By awesome reader, the lovely, Jane Aschtgen Bowen via Facebook

By awesome reader, the lovely, Jane Aschtgen Bowen via Facebook

Happy Valentines Day!

The links to a free copy of Big Trouble In China are HERE!

My thinking behind the title of this post is that the word procreation was a better choice, more polite, than shagging. I could have gone for beget, breed, conceive, create, make, multiply, reproduce, sire, spawn. But since this is me you’re dealing with I went for shag.

According to certain people in the know in the scientific community and certain organised religions, the urge to shag is a primal one, meaning to shag is the reason we were put on earth, which would explain a lot.

Have you ever seen mismatched couples? I see them all the time. As a romance writer, I’m nosy an avid observer of the human condition.

So while I was watching H measure out four ounces of wholemeal pasta per person (we’re on the 5.2 diet) for our pasta and veggie bake he’s making for dinner, I got to thinking about the primal urge.

‘Perhaps,’ I said, ‘This is why a woman can end up with a well padded accountant from Pensacola who’s afflicted with folliculitis (I’ll wait while you Google it, it is not pretty.)’

H just gave me the look. And for authenticity I thought you might like to know that H has a deep, gravelly voice that has been likened to Sean Connery, there’s a lot of rolling of ‘r’s in our house.

‘The reason a woman might end up with a guy like that,’ he said. ‘Might be an overconsumption of warm Pinot Grigio at the office party, which might have resulted in a little surprise.’

Hmm. He has a point, didn’t think of that.

Undeterred, I ploughed on. ‘Okay, but the thing is that today women are not supposed to have hang-ups about shagging. We’re supposed to be able to express ourselves with gay abandon, liberated sexually, living in the new age where men no longer rule with their love muscles. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening at all. It never ceases to amaze me what women tolerate these days.’

He dumped the pasta in frantically boiling water, stirred, turned on the extractor fan before sliding a tray of chopped red onion, courgettes, peppers into the oven.

‘It never ceases to amaze me what I tolerate these days,’ he muttered. I ignored it because he mutters all the time.

While he opened a carton of passata, emptied it into a glass jug, added dried oregano, black pepper and crushed garlic and stirred, my mind was mulling over how couples who’ve been together a looooooong time do it.

‘The reason most couples have been together for years is because they’re fairly honest with each other,’ I said.

His brows rose. ‘This, from the woman who demands honesty in all things.’

‘The odd little porky pie (lie) isn’t a big deal. Look at how men always say, You look lovely, to their wives when their girlfriends are secretly wondering, What on earth were you thinking wearing that? It’s what makes a relationship last. But it’s vital to get the big things out in the open like, No I do not want your mother staying over every weekend. And look at us, we never let things drift! If we have an issue we discuss it.’


‘Look at us,’ I said again. ‘Two weeks after we met, you asked me to marry you. And you were a confirmed bachelor.’ I’ve always secretly felt a bit smug about that.

‘In those days getting married was the only way to get regular sex from an attractive woman,’ came the shocking response that burst my romantic bubble.

Stunned, I just looked at him, the love of my life, and my temper started to simmer right along with the pasta.

‘Are you telling me.’ You might like to know that my tone matched Siberia. ‘You simply married me for my body?’

By this point he drained the pasta, dumped it back in the pot, took out the roasted veggies and stirred. Then he poured everything into a heated oven dish, poured over the passata, added baby tomatoes and grated cheese. Put the dish onto a tray and placed everything in the oven for twenty minutes.

He looked at me, caught the expression and blinked.

‘Among other things,’ he said. ‘Mostly, it was your quick brain and how you made me laugh. You still make me laugh. But, yes, marrying you for your body ticked a big plus in my box. My life is much more fun with you in it. And although it would be a hell of a lot more peaceful, I can’t imagine life without you, so you can lose the face.’

And then there was a romantic interlude. Use your imaginations!

