The Sheikh's Secret Babies(3)

By: Lynne Graham

The payback for his weakness had not been long in coming. They had had a flaming row when he’d left Oxford to fly back to Marwan without her and, extraordinarily, he had never seen her again after that day. At that point and perhaps most fortunately for him, fate had intervened to cut him free of his fixation with her. Following a serious accident, Jaul had surfaced in a hospital bed to find his father seated like a sentry beside him, his aged features heavy with grief and apprehension.

Before he had broken the bad news, King Lut had reached for his son’s hand in a clumsy gesture of comfort for the first time in his life. Chrissie, Lut had then confided heavily, would not be coming to visit Jaul during his recovery. His marriage, Lut had declared, was illegal and Chrissie had accepted a financial pay-off as the price of forgetting that Jaul had ever figured in her life. King Lut had purchased her silence and discretion with a large sum of money that had evidently compensated her for her supposed loss of a husband while providing her with support for the future.

For a split second, Jaul recalled one of the most insane fantasies that had gripped him while he lay helpless in that hospital bed. Aware of his diplomatic immunity within the UK, he had actually dreamt about kidnapping Chrissie. Now in the present he shook his proud dark head slowly, utterly astonished at the tricks his mind had played on him while he had struggled to come to terms with the daunting fact that, not only was his wife not his wife, but also that given generous enough financial compensation she had no longer wanted to be his wife. Chrissie had been quite happy to ditch her Arab prince once she’d had the means to be rich without him. Only angry, bitter and vengeful thoughts had driven Jaul while he’d fought his injuries to get back on his feet.

‘I need to know how you want this matter to be handled,’ Bandar told him, shooting Jaul back to the present. ‘With the assistance of our ambassador in London I have engaged the services of a highly placed legal firm to have divorce papers drawn up. After so long a separation they assure me that the divorce will be a mere formality. May I instruct the firm to make immediate contact with Chrissie Whitaker?’

‘No...’ Without warning, Jaul swung round, his lean bronzed features taut and forbidding. ‘If she is not yet aware that we remain man and wife a third party should not be dealing with it. Informing her of that fact should be my responsibility.’

Bandar frowned, taken aback by that assurance. ‘But, sir—’

‘I owe her that much. After all, it was my father who misled her as to the legality of our marriage. Chrissie has a hot temper. I think a personal approach is more likely to lead to a speedy and successful conclusion. I will present her with the divorce papers.’

‘I understand.’ Bandar was nodding now, having followed his royal employer’s reasoning. ‘A diplomatic and discreet approach.’

‘As you say,’ Jaul conceded, marvelling at the tingle of the illicit thrill assailing him at the very thought of seeing Chrissie again. It felt neither diplomatic nor discreet. But then no woman had ever excited Jaul to that extent, either before or since. Of course now that he knew how mercenary and hard-hearted she was, that attraction would be absent, he reflected confidently. He was an intelligent man and no longer at the mercy of his hormones.

He had cracked down hard on that side of his nature as soon as he’d understood just how badly his libido could betray him. There had been a lesson writ large in that experience with Chrissie, a lesson Jaul had been quick to learn and put into practice. Never again would he place himself in a vulnerable position with a woman. This was the main reason he had decided to stop avoiding matrimony and take a wife as soon as possible.

His mood sobered by that acknowledgement and the impossibility of currently following through on that ambition, his lean dark features stiffened and his wide, sensual mouth curled with sudden distaste at the prospect of being forced to deal with Chrissie in a civilised manner. There was nothing remotely civilised about the way Chrissie made him feel... There never had been...

* * *

Her arms full of gifts and cards, Chrissie shouldered her way out of the front doors of the primary school where she taught the nursery class and walked to her car.

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