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Diana Fraser

Awakened by the Sheikh (paperback)

Awakened by the Sheikh (paperback)

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At 5’2” Cara Devlin is used to being overlooked... until she speaks. It had been her sexy voice that had won her the voice-overs ads and it's her velvet tones that lands her the job as translator to the King of Ma’in—a job with a salary that will ensure she can leave Ma'in and make a fresh start. A new beginning away from the country where her soon-to-be ex-husband betrayed her, and her family, for his own gain. Just one more week in Ma’in and then she’ll be free to begin a new life.

Since his unfaithful wife died, King Tariq of Ma'in is devoted to three things: his children, his country and remaining single. When his brother hires him a translator he doesn't need, Tariq isn't impressed. But, when he hears Cara's seductive voice, he decides she can stay, providing she doesn't distract him from the most important meetings of his life where he intends to regain control of his country's wealth. But each day he discovers something new about Cara: qualities that break through the protective shell he'd built around himself, and language skills he can use to his own—and his country's—benefit. So long as Cara doesn't know she's being used, he should succeed.

Boook 4 in the 6-book Desert Kings series

Paperback edition:

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bay Books (June 25, 2015)
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 188 pages
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5 x 0.43 x 8 inches

Diana's Books (in order of most recent series)


Diamond Sheikhs
  1. At the Sheikh’s Command
  2. At the Sheikh’s Bidding
  3. At the Sheikh’s Pleasure

British Billionaires
  1. The Billionaire's Contract Marriage
  2. The Billionaire's Impossible CEO
  3. The Billionaire's Secret Baby

Secrets of the Sheikhs
  1. The Sheikh's Revenge by Seduction
  2. The Sheikh's Secret Love Child
  3. The Sheikh's Marriage Trap

The Sheikhs of Havilah
  1. The Sheikh’s Secret Baby
  2. Bought by the Sheikh
  3. The Sheikh’s Forbidden Lover
  4. Surrender to the Sheikh
  5. Taken for the Sheikh's Harem

Desert Kings
  1. Wanted: A Wife for the Sheikh
  2. The Sheikh's Bargain Bride
  3. The Sheikh's Lost Lover
  4. Awakened by the Sheikh
  5. Claimed by the Sheikh
  6. Wanted: A Baby by the Sheikh

Italian Romance
  1. The Italian’s Perfect Lover
  2. Seduced by the Italian
  3. The Passionate Italian
  4. An Accidental Christmas

Medieval Romance Written as Saskia Knight
  1. Claiming His Lady
  2. Seducing His Lady
  3. Awakening His Lady
  4. Defending His Lady
  5. Honoring His Lady

