The sheikhs triplet baby.., p.7
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       The Sheikh's Triplet Baby Surprise, p.7
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         Part #3 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner

  beneath her hand. “I just wonder how many shots will put her under.”

  “Now, now,” Amity began, her voice haughty. “Let’s not get carried away.”

  The limousine swept from the apartment block, then. Flora began jabbering about the afternoon she’d had, the shopping she had already completed. She eyed Amity sharply. “You’ll have to go out with me tomorrow. I know a store you would absolutely love. And, let’s face it, you need to restock your wardrobe.”

  Amity rolled her eyes. “Let’s see if we have time. You know we’re here to work, right?”

  “Nonsense,” Aziz said, clapping his hands.

  Suddenly, a small liquor cabinet opened before them. Aziz leafed through it, eventually choosing a bottle of tequila. “We’re not here to work, at least not right now.”

  He poured them each a small shot. The glass was chilled, cool against Amity’s hands. She studied the alcohol. She enjoyed wine, but she hadn’t had tequila in years. She watched the other two pulse the shot back before taking it herself, hoping her inhibitions didn’t fly from her in the night.

  Soon, the limousine pulled up before a nightclub. Stunning twenty and thirty-somethings were hovering around the entrance, looking at each other with hazy, loving eyes.

  Aziz cranked the door opened and landed smoothly on the sidewalk, sending that iconic smile across the sea of people like a wave.

  “Aziz!” someone called out. “Aziz, over here!”

  In a moment, Aziz disappeared into the crowd, leaving Amity and Flora standing by themselves, on the outskirts. Amity shrugged toward Flora, who flipped her hair.

  “I’m not sure about you,” Flora said tartly, “but I plan on having fun tonight.” She clattered into the crowd, in the path paved by Aziz, leaving Amity by herself.

  Amity sighed and took a deep breath before entering the nightclub herself. She felt her heartbeat in every digit of her hand. Around her, gorgeous people were dancing like sirens, tilting their hips back and forth, their dark skin illuminated by the lights. The music was electronic, similar to techno, in that it made Amity grow cold. Nothing about it was warm or welcoming. Rather, it evoked feelings of loneliness, despite being in a crowd.

  God, where was Aziz, she thought then. He could well be making her job much more difficult, right then—creating a negative image in some room, somewhere, with some pop star. She could imagine the headlines. And she could imagine the month-long headache she would have as a result.

  “I’m sorry, Amity,” Aziz would say in this all-too-certain future. “I just wasn’t thinking.”

  Amity rolled her eyes at the thought. She strolled toward the bar and ordered a gin and tonic—what Flora would call a “grandma drink”—and sipped it languidly, her head bobbing to the music.

  In the corner, an older, perhaps close to 40-year-old Arab man, sat watching her. He beckoned for her to join him, to sit with him, but she shook her head wildly, panicked. She didn’t want to meet people. She longed for the silk pillows of her new chambers.

  Abruptly, Aziz appeared beside her. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw him, followed by another, as she noticed he had a woman latched on each of his elbows. They could have been twins, each with silver eye shadow and long, straight black hair.

  “Amity!” Aziz said over the noise. “Are you having a good time?”

  “Sure!” Amity lied. “Who are your friends?”

  Aziz passed his eyes over first one girl, then the next. He gave Amity a stumped look, but the girls didn’t seem to notice. “Do you want to join us in the VIP lounge? It’s easier to talk up there.”

  “Um, yeah, okay,” Amity said shyly. “Have you seen Flora?”

  “I think she was making out with one of my buddies—Rama—but I can’t be sure,” Aziz laughed. “She’s a wild one, isn’t she?”

  Amity blushed. She couldn’t imagine being so wild. The thought of it made her anxious, but she sensed that Aziz appreciated the madness. She left her empty glass on the bar and followed Aziz and his two leeches through the crowd and up the back stairs.

  Beyond the hubbub, as if by magic, she felt she could breathe again. She pressed her hand against her chest and willed herself to calm down. “Only an hour more,” she murmured to herself. “Then you can escape. One more hour. Don’t be lame.”

  The VIP lounge was far more extravagant than the nightclub below, revealing massive windows with a stunning view of Al-Mabbar City, a minimalistic feel with long, red sofas and black walls. A large fish tank bubbled with exotic fish, each of which looked at the gorgeous partiers with bright eyes.

  Aziz entered the room before the women and lifted his hands. At that moment, the crowd halted their conversation, their eyes zipping toward the billionaire playboy.

  “Greetings, countrymen!” Aziz joked, taking on that royal persona for a laugh. “I decree one thing and one thing only for this evening. We will drink this champagne—aged in the caves outside of Paris—and be merry. My gift to you!”

  With that, the bartenders popped a dozen bottles of champagne in a circle around them, sending a cloud of bubbles into the air. People howled with glee, offering their glasses to the overflowing, fountain-like bottles.

  Aziz passed Amity a glass, and she splayed it beneath a champagne bottle. The glittering liquid doled into it, fizzing. She sipped it slowly, thinking of the many years it had resided in a Parisian cave, waiting for this day to come.

  Amity passed through the crowd with her fizzing glass of champagne. She heard many people speaking about the Sheikh as she passed, and she listened closely, knowing she was invisible to them. She was nobody here.

  “It’s like he has to make a scene wherever he goes,” one man was saying to the stunning girl on his arm. “I mean, it’s all about him, the second he enters.”

  “You know how Aziz is,” the girl returned. “Always out to make the night as entertaining as possible. I mean, he’s so bored in that big mansion, all by himself.”

  “Remember that last party? When he brought out the lions?”

  “Ugh, I don’t want to talk about it.”

