The sheikhs twin baby su.., p.35
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       The Sheikh's Twin Baby Surprise, p.35

         Part #1 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner
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  It was full on dark by the time she left El Gato Negro, and Morgan slid into her car once more, locking the doors immediately and taking a deep breath. Whatever Hassan was involved in, it wasn’t good, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a part of it.

  As she pulled out of the lot, she drove north, thinking only of trying to find a motel she could crash in for a good night’s sleep.

  It was around twenty minutes later when Morgan realized that the pair of headlights that had been behind her since leaving the bar weren’t going anywhere but her direction. Glancing in her rearview mirror one more time, she took another turn at random and sped up.

  The car took the turn as well, staying exactly the same distance behind her.

  A chill ran down Morgan’s spine. She was being followed.

  Taking deep breaths to calm herself down, Morgan continued down the road, keeping an eye out for anywhere she could go that was well-populated—like such a place even existed out in the boonies.

  A glowing red light caught her eye up ahead, and she drove until she reached another tacky-looking bar where the parking lot was filled with cars. Red neon spelled out the words “The Painted Pony”, accompanied by a rearing horse. Morgan could care less what the bar was—she only cared about staying in public, in front of witnesses…

  Morgan parked her car right up next to the front of the building, squeezing it between two massive pickup trucks. She locked the car and held her keys firmly between her fingers—the better to use as a weapon, if necessary—and strode quickly into the bar.

  This place was much more touristy than the other establishment’s she’d visited that day. There was a mechanical bull in the back with college girls taking turns riding it; country music was blaring as long lines of people drank cheap beer and danced in step with each other, laughing and having a good time.

  Morgan made her way up to the bar, taking a seat, and a young man who looked like he was still in college came right up to her.

  “Can I get you something to drink, miss?” he asked with a smile.

  Wondering just how many times she’d heard that question in the past 24 hours, Morgan ordered her usual soda and tried not to glance around too suspiciously. The bartender brought her drink over, and she took a sip while eyeing some particularly nasty-looking nuts in a plastic bowl, wondering if it was worth it. Her stomach forgot all about its hunger, however, when two very large, very tattooed men sat down on either side of her.

  “Hey kid,” one of them growled.

  The bartender looked up and approached them with caution. Clearly he had dealt with these two before.

  “Yeah?” he said, and the meathead on the left laughed.

  “Now what kind of manners are those? Poor customer service, if you ask me.”

  “I don’t want any trouble,” the bartender said, but his voice shook. He was no match for these two, and he knew it.

  The one on the right laughed this time. “Trouble? Us? Never! Two buds on tap. Now,” he said, his glare piercing through the young bartender.

  Morgan felt a pang of sympathy for him, but it was nothing compared to her own tremors. Without backup she was on her own out here. Hell, she didn’t even know where the nearest police station was.

  Two beers slid onto the bar on either side of her before the shadow of the barkeep passed into the back room. Clearly he felt the need to hide, which was hardly encouraging.

  “Hey, Johnny Boy,” said the one on the left. “You hear about that little gal who came into town asking questions?”

  “You know, now that you mention it, I think I did hear something about some girl asking about things that don’t concern her,” the one on the right replied. He was stroking his bearded face as Morgan kept her gaze on her drink, preparing to pull out her gun if necessary.

  The men took deep drinks of their beers.

  “I’d hate to see what would happen to someone like that. Bad men ‘round these parts. All kinds of maniacs roaming about. The things they could do to a defenseless young woman, well, I can’t even say them out loud,” Johnny Boy said, and Morgan could hear the grin in his voice.

  They were threatening her, torturously.

  Her gun felt heavy tucked against her calf, strapped in tight. She would have to be quick. She didn’t believe they would do anything in public, but she couldn’t bank on that guess, either. Morgan felt a cool breeze dance along her back, and realized the bar area had gone noticeably silent.

  As the dancers in the corner laughed on and the mechanical bull took on a new rider, Morgan finally looked up to one of the meatheads, and found him staring with a frosty expression at the door. She turned then, and there he was.


  He was unmistakable. He had aged since the picture was taken, but maybe it just appeared that way because of the dark stubble clinging to his strong jaw. His eyes were dark and hooded as he glared at the men either side of her.

