Sara Fairchild arrives in the small middle eastern country of Bashir to visit her best friend. She’s left her job as a nurse and is looking forward to some down time. But when she’s met at the airport by a handsome, sexy man she wonders if maybe this trip will bring more than relaxation. When she learns he’s part of the royal family and a doctor, sparks fly.
Hassan al-Hakim is intrigued by Sara from the moment he sees her. As the minister of health and a doctor, he takes his job seriously. Sara challenges him on more than one level and as they spend time together, he finds she enjoys a little kinky bedroom play. Together they explore their attraction in and out of the bedroom.
While external forces threaten to pry them apart, they know together they can weather the storms and find their way to love.
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Sara Fairchild pushed her blonde hair behind her ear before she walked through the double doors from the customs area of the airport in the small Middle Eastern country of Bashir. She was tired from not sleeping the last few nights, but energized to see her best friend. Customs was easy, but then, it did help to have the future queen's ear. A smile crept over Sara's lips.
Catherine, her best friend, was engaged to the new king, Malik. At times Sara had trouble believing it, but her friend had found true love, and she was thrilled for Catherine. Sara glanced around the waiting area. Catherine had told her there would be a driver to escort her to the palace.
Sara spied a man in black slacks and a white shirt holding a sign with her name on it. She strode over to him, admiring how his clothing molded to his fit and trim body. Her gaze continued to take him in ... dark hair, and ... her heart thumped. He had the most striking blue eyes.
"I'm Sara Fairchild." She stopped in front of him. His skin was tanned, and he was a couple inches taller than her five foot seven inches.
"Ms. Fairchild, I am Hassan." His deep, strong voice sent shivers of awareness up her spine.
Her mouth went dry. His voice reminded her of ... she shook her head. She was here to relax and to help Catherine prepare for her wedding. Well, the wedding wasn't for a few months yet, but Sara could lend Catherine moral support. And after she'd blown up at one of the lead doctors at the hospital, and thankfully her supervisor had agreed with her, Sara had taken a leave of absence.
"Let me take your bags." He took the handle from her hand and then glanced around. "Is this all?" He gestured to the bag he held and the carry-on over her shoulder.
"Yes. I travel light." She'd sublet her flat. Her heavy woolen sweaters and rainproof boots weren't suitable for Bashir's dry heat. Heck, most of her clothes weren't suitable for Bashir, and Catherine had told her the marketplace had everything she needed. So she'd packed a couple of pairs of jeans, some tops, lingerie, workout clothes, and running shoes.
"You do." He shook his head. "If you will come with me, our car is waiting just outside the main doors."
Sara followed him, admiring his stellar ass all the way to the main terminal. A gasp left her lips. The airport was beautifully designed. High ceilings with glass to let the light in, but even with the sun beating down it wasn't hot. She assumed the paintings on the walls were of local plants, animals, and people. A fitting welcome to the country.
They walked though a set of double doors, and the heat hit Sara. She stopped to get her bearings, and then continued to follow her escort. London had been cold and rainy when she'd left. Being somewhere sunny and warm was nice.
Her guide stopped next to a large black vehicle. He put her bag in the open trunk and held his hand out for her carry-on.
She gripped the strap. "I'll keep this with me." It held her computer and other electronics.
He nodded, shut the trunk, then opened the back door for her to get in.
Sara slipped into the cool interior of the car, surprised to see a man behind the wheel. Sara slid across the seat and placed her carry-on on the floor by her feet as Hassan climbed in and closed the door.
"We're ready, Najah."
Another shiver slipped through her body at the sound of his voice. What was it about the tone of his words? She couldn't stop herself from reacting to the husky, dominant voice.
The car pulled into traffic and Sara glanced out the window. The desert lay off in the distance along with the city skyline before the road angled in a different direction.
"I understand you're here to help Catherine," Hassan said.
"Yes." She faced her guide and was surprised to see his gorgeous eyes trained on her. The bright blueness of his eyes and his wavy dark hair made his features seem more tan. "I'm excited for Catherine, but I know I'm here for moral support more than anything."
"Crown Princess Catherine has talked about your arrival."
"Oh." Who was Hassan to the royal family? Maybe a bodyguard. Catherine had mentioned, in passing, needing bodyguards. The sun reflecting off a building caught her attention, and she glanced out the window.
A large white building gleamed in the sun, and the red cross on the front was barely visible. "The hospital?" Catherine had mentioned the state-of-the art facility.
"Yes." He paused. "You sound surprised."
"Yes, no ... Sorry." She faced him and her fingers tangled together in her lap. "Catherine told me about the medical facilities here. I wasn't expecting something that impressive." And the building was impressive. From her brief view, she guessed it was at least twenty floors with several wings.
Hassan frowned at her. "You believe we are a third-world country?"
"No." The word burst from her lips. "I didn't mean that." She shook her head. "I'm making a mess of this. I think it's wonderful you have a large medical facility."
