The Sheikh Doc's Marriage Bargain

By: Susan Carlisle

From shy Cinderella...


To convenient princess!

For sensible Dr. Laurel Martin, heading up a new lab for royal doc Sheikh Tariq Al Marktum is the chance to conduct the study of a lifetime. But to protect Laurel from the scandal her presence in his palace will cause, Tariq has his own condition—a paper marriage! Swept into his desert kingdom, passion overtakes the convenient couple, but can Laurel find her place in Tariq’s world—and his heart?





Laurel forced herself to take a step forward.


Tariq stood tall and strong ahead of her, looking so sure while she was a puddle of insecurity. He’d exchanged his turban for a gold one. His gaze captured hers as he extended a hand. On shaking legs and with trembling hands, she walked toward her “make-believe” groom.

Not soon enough for Laurel, the ceremony was almost over. She wasn’t sure she could have remained standing if it hadn’t been for Tariq holding her securely to him. For that she was grateful. Finally, the moment she hadn’t let herself think about arrived. Tariq turned her to face him. His gaze met hers, held, then questioned. With an expression so serious it was as if he had made a decision of state, his mouth slowly found hers.

She assumed it would be a peck just for show, and it was at first. Yet with exquisite gentleness their kiss turned into a joining that sent warmth cascading throughout her body to leave a throb of desire deep within her.





Dear Reader,

This is a very special book to me. I love the idea of Tariq being a sheikh and Laurel a timid wallflower that turns out to have an iron-rod backbone. The adventure of being whisked off to a foreign country is what romantic fantasies are made of. I don’t think you will be disappointed. I certainly hope not.

The story also deals with a serious subject as well—hemophilia. This is a disease where the blood will not clot and the person continues to bleed. I knew little about the condition until I interviewed my friend, Brett Lee, whose child lives with the disease. This is not a disorder for the weak of spirit. It is a disease that needs a cure.

I hope while you are falling in love with Tariq and Laurel you are learning something, as well.

I enjoy hearing from my readers. You can reach me at [email protected]

Susan






CHAPTER ONE


DR. LAUREL MARTIN placed the test tube into the rack with great care, her pulse racing in anticipation. This could be it. The breakthrough she’d devoted her career to finding. The process to stop the mutation in the factor IX gene in the X chromosome. If it could be tested for during pregnancy and corrected then thousands of lives could be changed, in some cases even saved. The key was discovering that link.

To find the answer she had to have funding. That money was difficult to come by. She’d already been put on notice that hers was running out. Still she held out hope that would change. She’d submitted another grant application and should hear about it any day.

The study of hemophilia had become her life’s calling. In medical school it hadn’t taken her long to realize her comfort zone didn’t include interacting with patients and their loved ones. She didn’t like to tell them bad news. Being an introvert further hindered her ability to do so. Research had become her safe spot.

A tap on her lab window drew her attention. She pushed up her goggles in an effort to adjust them on her nose. Stewart, the director of the lab, stood on the other side of the glass. His medium height was dwarfed by the tall, lean man standing beside him.

Oh, my. Laurel’s heart jumped then adjusted. She stared. The stranger was gorgeous. She hadn’t had that type of reaction to a man in years. Not since college when she’d first seen her ex-boyfriend, Larry. A college football player, he’d been shockingly good looking as well. She’d learned the hard way that good looks didn’t always equate with being a kind person.

The man beside Stewart looked as if he might be of Middle Eastern decent. His skin had a warm pecan tint as if he spent a great amount of time in the sun. His proud bearing gave him an aura of authority, as if he knew his place in the world and had no trouble holding it. The black tailored suit jacket covering his broad shoulders matched his hair and his equally dark, meticulously groomed beard screamed wealth and power. His gaze locked with hers.

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