The sheikhs triplet baby.., p.17
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       The Sheikh's Triplet Baby Surprise, p.17
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         Part #3 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner

  “Anyway. That’s why I didn’t want to go in for the interview today,” Aziz told her. “I know what I know about our family. I know it’s beautiful, that it’s wholesome. And I don’t feel the need to prove that to anyone else. I mean, look at us.”

  Amity assessed the scene, then: the young, gorgeous family beneath the clouds and the sun, eating slowly in the garden. She shivered with what could only be deep, unquestionable joy. “It’s a kind of paradise, isn’t it?” she breathed.

  “It is. But it’s nothing I can put into words,” Aziz told her. “I can’t describe pure joy to a television interviewer. I doubt it’s ever been done, and I don’t think I’m talented enough to capture it.”

  Amity bowed her head. “When you have happiness, it’s so hard to point your finger at it. It’s so hard to frame it. It passes through you, and you become it,” she said.

  “Exactly,” Aziz said. “And I don’t want to ask for anyone else to give their approval. My life is more than enough for me. It completes me.” He took her hand, then. He traced her fingers with his own. “You’re more than I could have ever asked for, Amity. And our babies—well, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

  Amity crept closer to him and leaned her head against his shoulder, nuzzling him. Beside them, their babies drifted into slumber. “Your people will know how good you are in time,” she told him. “Your image doesn’t need to be cultivated. There are so many better things to do with your time.”

  “Like making love to you,” he whispered. He kissed her deeply, then, bringing his hand behind her head to catch her. They held each other on the blanket, beneath the sun, feeling the path form before them: the path that would lead them to a beautiful future, to aging alongside one another, to finding peace and hope for each passing day.

  “The world is a better place because you’re in it,” Amity murmured between kisses. “I need you to know that.”

  They spent the rest of the afternoon in the garden, at times joking together, passing the babies between them. The triplets cooed on the blanket, each in their matching purple onesie, kicking their honey-colored feet into the air.

  “Kamil looks just like you,” Amity laughed, tracing her finger over the baby’s cheek.

  “Then he’ll be a heartbreaker,” Aziz said, cradling Una’s head. “But we’ll never let the girls out of the house. Right?”

  Amity shook her head, her eyes dancing. “You aren’t going to be one of those fathers, are you?”

  “You know I can only be one of those fathers,” he said. “I’ll destroy any man who tries to break these girls’ hearts.”

  “They’ll love you more than anything, but they’ll be mortified by everything you do,” Amity teased.

  “I suppose that’s my lot in life.”

  “I’m looking forward to that,” Amity laughed.

  They continued like this, imagining the world they’d create for their family. Imagining the careers they’d have, the places they’d visit, the way they’d play tricks on their mother and father in the grand mansion.

  “Do you ever think about what you want to do next?” Amity asked Aziz several hours later. They were both splayed out on the blanket, their eyes to the late afternoon sky. It was nearly nightfall, and the blue was shrouded with orange and pink.

  “I think about starting my own charity, sometimes,” Aziz said, his voice thoughtful. “So often, I don’t approve of the tactics of the existing ones in Al-Mabbar.”

  Amity considered this, her mind rolling. Naturally, launching a charity would improve Aziz’s image immensely—but she didn’t want to say it, knowing full well that he wasn’t doing this for image reasons. “I’ll help you,” she murmured.

  “You would?” he asked her. His voice was quiet, lost in thought.

  “Of course. I’m here to help you with everything. For the rest of my life.”

  A few minutes later, the pair of them collected their children and headed upstairs, toward the nursery. They knelt low in the bassinets, splaying the babies comfortably, ensuring they didn’t wake them. And they stood, hand in hand, watching them sleeping.

  “It’s amazing how much they look alike, even now,” Aziz said. “I know they’ll all be so different one day.”

  “But they’ll still be ours,” Amity murmured, rubbing at the muscles in her back.

  “They will. And we’ll belong to each other. Even through the wrinkles and the weirdly-placed hairs that’ll grow from our cheeks and our chins and our backs,” Aziz laughed, tossing his hand over her shoulders.

  “Don’t say that so quickly,” Amity teased him, walking back toward the hallway, toward their bedroom. “I don’t know what I’ll think of your graying self in a few years.”

  “You’ll probably think I’m hideous,” Aziz whispered. He wrapped his arms around her and lifted her up, carrying her toward the steps. “You won’t be able to look at me, let alone sleep next to me, or even make love to me.”

  Amity felt such lust for him in that moment. She nodded, leaning into him, linking their lips together. “You’re right. It’ll just be too disgusting for me,” she whispered. “It’ll be too much.”

  “I’m glad you agree,” he said. He lifted her onto the bed and lowered himself over her, kissing her cheek, her neck, before removing her dress. “I’m glad you agree that we just won’t be right for each other then.”

  Amity kissed him once more, her passion for him beaming through her. “Just shut up now,” she teased him, taking him over her. “Just shut up and be mine, now.”

  They lay on the large bed, in the stunning mansion in downtown Al-Mabbar, lost in the fury of their love for each other. As a PR executive, Amity knew she couldn’t have formed a more perfect image for her life. Luck was clearly on her side.

  The End

  To read what happened to Amity and Aziz next, sign up to Holly Rayner’s Subscriber Club below to download FREE bonus chapters, as well as news and discounts!

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  And now, as promised, here are the first few chapters of my prior novel, Bought For One Night: The Sheikh’s Offer

  ONE

  It was a beautiful spring day. The sun was shining, and a cool breeze wafted over the hills and down into LA. Glittering in front of me, my private pool beckoned as I sipped on a frozen margarita, lounging away another afternoon under the California sun.

