The Sheikh's Secret Babies(5)

By: Lynne Graham

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Long before Chrissie had met Jaul, Lizzie and Chrissie had inherited a tiny Greek island from their late mother. Lizzie’s husband, Cesare, had bought Lionos from the sisters for a small fortune. The sale of the island had taken place before Chrissie’s twins were even conceived and so Chrissie had opted to put the majority of her share of the money into a trust that she could not access until her twenty-fifth birthday. At the time she had thought that that was a sensible idea—the amount of money involved had made her head spin and Chrissie had a secret fear that she might have inherited her mother’s spendthrift ways. Francesca Whitaker had been extravagant and irresponsible with cash and Chrissie had wanted to carefully conserve her windfall for what she had assumed would be a more settled time in her life.

Now here she was, twenty-four years of age, and for the past year she had had to acknowledge that had she had the ability to use that money she had put away, she could, at least, have been financially independent. Instead, to enable her to follow a teaching career she’d had to share her sister’s nanny, Sally, to look after her own children—affording Sally’s services solely on her earnings as a teacher would have been impossible.

On the other hand, by following Cesare’s advice, she had made one good decision when she had used some of the money to purchase a two-bedroom apartment before she put the rest of it away where it couldn’t be touched. Furthermore she had bought the apartment outright, which meant she could afford to run a small car and at least contribute a healthy amount towards Sally’s salary. Of course to hear Lizzie tell it, Chrissie was doing Cesare and Lizzie a favour by keeping Sally gainfully employed while they were abroad. In the same way, when her sister and her brother-in-law and their children flew into London for one of their frequent visits, Chrissie moved into their town house with them and stayed until they departed again because it was more convenient for everyone that way.

Now, laden with her carrier bags of gifts and cards, Chrissie unlocked the door of her ground-floor apartment.

Sally appeared in the kitchen doorway. ‘Cup of tea?’ she asked, a curvy brunette with a wide smile.

‘I’d love one. No night out this evening?’ Chrissie teased, for Sally had a very healthy social life and was usually rushing back to Lizzie’s town house to dress up.

‘Not tonight...not unless I want to go into an overdraft!’ she joked, pulling a face.

Chrissie set her bags down and walked into the lounge. Two babies were playing with plastic bricks in the centre of the carpet. Both had a shock of blue-black curls and eyes so dark they were almost black. Tarif dropped his brick, crowed with delight and started to crawl eagerly towards her. Soraya laughed and, rarely as energetic as her brother, she lifted her arms high to be lifted.

‘Hello, my darlings,’ Chrissie said warmly, her face softening as she dropped to her knees to gather up Tarif before freeing up an arm to pull his sister close.

‘Mum-mum,’ Soraya said solemnly, a plump little hand touching her mother’s cheek gently.

Tarif tugged her hair and planted a big, sloppy kiss on her cheek, nestling as close as he could get. And all the worries and little annoyances of the day fell from Chrissie in the same moment. Her twins had owned her heart from the day of their birth. She had been so worried that she wouldn’t be able to cope with two babies but Lizzie had taken her home to the town house and showed her all the basics.

‘You’ll muddle through...we all do,’ Lizzie had assured her.

But nobody had warned Chrissie that when she looked at her children she would be overwhelmed by her love for them. While she was pregnant she had tried to think of them as Jaul’s children and she had deeply resented the position he had put her in. She hadn’t felt ready to be a mother and had shrunk from the challenge of becoming a single parent. But once the twins were born, she had only cared that her babies thrived and were happy.

‘I took them to the park this afternoon. Tarif threw a real tantrum when I took him off the swings,’ Sally confided. ‘He was throwing himself about so much I had to lay him down until he got it out of his system. I was really surprised.’

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