The Sheik's Reluctant Lover

Elizabeth Lennox - The Sheik's Reluctant Lover

The Sheik's Reluctant Lover
Elizabeth Lennox


Chapter 1

“Dad, I just don’t think…” Rachel Stuart started to say.

Her father gently interrupted her before she could come up with an excuse. “Don’t say you don’t have the time. I guarantee you won’t regret this.”

Rachel bit her lip, wondering how she could say no to her father. She knew he was lonely, but…

“He’s not here, honey.” John Stuart said the words softly, but her heart ached that her father knew.

She closed her eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath as the pain of her last visit to the farm swept through her. She slowly let the air out of her lungs and straightened her shoulders, not willing to reveal too much even to her father. “I don’t care if he’s there or not Dad. This has nothing to…”

“Rach’, don’t even try it.” He softly interrupted her comment, knowing where this conversation would go if he allowed it. “Your old Dad knows what’s going on and I feel for you. Rais isn’t scheduled to arrive until late tomorrow afternoon. So if you don’t come out tonight, then you’re not going to be able to see these beauties for another month and I know you’re gonna love these guys.”

‘Beauties’? Did that mean that new horses had arrived on the farm? He knew he’d piqued her interest with that comment and she hesitated only briefly because if there was one thing in this world she loved besides her father it was horses. And she was relieved that the man in question wasn’t scheduled to arrive until the following day. “What is it?” she asked, trying to hide her curiosity but failing because whatever her father was calling about had to be big.

His relieved laughter flowed through the phone lines, knowing that he’d gotten her with those words. If there was one thing Rachel hated it was to not know a secret. He tormented her with Christmas and birthday presents, and any surprises he could think of throughout the year just to tease her. “Come out for dinner tonight and you’ll see.” He waited a moment before he said, “I’ll make you macaroni and cheese,” he said with a hopeful tone.

He’d hit her weak point, damn him. She closed her eyes, her hand gripping her cell phone as if she could find strength. “With the gorgonzola cheese?” she whispered.

“You bet,” he laughed again, knowing that she was caught now. “I’ll see you at six o’clock. Don’t be late or I start eating it myself.”

She groaned and shook her head. “Fine. I’ll be there.” He knew exactly how to lure her home for a visit. His macaroni and cheese was the best with gorgonzola cheese and chives. The man didn’t stop there. He added secret ingredients he wouldn’t even give her a hint about so that she couldn’t figure out how to make it herself. She’d tried, just so she didn’t have to risk running into the man in question, but she hadn’t come close and he was using that as her compensation for the risk involved in coming home.

After disconnecting, she stared at her computer screen, her eyes not really seeing anything. Her father knew, she thought with resignation and more than a little embarrassment. He wasn’t a stupid man, so it was ridiculous of her to think that he hadn’t noticed her reaction to the man over the years. But it would have been nice if it had just been her secret.

With resignation and embarrassment, she accepted that there were just some things a daughter couldn’t hide from her dad.

Three hours later, she shut down her laptop and packed up her office, forcing a smile as she walked out of the building so her co-workers didn’t know she felt like she was facing a death squad. She usually timed these things better but she’d already committed to the visit. Coming out tonight was cutting things a bit closer than she preferred.

It took her two hours with heavy traffic because she worked in downtown Washington, D.C. and her father lived out west of the city. It felt as if everyone and their brother were heading out west along Interstate 66 so there were long periods when she was crawling in traffic, and those were the good moments. There were other times when she just sat there, the autumn sunshine beating through her window while traffic came to a standstill. This was why she used public transportation, she thought with frustration as she pulled her