The sheikhs triplet baby.., p.39
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       The Sheikh's Triplet Baby Surprise, p.39

         Part #3 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner
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  danced and tumbled around inside her. It was a feeling she could never describe, like muscle spasms come to life—if said spasms just so happened to be shaped like a tiny little foot.

  It had been five months since they’d reached the California coast. The road trip there had been the best of Morgan’s life. They’d driven straight through Arizona, taking one detour to see the towering cliffs of the Grand Canyon. As Morgan stood above acres and acres of rustic mountainscape, she’d known in her heart that she had made the right decision. After a week on the road they had finally settled outside San Diego, where they had found a two-bedroom beachfront property to rent.

  Hassan knew a few friends in town from his college days, and he had worked those connections to set up his own motorcycle repair shop. Morgan had felt guilty that he’d sold the bike before they embarked on their journey. It had paid for the gas and food they’d needed on the way, but she could tell that being cooped inside a car just wasn’t for him. Hassan was an outdoorsman, and she was so grateful when he landed his shop, where he got to spend every day by the ocean, working with bikes.

  Word had spread quickly that Hassan was reliable, and soon the entire local motorcycle community was utilizing his services. He’d already made a lot of firm friends, and Morgan was happy to see him smiling more often than not.

  As the baby settled back down, she pulled out a form from the coffee table drawer and began to fill it out. It was an official document for her personal detective business, which she now had to register in the state of California. Morgan was excited to get back to being busy, but if she was being honest, taking it easy for a few months had been really nice—especially with a beach in her backyard.

  She was interrupted when the doorbell rang. Lifting herself up from the sofa, she waddled her way over to the front door and opened it to find two boxes of her things from Houston.

  “Thanks, Mom,” she whispered, bringing the boxes inside.

  After she’d been in California for a few weeks, with plenty of time to think, Morgan had called her mother to reconcile. The conversation had gone better than she’d expected.

  “Just know you have a child to think about now. It’s not just about you anymore, Morgan,” her mother had said, and Morgan had reminded her just whose life she needed to be living.

  “Okay, okay, message received. Is there anything you need, for the baby or for you?”

  “I thought you’d never ask,” Morgan had said with a grin.

  Over the past few weeks, Morgan’s mother had packed up and mailed over a series of boxes of her things, including this latest, final delivery.

  Moving heavily, Morgan scooted the boxes over to the couch before finding a pair of scissors and cutting them open.

  Inside was a series of pictures from her walls, among other keepsakes and jewelry. A small pile of clothes sat inside the second box, and on top of them was the picture of Hassan which Morgan had been given all those months ago. She stared at it, gazing at his unhappy eyes and stiff posture. The man in this picture knew nothing of the man she loved, and part of her wanted to comfort him—to tell him everything would turn out better than he could ever have imagined.

  She smiled as she realized she could do that in a few hours when he got home from work.

  Morgan spent the rest of the afternoon going through her things and organizing them into their little house. The money Hassan had made at the shop had paid for a little nursery for the baby, and Morgan stopped in there daily to sit in the rocking chair and look around at the beautiful little room they had created.

  They had decided not to find out the gender of the baby—though Morgan had continued her dreams of a baby girl—and had decorated the room to be gender neutral—full of bright animals and greens and yellows. It was Morgan’s favorite place in the whole house, when she wasn’t comfortably nestled in Hassan’s arms at night.

  The sun was still high in the sky when she heard Hassan’s motorcycle pull up into their small driveway. When he opened the door, she gave him a big smile.

  “Hello, my love,” she said, and he rushed to her, taking her gently in his arms and cradling her belly with his hands.

  “And how are my two favorite people today?” he asked, kissing her warmly.

  Morgan returned his kiss with ardor, reaching for him even as her belly served as a barrier between them. When she pulled back, she grinned.

  “Kicking like a soccer player,” she said, patting her belly.

  In response, the baby began swirling around, the movement visible even under Morgan’s shirt.

  “This kid is definitely going to be keeping us on our toes,” Hassan laughed, kneeling down and kissing the belly, which wriggled around even more.

  Morgan’s stomach growled, and Hassan laughed.

  “Well now we know why baby’s so active—we need to get some food into you!”

  Morgan and Hassan enjoyed cooking their meals together, and he pulled out some meat to grill while she began chopping up a fresh salad, chewing on a candy bar while she worked. The baby clearly had her mother’s sweet tooth, as her cravings for sweets had quadrupled throughout the pregnancy.

  Once the meat was cooked they sat at their small kitchen table, already adorned with a high chair for their future third family member, and Hassan took Morgan’s hand.

  “You look beautiful,” he said and she laughed.