So there you go, my theory is correct, we cannot help ourselves but procreate.

Go forth and shag with abandon on Valentines Day!

And, since I feel nothing but love for you guys here’s a link to a fabulous idea by horror author Samantha Warren, a blind date to match readers with authors of their favourite genres, there are plenty of mystery, psychological/legal thriller, romance – sweet and steamy, paranormal, sci-fi and even a non fiction author too. So pop over and leave your name on the link below and you’ll be matched up with an author. The author will email either a Smashwords code or email a gift of a book to your eReader of choice. Sound good??? The link is HERE


But I want to know what you guys are up to for Valentines day, will it be romantic with its logical conclusion or do you treat it like any other day?

You know I adore hearing from you!

Christine x


Okay now, children, settle down. (I knew the title would get you all going.)

Every now and again it’s shake-down time in this house and the red mist of temper descends. You all know what I mean. It usually follows the unparalleled agony of standing on a tiny Lego figure in your bare feet, the air turns blue and every red blooded male runs for the hills because we women have finally hit our limit (an event that tends to be cyclical) with the chaos that now reigns in our domain, all thanks to the men in our lives.

It happened this week and my son and Hugo still haven’t recovered from the tornado that was Christine as she tore through kitchen, bathrooms and (Oh My God) the biological hazard that was my son’s bedroom. I’ve promised next time I will name and shame him.

The salad drawer in the fridge was shocking with something that might have been a baby carrot in a previous life, tomatoes which had dried out without the aid of the sun – withered chorizo anyone?

The breadbin offered up a ping pong ball, one chocolate button and a burger bun that was evidently taking part in some weird Year 6 science experiment.

The oven needed two full cans of Mr Muscle.

The microwave – well – all I’ll say is I cried, readers, I cried.

I found three socks, not matching, empty chip packets, car keys that went missing three months ago and six one pound coins down the side of the couches in the lounge.

Then just to compound the horror, I decided to clear out my closet. Why, Christine? I hear you ask. Don’t you have enough to do with editing two books at the same time as well as writing a weekly serialised story on your blog and have a new book coming out this week, along with social networking and guest blogging. What are you doing, woman?

In my defence all I’ll say is I was demented by this time, so I set about shovelling through T-shirts/vests/leggings/hoodie. Pointless, thankless task. The wonderful streamlined look will last for all of three days, max. No matter how fabulous and liberated you feel after a mammoth clear out, as you survey the six bursting black bin bags, colour co-ordinated T-shirts, sweaters and neatly folded jeans, within a couple of heart beats your favourite best silky top is trapped under a stool, and two sweaters and a pair of pants are found stillborn on the floor.

It’s the same with shovelling clearing out the cars. I’ve tested this in the past: as soon as the last apple core is cleared out from the glove compartment, the melted candy from between the seats, 48 hours later it morphs back into a dumpster on wheels.

Or is this just me?

Sometimes I worry and promise to do better.

Friends of mine are always smart and very well put together. And I’ve seen their kitchens, they (or their cleaners) must spend hours scrubbing the white grout between their tiles with toothbrushes. And I bet their ovens are sparkling and their microwaves are a thing of beauty.

So here’s my ‘will do better’ list:

Hang up and put away.

Do not leave clothes in a scrunched up ball on the floor.

Wear matching bra and panties and not just for visits to the GP/hospital.

I will do a little and often (cleaning that is).

I will stop terrorising the men in my family and ask them nicely to please clean up after themselves (they asked me to put that in btw.)

Anyway, peace and tranquillity has now returned to the household. It’s all looking sparkly with the surfaces gleaming and glass glistening.

Hugo’s just stepped out of his study (a room I never set foot in because the dust bunnies on the floor are breeding) and he put his arm around me.

‘Don’t worry, honey. Your friends might have cleaner houses. But they can’t tell a story like you can and bring sheer entertainment to the masses.’

And do you know something? He’s absolutely right, no wonder I adore him.

