Princess's Secret Baby(57)

By: Carol Marinelli

Leila watched James’s shaking hand cut the cord.

Pink now, she was already searching for food and Leila did not think that her child was greedy as she brought her to her breast.

For a brief moment she wanted to call her mother and share the happy news and she told James the same thing.

‘I’m scared she might say something to spoil it.’

‘I’ll call her if you want,’ James said.

‘I don’t know,’ Leila said, and she looked at her tiny defenceless baby. Two minutes after James had done the same to their infant, Leila shook her head and finally she cut the last piece of that cord.

* * *

She was beautiful, James thought as he looked at Leila sleeping.

They were beautiful, he amended as he looked down at his daughter.

A black-haired mother and a black-haired baby, both of whom had owned James’s heart from the moment their eyes had met.

As Leila slept he stood holding his baby and could not believe that she was here or even imagine a world without her anymore.

She was wrapped in a little blanket and had on a hat, but James had taken it off so that he could see her curls. He examined her little nose, which Catherine had explained was a bit squashed from the delivery but would soon be fine.

Excuse me! he thought to himself.

Her nose looked better than perfect to James.

He loved how her fingers closed around his and he thought of all the ski slopes he had hurled himself down with barely a thought and his very reckless ways should surely have him drenched in horror. But when he watched her little fingers close around his, James knew that they had led him to this, to a place where he got to properly feel.

He looked at the flowers that had started to arrive and loathed most of them.

James, unlike Leila, read cards.

Why was there a question mark immersed in exclamation marks in some of their congratulation cards? Why was the rest of the world holding their breath for James to mess up the best thing that had ever happened in his life?

Inexplicable was the love that had walked into The Harrington all those months ago and he no longer needed to explain or excuse that night to others.

Their baby didn’t have a name yet and James hoped to God that Leila didn’t still want to name her Jasmine.

‘You’re a good girl,’ James said to his daughter, who opened blue eyes to him.

And Leila smiled as she woke, for she knew what he was thinking. Leila had seen the face he had pulled when she’d suggested naming her Jasmine. And she smiled, too, that on the day she had been born he told their baby how good she was, how loved she was.

He made Leila feel like that every day too.

‘Can I hold her?’ Leila asked.

‘Nope, you’ve had enough goes,’ James said. ‘It’s my turn. You go back to sleep.’ Leila smiled as he carried on talking. ‘I’ve managed to put my parents off till tomorrow,’ James said. ‘Your brother and Sophie are coming in tonight, and they both can’t wait to meet her.’

Brother and sister were speaking again. James had spoken with Zayn and had found out that yes, there was a very good reason that Sophie had revealed James’s name to the press and gently he had told Leila why.

Bloody Jasmine, James thought, making her mischief     from the grave.

He handed Leila their baby and he watched as Leila gazed upon her with so much love and he saw, too, the flicker of confusion, for she had once been that small.

‘Are you sure that you don’t want me to let your parents know? I don’t mind,’ James offered—he was the gatekeeper to her heart and would not let her be hurt again. ‘I can practise my Arabic,’ James said as he cleared the back of his throat, and Leila laughed, but with affection.

‘No.’ Her moment of weakness just after the birth had long since faded. ‘I don’t want them near her, ever. I will not let them poison her. They can read it in the press if they choose to, or Zayn can tell them. Really, James, I don’t care if they know or if they don’t. I have my family and that is you and her.’

She loved him so much and she was not scared to love him now.

Their love was real, it existed, and he showed her that each day.

‘We need a name,’ James said.

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