  “I look like a whale. I should head down the street and join Sea World.”

  Hassan laughed, stroking her hand lovingly. “Not true. Pregnancy suits you very well. You’ve got that glow everyone always talks about.”

  Morgan beamed at him as she leaned in for another kiss, before they began to tuck into their meal. Hassan was an excellent cook, and his steak was perfect. Morgan ate ravenously, the baby quieting down as though placated by the food entering her belly.

  “I got the last boxes today, from my mom,” she said between bites.

  “Anything good?” Hassan asked.

  Morgan pulled the picture of him out from her pocket and slid it across the table. He took it in his hands and looked at it with a wistful expression.

  “I was so miserable then,” he said, gazing at the picture of him and his parents. “A completely different person.”

  “And now?” Morgan asked.

  Hassan looked up at her and smiled, his white teeth gleaming as the California sun began its descent toward the ocean. “I’ve never been happier in my life.”

  Morgan beamed, and was about to ask how his day was when the phone rang.

  She moved to get up, but Hassan held out a hand and jumped up to grab the receiver himself.

  “Hello?” Hassan said.

  Morgan could hear a voice on the other end of the line, but couldn’t make out who it was.

  “What? Now?” Hassan said, and Morgan turned to look at him. His expression was a strange combination of annoyance and joy. “All right,” he continued. “We’ll see you soon.”

  When he hung up and joined her back at the table, Hassan took a breath. “My parents are in town.”

  “What?” Morgan said. They hadn’t given notice that they might be in the area—and they were also not yet aware that she was pregnant.

  “Apparently they wanted to surprise us,” Hassan said, his tone wry. “Surprise!”

  Before Morgan could even prepare for their arrival, the doorbell rang for the second time that day. She met Hassan’s eyes and both of them looked down to her belly. There was no hiding it. Hassan’s parents were about to find out they were going to be grandparents…like, right now.

  Hassan rose and opened the door to Ahmed and Almera, who stood outside with happy expressions and several large, expensive-looking suitcases.

  “My son!” Almera said, wrapping her arms around Hassan’s neck and embracing him in a tight hug.

  Hassan hugged her back, then shook hands with his father, ushering them both inside.

  Morgan remained seated until they reached the dining room, and then she rose
, smiling.

  Ahmed and Almera greeted her warmly at first, then when they caught sight of her belly their expressions turned to shock.

  “Morgan! You’re…you’re…” Almera couldn’t get the words out. As she sputtered, Ahmed turned to Hassan.

  “We’ve spoken so many times over the last few months, and you never once mentioned a child! Did you not think it would be important for us to know?”

  Hassan actually blushed. It was the first time Morgan had seen his skin turn reddish in embarrassment at all.

  “We didn’t want to burden you,” he said.

  Ahmed lifted an eyebrow. “You didn’t want to burden me, or you didn’t want me claiming this grandchild as my future heir?”

  “Maybe a little of both,” Hassan said quietly.

  Almera came out of her stupor and approached Morgan. “May I…?” she asked, holding a hand over her belly, but not touching her.

  Morgan smiled. “Of course.”

  Almera laid a warm hand on her belly, and, as if on cue, the baby kicked it. The future grandmother giggled in delight, pressing around for another kick.

  “Do you know what the gender is, my dear?” she asked, her eyes aglow with warmth.

  Morgan shook her head. “Not yet. We didn’t want to find out until the birth.”

  Almera nodded. “A wonderful surprise it will be, indeed.” She turned to Hassan. “There was no need to hide this from us, Hassan. Were you ever going to tell us we’d be grandparents?”

  “Of course I would have. I was just enjoying it for myself first,” he said with a sheepish grin.

  To everyone’s surprise, it was Ahmed who laughed at this.

  “You are a strange one, Hassan Al-Khali. We will have to arrive unannounced much more often now, so we can find out what other little secrets you keep from us.”

  “And now you can tell us all about the wedding,” Almera said as she ushered Morgan toward the sofa.

  This time it was Morgan’s turn to blush.

  Almera looked back at Hassan with accusing eyes. “Are you telling me you haven’t yet married this girl?”

  This was getting out of control fast.

  Hassan cleared his throat as he and Ahmed sat down on the other sofa.

  “That’s not always how things are done here, Mama,” he said.

  Almera huffed. “That is preposterous. This child should be born into a stable family. Ahmed, give him some money.”

  Morgan put up a hand. “Thank you, Almera, but there’s no need for that. We’re doing just fine, in all ways,” she said, casting a meaningful glance at Hassan. He had insisted at first that they get married, but she’d told him no. She didn’t want to get married until they really knew each other. She didn’t want them to make that commitment just because
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