What’s more important, my readers or my oven?

No contest really, is there?

You know I love to hear from you guys, tell me I’m not alone and share your dirty little secrets with us, we won’t tell a soul!

And chapter sixteen of Desert Orchid is up. This story’s nearly at THE END.



My friend, Jeanette, has a very interesting husband.

I’ve thought so for quite some time. You see, he gives her unsolicited advice on what to wear and when to wear it and has even bought an entire outfit for her when she wasn’t with him.

This made me realise that husbands come in two distinct varieties. The first type roll through life tremendously interested in bikes, iPads and the latest football score, without unduly bothering about what’s living (or hiding) in their wives closets. Fortunately for me, I’m married to this first character, and I must admit, it’s a very good thing. I can surf from new shoes to new purse to cooking spaghetti bolognaise to an evening dress to my ripped jeans and he’ll never notice, unless I leap into his line of vision and SHRIEK about the absolute fabulousness of my NEW DRESS. Otherwise, I could walk into the house carrying twelve shoe boxes, teetering under the weight and he’d say, ‘Hey, babe, have you seen the remote?’ Or, ‘Did you know we’re out of chips?’

Of course, there are one or two disadvantages to being married to type one. He wouldn’t notice if I ran around the garden naked, shouting ‘Hello! Here I am, wearing nothing but a silver bracelet and ready for luuurrvvve.’ But most of the time, it works. If I had a husband like Jeanette’s, I’d be spitting nails and swearing like a trooper.

Her husband watches her like a raptor, always wittering on about what’s appropriate attire for the trip to the supermarket or that the plunging neckline is not suitable for the pub quiz night. He even buys her underwear not kidding, and usually red or black. Jeanette appears thrilled by all the attention and lovely gifts he bestows on her. It would drive me to drink. I don’t know about you, but I feel a man who’s interested in woman’s clothes is well, odd. I’ve never met a straight man for example who can genuinely understand the brilliant cut of Victoria Beckham’s clothing line.

In my humble opinion, a woman’s closet should be a very personal space, a place where she can simply be herself, where she doesn’t have to follow anyone else’s personal agenda.

To be honest, I don’t think my husband even knows what’s in my closet or even where it is. He certainly has no idea I have ‘fat’ clothes and ‘thin’ clothes, ‘winter’ and ‘spring’ clothes.

Which is why I was not at all surprised when Jennifer Lopez divorced the odd Marc Anthony due to his endless enthralment with what she wore and when she wore it. According to those in the know (miles of gossip fodder) he threw all his toys out of the pram because her clothes were too sexy (hello, this is J.Lo!) and not ‘appropriate’ for a 42year old mother of twins. I know exactly why she did it – she was saying ‘Up yours! I’ll wear whatever the hell I like!’ If I had a body like hers I’d be shaking my booty up and down the red carpet. Just try stopping me.

However, all this being over particular about what your wife wears is an insidious form of control in my honest opinion and can only end in tears. Just remember, marriage is about devotion not about ownership.

And J.Lo’s moved on and we’re seeing a great deal more of her amazing body – you go girl!!

So tell us the truth women (and men). Does your nearest and dearest buy your clothes?

Does he know the difference between boot cut and skinny jeans?

Does he know if you’re an Apple or a Pear?

Does he buy your knickers in packs of five from Wal-Mart or pure silk from Victoria’s Secret?

Tell us! We demand to know!

You know I love hearing from you! Don’t be shy, you’re among friends and we won’t tell anyone – so come and share your closet secrets!

Oh, and Episode fifteen of Desert Orchid is out and Khalid in on his knees. Just say’in!


Episode Five is up at the bottom of pages and you can download the story so far in pdf to read later!

I’m up against deadlines and writing like a crazy person!