  It should have been a perfect moment—one of those moments every wannabe actress in this godforsaken city dreams about having. It’s a moment that tells you unconditionally that you’ve made it. But there was no trace of that feeling for me; only a growing dread kept me company, eating away at the perfection of the day.

  I tried my best to chase it away with a refreshing swim and a good meal, but it was no use. My anxiety was king and all I could do was obey its every command. All that glittered here was not gold and it was getting harder and harder to ignore.

  My mansion was modest by some Hollywood standards, yet it was still one of the largest on the street, formerly owned by some Golden Age starlet whose name I could never remember. I always had to look it up before I had a dinner or wrap party so I could regale my guests with its history, and usually they ate it up. It didn’t really matter what her name was. Soon, I might be joining her in the halls of obscurity, a name for the next It-Girl to forget when she bought this place out from under me.

  It was true what they said—Hollywood was a bitch goddess who devoured everyone, and now it was my turn. After a glorious ten-year run in my dream career, it seemed the well was drying up. Twenty-seven years old and apparently I was already washed up.

  I knew deep down that it wasn’t true—I had so much more art to devote my energy and passion to. But it didn’t seem like the industry wanted it from me anymore. One minute they adored me, with casting directors knocking down my door; the next, all I was offered were B-list horror movies and cliché TV soap romances.

  All of it had changed the minute things with Jack fell apart; that fact was
impossible to ignore. I was already in trouble the day I had the audacity to turn 27, because Hollywood is nothing if not predictably sexist. Things took a brutal turn when he left me for a younger girl, and the media took the story and ran with it.

  Some people were on my side, sure; plenty of women in the industry had similar experiences to share. But it wasn’t enough, and too many people were eager to congratulate Jack on his girlfriend trade-in abilities, as if they were hoping he’d let them in on his secrets. They wanted to be just like him, with a hot blonde actress ten years his junior as arm candy. It wasn’t long before Jack spread stories about me being the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ to solidify that he had done the right thing by cheating on me. He had a bad-boy reputation to maintain, and the more notoriety he gained for doing something shocking, the better for his career.

  So he had sacrificed us—me—to that end, and it had worked, with me left alone to clean up the carnage. Every day, it felt like there was less and less to salvage. Even back when I was young and squeezing in auditions between waitressing shifts, I hadn’t felt as hopeless as I did now.

  Lounging pool-side didn’t last long. After I finished my margarita, my restless legs forced me up from the davenport and back into the air-conditioned silence of the mansion. I didn’t have any kids or pets to bring life to the place; I didn’t even have a boyfriend to be arguing with over something petty. The house was quiet as a tomb, if much more comfortable.

  I put on a comfortable jumpsuit and decided to turn on the TV before my brain consumed itself with worry. I spent day after day pacing around this place, waiting for word from my agent about potential new jobs. And every day, the silence seemed to grow, as did the pile of bills. Without a constant flow of top-tier projects, affording the A-list lifestyle was quickly becoming unsustainable. The public liked to imagine that us movie stars were set for life once we had our first blockbuster hit. Most movie stars I knew would gladly accept that reality. But the truth was, we were just like them—without work, it was ramen for dinner and the threat of the lights not turning on. Add a few zeroes to our salaries, of course, but we were as trapped as anyone if we couldn’t get work.

  I had just started to sink into the new cable crime drama all the critics were raving about when I my alarm system detected a car in the driveway. Looking out the window, I frowned as I spotted a black town car. I wasn’t expecting anybody today.

  My heart froze up when I recognized my agent, Katherine Murray, getting out of the back seat. She paid the driver and he backed out of the driveway as quickly as he’d come. Seconds later, Katherine was on my doorstep, buzzing the intercom.

  Even though she was exactly the person I wanted to hear from, seeing her show up in a hire car instead of her own BMW was a disconcerting sign. I turned off the TV and tossed the remote on the couch. “Jesus,” I muttered to myself. “This can’t be good.”

  Instead of answering the intercom, I went straight to the front door to let her in. Katherine smiled up at me, but it was a tight, anxious smile. Her left hand clutched the expensive white leather bag she always carried in a white-knuckled grip.

  “Julianne! Hi, sugar plum,” said Katherine. “I’m not bothering you, am I?”

  I rolled my eyes. “Gimme a break. Bothering me? You know I’ve just been pacing around here waiting for you.” I stepped back from the door to let her in. “Where’s your car?”

  “Oh, nowhere. Jonathan and I have been taking turns, that’s all,” she said lightly.

  Jonathan was Katherine’s husband, also an agent, and what she didn’t say was that two married agents sharing a car in this city signaled serious trouble for at least one of them.

  I didn’t push any further. It wasn’t like I was in any position to lecture Katherine about hiding the truth of her circumstances. My whole life had become an elaborate show, masking what was going on underneath. Refusing to do interviews while I ‘healed’ from the pain of Jack was acceptable in the industry, at least for a short time. Eventually, though, I would have to break my silence—either by getting back to work on a big project, or speaking about what had happened in an attempt to keep my name on everyone’s mind. I desperately wanted the former.

  As usual, Katherine tapped on her kitten heels through the foyer, past the living room, and made a beeline for the enormous kitchen. She took a seat on a barstool at the island where she began to pull files from her neatly organized bag and spread them across the marble countertop.

  She waved a finger at me. “You mind pouring me a glass of something?”

  “What do you want?”

  “Vodka and diet tonic? I’m on a cleanse.”

  I served us both a glass of the favorite low-cal drink of all Hollywood women and sat on a stool across from her as she sifted through her files. Katherine was very meticulous in her work; it was part of what attracted me to her when I was starting out. She cared about her clients,
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