Claimed For The Sheikh's Shock Son. Carol MarinelliЧитать онлайн книгу.
‘Could she be his daughter?’ Khalid persisted, still not wanting to think the worst.
‘No.’ Again Ethan shook his head. ‘My father was a generous man and if he’d known he had a daughter she would not be living in a trailer park. If the money was for a benevolent reason he had trusts and charities set up for that but the payments to Ms Johnson came from the buried account—he didn’t want anyone to know.’
‘It’s better that you do,’ Khalid said. ‘Before it gets out.’
‘Look, if there’s scandal brewing, Abe and I will deal with it, we just don’t want anything to hit at the funeral tomorrow. We want our father to have a dignified send-off.’
‘We’ve made security aware of the names of these women and they are to be kept well back—’
‘No, no,’ Khalid interrupted. ‘You are to let them into the funeral.’
‘Absolutely not,’ Ethan stated. ‘We are not turning Jobe’s send-off into a Vegas show.’
‘Ethan, I thought you invited me here for advice.’
‘Do you want a scene outside with the cameras where you have no control?’
‘Of course not.’
‘Then add these women to the guest list. If they arrive, have security watch them and my detail shall keep an eye out too. You focus on saying farewell to your father. And remember, if any of them do turn up it might just be to pay their respects. No one should be denied that chance.’
‘No.’ Ethan let out a long breath, but it hitched when Khalid spoke on.
‘If they are at the funeral they are to be invited back to the private wake.’
‘No way! That really is just for family and close friends.’
‘You don’t need me to tell you to keep your enemies close, Ethan.’
‘And risk his wake being turned into a circus?’ Ethan gave a shake of his head, but he knew Khalid well enough to know that he never offered rash advice and so, rather wearily he nodded. ‘I’ll speak to Abe.’
‘This will all be sorted,’ Khalid reassured him. ‘Your father might have had some secrets, but he was inherently a good man.’
‘I know.’ Ethan nodded. ‘Look, thanks for being here. It would have meant an awful lot to Jobe.’
‘Your father meant a lot to me,’ Khalid said.
With that out of the way, they went through the details for the next day. Khalid’s royal title had been omitted from the order of service at his own request.
‘You’re sure about that?’ Ethan checked, as Khalid stood to leave.
‘Absolutely. That was always the best thing about being here,’ Khalid admitted to Ethan. ‘I wasn’t treated as a prince, or next in line to be King. Here I was just Khalid.’ He grew serious then. ‘Tomorrow you are to focus on remembering your father. Any problems are now mine to deal with.’
Ethan gave a grateful nod, for he knew that Khalid would take care of things.
As formidable as he was to outsiders, Khalid looked after his own.
‘What about you, Khalid?’ Ethan asked as he walked him out of the study.
‘What about me?’ Khalid frowned.
‘If everyone has a shadow side, what’s yours?’
‘You really don’t expect me to answer that, do you?’ Khalid said, and opened the door.
Of course not.
For no one really knew Khalid.
Here the press described him as a playboy, but that was inaccurate for he did not play.
His emotions were always kept strictly in check and he allowed no one close to him, even in bed.
Especially in bed.
For his own reasons he had chosen not to have a harem. He loathed how his mother had suffered when his father had taken himself there. How he had taunted her when another infant had been sired and he could tell her the ‘problem’ with her failing to provide more heirs was clearly not his.
Those children had no status and were considered unrelated to Khalid, and he did not want those ways to be his own. So he had rejected the harem, but here in New York he dated sophisticated, experienced women who accepted there would be no feigned tenderness.
It was sex.
Khalid’s absolute lack of affection was paid for in diamonds, gifts and sometimes plain old hard cash.
Tonight he had plenty with him.
NEW YORK, THE CITY of Dreams.
And for Aubrey Johnson, New York was also a city of might-have-beens.
How she wished she were here under different circumstances, but instead of arriving in Manhattan to study music, as she had once hoped to, Aubrey was here to say goodbye to a man who had given her a chance.
Only she hadn’t taken it.
The day had only just begun and already Aubrey was tired. She was at the very end of an ear infection and the flight from Vegas through the night to JFK hadn’t helped matters.
Jobe’s funeral was at midday and that it was a private, very high-profile funeral to which she hadn’t been invited didn’t deter Aubrey. She knew a few tricks and would try to get in, but if not, then she’d pay her last respects from a distance.
It felt important to be here today.
Aubrey headed for the restrooms and there her denim skirt, sandals and loose top were replaced with a black slip dress that she had borrowed from a friend.
It was a little too big for Aubrey’s slender frame, but she had a shawl to wear over her shoulders. She pulled on black pantyhose and court shoes. The clothes that she had taken off were neatly folded and packed into her slim black shoulder bag. Aubrey would not be paying for storage.
She took the AirTrain and then the subway and, following the instructions her friend had given her, found herself on a very busy street on a crisp spring day in Manhattan.
Aubrey stood for a moment soaking it all in, her head tipped back as she gazed up in awe at the tall buildings, but she was soon jolted by the sea of people walking determinedly by. Aubrey headed into a large department store and headed up a level to an in-store coffee shop and bought a well-deserved drink.
She had budgeted carefully for today.
For the last few weeks, having seen on the news that Jobe was nearing the end, she had been trying to put a little away whenever she could. It had been hard. Her ear infection had meant her balance was off, and so she’d been unable to do trapeze, and the tips were less when waiting tables. Still, she’d saved enough to buy the cheapest return flights for her and her mom to attend the funeral.
But Stella had refused to come, insisting she wanted to stay home.
Aubrey’s mom was a Vegas lifer and loved it. Or she had loved it.
Now she never went further than the porch of their trailer, and that was only after dark.
Aubrey made her coffee last then, when it was done, she popped a mint and an antibiotic pill and took the escalator down to the make-up counter. There she tried lipsticks on the back of her hand until the assistant came over and asked if she could help.