READ A SAMPLE

CHAPTER ONE

“I’ve already told you, I’m here to see the King.”
Cara Devlin was irked when the Palace Guard barked out a short laugh of disbelief, and she turned to the other one for support, but all she met was another pair of brown eyes, narrowed with amusement. He cleared his throat as he tried to control his laughter.
“Of course, miss. And you can show us no written papers confirming this. All you had is a phone call… so you say.”
Again, the exchange of knowing looks. Did they think she was some kind of palace groupie? “That’s right. I was to report to the palace at four pm. And here I am.”
“And here you are,” one of the guards repeated, his slow drawl indicating more precisely how unimpressed with her presence he was than any words could. “And here you’ll stay. We’ve an important function this evening, so if you’d go and wait over there in the lobby, I’m sure the King will make time for you as soon as he can.”
Cara gripped her laptop and suitcase more firmly and stood as tall as her five feet two inches allowed. “I’ve already told you. This was a last minute arrangement made by Prince Sahmir to my agency for my services as a translator for a series of meetings over a week. I have no paperwork beyond that. Why not check with the King’s office?”
One of them glanced at her again. He seemed no more impressed than the first time. “Sure, when we get time. Now move along please.”
This was ridiculous. She’d leave. She turned around and walked past the group of foreign businessmen with whom she was meant to be working, who were being ushered inside the palace without any questions. They didn’t give her a second glance. She was as invisible as ever, utterly lacking the glamor of wealth, power and good looks that these people radiated.
Good looks and power she could do without. But money, she needed.
She heaved a frustrated sigh. She had no choice, she couldn’t just leave. With debts incurred from when her father had been sick, and a husband who’d taken what few assets she’d possessed, she needed more money than translations and voice-overs could raise so she could start afresh—a new life in a new country.
She gritted her teeth. Just a week’s work and then she could leave this country of failed dreams forever. Suddenly she remembered something the agency had mentioned. She turned around and retraced her steps down the path lined with towering palms, toward the columned portico of the palace.
“I told you to wait, miss.”
“And I told you I’ve been asked to come here. If you don’t believe me, go tell the King I’m the voice from the chocolate ad.” Their eyes narrowed with attention. “Hazelnut cream to be precise.” She cleared her throat. “‘The sensuous slide of cream on the tongue and down the throat, the promise of—’” She stopped reciting her lines the moment the guards registered who she was. Their attitude changed instantly. The elder guard snapped his fingers and the other guard disappeared into the palace. It was only a few moments before a harried-looking Palace official arrived to escort her inside.
She followed the man into the palace. Their footsteps echoed on the marble floor as they entered a large reception area, all cream and gold opulence. The walls soared up two stories high, with each story framed by a series of gold-trimmed balconies. The area was empty of seating and tables, designed to impress with its austere glamor. She’d heard of the riches within the palace but had never been inside before. The capital city of Ma’in was built on the wealth of the gold discovered nearly thirty years before and all its buildings were new and impressive. But not on this scale. Despite that, Cara felt disappointed. The palace could have been in any city, anywhere in the world. Ma’in was steeped in a rich history her father had spent his life studying. But there was no sign of it here.
The official opened a reception room and ushered Cara inside but when she turned to speak to him, he’d vanished. She felt uncertain, as she saw the men talking at the front of the room beyond the highly polished mahogany tables. A servant approached and offered her a coffee. Eagerly, she dropped her laptop and suitcase and accepted it. She sipped the strong coffee appreciatively as she looked around. Usually, she was hidden away in a translator booth at conference centers, not seated with the conference participants. But here she was seated with them. Although she was under no illusion that would make her more visible.
She glanced around at the three men—two Japanese and one from either Portugal or Brazil by the sound of it, but no one from Ma’in. At that moment, the large double-entry doors opened slowly and Ma’inese officials dressed in traditional robes walked in and greeted the others. As the men exchanged formal pleasantries, all oblivious to her presence, she scanned their faces, trying to identify which one was the King. However there was no sign of him. She walked over to the window from which she could see a lush courtyard, trimmed and clipped to within an inch of its life, but still refreshing after such bright opulent austerity. Then she saw him.
He stood at the window of a room across the courtyard from her, doing as she was doing, looking out at the greenery while he was on the phone. He was tall and broad-shouldered, swathed in white robes that shone brightly in the sun that streamed through floor to ceiling windows. He turned suddenly and she saw his face and felt a jolt of recognition. She knew his features from countless media appearances but had never seen him in person. He’d always been described in terms of awe and majesty—less of the handsome and more of the ruthless, uncompromising sheikh. She could see how he’d acquired those epithets, but the descriptions had entirely missed his magnetism.
He was talking on the phone, unsmiling, his eyes dark and intense, a frown pressing onto his brow. She took another sip of coffee and then he suddenly looked up and met her gaze. A wave of hard hot adrenalin shot through her. She felt as if she’d been discovered, not just noticed but really seen. His eyes didn’t shift from hers and despite her brain ineffectually telling her she should move, do something, anything, she remained rooted to the spot, as the adrenalin conjured up a heat that swirled mercilessly around her body, like a desert wind unsettling sands which had long been still.
Then the maelstrom glance turned away and, shaking, she took a sip of her coffee. No sooner was the hot liquid in her mouth than she realized her mistake. As it slid down the wrong way, she choked, coughed, and looked up in time to see the gaze had returned, and was fixed on her once more. Embarrassed, she tried to regain her breath.
After she’d recovered she glanced his way but he’d gone. If she’d felt uncomfortable before, she felt more so now. Not because she’d made a spectacle of herself, but because not only was the King every bit as ferocious and as forbidding as his public image, he also had an intensity that was entirely visceral and sexual. It might be just one week but it didn’t look as if it was going to be an easy one.

