Dangerous pleasure, p.20
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       Dangerous Pleasure, p.20
 

         Part #12 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
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Page 20

 

  She continued to stare out the window, watching as they began to track the ground with the metal detector once again.

  “How does a metal detector help them find underground tunnels?” she asked without turning back.

  “It’s not exactly a metal detector,” he answered. “It’s specially modified to pick up pockets beneath the ground, vacancies that would indicate a cave, a cavern, or a tunnel. ”

  “Is there a tunnel where he’s looking?” She glanced back, but rather than searching for his eyes her gaze moved to his naked back once again.

  “Not that we’ve found,” he told her with a quick shake of his head. “Abram and I have searched high and low for tunnels that haven’t yet been found. So far, we hnnels thatx2019;t found anything. ”

  She turned back to the scene below to see Jafar gesture angrily to Azir with a frown. She would have never believed he was as deceitful as it appeared he was, or that he could have been a risk to her. Learning he had helped conspire to kidnap her had been a disillusioning blow.

  There had been a lot of surprises in the past four days though, things she had truly never expected. She’d known Khalid’s cousins most of her life. At one time or another she had been introduced to them under various circumstances outside the Saudi regime. Until perhaps five or six years before, his Saudi cousins had been regulars at many of the vacation spots her parents had visited, for either business or pleasure.

  Then, the positions they had held within the Saudi government had been dissolved, Paige had learned.

  Because of Ayid and Aman, Khalid had told her. Once the king had received proof they were still involved with terrorist activities, all the males working in the Riyadh government had been asked to return to their own province. Ayid and Aman had destroyed the regime’s trust for the entire family.

  Jafar and Tariq had actually held very lucrative positions within imports and exports, allowing them to travel all over the world. Several of Jafar’s family members were still in the U. S. attending college on student visas he had arranged while they were still very young.

  But Tariq and Jafar were here now, rather than jet-setting and representing their country financially.

  Turning, she stared at Tariq once again, her gaze straying to his smooth, bare shoulders. He was dressed only in the ankle-length loose trousers that he and Abram wore beneath their thobes.

  Once the two men entered the rooms, the first thing they did was strip off the thobes. She’d seen Abram pull on well-worn, lovingly faded denim the night before like a man pulling on a favorite lover. She swore his lashes almost fluttered in pleasure for a second.

  Tariq’s bare shoulders were the only part of his back that was smooth though. Unlike her mother’s description of Azir with his heavy pelt of body hair, Tariq actually sported very little, as did Abram.

  But his back was crisscrossed with what had to be hundreds of very fine, thin scars that went from his shoulder blades to beneath the drawstring waist of the trousers.

  “What are you doing?” She cleared her throat uneasily as she moved toward him.

  He’d been working on that piece of equipment for two days now.

  “Someone found one of the GPS trackers I’ve been using on the Land Rovers and managed to scramble the signal,” he murmured as he continued to peer into the electronic control board. “I’m trying to alter the device rather than attempting to steal the tracker itself back. If I can get it to remotely change the signal, then I’ll have them again. ”

  “Who are you trying to track?” She stared down at the intricate array of tiny wires, nodules, and electronic relays with a frown.

  He looked over his shoulder at her, his milk chocolate–brown eyes faintly amused as he gave her a glance of male appreciation. “The new soaps Abram brought in for you smell nice. ”

  She was that close to him. Not touching, but close enough that he had no problem smelling the very faint scent of rose and sandalwood.

  She moved back, a sense of nervousness invading her as he continued to watch her for several seconds before turning back to the electronic device.

  It was merely another variation of the same theme that had played out in the past two days that Abram hadn’t been present. The looks of interest, the silent reminder that Abram had already asked him to be his third and that he shared that huge bed with them every night.

  For the past two nights she had gone to sleep with Abram’s arms around her, only to awaken with Tariq’s holding her. It was creating an intimacy she couldn’t seem to escape.

  Restraining a frustrated sigh she turned back to him, her lips parting to comment on Abram’s absence when a hard, imperative knock sounded on the heavy, thick wood of the door.

  Paige flinched with near violence, her heart jumping into her throat as her gaze flew to where Tariq was quickly folding a square of cloth over the device he had been working on and rising from the chair.

  He pointed to the connecting door that led to his suite as he moved to it quickly.

  He was leaving?

  “Where are you going?” she hissed.

  “I’ll be listening,” he promised quickly, his voice so low as to be nearly silent. “See who it is, and don’t let them know I’m here. ”

  He handed her the scarf that Abram had given her in case Azir showed up to use over her head and around her neck as a hijab.

  The knock sounded again, harder, and this time, more impatient.

  “Who is it?” she called out as she quickly secured the scarf around her head as Abram had taught her.

  “It is Jafar, Paige. I have someone here who wishes to see you. ” His voice came through the door quietly.

  font color="#000000">Dammit, where the hell was Abram?

  “Abram isn’t here, Jafar,” she stated from the seam of the door and frame. “He told me not to open the door to anyone. ”

  She heard Jafar’s laughter through the heavy wood. “Put your scarf on and simply open the door. I do not intend to enter the room. ”

  She looked to where Tariq watched from the doorway of his suite. He nodded at her as she gave him a look of desperation and silently mouthed, “What do I do?”