  Amity leaned heavily against the wall, noting that people were now serving themselves another round of champagne. They were weaving, drunk, losing their footing. She bit her lip. She wondered about Aziz—if his loneliness had been a contributing factor in damaging his image so profoundly. Always searching for more people to surround himself with, and always coming up empty on friends.

  In the corner, she spotted him, surrounded by several women, including the ones who had linked themselves to him. The girls were twirling his hair, touching his face, laughing with him. But Amity watched as the light began to fade from his eyes, as his smile faltered. He was still contributing to the conversation, but he no longer did so with such drive and pep. Flora approached him with a seeming joke, but he broke eye contact with her, and she soon meandered away like a lost puppy.

  Amity frowned. This was the first time she’d seen him looking so thoughtful, so perturbed. Perhaps that was the loneliness, ebbing back into his brain.

  Suddenly, Amity felt an arm swing over her shoulders. She blinked up and saw the older gentleman who had beckoned toward her earlier. He clinked his champagne glass with hers. She slipped out of his grasp, her face falling to horror.

  “I’m sorry—can I help you?” she asked him. Her voice was harsh. The music was pounding in her ears, and she felt moments from a headache.

  “You can help me by spending time with me,” he said, tilting his head. “What do you say to that?”

  “I say absolutely not,” Amity snarled. She turned on her heel and marched toward the door. She stabbed her champagne glass on the top of the bar and meandered from the chaotic VIP area, suddenly sure she needed to get out of there. The party atmosphere was rollicking, panicked. And she had about a million things to do.

  Just before she left, her eyes met with Aziz’s. His face was pained, his eyes faraway. She made no move toward him, and she soon swept away, without sayin
g goodbye. A pang of guilt waved through her, but she brushed it away as she emerged into the Al-Mabbar streets.

  After a wave into the universe, a cab halted before her, and she jumped in. She breathed evenly, telling the man where to take her. She wanted to wash off the night; she wanted to lose the memory of that man’s eyes as he beckoned her. Finally, as the cab raced away, she was free.

  EIGHT

  The door opened wordlessly as Amity approached it, aided by a maid who Amity would soon learn was awake for much of the night, ever ready to take care of Aziz and his fellow partiers. Amity thanked her and approached the steps. Her feet were heavy, like rocks. She slipped her heels off and felt the soft, expensive rug beneath her toes.

  When she reached the first floor, she was surprised to hear the opening of the door downstairs. Perhaps another maid, another household worker? She arched her back and peered down, concealed behind a marble pillar. Curiosity at the happenings in the mansion at night had captured her.

  But she was taken aback, in that moment, to see that it was the Sheikh himself who walked through the doors, his head high and his face calm, sincere, without that bright smile. He thanked the maid and adjusted his sleeves as he walked. Nothing about his movements was sloppy; he was all royalty, all perfect posture.

  Amity toyed with rushing upstairs to her rooms, with pretending she wasn’t moments from seeing him. But an invisible force halted her. She waited until he appeared on the steps and she spun back, looking at him directly.

  “Hi there,” she said softly.

  “There you are,” Aziz said. “I left shortly after you did. Did you have a good night?”

  Amity tilted her head back and forth, unsure of how to answer. “It was a nice club,” she chose. “And that champagne. To die for.”

  Aziz dropped his chin. “Truthfully, I have an entire cellar full of that stuff downstairs. A bit greedy when it comes to French champagne, I’m afraid.”

  “We all have our vices.”

  “It doesn’t seem like you do,” Aziz countered. He looked at her curiously, climbing up the steps to join her. “But I was surprised when you didn’t say goodbye. Disheartened, in fact. Why did you leave?”

  Amity frowned; she hadn’t expected to be called out like this. She swallowed, and her throat felt tight. “You know, I’m not sure. I felt uncomfortable after a while. It’s not really my scene. But I didn’t want to interrupt your… time with those girls.” She shrugged.

  Aziz nodded. His eyes were large, welcoming. She felt as if she could dive into them like great, dark pools.

  “Well, Amity. I suppose we’d better be getting to bed—”

  “Wait,” Amity said, breathless. She was aching with fatigue, but she couldn’t leave this moment. “I wondered. I wondered why you like to be seen partying so much. I saw you tonight. You didn’t seem to be having even a moment of fun. Why do you do it?”

  Aziz combed his fingers through his dark hair. He was as caught off-guard as she was, it was clear. Around them, the mansion was silent.

  “Well,” he murmured. “That’s a good question—one that no one has asked me before.” He began up the steps, but it was clear he wanted Amity to follow him. She did so gladly, slipping her shoes back on as she went.

  “I suppose, like most things, it has to do with my father,” Aziz said then. “Bahir was the life of the party, eternally. A grand merrymaker. Always singing and dancing. People loved him for it.”

  Amity nodded. Abstractly, she was taking notes on this—trying to comprehend how it could assist in her cause. It was clear, from what she’d heard at the nightclub, that not everyone was buying into his merrymaking—certainly not Aziz himself.

  “Ah,” Amity said, her mind zipping back to what her research had told her about Sheikh Bahir. “But wasn’t your father adored because he was always entertaining for a good cause? He held balls and galas for charities, and he didn’t frequent nightclubs. Do you think doing something similar could assist in improving your image?” She blinked, suddenly feeling her PR brain coming back to life. She longed to rush up to her room and start strategizing.

  But Aziz seemed to harden at her words. They’d reached his rooms and he leaned against the golden doorframe, a portrait of an oil baron, a billionaire. He cleared his throat. “I don’t want to think about work right now,” he said, his voice stern. “I know that might be difficult for you to hear, given that you probably came back here to work the rest of the night,” he teased, and Amity bowed her head.

  “But I would be interested in continuing some kind of non-work-based
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