“It would have made things easier for me,” he murmured, “if I had never told you what I knew about your twin.”
That was true, but so what?
“But I chose to let you know the truth because I wanted there to be no lies between us. I think of our circumstances as a gift of fate, habibti. If not for what your twin did, our paths would never have crossed.”
“What exactly are you getting at?” I asked uneasily.
“We enter into a new agreement,” he said simply. “You are to still bear my child and stay under my care until you give birth—-”
“I can’t,” I said flatly. “I’m willing to admit that we have a certain chemistry, but even so. I can’t just give away my child—-”
“Who says you have to?”
“But the contract—-”
“That was when I thought you were nothing but a gold-digger,” he rebutted, “and you cannot fault me for that, since at that time my opinion was entirely based on Dahlia’s…performance.”
There was that curl of his lip again, and God, as much as I hated him for his cocky ways, he was also surprisingly good for my ego. He really was one of a kind, with the way he could so easily see through Dahlia’s act.
“The new contract will be different,” the sheikh went on to say. “If it is you, I will not mind having you in the child’s life for as long as you wish. It will benefit the child even, having both birth parents around.”
I tried wrapping my head around what he was suggesting. Basically, he still wanted me to be his baby mama, and even though he hadn’t said anything about the perks that would come with the position, if the old contract was anything to go by, then I was sure they’d be nothing to complain about.
So, compensation-wise, I supposed the contract worked completely to my advantage, but…
Getting married had never been part of my plans, much less having a kid. I knew myself well enough to know I’d be a responsible mother, but what about being happy? Would I be happy being a mom?
I used to think a woman was born with maternal instincts, but getting to know Portia obviously proved otherwise.
“What if I’m not ready to become a mother,” I finally forced myself to ask, “and I suddenly don’t want to be a part of the baby’s life?”
“Then you won’t be.”
I took a peek at his expression and was relieved to find zero judgment on the asshole’s face. It was nice to know the SOB still had a few redeeming qualities, and with the issue of motherhood taken care of, I moved on to other concerns.
“What about marriage? We don’t need to tie the knot or anything, right?”
The sheikh was visibly amused. “Marriage is a deal-breaker, I take it?”
“Then you’ll be glad to know I would never have required it from you,” he assured me.
“Is that all?”
The sheikh’s lips curved. “Then proceed with your next concern.”
“The same with the old contract, and non-disclosure goes for us both.”
“Over my dead body,” the sheikh rejected in a voice of cold distaste, “and that is the last time we shall even talk about it. Your next concern?”
The sheikh’s gaze gleamed. “I shall tell you when it’s the right time.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
“But in the meantime, you may continue addressing me as ‘sheikh’.”
“How about asshole?”
“If that’s what turns you on, habibti.”
Gaaaah. I hated it when he managed to get the last word like that.
“If that’s all…”
I quickly shook my head. “Not so fast.” Discussing future plans about making babies might be normal for him, but this was my first rodeo, and I was determined to take as much time as needed to hash things out.
“What about other lovers?” I dared to ask.
“As I want you pregnant as soon as possible—-”
I couldn’t help frowning at this, and I interrupted him to ask, “Why are you in such a hurry to have a baby?”
The sheikh’s gaze became veiled, and I knew right away that this was one thing he had hoped to avoid discussing. “Securing the line of succession,” he said finally, “is the price I have to pay for my freedom.”
Mafia, I couldn’t help thinking again, but then I remembered Mrs. L’s text. Oh. Right. So scratch that. Not Mafia then, but maybe something equally old-fashioned? Since he was a sheikh, then maybe that was something similar to how British aristocracy worked, and one had to have a male heir to inherit the title?
Well, whatever. The important thing here was that his reason for having a “deadline” was valid and nothing like all those scary things I imagined. I mean, honestly. I did wonder at one point if he was part of some cult, and he had meant to offer his baby up as a sacrifice.