The sheikhs secret love.., p.43
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       The Sheikh's Secret Love Child, p.43

         Part #2 of The Sheikh's Baby Surprise series by Holly Rayner
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  Sophie knew the group had made their way out of the theater when she felt the hot, humid air on her skin, made all the more unbearable by the bag around her head.

  She could hear cars nearby, a door opening, and then suddenly she was back on level ground, on her knees. She felt the floor with her hand; carpeted. By the slam of the door and the sound of an engine running, she realized she was in a trunk, or the back of a van.

  She breathed slowly, carefully, and tried to stay out of panic mode as her mind ran through possible scenarios. What if they thought she was with those people? Were they taking her away as a ransom or a bargaining chip, or did they realize she had nothing to do with it and they were simply removing her from the situation?

  Her stomach flipped all the more as she felt the car begin to move. The rush of the quick start sent her flying, rolling against the door and smashing her back against the door’s locking mechanism. She yelped in pain and scrambled away from the door, wondering if there was anybody in the back with her.

  “Stay down!” one of the men yelled from up front.

  She did as instructed and curled up on the floor as best she could in handcuffs, just as a spray of bullets hit the van.

  They were in a car chase.

  She felt a sick, white pain shoot through her stomach and for a moment wondered if she had been shot, until she realized it wasn’t physical pain she felt: it was panic.

  Where was her mother’s watch? She’d been gripping it during the confrontation in the theater, and then what? She scrambled along the floor and tried to feel around for the cold metal, but couldn’t find it. She’d dropped it in the cinema, she knew it.

  That was it, Sophie thought despondently. She was going to die, and she was going to die without the only vestige of her mother she had left. The very thing she held dear; the most precious memory she had left, and now she had to die without it. She felt a sob racking her chest and almost let it out, but her thoughts were interrupted by the men driving the vehicle.

  “The rebels had the cinema surrounded,” one of the bodyguards said smoothly, not a trace of worry in his tone. “We had no idea. I’m so sorry, sir.”

  The men continued to talk about their escape, some of it in English, some not. Sophie could feel the van slowing back to a normal speed. No gunfire had been heard in minutes. As the men continued to speak she wondered if the chase might be over. She breathed heavily against the mask and felt the heat drenching her hair with sweat. She could breathe now.

  There was a swerve, and Sophie heard the sound of the van hitting something. Her panic swelled as she wondered if they had hit a person, but the sound repeated itself a few times and she recognized it as cardboard boxes. Clearly, they weren't driving down the main streets anymore. Images flooded her mind of old action movies, vehicles veering down alleyways and knocking over fruit stands, and in that moment she wondered idly if she would die thinking about knocked over fruit stands.

  More gunfire rang out, and though its distance sounded farther away at this point, it didn't help to quell the bile in Sophie’s stomach when she heard the rear window of the van crack; mercifully it must have been bullet resistant or something, since the sound of breaking glass wasn't accompanied by a rain of shards.

  She heard a crash, and silence filled the van. In her panicked state, Sophie couldn’t register what the crash meant. Had they stopped? Were the people chasing them going to catch up and shoot them? She swallowed dryly then felt a small relief when she felt another swerving sensation. They were clearly still moving, which meant the sound was probably the car chasing them crashing into something.

  Her newfound calm was ripped away from her as the vehicle began speeding and swerving wildly once more, the men in the front now shouting furiously as gunfire rang off from both the outside and inside of the car. Her captors had begun retaliating against a second vehicle, it seemed.

  The car took a sharp left and Sophie once again went flying into the side of the van. She wished she was out of her handcuffs so she could at least protect her head. She tried her best to assume the fetal position and outlasted a few more sharp turns; her heart pounding with the sound of heavy bullet spray until suddenly everything stopped.

  The sound of her heart was so loud she could almost swear the men in front could hear it.

  “We lost them,” came one of the men’s voices.

  “Are you sure?” asked the other bodyguard.

  Silence ensued for a few minutes more, and Sophie held their breath as she heard a car approaching them. She could hear one of the guards reloading their weapon, apparently ready to make a final stand if necessary; it was too late to pick up speed again if they were chased any longer.

  The noise of the other car seemed to pass them by, and one of the men sighed heavily. “Yeah, we lost ‘em.”

  Then came an unfamiliar voice that she assumed must have been the Sheikh’s. “I don’t know how to keep doing this,” he sighed mournfully. “Dabir, what makes you think we have even a prayer of stopping something as big as the rebels? It took you ten years to find the men who killed my parents, and they’ve only gotten worse since then.”

  “Eight,” the guard corrected. “Eight years.”

  “I was rounding.”

  “One of your more annoying qualities, Your Highness.” The guard laughed; the first softer side Sophie had heard. “We have a map of the rebels’ operations. We have the identity of nearly every sleeper agent, as well as the locations of their supply depots and combat cells. We have a much better picture now of what they’re planning and when.”

  “Well, we didn’t know tonight,” the other guard snorted. “And now we have this one to worry about.”

  The men up front went silent and Sophie could only imagine the guard had gestured her way when he’d spoken the last sentence. While she couldn’t see the men’s faces, she suddenly felt an uncomfortable silence overwhelm the vehicle. Minutes passed and they only drove.

  Minutes stretched on into hours and she overheard one of the guards saying they would be driving the whole night through. While the handcuffs dug uncomfortably into her wrists and the wheels bumped against the road, tossing her every so often, for now at least, Sophie thought, she was safe.

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