Guilty pleasure, p.11
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       Guilty Pleasure, p.11

         Part #11 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
Page 11


  "He wants to speak to you as always. " Abdul's tone was without inflection.

  The old bastard wanted to be certain Abram had come to D. C. as he'd asked him to.

  "Did you tell him to go to hell?" Khalid asked with vicious politeness.

  "I informed him once again that you have been quite busy. " Abdul cleared his throat uncomfortably. "He seemed upset. More so than usual. "

  The son of a bitch called in a show of fatherly concern whenever Ayid and Aman were about to do something foul to him. If he needed confirmation that his brothers were ready to move, then this was it.

  God, he wanted it over with. There were nights he actually managed to convince himself that he could fund the death of the old bastard and the sons that were no more than animals. And he would have, many times over, if his hand hadn't been stayed by the FBI.

  "If he calls again, tell him I regretfully decline kinship with him and would prefer that he lay down and die painfully," he stated wearily. "In the meantime, please contact the estate and have my attire for the Sinclair ball laid out. It seems I'll be attending after all. "

  Chapter 5

  The Sinclair balls were impossible to ignore, especially for those who were a part of the Sinclair club, or who knew Courtney. Members of the club were given a personal invitation by Ian Sinclair, with several reminders not to forget his wife's ball. Those who didn't attend endured his glares for weeks.

  Married or single, the members knew better than to miss one. If there was one weekness Ian had, it was his delicate little wife and anything her merciless heart desired.

  The end-of-summer event was in full swing when Khalid arrived, alone.

  He moved across the ballroom to the bar on the far side and ordered a drink stiff enough to burn through the hunger riding him as he searched for Marty and Shayne. Apparently they hadn't arrived yet.

  "Khalid, thank you so much for being here. "

  Turning, he accepted the fierce hug from the petite sprite dressed in red. Courtney smiled up at him. Behind her stood her brooding husband, Ian. And Ian always brooded whenever his wife was surrounded by hungry males. At least, that was how he described them.

  "I only obey the commands given," Khalid assured her, grinning, as she pouted back at him impudently, her chocolate-brown eyes gleaming with impish delight. "Though, I have to admit, your buffet is better than most. "

  "Ian, he's being mean to me," she complained, frowning back at her husband.

  "Stop being mean to Courtney, Khalid," Ian ordered, with a mock glare that had his wife pressing her elbow sharply into his hard abs.

  Khalid grinned at the move, though his gaze roved the ballroom, searching, as always, for that one delicate figure. If he hadn't needed to discuss the situation with Ian, then he would have never allowed Shayne to pick up Marty for the party tonight.

  "I need to talk to you a moment, if you don't mind. " Khalid stepped forward, his voice low as he drew Ian's attention.

  "Of course. My study?" Ian nodded to the smaller doorway leading from the ballroom.

  The newly constructed mansion boasted two stories and two wings. The shorter wing housed the ballroom and Ian's offices, while the main house occupied the larger wing.

  Following Ian through a short hall, Khalid stepped into the study while he the other man watched him curiously.

  "Courtney and her parties. " Ian sighed as he strode to the small bar in the corner of the room and fixed two whiskeys. "I swear, you'd think they were world events the way she plots and plans around them. "

  "For Courtney, they usually are," Khalid drawled, accepting the drink.

  "I believe Sebastian has been telling us all horror stories about the balls she and her mother used to throw. "

  Sebastian had known Courtney before her arrival in Virginia nearly two years earlier. Before she had made the decision to win the elusive Ian Sinclair's heart.

  She had stolen Ian's heart, and the friendship of everyone else she had touched since then. That didn't mean they didn't live in fear of her disapproval. Or her anger. She had a temper that could make a grown man whimper in fear.

  Ian tugged at the tight neck of his evening shirt and shook his head.

  "You wanted to discuss Courtney's predilection to overdramatize her parties, or was there something more on your mind?" Ian asked as he walked to the desk and sat down, with a long, drawn-out sigh.

  "Actually, there was more on my mind. " Khalid shoved his hands in the pockets of his tuxedo pants before turning and pacing to the French doors that opened out into Courtney's personal gardens. "A situation has developed. I may need to make use of the club for a short time. And there could be some problems involved in it. "

  "What sort of problems?" Ian kicked his feet up on the corner of the desk as he leaned back in the chair, with the air of a man taking advantage of a small reprieve.

  "I may need a place to run to. " Khalid turned around, rubbing at his neck as he watched the other man carefully.

  "Our doors are always open. " Ian shrugged and he smothered a yawn.

  "Marty might be with me. "

  He stopped mid-yawn. Ian stared back at Khalid as though he had lost his mind, before slowly lowering his feet to the floor and sitting to attention as his jaw snapped closed.

  "You're joking. " Ian's dark blue eyes narrowed on him in warning. "You know the rules, Khalid. They're not broken, for anyone. "

  "Even if it could mean her life?" Khalid asked. He regarded Ian as he held back his grin. "I believe, during the Civil War, a small hidden cellar was built to hide the wives of the club members. Two senators' wives and the wife and daughter of a general hid there for over week, while the club conducted regular business. " Ian sat back in his chair, lifted his gaze to the ceiling then closed his eyes as though the search for answers had just become too exhausting.

