The Royal Elite:Ahsan

By: Danielle Bourdon

Chapter One

“If you even think about announcing me, I'll snap your neck like it was made of brittle chicken bones,” Ahsan Afshar said to the startled doorman.

Ahsan needed no precursor to his arrival. He didn't need a snivel nosed attendant calling out his title and his name, drawing the eye of every guest.

His presence alone would do that nicely.

Striding past the blustering employee, Ahsan paused three steps beyond the elegant archway leading into the expansive ballroom. As expected, it only took the glittering crowd a moment to notice his entrance. A hush fell over the room. Shortly after, urgent whispers broke out among the hierarchy, racing from mouth to ear behind the cover of obscuring fingers. All eyes were on him. A few women in gowns that cost as much as some people's homes, raked him head to toe with come-hither gazes, assessing every fine detail: the thin layer of dark whiskers on his jaw, the expensive fit of his black, pinstriped suit, and the exposed skin at his throat from the buttons on a crisp white shirt that he never bothered to do. He'd left his hair long and loose, as if he knew it was a temptation for women to run their fingers through.

An arrogant grin cut across his mouth, acknowledging his ability to grind an entire party to a halt, and then he was off, having spotted the group of men he'd come here to meet.

The late summer gala, held at one of the tallest towers in Dubai, looked to be off to a good start. Held on a floor more than a hundred stories high, the ballroom, dressed in white satin with royal blue accents, spanned several thousand square feet. Tables covered in white satin encircled an oval dance floor polished to such a shine that the dancers swirling over the surface sported mirror reflections instead of murky shadows. Three hundred or so of the world's most prominent members of society were here, prepared to socialize and squeeze in business on the side.

Ahsan took note of several other members of Royalty, clipping a wink here, extending a handshake there. He breezed through knots of dignitaries, sometimes daring to lay his palm scandalously low on the curve of a woman's hip or whisper a rakish comment for her ears only.

As he walked, heads turned. Of course. He expected no less.

The discreet members of his security team had already interspersed in the crowd, making themselves all but invisible like they knew he preferred.

“Well, well, if it isn't Ahsan. Can we all get back to business now that everyone knows you're here?” Leander Morgan said when Ahsan arrived. Dressed in a suit less expensive and less pristine than the rest of the men in the group, Leander nevertheless exuded the confidence that he had every right to be there.

Laughing as he joined the circle of men, Ahsan clapped the nearest gent on the shoulder, pleased to see his brethren looking hale and whole. “You weren't talking business anyway, and we all know it. You're looking well.”

“We might have been,” Sander Ahtissari said, returning a clap to Ahsan's shoulder. The reigning King of Latvala, along with his brother Prince Mattias, wore very amused expressions. “You just never know.”

“No way. You've all got drinks in your hands and, since I know none of your females are here--”

“Wives and girlfriends. Good God, man, females? Were you born in a barn?” Sander said with a laugh.

“Actually, yes. I was.” Ahsan, in high spirits to be amongst his brothers again, leaned across the circle to clasp Chayton Black's hand for a shake. The American Native mix, quieter than the rest with long dark hair, dropped Ahsan a quick grin along with the handshake.

Ahsan offered his hand out to Mattias Ahtissari next, Sander's brother, completing the cycle of greetings while the banter raged on.

“Lies. A Prince of Afshar, born in a barn?” Sander turned a dubious eye on Ahsan.

“My mother was an avid horsewoman. She apparently didn't let a little thing like late term pregnancy slow her down, and so, when she went into labor, she was of course in the stables.” Pausing to grin and accept a drink from one of his guards, Ahsan tipped the glass up for a stinging swallow. He watched the men glance between each other to see if anyone could tell whether or not he was lying. Leander, Mattias, Chayton and Sander seemed mystified by the tale—and openly skeptical.

Turning back to Ahsan as a group, it was Sander who spoke up first. “I'm calling you out on this one.”

“We. We're calling you out on this one,” Mattias added.

“Yes, we,” Leander said.

Ahsan laid a hand over his heart, as if mortally wounded. He met each of the men's eyes. “It's impossible. You don't believe me.”

“Your mouth is moving,” Chayton said. His understated comment earned an abrupt spate of laughter from the others.

“It's moving, he's lying,” Leander clarified.