“Is she there yet?”
Tariq narrowed his gaze at the sound of Sahmir’s voice and looked around. “Who? And why are you phoning? You should be in a meeting by now.”
“I’m about to go in. Before I left I arranged a little surprise for you. I just wondered if she was there.”
“She? Sahmir, what have you done?” Tariq looked through the window across the courtyard to the adjoining meeting room and scanned the room. The group of three businessmen with their various hangers-on were standing together, talking confidently, their expressions smug. They believed they’d won the negotiations already. Let them, over-confidence was a weakness he could exploit. He continued to scan the room. No one out of the ordinary. Then his gaze settled on a woman, her only distinctive feature being her ability to blend into her surroundings so successfully. No, totally ordinary except… except for her eyes, which were focused on him. There was a quality in their expression that caught his attention, why he didn’t know. And he didn’t need to know. Some secretary no doubt. He continued his scan of the room before returning to the mousy assistant, now spluttering and coughing and spilling coffee onto the thickly carpeted floor. He shook his head and returned his attention to his irritating brother. “Sahmir, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s no one here.”
“That sexy voice? You remember? On the TV? She’s your translator.”
“But I don’t need—” Tariq groaned as he heard the line go dead. His brother had had the audacity to put the phone down on him. He tossed away the phone and walked out of the room, towards the meeting room. He paused for a moment at the entrance and looked around once more, interested despite himself, and his gaze lingered on the mousy woman again. Her complexion and hair were pale, and her suit beige, the same color as the stone of the palace. She was like a chameleon, camouflaged by her surroundings. Curious. Inexplicably, his eyes lingered on her while she fumbled with her laptop. If she was a secretary, she was an inept one, judging by the flustered way in which she was operating her computer.
He continued to scan the room, but failed to find the woman his brother had tried to foist on him. For once, it appeared Sahmir’s plans hadn’t come to fruition.
He nodded to his assistants who opened the door wider for him. He swept into the board room, immediately aware of the change in atmosphere. He’d become accustomed to it over the years—this chill that descended on people as soon as they saw him. It showed in their eyes. A wariness entered them as if they didn’t understand him, as if they were scared of him. It had always been that way. He’d been bewildered by it as a youth, confused as to why people wouldn’t warm to him, simply based on the fact he was tall, broad, and not handsome. But he’d had come to appreciate its effect, especially since he’d become King. Fear was a more useful tool than affection.
He walked over to the head of the delegation and greeted him, noting the faltering arrogance as he too responded to his presence. He knew that in some strange way his lack of beauty contributed to people’s response to him. His height, solid features and immutable sense of self and purpose conveyed a sense of power which he found extremely useful. It meant he could get what he wanted in half the time his brother would have taken. He had no need to charm, to cajole, all he had to do was instruct. It might not win him friends, but he didn’t need friends. He had a country to run.
He greeted the leader of the delegation in Arabic, the native language of Ma’in, and extended his hand. The man’s eyes held confusion at the words he obviously didn’t understand, but Tariq had no intention of translating them. If the man had the arrogance to expect a successful business meeting without even learning a few basic words of Arabic, then that was his problem. Tariq gripped the man’s wavering hand. It was damp and limp and Tariq dropped it with disdain. Tariq glanced at his assistant.
“His Royal Highness, King Tariq ibn Saleh al-Fulan, welcomes you and invites you to be seated for the preliminary meeting before we proceed to his desert castle—Qusayr Zarqa— for dinner tonight, followed by a series of meetings which will conclude at the end of the week.”
It was only after the sea of heads had seated that he noticed the young woman again, standing unsure, at the end of the room, as if wondering where to sit. He frowned. Why hadn’t one of her party assigned her a seat? He caught the eye of his assistant and indicated the woman. He was too far away to hear what they were saying to each other. But he could see his assistant’s confusion. Despite that, the woman was shown a place to his left, much to his surprise. Their gazes caught briefly, before she turned away, a fetching blush suffusing her pale skin. Tariq turned to his assistant who came up to him and whispered discreetly in his ear.
“Your translator, Your Majesty.”
Tariq narrowed his eyes. “Do you have other plans, Aarif?” he asked dryly in Arabic. “You’ve decided to give yourself the week off?”
The assistant didn’t smile but handled his papers nervously. “No, Your Majesty. It seems to be something your brother, Prince Sahmir has arranged.”
His eyes shot back to the woman who was fiddling with her laptop. This young woman was the woman with the sexy voice from the advertisement? He could hardly connect the two. He smiled to himself. Sahmir had really got it wrong this time. Tariq sucked in a short breath of irritation but was careful not to betray it as he turned to the assembled company and opened the meeting in Arabic. He was going to speak English but he’d test her out first, see how good she was. No doubt Sahmir had paid far too much for this woman’s time. She may as well earn it.
After he’d finished speaking, he inclined his head, indicating she should translate. Her blush rose over her pale skin as she became the center of attention. She was obviously unused to it. And then she spoke.
