The sheikhs triplet baby.., p.35
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       The Sheikh's Triplet Baby Surprise, p.35

         Part #3 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner
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  Morgan sat like that for some time, trying to decide what to do. Realizing that Hassan had a right to have a say in this, her stomach twisted as she accepted that she would have to find him again.

  Packing a light bag, Morgan stopped by the bank to take out a wad of cash before she pointed her car west and headed back to New Mexico—another nine-hour drive.

  She realized she was having to stop far more frequently for bathroom breaks than the last time she’d made the drive, and that some of the gas stations she stopped at had a more pungent smell than she remembered. How could she not have realized that she was pregnant? She tried to distract herself with country music, but the songs often hit a little too close to home. A couple of times she actually burst into tears, devastated by this turn of events and feeling completely and totally alone.

  What was she going to do? For all she knew, Hassan could be halfway to China by now, his bike sitting on a ferry boat while he lived out his wild, adventurous life. How would there be any room in that life for a baby?

  Morgan fought back waves of panic as she drove on and on, finally reaching the bar where she had first laid eyes on Hassan. Taking a glance at the parking lot, she noted that his bike wasn’t there. She did her best to remember the road to his cabin, keeping an eye on the hillside he had guided them to all those weeks ago.

  A small dirt road opened up, and Morgan squeezed her car onto the pathway until she couldn’t drive any further.

  Exiting the car, she walked up the rest of the way. Hassan’s shack was right where she remembered, but there was still no motorcycle. Not knowing where else to go, Morgan hiked up the path they had taken that night until she reached the peak overlooking the New Mexico landscape.

  Gazing out into the sunset, Morgan allowed herself a moment to reminisce on the beautiful night they had spent there. Laying on the warm rocks, she permitted herself to enjoy that spot, letting her mind take a small break from the meltdown she’d been having since realizing the reality of her condition.

  Morgan had never particularly wanted children, but she hadn’t not wanted them either. It was more that her life had been so disjointed that she had never really had time to consider what it would be like having a child. There was no stability in her life, nothing that would be suitable for raising another human being, at least. Now she would have to consider all of that—every aspect of her life. If Hassan didn’t want the child, there was a chance she’d end up a single mother. Maybe she would have to take up her mother’s offer and move to Florida, as disheartening as that concept was.

  Morgan shivered as the sky transformed from creamy oranges and pinks to bluish indigo. She had been biding her time, not wanting to face the truth of her situation, but there was no getting away from it now. Rising, she hiked back down to Hassan’s shack, noting the absence of his bike once again.

  Opening the door, she peeked inside, looking for some clue as to where she might be able to find him. The place smelled like him—earthy and spicy all at once. She felt a sudden pang in her heart, missing him more fiercely than she had in the weeks that had passed since their night together.

  Finding nothing inside, Morgan stepped outside the door and kicked at ground in frustration. A tattered old beermat appeared from under a pile of dirt, and Morgan picked it up. It was extremely weathered, but she could still make out the name on the front: Roundup Motel.

  Maybe that was another one of Hassan’s hideouts?

  It was the only lead she had, so Morgan walked briskly back to her car and slowly backed down to the main road, where her cell phone regained service.

  Looking up the Roundup Motel, she turned her car in that direction and headed north for a while before she saw a flat, unassuming building come up on the right.

  The flashing neon lasso lit up as she pulled into the parking lot. There, parked outside the building, was Hassan’s motorcycle.

  She’d found him!

  Stepping out into the growing darkness, Morgan walked into the small motel lobby and glanced behind the desk. When no one arrived she slammed her hand down on a rusty silver bell, and an older man appeared from a door in the back.

  “Can I help you, miss?” he asked, his voice like gravel.

  Morgan gave him her most winning smile. “Hi there. I’m supposed to meet my friend here, the guy who drove in on that motorcycle?” she said, gesturing to Hassan’s bike.

  The man stared at her. “I don’t know what vehicle belongs to what person, lady,” he said, crossing his arms.

  Morgan’s cheer didn’t falter; she found that it was always best to try to catch flies with honey, rather than vinegar.

  “Of course not, I’m sorry. I’m not from around here,” she said.

  “Clearly,” he mumbled.

  Morgan stayed the course, grinning a conspiratorial grin.

  “The friend I’m looking for is olive-skinned with a slight accent. Does that help?”

  “You some kind of prostitute or somethin’?”

  Morgan’s patience began to wane. She frowned. “No. I’m just looking for my friend. I’ve come so far to find him and he’s not answering his phone and I don’t know what else to do!”

  With that, Morgan broke down in tears. Half of them were real, the other half a charade to bring out some sympathy in the motel clerk. The tactic worked. Men hate a crying woman.

  “Okay, okay, there’s no need to cry about it. Your friend is in room 6, right at the end there. Don’t get hysterical now,” the man said, shifting awkwardly from one foot to the other.

  Composing herself, Morgan thanked him and walked out, dabbing the moisture from her eyes. She didn’t want to be a complete mess the first time she saw Hassan again, but, given the circumstances, there may be no avoiding that anyway.

