Forced to marry a desert prince!
His Royal Highness Prince Jasim bin Hamid al Rais was concerned that his weak, womanising elder brother was bewitched by his child’s nanny the throne of Quaram could be threatened by scandal! Though Elinor Tempest appeared to be a naive, fragile beauty, Jasim wasn’t fooled; he’d deal with this strumpet himself? Only after he’d ruthlessly seduced her did Jasim discover Elinor really had been a virgin and she’d fallen pregnant! A royal baby couldn’t be born out of wedlock so, faster than the desert wind, Elinor became Jasim’s unwanted bride.
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HIS royal highness, Prince Jasim bin Hamid al Rais, frowned when his aide told him that his brother’s wife was waiting to see him. ‘You should have told me that the Princess was here. My family always have first call on my time,’ he admonished.
Jasim was renowned in financial circles for the astute speed and strategy he utilised in the pursuit of profit in the Rais international business empire, and his employees had a healthy respect for their chairman. He was a tough employer who set high standards and accepted nothing less than excellence. His natural survival skills were honed to a fine cutting edge by a challenging family and palace politics. He was a tall, powerfully built man in his early thirties and he was possessed of a degree of dark, devastating good looks and potent masculinity that women found irresistible.
His French-born sister-in-law, Yaminah, was a small, rather homely brunette with a strained set to her rounded face that warned him that she was struggling to control her emotions. Jasim greeted the older woman with warmth and concern. To see her he was keeping a government minister waiting, but his smooth sophistication was more than equal to the task of hiding that fact and he ordered refreshments and asked her to sit down as if time were of no object.
‘Are you comfortable at Woodrow Court?’ His elder brother, Crown Prince Murad, and his family were currently using Jasim’s country house in Kent while they had a brand new English property built to order nearby.
‘Oh, yes. It’s a wonderful house and we are being very well looked after,’ Yaminah rushed to assure him. ‘But we never meant to put you out of your own home, Jasim. Won’t you come down this weekend?’
‘Of course, if you would like me to but, believe me, I am very comfortable in my town house. It is not a sacrifice to stay in the city,’ Jasim responded. ‘But that is not why you are here to see me, is it? I believe something may be troubling you?’
Yaminah compressed her lips, her anxious brown gaze suddenly flooding with tears. With an exclamation of embarrassment and a choked apology, she drew out a tissue and mopped at her overflowing eyes. ‘I shouldn’t be bothering you with this, Jasim—’
Jasim sat down in the sofa opposite her in an effort to make the older woman feel more at ease. ‘You have never bothered me in your life,’ he reproved her. ‘Why are you worrying about such a thing?’
Yaminah breathed in slow and deep. ‘It’s…it’s our nanny.’
His dark brows drew together in a satiric quirk that questioned her tragic tone of voice. ‘If the nanny my staff engaged to take care of my niece is not to your liking, sack her.’
‘If only it were so simple…’ Yaminah sighed, shredding the tissue between her restless hands and staring down at it. ‘She is an excellent nanny and Zahrah is very fond of her. I’m afraid that the problem is…Murad.’
Jasim immediately became very still. His self-discipline was absolute and his lean, strong face betrayed nothing of his exasperation. His brother had always been a womaniser and his lifestyle had got him into trouble more than once. Such a weakness was a dangerous flaw in the future ruler of a small oil-rich and very conservative country like Quaram. Even worse, if Murad was targeting a member of his household right beneath his loyal and loving wife’s nose his behaviour had reached a new inexcusable low in his brother’s opinion.
‘I cannot sack the girl. It would infuriate Murad if I was to interfere. At present I believe it is only a flirtation but she is a very beautiful girl, Jasim,’ his sister-in-law murmured shakily. ‘If she leaves our employ it will only drive the affair out into the open and, you know, Murad really cannot afford to be involved in another scandal.’
‘I agree. The King has no patience left with him.’ His handsome mouth settling into a grim line, Jasim wondered in angry frustration if his parent’s weak heart would even withstand the stress of another upsetting outbreak of bad publicity and scurrilous gossip about his firstborn’s morals. Would his elder brother ever learn sense and restraint? Why could he never put the needs of his family first? The older man seemed unable to withstand temptation and, this time around, Jasim felt unnervingly responsible. After all, his people had hired the wretched nanny! Why hadn’t it occurred to him to order an embargo on appointing a young and beautiful woman?
His brother’s wife studied him anxiously.
‘Will you help me, Jasim?’Jasim dealt her a wry look.
‘Murad will not accept advice from me.’‘He is too stubborn to take advice from anyone, but you could help me,’ Yaminah told him urgently.
Jasim frowned, believing that she overestimated his influence with his brother. Murad had not been the heir to the throne of Quaram for over fifty years without acquiring a healthy sense of his own importance. While Jasim was very fond of the older man, he knew his brother was equally fond of getting his own way, even if doing so meant trampling on other people. ‘In what way might I help?’
Yaminah worried at her lower lip with her teeth. ‘If you were prepared to show an interest in her yourself, the problem would disappear,’ she declared in a sudden burst of enthusiasm. ‘You’re young and single and Murad is middle-aged and married. There can be no comparison and the girl is certain to turn her attention to you instead—’