The sheikhs accidental b.., p.16
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       The Sheikh's Accidental Bride, p.16
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         Part #2 of The Sheikh Wants A Wife series by Holly Rayner
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  Nadya had only been to her sister’s house once before. She’d been struck before by the grandness of it. She’d objected to it, in a kind of sullen, liberal arts major way, but now she saw it differently. It was a grand house by most standards, yes, but having spent the last few days in the presence of extreme wealth, it was hard to be intimidated or resentful. Besides which, in the time since Nadya had seen this house, Jasmine had had time to live in it and make it her own. Everywhere Nadya looked, she kept seeing little pieces of her sister’s personality.

  Their parents were staying here, in another part of the house. But Jasmine had kindly gotten her mother to stay away for the time being. Now the girls sat in a seat under one of the bay windows, drinking some chai tea Jasmine had made for them. Nadya kept staring out at the wall of trees, leaves fluttering in the breeze, with the last remnant of a summer shower glistening in the late afternoon sunlight.

  “Have you been hurt?”

  It was the first thing that Jasmine said, once Nadya looked like she was ready to speak.

  Nadya shook her head emphatically, trying to think of how to phrase it. “No. If anything, I hurt myself. And I hurt someone else.” Nadya searched her sister’s face. She didn’t understand, and her confusion plainly showed. But then, how could she?

  “Can you tell me what happened?” Jasmine asked.

  Nadya hesitated. Maybe it would do her good, she thought, if she got it all out. But the thought of speaking the words out loud seemed impossible. She couldn’t even say them to Salman, who had felt closer to her than her own skin. Speaking the words to her sister, who hadn’t been there and couldn’t possibly understand, just couldn’t happen. Not yet, anyway.

  “Someday,” she said, and hoped it was true.

  Jasmine nodded, accepting. “Was there anything illegal? Anything permanent?”

  Was there? Impersonation? Identity theft? And the way she felt – the way she had probably made him feel… would that be permanent?

  “I don’t know,” she answered, honestly. Her sister deserved the truth. After all, here she was picking up the pieces. “But I don’t think there will be charges, either way.”

  “A man?”

  Nadya nodded, tears coming again to her eyes. “A good man.” Her voice was cracking as she spoke.

  Jasmine hugged her again. “When you’re ready,” she said, “we can talk about it.”

  The girls sat drinking their tea. They were close together, and it was peaceful. This wasn’t the reconciliation Nadya had expected, but it felt like was a reconciliation, regardless. Still, she ought to say it…

  “I’m sorry, you know… The things I said…”

  “I’m sorry, too,” Jasmine got out, before Nadya could elaborate.

  “I think I’m sorrier.”

  Jasmine had just a hint of a smile on her face as she replied. “You probably should be.”

  The girls laughed together, and in spite of the hollow pain still in Nadya’s chest, she began to feel that she might be all right.

  She tried to explain to Jasmine that she saw now that she’d been making assumptions about her husband, and about her relationship, that just weren’t fair or justified. But Jasmine just waved her away.

  “You don’t have to explain,” she said. “It’s not important. It’s in the past. You’re here, and you’re my sister. Nothing can take that away.”

  For the last few days, Nadya had been wishing she had Other Nadya’s life. She’d wanted her money, her future, and her fiancé. But she hadn’t thought, in all that time, of what she would lose in the trade.

  Jasmine treated her gently, and they made small, simple conversation while they sipped their tea. By the time their mother could hold her curiosity back no further and intruded, Nadya felt resilient enough to handle her barrage of questions.

  She went to sleep that night in a bed not quite as comfortable as the one she had slept in the previous two days. She wasn’t on top of the world, but she was with family. As she drifted off, she did the best she could to let that thought keep her thoughts of Salman at bay, without success. In the end, she resorted to accepting the sleeping pill that her mother had left on her bedside table, sensing it might come in useful.

  She went to sleep thinking only of the sunrise.

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