Authors: Leslie North
By Leslie North
The Sharqi Sheikhs Series
American tutor Kim Atkins is teaching English to a young Middle Eastern prince, but she’s having a hard time keeping her eyes off his older brother. With Karim’s stacked muscles and handsome face, it’s hard not to be distracted. It’s too bad he’s rude, arrogant and very traditional, but that only makes it easier to focus on her student and the girls at the local orphanage. Besides, with glamorous beauties eager for Karim’s attention, clumsy Kim could never compare.
Karim Sharqi is knee-deep in paperwork after taking over the family jewel company, but asking for help from his brother’s pretty tutor goes against everything his father taught him. Karim’s known from a young age that you should never rely on a woman—especially a Western woman. Her modern attitude flies in the face of his traditional values, and yet, her beauty and shy smile are proving to be an irresistible temptation.
Can two people from such different worlds ever find a common future?
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Kim Atkins watched Sheik Karim Sharqi lift free weights on the courtyard below her, sweat glistening off his body in the intense sunlight. Staring down at him, she had never seen a man so strong, so muscular, so alluring, as she imagined that perfect body pressed against hers, his hands holding her waist as she stroked his rippling muscles.
Kim turned her head to see three maids watching him from a distance. One of them was fanning herself as they whispered and giggled amongst themselves. Kim did not blame them -- Karim Sharqi was a very attractive man.
Closing her eyes, she imagined herself looking into his eyes, his dark hair neatly framing his face as his brown eyes smiled down at her. In her mind, she fisted her hand to keep from touching his perfectly straight nose perched atop luscious lips that invited her to lean in for a kiss.
She briefly wondered what his stubble would feel like rubbing against her fevered skin, as he kissed his way down her body. She swayed slightly on her feet as her all too active imagination made her body tingle at the thought of his touch.
“Does this sentence make sense?” Amare asked, interrupting her daydream.
“Huh?” Kim snapped out of her thoughts and returned her attention to Amare. She had forgotten where she was and what she was doing. “Sorry, show me,” she said and took the notebook from him.
Kim had originally come to Saudi Arabia as an ESL (English as Second Language) teacher and when her contract was over, she was fortunate enough to be hired as a private tutor for Amare, the youngest son of Sheik Saeed Sharqi.
“Well done,” Kim said, as she handed the notebook back to him.
“You’re doing really well, Amare.”
“Really? I am?”
Kim grinned at him, tousling his hair, “Yes, you are.”
“Cool. Father expects me to excel on all my exams,” he told her as he squeezed the notebook before setting it down.
“I have no doubt that you will.” Kim smiled at the young sheik. She was impressed with how hard he was working. When she had first accepted the job, she did not expect to meet such a serious student. In her experience, children born with silver spoons in their mouths tended not to work very hard.
“Not only should I work hard, I should be top of my class,” Amare said solemnly.
Kim raised her eyebrows. “That is a lot of pressure.”
“My father wants nothing but the best.”
Kim sighed. She had heard that the Sheik was strict but she could not believe how much pressure he was putting on his son. She was glad that she had not been raised with that much expectation to do well in school. She flipped open her folder and pulled out a poem.
“We’ll do the best we can,” she said, handing him a sheet of paper. “See if you can interpret this poem for me.”
Whilst Amare was reading the poem, Kim’s gaze travelled back to the courtyard below. Karim was still outside in the courtyard working out and was currently doing push-ups on the slate tiled floor. The muscles in his back tensed up as he bent his arms and slowly lowered himself down.
He had taken off his shirt and his torso was bathed in sweat as Kim contemplated licking the salty sweat from his chest. Lost in thought, she watched as he reached for a towel and slowly dried the sweat from his body leaving Kim to wonder what it would feel like to stroke her fingers along those rock hard abs.
A noise from behind her made her jump as she finally realised that Karim was looking straight at her with a smirk on his face. She gasped and looked away quickly.
“Crap,” she muttered under her breath.
She could not believe that she had been caught staring. She tucked a lock of brown hair behind her ear and returned her attention back to Amare, where it should have been in the first place.
Don’t look outside; Kim told herself. She was there to do a job and that was to tutor Amare, and not to stare at his handsome older brother. As hard as it was, she had to control herself. It was bad enough that she had been caught.
