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Malik Desert Sheikh Romance
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They met fourteen years ago. She was a seven-year-old girl. He was a seventeen-year-old sheikh. They were not related by blood, and yet a twist of fate had them living as brother and sister.
Most people waited a lifetime to find the one meant for them – and they were the lucky ones. But then there were the others, people who never had to wait, people who had just known, soulmates who had found their way to each other before destiny could make up its mind about them—
Just because you knew someone was meant for you didn’t make that person yours.
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Death and love are the two wings that bear the good man to heaven.
Thirteen years ago
“Mother.” Malik swiftly crossed the vast hall and made his way to Vanna Al-Atassi. She was known as the youngest and fiercest of the old king’s sisters, but now she looked like she was about to crumple. He knelt down in front of her and took her cold hands in his. “I came as soon as I heard—” Self-contempt surged inside of him out of nowhere, and he broke off.
He should have been beside her the moment she found out about the plane crash and the sudden loss of the Markides. With his father and older brother away at war, he should have been by Vanna’s side every moment. But instead he was out at another party, whose host he couldn’t even remember, and fucking a girl whose face his memory shunned as well.
“Maehdina, Mama.” He uttered his apology in a raw voice, wishing he could say more – promise more – but knowing he could not.
Vanna shook her head. “Oh, Malik.” Grief did not stop one from being a mother, and right now her maternal instincts were telling her that this son of hers was blaming himself for things that no one could control. “There is nothing for you to apologize for, my son.” She gently pulled her hands away and patted the space next to her on the sofa. “Sit by me, Malik.”
He did her bidding without question, and she ran her fingers through his hair. Just seventeen, she thought, and already he was thinking of things that no young boy should be thinking of yet. She wished she could spare him of it, but she could not. It was the price one had to pay for being born to a royal family – the price that she herself had to pay, and so it was for him and the children he may sire in the future.
“As you know, the Markides are now…gone.” It was the only word Vanna could bear to use, as even now her mind still shied away from the fact that she would never see her dear friends smile again, never hear them talk to her again. Loyal friends to the royal family were a precious few, and the Markides had been one of those few.
And now they were gone, leaving behind a precious seven-year-old girl orphaned.
She saw Malik’s face pale and knew that the same thought had just occurred to him.
“Kyria,” he whispered.
She swallowed hard. “She’s safe, but she’s alone, and I’ve decided…to be her legal guardian.” She gazed at him searchingly. “Do you understand what this will mean?”
Malik didn’t answer.
“She will be part of our family. My daughter – and your little sister.” And now, it was her turn to take her son’s hands into hers. “May I trust you to help me look after her?”
His dark eyes became unreadable, and the sight made Vanna want to laugh and cry a little. Silly her, to think that she could pull the wool over his eyes. One look at his now expressionless face, and Vanna knew that Malik very much understood the double meaning of her words. She did wish him to be a good big brother to Kyria. That was true. But Vanna was also hoping that this would serve as his temporary purpose in life—
A temporary purpose that perhaps could finally make Malik turn away from his reckless lifestyle of drinking and partying, consorting with people from the most dubious of backgrounds and the worst intentions towards the royal family—
I know you’re searching for your purpose in life, but can’t you do so without tarnishing the kingdom’s name?
Malik withdrew his hands from her, and Vanna knew right away she had made a mistake—
She had let her weakness overcome her, and now she had hurt her son.
The knock sounded on the door, cutting her off, and when she allowed them entry, the sight of the Markides’ orphaned daughter had both Vanna and Malik immediately putting aside their family concerns. That could always wait. Right now, someone needed them more – and an Al-Atassi never turned his back on those in need.
It was the day of the Markides’ funeral, and the atmosphere inside the chapel was somber, with just a slight tinge of shock. Many of those who had come to pay their respects were still struggling with their disbelief, and understandably so. Theon and Laura Markides had been two lovely people, young and vibrantly alive – and just like that, they were gone. Life was fragile, but it was a truth most people preferred to close their eyes to. Life was fragile, and deaths like this made the fact painfully and terrifyingly inescapable.
Malik’s gaze went to the little girl seated between his parents. The few times he had been asked to babysit her, she had been shy but sweet, delightfully affectionate once a person gained her trust. He remembered how her face used to light up every time she saw him because she knew he would have something sweet for her. A piece of cake, candy, a chocolate bar – he had accidentally discovered her sweet tooth when he found Kyria with her hand in the cookie jar, literally, when she was supposed to be eating her greens. That had been their little secret, and from then on Malik had become her most favorite person. In fact, it had become a running joke between the two families, Malik possibly usurping Theon’s position in the little girl’s heart—