The Sheikh and the Discipline of the Desert

10Feb15

sheik and the modern girlThe desert was hot and relentless; there was nothing romantic about it in Megan’s view. She eyed the man at the wheel beside her and made a pout with her lips. Some prince he was, she thought, the white T-shirt and Ray-Bans he wore made him look more like a Californian poser than anything. It just wasn’t the story she was after. Oh he was handsome enough, but if it had been pretty boys she was wanted then she could have stayed in LA.

The Range Rover slid down the highway between hills of orange sand for mile after mile and so far she had seen nothing.

“Tell me Sir, what do you do? For a living I mean?” she asked him with a yawn.

At least the air conditioning worked and her short pixie hair cupped the top of her head much as it had back in the salon. But now she thought she needn’t have cut it all to accommodate the heat.

“Hey, call me Amed,” Sheikh Ahmed Aleem Al Elohahem said, pronouncing his name in its Anglicised form. “I am an engineer, but my uncle was concerned that…” he gave her and easy smile and shrugged, “He just wanted you to get what you needed. My cousin usually handles PR, but quite frankly, well… let’s say it is not his forte,” he smiled warmly; “You know… well jobs can be hereditary. I am supposed to be a soldier, but I prefer building to destruction.” He sighed, “But sometimes I still have to be a colonel.”

His English was better than good; it sounded almost as if her were English, Megan thought, it even made her West Coast vowels sound coarse by comparison.

“So where were you educated?” Megan asked politely.

“Kings, Cambridge and London, Sandhurst, the LSE, Harvard, Brunel…” he reeled off his list as if it was of no particular concern.

“So you are the brains of the family and they have lumbered you with babysitting.” She let her professional cynicism show.

“Hardly, but if you want technical details rather than… overly bold hubris, then I will prove more useful,” Ahmed said with a wink.

“So you’re serious then, I mean about developing solar power?” Megan slipped the question in through a row of even white teeth better matched to a crocodile.

“The oil won’t last forever,” Ahmed shrugged.

Megan pushed her mouth back into a pout, a thinking pose for the 32-year-old journalist. Oh hell, a man of vision and modesty, he really did just want to talk about engineering, she thought, where is my damn story?

*

The solar array was impressive. Mile upon mile of silver grey glass all facing heaven. But even after she heard the numbers Megan had nothing that she couldn’t have got on the website from LA.

“What about the desert? The real country, the real people out there,” she asked, narrowing her gaze as it would suck a story from the man, “How will your project affect them?”

Ahmed frowned and followed her gesture to the horizon of sand.

“Those that get jobs will be satisfied, those that don’t will complain about western influence,” he said in a sad voice. “As for the desert,” he relaxed into a shrug and sighed, “The desert is the desert, and we learn not to fight it.”

“Can I see it? The desert I mean?” she asked eagerly.

For a moment her professional mask slipped and she was genuinely enthusiastic.

“It is uncomfortable and dangerous for a…” he began.

“A woman?” Megan finished for him.

“I was going to say outsider, but it is hard for a woman too,” he said without the insincere bluster of one of her own countrymen pretending to be a new man.

“Oh, how so?” she asked.

He turned to study her.

“Out there I do not make the law or seek to shape the sands,” he said sounding like a sheik for the first time. “I bend with the desert winds. Here I am a modern man, an engineer, and we can be equals sharing an air conditioned British-made SUV. Out there I am my grandfather’s grandson, a prince of the desert with a lineage going back before…” he broke off and smiled slightly embarrassed, “Out there we play by different rules,” he continued with sharp eyes and a touch of steel in his voice.

Megan shrugged.

“Yes but can I see it?” she asked, looking again out to the desert horizon.

“Can you ride a camel?” he countered, his boyish smile re-masking his face.

*

There had been a lot of rules. Ahmed had told her everything twice and the important things he had said a third time. There was just to be the two of them and four camels: one each, one for water and a spare with more water and a long-range radio.

He had obtained for her a sand-coloured cotton jacket and pants, with beige desert boots. He had insisted that she also cover her hair with a bandanna in case they encountered someone, which he stressed, was unlikely.

Ahmed himself wore a green safari suit with a tradition headpiece like she had imagined a sheikh should look. But on him it conjured up Valentino and not oil billionaires, although she knew he was one.

