Sheikh Khalid Fehr read the message posted
on the internet bulletin board again.
American Woman Missing in the Middle East.
Help desperately needed. My sister disappeared two weeks
ago without a trace.
Her name is Olivia X. She’s twenty three years
old, five four, 105 pounds, blonde, blue eyes.
She speaks with a Southern accent and is on the shy side.
If anyone has seen her or knows her whereabouts,
please call or email me. Her family is frantic.
In his tent, sitting at his laptop computer, Khalid reread
the last sentence—her family is
felt a heavy weight lodge in his gut.
He knew what it was like to be frantic about a family member.
He knew how it felt to be an older brother panicked about a
sister. He’d once had two younger sisters and then one
day they were gone.
He scrolled back through the message on the internet bulletin
board and discovered an earlier message from the same Jake
Missing American woman! If you’ve seen this woman
please call or email immediately.
There was a photo attached and Khalid clicked on the attachment
and waited for the photo to open.
It finally did, although slowly due to the connection being
via satellite phone, and Khalid found himself looking into
a black and white photo that had to be a passport photo. White
blonde hair. Light, light eyes. Pale, translucent skin. She
was definitely pretty. But what really held his attention was
her expression, the tentative smile and the look in the eyes—shy,
His chest tightened and he leaned back in his chair, away
from his desk.
His sister Aman used to look at the world that way. She was
so much shyer than Jamila, the more outgoing twin. Aman’s
tenderness and quiet sense of humor always brought out the
best in him, brought out the best in everyone, and when she
died a week after Jamila he’d felt his heart break. His
heart had never been the same.
Frowning at the computer screen, he ran his palm slowly along
his jaw, the short rough bristles biting at his skin. And again
he looked into this missing Olivia’s eyes and tried to
imagine where she was, tried to imagine her circumstances.
Was she sick, hurt, dead?
Had she been kidnapped? Murdered? Raped?
Or had she disappeared by choice? Was there someone, something,
she was running from?
It was none of his business, he told himself, rising from
his computer. He’d left city life and civilization behind
to live in the desert, far from violence, noise, and crime.
He’d chosen solitude because he hated how most people
But what if this was his sister?
What if Aman or Jamila had gone missing?
They wouldn’t, he brusquely reminded himself. They’d
been princesses—royal—and security detail had followed
He didn’t know this Jake, didn’t know anything
about the man but he could still see the words he’d written,
could still hear the plea for help echo in his head.
Turning at the edge of his tent, Khalid looked back at his
computer, at the enlarged black and white photo. Olivia X,
twenty-three years old, five foot four, and one hundred and
six pounds—if that.
With a snap of his wrist he flung the tent flap back and exited
his tent and called for one of his men.
He might live in the middle of the Great Sarq Desert and he
might be a nomadic sheikh, but he was still a king, one of
the royal Fehrs, blessed with power, wealth, and infinite connections.
If anyone could locate this American, he could.
End of Excerpt.
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