Monday, May 24, 2010

Prologue for The Sheikh's Runaway Bride

The Sheikh's Runaway Bride
Zahir's Story
Spring 2011 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe


Did love die?

Angele had asked her mother that question once, after realizing her father, Cemal bin Ahmed al Jawhar – dear friend to the King of Jawhar and her personal hero - was a serial adulterer. She’d been an extremely naïve university sophomore, so certain of her father’s integrity, she had at first believed the tabloid story stuffed in her student mailbox a hoax.

To this day, she did not know who had disliked her so much, they felt the need to shred her illusions and with them, her heart.

The Brazilian former super model had looked at her daughter, eyes for once revealing her every emotion, all of it pain, and said, “I would consider it a great blessing, but some of us are cursed to love unwisely and to do so until death.”

“But why do you stay with him?”

“I do not. We live quite separate lives.”

And another belief was crushed under the pounding hammer of reality. They did not live in the United States for the sake of Angele’s education and the chance for her to be raised in relative anonymity. They made the modern country their home because Americans had plenty of their own scandal, they didn’t have to go looking for it among the wealthy in a small Middle Eastern country like Jawhar.

In a way, her mother had been protecting Angele. From the truth. But she’d also been protecting herself from the embarrassment of being the well-known wife of an undeniable philanderer. It explained why their trips to Brazil and Jawhar were always short and infrequent.

“Why not divorce him?”

“I love him.”

“But he...”

“Is my husband. I will not shame my family with a divorce, or his.”

Angele had vowed never to be her mother that day, never to be trapped in a marriage by duty and a helpless love that caused more grief than joy.

She had believed she was safe making the vow. After all, while no formal announcement had been made, Angele had been promised to the most conservative and duty conscious sheikh in all of the Middle East since she was sixteen years old. Crown Sheikh Zahir bin Faruq al Zohra was heir to the throne of Zohra and no more honorable man existed.

Or so she had believed. Before receiving the packet of pictures in the mail.

She stared down at the topmost picture. It showed Zahir kissing a busty blonde, wearing a barely there bikini. Angele did not recognize the couple’s surroundings, though it looked like a mountain chalet she’d once stayed in while skiing in Switzerland with friends.

She did recognize the passion between the two lip-locked people in the glossy eight-by-ten though.

And it brought back a memory she would rather forget.

She’d been eighteen and in love with Zahir since she started having sexual feelings. She did not care if others understood, or believed such a young teen capable of the emotion. She knew what she felt and it was not a simple crush. It went so much deeper.

She’d assumed Zahir had treated her with such restraint since the deal had been brokered because she was too young. But at eighteen, she was formally an adult. At least by standards of the country she’d been raised in, the United States.

They were at a formal dinner together and she’d cornered him in the courtyard. She could still remember the smell of jasmine as it swirled around her on the gentle summer breeze. And his scent, that spicy cologne he favored and the faint trace of masculine sweat as the party was well into its later hours.

Filled with trepidation that could not stand against her determination, she had looked up into eyes that looked almost black in the dark, though she knew they were grey. She grasped both his arms and tipped her head back, letting her own eyes close.

“Kiss me,” she’d pleaded, certain this man who was to be her husband one day would comply.

But he had gently pushed her away. “This is not the time, ya habibti. You are still a child.”

She had been crushed, but later, consoled herself with the fact he had called her darling. She was twenty-six and still waiting for him to realize she was no longer a child.

She looked down at the pictures again, a hole opening where her heart was supposed to be. He did not think this woman was a child. No, Elsa Bosch was everything a man was looking for in a lover. Extravagantly beautiful. Voluptuous. Experienced.

Angele winced at her own assessment, knowing she was none of those things.

She was not sure Zahir’s honor was besmirched by his liaison with the German actress. After all, their betrothal had never been formally announced and he treated Angele like a favored sister, not a lover. They’d never so much as shared a kiss on the lips.

But he was always so kind and they got along well, despite her shyness and his reserve. She’d believed that one day, he would realize she was not the young girl the marriage contract had been negotiated around.

She’d been waiting ten years. At twenty-six, it was past time she woke up and smelled the dead roses.

Her nose wrinkled at the thought and for a moment, she could almost smell the decaying blossoms.

Unlike her own father, who didn’t seem to care who knew about his extramarital activities, Zahir had been more than discreet in his relationship with Elsa Bosch. He’d kept the secret so well, there had never been a whiff of it in a scandal rag. And Angele was certain his family were completely in the dark about the buxom blonde’s role in Zahir’s life.
Angele was sure she would never have found out about it either, if someone had not sent the packet of pictures. So much like that time when she was at university, shouldn’t her pain be every bit as profound?