But the romance soon evaporated in the heat and an hour out the sun was relentless and the camel was hell on her ass, inwardly she cursed. Damn, why couldn’t he have shown her the desert by helicopter and they could have been home in time for a five star dinner?

“From up ahead we can get a better view of the solar field and you will see its true size. We might even see the dam if it is clear and the oil wells of course. It will make a good picture; the three faces of the modern Arabia.” He spoke in clipped tones as if unconsciously he had reverted to his warrior heritage.

Megan pulled a face and nodded as she shifted her weight on the camel’s back.

If he noticed her discomfort he didn’t show it and turned back to face the track. Track was a generous term for a groove of dust between the ever higher dunes. In fact they had not travelled for another five minutes when it was lost where two great hills of sand had finally merged.

“You had better wait here with the animals,” he said wearily, “I will go around and find a better path. Mark me well though, stay here.” He pointed down sharply and glared at her.

Megan nodded and slid gratefully off the back of the huge beast and down into some soft hot sand. The water from her flask was good and with one checking glance at her guide’s retreating back, she took several extra forbidden swigs. After all there was plenty more on the camel.

The first thing that struck her was the sound. Even in the desert calm the light breeze sang as it whispered over the dunes, a low buzzing hum like some small golden bird to lull her to sleep. Megan closed her eyes and took another swig. This time she let the cool water splash out and over her face in a cascade of bliss.

She didn’t actually sleep. It was more of a momentary doze, but her head blinked open with a start. The two spare camels were anchored down where Ahmed had left them, dozing as she had done. But her beast was nowhere to be seen.

“Shit,” she spat and leapt to her feet. “Hey you stupid… here camel, camel…” she called as if luring a kitten.

There were tracks, they led off in the direction Ahmed had gone and she broke into a short dash. It had only been a minute or two and at each small bend in the dunes she expected to see the straying animal up ahead. Damn if I can’t outsmart a… she stopped and looked at the shallowest dune side. If she gained some height she would see the creature.

Nevertheless, it took more effort than Megan had thought and by the time she gained the top she was wasted with heaving dry sobs and drenched as if from rain. She crashed to her knees, suddenly afraid that she might have made matters worse. But there below impossibly close were the two tethered camels and just around a curve was a clear track of the other. Not that she could actually see it yet. She could drop down the other side and cut it off easily, she supposed. She would get back to the others before Ahmed even knew she was gone.

*

Finally Megan had given up. The camel was lost and Megan couldn’t even find tracks anymore. Then it had taken twice as long to climb back up the dune to drop back to the others and she was sure by now that Ahmed would have returned. It was just 10 feet to go, she thought as she slowed to a trudge to top the dune. God she was relieved. She was about to drop for a breath when she looked down. The world was pebble-dashed with smooth rounded hills for as far as the eye could see. It was astonishing in its beauty, but also sickening as hard dread gripped her innards. The vista was one she had never seen. There were certainly no camels. They must be lost somewhere behind her or… she bit back a harsh dry swallow… out there somewhere.

It was obvious that when she had turned back she had ascended the wrong dune. If that was so then all she had to do was back track. She looked down. All footsteps had flowed away like sand in an hour glass and she gasped. She shot a glance over the valley she had just ascended, but there was no clear trace of a path there either.

“Is there anybody there?” she called out and then as reality took hold she added in a louder voice, “Hey, is there anyone there?” Then she screamed for help.

*

The water she had taken was suddenly gone and she began to feel woozy. A second and third attempt at backtracking had led her nowhere and she began to wonder if she should just try and go back using the sun. They had been going… south was it? Or no, maybe more like west. Where had the sun been? She closed her eyes and tried to picture it. If she didn’t panic…

As she cleared her mind she imagined she heard the cry of a camel, but the desert was still singing and she knew she if she listened hard enough it would sing any song she wanted as her befogged mind began to make sense from the matrix of nonsense.

As if to prove her rationale, she even thought she heard her name.

“Megan,” said someone darkly and close by, and then more sharply, “Megan.”

She hadn’t realised until then that she had been sitting down and her eyes were still closed. She opened them.

Ahmed had angry concern chiselled into his face. His polished brown eyes shone like some exotic gemstones and looking into them for an instant Megan saw something of a world beyond all that she knew.