Reckless Nights in Rome is doing great and I want to thank every single one of you who purchased the story, you guys seriously rock and I’ll keep you posted on what’s coming – A Stormy Spanish Spring – where we meet Bronte and Nico  (from Reckless Nights) again in the latter part of this book. The feedback for Reckless has been amazing and I’m thrilled you guys enjoyed it.




Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid

Hello my darlings,

Episode four of Desert Orchid is on the next page.  You can download the pdf too for later.

AND the big announcement is that Reckless Nights is on a two day special promotion and free on Kindle – sweet dreams are made of this, trust me! Grab it here.

So if you fancy a sensual read, pull up a box of chocolates, light some candles, pour a glass of wine and relax with Nico and Bronte.

A short and sweet post today because I’ve just shot my heroine in my wip and loved every second of it!  Hmm, I feel a post coming on. I need to get her into a military helicopter with the medics before she bleeds to death. Can’t have that!

You know I love hearing from you guys and what I want to know is what you’re all up to? What are you writing? What are you reading?


Sea from the Desert

Hello my lovelies,

It’s Freeby Friday here today and episode three of Desert Orchid is posted on the next page. Just click the ‘Desert Orchid’  link next to ‘About’ on the menu bar above to read it. The episodes run consecutively so scroll down to find number three.  If you prefer, I’ve posted a pdf file with the three episodes for you to download to  Adobe reader or Calibre and will update it each week. Thought that was a better idea for you to read it later at your leisure rather than 2,265 words in one go.

The tale is about to enter a whole new phase now that Khalid and Charisse have met. They’ve no idea of the challenges ahead, bless them. A beta reader told me I’m a cruel witch which is very true. No point in having a dark and brooding hero if he’s not tortured is there? Hehehe.

Keep me posted on how you’re enjoying this story – I LOVE to hear from you guys.

That’s it! Short and sweet since it’s been a manic week in this household and my brain’s been through the Kindle blender.


Hello my darlings,

How’s Monday treating you? Well, I trust?

Have you ever wondered about your name? Where it came from and why your dear parents decided to give you your handle?

What made them look at a tiny bald infant with a face like a squashed prune and think ‘Hmm, we’ll call him Miles. He looks like a Miles, doesn’t he, darling?’ Or if they had a baby girl with a shock of black hair and jaundice and a face that resembled a squished raisin they thought ‘Oooh, we’ll call her Pebble. She looks like a Pebble, doesn’t she darling?’ Sometimes I look at a person and you just know that his/her parents had been sipping too much happy juice and simply weren’t thinking when they named him/her.

Take my DH. His name is Hugo. I was introduced to him as Hugo and everyone I knew called him Hugo – I met him at work.

So, we got engaged – the ring was so impressive my hand dragged along the floor (jesting) and in a happy haze I was taken to meet his parents up in the snowy mountains far, far up  in the wilds of the North of Scotland. As you can imagine I was nervous. Would they like me? Would they approve? I’m nine years younger; would they think I was too young? What should I wear? Would jeans be too casual? You know all the stuff we always worry about when we’re presented to our future in laws. Before I continue, I just need to make it clear that I am not a stupid person – normally. But nerves sort of got the better of me.

So, anyway, there I was sipping tea with his mother, aunt, uncle, brother and young cousin all staring at me as if I’d just beamed down from Pluto whenever I mentioned Hugo. And they were chattering away in their lovely lilting highland accent, sort of singy songy if you know what I mean. And they kept referring to Kenny and they looked at me as if I knew this Kenny. So I just nodded politely waiting for Kenny to appear. He was obviously an important person and part of the family and this went on for over four hours. I was befuddled, but thought perhaps I’d missed a bit of the conversation and didn’t want to appear thick.