But all she felt was hollow. Empty. Devoid of the emotions that she’d nurtured in her heart toward him for so long.

Unlike the last time too, this sender demanded money in exchange for silence. If Angele did not pay, the note accompanying the pictures promised every American and European tabloid would get the opportunity to buy a set of photos along with a very embarrassing tell-all story.

The fact Zahir was having an ongoing affair with an actress who had starred in a skin flick was enough scandal to cause considerable upset in the royal families of both Jawhar and Zohra. Angele shuddered to consider their response to a full-on exposé. The moment she’d gotten the pictures, she started researching the German actress.

While the woman spent less time in the spotlight than someone might expect, she was in no way a suitable companion for the heir to a kingdom.

And no one would be more humiliated by these revelations than the woman who had waited ten years for her almost-fiancé to make the betrothal official, much less the wedding.

Because, although no formal announcement had ever been made, everyone in their social set was aware of the agreement between the King of Jawhar and his brother-in-law and good friend, the King of Zohra. Ever since King Faruq had married King Malik’s sister Adara, they had been thick as thieves.

In fact, the only friend King Malik considered as dear as a brother was Angele’s own father. King Malik was her godfather and favored “uncle” though no close blood ties existed between them. Thus the brokered marriage years before she had discovered her father’s feet of clay.

She did not see clay feet when she looked at the pictures spread across her writing desk.

She saw skin. She saw passion. And she saw happiness. Zahir’s happiness. She had never seen him smile like he did in some of the shots not depicting some sort of lip-locked clinch. Even when he wasn’t smiling, he had an air of relaxation he never had around her.

Love might keep a woman married to a philanderer, but it might give another woman the courage to set the man she loved free.

Looking at those pictures, Angele knew deep in her heart, that she could not allow Zahir to be held to a contract brokered by men who had never given love between the two people involved even a fleeting thought.

Her love for him demanded more.

His lack of love for her demanded freedom.


Sabrina (about happy books) said...

Thanks for posting this excerpt.
Can't wait to read this book, Angele sounds like a great heroine.
The only bad thing is that spring is still so far away.

Judy said...

My heart is breaking for her already, and, horrors, I have to wait for the rest! As far as being a great prologue, knowing your writing style in Presents, how you start interaction in the first chapter, this fits as a prologue.

Valerie said...

Totally necessary prologue. And, WELL DONE!! I'm already salvitating for more and I'm already in love with Angele. Zahir better step up to the plate! He's got a long way to go to win back Angele's love and trust.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, an absolutely necessare prologue to read, talking about prologues to be or not to be!! Something good to look forward to already for next year, a good thing right?

Lucy Monroe said...

I'm so glad...the most important element to a prologue for me is story set-up as it relates to understanding and identifying with the main characters. I know that's not always the focus, but like 80% of the time, it is for me. :)

Thanks, gals...for letting me know your first reaction. :)

Nichole said...

A totally necessary prologue. I don't see how Angele receiving the pictures and her reaction fitting into chapter 1. I can already feel her pain and agree that Zahir has a lot of work ahead of him to earn her love and can't wait to find out who the evil person is behind the pictures and blackmail.

lidia said...

I love prologues -- in this case it was necessary.

I wonder why he looks so relaxed and content -- is it just because he feels free from all of his responsibilities or is it as Angele suspects because of his feelings for the actress?

It will be very difficult for him to now convince Angele that he cares for her. Angele could have more easily accepted the fact that he had a mistress, but once he was going to marry, would give her up and never stray. However,since Angele thinks there is much more involved here and having her "father" as a role model, she will be very difficult to convince.

When will it be published?

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

I can't imagine NOT reading a prologue. Yours is amazing and now I'm mad because I have to wait for their story!

red said...

I just loved the prologue and I can't wait to read Zahir and Angele story- too bad I'll have to wait for so long :( but on the bright side it will give me plenty of time to re read the other books in the series.


Lucy Monroe said...

Thanks! This book should be out in Spring of 2011. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to reading this book from reading the prologue. It gives a lot of info on the heroine. Can't wait! :)

Sherry said...

The prologue was great and I really want to read the book now and see what happens.

Amy said...

Loved the prologue, can hardly wait for the book to hit store shelves

Lucy Monroe said...

Cool! The prologue is a little longer than some, but not uber long regardless. :)