The sheikhs secret love.., p.12
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       The Sheikh's Secret Love Child, p.12

         Part #2 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner
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TEN

  Two Years Later

  It was October again. October in Seattle, and Rosie’s baby boy, Zak, was sixteen months old. Rosie eyed a picture of him during her shift at work, taking stock of the way his eyes lit up, like his father’s, when he laughed. His giggle even came from the same place: deep in that little baby gut. She couldn’t help but love every inch of him with a joy and fear she knew existed in all mothers. But at the same time, the reminders of his father within him didn’t allow her to forget that she could have loved Hakan. If only she had had the chance.

  Amy tapped into the break room with a cup of coffee, eyeing Rosie. She was pregnant again, and her stomach cast a shadow.

  “I’m getting huge,” Amy sighed, leaning back against a desk. “I wish I didn’t carry like this.”

  “Well you wouldn’t want to carry like I did,” Rosie laughed.

  It was true that she hadn’t carried the baby well, that she’d gained quite a bit of heft in her stomach and breasts and back. She’d eventually lost all the weight, but it had taken her months of hard dieting and running outside, with baby Zak in his stroller in front of her. She liked to think the cold was good for him, like it was for those babies in Denmark. Or was it Sweden? There were so many schools of thought when it came to childrearing. Often, Rosie was confused.

  Rosie eyed her friend, pointing to the coffee.

  “It’s just decaf. I promise.”

  “You know I don’t care.”

  “You drank a bit of coffee while you were pregnant, didn’t you?” Amy asked.

  “A bit more than I should have, I suppose.”

  “Well, you were doing it all by yourself.”

  “You and Mom helped loads. But you’re right. I was really stressed, a lot of the time. And without wine, I turned to coffee.” Rosie winked at her friend as she finished organizing the papers and clipboards before her.

  “That’s right. How is your mom liking her move to Seattle, by the way? Seems like I haven’t seen her in ages.”

  “Well,” Rosie began, biting her lip. “She doesn’t love the city. She was in the country for too long, I think. But she’s moved in not far from me, and so she watches baby Zak while I’m at work. It’s good for her, I think; ever since dad died, I think she’s been feeling a sort of lack of purpose.”

  “Her watching Zak must help you save a bunch of money,” Amy said, and her voice grew quiet. “Even though you don’t technically need it. Do you?”

  Rosie frowned. She turned to her friend and cocked her head. Why was she bringing this up now? She’d told Amy the full story about Osman and the insane amount of money about a month after Zak had been born, when he was crying nonstop in her arms and she had felt so weak, so tired, like she couldn’t go on. “Do you think I should just take it?” she had whispered, while, in her arms, the smallest version of Zak had cried on. “I don’t want it. I want to do this all myself. I don’t want any of that dirty money.”

  And Amy had hugged them both close, even as Zak’s cries erupted between them. She’d kissed her friend on the cheek, on the forehead, and told her: “You don’t need it. You’re the strongest woman in the world. And if taking that money would make you feel less of yourself, then you absolutely shouldn’t take it. This is the life you’re building for Zak. And Hakan has no part in it. Do you understand?”

  Rosie had appreciated this gesture of strength and assurance more than anything.

  “You know I don’t want that money,” Rosie scoffed, there in the break room. “I want to pretend like none of that ever happened.” She still had dreams about Osman: his crooked body waiting for her near the locks. She hated his very image.

  Amy began fanning herself, steaming slightly after the long walk down the hallway. “Do you think you’ll want to get back out there soon?” she asked, changing the subject. “I actually know a few eligible bachelors.”

  “Let me guess; through Josh’s engineering firm?” Rosie asked, giving her a knowing smile.

  “They aren’t all bad, Rosie,” Amy affirmed. “And I don’t want to see you alone, without romance, for the rest of your life. Seriously, the thought of it depresses me,” she pouted.

  “Do you and Josh still have this ‘romance,’ as you call it?”

  Amy bit her lip. She looked down at her stomach, rubbing it absently. “Something has come between that, I suppose,” she gestured. “You remember what it was like. You don’t want to be touched, when you’re pregnant. You kind of just want to eat ice cream in the corner.”

  Rosie laughed, remembering the sheer discomfort. “I guess you’re right. Speaking of, are we still taking the kids out tomorrow? The zoo and then dinner?”

  “If you can bear taking a sixteen month old out to dinner,” Amy said. “Marco should be old enough now, but he’s still not great in public. But I don’t mind. Let’s take them out. It’ll be an adventure—just a little different from our age-old adventures in our early twenties.”

  “Just a bit more baby vomit,” Rosie said.

  “But just as much crying.”

  “Not as much drunk crying,” Rosie corrected, dragging her purse over her shoulder. She gave Amy a quick hug and dashed from the door, eager to return home to her son. Her heart tugged her back to Zak’s nursery, all the time, no matter where she was.

 
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