"It is a first-class facility." His frown disappeared. "We're expanding our clinics out to more villages."
"That's wonderful. How are you managing staffing?" Excitement filled her. How fun it would be to be on the ground floor helping and teaching. Remember, you're not here to work. She shushed the voice in her head.
Her mobile phone rang, and Hassan shook his head. "Sorry." She dug it out of her purse and looked at it. "Excuse me. Hey, Catherine." He stiffened and Sara wondered why. "Yeah, I'm here and the flight was fine."
"I'm so excited you're here." Catherine's voice was bubbly.
"I am, too."
"So where are you?" Catherine asked.
"In the car with ..." The phone was lifted from her hand. She glared at Hassan as he placed her phone up to his ear. The nerve.
"Crown Princess, I am with Sara, and we're almost to the palace. We should arrive in about ten minutes." He handed the phone back to her.
"I'm back." Sara gave Hassan another glaring look, but he just grinned, totally unaffected.
"You're with Hassan?" Disbelief tinged Catherine's voice.
"Is there a problem?" She frowned. Had she done something she shouldn't have? Was she breaking a rule about getting into a car with a man she didn't know?
"No ... I'm ... Never mind. I'll see you soon, and I'll have tea and snacks waiting for you."
The line went dead. Sara frowned and put her phone away. When her head rose, Hassan was watching her. Sara swallowed.
Those piercing blue eyes sent chills through her body as if he could see all the way to her soul and know all her secrets. Sara cleared her throat. "Tell me more about Bashir, please?" "I assumed Catherine had told you all about it." His eyebrows rose.
"A bit, but we mainly talked girl stuff."
"About the wedding and her life. Girl stuff." She wasn't about to tell him about their conversations around sex and kink. Sara was happy Catherine had found someone who enjoyed the same things she did.
Sara was a little more into the kink community than Catherine — correction, Sara had been. It had been too long since she'd been with a Dom, or had sex, for that matter.
"Bashir is a small country. We have been working at building up our economy and jobs for our people."
"That's wonderful." Sara smiled.
"It is, but it takes time." He shrugged and went silent.
Sara wrinkled her nose. Trying to pry information out of Hassan was like trying to move a boulder. "I was so happy when Catherine accepted the job to paint the mural at the hospital. Her work is fantastic." Maybe if she kept the topic neutral he'd talk more.
If she hadn't been staring at him, she would have missed the way his blue eyes softened. "The children love the mural. The Crown Princess is a miracle worker."
"Catherine has a way about her. She told me the children's wing was fairly new. Are there other new wings at the hospital?"
"We're about ready to open a drug rehabilitation wing. The hospital itself is only eight years old. Our previous ruler, King Jamal, had it commissioned when his son became a doctor."
Sara nodded. "That was a wonderful thing for the king to do."
"Our country needed it. Our people have health issues, and it makes more sense to treat them than ignore them."
"Getting our older population to understand the need to see a doctor is a struggle." He gestured with his hand toward the window. The town buildings were a mixture of new and old. "Some of our people don't understand why we need to embrace modern technology. They don't understand if we don't we will not survive."
"Difficult situation. Are you doing more public education?" She'd done some public education in England and, while this could be different, her palms tingled. She enjoyed helping people, all people. Her stomach clenched when she thought about one person she'd tried to help and couldn't. No, she had to put him out of her mind. It wasn't her fault, and it had been years ago.
"Working on it. As you can imagine, getting more doctors and nurses here is a bit difficult. Not many want to come here to live."
Sara frowned. "Why not?"
He let out a laugh. "Most don't want to give up the big city for our small country. We don't have a lot of nightlife. There are two movie theaters, and while we're not a dry country, there are not a lot of pubs or clubs."
"Dry country?" She hadn't heard that term.
"Alcohol. We allow it, but some of our neighboring countries do not."
"Ah." She let out a sigh. "I take it your younger generation doesn't want to stay and work in Bashir?" Suddenly she felt old. She was only twenty-eight, but she rarely went out, or partied, for that matter. She'd spent all her time on her career and look where that had gotten her. Nowhere.
"You are much too young to call them the younger generation."
"You're sweet to say so." She smiled. "I'm twenty-eight, but I'll admit there are days I feel a lot older." Especially when the doubts crept into her mind, like now, reminding her if she didn't watch herself she'd turn back into a scared nineteen-year-old.
"For someone so young to be so ... I can't think of the right word."
"I'm not that young. A lot of women my age are married with children already."
"But you are not."
"No." She shook her head and grinned. "I received my BSN at twenty-three, and since then I've been working my way up the chain. Two years ago I started taking classes so I could get into administration."
He drew back and his eyes widened. "Ah, why administration? Did you think nursing is not ... what is the word I want ... a worthy profession?"
"It's more than worthy." Sara's temper flared. Why did people always want to accuse her of abandoning her nursing duties in favor of administration?
