Sheikh's Desert Duty(7)

By: Maisey Yates

She was starting to put the pieces together, but between the general feeling of shock and the haze of disbelief covering this whole thing she wasn’t feeling as quick as she usually did.

“I need you out of the way for a while. Surhaadi is the best place, where I can keep you close. Where I can keep an eye on you. But never fear, you will come away from this rewarded.”

A chill spread over her. “I have a job, I have a life, I can’t just leave.”

Okay, so saying she had a life was pushing it a bit. She had a life of working sixty hours a week, and doing her very best to climb the ladder, such as that was in her industry. She had spent her entire life working her way up from, if not the gutter, certainly a disadvantaged position, to where she was now.

Isabelle Harrington had helped her secure her place at the Herald, and Sophie owed her. More than that, she refused to squander any opportunity she was given. The vast majority of the work she had done to elevate her status had been accomplished on her own. Due to nothing more than sheer bloody-mindedness, determination and a burning sense of injustice that sat in her stomach, making her feel hollow. Driving her on, looking for a way to fill it.

But her position at the Herald was one of the few things that had been provided for her by her creative friends. Isabelle had recommended her for the position, and Sophie took it very seriously. She didn’t take for granted what she had been given. The thought of just leaving the job, for an indefinite amount of time, was unthinkable.

“Where is it you work?”

“I work at the New York Herald, and I can’t just leave.”

“I will call your boss, and I will speak to him.”

“ You won’t. That is not happening.” Knowing Colin, he would smell a story and be no help in bailing her out. Her boss had the morals of a vulture. He was opportunistic in the extreme. A man who had attached himself to a very wealthy wife, using those connections to land himself a position as head editor for the Herald, all while sleeping with younger socialites behind her back.

He was opportunistic, but not, in Sophie’s experience, particularly sneaky. Either way, she did not want to bring him into this.

“You have now told me where you work. I am more than happy to take the ID out of your bag, find your name and call your boss. I will tell him that one of his reporters has greatly offended the sheikh of Surhaadi. And I will tell him I want you fired.”

Fear streaked through her. She despised it. Despised this feeling of being so disadvantaged because she was, by birth, lesser.

But I shouldn’t be. I should be one of them. But because my father didn’t choose me...

“You don’t actually think that would work, do you?”

“I do not see why it wouldn’t.”

“Well, perhaps in any other industry, it would work. But this is the media, if you give any hint of a scandal, they’ll just want to know what the scandal is. No one is going to fire me for creating a little bit of dust between myself and a sheikh.”

“You see, that is where you’re wrong. Because I have the capability of offering them a much bigger story than you ever could with your half-heard findings in the alleyway. But I would make it contingent upon them letting you go. And rest assured they would.”

“I can’t believe this. Are you seriously going to get me fired from my job? Because of...just because I overheard that Chatsfield slept with your sister?”

“Yes,” he said, his voice grave. “I would do just that. Do not doubt it. There are two things in this life that are dear to me. My people, and my family. I will do whatever is necessary to protect them. Sometimes, when you are the ruler of the country, that means being willing to go to war. When you are the head of the family, that means being willing to wage war on a more personal scale.” His gaze met hers, and even in the darkness of the car, she could feel the righteous fury emanating from him, could feel the heat. “There is nothing I would not do to protect my family. And right now, I feel that my hand is being forced.”

“I’m not forcing anything.”

“Your very presence does. Your name?”

“Why should I tell you?” He gave her a hard look, one that told her he would get it one way or another. She would just tell him. At least then it would be her choice. “Sophie Parsons.”

“And who do you report to directly?”

“Colin Fairfax.”

“Phone number?”

She rattled it off, because at this point, if she had her boss on the other end of the phone, perhaps she could at least signal her distress. Sheikh whatever-his-name-was retrieved the phone from the interior pocket of his jacket, and dialed the number she had given. A moment later she heard the phone stop ringing on the other end, and heard her boss’s voice coming through the line, muffled but recognizable.

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