Guilty pleasure, p.26
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       Guilty Pleasure, p.26

         Part #11 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
Page 26


  "Stay put, Marty," Khalid warned her, as they turned into the Sinclair property and drove along the well-lit tree-lined lane that led to the estate house that held the exclusive men's club.

  "Of course. " She smiled back at him innocently. "I'm on vacation, remember?"

  Both men eyed her dubiously. As well they should, because once she was actually on the estate grounds, getting in was going to be child's play. What she would find after actually breaching those hallowed halls, she had no idea. But she was going to have fun finding out.

  She sat silently as Abdul parked in the area Khalid directed him to, a securely lit, well-guarded area of the parking lot. If Ian Sinclair knew Khalid had her in the limo, then she had no doubt extra security guards were in place.

  "Be good, precious," Khalid warned her again, as Shayne pushed the door open and stepped out.

  Khalid surprised her as he leaned forward, his fingers curling around her neck to hold her in place for a brief, hard kiss. His fingertips stroked the back of her neck as he lingered only moments, then slid away as he moved from the vehicle.

  She sat silently and watched as Khalid and Shayne disappeared through the entrance to the club that had managed to keep itself secret from the general public for more than two centuries. The very fact that its true purpose had never come to light was a bit surprising. The club was more secretive regarding its membership than the Secret Service was in protecting the president. And that was saying a lot.

  Once the doors had closed and silence filled the night once again, she turned to where the window had been lowered between the driver and passenger areas.

  Propping her arms on the back of the front seat, she smiled back at Abdul as he turned and watched her warily. He knew her, and he had known the moment he had been given his orders that he would be breaking them.

  "I guess you're honor-bound to contact him if I leave," she stated to the bodyguard who had befriended her when she first began following Khalid.

  Abdul was older, perhaps nearing fifty. Gray sprinkled his closely cropped black hair, and wrinkles were marring his dark face. He reminded her of a loving, benevolent grandfather, though she knew he had no wife, no children. He had pledged himself to the Mustafa family, and to Khalid, as a young man and had allowed nothing to come between himself and the task he had taken on to protect his charge.

  Abdul stared back at her quietly for long moments, his expression reflective as he watched her. Abdul was what she liked to call a "thinker. " More than likely he had already considered this problem at some point in the past. He was a man who liked to think ahead while he was deliberating.

  "He is like a son to me," he stated in his halting English, before sighing deeply.

  "And he's like a thorn in my ass," she shot back in disgust, more to watch the incredulity that shot through his eyes than to simply be crude. Though there were times it was definitely the truth. But she did so love to shake Abdul's little world up.

  Abdul was a friend, but one who could be rather prudish at times.

  "You are a very naughty little girl," he laughed, after nearly choking on his shock. "In my country your tongue would be cut from your mouth. " And he was probably not joking.

  "In your country I'd have already been stoned for my smart mouth," she informed him. "Be honest about it, Abdul. "

  He shook his head as a lighter laugh passed his lips.

  "You keep him on his toes; this is a good thing sometimes. Not many women give him the challenge he oftentimes needs. "

  "Women are supposed to be a challenge?" She batted her lashes back at him. "I thought we were supposed to be submissive and properly trained. "

  Abdul was an enigma to her sometimes. He could laugh at himself as well as at the many misunderstandings concerning his country and his religion. When it came to Khalid, though, he took his responsibility to watch over him very seriously.

  "A woman is to know her place, no matter where that place is," he finally said, sighing. "Khalid never fit into the life his father would have given him. Had he done so, he would have been a leader that our people would have died for. "

  There was no doubt in her mind. She would have followed that conversational line if she didn't know from experience that the answers she wanted wouldn't be given.

  "So, as to my question. " She smiled sweetly, tilted her head, and gave him her best innocent look. "Are you going to tell on me for leaving the car?"

  "Are you going to leave the car when you were warned to stay in place?" he asked in turn, giving her a mock frown of disapproval.

  Was she?

  "Pretty much," she answered as she pursed her lips and nodded firmly. "Come on, Abdul, it's too good an opportunity to pass up. You know that. "

  Abdul sighed heavily, though she could see the grin he fought to hold back in the twitch of his lips.

  "If you made the promise to me that you will not leave the car, then I would take my nap. " He yawned hugely, as though genuinely tired, before his white teeth flashed in his aged, sun-bronzed face. "Are you making that promise?"

  She nodded quickly, all the while giving him a deceptively innocent grin. She really did love Abdul. The best thing about him was his willingness to conspire, in small ways, against his employer.

  "Go to sleep, Abdul. I'm sure Khalid will be back soon. "

  She doubted it very seriously.

  Remaining quiet, she watched as his head disappeared and listened to the sounds of him getting comfortable.

