Kidnapped and sold into slavery, is there more to life than what Laila experiences?
Kidnapped from her home in Cairo, Egypt, Laila is placed on an auction block in Constantinople and sold to work as a handmaid to a wealthy man and his daughter. Unhappy as a maid and leery of the lustful advances of her owner, Laila dreams of returning to her home.
Laila is sold to a Turkish harem where she catches the eye of the handsome yet arrogant palace heir, Kudar al Numan. As Laila fights to deny her feelings for Kudar, their relationship is threatened by the jealous rage of another woman.
To keep the couple apart, Laila’s nemesis hatches a plan to force her to make a choice…return to the family she loves or remain in her new life with her new love. Either choice may be seen as an act of betrayal. Which will she choose? And does going back to relive the past mean there is no hope for the future?
Impulsively, Kudar slid his arm around Laila and pulled her to him. He bent his head and kissed her gently on the mouth. When his mouth touched hers, an explosion of heat oozed through him, and an uncontrollable moan escaped from his throat. He had been dreaming about kissing Laila since the day she had been brought back to the palace. Now that his lips were on hers, his body reacted strongly to the touch of her soft yielding lips.
“Don’t be afraid,” he chided when he felt a shutter go through her. “It will be nice for the both of us,” he whispered then kissed her again expectantly.
In Kudar’s imagination, she had always been very willing. In his imagination, she had responded with a moan and eagerly wrapped her arms around his neck. Now, however, she lay completely still in his embrace. Lifting his head, he asked, “Why won’t you kiss me back?”
Laila didn’t answer. Instead, she pushed away from him. Quickly, tying her vest together, she rose and walked to the balcony wall. She turned her back to him and looked out toward the city. Pink and purple light canvassed the sky in wake of the setting sun.
“Answer me,” Kudar demanded.
At the sound of his impertinent tone, Laila found her voice. “Why are you pretending this is about me?” she asked.
“Let’s face it. None of this is about me. It’s about you and what you want. I don’t have a say. You wanted to kiss me. So, I let you kiss me.”
“You let me kiss you?…”
“What more do you want from me?”
“I want you to kiss me back. I want you to enjoy it as much as I do.”
"Enjoy it? I don’t know you. Why would I want to kiss you and make love to you?…If you want someone who feels privileged to be in your bed, you want one of the other women in your harem. You don’t want me.”
For a moment, Kudar was taken back by Laila’s frankness. But, he decided he wanted to hear what she had to say even if he may not like it. After all, she was now talking which was more than she had done during dinner.
“I’ve been told I’m a very giving lover,” Kudar admitted. “I’m sure you will like it.”
“But, if I don’t have a choice, does it matter? How is being here in your palace any different than being a slave to Zora? I didn’t have a choice then, and I don’t have a choice now. You want me to be like one of your many love slaves who give you their bodies when you want it. But, that’s not what I want. When I make love, I want to be in love first.”
Kudar chuckled. “That’s nonsense. What does love have to do with anything? I see to it that you have a place to live and nice things to keep you comfortable. In return, we give each other pleasure. That makes the most sense.”
“If I wanted that kind of relationship, I would have married the boy my parents picked out for me back home,” Laila protested.
“You compare me to a boy?” Kudar scoffed as he stood to his feet. “You compare this to what you have back home!” He swept his arms about. “You had nothing this nice at home and no boy can treat you as good as I can!”
“I want to choose who I love! I want to choose who I kiss!”
In a few strides, Kudar was at her side. He turned her to face him. “You should want to kiss me,” he explained.
“Well, I don’t!” Laila snapped. Why did he think she would be so eager to jump in to his bed? His arrogance was beyond belief! “Why should I want to kiss a man who’s kissed a million girls before me?” she countered in a steely voice.
“This is why…” Kudar grumbled as he drew her hard against his chest and lowered his head to her.
This time, when his lips met hers, an unexpected bolt of heat seared Laila’s lips. Her legs suddenly felt weak. She couldn’t help but lean into Kudar for support as a wave of untamed attraction coursed through her being. As her body melted into his, she felt the evidence of his desire.
“You can’t tell me that kiss did not affect you. I know you felt what I did,” Kudar panted when their lips parted.
Laila shook her head breathing deeply. “No…It didn’t affect me…” she managed to say.
“You’re lying,” Kudar countered, now that his prowess had been challenged.
“I’m not lying!”
“Okay….just lusting for me..?” he questioned.
Laila blushed and pulled away from him. She had to step away from Kudar. Being so close to him was clouding her thoughts. Not only was she having trouble thinking, she was having trouble taking her eyes off of his electric lips. She stepped sideways in an attempt to move past him. But, Kudar stepped to block her path.
“I can see it in your eyes,” he noted. “The truth is, you want me just as much as I want you.”
Laila shook her head in repudiation. “Why should I want you? You don’t even know my real name,” she bristled.
“Well, what’s your real name?”
“Laila,” she replied and tried to move past him again.
Without warning, Kudar scooped her into his arms. Laila gasped in astonishment as her slippers fell silently from her feet and her arms settled around his neck. With long strides, he made it to his enormous bed in the middle of the room then dropped her on it. A moment later, he stretched out over her.