That night I was taken for a baptism of fire to the ‘pub’ (bar) where I happily downed as much booze as his friends could tip down my throat – and they flirted with me too, just say’in. And they kept referring to this person called ‘Shy’ and looking at me as if I knew this person very very well.  Since I’d had a couple of drinks or five I turned to this terribly attractive TDH (tall, dark & handsome) pal of my fiancé and said ‘Who’s Shy?’ and he said, ‘Hugo’s Shy.’  I shook my head because if there’s one thing my DH is not, it’s Shy. ‘No, he’s definitely not shy.’  Mr TDH howled with laughter and said, ‘No – that’s his nickname from when he played football.’ I must have looked confused because he added, ‘It’s what we call a throw in from the touch line at football.’ Oookay. I should mention that I met people called Toots, Frog, Panda & Poogie. (!)

As we staggered on our way back to his mother’s house groping holding each other. I said, ‘Who’s Kenny?’ Hugo just looked at me as if I was incredibly stupid (and believe me I was feeling incredibly stupid by this point) and said, ‘That’s me! My second name is Kenneth and they all call me Kenny because my mother’s never liked the name Hugo.’

So I ask you, seriously, why in the name of the Lord would you name a baby Hugo Kenneth and permit his school friends to call him from the age of eight (yes eight) Shy? So his family was totally at sea when I referred to Hugo and I had no bloody idea who Kenny was. And then in the pub not a clue who Shy was. Wouldn’t you be confused? I tell you the people in the far North are a strange bunch.

For many years – it might have had something to do with War & Peace being serialised on TV – I desperately wanted to be called Natasha or Natalie and I wanted to be Russian and come from Vladivostok. But no, I was called Christine from Glasgow, Scotland. In my class at school there were six girls called Christine  (common as muck) and they all had various nicknames, Chris, Chrissie, Tina, Christie, Two Chins (terrible isn’t it? Bless her) and I was called ‘wee teen’ because I was titchy small. Actually these days I’m 5’5” – hardly a midget! My life was a living hell, good job I could run fast.

So, what about you lot? Does your name suit you? Do you wish you were called Poppy, Fleur, Nanette, Sorcha or Oriole? Or if you’re a guy would you rather be called Adam, Sandro, Tobias or Fabrizio?

Come on, tell us the truth. Or are you one of those sickening beautiful people who love their name and strut around like a peacock proud as punch?

My comments section in this blog is looking pretty piss poor. So I need a response, even if it’s just a 🙂 and don’t tell anyone but my first book is out today and the Amazon link is to the right.

Until next Monday, be good and if you can’t be good be careful and if you’re not careful I’ll buy you a pram. (Old Scottish farewell usually said to a daughter before she goes out for a night on the tiles.)



Today is Monday.

Since it’s my sworn duty is to make you guys smile my thoughts quite naturally led me to the emotional minefield that is the dating game.

Just last week I understood for the very first time that dating in the United Kingdom and dating in the United States is approached by horny interested people in a totally different way.

In the UK if you go out with someone once or twice and ‘like’ them, you’re dating. You don’t date anyone else. You are exclusive until you break up. This means people in the dating game are put under a huge amount of pressure, especially if they live in a small community where everyone knows everyone else’s business. This can make girls in particular very reluctant to date at all. I know this because I have two daughters at the dateable age and they find the whole thing ‘stressful’. I wonder if this is why we have a huge surge in internet dating sites and speed dating.

However, in the USA, it’s perfectly acceptable to go out with two to three people at once until you’re sure you want to go steady. Once you start dating exclusively it becomes a very different thing. MAKES SENSE TO ME. And I think we should import this brilliant idea to the UK.

However, I foresee issues ahead. If a girl was seen out with three different men in the same week she would be called a certain name, not a nice name, which in the USA is called ‘ho and in the UK would be a slapper. And if a man was seen out with three different women in the same week he’d be called a ‘player’.

In my novels I’m not shy in using certain real events mined from my kids and their friend’s experiences. They’re enough to make your hair curl! I put the protagonists through the dating wringer and when people say to me, ‘Oh, that would never happen in real life. Who would jump out a ladies’ rest room window in a hotel bar to get away from a blind date?’ I have no problem replying, ‘my daughter did. Twice!’

