His Defiant Desert Queen(10)

By: Jane Porter

“Yes.” Sheikh Karim’s jaw hardened. “It will be a long night.”

“Justice moves swiftly in Saidia,” she said under her breath.

“You have no one to blame but yourself.”

She flinched at his harsh tone, and held her tongue.

But the sheikh wasn’t satisfied with her silence. “Why did you do it?” he demanded, his voice almost savage. “You’ve had a successful career. Surely you could have been happy with less?”

“I’m broke. I needed the work. I would have lost my flat.”

“You’ll lose it anyway, now. There is no way for you to pay bills from prison.”

She hadn’t thought that far. She gave her head a bemused shake. “Maybe someone will be able to—” she broke off as she saw his expression. “Yes, I know. You don’t think I deserve help, but you’re wrong. I’m not who you think I am. I’m not this selfish, horrible woman you make me out to be.”

“Then why did you enter Saidia with your sister’s passport? I can’t imagine she gave her passport to you.”

“She didn’t.”

“I didn’t think so,” he ground out.

Jemma bit down on the inside of her lip, chewing her lip to keep from making a sound.

“I know Morgan,” he added ruthlessly. “Drakon was one of my best friends. And you probably don’t remember, or were too young to notice, but I attended Morgan and Drakon’s wedding five years ago in Greenwich. Yes, you and Morgan might both be brunettes, but you don’t look anything alike. It was beyond stupid to try to pass yourself off as her.”

Fatigue and fear and dread made her heartsick, and his words drilled into her, like a hammer in her head, making her headache feel worse. She pressed her fingers to her temple to ease the pain. “How did you find out I was here?”

He shot her a cool look. “You had a very chatty stylist on the shoot. She sat in a bar two nights ago drinking and talking about the layout, the models, and you. Apparently your name was mentioned oh...a dozen times. Jemma Copeland. That Jemma Copeland. Jemma Copeland, daughter of Daniel Copeland. In today’s age of technology and social media, it just took a couple Tweets and it went viral. One minute I was in Buenos Aires, thinking everything was fine at home, and then the next I was boarding my jet to return home to deal with you.”

He shifted, extending his long legs out, and she sucked in an uneasy breath. He was so big, and his legs were so long, she felt positively suffocated, trapped here in the back of the car with him.

“I wish you had just let me go. We were leaving tomorrow morning anyway,” she said softly. “You were out of the country. You didn’t have to rush home to have me arrested.”

“No. I could have allowed the police to come for you. They were going to arrest you. They wouldn’t have been as polite, or patient, as I’ve been. They would have handcuffed you and put you in the back of an armored truck and taken you to a jail where you’d languish for a few days, maybe a week, until you were seen by our tribunal, and then you would have been sentenced to five, ten, fifteen years...or longer...in our state run prison. It wouldn’t have been pleasant. It wouldn’t have been nice at all.” His expression was fierce, his gaze held hers, critical, condemning. “You don’t realize it, but I’ve done you a favor. I have intervened on your behalf, and yes, you will still serve time, but it will be in a smaller place, in a private home. My assistance allows you to serve your time under house arrest rather than a large state run prison. So you can thank your stars I found out.”

“I’m amazed you’d intervene since you hate the Copelands so much.”

His dark gaze met hers. “So am I.”


FOR SEVERAL MINUTES they traveled in silence.

“So why did you rush home from Buenos Aires since you despise the Copelands?” she asked, unable to stifle the question, genuinely curious about his motives.

He didn’t answer immediately, and when he did, his answer was short, brusque. “Drakon.”

She picked her next words with care. “You must know he won’t approve of you locking me up, for six months or six years. I’m his sister-in-law.”