The Sheikh's Miracle Baby Daughters

By: Sophia Lynn

CHAPTER ONE


Frannie

When Frannie was just a little girl, her father told her that when things were going badly, she should always stop, take a deep breath, and let it out slowly as she counted to ten. Her father had died when she was just seventeen, but she had always kept his advice in her mind.

Of course, there wasn't time to stop and count to ten on the Lombard's shooting schedule, and she had a feeling that if she stopped and even tried counting to three, she would be right on her rear.

“Fran, look alive, the sheikh is due in just five minutes!” snapped Philip, striding behind her with his camera in his hands. He was the sole dictator of his tiny little kingdom, which today was a drafty loft in Notting Hill. There were perhaps a half dozen people around besides her scuttling about and trying to avoid Philip's sharp eye, and Frannie knew that they were right to be afraid. Philip was the Lombard's head photographer, and he got away with fits of artistic temper simply because he was just that good.

I'll be that good someday. I just need to survive being Philip's assistant. Maybe in another few months or so, he'll figure out that I hate being called Fran.

She didn't think he would. It had taken him almost three months to stop calling her “that American girl.” It was progress of a sort, and she couldn't deny that she was learning a great deal from him.

Today, Frannie was learning how to throw together a luxurious set for an impromptu interview and photo shoot with a big name while having next to no sleep.

Honestly, can't Mr. Big Shot Sheikh just get on the calendar like everyone else?

Given the way Marlene, the writer, had called the photography staff in so frantically late last night, obviously he couldn't.

Frannie shimmied up the ladder to hang up yet another swathe of mosquito netting, letting the diaphanous material drop from the ceiling to the floor. It looked dull and tacky in real life, but she knew that when Philip trained his lens on it, it would be transformed into something magical. For a moment, she simply looked at the bustling set beneath her, and then with a deep breath, she started to descend the ladder.

Oh, that mosquito netting is drifting. I need to make sure that I don't step on it…

The thought flew completely out of her mind, however, when on the last step of the ladder she was jostled by someone passing too close. She stepped back to avoid getting stepped on, her foot came down squarely on the mosquito netting, and somehow she and the ladder were falling.

She heard a low curse just as she realized that she was not going to regain her feet, and she flinched, waiting to come into contact with the concrete floor, the aluminum ladder, or both. Frannie braced herself for the pain, but somehow, it never came despite the almighty clatter that ensued.

Frannie opened her eyes warily, and then she blinked. She had been caught in a pair of strong arms, and she was looking into the face of a man she had never met before. She knew she had never met him before because she would definitely remember someone who was so incredibly handsome. His face was only saved from sheer beauty because of a slightly crooked nose, and beneath dark, dark brows, his eyes were a breathtaking pale green.

God, I need to do a shoot with this man...

Frannie only realized that she was staring when the man's sensuous lips quirked into a small smile.

“Are you all right? Can you stand?”

“Can I—? Oh...oh yes! I can stand, I'm sorry...”

Frannie scrambled for balance, all of a sudden too aware of her mousy brown hair pulled back into a sloppy bun, and her set clothes baggy and a little tattered. For a terrible moment, she was afraid she would fall down into a pile of nerves and flailing limbs, but then his arms were there, pulling her up and settling her on her feet.

“There. No need to be so frantic. Are you going to be all right?”

Frannie, aware that there was a red blush on her cheeks, started to nod, but then she heard an outraged cry, and she knew that the answer probably wasn't going to be yes.

Philip stormed over, taking in the fallen ladder, the ripped and torn mosquito netting, and he looked around furiously.

“What the hell? Who's responsible for this? The client is coming in five minutes, and I swear I will have whoever's head was responsible for this!”

He looked around at the cringing staff accusingly, looking so much like an affronted dragon that Frannie wanted to laugh. It was either laugh or cry, because she was fairly certain that she was not going to have a job after she confessed to her crime.

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