All I can say is that things were a lot different in my day. I dated a right couple of dozy buggers before I met my DH, who proposed within two weeks of meeting me – this is the God’s honest truth btw – he was thirty and I was twenty one. That might seem young today, but when I had my second daughter at twenty four I was regarded as an ‘elderly mother’ (We work fast in this family!) Anyway, as ever, I digress.


How do women/men girls/boys in the USA overcome this issue? Are they upfront that they’re casually dating?

How many frogs did you kiss before you found your prince/princess?

Tell the truth, what have you done to avoid an awkward scene/moment in the dating game?

Any tips/advice from you guys out there dipping your toe in the dating pond?

You know I love to hear from you, so please leave a word or twenty, below.

And don’t forget – Episode two of Desert Orchid here on Friday. Come and meet Charisse.


Hello my lovlies,

In the spirit of paying it forward, every Friday I’m publishing an episode serialising the story of Desert Orchid, the montage of which is above.

Here’s the blurb:

Queen Charisse El Haribe is deeply committed to the health and education of the women and children in her country.

And to bring the tiny Arab Kingdom of Onnur into the 21st century.

Now her beloved husband is dead, covetous eyes are turned towards the vast untapped oil and diamond reserves of Onnur. The country’s only hope is for her to marry her husband’s nephew, the wild, wicked and womanising Prince Khalid El Haribe.

Ostracised from his wealthy family since he was held responsible for the death of his young sister and her friend in a speedboat accident, Khalid El Haribe has thrown himself into a life of wine, women and song. His only passion is for his painting where he can lose himself for days and weeks creating vast avant-garde canvases in vivid oils.

But his path to self destruction comes to an abrupt halt when he’s named heir to the tiny Kingdom of Onnur. Could this be the chance to make amends to his family? To make them proud of him again? He agrees to a marriage of convenience.

Expecting the bride to be in her late thirties or early forties, Khalid is stunned to find his intended is young, beautiful, articulate and funny. Their attraction is instant and burns hard and hot.

But Charisse has appalling secrets in her past. A past that not only threatens Onnur and their love but their lives too.


by C C MacKenzie

Copyright C C MacKenzie


“Inform my brother I am here.”

The bitter cold of a London winter made his voice hard, the tone filled with impatience and irritation, Prince Sarif El Haribe permitted the butler to remove his cashmere coat as he eyed the mountain of a man who stood before him. Immaculate in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, he resembled a bulldog with no neck, he had a shaved flat head and a face that bore the marks of a pugilist. Perhaps it was the small bird like eyes but something about the man always made Sarif uneasy and looking at him now that feeling returned times ten.

His brother’s protection officer snapped to attention. Trained never to show emotion, a muscle jerking in his wide jaw was the only outward sign that Sarif’s unexpected arrival caused dismay. Omar bowed from the neck, turned and ran up the wide marble staircase.

Sarif couldn’t say he was looking forward to the meeting with his only brother, he should be in his own country, Quarram, dealing with his own issues rather than bringing a wild and out of control puppy to heel.

Sarif strolled into a room that on a good day would be an opulent drawing room. Yes, he thought studying the evidence, Khalim certainly enjoyed the high life. His eyes narrowed in distaste on a couple of empty champagne bottles.

His long finger picked up an absurd fragment of acid pink silk. A matching padded bra hung on a lampshade. Knowing his brother, he’d probably paid for the impressive breasts that filled it too. He studied another bra, black silk this time as revulsion fanned the flame of disgust in his belly.

“My Lord, His Highness will be but a moment.” The bodyguard’s high voice didn’t fit with the physical picture Omar presented to the world. Perhaps that was why he found him repulsive? Why it mattered, Sarif didn’t know. The bodyguard bowed his head.

“How many?”

Omar kept his eyes glued to his shiny shoes standing on a lush Persian carpet. “Two, my Lord.”

