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LG the Desert Bride

LG the Desert Bride

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Published by nadia457

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Published by: nadia457 on Feb 23, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The DesertBride
By Lynne Graham
THE sheer opulence of Al Kabibi airport stunned Bethany. The acres of glossy marblefloors, the huge crystal chandeliers and the preponderance of gold fittings made her blink and stare.'Pretty impressive, eh?' Ed Lancaster remarked in the slow-moving queue to VisaClearance. 'And yet five years ago there was nothing here but a set of concrete sheds andan unrelieved view of the sand-dunes! King Azmir pumped the oil but he stockpiled the profits. His tight-fisted attitude caused a lot of resentment, not only with the locals butwith the foreign workers as· well. Conditions used to be really primitive here.'The American businessman had joined their flight at a stopover in Dubai. He hadn'tstopped talking for thirty seconds since then, but Bethany had been grateful to bedistracted from the grim awareness that, had her departmental head not decreed that shecentre her research on this particular part of the Middle East, nothing short of thumbscrews and brute force would have persuaded her to set one foot in the country of Datar!'When King Azmir fell ill the crown prince, Razul, took over,' Ed rattled on, cheerfullyimpervious to the fact that Bethany had stiffened and turned pale. 'Now he's a differentkettle of fish altogether. He's packed fifty years of modernisation into five. He's anastonishing man. He's transformed Datari society .. .'Beneath her mane of vibrantly colourful curls Bethany's beautiful face had frozen her stunningly green eyes hardening to polar ice. All of a sudden she wanted Ed to shut up.She did not want to hear about Prince Razul al Rashidai Harun. Nor did she have thesmallest urge to admit that their paths had crossed quite unforgettably during Razul’s brief spell at university.
'And the people absolutely adore him. Razul's like their national hero. They call him theSword of Truth. You mention democracy and they get
mad,' Ed complainedfeelingly. 'They start talking about how he saved them from civil war during therebellion, how he took command of the army, et cetera, et cetera. They've actually made afilm about it, they're so proud of him-''I expect they must be,' Bethany said flatly, an agonisingly sharp tremor of bitternessquivering through her.'Yes, sirree,' Ed sighed with unhidden admiration. 'Although this divine cult they've builtup around him can be painful, he is one hell of a guy! By the way,' Ed added, pausing for  breath, 'who's coming to collect you?''Nobody,' Bethany muttered, praying that the monologue on Razul was over.Ed frowned. 'But you're travelling alone.'Bethany suppressed a groan. Actually, she hadn't been alone at Gatwick. A researchassistant had been making the trip with her. But, with only minutes to go before they boarded, Simon had tripped over a carelessly sited briefcase and had come down hardenough to break his ankle. She had felt dreadful simply abandoning him to the paramedics but, aside from the fact that she barely knew the young man, work naturallyhad had to take precedence.'Why shouldn't I be travelling alone?''How on earth did you get a visa?' Ed prompted, suddenly looking very serious. i'The usual way ... What's wrong?''Maybe nothing.' Ed shrugged with an odd air of discomfiture, not meeting her enquiringgaze. 'You want me to stay with you in case there should be a problem?''Of course not, and I see no reason why there should be a problem,' Bethany informedhim rather drily.But there was. Ed had just moved off with an uneasy wave when the Datari officialscrutinised her visa and asked, 'Mr Simon Tarrant?'Bethany frowned.'According to your visa, you are travelling with a male companion. Where is he?''He wasn't able to make the flight,' she explained with some exasperation.
'So you are travelling unaccompanied, Dr Morgan?' he stressed, with a dubious twist of his mouth, as if he could not quite credit the validity of her academic doctorate. Thatdidn't surprise her. Female children had only recently acquired the legal right toeducation in Datar. The concept of a highly educated woman struck the average Datarimale as about as normal as a little green man from the moon.'Any reason why I shouldn't be?' Bethany demanded irritably, her cheeks reddening asshe was drawn to one side, the embarrassing cynosure of attention for everyone else inthe queue.'Your visa is invalid,' the official informed her, signalling to two uniformed guardsalready looking in their direction. 'You cannot enter Datar. You will be returned to theUK on the next available flight. If you do not possess a return ticket, we will generouslydefray the expense.''Invalid?' Bethany gasped in disbelief.'Obtained by deception.' The official treated her to a frown of extreme severity before heturned to address the other two men in a voluble spate of Arabic. '
?' Bethanyechoed rawly, unable to credit that the man could possibly be serious. "-'The airport police will hold you in custody until you depart,' she was informed.The airport police were already gawping at her with blatant sexual speculation. Even inthe midst of her incredulous turmoil at being threatened with immediate deportation,those insolent appraisals made Bethany's teeth grit with outrage. Sometimes she thoughther physical endowments were nature's black joke on the male species. With her outlook on the male sex she should have been born plain and homely, not with a face, hair and body which put out entirely the wrong message!'You are making a serious mistake,' Bethany spelt out, drawing herself up to her fullheight of five feet three inches. 'I demand to speak to your superior! My visa waslegitimately issued by the Datari embassy in London-' She broke off as she realised thatabsolutely nobody was listening to her and the policemen were already closing in on her with an alarming air of purpose.A sensation new to Bethany's experience filled her. It was fear-sheer, cold fear. Panicswept over her. She sucked in oxygen in a stricken gasp and employed the singledefensive tactic she had in her possession. 'I would like you to know that I am a close personal friend of Crown Prince Razul's!'The official, who was already turning away, swung back and froze.'We met while he was studying in England.' Her cheeks burning with furiousembarrassment at the fact that she should have been forced to resort to name-droppingeven to earn a hearing, Bethany tilted her chin, and as she did so the overhead lights

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