A maid knocked on the door before walking in carrying a tray of freshly made iced tea, homemade pastries, fresh fruit and cheese. She approached Kim and Amare who were studying by the window.
“Sorry to interrupt,” the maid said as she placed the tray on a glass table with white marble legs. Everything in the Sharqi house was expensive. That one table was probably enough to cover Kim’s monthly rent.
“Thank you,” Amare said to the maid.
“Would you like anything else?”
“No, that will be all.”
The maid bowed her head before she left the room. Amare gestured for Kim to eat something as he reached for his favourite pastry. She smiled and nodded. She found herself getting very thirsty due to the dry heat of Saudi Arabia. She took a sip of her iced tea and listened to Amare interpreting the poem she had given him.
“Good,” she said to him. “From that poem, write a small essay, no more than a page. Analyse the register, dialect and personification used in the poem.”
Amare looked from Kim back to the poem, as he opened and closed his mouth, unsure what to say. Kim offered a warm smile. “You can do it,” she told him. Even though the work was advanced for his age, in the short time she had been working with him, he had far surpassed her expectations as he blew through the requirements for his upcoming exams.
While she took her job seriously, Sheik Sharqi was a formidable man and she did not want to end up on his bad side as she hoped to obtain a reference from him. The fact that all his sons were brilliant and Amare was excelling academically made her job much easier, but it didn’t take the pressure off her.
“I will try,” he said dubiously as he set the poem back down in front of him and stared at it.
Seeing movement down below, Kim turned to see a maid approach Karim with refreshments. Handing him a fresh towel and a bottle of water, Kim watched as he twisted the cap off and tilted the bottle up to take a long drink. Stepping back to avoid being seen as he looked up toward her balcony, she openly stared at him, hoping that he couldn’t see her.
A soft voice had her turning her head as she watched the maid attempt to flirt with him while he remained oblivious. After a quiet comment from him, she quickly bowed and headed back into the house with what looked to be dejection on her face.
Kim watched as he tilted the remaining water onto his head and chest before reaching for the towel. With slow precision, he rubbed the towel across his torso as Kim covered her mouth. What she wouldn’t give to be the one rubbing his body with a towel, perhaps after they had passionate sex in the shower, slowly drying his body off. Her lips following the path laid by her fingers as she rubbed the water from his sexy body.
Turning his back toward her, she bit her lip as he twisted his torso and continued to wipe the sweat off. From where she was standing, he was perfect in every way as he bent down to wipe the sweat from his legs. Tossing the towel aside, he stretched his arms up, twisting his body again. Tilting back, he looked up at Kim and winked at her as she gasped in surprise.
How long had he known that she was watching, again?
she wondered as she quickly stepped back away from the window.
As Kim turned from the window, she found Amare staring at her with amusement on his face. “Checking out my brother?” he asked her with a cheeky grin on his face. Coughing loudly, Kim reached for her iced tea and pretended to sooth her throat as she fought to keep the blush from creeping up her face.
“I was not,” she lied. She could not believe that Amare had caught her as her blush took over and her cheeks flamed red from embarrassment. Amare rocked his head back and started laughing at her as she narrowed her gaze at him. She was already embarrassed enough, he did not need to laugh so hard at her.
“Kim, you were definitely watching him, do not deny it,” he teased.
“I was not. I was just staring into space.” As if that made any sense but it was the only excuse, she could come up with, as she was not very good at lying. Amare still laughed at her. It was obvious that he did not believe her.
“It is alright. Most women often look at my brother lasciviously,” he said. Kim’s jaw hung open before she narrowed her eyes at him.
Crossing her arms, she tapped her foot as she attempted to give him a stern stare. “I was not looking at him lasciviously!” she told him. “However, that was an excellent use of one of your vocabulary words,” she added drolly as he snickered in response.
“Honestly, I would be surprised if you didn’t find him attractive.” Amare leaned back in his leather white chair and folded his arms over his chest as he continued to smirk. “In case you haven’t noticed, every female he’s around seems to flirt with him.”
