The Sheikh's Priceless Bride

By: Holly Rayner

(The Sheikh's New Bride Book 1)




Prologue





Bill Bauer studied the enormous diamond sitting in the middle of the table. It was perfect. It had been stunning when he found it, but now, it was even more so, having been polished and cut to perfection.

Bill had found the diamond almost by accident. He’d been planning to shut down that part of the mine, since he was sure they’d taken everything from it that they could.

His tradition was to walk through the mine each day, and when the day came that he decided that part of the mine was finished, he walked through again one more time. He took the time to thank whatever power in the universe that had created the process that crushed carbon under massive amounts of pressure to create the beautiful gems known as diamonds.

Without that process, he would have probably been a lawyer or an accountant—someone stuck in an office working on computers and spreadsheets with boring people dressed in boring black suits. Instead, he traveled the world and got his hands dirty. He took raw potential and made it possible for artists to create sheer beauty.

Bill had been wildly successful. Every year, he was listed among the richest men in the world, a designation that he could not have cared less about.

His joy was in his work, in pulling beauty from the cold, hard earth.

So, keeping to his tradition, he took the time to walk through the mine the day before he shut that area down. For some reason, he was thinking about his brother as he walked through the mine, occasionally reaching out to touch the dirt.

If only Jack could see him now. He’d have to change his mind about his good-for-nothing brother. Bill worked hard and did right by his employees, and by any measure of the definition, he was successful. Even as he prepared to close this section of the mine down, he was opening another section up. All he had in his future was more wealth and more success.

He stopped and looked up and down the mine. The earth here had been good to him. Bill sighed. It didn’t matter how good the ground had been to him. He didn’t have anyone to pass it on to.

Maybe it was time to start thinking about that, too.

Bill figured he’d never retire, not really. He’d just mine until one day the mine was stripped, and he had everything he could possibly want in this world. But he could do some good for others who didn’t have everything, too. He’d talk to his lawyers about setting up a way to give his fortune away to people who could use it.

Bill turned around to head back out, when he noticed a slight glint in the dirt. Not even a shine, just a tiny wink of light caught his attention.

He pulled out the trowel he usually carried with him and carefully carved out a line around the hunk of rock. He scraped away the dirt and then gently pushed the rock back and forth to work it free of the ground. There was more of it below than he’d thought at first, and it took a good half hour of cautious maneuvering to work the gem free.

As soon as he pulled it out of the dirt, he knew. This hunk of compressed carbon was something special, and when it was clean and polished, it would be something spectacular. Something like the world had never seen before.

Bill took his time before showing his find to anyone. He decided this one gem wasn’t going into circulation with his regular inventory—it was unique, and he intended to treat it that way.

He asked one of his closest business associates to cut and polish it, not trusting anyone else. The finished product was exquisite, one of the finest diamonds Bill had ever seen. He never set the diamond, preferring to leave it loose, not wanting to diminish its sparkle with something as mundane as metal wrapped around it.

Eventually, word about his find got out. He refused to sell the diamond, even as the offers got bigger and wilder, knowing that if he ever needed money for something, this diamond would make his fortune again.

For years, he kept the best security on this singular diamond. He eventually stopped showing it to people, and let it pass into legend. Then, he planned to hide it away until it was needed the most.

Bill didn’t think he’d ever need the diamond, but there was someone else who would, sometime in the future. He’d already planned to give most of his fortune away, but it didn’t matter. This one thing would offer as much—if not more—financial security than the rest of his money.

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