The Sheikh's Heir(2)

By: Sharon Kendrick

With this, the two men swept from the softly lit room, while from her hiding place behind a carved chest in a corner of the vast chamber, Ella Jackson wished that she could open her mouth and scream with rage and frustration.

How dare he?

Waiting for a few moments to check that he really had gone, she stretched limbs which were cramped from sitting still for so long. Greedily, she sucked great gulps of air into her lungs because she’d had to keep holding her breath in case she was discovered. For a moment back then, she’d been sure he was going to find her. And something told her that she was lucky not to have been discovered by that arrogant beast of a man who had been so insulting—not just to Allegra and Izzy, but to the entire Jackson family.

The other man had called him ‘Highness’—and judging from the way he’d been calling all the shots, he had certainly sounded royal. His voice had been deep and faintly accented—not the kind of voice you heard every day. It had also sounded bossy and proud. Could that have been the powerful sheikh everyone had been banging on about? The groom-to-be’s oldest friend, who had been expected at tonight’s party and anticipated with the same kind of breathless excitement which might have greeted a movie star?

Uncomfortably, Ella rose to her feet. The beads of her elaborate dress were pressing painfully into her skin and her wild tangle of curls was desperately in need of a session with the hairbrush. She would have to do something drastic to repair her appearance before she thought about returning to the general scrum which was her sister Allegra’s engagement party to the Crown Prince of the Santina royal family. Even though she would have happily given a month’s salary not to have gone back into that ballroom.

Wasn’t it ironic that she had slipped away from the party for precisely the same reason as the sheikh? The moment her sister Izzy had staggered onto the stage to sing, Ella’s heart had hit her boots and she’d wanted to curl up and die. She loved Izzy. She did—but why did she have such a penchant for making a complete fool of herself? Why sing in public when you had absolutely zero talent?

Ella had slunk into this darkened anteroom and instinct had made her crouch down behind the concealing bulk of the chest when she’d heard the sound of approaching footsteps. There had been the sound of the door quietly clicking shut and then someone uttering a short, terse expletive. And that’s when she had heard the damning words of the accented man as he had torn her family to shreds.

Yet hadn’t he only been speaking the truth? Her father did have a long list of women he’d been intimate with. He had two ex-wives at the last count, and one of those he’d married twice. Plus all the mistresses on the side—some of whom were reported in the newspapers and some whom he’d managed to hush up.

Hadn’t her own mother’s life been blighted by her hopeless longing for a man who seemed to be incapable of any kind of fidelity? Her sweet, foolish mother, who’d never been able to see any fault in her errant husband, which was why she had been his bride twice over. And why she let him treat her like a complete doormat.

If ever Ella had needed to know how not to conduct a relationship, she’d never needed to look any further than the example set by her own parents. And hadn’t she vowed that she would never, ever let a man make a fool of her like that?

She reached down and picked up her handbag, extracting the wide-toothed comb which was the only implement which could ever come close to taming her soft but wayward curls. Dare she risk putting a brighter light on in here?

Why not? The outrageously opinionated sheikh didn’t sound as if he was in any danger of coming back. He was probably subjecting some ‘tolerably attractive’ woman to a dance. Poor her, Ella thought with a genuine trace of sympathy. Imagine dancing with someone who had an ego as big as his—why there would be barely any room left on the dance floor!

She clicked on a light which illuminated the regal splendour of the vast antechamber and hunted around until she found a mirror recessed in one of the alcoves. Stepping back, she surveyed herself with critical eyes.

Her silver-beaded dress was a little on the short side but it was extremely fashionable—and such a look was essential in Ella’s line of work. Her rather flashy clients expected her to reflect their values, to make a statement and not fade quietly into the background. As a party planner catering to the nouveau-riche end of the market, Ella had decided to cash in on her family’s notoriety by working for the kind of people who had plenty of money, but very little in the way of generally accepted ‘taste.’

She’d quickly learnt the rules. But then, she was a quick learner—it came with the territory of being a survivor, of having lived with scandal and notoriety for most of her life. If a glamour-model bride wanted to arrive at her wedding in a dazzling diamante coach, she expected the woman organising the event to dazzle in a similar way. So dazzle Ella did. She’d got that down to a fine art. With her trademark slash of scarlet lipstick accentuating her wide mouth, she wore the on-trend clothes which so impressed her clients. She turned heads when she needed to.

Hot Read

Last Updated


Top Books