The sheikhs triplet baby.., p.9
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       The Sheikh's Triplet Baby Surprise, p.9
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         Part #3 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner

  improve someone’s image in the public eye. But what had she actually been doing? She’d been taking advantage of orphanages. She’d been taking advantage of food drives. And for what? For A-listers who hadn’t gone a day without food in their lives?

  Internally, the Sheikh’s words mortified her, forcing her to realize the faulty ways of her business. At the same time, though, she was starting to realize what a truly worthy person he was. His thoughts were pure and simple—oriented toward the people in need, rather than the need of the people to view him as some kind of deity. She passed her foot through the garden grass, feeling like a fool.

  Moments later, the Sheikh reappeared in the mansion doorway, the grin restored on his face. He beckoned for her, his face earnest. “You’ll never believe it, Amity. My meeting this evening’s been canceled. Does this ever happen to you?”

  “Almost never,” Amity laughed, happy that he’d apparently already forgiven her for what she’d tried to do. “How does it feel?”

  “Surprising,” he admitted, grinning. “It seems that I’ve been left with nothing to do.”

  “I suppose you could help me with a new strategy,” Amity sighed, clinging to her cellphone. “I hate to ask you to help me do my job, but boy, could I use your insight.”

  But the Sheikh shook his head vehemently. “No, no,” he said. “I know you’ll work out what to do in the coming days, but already, the work day has come to a close. I refuse to allow you to work through the night. Instead, I request that you join me this evening. Help me wind the day down. Won’t you?”

  Amity’s eyebrows rocketed toward her hairline. She tilted her head, remembering the intimacy they’d shared the previous evening. Surely—surely this wasn’t a date. He was her client. Plus, she’d seen the thin, twirling waists of those models at the club, the way they’d looked at him all doe-eyed. She couldn’t compare.

  “Um—sure,” she said quickly, trying to sound casual. “I’d love to spend the evening with you. After all, you’re the only person I know on this continent.” She paused. “Except Flora. Who I still haven’t heard from.”

  Aziz chuckled, his teeth flashing. “I’ve heard that she’s with a friend of mine. Apparently they are already insanely in love. I give it another week before we see her again. So much for having an intern, hey?”

  Amity rolled her eyes. “She’s always like this. I should have thought twice about bringing her.”

  “Oh well. You can’t stop true love, that’s what I always say,” he laughed. He rubbed his palms together, then, scheming. “Well, well. Let’s see. For this evening, we could have dinner in the tallest building in the city, perhaps. I know the chef there, and he can create any and all recipes for you—anything that suits you. It’s extravagant, sure, but it’s worth it.”

  Amity grimaced. She imagined the headlines when the paparazzi learned that the Sheikh was having a thousand-dollar meal with one of his employees. “Maybe we could drop it down a notch?” she asked, laughing. “Seems like a lot.”

  “Ah,” Aziz said, latching his nails into the back of his neck and scratching. “Not really your scene, is it? Well, what about wine tasting? Al-Mabbar has some remarkable wines, and I’m friendly with a few vineyard owners.”

  Amity scrunched her nose. Again, his plans already seemed too good to be true. Why was he trying so hard with her?

  “Still too much, eh?” he asked, balking. “Hmm. Let me see.”

  “You’re not good at keeping it casual, are you?” she said playfully.

  “Never have been,” Aziz grinned back. “Why, smarty? What would you suggest for tonight?”

  Amity paused, her mind rolling. She wanted to impress him—but how was she meant to impress a sheikh who had an entire city at his disposal? How could she top a meal at such a remarkable restaurant, or wine tasting at a top-of-the-line vineyard?

  “All right,” he said, breaking the silence. “Let’s try it like this. What would you do if you had the night to yourself in L.A.? What would you, Amity, do with a little time to yourself?” He took a step toward her, his eyes connecting with hers.

  Amity took a step back, searching for breathing room. “Um. I suppose if I was home alone, I might watch a film.”

  Aziz looked pleased. He nodded. “You’d hide from the world and watch a film?”

  “I suppose I would,” she said firmly. “Would you be willing to do that?”

  “If you’ll let me choose the wine.”

  “I’m assuming your taste in wine is far better than mine,” Amity laughed. “But you’ll have to let me choose the movie.”

  “Deal,” he said. The air was tense between them. “Perhaps this is just what I needed.”

  Amity cleared her throat, searching for the right words. She shrugged, faltering. “I suppose I’ll meet you—”

  “In the living room, connected to my suite,” he said, then. “Give me a few minutes to get changed, first. Can’t very well watch a film in a suit. Unless you tell me that’s how you normally do it in L.A.?”

  “Absolutely not,” she said. “That would be sacrilege.”

  “Comfortable it is, then.”

  “And casual,” she added, stabbing her first finger through the air. She needed to assure him that she wasn’t expecting anything from this—that they were just pals, just a client and his PR rep, getting together to cool off after a long day of work. That was all. “I’ll see you there in half an hour.”

  TEN

  Amity arrived at Aziz’s living chambers dressed in a pair of jeans and a grey V-neck shirt, which gave a slight notion of her breasts, without divulging too much. She’d never tell him she’d tried on five outfits, all of them “casual,” before marching down to his rooms. She was mortified with herself, just from the memory of it. Professionalism had gone out the window.

  Aziz was stationed in front of his extensive DVD collection, shifting his weight in a pair of dark jeans and a black, long-sleeved T-shirt. Amity could sense the strong muscles beneath the cotton, how sturdy he was. She’d never seen him out of a suit—besides that morning when she’d caught him nearly naked—and it was remarkable how he’d transformed, switched from stern businessman to a man she’d love to cuddle up with on the couch.

