The sheikhs secret love.., p.9
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       The Sheikh's Secret Love Child, p.9

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


  No sooner had Rosie leaped off the bus back in Capitol Hill, she found herself marching toward the convenience store near her home, where pregnancy tests sat, stacked upon one another, in the very back aisle.

  She stared at the shelf for a moment, unsure of which to choose. She’d taken a test exactly once before, in college, and it had been negative. She vividly remembered the moment of relief. “God,” she’d said to her roommate. “Can you imagine.”

  With the blue and white packaging in her hand, Rosie marched toward the checkout counter, determination in her eyes. As the lady at the checkout picked up the box and eyed her, a fit of nervousness came over her. She felt she had to say something, anything to explain herself. Her tongue felt heavy.

  “I—um. I’m not actually sure,” she muttered, trying to find words. “It wasn’t a—” She felt she needed to explain to the checkout lady that she wasn’t in a relationship, that she really didn’t know the guy, and that, ultimately, she probably wasn’t pregnant. It was just a pipe dream. But who dreamed of having a stranger’s baby?

  But the checkout lady smiled and spoke in a southern drawl, which was a strange but oddly comforting thing to hear in Seattle. “Don’t worry about it, honey. I’m sure you know what you’re doing. We all do, in the end.”

  Oddly, these words reminded Rosie of Hakan’s speech about fate. She paid for the test, allowing her heartbeat to return to normal, and as she walked to her house, she realized she would live with the consequences of this truth, no matter what it was. She knew what she was doing. Sort of.

  Rosie locked her front door behind her and tapped lightly toward the bathroom, as if someone was watching her and would note her panic if she moved too quickly, her elbows too jagged.

  She opened the package swiftly, with the precision of a nurse, and stared down at the stick. Every woman she saw in the hospital had done this before. Each and every one of them had had a positive test result.

  She followed the instructions, peeing on the stick and placing it, closed, on the bathroom table before stepping into the living room and pacing, back and forth, as the prescribed two minutes swept by. Her palms wouldn’t quit sweating, and she wiped them on her dress. She wondered if this was the kind of stress you felt if, say, you were the Sheikh and monarch of a Middle-Eastern country. She supposed not.

  Finally, she crept back into the bathroom. She picked up the pregnancy test and blinked at it—two broad, insane blinks—as she affirmed her fears. Two lines stretched across the stick. Two. And two meant baby.

  Still holding the stick, she walked gingerly to her dining room and sat on a chair, gazing, unseeing, at the view of Seattle through the window. Her phone was before her on the table, but she couldn’t think of anyone she wanted to call. For the moment, she wanted to live with this knowledge in her heart. It was her own to keep.

  When babies were born in the hospital, she carried them away from their mothers to clean them and wrap them in tiny blankets. They didn’t look real. Wrapped in thin, paper-like skin, it was like you could see their insides squirming. They were little sacks of promise.

  Perhaps this was her promise for a better life, Rosie thought, then. She hadn’t had the courage to date after the Sheikh, nor the inclination. Maybe she was meant to just burst into motherhood, regardless of whether or not she had a partner. Maybe she would age without the love that generally came with it.

  Rosie stored the pregnancy test in the bathroom and dressed for bed, visions of the Sheikh in her head. God, that smile, she thought.

  She imagined what he would say if she told him. Perhaps he would fly to Seattle immediately and take her back to his restaurant, where they would talk excitedly about the future of their baby, about their future. She imagined he would kiss her stomach, her fingers, her neck, her breasts. Maybe he would fly her to his country, where she would be greeted like royalty. After all: wouldn’t she be carrying the king’s baby? Wouldn’t that mean something?

  She didn’t know, really. And even as she drifted off to sleep, she sensed that her daydreams were far too fully-formed, that her imagination had already gone wild with possibility. But that’s what a baby was, she reminded herself before finally drifting off to sleep. And if she couldn’t cling to hope, she didn’t have anything.

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