The Arabian Love-Child [Secure]
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by Michelle Reid
Description: Half Arab prince, half French, Rafiq Al-Qadim wears his pride like a suit of armor ... as Melanie had discovered when she fell in love with him years ago. Then Rafiq chose to believe ugly lies about her, and blew her out of his life like a grain of desert sand in the wind... But Melanie will never stop wanting Rafiq--unbeknownst to him, she gave birth to his child. Now that Robbie is old enough to need his father, Melanie is determined Rafiq will accept his son ... even if he can never forgive her...
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Presents,
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
25 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [340 KB]
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RAFIQ AL-QADIM climbed out of the back of a chauffeur-driven limousine and strode through the plate-glass doors that guarded the International Bank of Rahman. In the clenched fist of one hand he held a rolled-up newspaper, in his eyes glowed a look that foretold of hell to pay for some poor fool. Hurrying behind him, his newly appointed aide, Kadir Al-Kadir, was wearing an expression that suggested he might be that very unfortunate person.
As Rafiq struck a direct line for the row of steel lifts set into a wall of grey marble, people in his path took one look at him and began backing away to give the big man an uninterrupted passage to his target. He didn't notice; he was too consumed by the blinding fury that carried his intimidating six-foot-four-inch frame into the nearest vacant lift. A dark-suited arm shot out; a decidedly murderous finger stabbed at the button for the top floor. The lift doors shut out Kadir Al-Kadir and the sea of stunned faces. No one who'd had any dealings with Rafiq Al-Qadim had ever seen him appear anything but formidably controlled.
But he was not in control. Rafiq had never been so angry. Rage was literally bouncing inside him, fighting to get out and vent itself. The lift took less than fifteen seconds to reach its destination. The doors opened; he strode out. Nadia, his secretary, took one look at his face, paled and shot to her feet.
'Good morning, sir,' she greeted warily. 'There have been several messages for you and your first appointment arrives in—'
'No calls. Nothing.' He cut right across her and kept on walking, each of his powerfully constructed, sleekly toned muscles moving him with stallion-like grace to behind his office door, leaving Nadia staring after him in a state of near shock, for she too had never known Mr Rafiq to be anything but staunchly even-tempered and rigidly polite.
Rafiq's private office was a statement in architectural drama. High ceilings, marble floors, a window that was a wall of glass, in front of which a large slab of grey marble rested on legs of forged steel. As he moved across to it the pale sunlight of a London winter morning shot shards of cold steel through his black hair and added a sharpened cast to his lean dark profile that spoke of his ruthless Arab heritage.
Stepping around the edges of the slab of marble, he slammed the newspaper down on its smooth grey top. It unfurled on impact, showing him the inner-page headline that his aide had helpfully presented to him. It was Kadir's job to scour the world's newspapers, his job to mark those items he believed would be of interest to the acting head of the International Bank of Rahman. But Kadir would not be making the same mistake again very quickly, Rafiq mused as he glared at the reason for all of his anger. He had been duped, he'd been betrayed, he had been taken for a fool by a woman. And there it was, splashed all over the page of a Spanish tabloid: his private life uncovered, picked over and mocked at.
'SHOCK ANNOUNCEMENT,' block capitals proclaimed. 'SERENA CORDERO DROPS BILLIONAIRE SHEIKH TO MARRY HER DANCE PARTNER, CARLOS MONTEZ.'
His skin began prickling against his clothing, sharp white teeth setting behind the grim line of his mouth. Only two months ago she had been clinging to him like a limpet, adoring him, begging him, telling him she could never love anyone else.
The liar, the cheat, the unfaithful little slut. As far back as six months ago his brother Hassan had warned him about Serena and Carlos Montez. Rafiq had dismissed those rumours as mere publicity to add spice to the current world tour the two flamenco dancers were embarked upon. Now he knew the truth and he could taste the bitterness of his own conceit and arrogance at having believed that Serena could not have wanted another man while she could have had him. Only twice before in his life had he ever been betrayed by a woman: once by his mother, and once by the only woman he had ever let himself love. After that last bitter experience he had vowed he would never be betrayed like that again.
Yet here he stood, pulled into the betrayal trap by yet another woman, and he was so angry he could spit nails into the half-page picture of the beautiful Serena, smiling into her new husband's handsome face.
His mobile phone began to ring; dragging it out of his pocket he put it to his ear.
'Querida, please don't hang up. I need you to listen to me!'
His face, like his height and the tough, muscled build of his body, made no compromises at the best of times but the low dark sensual tones that hit his ear made his face take on properties as cold as the marble and steel that surrounded him.
'The tour is in trouble. We needed a sensation to put our names on people's lips. I love you, Rafiq. You know I do. But marriage between us was never a possibility. Can you not accept this situation for what it is?'
'You are someone else's wife. Do not call me again,' he incised, and broke the connection before tossing the phone from him as if it was contaminated.
Silence arrived, buzzing in his ears like a thousand wasp wings. In front of him lay the discarded phone and the damning newspaper. Behind him lay the rest of the world who would now be laughing at him. He was an Arab in every way you wished to look at him. Make an Arab look a fool and you win yourself a life-long enemy.
Copyright © 2002 by Michelle Reid.