  Hoping that her eyes weren’t too puffy, Morgan strolled over to the last door in the line of motel rooms. She glanced up as a gust of wind blew against the window at the end of the corridor; a storm was rolling in, and it looked like a doozy.

  She stood outside of Hassan’s door for a second, preparing herself for every possible outcome she had thought of on the long drive out, and then she knocked.

  A moment later the door opened a crack, and Morgan saw Hassan peeking out past the chain holding it in place. She watched his dark eyes widen in surprise.

  “Morgan?” he asked, his voice filled with wonder.

  Quickly, he closed the door and she heard the chain slide from its lock. The door opened fully then, and there he was, in all his handsome splendor—shirtless.

  Morgan gulped as her eyes darted to his abs and back up to his eyes, her face burning, and Hassan glanced back at her, grinning.

  “Am I too indecent? I can put on a shirt. Come on in—I wasn’t expecting company,” he said, his tone cheerful.

  Morgan walked in, trying not to stare at his smooth, bare skin. Her fingertips itched to dance along his muscular shoulders, and she almost found it a relief when he slid into a plain white T-shirt and turned back to her with a smile.

  “It’s so good to see you, Morgan. I’ve thought about you a lot since you left. I’ve thought about a lot of things…”

  Morgan sat on the bed, stalling. She had big news. Life-changing news. She wanted to experience the feeling of carefree comradery for a few moments before she dropped the bomb on him.

  “I’ve thought about you, too,” she said, her voice quavering.

  Hassan sat down next to her, settling an arm around her shoulder. “Have you been crying Morgan? What’s wrong? Did something happen to you?”

  The concern in his eyes was enough to tear down Morgan’s last bit of strength. Throwing herself into his arms, she wept openly, finally allowing herself to process the enormity of what was going to happen. Hassan held her quietly, supporting her until she was ready to talk.

  When she pulled back, she wiped away a tear, and said what she’d been too scared to say.

  “Hassan, I’m pregnant.”

  Instantly, his eyebrows knit with concern
, and his gaze darted to her stomach and back to her face. Gently, he pushed a strand of errant hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear.

  “I hate to ask this, but are you sure it’s mine?” he said quietly, his hand lightly grasping hers, like a lifeline.

  Morgan nodded. “There’s been no one else since our night together.”

  Looking down, Hassan was lost in thought for a moment. When he looked back up, he was grinning.

  “I’m going to be a father?” he whispered, moving his hand to her still-flat belly. “I’m going to be a father!” he exclaimed, standing and pulling her up, swinging her in a joyful circle.

  Morgan’s heart soared, and she laughed. “You’re happy about this?” she asked after he set her down.

  Hassan continued to play with her hair, stroking it back as he ran his fingers through the auburn strands. “You’re not?” he countered, the question lighting his eyes.

  Morgan shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, I never considered having children, and we know so little about one another…”

  Hassan looked thoughtful, gazing down at Morgan like he was trying to memorize her every feature. “I suppose that’s true, but we’ve got time and a reason to get to know one another now. We’ve got a little life to protect,” he said, subconsciously placing his hand back on her belly as he held her close.

  “Are you hungry?” he asked, and Morgan grinned.

  “I’m always hungry,” she said.

  “Interesting,” he replied, reaching into a bedside table drawer and pulling out a tattered old menu. “I always heard that the first trimester makes you nauseous at first.”

  Morgan shrugged. “I’ve had a little of that, but not enough to keep me away from food. I must be the exception.”

  “You are definitely exceptional,” he said warmly, handing her the menu.

  She took it, but she continued to look at Hassan. “You know a lot about pregnancies,” she said, trying not to sound suspicious.

  His grin was sheepish. “You remember Channie?” he said, and Morgan tensed.

  Seeing this, Hassan put up his hands. “It’s not what you think. She had just found out she was pregnant when we met, but the guy was a loser who walked out on her when she told him. I helped her do some research on what to expect, and we enjoyed each other’s company for a while. I wasn’t about to step in as a father, so things ended, but I’ve always really liked kids—I just never wanted to give my parents the heirs they expected of me.”

  “But now you have,” she said in a small voice.

  Hassan took the menu from her fingers and placed her hands in his again. “Is that what you want, Morgan? The life of a Middle-Eastern royal? Where you have no say in your own happiness, because all that matters is what’s good for the family—for their political alliances? Is that the life you want for our baby?”

  “No,” she said. “But the money wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

  Hassan scoffed. “We are two intelligent, capable people living in America. We can make our own way!”

  Morgan stared at the tattered motel room, then lifted an eyebrow at him.

  He laughed. “Okay, okay. Maybe this is not the way a father should be living, but we can make our lives out exactly as we want them, Morgan. We don’t need my parents’ money. Not when we have each other.”

  “Do we have each other?” she asked, hating how vulnerable she sounded.

  Hassan hugged her tight, then—but not too tight. He was already being careful with her, which almost made her laugh. Pregnancy was a delicate condition, but not that delicate.

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