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The Sheikh's Baby Scandal

By:Carol Marinelli

PROLOGUE

‘KEDAH, WHERE ARE YOU? That’s enough, now!’

The royal nanny was getting exasperated as she again called out to her small charge, but Kedah had no intention of being found—he was having far too much fun!

Kedah could see the nanny’s feet go past as he hid behind the large statue that she had checked just a few seconds ago. He could run like greased lightning, and he smothered his laughter as she now moved towards the grand staircase.

‘Kedah!’ The nanny was sounding very cross. As well she might—Kedah was a handful.

The people of Zazinia adored him, though, and they would all be lined up outside the palace hoping to get a glimpse of him. Usually there was just a small crowd when the royal plane landed but, thanks to the cheeky young Prince, the numbers had grown of late.

Never had there been more interest in a young royal. Kedah’s chocolate-brown eyes were flecked with gold and his winning smile had drawn rapt attention from the moment the first photographer had captured it. In their eyes he could do no wrong—in fact, Kedah’s boisterous boyish ways only served to endear him further to the public. He was as beautiful as he was wild, they often said, and it would seem that he could not stand still.

He tried to!

For the people of Zazinia, a dreary parade was made so much more entertaining when they watched little Kedah’s attempts to obey the stern commands that were delivered out of the side of his father’s mouth.

Just a few weeks ago there had been a procession, and Kedah had had to remain still for the best part of an hour. But he had quickly grown bored.

‘Control him!’ Omar, the Crown Prince had said to Rina, his wife, for the King had started to get cross.

It was so hard to control him, though.

When his mother had warned him to stand still, Kedah had merely smiled up at her and then held out his arms to be lifted. Rina had tried to ignore him—but, really, who could resist? In the end she had complied. Kedah had chatted away to her, despite being gently hushed. She had smiled affectionately and put her hand up to his little fat cheek, looked him in the eye. She’d told him to behave for just a few more moments, and that then it would be time to return to the palace.

The King’s silent disapproval had been felt all around. He did not approve of his son’s young wife, and certainly he felt that children should be seen and not heard. Omar had been tense, Rina had done her best to appease all, and yet Kedah had chosen to be impervious to the strained atmosphere and turned his attention to the crowd.

They had all been staring at him, so he’d smiled and waved to them. It had been such a break from the usually austere and remote royal shows that the gathered crowd had melted en masse and, quite simply, adored him. Kedah was funny—and terribly cheeky. He had so much energy to burn that he was the work of five children, and the royal nanny struggled with this particular charge!

‘Kedah!’ she called out now, to thin air. ‘I need to get you bathed and dressed so that you can go and greet your father and the King.’

He crouched lower behind the statue and did not respond. He was not particularly looking forward to the senior royals’ return. They had been gone for a few days and the palace felt so much more relaxed without them. His mother seemed to laugh more, and even the staff were happier without the King around.

Neither did Kedah want to change out of his play clothes just so he could watch a plane land and his grumpy father and grandfather get out. And so, as the nanny sped down stairs in search of him, Kedah ran from behind the statue and tried to plan his next move.

Usually he would hide in the library, but on this day he ran somewhere he should not. Jaddi, his grandfather, had his own wing, and there were no guards there today—which meant that he was free to explore. But his eager footsteps came to a halt midway there. Even though his grandfather was away, Jaddi was intimidating enough that Kedah chose not to continue. And so, at the last moment, he changed his mind and turned and ran to the Crown Prince’s wing, where his parents resided.

There were no guards there either.

To the left there were offices that ran the length of the corridor, and to the right was the entrance to his parents’ private residence.

Kedah rarely entered it. His parents generally came and visited him in the nursery or the playroom.

Knowing that he would be told off if he disturbed his mother from her nap, for a second he considered the balcony—but then chose to run to the offices instead. He had long ago kicked off his sandals, so his bare feet made barely a sound.

Even though he was in a rush to find a hiding place, Kedah stopped for a moment and looked up at the portraits, as he always did when he was here.

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