“Megan,” he said again.

She exploded into his arms and held on as if he was life itself.

*

“There is a ruined temple near and oasis not far from there,” he said as they reached all four camels by the track. “We will be alright there for the night.”

She felt too foolish to acknowledge him and kicked uselessly at the sand at her feet.

“We’ll light a fire,” he continued, “Believe it or not it gets cold at night.”

“I’m sorry,” she muttered.

“No doubt, but did I not speak about the law of the desert?” his voice was stern like a schoolmaster.

She nodded.

“You deserve to be whipped,” he growled.

She looked up then, ready to challenge his presumption. How dare he…? But as her eyes met his she quailed and ducked her head again.

“I won’t of course, you are my uncle’s guest and a foreigner,” he said scornfully. “But if you had died… have you no care for your life, or mine or my honour?” The last word sounded as it was the only one that mattered by its tone. “But perhaps if you give me any more trouble I will spank you in the western style.”

Megan blushed and at last found her spirit.

“I only went to find your dumb camel, it wasn’t my fault,” she rounded on him.

“My grandfather would agree,” Ahmed said dismissively, “He would say that a woman always follows the camel in importance if not brains. It appears you agree.”

She scowled at him, furious at the jibe.

“But I however do not,” he said sharply. “I hold you responsible for not obeying simple rules, so if you disobey again, I have decided, I will spank you.”

Megan gaped as heat to rival the sun suffused her face. But she was too exhausted to argue. Besides, despite his barbarism, he was right about the camel. Not that she would ever admit it.

*

The stone buildings were ancient and if Mark Anthony, Cleopatra and Alexander the Great had strolled from them hand in hand Megan would not have been surprised. Better yet the sunset had been to die for and the magic of it washed her soul with more colours than she had thought possible and all thoughts of her adventure and Ahmed’s foul threats slipped away like the desert sands.

The oasis however was a bit of a disappointment. Instead of bathing pool there was a puddle in mud. However nearby was a pump that creaked as it splashed cool liquid crystal in hapless abundance. At Ahmed’s suggestion he led the camels away to be tended beyond the crumbling walls and allowed her to strip naked to kneel under the faucet while she pumped in its impromptu shower.

By the time she returned to the small camp the fire was going and a grinning Ahmed had supplied them with supper. The smell was exquisite.

“It’s beautiful,” she gushed as she sat down.

“Yes,” he agreed. Then after a sip of water he added, “You have forgiven me then?”

Megan blushed and made a pout. Then she sucked in the cool honey air and let it go in a sigh.

“I didn’t thank you did I?” she said quietly.

“You were easy enough to find,” he shrugged, “I heard you close by.”

“Even so… thank you and… and I’m sorry, I guess,” she muttered.

“Don’t apologise unless you mean it,” he said simply, adding cheerfully, “But I accept your thanks.”

Megan raged. What did it take with this man? She was sorry, she said so. Hadn’t she?

After supper Megan slipped away to use the sand and stayed to take in the stars. She had never been anywhere so beautiful. Before she knew it she strolled to a ridge for a better view. Not that she was a complete fool. She didn’t take five steps without looking back to get a fix on the fire.

Somehow her story and the solar panels and oil had no meaning… Mind you, if I never see another camel… she grabbed at her behind. Although her attention was on the view; a minute or an hour might have gone by while she drank in the night.

“I told you not to stray.” His anger broke into her daze.

“Oh, I was just… it is so beautiful,” she replied wistfully.

“Yes, until a storm hits or a scorpion puts you down from view,” he said in a hard voice. “Also there is little to burn here… you were banking on the fire I think. It is already faint from here.”

Damn, she slapped herself with bitter thoughts left unexpressed. “Look, I am a big girl now and if you…” she said as she took another tack, after all her earlier apology hadn’t been good enough for him.

“And what did I say I would do if you disobeyed and wandered off again?” he pressed her as if she hadn’t spoken.

She thought about the spanking threat and her mind clung to it, obscuring any sensible memory of what he had said. She shook her head.

“Woman, you are unbelievable,” he gasped.

Without another word he grabbed her arm and led her marching back to camp while she tottered along behind him.

