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Prince Nadir's Secret Heir(7)

Michelle Conder


Reluctantly turning back, she calmed her breathing and faced Nadir. ‘What’s this about, Nadir?’

‘What do you think?’

She tried to pull off a nonchalant shrug but her movements felt stiff and disjointed. He’d walked away from her fourteen months ago so she had no idea. ‘If I knew I wouldn’t ask,’ she countered, slightly annoyed herself now.

His silvery gaze transmitted how unimpressed he was with her response. ‘How old is she?’

‘How do you know she’s a she?’ Imogen hedged.

‘I don’t think it’s customary to dress a boy in a pink sunhat.’

‘Maybe I’m just bucking the trend.’

His hissed breath held a wealth of reaching-the-end-of-his-tether impatience. ‘How. Old. Is. She?’

Completely unprepared for both his anger and his relentless questioning, Imogen was at a loss as to how to follow the advice of her inner voice that warned her to tread cautiously and found herself blurting out the truth. ‘Five months.’

He rocked back on his heels, his hands going to his waist and pushing his jacket back to reveal his broad chest. ‘Then our affair did result in a child.’

Their affair? Talk about clarifying how he had felt about her back then... ‘I didn’t say that,’ she retorted forcefully.

The words came out rushed and his eyebrows shot up. ‘Then you were sleeping with someone else while we were together.’ His voice held the tenor of a wounded bull, which didn’t impress her at all.

‘Trust you to take that line of thinking,’ she said scathingly, remembering how he had basically accused her of the same thing their last night together in Paris. ‘And it’s none of your business.’

‘If she’s not mine then whose is she?’ His gaze once again narrowed in on Nadeena.

‘Mine,’ she countered evenly.

Nadir’s lips turned up into a snarl. ‘Do you really think you can fob me off with semantics?’

Imogen felt a dull pain tweak behind her right eyebrow. After the way he had treated the news of her pregnancy, she wanted to know his current motivation before blurting out any more home truths. ‘Look, Nadir—’

He said something in Arabic, cutting her off, and stepped closer to her, his wide shoulders blocking out all the natural light behind him. Imogen felt the cool glass of the shop window at her back and briefly closed her eyes to try and steady her racing heartbeat, only to snap them open again when Nadir’s voice sounded way too close to her ear. ‘Dammit, you’re not going to faint, are you?’

Faint? Faint? She stared up at him and then darted her eyes to the side. No, she wasn’t going to faint. But she did want to run. Fast.

‘Uh-uh.’ As if reading her thoughts, Nadir shook his head. ‘You’re not going to run again, Imogen, my sweet.’

Again? What was he talking about—again?

‘I have no idea what you’re talking about but I really need to go. I’m working another shift tonight.’

His eyes narrowed. ‘Just so we’re clear, habibi,’ he grated silkily, ‘I have not searched for you for the past fourteen months to be given the runaround now.’

Imogen immediately felt hot and cold and then hot again and, just like the first time she had laid eyes on him, all the oxygen went out of the air—something that had almost been disastrous at the time as she’d been in the middle of performing the can-can in front of a full house. She’d noticed Nadir watching her almost straight away. He’d been sitting at a small front table with his brother—she’d later found out—but she had only had eyes for Nadir. And he for her, right up until the moment he’d found out she was enceinte.

As if sensing her distress, Nadeena stirred and shifted against her chest and Imogen tried to calm her nerves, if for no other reason than to keep Nadeena asleep.

Her first priority was to keep her daughter safe.

Secure.

Not that she expected Nadir to hurt her physically. No, what she feared was his power to hurt her emotionally, which was often much worse because most bruises healed while mental scars remained for ever. Imogen knew because she had spent many years trying, and failing, to win her father’s love and she wasn’t about to condemn Nadeena to the same fate.

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