“He’s okay,” Kim said vaguely, before sipping more of her iced tea, which was rapidly becoming tepid in her hot hands. She did not particularly want to discuss how attractive Karim was with his youngest brother. She took a bite out of her besbousa and chewed it slowly. She loved the taste of the honey as the sweetness exploded in her mouth with each bite. One of the best things about living in the Sharqi residence was the great food.
“My brother is a particular man,” Amare told her as he sighed. Kim swallowed before speaking.
“What do you mean by that?” she asked him.
“For starters, he does not believe in love.” Kim’s eyes widened.
“What?” Who did not believe in love? That did not make any sense.
“While he has dated women, he refuses to commit to any one person. I would be very careful around him. He has broken a lot of hearts and doesn’t stick around to mend them.”
Kim stared down at the courtyard below as Karim gathered his things.
What a shame
, she thought. All of that manliness and muscle gone to waste. Hearing that he did not commit to one person simply translated to him being a player in Kim’s mind. Of course, he would; why would he stick to one woman when he could have many?
“That is sad. How can one not believe in love?” Kim asked. Amare shrugged his shoulders.
“Believe me, many women are saddened by that,” Amare said. “He also never brings any women home.”
“So he has never brought any home?” Kim did not want to seem too interested, but she was curious. Amare shook his head. “Not even one?”
“Oh. Did something happen to him to be that way?”
Amare started laughing. “No, he was born that way.”
Kim laughed at Amare’s response. She could well understand if something had happened to make him behave this way. A rough break up can make a person dislike the idea of being in a committed relationship but how could he not want love or believe in it?
Kim had often been teased by her friends for being a hopeless romantic. She loved happy endings and hoped to find a good man who would love and cherish her. She held onto the dream of falling madly in love and getting married. She could not help but feel disappointed in the fact that Karim was her exact opposite.
“From the look on your face, I guess that you believe in love?” Amare asked her.
“Of course, I do.”
“Women always do; at least that is what Karim says. It seems every woman he comes across falls in love with him.”
Sounds like an arrogant jerk
; Kim thought to herself. “I cannot see how that is the case. He is quite unfriendly.” Since becoming Amare’s tutor, Kim had only exchanged greetings with him, as he never seemed interested in engaging her in conversation.
“Yes, if he does not know you, then he will not converse with you,” Amare said, with half a smile on his face.
“No doubt, he is a traditional man.”
“Oh yes. He is much like father in that sense. They’re both set in their traditional ways but as brothers go, there can be no one better,” Amare said proudly. “He has always been there for both Taleb and me.”
Before Kim could make a comment about that, she heard voices from the next room. She could not make out what they were saying. Curiosity got the best of her.
“Whose voices are those?” she asked Amare.
“I am not sure about all of them, but one of them belongs to Karim,” he replied. Kim was already aware that Karim owned one of the voices. His voice was so deep and distinctive, she could not mistake it for anyone else but she did not say anything. Amare would only tease her for recognising his voice. She rose to her feet and walked to the shelf where Amare kept some glassware.
“What are you doing?” he asked her. Kim picked up a glass beaker and walked towards the wall.
“Nothing, just concentrate on your work,” she said and giggled. She suddenly tripped and almost fell over but managed to regain her balance. Amare burst out laughing.
“You are so clumsy,” he said and kept laughing as Kim laughed with him. Tripping over her feet was a frequent occurrence. She was just glad that it was Amare that had seen her and not Karim. She put the glass beaker against the wall and then put her ear against the beaker.
“You must never do this,” she said to him in mock sternness, as she attempted to hide her smile.
“Well, you are doing it in front of me, which will make me want to try it too.”
“No, Amare, it’s naughty.”
Kim squinted as she concentrated on the conversation. She wondered whom Karim was talking to and about what. Amare watched her eavesdropping.
“So what are they talking about?” he asked her.
“I don’t know. I can’t really hear much.”
“Then that beaker method is ineffective,” Amare said with conviction as Kim giggled.
“Oh no, it should work fine; the walls are too thick.” She readjusted her position as Amare laughed and shook his head. “I can’t hear,” she said and put her finger against her lips to quiet him. Suddenly she heard the door to the room open. Gasping, she whipped her head in that direction. In doing so, she dropped the glass beaker, smashing it into pieces on the floor.
Her eyes shot up to the figure entering the room.