The Sheikh's Christmas Baby (Shadid Sheikhs 3) - Page 40
In that moment, he knew that he’d never been happier. He and his family were celebrating Christmas again. They each were in love, and he was blessed with the most beautiful daughter.
He knew that his mother was looking down on them with pride.
“Merry Christmas,” he said as he set Arella back down on her feet.
“Merry Christmas, Daddy.”
Three years later
“I don’t understand. How does Santa reach every kid’s house on Christmas Eve?”
Kashif sat against the fireplace and watched his son squirm in his sister’s lap. Arella held Abir tight. “It’s magic,” she explained pragmatically.
Their cousin, Cyrus, held the edge of the couch cushions and danced in his diaper. “Santa!” he cried out excitedly. Samir’s son was still far too young to know what Santa even meant, but he loved spending time with his cousins.
“But what if he misses one? That’s an awful lot to remember,” Abir asked with a frown.
“He’s not going to forget,” Maria said with a smile. She carried her own daughter, Gretchen in her arms, and slowly rocked her back and forth. Only six months old, the little girl had lungs that rivaled her mother’s.
Kashif still couldn’t believe how much time had passed since that first Christmas. There were three weddings over the past three years. Kashif and Kristy married first, and two weeks later, they discovered that she was pregnant again. Samir and Poppy were married the following year, and Jarik and Maria married early the next year. It had been one long party, and the whole country was only too happy to celebrate.
The following year, Jibreel announced his retirement. Kashif was coronated with Arella in one arm and baby Abir in the other. Kristy had successfully introduced sand sledding, and even now, there were ten huskies running amok through the palace.
Arella was scared that Santa would forget them and demanded that they join the festivities.
Despite still caring for an infant, Maria continued to carry out the traditions of Christmas Crates. With the help of the palace, she and Jarik had expanded the operations so that they were able to reach four different refugee camps this year. And she still chartered private flights, although she’d cut back significantly to care for the baby.
Poppy, so pregnant that she was about to bust, was on her way to being Dr. Shadid. Even now, she had an open book resting on her belly as she worked on her dissertation. With Samir’s help, she’d reconciled with her own family, and they’d spent Thanksgiving there this past year.
Samir admitted it was the most awkward holiday ever, but he was happy if Poppy was happy.
“You’ve done well,” his father said in a low voice. “You’re a good Sheikh, an amazing father, and you’ve done better at keeping this family together than I ever did.”
“It’s a group effort,” Kashif admitted. After all, it was Samir who had managed to pull Christmas together at the last minute three years ago, and Jarik who had called Kashif back home.
“Don’t sell yourself short. I know I’ve been hard on you. I’ve been hard on all of you, but you’ve all turned into fine men. And you’ve chosen your mates well. This country is in excellent hands.”
“I think you have our women to thank for that.”
“I have no doubt about that,” Jibreel said as he roared with laughter. “All right. Who wants a story before dinner?”
The kids laughed with glee and nearly pushed Kashif off the couch as they crowded around the old man. Kashif threw up his hands and joined his brothers.
“Poppy, I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but you look like you might pop.”
“Kashif!” Kristy scolded and swatted his arm. “Have you learned nothing? You don’t tell a woman that!”
“It’s all right. I feel like I’m going to pop,” she groaned.
“Is it going to be a boy or girl?” Maria asked eagerly.
“There’s only one in there?” Jarik asked doubtfully.
“I give up,” Kristy said as she shook her head. “There is no helping you guys. None, whatsoever.”
“Well,” Samir said with a big smile. “Now that you’ve mentioned, there is more than one in there.”