The sheikhs accidental b.., p.11
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       The Sheikh's Accidental Bride, p.11
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         Part #2 of The Sheikh Wants A Wife series by Holly Rayner
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Back inside the pulsating heat of Rudy’s, Nadya and Salman danced for hours, only stopping for long enough to catch their breaths. Around 4 a.m., the crowd finally began to thin. Nadya noticed a change in the music. It got slower and slower as the night drew to a close.

  But the time the surly bartender yelled for last orders, Nadya and Salman found themselves slow dancing. Their arms were around each other, with just enough beat to the music to be able to still call it dancing.

  It was an excuse to stay close to him – to remain in the moment like when he had carried her. She held him tightly. After they were kicked out, she would tell him the truth, and that would be the end of it. He would yell, perhaps. Or maybe he would stare at her with a silent anger that would hurt more deeply. She was just tired enough, and tipsy enough from the hours of bone-shaking beats to be able to face it.

  And then she’d catch the subway, and then another, until she got to Penn Station. She’d take the nearly abandoned, north-bound commuter train out to Hastings-On-Hudson, where she’d arrive just in time to catch her sister heading out for her morning run.

  Her heart raced as she and Salman left the venue. There was no pink in the horizon yet, but the sky was a lighter, duller blue, and she could only see the brightest of the stars.

  The first step was to withdraw her hand from his, but when she tried, he wouldn’t let it go.

  “Nadya,” he said, and she was struck again by how lovely his accent was as he said her name. “The night’s over.”

  It was like he already knew what was coming.

  “Yes,” she said, clearing her throat.

  “Do you know what that means?”

  “Salman…”

  She tried to slip her hand out of his, again, but he gripped it tighter, and held it with his other hand, as well, bringing it up to his chest, against his heart. He wouldn’t let her finish.

  “It means that your part of the date is over, and now it is my turn to show you something I love.”

  She’d been on the edge. She’d been ready to say it. She’d been prepared to let him go. But to overcome her desire to stay with him, and her curiosity about what he had to show her next? It was too much.

  She submitted, and asked him where he was taking her, but he wouldn’t tell her. Instead, he called a car service on his phone, and walked toward the park, where he said the car would meet them.

  The square in front of the library, at the top tip of the park, was surreal without people. There weren’t even cars going around the intersection that wound around the arch. So they walked underneath it, and looking up at it without saying anything. After the noise of the hours they’d spent at Rudy’s, the silence was too precious to break.

  The car came and carried them back into Manhattan. Salman told the driver to hurry – that they were racing the sun – and he complied. They flew down blocks that, any other time of day, would be packed and impossible to navigate.

  “It feels like the city is ours,” Nadya said, just as they came to a stop in front of a nondescript skyscraper.

  “Some of it is.” They got out of the car, and Salman continued. “This building, for instance. My family owns it.”

  Nadya’s jaw dropped involuntarily. “You own a building in New York?”

  She shouldn’t have seemed so surprised – not if she wanted to maintain her cover. But she didn’t care about that any more. She couldn’t.

  “We own several. But this one is the best. Do you want to see why?”

  Dumbly, she nodded, and then let him take her hand, and lead her in.

  The doorman didn’t challenge Salman. He didn’t say anything to him, only nodded, respectfully. They must have seemed like they wanted their privacy, Nadya thought.

  The elevator ride was dizzying, both because it was quick, and because the entire back wall of the elevator was a window that showed the city falling away beneath them. When the door opened, they found themselves on the roof. The wind was strong up here, and it was cold despite the summer’s warmth. It blew wisps of Nadya’s hair around, and she struggled to keep them pinned down with her hands before giving up and letting go.

  There was a Plexiglas barrier around the edge, and as she grew close to it, it gave her the same feeling the climb up to the helipad had: that she was high above it all, but might topple off at any moment.

  “I need you to see this. I know there’s something going on. I’m not as blind as you think I am.”

  He said it like a question – like he wanted her to contradict him. But she didn’t. His next words sounded almost dejected, with his suspicions all but confirmed.

  “Whatever happens, Nadya… Whatever is going on in that gorgeous head of yours,” he continued, “I need you to know what seeing dawn break over the city looks like. It’s too good for you not ever to have seen it.”

  She went to respond, but he put his finger on her lips to stop her. “No, there’s nothing to say. I just… let me have this with you.”

  How could she say otherwise? She turned back to the city. The eastern horizon was glowing now. It was dawn, and, like it or not, soon everything would be revealed.

  Salman was standing behind her, and she felt his arms wind around her. She caught his hands, and held them in hers, in front of her. His hands were so familiar now.

  The light on her face warmed her, in spite of the breeze. It felt like it warmed her heart, too. Since the bathtub, when she’d seen their future together, and known that it could never happen, there was a piece of her that had been cold. Numb, even. Even as she’d enjoyed his company, and loved hearing his laugh, and his words, and everything about being with him, it had remained locked. But the sun was rising, and his arms were around her, and she felt something beginning to thaw.

  She let go of the fear of what he would say when he found out. She let go of the thought of him and Other Nadya, standing together on the podium, pledging their lives to one another. She let go of the guilt of the deception she had found herself caught in, and then perpetuated.

  She let herself go, to be caught by his arms, and held fast against the wind, warmed by the sun he’d brought her that little bit closer to. She could feel his head, down low close to hers. So close were his lips, that she could hear the tiny sound they made as he opened them to speak.

  In one quick, deft motion, she turned her face and her body into him, bringing her lips to his. She found them waiting for her. And as she kissed him, she felt as though she had been lifted up off of her feet, off of the rooftop, and out of a city so tall, but still not tall enough to reach them.

  ***

 
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