The Sheikh's Stolen Bride-To-Be(8)

By: Holly Rayner

“Are you the O’Hanlon family?” the woman asked, and Jerry confirmed that they were.

The attendant smiled. “If you’ll please come with me,” she said, taking a step back.

Steph and her parents looked from one to the other in confusion. Not knowing what else to do, they stood and followed the woman up the aisle toward the front of the plane. She stopped at a row in first class.

“You have been upgraded, courtesy of your future son-in-law. He didn’t provide any other information outside of that.”

Steph and her parents stared at the woman, as though they were waiting for a punch line or for her to send them back to coach, and then they all burst into laughter.

“See, I told you he was a catch!” Elora said, beaming from ear to ear as she settled into one of the plush seats with plenty of leg space.

Settling into her own seat, Steph couldn’t help but be charmed by the generous gesture. It had cost her dad a pretty penny to get the three of them out to El Farah, and this upgrade was a reminder of the lifestyle they had once enjoyed. As Jerry sat down next to his daughter, she leaned in, ready to pry out some details.

“Okay, spill. You have to tell me something about this guy, Dad. Just one tiny little detail!”

Jerry shook his head, casting a glance at Elora, who was accepting a glass of mimosa while she perused the movies that were available to watch during the flight. Her expression was one of pure bliss. Steph realized that her mother had lost much when their stock had turned against them, though she had never once complained. She had simply soldiered on, ensuring that the rest of the family did, too.

“Not a word from me, missy. I will not suffer your mother’s wrath by breaking with tradition. I’d never hear the end of it.”

“Come on, she’s not even listening. Look!”

Elora had her headphones on and what looked like a romantic comedy playing as she snuggled under a plush blanket and sipped on her morning cocktail. Jerry hesitated, and Steph saw an opening.

“I’m going to marry this man, Dad. Don’t you think I deserve to know about him? What’s his job? What does he like to do for fun? Anything! Throw me a bone here!”

Jerry considered her request, pursing his lips as he stroked his cleanly shaven chin. “All right,” he said, turning to her in a conspiratorial way. “He’s the kind of man who would put your whole family in first class on the way to meet him. Doesn’t that speak volumes about his character?”

“I guess,” Steph mumbled, disappointed. It was clear that she wasn’t going to get any more information before the big day.

Pulling up her own blanket and pointedly ignoring her father, Steph snuggled in and picked a very long movie. She would be watching several of them on the way to her new home country.

That was, if she could really stomach the possibility of what waited on the other side.


Many hours later, the pilot came on the speaker to inform them that they would be landing in El Farah in twenty minutes. It had been a luxurious day of lounging, snacking, and watching movies, as Steph had opted to make the most of the situation by enjoying some of her last moments with her parents as a single woman.

By the end of the week she would become somebody’s wife, and according to her mother, that took precedence over her relationship with anyone else besides any children she might have. Steph tried to ignore how old fashioned that sounded as she fought to savor every little bit of her time with her parents. As the ocean came to an end, an arid desert landscape, laced with palm trees and scattering pieces of oasis, came into view. A few gleaming cities dotted the scene, but the country seemed to be comprised mostly of beaches and desert.

Steph watched with curiosity as her mother’s homeland came into view. Of course she had seen pictures, but nothing compared to the real thing. The plane approached the runway, landing gently as it touched the ground, sealing Steph’s fate.

There would be no turning back now. She was in El Farah, possibly forever. She felt a sudden wave of homesickness wash over her, and she silently chastised herself. How many times over the years had she wished for an opportunity like this? To get away from her small Vermont life and see the world and all it had to offer? Missing home wouldn’t do her any good, she reminded herself over and over until eventually the feeling subsided.

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