel, Malid pushed out a breath. He hadn’t told Fadin everything about the phone call he’d had with his father—things within the Adjalane family were…complex. They had been between Malid and his two brothers, and between Malid and his father. Too much pride, perhaps, Malid thought. His mouth twisted. He wasn’t above having that same problem.

Glancing at Fadin, Malid gave in—Fadin would keep poking and making comments until Malid answered his questions. That kind of dogged pursuit was a good trait in a head of security, but it was also sometimes irritating.

“Yes, Opell Oil wants a pipeline, and my father asked me to handle the matter.”

Fadin nodded. “Asked because he wants you to prove something?”

Malid shook his head, but this was something of a peace offering—or at least that was how it appeared on the surface. Malid had butted heads with his younger brother, Adilan, over regaining a piece of land—an oasis called Al-Hilah. Adilan had gotten the land back into the family by marrying the American woman whose mother held the deed. A nice trick that. Mouth sour, Malid clenched his back teeth. Nimr had not approved of some of Malid’s plans to acquire the land by other means, and had thought the charges Malid had brought against that American were…dishonorable. As if such a matter of business was any place for honor.

However, now Nimr needed Malid’s business skills—Adilan was too busy with his new wife and other matters, Nassir was terrible at negotiations, and Malid had not enjoyed his time away from his homeland. This seemed a good opportunity for everyone.

Topping a sand dune, Malid slowed the vehicle. Below, on rocky ground at the edge of the dunes, two off-road vehicles with thick tires—much like on Malid’s SUV—were parked on a narrow track. Malid could see three people—two with survey equipment.

“Opell Oil?” Fadin asked. He didn’t sound pleased. “They seem to think they own this land already.”

Putting the SUV in gear, Malid drove down the dune and parked near other vehicles. At least these people knew enough to bring in desert equipment. Glancing at Fadin, Malid told him, “See what you can learn from the surveyors—I’m looking for any leverage in this deal. I must meet with the woman in charge.”

“Woman?” Fadin paused, one hand on the door. “Gordon Michaels sent a woman to negotiate?”

“Not just a woman. Gordon Michaels may own Opell Oil, but the woman in question is Nigella Michaels…his daughter. I expect we are both being tested by our parents.”

Fadin muttered a curse, and Malid had to agree with it. Family businesses ought to be more business and less family—or that was how Malid felt at times.

Getting out of the air conditioned SUV, Malid shaded his eyes. The sun and heat hit him at once—a welcome to his home. He had grown up in these deserts—he loved the heat. But he also knew the dangers. He grabbed a cap to better shield his eyes and adjusted his sunglasses.

Nigella Michaels stood out at once. She held a map in her hands and stood with her back to him. She had to have heard the SUV’s engine, but she wasn’t paying any attention to it—that showed a certain confidence, or perhaps a certain recklessness. Bandits weren’t unknown in the desert.

Jeans encased long legs, and his first thought was she was like a gazelle—lean and graceful. Her head was uncovered—not wise in the desert, but it gave him a view of deep brown, almost black, waves. She turned and pulled down her sunglasses, giving him a glimpse of eyes the color of amethysts. Her complexion was perfect, and the white shirt she wore offered up a hint of the cleavage that lay underneath.

Nigella was a beautiful woman, and a surge of interest swept through him. He frowned. An attraction was not a complication he wanted—not when it came to business.

I’ve been without a woman for too long.

Well, nothing to be done about that just now. He strode to her side and held out his hand. “Nigella Michaels?”

She kept staring at him over the top of her sunglasses and she was frowning. “You must be an Adjalane. I don’t know who else would have that hawk nose or be able to track me down out here. So which one are you? The one who just got married, the one into sports, or the banished son?”

***

He smiled—it changed his face. She’d seen photos of Sheikh Nimr Adjalane—part of her homework to make this deal happen—and this guy looked a lot like him. Serious expression—or that’s what he’d just had—and black hair peeking out from under a ball cap that shaded his face. His hair was slightly too long in the back, giving him a rakish appearance that reminded her of the stories of marauding sheikhs who captured young women and carried them off to their desert lairs. He was clean shaven, but it looked as if his beard was about to grow back—it shadowed his jaw and cheeks. He was dressed in khakis and boots—so was the other guy with him—but they were crisp, clean and left Nigella feeling sweating and rumpled.

“Not so banished now. I’m Malid. And this is Adjalane property. Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?”

Nigella smiled. “Ah, Malid Adjalane. You’re the one they booted for lying. I’d heard your father never intended to see your face again.” She wanted to see if she could shake him—it was always good to find out just who you were dealing with.

His own smile didn’t fade, but it did stiffen. “Actually, I am here at my father’s request.” He waved a hand at her surveyors. “The question is what are you doing out here when access has not yet been arranged?”

Tucking her map into her messenger back, Nigella said, “It’s best to have some kind of idea just what we’re negotiating for.”

“You plan to put the pipeline through here?” Malid asked.

“That depends on your family, doesn’t it?”

Malid took a step closer. Nigella’s heart kicked up a little—the guy was good looking and obviously knew it. She didn’t trust him an inch. “You’re very blunt,” he said. “I like that.”

She thought about telling him she didn’t give a rat’s ass what he liked, but she was supposed to play nice here. Holding her ground, she looked him up and down, from the starched collar of his shirt to the laces of his boots—nice ones, leather and American made if she knew her boots. “Banishment seems to agree with you.”

“My father asked me to absent myself from Al-Sarid—he didn’t condemn me to a life of poverty. My palace is just over the border.”

The words came out so easily, and Nigella wondered if he realized how crazy his last statement was.
My palace.
He really was just like something out of some kind of desert fantasy—the gorgeous, brooding sheikh with a past and his wounds. She wished she could see his eyes to know if he was having her on, or was he really serious about all of this.

Sweat trickled down her face—and her back. She didn’t wipe it away. She wasn’t from this part of the world—not that it couldn’t get hot in Texas—and she was determined to earn the respect of not just her dad, but everyone in the business. This was her chance to prove she could cut tough deals in the Middle East.

Malid lifted a hand and wiped a drop of sweat from her cheek. “You have not adjusted to our climate yet.”

She pushed her sunglasses back in place and turned away slightly. Her pulse was jumping and she was hoping the heat on her skin really was just the desert. “I don’t think any amount of time here would get me used to these temperatures. And it’s only ten.”

“You would be wise to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day—that is what we do. With your fair complexion, you would burn easily. And that, Ms. Michaels, is why you should cover your head—a scarf, a hat, or anything is better than no protection from the sun.”

Nigella’s cheeks warmed even more. She’d been trying to make a statement with her Western clothing—she wasn’t going to look second class here. But it seemed she’d just shown herself not to be all that smart. She gave a nod. “I’ll think about that. And, please…it’s Nigella.”

Stepping back, Malid gestured to his SUV. It was black, big, and looked more like a military vehicle. “I would like to discuss your latest offer. I suggest you accompany me back to my palace. My chef will have luncheon prepared, and we can discuss matters in comfort.”

BOOK: The Sheikh's Reluctant American (The Adjalane Sheikhs #3)
13.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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