The Sheikh’s Tempted Prisoner by Holly Rayner

Chapter One

“So, you can see why the Oxford comma is so important, right? Otherwise, what you’re trying to say might be misconstrued.”

Joseph, a young Native American transfer student, grinned at Lily.

“Yeah, I guess. Can I go now? The football game starts in ten minutes, and I don’t want to miss it.”

“You mean you don’t want to miss the cheerleaders?”

Joseph’s grin was wry as he stood and collected the books and papers they had been working with and placed them into a frayed blue backpack.

“You know me too well, Miss Hawthorne. Same time next week?”

“You got it. Enjoy the game,” Lily said, leaning back in her chair as Joseph made a quick departure.

Staring at the empty doorway of the minuscule high school library, Lily frowned.

She loved working with students, but it wasn’t something she’d thought she would end up doing. She had graduated with a degree in English three years earlier, having rushed through the program and graduated at the young age of twenty-one, just so she could get out into the field of writing and publishing as soon as possible.

Three years later and the only job she had been able to secure was as an English tutor at the local Cheyenne high school. Tutoring had come as a gift when she had been living off of ramen noodles and struggling to hold on to her tiny apartment, and while it didn’t pay much, she had what she needed to survive.

But who wanted to live like that?

Lily wanted to do more than just survive. She wanted to thrive! She wanted to tell her future grandchildren that she had made something of her life against all the odds. She had been languishing in Wyoming the past few years, just waiting for life to happen to her, and to be honest, she was getting sick of it.

She scooted her chair back, its metallic legs screeching against the floor, collected her teaching materials, and made her way out into the brown-painted hallway. The school had certainly seen better days, and with a lack of qualified teachers around, Lily had lucked out in getting the tutoring gig there. She wondered if she could find a way to get a full-time teaching job without a master’s degree.


Nodding to students on their way to the football stadium, Lily made her way down the hall to the teacher’s lounge, where a cracked cork noticeboard hosted a number of flyers advertising opportunities for teaching and professional development. Lily gazed at the board, taking in the various teaching positions she was unqualified for and feeling glum.

Then her eyes darted across a yellow piece of paper, and she looked back at it, reading an ad she had never seen before.

Are you ready for an adventure?

Come teach in the Middle East!

Al Yibri is in need of English educators willing to stay for a year. If you are a fluent English speaker, you are qualified! Inquire at the email below.

Lily’s heart began to race. Was she ready for an adventure? Could she pick up and leave everything she’d ever known behind in search of something more? She thought about what exactly she was leaving behind. Her parents had moved to Florida the year before, and almost all her college friends had gotten jobs out of state. She had been alone and destitute for far too long. Perhaps it was time to take a chance.

She pulled out her phone and tapped out a message to the person on the other end of the given email address. As she pressed send, her mind whirled.

Al Yibri. Why did that sound so familiar?

Pulling up her social media page, she typed the country into the search box, and immediately her friend Marissa’s name came up.

Of course! Marissa had majored in Middle Eastern studies when they’d been at school together, and having studied abroad there, she had decided to move out shortly after graduation. Lily already had an in—she just needed to use it!

Checking the time, she saw it was a reasonable hour in Al Yibri, so she pulled up her old friend’s phone number and pressed the call button. It rang a few times before her friend answered.

“Lily? Lily Hawthorne, is that you?”

Lily laughed.

“You don’t have to sound so surprised! I’m allowed to call an old friend from time to time.”

“So you are! How are you? It’s so good to hear your voice!”

“Yours, too. I’m doing okay. It’s been rough going since I left school, and there’s not much going on here.”

“You should come to Al Yibri! It’s amazing,