  "What the hell is going on, Khalid, that you may need to protect your woman here, in this club?" Ian finally growled as his eyes opened again. He looked at him in frustration.

  "My past. " Khalid sighed as he moved to the heavy leather chair on the other side of Ian's desk and sat down. "Or more to the point, my half brothers. They've learned of a problem I might have created for them. One that may have cost them a large amount of funds, as well as respect of their peers. " Their terrorist friends. "They'll definitely come after me. When they do, that will place Marty in the line of fire. "

  Ian glared back at him. "You've been playing secret agent for Zach Jennings again, haven't you?" he snapped. "Son of a bitch, Khalid. Every member of this fucking club has managed to get his ass shanghaied by Jennings, and I'm getting sick of it. I thought you didn't enjoy following the crowd. "

  Khalid restrained his chuckle. "I was perhaps the first," he pointed out. "Needless to say, Jennings recruited me fresh out of high school, the year Azir Mustafa decided to assert his parental rights and tried to sue my mother for the years he had not been a part of my life. " Anger still churned inside him at the thought of what Azir had tried to do to his mother all those years ago.

  It hadn't been enough that he had bought her from her kidnappers, raped her, and locked her inside the walls of his palace, refusing to allow her to return home. But eighteen years later he had decided to torment her further by trying to sue her for the years she had kept Khalid hidden from him.

  "Jennings can be a bastard. " Ian rose to his feet, moved to the bar and poured two straight whiskies. Returning to the desk he handed a glass to Khalid before resuming his seat. "So Daddy Dearest is doing what then?" he asked.

  "Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it's the evil half brothers who are now stepping in for him," Khalid explained. "As I said, I've cost them a fair amount financially as well as personally. It may become imperative that I find a safe place where Marty will be protected until the situation can be resolved. "

  "And you've discussed this with Marty?" Ian asked, still ho
lding back his assent.

  "I thought I should first make certain you had no problems with it," Khalid answered with mocking innocence.

  "Don't fuck with me," Ian growled, his voice dark. "Does Marty know about the trouble that could be coming?"

  "I'm certain I'll have to explain it," Khalid assured him, though it was something he wasn't looking forward to. Losing Lessa had been one of the dark points in his life, a failure he had never been able to forgive himself for.

  "I'm fairly certain it'll be a requirement," Ian told him facetiously before a grimace tightened his face. "Hell, Khalid, you know I can't make this decision alone. " He rubbed at the back of his neck in irritation before continuing. "But I don't see the request being rejected, considering she's the daughter of two of our more powerful members. But this is a hell of a position to put me in here. You know it's going to require notifying all six hundred members of the need to open a single room to female occupancy and listening to the bitching over it until the situation is resolved. "

  Ian had stated more than once that the majority of the club members were like ten-year-olds with nothing better to do than bitch and whine.

  "I do understand the position this could place you in. Were it just myself, Ian, I wouldn't worry as much. "

  "Yeah, you proved how much you don't enjoy living the minute you let Jennings pull you into his little games," Ian said with a hint of mocking disgust. "I thought you knew better. "

  Khalid hid a smile. Ian and Zach Jennings rarely saw eye-to-eye over what Ian described as Zach's unconscionable use of knowledge and information that came through the club. More than once Ian had actually protested when the FBI director had managed to pull a club member into an operation. The reason Jennings got away with it was the fact that, so far, no one had been placed in any true danger.

  "I appreciate it, Ian. " Khalid rose from his seat as he finished his drink. "I better return to the party. Marty should be arriving soon. "

  "And Courtney will kick my ass if I hide in here all night. " Blowing out a hard sigh Ian rose from his chair, a flash of irritation gleaming in his eyes.

  "She'll kick both our asses," Khalid reminded him with a grin. "She's not the nice, tamable sort that used to be your norm, my friend. "

  "That she's definitely not. " Laughter replaced the irritation as they left the study and headed for the ballroom. "And that is what makes life with Courtney so damned much fun. "

  The sprite made everyone around her laugh, Khalid thought as he re-entered the ballroom and spotted Marty on the other side of the room.

  Sensation slammed into his gut, heated his insides and had his cock thickening immediately.

  Damn her, she could do to him what no other woman could. Make him helpless against his desire for her.

  "Mr. Mustafa, Mr. Sinclair sent you a drink. " A waiter stepped in front of him, drink in hand.

  Giving it to Khalid, the waiter moved away. Khalid lifted it to his lips, paused, and swore he would lose his breath as he watched Marty turn, caught her profile, and the smile that curled her lips as she and Shayne stood amid a crowd of her friends.

  She was a beacon of light in the darkness, her dark blond hair pulled back from her face and glittering with sapphires. The short dress she wore was sapphire silk, riding high on her thighs and paired with heels matching in color that lifted her height enough to nearly match Shayne's.

  Her sleek feminine curves were made even more sensual by the dress and heels. Her shoulders were all but bare, her breasts full and pressing temptingly against the material covering them.

  Shayne stood at her side, his hand resting low on her back, his fingers splayed against her lower back with a hint of possessiveness.

  Khalid hid his smile. Shayne did want to play house for a while, and in his estimation his relationship with Khalid and Marty would allow that.
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