Hello my darlings!
I’ve been up the wall with a redevelopment project in the house that has grown into one hot mess. I’m in the middle of electrical cables, plumbing and joiners and tearing my hair out.
From today, and each Friday until the story is FINISHED, I’m sharing the first draft of DESERT CAPTIVE… It hasn’t been edited, which means the final version may be different from what I’m sharing now…. Here’s the first chapter… Enjoy!
Why did doing the right thing feel so,—wrong?
Dressed in flat pumps of black leather and a black soft pants suit, the jacket button straining over her burgeoning baby bump, Arabella Faulkner walked fast through a very posh part of London. A military man would have immediately recognized the way she held herself, tall and slim, her dark brown eyes tough and uncompromising.
Her long stride ate up the sidewalk.
For four long months, she’d lived in what could only be called a hormone apocalypse. Pregnancy, she’d learned the hard way, did that to some women. It turned them from thinking, sensible, sentient beings into crazed fools with a fragmented thought process. It left them unable to make the most basic decisions, like actually talking to her baby’s father.
Of course, once she’d escaped—make that run away—from Onuur, from the time she’d handed him her virginity on a plate, Prince Sarif El Habibe had been furious. He’d been even more furious when she’d refused to answer his calls, as his many letters proved.
The fact of the matter was, one did not run away, pregnant, from a desert prince and expect to get away with it.
See, that’s where the hormone apocalypse came in.
She’d not been thinking straight.
When she’d discovered her pregnancy, she’d panicked, and who could blame her?
After all, Sarif, he of the movie star good looks, rich beyond imagination—and powerful ruler of the state of Quarram—was not a man a woman misled.
Okay, lied to.
Yes, she’d lied.
Because, right from the get-go, she’d been in denial.
A state of refusal to admit that she, they, had done what they’d done without even the most basic protection.
And she blamed the hormone apocalypse for the whole sorry mess.
As she strode down Horse Guards parade, and past the officer’s barracks, the scene brought back happy memories.
She recalled her previous life in the military.
On her very first tour in Helman, she’d been decorated for bravery.
Of course, she’d been scared shitless.
But like every other Buttercup, as the females in her unit had been affectionately called, she’d sucked it up and got on with what needed to be done. Thanks to gross political ineptitude and unnecessary delay, what should have been a simple extraction had turned into a messy, bloody, cluster-fuck.
Then after that, just for shits and giggles, she’d had a short stint in the special forces.
And then had come the middle of the night call ordering her to the tiny kingdom of Onuur to guard a Queen who’d looked like a real life Elsa from the kiddy movie, Frozen.
It hadn’t taken her long to discover Elsa had a backbone of titanium and a heart as big as the vast desert that was her home.
Arabella would have, if necessary, laid down her life for Queen Charisse El Haribe. However, after a short but messy adventure, she’d had the deep pleasure to put a bullet between the eyes of the sick bastard who’d kidnapped Charisse and put his filthy hands upon her person.
She’d never been a crier, but right now Arabella’s eyes went all misty at the thought of Charisse.
She took a deep breath.
There went the hormone apocalypse again.
The young Queen was now blissfully happy with her new king, hotness himself, Khalid El Haribe.
Arabella grinned at the thought of him.
Khalid was a big handful of trouble of ever there was one.
Anyway, after escaping from the consequences of banging a Prince on the floor without the thought of protected sex, and too many weeks—make that months—of kicking her heels in Charisse’s swanky London apartment Arabella had opened her eyes this morning—and it was as if she had seen the light.
Instead of a mind filled with brain-fog and indecision, she clearly saw the road ahead.
The road of truth, honor and integrity.
Yeah, the time had come to tell Sarif the truth.
The whole truth.
And nothing but the truth.
After all, in a few short months their lives would be changed forever.
The guy might be a Prince, but he had a human right to be involved in the future of his child.
Rights that meant responsibilities.
The words made her breath hitch and for the first time, her steps faltered.
What if Sarif didn’t want to know the baby?
Her timing was bad too.
The tabloids had been in a flutter for weeks about the whisper of his impending engagement. The woman concerned was one of those doe-eyed, dark haired, olive-skinned beauties that came from Sarif’s neck of the woods.
Arabella took another deep breath—all the things she was most definitely—not.
Maybe she should have sent him a letter instead of speaking to him in person?
That would have been cowardly.
Same with texting or email.
She had to break the news of their baby face-to-face.
Sarif had been camped out at the Quarram Embassy for a week—she still had her sources—and now was as good a time as any to do the deed.
To do the right thing.
Even if it was better late than never.
Mind busy, she lengthened her stride, crossed the road, and didn’t spot the purring black SUV with blacked-out windows keep pace behind her.
For once, her spidey senses deserted her until it was too late.
Everything, the rev of an engine, the way she twisted and threw herself to the side before being hurled into the air, happened too fast.
Bloody and broken, Arabella Faulkner lay face down in the tarmac between road and curb.
A pain in her shoulder made it hard to take a breath. It burned as if speared by a poker forged in flame.
Out of the corner of her eye blood, her blood, flowed slowly towards a drain.
The smell of blood, the sound of feet running echoed in her stunned brain.
Her last thought was for her unborn child.
She’d left it too long to do the right thing and now it was too late.
The world went dark.
The next chapter from Sarif’s point of view comes next week, and it’s a doozy.
Until next week…..
And yes, the Ludlow Hall short stories will be back when this book is finished.