"Then why the change?" He sat back and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Because administration needs to be more than just about the bottom line." She blew out a breath. "Who better than a nurse who knows about staffing levels, where the money needs to be spent, how budgets work, what doctors and nurses need on their floors for healthy patients? It shouldn't be about how much money is spent, but what to spend the money on." Sara closed her eyes and then reopened them.
"Your passion is admirable." A grin played around his lips, and she wondered what he was thinking.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to lecture you. It's just so many people think I don't like being a nurse. I do. I only want to do more."
* * *
Hassan al-Hakim couldn't help but admire Sara. She was a little spitfire when you got her going. It also proved to him that sometimes first impressions were wrong. When he'd first seen her standing in front of him at the airport, his first thought was that she appeared to be an ice-cold woman with blonde hair floating around her shoulders.
He couldn't believe this was Catherine's best friend. Not until she began to talk, especially about nursing. He'd discovered her passion; her fire and her green eyes were expressive.
A flash of arousal hit him hard and fast, but he fought it down. He hadn't had this type of reaction in a long time, and having it for Catherine's best friend wasn't a good idea.
But he loved her passion, her commitment to her work. He wondered why she was in Bashir. He knew she was here because Catherine wanted her in the wedding, but the wedding wasn't for a couple of months yet.
So what was the lovely Sara hiding? He would be happy to tease that secret out of her in the most delicious ways. A grin lifted his lips.
"Why are you smiling?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
"You're passionate about your job." Would she be that passionate in bed? His libido jumped at the thought of having her spread out beneath him in his bed. Better yet, across his spanking horse.
He reined in his thoughts. He'd just met the woman. Let's not put the oxen before the cart. They didn't know each other yet. And he wouldn't rush into anything, not if he wanted it to be good for both of them.
"Some people don't understand there's more to the medical field than making money," she said, her voice soft.
"I do," he said quietly. He was pleased she saw the value in listening to the staff and their needs and not being focused on the money aspect. It was going to cost money to get the village clinics up and running. Maybe if he had her on his team, some of the pencil-pushing administrators would get off his back.
"That's great." She leaned forward. "Is that the palace?"
Hassan tore his gaze from her oval-shaped face. "Yes, we have arrived." He hadn't even noticed they'd left the main roadway.
"It's like a fairytale." Her eyes widened. Hassan looked at his family home.
The sun sparkled off the paint, and he could see how one might think of it as a fairytale. The palace had several floors and wings. More were being added, with Malik becoming king and his father stepping down. Both his parents wanted to slow down and have a more private life.
The car drove around the circular driveway and stopped. Hassan opened his door, got out, and then held his hand out for Sara.
A jolt of desire wrapped around him when their skin touched. He held still. Sara stood in front of him, her face turned up to his, her green gaze clashing with his. She inhaled and her tongue darted out to wet those rosy lips.
He wanted to ... no, needed to taste her. To feel those luscious lips against his. To see if there was a spark of attraction, of need. Hassan lowered his head. Sara's eyes widened but before his lips could touch hers —
"Sara, Hassan." Catherine's voice interrupted him.
What was he thinking? A groan escaped his lips. He straightened, but he didn't miss the disappointment that flashed in Sara's eyes. The kiss would have to wait. He turned and waved at Catherine, who stood at the top of the stairs.
"Catherine," Sara called out before darting around him and up the stairs.
He watched the two hug before reaching inside for her carry-on and then meeting Najah at the open trunk.
"You have a meeting at two, sir," Najah, his bodyguard, reminded him.
"Thank you." He glanced at his watch. It was already one. Hell, he wanted to hang around and spend time with Sara, but he couldn't. Taking her luggage, he climbed the stairs to where the pair waited.
"Thanks, Hassan." Catherine beamed at him. "Are you staying for lunch?"
"I wish I could, but I have a meeting." He set the luggage down, then turned to Sara. "Until later, my lady." He brushed his fingers over her pink cheek before turning and jogging back to the car.
Later he would explore with Sara, because something inside him had broken open at that near kiss. Maybe he should have made time to visit The Forum Club in London a couple of months ago. At least there he could let his dominant side out to play.
His dominant side was awake now and ready to play with Sara, and he didn't have a clue if she was interested or not. He would find out, but first things first. He had a meeting about the clinics to attend, and then he had patients to check on.
* * *
Sara watched the car pull away and gave a shaky laugh. What the hell had that near kiss been all about? It wasn't like her to kiss men she didn't know. But her lips still tingled, waiting for that kiss.
"Let's go inside," Catherine said.
"Sure." Sara reached for her bag when another man walked up.
"Samir, would you take Sara's luggage up to her room, please?"
"Of course, my lady." The man bowed and picked up her bags.
"Please be careful, my computer is in the top one," she said.
"I will take good care of it, my Lady Sara," Samir said and disappeared into the house.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Her Desert Doctor"
Copyright © 2018 Marie Tuhart.
Excerpted by permission of Trifecta Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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