  He heard her footsteps at the entrance, and he stepped toward her, an unopened bottle of wine glinting in his hands. He gestured to it. “It’s an Al-Mabbar classic, bottled nearly forty years ago.”

  “Forty years? Are you sure you want to waste that on me?” Amity laughed. She glided toward him and took the bottle in her hand, her eyes flocking over the Arabic description.

  He made intense eye contact with her, nodding. “I am.”

  Amity shivered. She chopped through the serious moment and handed the bottle back to him, directing her gaze to the collection on the wall. “I’ve never seen so many DVDs in one place,” she said, unsure if this was a compliment or not. Generally, she just stuck to Netflix, on the rare occasions that she offered herself time away from work. “Have you watched all of them?”

  “Oh, not at all,” Aziz laughed. He grabbed two wine glasses from the side cabinet. Light from the sunset gleamed orange through them. “But I have it well-stocked. One of the maids here is up on her movies. She watches them while she cleans, but she doesn’t think I know.” He winked.

  Amity grinned. She parsed through the collection, noting that the films were ordered by genre, many of them from Hollywood. She breathed a sigh of relief, happy she wouldn’t have to pretend to know even a glint about the Al-Mabbar movie industry. Did it even exist? She didn’t want to offend him with the question.

  “The maid, Addy, she really likes Meg Ryan movies. You’ll see that, maybe,” Aziz said. He poured the wine with small glugs.

  “Oh, yes. You’ve Got Mail. It’s a classic,” Amity teased. “I’m sure you watch it all the time.”

  “Only when I’m getting over a break up.”

  “And tons of action movies, I see. Mad Max: Fury Road. Kung Fury.” Amity shook
her head, her brown hair swishing around her ears. “I don’t know how you manage to leave your house, with all these options.”

  “Oh, it’s a struggle all right,” Aziz laughed. He handed her the glass of wine and they clinked, their eyes meeting for a moment. “To you, Amity. For helping me come to terms with staying in. And for aiding in The Great Aziz Image Problem.”

  Amity nodded gratefully, sipping the wine, reminding herself it was nearly priceless. She felt the taste of it glide through her taste buds, to the back of her throat. “Mmm,” she murmured. “It doesn’t feel right to drink it.”

  “Don’t things that feel wrong always end up feeling so right, anyway?” Aziz teased.

  He sat on the couch, leaning back and lifting his foot to his opposite knee. He took up space, like a man should, Amity thought. She felt oddly intimidated by his air.

  Finally, Amity’s fingers touched a movie she thought appropriate—a New Zealand comedy called What We Do in the Shadows, one he’d never heard of before.

  “She likes her films, Addy does,” Aziz said, shaking his head. He tapped the empty space on the couch beside him, watching her movement as she slipped the DVD into the player and pressed Play.

  “It’s rather silly,” Amity said, her eyes turning to him as she sat. “But I hope you’ll enjoy it.”

  “You don’t think I’m silly enough?” he asked her.

  “You are a sheikh. And royalty. And a billionaire,” Amity added. Her eyes flashed. She pressed herself not to drink the wine too quickly. “Just saying.”

  “You don’t frequently hang out with the likes of me?”

  “Not off the clock,” she said pointedly.

  The pair leaned back in their seats, their eyes on the screen for mere moments before their conversation rolled once more. Although the comedy—a mockumentary about vampires in New Zealand—rollicked on, their focus was purely on each other.

  “Then, who do you generally hang out with?” he asked her, turning his head. “I mean, you’ve seen the kind of people I fill my life with. The millionaires of this city, and their children,” he said, mocking himself. “And lions and tigers, of course. But you—I’m curious as to what your world looks like.”

  “I’ve told you, in so many words,” Amity said quietly. “I’ve told you that I struggle to find time for my social life. Last night at the club—it was a world I’m not used to. At one time, maybe, I craved that kind of life. That kind of recklessness. But I couldn’t find it within me to enjoy it last night.”

  “I struggle to like it, as well,” Aziz said. He scratched at his five o’ clock shadow and Amity felt her insides squirm. She wondered, inwardly, what it would be like to kiss him, what it would feel like to have his tongue slip against hers.

  “Of course, I often wonder if I’m allowing my twenties to pass me by. Unlike Flora,” Amity said, trying to lighten the mood. “She’s such a mad girl. Just before we left, she had some kind of break up with a guy in the office. I couldn’t keep track of what was going on.”

  Aziz tossed his head back. Amity couldn’t believe that he cared enough about her story to laugh with her—didn’t he have a million things on his mind?

  “I remember once, I tried to work in an office that wasn’t my own. I wanted to get out there on my own, to prove myself,” he began. “But the minute I got there, I started an office romance with my boss. And from then on, I knew I wouldn’t get a single thing done, not as long as I was sleeping with her.”

  “You slept with your boss?” Amity gasped, actually shocked. “And you weren’t even trying to work yourself up to the top of the company?” she teased.

  “I know. It was rather foolish. I think when I was younger, I was just spinning, in chaos. Partying nonstop, making friends with people who were only interested in the lifestyle I could provide. Donating to charities out of this sense of love for the world, not realizing that, deep down, I also wished that the world loved me, in return.”

  Amity nodded. She felt her pulse quicken as he spoke. She’d always been such a logical person, always following the next, precise step to reach her goal. She’d been told by many people that she wasn’t a “dreamer,” and she’d always assumed this was a good thing. But the dreamer before her looked pretty good, really. He saw the world through less cynical eyes.

  The movie ended and Amity chose another, pouring each of them another glassful from a second bottle of wine. She felt tipsy at this point,
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