“What the hell…?” she spluttered, “You can’t… you wouldn’t…”

He rounded on her then and hefted her to his shoulder. He was done with her attitude.

The journey back to the campfire was a quick one. Despite the indignity Megan felt strangely secure as she was treated to an upside down view of the stars, even in the face of her discomfort the sight was stunning and added to the surreal nature of her situation.

The jolt from her complacency was a rude one and she found herself spitting dust as her face was tumbled head down as he sat cross-legged by the fire.

She was still squirming and spitting raspberries to clear the sand off her lips when she felt a firm hand at her waist and fingers working the buttons that ran down the side of her desert pants.

“Hey, what are you doing?” she gasped as she kicked out with her legs, but he soon pinned them and addressed himself to her attire.

“Nnn-nooo,” she whined in a futile voice as the night’s chill assailed her bare legs.

“Now are you going to be a good girl or do I have to take your panties down too?” His steel hard voice carried more promise than threat.

“You wouldn’t dare,” she spat with all the indignity she could muster.

Maybe he would, she thought, her mind now a whirl, but she was damned if she was going to meekly play his game just for a tiny shred of… but then it happened. The reality of bravado was one thing but a man she barely knew taking her underwear all the way down to her ankles surged through her.

“Ooh…” she shrieked, continuing, “C-come, come on…” but her protest ended in a yelp as his hand stung her bare bottom with a will.

“I should damn well use a quirt,” he growled as his hand continued to do its punitive work.

Megan vaguely wondered what a quirt was, but quickly decided it didn’t sound good. She was done taking chances with this man. In any case searing heat surged through her at both ends, and not just where her cheeks were exposed and she felt almost dizzy. But most of her attention was on her bare bottom where its upturned curves suffered an assault directly under his gaze. What else can he see?

As Megan bucked up and down in his lap she growled and snarled displaying all appropriate anger, but she was fast losing both energy and the breath to yell out. By now her comely bottom was a healthy shade of late sunset red and held a deep bitter fizz that was becoming increasingly hard to ignore. She had never felt so humiliated.

Maybe sensing an end to her resistance as he continued to spank her he said , “Should you have wandered off, should you?”

She sucked in a breath and a sullen, “No,” escaped her throat.

“What was that?” he barked.

“No,” she said in an angry groan between heaving breaths.

“Should you?” he snapped and spanked her again.

“No,” she said more loudly and somewhat as a whine, adding in a voice close to tears, “I’m sorry, please.”

“Very well,” he said at last as he released her.

Megan rolled over onto one hip and curled into a foetal position with a pout. Pulling up her pants would only show him she was embarrassed and anyway the sting in her bottom was almost unbearable to be yet encased in cotton; the night breeze on her exposed flesh was so much more pleasant. It wasn’t as if he could see more than he already had in this posture.

She couldn’t look at him and picked at grains of sand with her fingers and watched them scatter back onto the ground near her face.

“Get dressed woman,” he muttered as he stood up and walked away to check on the animals.

“Bastard,” she whispered, but too softly for him to hear.

Beads of tears pooled at her eyes, but that wasn’t the wetness that she noticed just then.

*

Ahmed strode away furious at his undignified tussle with the woman. By the standards of his culture such an act was either unthinkably beneath him or an act of outrageous disrespect. By the standards of hers it was… his manhood throbbed to taunt him. Kicking the sand he shook off his self-directed rage and focussed on her actions. Had he not warned her? This was the desert, she might have died, she might… he clenched his fist in rage as he thought about the dishonour of such failure. But he found that these thoughts troubled him less than the idea that she might have been lost out here.

The spanking was not as barbaric as what his grandfather would have done and she would think twice about the rules now. A sad smile broke on his face as he reached the camels. If she doesn’t like me anymore then… a breath burst through the closed disappointment of his lips… then at least she will live to bitch another day.

To be continued...



5 Responses to “The Sheikh and the Discipline of the Desert”

  1. 1 Rollin Hand

    I like it DJ. Very different setting, a unique alpha male character. Could be the beginning of a romance novel.

  2. I enjoyed the story! Thank you!

  3. I really enjoyed the story. Thanks.
    It brought to mind a book I read a thousand years ago by Frank Yerby – I believe the title was The Yankee Pasha.


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