  Everyone else in the bar immediately found a strong interest in their drinks, keeping their gazes down.

  Hassan grinned then, and Morgan’s heart did a little flip.

  “Alex. Johnny Boy. Long time no see,” he said, his voice holding only a small trace of his native accent. His tone was deep and masculine, exactly as Morgan had imagined it.

  The men on either side of her chugged the last of their beers before they rose and turned to face Hassan.

  “Sheikh,” Alex said. He cracked his knuckles as he approached, but Hassan continued to stare him and Johnny Boy down.

  Morgan watched in wonder as the men spit on the ground at his feet, then made their exit out the front door.

  Hassan stared ahead, and Morgan could tell he was listening for their exit. She watched through the window as their car pulled out of the lot, and Hassan took a breath and made his way over to the bar.

  The frightened bartender reappeared to take the empty glasses from the counter.

  “Did they pay you, Josh?” Hassan asked, not unkindly.

  The bartender shrugged and took a deep breath. “Nah, but it’s all right. I gave ‘em the cheap stuff,” he grinned.

  Her gaze focused intently on her soda, Morgan felt rather than saw Hassan turn to look down at her.

  “Are you all right?” he asked, his voice gentle.

  She looked up at him, into those deep brown eyes she had examined so many times in that picture, and saw that there was so much more in them than could be captured in a photograph.

  She let out a shaky breath that she hadn’t known she was holding on to. “Yeah, I think so.”

  “I’m Hassan,” he said with a nod.

  “Morgan,” she replied with a small smile.

  “Those aren’t the kind of dudes you want to get caught up with, Morgan,” he said, and Morgan raised an eyebrow at him.

  “I’d gathered as much. You think I asked for their attention?”

  Hassan relented quickly. “Of course not, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that.”

  An awkward silence followed, and even though the music was blaring and people were laughing all around them again, the growl of Morgan’s stomach could still be heard. She blushed, taking a drink in an attempt to quiet it down.

  Hassan looked back at the bartender. “Hey, Josh, can we get a couple of menus over here?”

  Josh reached for a pair of crusty paper menus behind the counter and slid them in front of Hassan and Morgan.

  Taking a look at the offerings, Morgan quickly ordered a burger and fries, and Hassan ordered a steak.

  “So, what brings a city girl like you all the way out here?”

  Morgan lifted an inquisitive eyebrow. “What makes you think I’m from the city?”

  Hassan laughed. It was a warm sound—the kind one could never tire of.

  “Your clothes, for starters. No one this side of Waco is that trendy.”

  Morgan glanced down at her simple outfit—a blouse and a pair of pants wide enough to hide t
he gun that rested against her calf. Nothing special. Still, as she glanced around the room it became obvious that she did indeed stand out. Everyone was wearing some version of plaid and jeans, some paired with boots and a cowboy hat. Compared that that, Morgan was basically in a ball gown.

  She grinned. “I guess you’re right,” she said, not answering his question.

  Hassan didn’t miss a beat. “Why are you here, Morgan?” he asked again. His gaze was direct, like he could see right through her.

  She smiled her most winning smile. “Just passing through. Wanted to see what life was like on the outskirts of New Mexico,” she lied, failing to hide her excitement as their food arrived in front of them.

  Morgan didn’t care how unladylike it was—she was starving. She pounced on her French fries, smothering them in ketchup before taking bite after glorious bite. Like her father, Morgan had always had a weakness for junk food. It was why she worked out as much as she did.

  “I can’t say that I’m finding it terribly exciting,” she blurted out between mouthfuls.

  Hassan cut through his steak and took a bite, chewing for a few moments before he spoke again. “Not that exciting? You were just about to be abducted by two skinheads. I’d say that’s notable, wouldn’t you?”

  Morgan frowned. “I’m sure they were just being bullies, and nothing more,” she said, not sounding entirely convincing, even to herself. Unwilling to meet Hassan’s eye, she focused instead on her burger, doing her best not to shove the whole thing in her mouth at once.

  “Uh huh,” Hassan said, staring at her profile. “So tell me, what do you think about motorcycles?”

  Morgan looked up then, surprised. “Um, I think they’re okay. Why?”

  Hassan grinned. “Ever wanted to ride on the back of one?”

