The sheikhs secret love.., p.17
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       The Sheikh's Secret Love Child, p.17

         Part #2 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner
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  Rosie arrived home moments later, rushing past her mother and kissing her baby on his rouge cheeks. She was sweating slightly, but didn’t have time to shower. She knew the ceremony wasn’t far away, and she wanted to find the Sheikh beforehand. She wanted to halt the party in its tracks.

  “I don’t understand what the rush is—” her mother began, looking up from the couch.

  Rosie sat with her mother for a moment. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry about everything. But there is something important I need to do tonight. And I need to act quickly. Can I get you anything, first? A glass of water? A soda?”

  Her mother shook her head, flashing her eyes toward her daughter with a sense of compassion. Her throat clicked before she spoke. “You’ve always had a fire about you, Rosie. It’s something I’ve never especially understood, but I hope you keep it going, forever. You don’t deserve to be so passive, like me.”

  Rosie paused, unsure of what to say. After years of turmoil between them, her mother’s words acted like fire, propelling her toward the Edgewater.

  She kissed her mother on the cheek and thanked her wholly. “I love you,” she whispered. She did, more than her mother could possibly know.

  Rosie rushed to her bedroom and thrust open her closet, ticking her tongue against her cheek and teeth. If Hakan was staying at the Edgewater, she knew he would be residing in the presidential suite. She would have to create a disguise to get in there.

  She thought back to when she’d been staying with him, that beautiful night. They’d ordered countless plates of room service. She remembered them piled high on the bed: the pastries, with their gleaming frosting; the pears, the dripping-wet strawberries, the raspberries.

  She remembered that the man who had delivered the food had been dressed in a butler uniform, and that beside him had stood a tiny woman, dressed in what looked like a French maid’s uniform. A black-and-white skirt, tights, and tidy black shoes. Her hair had been swept back from her face, into a ponytail. And her eyes had barely registered the naked girl in the bed, acknowledging her for only an instant.

  A few years previously, back when she hadn’t known the name Hakan or the definition of a sheikh, Rosie and her friends had dressed up for Halloween. Amy had been newly married, then, and she and her husband, Josh, had held a Halloween party in their Capitol Hill apartment. Rosie remembered the night fondly: how they’d pounded tequila shots; how they’d all passed out to the Monster Mash at four in the morning. She’d also donned a maid’s outfit for the occasion; she’d wanted to catch the eye of one of Josh’s friends, at that time, but he hadn’t even shown up to the party. And so, she remembered, she’d looked semi-slutty for no real reason.

  Rosie parsed through her closet, her fingers rushing. Sure enough, behind the prom dress she’d kept from age eighteen, hung the maid’s outfit. She looked at it, heart pounding. Was she really about to don that to get to the Sheikh? She certainly couldn’t think of a better way, at least not in time.

  She flung her scrubs to the floor and flung on the maid outfit, wiggling her legs into a pair of black tights and her feet into a pair of smart black flats. She peered into the mirror at her tired, pale face—flustered after her long shift at the hospital. She swiped foundation on, adding mascara and eyeliner. Did she want to look good for the Sheikh—as if she was reminding him of all he’d left behind? Or did she want to look mean, angry? She wasn’t sure.

  She swept a touch of lipstick over her lips, just in case. And she batted her eyelashes at her reflection, seeing herself in his eyes. He’d told her she was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen, and she’d believed him, for some reason. And yet, since she’d given birth to Zak, she didn’t think she’d been looked at twice. Not sexually, at least. Certainly, Jared had looked at her more like a piece of meat. He was looking for love, but only because he saw it as the “logical next step.” This, suddenly, made her despise him.

  She wrapped her hair into a low ponytail and covered her outfit in a long coat, before sweeping from the room, picking her young son up and stabbing a lipstick kiss on his forehead.

  “Look what you’ve done!” her mother cried, teasingly. She grabbed a washcloth and began wiping Zak’s face, as Rosie stared in his dark, Hakan-like eyes. She was armed with a photograph of her boy; one her mother had taken of the two of them during the previous summer in the park. They’d eaten watermelon beneath the sun, and he’d held onto her pinky, even as he practiced his walking—terrified to let her go.

  Rosie nodded to her mother and gave the baby back, tapping from the apartment without another word. She was resolved in her mission. And she knew, somehow, that everything was about to change. Was it fate? Maybe. Or was it, like Jared said, just her, making the moves to change her own life?

  Whichever it was, she was on her way.

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