Sold To The Sheikh Bidder

By: Holly Rayner

Taking typical Monday traffic into account, Lauren knew she didn’t have time for anything else work-related, nor for any research. If she wasn’t going to be late—and she really didn’t want to be late—she needed to get going.

Nervous fingers tapped the steering wheel the whole drive. Kayla’s words came back to her—if she needed to, yes, she could ask her mother for the money. But that was an absolute last resort and would result in lectures about how she needed to plan better.

Besides, it might not be so bad. The buyer had been incredibly handsome, after all, and she had definitely felt the attraction when he winked at her. The guy had money and looks, and so was probably used to getting his way. But Lauren dealt with people like that daily, so she felt certain she could handle it.

And, she thought, remembering him laughing, maybe it would even be fun. A man who could laugh like that couldn’t be all bad.

She pulled up in front of a soaring office building, all glass and modern lines, and double checked the address before circling the block to find a parking spot. She took a few minutes to go through some deep breathing exercises as she sat in the car, employing the same method she normally used before she went on stage. It didn’t do all that much, but she decided she was as centered as she was going to get, so it was time to go.

If the bidder’s office was in this building, it made more sense that he was able to easily drop a hundred grand in cash. The neighborhood was known for the high-end businesses that were headquartered here. The names on the neighboring buildings were a veritable who’s who of Fortune 500 companies.

Lauren didn’t know anyone in these buildings. Her mother had considered moving her office to this area when it was built, but decided that the tradition of her long-standing office was more desirable. And BingeWatch tended to work with smaller companies, none of which were located there.

The entrance was more than a little intimidating, with marble floors, sparkling chandeliers, and expensive artwork dotting the interior walls, but Lauren only shook her head. Her mother’s office was this building times twelve. The show of elegance and wealth made her pay attention, but didn’t scare her. She gave her name at the reception desk, matching the receptionist’s bored tone and flat gaze.

Another receptionist escorted her upstairs to the top floor. Stepping out of the elevator, they walked through a lush lounge, decorated more warmly than the first-floor reception, but just as opulent. There was plush gray carpet covering the floor, more artwork, and furniture that beckoned the visitor to sit comfortably.

She was ushered into a corner office. The receptionist knocked twice on the heavy, dark wood door, then opened it and waved her through.

Lauren nodded her thanks at the receptionist, then stepped inside.

Her buyer sat behind a large desk framed by a window with a stunning view of the city. Though she had noticed him the night before, Lauren hadn’t really been able to study him. As she walked across the office, she took the opportunity.

He could have been an actor or a model, even though he obviously wasn’t—not with this office and not with that amount of cash. Lauren felt the same sense that he looked familiar, just a bit, but she still couldn’t place him.

Even more handsome in the daylight and relaxed in what was his home territory, he leaned back in the imposing leather chair and watched her as she took in her surroundings. His smile was not warm; he was waiting for something, some reaction from her maybe.

Once again, Lauren was certain that he never heard the word no. He probably said it a lot, but he looked like he expected people to jump at his every directive when he spoke.

Even sitting, Lauren could tell that he had the body of a Greek god under his impeccable suit—which was bespoke, she could tell. She appreciated the attractive, well-dressed man, but still wasn’t thrilled about the situation.

He, on the other hand, was getting more amused as he watched her approach. She recognized the look on his face; it was the same expression her mother had when she had a business rival cornered and was moving in for the kill. Lauren’s nervousness ramped up, but she kept it together and continued moving.

Instead of stopping in front of his desk, standing there like some kind of supplicant, she sat gracefully in one of the chairs opposite him without waiting for his invitation, putting herself on his eye level. He quirked an eyebrow and grinned, but didn’t say anything.

Now that she was seated, she had a better view of his desk. She gave it a quick glance, and a name plate caught her eye, finally revealing the information she sought. Engraved in gold letters on an ebony background were the words “Hakim Khalif.”

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