Pregnant by the Sheikh(4)

By: Olivia Gates

Then noise and lights and movements and memories started to register again. But her senses remained trained on the man as he stood at the ballroom’s wide-open doors, surveying it with all the somberness of a general studying a battlefield. He filled her awareness, the sheer force of his presence nullifying everything else. As if he had some kind of gravity well that nothing could resist or escape.

Then he moved, and the crowd parted for him, seemingly unable to withstand being in his path. It felt as if he had a spotlight trained on him, illuminating him even as he dipped in areas of shadow. What else explained why he looked more vivid, more in focus than anyone else who was dozens of feet closer?

“Who’s that?”

She blinked again as she forced her eyes back to her sister. Zeena had followed her entranced gaze to the mystery man and was staring at him openmouthed. So he had the same effect on her. Of course he did. He had everyone around mesmerized.

It seemed so weird that she didn’t know who he was, since she felt she...recognized him.

Exhaling at her inexplicable reactions and thoughts, she shrugged. “I have no idea.”

An assessing expression came into Zeena’s eyes as she let her go, before impishness suddenly replaced anguish on her face. “Want me to go find out?”

Jen raised one eyebrow. “And how would you do that?”

“I’ll walk right up to him, introduce myself as the sister of the bride and just ask.”

Jen winced at the word bride, but waved dismissively. “Thanks, darling, but you probably wouldn’t be able to move, let alone speak, if you come within talking distance of him.”

Zeena looked back at the man who kept coming closer to their hideout and sighed. “Yeah, I’d probably turn to stone if he even looked at me.”

So even Zeena with her limited experience with the world in general and men in particular felt the impact of this man. As for herself, she’d been exposed to some of the most powerful men on earth in over a decade of studies, travels and public and private work, and she knew beyond a doubt that this man was exceptional among even those. More than that. He was one of a kind. The way he affected her was unprecedented. And that was from afar, when he was completely unaware of her.

Suddenly, knowing who he was became the most important thing to her. Before she led a mockery of a life dictated by everyone else’s interests, she was due for one thing all her own. What better than to indulge her unstoppable curiosity about this man? After all, where did being perfectly responsible and in control lead her? But then, why should she even need a reason? She was just going to find out who he was, not have a fling with him.

Yeah, right, as if such a force of nature would look in her direction, even if he weren’t here attending her engagement party.

But she would do this, for herself. Even if for some reason she felt the simple action of discovering his identity would have some unpredictable and serious consequences.

Straightening, she rolled her shoulders, as if readying herself for a fight. “I’ll do it. I’ll go investigate.”

Before she strode away, Zeena’s hand on her forearm stopped her. “Just be careful. This guy is radiating something fierce.”

Jen’s gaze went to him again, and she nodded. “That’s called power. The unadulterated form.”

“I guess. But he just feels—” Zeena looked suddenly uncomfortable “—dangerous.”

Jen’s lips curved as she repeated to her sister what she’d just been thinking. “Darling, I’m just going to find out who he is, not have a fling with him.”

Zeena gave an embarrassed giggle as Jen swept her velvet cheek in one last reassuring caress before striding away.

As she rejoined the crowd, heading for the one most likely to know who that man was, Jen exhaled a ragged breath. For Zeena was so right.

She had no doubt this demigod was very dangerous. Deadly. But that only made her desire to find out everything about him even more overpowering.

She zeroed in on Jameel Aal Hashem, her five-years-younger maternal cousin, a walking encyclopedia of social gossip and celebrity news. She’d bet her mystery man hadn’t escaped her cousin’s all-encompassing curiosity.

And she was right. Before she could even ask Jameel, he pointed out the stranger in a fit of ecstatic excitement. After gushing about how he couldn’t believe he was here, Jameel told her who he was. Numair Al Aswad.

And how fitting that name was. He was indeed as majestic and sleek and powerful as his namesake. He was actually known by the English version of his name: the Black Panther of Black Castle Enterprises.

Now that she knew his name, she knew far more about him than Jameel possibly could. Since she’d become deeply involved in the world of business, anywhere she’d turned there it had been, the global corporation he’d founded that was shaping the market in every major field that made the world go round.

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