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The Sheik's Dangerous Lover

Chapter 1
Shanelle Basara tugged the formal gown higher, irritated that she even had to wear such an outfit. It
was ridiculous that she was here, much less all dolled up for some arrogant, conceited jerk. She’d made it
quite clear to the powers-that-be that she wanted nothing to do with this weekend, but here she was.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t like she could simply ignore the summons. He was the sheik!
But why was she here? As Shanelle looked around, there were so many eager, excited women, most
of whom were much more beautiful and poised than she was. Of course, some of those differences she
had fostered intentionally. She’d purposely played down her looks with almost no makeup and possibly
the most unflattering dress she could find. The halter style dress was a silvery grey which she thought
made her skin look pale and sallow. The cut of the dress made her hips look huge and her boobs were
barely visible, unlike many of the other choices on the ladies present. The cut of the hemline probably
showed a bit too much leg, but it was the best she could do on such short notice.
She wasn’t fat by anyone’s definition, but she refused to starve herself like so many other women.
She had a tiny waist but who cared about a waistline? Her legs were fine, but not overly toned like the
woman to Shanelle’s right. Nor were they long and slender like the woman to her left. She walked
beside her mother and father feeling inadequate, self-conscious and resentful, wishing she were anyone
and anywhere else.
She didn’t understand why so many women had been invited to a huge ba ll at the pa lace. If the
rumors were true, then the sheik was trying to find a wife. But the man was thirty-six years old and had
remained unmarried until this point. Why would he bow to tradition and marry now? It didn’t make any
sense. Of course, it didn’t make much sense for her and her parents to be here either. Her father was well
off and well liked in the government, but he wasn’t a high ranking officer or agency leader. Her mother
didn’t work, but she he lped her father through soc ia lizing, which Shanelle knew was a very powerful part
of life in Kanaan. As in many government political careers, much of the work of government was done
during soc ial events, during quiet negotiations over a glass of wine or bourbon, ending in a handshake.
But that had nothing to do with Shanelle, so it was very strange for her to be invited when she’d
never been a part of their socia l network before now. So the rumors must be true about the she ik needing
to find a wife. Since that wasn’t a position to which Shanelle aspired, she wanted to turn around and head
back home, curl up on her overstuffed chair and read a good book. Of course, she could also afford to put
in a few more hours studying for the law exams which she’d signed up to take next month.
As she waited in line to be announced, she looked around, trying to figure out how to get out of this
ridiculous charade. She didn’t want to be noticed, she wanted to blend in. To be in the background.
“Dad, I need to run to freshen up,” she said and slipped her hand from his arm before he could argue
with her. She smiled at her mother to reassure her, but spun around on her heel and headed in the
opposite direction. She stopped one of the servants who was carrying a tray of champagne glasses, asking
where the ladies’ room was, and then made her way there as quickly as possible. If she were ve ry lucky,
she could stay in the luxurious area until a ll the announcements were finished. Shane lle had a plan. It
wasn’t a very good plan, but it would a llow her to remain invisible.
Slipping back out after ten minutes, she surveyed the ha llway. There was still a line of people
moving towards the ba llroom, but at least her parents were already inside. That meant she didn’t have to
go through the formal announcement of her arrival. That meant she could be anonymous!