Sold to the sheikh his i.., p.12
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       His Indecent Proposal, p.12
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         Part #1 of Sold To The Sheikh series by Holly Rayner
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Mia sat in her living room, pretending to watch TV, drinking an herbal concoction Dr. Farber had told her would be safe to continue drinking throughout her pregnancy-when and if that ever happened. She had liked the taste so much that even though she no longer realistically thought she would ever be pregnant, she had taken to drinking it when she wanted something hot.

  Without warning, Mia's heart started racing. She looked around the room; the walls felt so much closer than they had only minutes before, her living room seemed too quiet even with the TV on, and she had the sudden suspicion that if she tried to leave the house, she would find the doors locked from the outside. "I have to get out of here," she said, putting down her mug and standing up quickly. "If I stay in this stupid house for even five minutes longer I'm going to lose my mind completely."

  Mia went into her bedroom and grabbed her jacket and purse. She unplugged her phone, slipped it into the dark confines of her purse and hurried through the hallway to the front door. For a terrifying moment, she was unable to turn the deadbolt latch, and Mia's heart beat faster and harder inside of her at the thought that, ridiculous as it was, her suspicion of being locked in from the outside was somehow accurate. The next instant, the lock turned over and Mia pulled the door open with a hard jerk. She locked the door behind her and darted down the three steps to her car. Her keys clinked and clattered and nearly fell from her anxious hands, but she managed to unlock the driver's side and get inside, buckling her seat belt in an automatic movement.

  On an impulse, Mia drove out of her neighborhood and headed east on the main road, traveling past the school without even sparing a glance to see if the PE class was outside. She drove towards the ocean, to the piers; it was the only place she could think of, the only place that would be open enough, broad enough, and far enough away from her confining house to give her the relief she craved. There was almost no one there in the middle of the week, so she was able to find parking with no problem.

  Her heart started to slow down to normal speed as she walked away from the parking lot and out onto the pier itself, the wind blowing her hair back from her face, the seagulls screaming to each other and at the few people below, catching thermals to swoop and dive. Mia took a deep breath and followed the walkway to the end of the pier. She looked out over the water, towards the horizon, and leaned against one of the pilings, letting the sheer openness of the scene in front of her trickle through her brain, infecting her with a calm she hadn't felt in weeks.

  As her panic cleared, Mia started to think about her situation. "I can't keep living like this," she said to herself quietly. "I can't. It's just too much." She took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, imagining-for an instant-that she was blowing the few, fluffy clouds gathered over the ocean away from her. She had two choices, she thought. On the one hand, she could go back to Rami on the basis that they keep their relationship strictly professional; she could take his money and refuse to go to lunch with him, or spend any time with him which wasn't directly related to her conceiving. She could just make the whole arrangement nothing more than a business transaction.

  Or, she thought, worrying at her bottom lip, I could break it off completely. I could tell him to find someone else, that obviously I'm not a good candidate to be the mother of his child. The money would absolutely stop coming in if she did that, but Mia was less concerned about money now than she would have ever thought she could be when she had started the process. If she broke things off with him entirely and refused to continue the contract, Mia knew that she would never see Rami again. They'd part ways completely, and she not only wouldn't have a child to show for it, but she would lose a man who she had come to consider something of a friend. He had done so much for her, above and beyond what they'd initially agreed. "I'd have to leave town," Mia muttered to herself. It wouldn't be too difficult with the money she already had in her account. She could go to a new town, pick up a new teaching job, and just ask her mother to never again mention the six months or more she had spent as someone's unsuccessful surrogate.

  Catching a blur of movement on the right-hand side of her peripheral vision, Mia turned instinctively. She'd gotten so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't even seen the person approaching. As she turned completely to confirm that it wasn't anyone coming after her for some reason, Mia saw-instead-that the figure was none other than Rami, dressed down in jeans and a hoodie. Mia stared, for a moment unable to process what she was seeing, begging her brain to discover that she was mistaken. But in spite of the more modest-than-usual clothes, she knew for certain this was her boss, her client, her friend; the man who right at that particular moment, she least wanted to see of anyone in the world.


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