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Rashid will help Olivia and the baby she’s been caring for escape the violence in Behruz, but he must guard his heart. He can’t risk being hurt by her again.
Olivia has her own reasons for keeping her distance from Rashid. If Rashid learns that the baby is actually hers—and his—the sultan of Behruz will make sure she loses everything that matters to her.
Their escape involves traveling with a group of nomads across the mountains into Iran. As they trek together by day and sleep beside each other in a nomad tent at night, the attraction that has always drawn them to each other grows ever stronger, Can Olivia survive the trip without revealing her secrets and without losing her heart to Rashid once again?
Page Count: 208
Word Count: 53425
He could scarcely remember his reason for coming to her room. It had been overridden by an overwhelming urge to kiss those lips, to touch her. Her feminine softness pulled at every cell in his body. “I’ve brought your bag and your puppy. Can I come in for a minute?”
“Oh.” Her eyes shifted uneasily to the empty hallway and then to the corner of the room, to something out of Rashid’s sight. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. I was getting ready to go down to dinner. I…”
She seemed almost too flustered to speak. Why? He wanted to grab her, use force, do anything he had to do to get her out of Behruz, but there would be no sneaking across the border with an unwilling hostage, especially if the border officials had been put on the alert to watch for that hostage.
“I’m sorry, Livie. I need to talk to you. Let me come in for a few minutes, and then we can go down to dinner.”
“All right.” She let him push his way past her into the room and close the door. “Let me see the puppy first.” She reached to take him from Rashid’s arm.
“No. I don’t think… Your dress—”
“Never mind the stupid dress!” She reached for the puppy, and Rashid let her take him. She was shaking. He felt the tremor on his arm when she slid her hand under the puppy.
What was wrong with her? The outburst about the dress was completely out of character, and it was also impossible to understand. How could she not like such an exquisite dress? There couldn’t be a woman alive who wouldn’t love the dress.
“He’s beautiful.” She held the puppy cupped in her hands against her breasts. “How did you get him clean?”
“A woman named Mina in the palace laundry washed him. She fed him, too, and she’s also washing your chador. She said to tell you it will be ready tomorrow.” He set the bag on the floor. “She didn’t want to touch the puppy, but I gave her fifty tokhans and that changed her mind. How much is fifty tokhans anyway? I’m not used to the new exchange rate.”
“It’s about twenty-five dollars.” A half-smile softened Olivia’s face. “It was far too much. She probably doesn’t earn that much in a month.”
“She did seem quite pleased.”
“You were always too generous with the servants. I remember how mad it used to make Abu-Khan.”
“Yes, well, avoiding Abu-Khan’s anger wasn’t always my top priority.”
“What kind of dog do you suppose he is?” she asked.
“I would say he’s a Lhasa Apso, judging by his long hair and the pompon tail. You said they got him in Nepal, didn’t you? I know they raise Lhasa Apsos there.”
There was a little thud behind Rashid. Olivia’s eyes darted from the puppy to the source of the sound and then to Rashid.
What? He swung around. A baby boy was using the bedpost to pull himself up from the floor.
Olivia went stony still and pale.
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