The following day, Rosie and Amy stood outside the hospital, stretching their sore legs, both taking a quick break. Rosie whispered the news in Amy’s ear.
Amy stood back, her mouth opened wide. Her tongue was literally lolling. “Rosie Lund. Weren’t you using protection?”
“Can we please not have the mom talk right now?” Rosie pleaded, rolling her eyes. “I need your help, Amy. I’m so frightened. I don’t want to call Hakan.” She hesitated. “But at the same time, I really do.” She was nearly breathless, giving this news to someone for the first time.
Amy frowned, leaning up against the wall. “He’s really the only possible father? What about that guy I set you up with, Josh’s friend?”
Rosie shook her head, her face burning. “Hakan was the only one.”
“And you only did it once?”
“Wow. Some people struggle getting pregnant for ages. You either got really lucky, or really unlucky, depending on how you look at it.”
“I’m choosing to look at it luckily, if you don’t mind,” Rosie murmured, frowning.
An ambulance came closer to the hospital, blaring, rocketing fear through Rosie’s heart.
Amy’s face grew serious. “If this is really what you want, then I’ll be here for you, honey. You don’t have to do it alone.” She wrapped her arms around her friend, drawing her close. Rosie knew that, for all her nagging, Amy could sense just how afraid she was.
“Thank you,” Rosie whispered. She brought her phone out from her pocket. “I need you to stand here with me while I call him. Okay?”
Amy nodded. “If you’re sure he needs to know.”
Rosie dialed the familiar number, then, both eager and not to jump off this cliff into this new reality. She felt as if she was about to throw up her baloney sandwich lunch.
The phone rang several times, and Rosie prepared to hear that deep, charismatic voice once more, the one that triggered such a physical, almost sexual reaction in her.
But as the call connected, on the other end of the line, she heard something else. A male voice that was gruff, old. Angry. At first, he answered in Arabic.
“I’m—I’m sorry,” Rosie said, deflated. Across from her Amy frowned. She had her hands on her hips, like a watchdog, strumming her fingers in a line. “I was trying to reach Hakan? Is this still his number?”
“I am the Sheikh’s chief of staff,” the man said, his impatience clearly rising. “Can you tell me what this is about?”
Rosie cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, sir—what was your name?”
“Osman Ali,” he said curtly.
“Osman Ali. Pleased to meet you. Now, if you could just pass the phone to Hakan, I would very much appreciate it. It is absolutely essential that I speak with him.”
The man scoffed. “I’m sorry, miss. That is out of the question. I am Hakan’s chief of staff, and for this reason, I must field all of his calls.”
“I understand fielding his calls, sir,” Rosie said, not wanting to anger him. “It’s just that, now that you know I already know him—I met him in Seattle—you know that it’s appropriate to pass me through to him. I have something very important that I need to say.”
Osman scoffed. “Miss, I believe you aren’t understanding me correctly. His Highness cannot be reached at this time.”
“Is there a better time that I could call and be directed to him?” Rosie asked, feeling panicked. “Like I said, I have something extremely important to tell him.” She felt herself growing desperate. “Imagine the most important thing a woman would ever need to tell a man.” She wiped sweat from her brow, hoping he picked up on her outrageous hints.
Across from her, Amy was nodding her head urgently. “Do it,” she mouthed.
Rosie understood. Her news was too important to keep it a secret. And she’d already come so far.
“I’m sorry,” Osman murmured down the line. “What exactly are you getting at?”
Rosie was aware that she’d created a shift in the conversation. Finally, she’d made waves. But she was on very shaky ground. She sighed. “It’s just that I have news that could alter the course of Hakan’s life. It’s incredibly important that I speak with him, and I don’t feel comfortable speaking with you about it, first. Do you understand?”
Osman was very quiet, for what Rosie decided was far too long. Her eyes searched Amy’s face, while Amy brought her hand into a fist. That was the angry and volatile best friend she needed.
“HELLO?” Rosie nearly screamed.
“Very well,” Osman said then. He cleared his throat. “I think I understand completely. Please, keep this information to yourself for now. Meet me tomorrow evening, by the Ballard Locks. I look forward to meeting you. You’re Rosie, aren’t you?”
“Rosie Lund,” she said. “Don’t forget it. Until tomorrow, then. At the Locks.” Her tone was clipped, cold, calculating.
She wondered how this man knew who she was. Perhaps they kept a record of every woman Hakan slept with, just in case this happened. Maybe this occurred all the time. Based on the shock in Osman’s voice, though, she didn’t think so.
With that, Osman hung up on her, leaving her alone and empty.
Rosie’s eyes swept up to Amy’s, and Amy put a comforting arm around her friend’s shoulders.
“You’re meeting him?”
Rosie shook her head. “That was his chief of staff. I’m not really sure. I’m meant to meet with this guy tomorrow at the Ballard Locks. I told him I wanted to speak with Hakan—”
Amy raised an eyebrow. “But he isn’t having it?”
“He seems to think it’s completely out of the question.”
“That’s ridiculous. Perhaps tomorrow you can reason with him.”
“He seems very set in his ways. And about three hundred years old,” Rosie joked, even as her heart sank. “Maybe you’re right, though. He wouldn’t agree to meet me if this wasn’t a big deal. I’ll know more in twenty-four hours. I just wish it was now.” Rosie sighed and placed her face in her hands, scrubbing at her cheeks. “They don’t tell you how tough it is to be a mom, do they?”
Amy laughed, bringing her arm around her friend’s waist and leading her indoors. “You don’t even know the half of it,” she whispered. “But you know you’ll have me, every step of the way.”
Rosie grinned through small, bead-like tears that swarmed down her cheeks. She had just a few hours left of her shift, during which she would help women from all walks of life deliver their greatest hopes into the world. It was the only thing she could do to take her mind from the pain of being alone.