He looked down quickly at his papers as the impact of her voice hit him. It was the voice from the television. So Sahmir had been as good as his word. Despite his irritation at his brother’s playfulness, he was transfixed. Her voice played over his skin like fingertips trailing along his arm, his chest and up his neck… and elsewhere. He almost expected her to reach over and place her lips on his. He licked them in readiness but didn’t move, didn’t alter his otherwise impassive face. But he couldn’t control his reactions. He actually felt his skin prickle under the onslaught of the rich, honeyed tones, like the soothing yet stimulating brush of velvet on skin.
She had a deep, clear voice for such a small woman, textured without being husky, warm and sensuous without being sloppy. He could have continued to describe it, dissect it, but the one word which summed it up was sexy—she owned the most utterly sexy voice he’d ever heard. Her voice conjured up someone taller, more voluptuous, with flashing eyes that spoke of sex.
Which was the real her, he wondered? Was it her voice that was deceptive, or her appearance? He still felt the effect on his body of her words when he suddenly realized she’d stopped talking.
“We look forward to working in close collaboration with your company to further the benefits of both. I suggest we conclude your introduction shortly and my assistant will outline the agenda over the next few days.”
He sat back and surrendered to the pleasure of listening to the translator’s voice. He felt the blood flow to where it shouldn’t. He turned and watched every man in the room. They’d all fallen under the same spell—he could see it in their eyes, in the slack fall of their mouths. Pathetic that men could be so moved by female artifice to forget what they were doing! He’d seen enough of that with his wife.
He’d often heard his mother admonish her friends for speaking ill of the dead, directly before the conversation escalated into a full scale character assassination of his father, and the full scale elevation of his mother to saint. He’d listened to it since he was a young boy sitting at her feet. It had worked. He didn’t speak ill of his dead wife, but it didn’t mean that he didn’t know she was a money-grabbing adulterous liar. Thanks be to Allah that she’d given him children before she’d strayed. At least she’d done her duty there. He need think no more of deceitful wives. No more distractions. Especially now.
The woman began speaking again, translating one of the foreigner’s fawning responses which he’d understood perfectly without the aid of a translator, not that he intended to let them know that. As she turned to Tariq, she’d drawn her chair closer and he could smell her. Not strong French perfume, but the fresh scent of her hair as it fell over her face as she inclined her head to his. He sat up straight and interrupted her. “Enough!” His voice thundered uncouthly over her honeyed tones. He rose. “Gentlemen,”—he looked at the translator and then back to the men—“we will meet within the hour at Qusayr Zarqa. It will give you the opportunity to see the desert first hand, as well as a castle thirteen centuries old which contain the rarest of Ma’in’s antiquities.” He walked out of the room without a backward glance, beckoning for his assistant to follow him. Once the doors were closed he spoke.
“The translator.”
“Your Highness. I am sorry. We did not know she was coming until she arrived. I will pay her off, if it pleases you. As you say, there is no need—”
Tariq raised his hand and the assistant stopped abruptly. “My brother can be hasty. But…” He paused, remembering the effect of her voice on him, a feeling that he knew he wouldn’t be able to forget in a hurry. He should dismiss her. He should. But that brief taste of her voice was like a drug. He wanted to hear it again, to experience its effect on his body. He shrugged his shoulders. “It’s done. We’ll live with it.”
“But Your Highness, we haven’t had time to do the usual security clearance, the police checks, all that is necessary for someone to work at the palace.”
Tariq hesitated, but only for a moment. He was man enough to enjoy something from a distance, strong enough not to taste something he’d forbidden himself. He could smell the honey in the nectar, he could imagine it, but that would be all. Nothing would taint his life from now on, nothing would divert him from what he needed—to right the past wrongs these people had inflicted on his country—robbing it, and his family, of their wealth.
His father had been weak, had wanted to be a part of the modern world. But he was not his father. With Sahmir in Paris and him here, between them they could put an end to the drain of resources out of his country. His country may look wealthy, but the gloss and glitter rested on the finances of other countries. They’d become mere puppets to overseas capital. At their mercy. But for no longer.
The outcome of the meeting was inevitable so why not indulge himself for once? Allow himself the pleasure of listening to the beautiful voice that came from this unlikely woman for a few short days. Nothing longer of course. There was no room in his life for anything long term. But that voice—intriguing, hypnotic almost. It would add a certain piquancy to the next few days. And what harm could it do? He almost laughed at the thought as he looked at her slight frame, the straight hair, the unsure, downcast eyes. What harm could she do?
She stood, holding her laptop bag uncertainly, shifting her handbag further onto her shoulder as she looked around watching everyone else follow his assistant out to where a convoy of vehicles awaited.
He motioned to his assistant. “Tell Miss…”—he waved his hand at her—“that she will travel with me.” He’d enjoy the sound of her voice during the journey to Qusayr Zarqa. Why not?
“Certainly, Your Highness.”
He watched her jump as his assistant coughed politely beside her. He smiled to himself. What harm indeed?

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