  “Let me get this straight. You tell me I’m on the verge of being kidnapped, then you, a stranger, offer to give me a ride on your bike, with no destination in mind?”

  “Well at least I’m a gentleman—I bought you dinner first, didn’t I?” he replied with a grin, tossing a few bills on the bar.

  Morgan stared at the money, then back at Hassan.

  “I don’t need you to pay for me,” she said, stubborn to the last. In truth, the more of Hassan’s parents’ money she spent, the worse she felt; even though she had found him, there was still no guarantee that she would be able to get him back home.

  Hassan stood. “Of course you don’t, but if you’ll allow me, I think I can show you what the ‘outskirts’ of New Mexico really have to offer. Do you dare?” he asked, his gaze full of challenge.

  He reached out a hand for her to take, and she glanced at it before meeting his eyes again. God, he was handsome. He wore a simple pair of jeans and a black T-shirt, like some Middle-Eastern James Dean.

  Morgan narrowed her eyes, then slid her hand into his. It was warm and dry, the skin somewhat calloused. She liked the way it felt.

  “I do,” she said, rising and following him out of the bar.

  As the Sheikh strode toward a large, wide-handled motorcycle, Morgan cast a glance at her car.

  Following her gaze, Hassan said, “Don’t worry about that. Lots of folks drink too much and leave their cars for the night here. They always just come back to get ‘em in the morning. Not much of a parking problem around here, you know.”

  “I’ve noticed,” Morgan said, trying to ignore the increasingly rapid beating of her heart as they approached the bike.

  She told herself that she was simply doing her job; she had found her missing person and had to stick to him like glue. If she was being honest with herself, though, she was thrilled to be going on an adventure with him.

  They reached the bike and Hassan pulled a helmet off of the handlebars, handing it to Morgan.

  “Here. It might be a bit big, but it should do the trick.”

  Morgan plopped the heavy helmet over her head, shifting it until she could see out of the front. “Don’t you have a helmet?” she asked, her voice muffled behind the mouth piece.

  Hassan grinned. “That’s the only one. I don’t do this all that often, as it goes.”

  “What, give your only helmet to a lady while you seduce her with your wheels?”

  “Who said I was seducing you?” he asked, his grin carving a dimple in his left cheek.

  Morgan wanted to kiss that dimple, and then mentally chided herself for thinking as much. She shrugged her shoulders and said nothing as Hassan mounted the bike and looked over to her.

  “Hop on,” he said, and she straddled her legs around his waist, holding onto the side of the bike. When he turned the engine on, the smell of gasoline and the vibration of the bike was an instant rush. Morgan’s stomach filled with butterflies, and as Hassan pulled out of the lot her arms wrapped around his middle of their own volition.

  Under the full moon, the desert landscape took on an ethereal glow. Morgan breathed in the dry air as the wind blew all around them, encasing them in their own little bubble.

  Hassan drove on the main road for some time, until Morgan saw a mountainscape come into view ahead of them. The Sheikh drove right up one of the hills, curling the bike onto a dirt road and continuing up the hilltop through scattered brush.

  Morgan tried not to feel nervous as Hassan drove them deeper into the woods; his parents were good people, and her instincts told her that Hassan was, too. Still, she could tell he was dangerous—she just wasn’t sure what kind of danger she was in.

  The bike’s lights flashed on an old wooden cabin, nestled within a smattering of trees, and Hassan pulled the motorcycle in front of it, turning the engine off.

  Fighting off a pang of disappointment that the ride was over, Morgan pulled her leg around the back of the bike to dismount. Reluctantly, she slid her arms back from around Hassan’s middle, which was clearly muscular—she could feel his six-pack through the thin fabric of his shirt. Her legs felt stiff from being in the same position for so long, and she stretched as Hassan tended to his bike.

  Removing the helmet, she tried to assemble her hair into something decent, handing it back to Hassan as he turned around.

  “Thanks, Morgan,” he said, taking it. “Now, why don’t we go inside, and you can tell me the truth about why you’re really here.”

  Morgan took a breath, meeting Hassan’s stare head on. There was no point in lying any longer. He’d seen right through her the moment he’d sat at the bar.

  Hassan: The Sheikh’s Bad Boy Baby is available now.

  Holly Rayner

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