Sarif’s unremitting stare had the man swallow audibly. He kept his voice silky soft, “Return these items to the, er…ladies.”

He scrambled around the room picking up underwear, scraps of fabric purporting to be dresses along with killer heels before bowing out of the room and closing the double doors with a soft click.

Sarif moved to the bar, poured himself a soft drink in a glass of Edinburgh crystal and a brandy for his brother. He would need it, after he broke the news. He wondered how Khalim would take it, no more parties, no more whoring and no more freedom.

The doors opened and he turned just as a voice hoarse from sleep demanded in a slow drawl,

“What the hell do you want?”

The accent reminded Sarif of their American mother. He met Prince Khalim El Haribe’s grey eyes with a bland stare, sipped his drink, studying his younger brother over the rim of the glass. He hadn’t seen him in six months and his eyes narrowed at both the tone and the appalling decline in his physical condition.

Khalim flushed. Eyes bloodshot and underlined with dark circles, deep lines of dissipation ran down either side of his mouth. Black hair, damp with sweat, curled over his ears and neck. The hair badly needed a cut and the gaunt face needed a shave. He wore too loose soft denim jeans, white at the knees and seams.

There were times when deep brotherly affection battled through anger and a desperate sadness that their relationship had deteriorated to the point where they barely tolerated each other these days and this was one of those times. God, Khalim had lost too much weight, his stomach was concave and he could see his ribs. Loathing the feeling of complete helplessness, he finished his drink and turned to place the glass on the bar to hide the swift shaft of anxiety that shot up his spine.

He took a breath and turned to find his brother tugging a black T-shirt over his head which told the world, ‘Elvis had left the building’. Khalim ran a shaky hand through his hair.

“If you spoke to me like that in my Kingdom you would lose your tongue, little brother,” Sarif said softly.

Heat rose over his brother’s high cheekbones. “Sorry, had a bit too much bubbly tonight.” He gave a jerky shrug. “You know how it is.”

“I know how it is with you.” Sarif held up a hand as his brother’s eyes flashed with a temper that was always too near the surface. “I’ve brought news, sad news, from home.”

Sarif made himself comfortable on the couch, deciding his brother’s manners were deplorable.

“The King? Mother?” Alarm flared in Khalim’s grey eyes. And Sarif was very pleased to see it; perhaps there was hope for his brother after all.

“No. They are well.” Sarif paused as the butler entered with an ornate gold tray holding tiny cups of aromatic thick black coffee and refreshments. He waited until the door closed before he continued, “King Assim of Onuur has died. He was seventy-five. A heart attack.”

Khalim blinked, shrugged again then helped himself to a coffee and sweetmeat.

Waiting patiently for a response that wasn’t forthcoming, Sarif ordered himself to be patient. “Do you remember our Uncle?” he wanted to know.

Khalim frowned and yawned hugely. “I met him a couple of times. Into ancient history, that sort of thing. He was an eccentric, wasn’t he?”

“That might account for it,” Sarif muttered, his eyes narrowing again as they remained on his brother.

“Account for what?”

“Naming you his heir, among other things.” He paused, his smile didn’t reach his eyes as he watched blood drain from Khalim’s face before he continued, “Onuur is tiny, but wealthy. Diamonds, oil and of course the strategic advantage of having an El Haribe Prince ruling the Kingdom ensures political stability for the region.”

Khalid blinked twice. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”

If only it was. “The King is delighted. I’ve been instructed to bring you home. Tonight.”

His brother shook his head even as those grey eyes met his. “I’m not King material, Sarif.”

Too true. “Apparently, our late Uncle didn’t agree.” Watching his brother very carefully he took another sip of coffee and delivered the killer blow. “Oh, and you’re to marry his widow, Her Royal Highness Queen Charisse. You have six weeks to sober up.”

Hope you enjoy! Don’t say I’m not good to you! I won’t do a search and destroy if you don’t leave a comment. Just remember I have a memory long memory! Just say’in!