There was nowhere Carmen could hide from this prince of Judar. No stone he wouldn't turn to find her, no wall he couldn't tear down. Nothing would stop Farooq Aal Masood from claiming the mother of his baby. She had betrayed him. And she would pay. In his bed. As his wife...until he tired of her. And though Carmen professed to love him, that it was all a misunderstanding, well...Farooq would never fall for her lies again!
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from The Desert Lord's Baby by Olivia Gates
Carmen paused in the middle of hanging the nursery's new curtains. She looked down at Mennah, listened to her chirping her latest "word," her heart in a state of expansion.
She'd gotten used to feeling her heart filling her whole chest, her whole being, since she'd given birth to her daughter.
She'd demanded Mennah the moment she'd come out of her womb, disregarding the doctor's grumbling that he had to close said womb first. He'd succumbed, though, had placed the smeared, nine-pound miracle on Carmen's bosom. And for long moments, as she'd first touched her baby, felt her precious weight, her flesh and heat and reality, Carmen had been afraid she wouldn't survive the explosion of emotions raging through her.
She'd searched for the right name long and hard. She'd found the perfect one, what this baby was, in her father's mother tongue. Mennah. Her gift from God.
Now her gift was latching chubby fingers onto her play-pen's railings, hauling herself up to a standing position. She then tried to stand unsupported and landed on her diaper-padded bottom with a cry of chagrin-mixed glee, tearing a laugh from Carmen's depths.
"Oh, Mennah, darling, you're in such a hurry."
And she was. At only nine months, she'd been sitting unsupported for almost three, crawling for almost two and was now clearly on her way to overtaking another milestone.
Carmen slotted the last hook, climbed down the ladder and headed to the playpen. Her sunny angel grinned at her, good nature brimming from golden eyes, displaying her newly acquired set of teeth, her dimples flashing in the perfection of her cherubic face. A surge of emotions clogged Carmen's throat, rising to her eyes.
Could she have been so blessed?
Mennah held up her arms. Carmen obliged at once, bent and cradled the robust little body that was her reason for living. Mennah mashed her face into her mother's neck, and Carmen's arms convulsed around her. It was a good thing Mennah loved fierce hugs. Carmen bore down on the flare of love, rocked Mennah in her arms, one hand luxuriating in the raven silk of her locks. Hmm, the bald patch from before Mennah started rolling around was totally gone.
Suddenly Mennah pushed away, looked up expectantly. "Bagha bagha."
Carmen tickled her nose. "Yes, darling, you're trying to tell me something and your mommy is so dense she hasn't figured it out yet. But that's a new word. Give me a day and I'll figure it out. Say--could it be you're telling me you're hungry? It has been a couple of hours since you've eaten." Carmen started to undo her shirt only for Mennah to slap her hands on top of Carmen's, squealing, part playful, part admonishing. Carmen sighed. "No mommy-produced sustenance?"
Mennah giggled. Carmen sighed again. She'd been hoping to prolong nursing. But this was another area where Mennah was in a hurry. She'd been refusing to nurse more and more ever since she'd been introduced to solid foods, decreasing Carmen's milk flow. This was the second day with no nursing at all. During that time Mennah had even given her grief about eating previously much-loved foods. And Carmen could guess why.
"I shouldn't have given you a taste of my filet mignon, darling. Seems you share more than your looks with your father. He, too, is a big panther who relishes red meat--"
Carmen stopped. Mennah was looking up at her with such absorption, as if she was memorizing everything her mother said.
Carmen had been indulging in the heartbreaking pleasure of constantly talking to her about her father. Maybe she should resist giving in to the urge. There was no way Mennah understood now, but maybe before Carmen realized, she would. And she didn't want to explain her father's absence for years. Not that she'd ever have enough time to come up with an adequate explanation.
Exhaling, shaking off a resurgence of the despondency that had suffocated her all through her pregnancy, she walked out of the nursery, headed to their open-plan, sunlit kitchen.
She secured Mennah in her high chair, dropped a kiss on top of her glossy head. "One bagha bagha coming up."
She placed plastic toys in front of Mennah, set the iPod to a slow rock collection and started preparing the dish that had converted her baby to gourmet cuisine. Amidst singing along with her favorite songs and Mennah's accompanying shrieks of enthusiasm, she stopped periodically to gather the toys with which Mennah gleefully tested gravity, giving them back to her so she'd restart her experiments over and over again.
She was finishing the mushroom sauce when she noticed it had been a couple of minutes since she'd fetched for Mennah, since her daughter's squeals had disharmonized with her singing.