  He grimaced tightly before nodding again at her and disappearing into the other room.

  Releasing the locks she opened the door several inches and stared at Jafar and the figure clothed in black from head to foot in the face and body covering usually only worn in the strictest of areas.

  Behind the mesh screen of the burqa, feminine eyes stared back at her, though the shape and color were impossible to distinguish.

  Behind the much smaller figure stood Jafar, as his odd, almost translucent pale green eyes watched her with knowing, mocking amusement.

  Antagonism rose within her at the first sight of him and it was all she could do to keep her lips clamped closed.

  “Such a look of anger. ” He grinned at her, a brow arching in a move of such arrogance that for a second, he reminded her of Abram.

  “Stop trying to make her angry, brother,” the feminine voice chided him with surprising tartness.

  Paige’s gaze jerked back to the shrouded figure and struggled to peer behind the mesh eye covering.

  “Chalah?” she whispered uncertainly, hopefully, though suspicion was blooming inside her.

  “I told you she would remember me. ” Soft laughter spilled from behind the dark covering. “Let me in, Paige, so I can get rid of my hulking brother, if you don’t mind. ”

  Paige’s eyes flicked to Jafar once again. How cruel of him to bring the sister who had once been her friend to betray her.

  She eased back slowly, allowing the door to open as she kept a wary eye on Jafar. She trusted him even less now. It was incredibly obvious he was attempting to use the sister he had once seemed to adore.

  The lies of the past were piling up on his head, and she hoped the weight of them buried him. Q
uickly.

  “It’s about time. ” Chalah all but bounced into te room as Paige closed the door in Jafar’s laughing face.

  “I thought you were still in college,” Paige stated as she locked the door, her brows lifting as the burqa came off.

  This was Chalah. White sneakers, her long legs just dark enough to give her a perpetually tanned look. Cutoff shorts and a snug camisole that shaped her full breasts and emphasized her tiny waist.

  “All about covering yourself today, aren’t you there, Chalah?” she drawled.

  Chalah rolled her eyes. “I hear the Matawa deserted this damned place about the same time the money left,” she snorted.

  The Matawa, or religious police were the terror of any woman unlucky enough to draw their notice.

  “How in the hell did you manage to get your ass in this situation?” Chalah propped her hands on her hips as she glared back at Paige.

  Long black hair was confined in a thick heavy braid. Exotic, honey brown eyes, thickly lashed, were sparkling as her lips pursed in irritation.

  “An argument with Khalid. ” Paige admitted a truth she hadn’t even told Abram.

  “It figures it was that oaf’s fault,” Chalah retorted as she crossed her arms over her breasts and tilted her head curiously. “Let me guess, he didn’t handle catching you in that tight, hot embrace with Abram very well? Did he scream incest?” She waggled her brows suggestively.

  Paige stared back at her in surprise as she drew the scarf from her head and draped it over the back of the couch.

  “How did you know about that?” she asked suspiciously.

  She knew neither Khalid nor Marty would have told of the incident. To do so would have endangered Abram and further threatened Paige.

  Chalah turned, glancing around the room before casting Paige an impish look from the corner of her eye.

  “Where’s Abram?” she asked.

  Paige shrugged. “He was gone when I awoke this morning. Now, tell me how you knew about Abram being at Khalid’s that night. ”

  Chalah shot her a dark look as she paced around the room as though looking for something. When she made her way back to Paige she shook her head, her expression pensive.

  “Because Khalid either has one of Azir or Jafar’s spies, or a very gossipy employee on his payroll. ” Chalah kept her voice low. “nd if you dare let anyone know I told you that, even Abram, then I may not survive long enough to return to the U. S. and finish my degree. ”

  Paige closed her eyes for a second before turning, her hand moving to rub at the side of her head wearily. Her temple throbbed with stress.

  “Is it Abdul?” she asked as she turnd back, knowing it would break Khalid and Mary’s heart if it were the manservant betraying him.

  “How simple would that be?” Chalah rolled her eyes expressively. “But, no such luck. I’m afraid all I know for sure is that it’s a female. A very vindictive one who’s either in the house or in the employ of the Conover security team. She’s been funneling information to the commander of the terrorist cell Ayid and Aman led for a while now. ”

  “I thought Jafar commanded those men,” Paige said as she watched the other girl suspiciously and wondered what the hell was going on.

  Chalah gave a brief shake of her head as regret twisted her expression.

  “No, Paige,” she whispered, her voice barely audible now. “Jafar has taken Ayid and Aman’s place as a mere leader, but they were never commanders. Even Jafar doesn’t know who the commander is, and he claims he enjoys living so he does not ask. ”

  Pain flashed in Chalah’s eyes at the admission of her brother actually being part of the cell.

  “Does Jafar know anything about him?” Paige asked.

  Chalah grimaced, grief flashing in her eyes.

  “Jafar refused to discuss it with me,” she sighed. “After Anwar’s death he was so consumed with vengeance at first that discussing anything with him was impossible. Having him murdered as he was, and believing Azir was behind it consumed him. ”
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