The sheikhs twin baby su.., p.12
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       The Sheikh's Twin Baby Surprise, p.12

         Part #1 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner
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  “Alima!” cried Sajid, leaping out of his chair. The couple’s daughters screamed out in fright, and the youngest, barely older than six, began to cry in fear.

  Mirah rushed to comfort her granddaughters while Omar and I moved swiftly around the table to attend to Alima. Omar barked at the staff to bring water and a cold compress, and they hurried to fulfill his orders.

  I kneeled next to Sajid on the floor and quickly examined Alima. She was breathing steadily, still fluttering on the edges of unconsciousness.

  “Rafiq, my bag,” I ordered. Quickly he delivered it, his strong face tainted with worry at the scene before him.

  I dug inside my doctor’s bag and instantly found my stethoscope. I placed it on Alima’s heart and listened to its quick, steady beating. It was slowing every second, which was a good sign, but I could hear something else in the echo of the stethoscope that made my own heart flutter a bit.

  Curiously, I moved the chestpiece down to her belly and was shocked at what I heard within: another, separate heartbeat.

  “Oh my God,” I whispered.

  “What is it?” cried Mirah, her granddaughters huddled around her like frightened baby ducklings.

  I looked up at Sajid. “Alima is pregnant.”

  The look on Sajid’s face told me that Alima hadn’t yet told him the news. He stared at me in shock, as if he were waiting for me to say “just kidding!” But when it didn’t come, he placed his ear on his wife’s stomach to listen for himself. I handed him the ears of the stethoscope so he could get a proper listen, and his eyes filled up with tears at the sound of his child’s heartbeat deep within his wife’s womb.

  “By God, it’s true,” he whispered.

  I looked up at Omar, who was hovering over me with worry all over his face.

  “That’s why her blood pressure dropped,” I said to Sajid. “She needs to go home and get some rest, and be seen by her OB/GYN.”

  “But why did she collapse?”

  “I’m not entirely sure, but her vitals are steadying. I think she’s probably just tired, stressed and overheated. Some pregnancies are difficult.” I didn’t add how grateful I was in that moment that mine had not been so far.

  As I spoke, Alima’s eyes were fluttering open, consciousness returning to her like a slow awakening from a dream. She moaned under her breath, mumbling words that didn’t make sense.

  I shushed her quietly and told her to rest, not to try and move. “Your family is here,” I told her in a soft, even voice. “Just relax and breathe deeply. Everything is fine.”

  “Call an ambulance,” said Omar to the wait staff.

  To his own bodyguards, Sajid said, “Get my palace doctors ready to see her immediately. I want the same OB/GYNs that delivered my daughters and I want them waiting for us by the time we arrive.” Sajid then looked at me and humbly asked, “Is she all right, Carrie? Is our child okay?”

  “She’ll be fine, she just fainted,” I told him, putting my hand on his. “I can’t tell anything about the baby from this, but I’m sure the child is fine, too. We just need to get her back home so she can rest.”

  By the time Alima came to, the ambulance had arrived and carefully helped load her into the back. The EMTs confirmed what I suspected: that there were no signs of anything serious happening to Alima, only exhaustion and strain on her delicate body as it worked to grow a child in the blistering desert heat. Mirah insisted that Sajid ride with his wife, while she would take the girls in her limo to meet them back at Sajid’s palace.

  Before he stepped into the back of the ambulance, Omar stopped his brother with a silent gaze and put a strong hand on his shoulder. Something quiet passed between them for just a moment, before Sajid disappeared into the back of the white truck.

  Omar and I stood off to the side of the movement. He held me close to him, rubbing my back lovingly.

  “All the dinners you take me to are so interesting,” I joked, breathlessly.

  Omar let out a single chuckle and wrapped his arm around my shoulder, kissing the top of my head. “I’m glad Alima is going to be all right. I don’t know what my family would do if they lost another member.”

  “I know.”

  “It all happened so fast.”

  “It usually does,” I said.

  “I’m glad you were here,” he said, pulling me closer into his side.

  “I didn’t do much,” I insisted.

  “You are a goddess.”

  For a moment we stood in silence, watching the reflection of the setting sun in the windows of the city high-rises.

  “Well,” I said to him with a sigh. “I suppose it’s a race, now.”

  “A race?” he said.

  “According to your mother’s decree, if Alima is pregnant with a boy, whichever of our babies is born first will declare the heir of Al-Thakri,” I said with some sadness in my voice. “I’m sorry, my love. I thought we had guaranteed your rule.”

  Omar gave me sweet half-smile, and put his lips on mine gently. “Whatever happens, Carrie, you have already given me the world.”

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