The Sheikh's Purchased Bride

By: Holly Rayner





She sipped her drink and furrowed her brow. “The ultimate improv… I love it!”



Malik exhaled with relief and offered up another charming grin. “Fantastic. I’m pleased to hear it. I was feeling a bit doubtful that I’d ever find the right actress for the job but, well, when I saw you I just knew you’d be perfect.”



“I’m floored,” Amie said, with no small amount of shock.



“Your role will be, as I mentioned, playing an American fiancée in a foreign land. It will involve some preparation, and a bit of travel,” he said hesitantly, gauging her response carefully.



“Right…” Amie blinked; watching the well-dressed patrons of the bar come in through the door and make their way to the ornately-carved bar. She couldn’t believe all of this was happening. She was finally getting her big chance, and she would get to travel to do it? Suddenly it hit her. If she was traveling, who was going to pay her rent?



She bit her lip and quickly regained her composure. “I have a small concern,” she said politely. “If I’m going to be traveling, I’ll still need to be… you know, paying my rent and bills and the like.”



“Money shouldn’t be an issue,” he said flatly, suddenly all business.



“If only we were all so lucky,” she teased.



“You will be paid $500,000 for the project, but only after the job is complete.”



Amie gaped at the man; eyes wide as an unfamiliar noise escaped her throat. “Half a million dollars?” she repeated, dumbfounded.



“Only once the job is complete,” he affirmed calmly, as though he hadn’t just made the most insane offer she’d ever heard.



She cleared her throat and leaned back in her chair, crossing her legs in what she hoped was a play-it-cool vibe. She tapped her fingers against the stem of her glass and quipped, “Yeah, um, so excuse me while I pick my jaw up of the floor. That’s absolutely amazing!”



“Fantastic,” Malik said, unfazed as he quickly removed a sheet of paper from the briefcase that he held.



“You were that sure I’d say yes, huh?”



His eyes met hers in a confident, playful manner as he slid the sheet across the table. “This is a contract for the job. Just initial, date, and sign and print your name at the bottom of it. Please take as much time as you need to look it over.”



“Yeah,” Amie said emphatically as she skimmed the page, eyeing the eye-watering sum printed in bold, and quickly signed her name. “I have to say, I’m pretty jazzed about this. Not exactly going to turn down the most amazing opportunity of my life, am I?” She slid the contract back across the table using her pointer finger and smiled back at him. “So, when do we get started, boss?”



He looked down at the contract with a bemused, if not puzzled stare before scooping the sheet of paper back into his briefcase. “Tomorrow morning, 8am,” he said crisply, standing from his chair. He leaned over and grabbed her bar napkin, scribbling down a time and the address of where they would meet.



Before she could make a smart comment about their early meeting, or blurt out the million thank-you’s she could feel welling up inside her chest, Malik had reached his hand out to hers and given it a firm, professional handshake. He nodded curtly as he released her hand; the charm he had oozed just moments earlier suddenly seeming so far away.



“You’re an incredibly talented young woman, Amie,” he said smoothly. “You’re going to be absolutely perfect for this project.”



“Thank you so much,” she finally managed to say. “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early!”





THREE





Amie paced around her bedroom, fiddling with the small collection of knick-knacks and faux crystal jewelry holders she’d come to collect atop her dresser. She kicked her feet as she walked, stopping briefly to do a few yoga stretches before pausing in front of her full-length mirror.



The oval-shaped mahogany mirror had simple detailing and spun vertically to reveal another mirror on the other side. The vintage statement piece was in stark contrast to the rest of her generic, big-box furniture. It had been a splurge purchase with a hefty price tag at an antique market just one month after she moved to Chicago. Her father’s house was filled with antiques and vintage items, and she supposed, in some way, buying the piece was some attempt to feel closer to home.

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