  Like hell he was going to sleep, but neither was he willing to face the full force of Khalid's wrath. At least he would have an excuse if Marty got caught. That was a comfort she would have to do without.

  Hell, it wasn't like he was going to kill her, she thought, as the sound of the first false snore came from Abdul. She may wish she were dead. She may scream like she was dying, and that was a very real possibility, but he wouldn't actually hurt her. Well, at least not a pain that she wouldn't enjoy.

  She opened the door quietly, the metallic click causing her to grin as Abdul gave a heavy sigh.

  Okay, she could be quieter but she didn't bother, simply because she knew she didn't have to.

  Within seconds she was sliding out of the car, keeping low.

  She knew the movements of the security guards inside the grounds, and she knew that the area this close to the house was much less secure, other than additional security guards, compared to the one leading directly here.

  Still, she closed the door quietly and kept low.

  Watching the security personnel moving about the front of the house, she took extra time to study their patterns and the gaps in their rotations.

  Long minutes later, certain she had a handle on the security weaknesses, she moved.

  There was no low music, no activity that could be heard or seen from the house. The sprawling estate was like a sanctuary of some sort, carefully guarded and intensely secretive.

  The parking lot was filled with limos and the drivers who accompanied many of the members. Lexuses, Mercedeses, Jaguars, and Bentleys were parked on the opposite side. It wasn't easy to stay in the shadows and out of sight of the drivers as well as the security guards.

  It took more time than she liked to work her way through the parking lot, as she kept to the few shadowed areas available.

  Moving slowly, carefully, she practically crawled through the evergreen and flowering shrubs that lined the parking area.

  She'd already decided on the best entrance into the house months before. She'd watched every angle that she could see from a vantage point high above the main grounds.

  Every angle but the parking lot and back entrance to the club could be viewed one way or the other. Security cameras and personnel kept a careful watch and secured the house grounds against all intruders.

  Until recently, there hadn't really been a weak point in the house--until the owner, Ian Sinclair, had
built his main residence on the other side of the property. What had once been a wide window in the back of the house had been converted into a service door.

  With just the right amount of luck and a little bit of skill, she had a chance of slipping in there when one of the employees stepped out for a cigarette. They didn't always close the door well, and beside the door was a dark, shadowed area of foliage that would be perfect to use as a cover.

  She just had to get in place.

  After slipping into the shrubbery at the door, it was just a matter of waiting. There were security cameras in this area just as there were in the others, but the landscaping here was more a hazard than a help to security. It surprised her that Sinclair hadn't cleared this out yet, though it did make an effective screen for those employees with the need to light up.

  She had no idea what she was facing once she actually got inside. She knew the layout of the house from a few historical documents that she had managed to uncover. The Sinclair mansion was considered a historical landmark. It had been built well before the Civil War, and even before then had been known as a gathering place for certain like-minded individuals.

  Men who shared their women. A place for such a man to find a third who shared his values as well as his beliefs.

  It was a wonder it hadn't been burned to the ground centuries ago.

  As a mocking smile tipped her lips, she suddenly tensed at the sound of the lock disengaging inside. It was simple enough to wait until the door opened and a dark figure passed. Using several leaves folded together, she quickly slid the foliage into place over the lock as the door closed.

  As the employees passed by, Marty reopened the door and slipped inside. She flattened herself to the wall and ducked quickly behind a huge antique armoire that stood in the hall.

  There were no security cameras in the hall, which surprised her. She wondered just how well the inside of the club was policed. She'd expected much more than she found at the moment.

  Drawing in a slow, deep breath and checking the area quickly, she began advancing up the hall and found it to be an interloper's dream. There were wall insets in places, providing small, comfortable areas for work or conversation. Large antique pieces of furniture sat throughout interconnected rooms that were for the most part shadowed and private.

  Getting to the stairs that led to the second story, and to many of the private meeting rooms as well as the bedrooms, wasn't nearly as hard as she had expected.

  It sounded as though most of the activity was downstairs in what was rumored to be a bar and several rooms providing billiards, television, or a place for gatherings.

  She hadn't seen Shayne or Khalid. At each room she'd managed to find a place to duck in to that allowed her to see inside as doors opened. It took awhile, but she managed to eliminate the chance that they were downstairs.

  That meant a private meeting, and those rooms were upstairs.

  As she slipped up the steps, she watched and listened carefully. Rounding the upper portion of the steps, she ducked to the side and hid by a heavy sideboard at the landing.

  This was simply too easy.

  Farther ahead she could see a light spilling from beneath only one closed door. There were no guards outside, no one patrolling the floors. Evidently Ian Sinclair had never had anyone slip in undetected before. It was a gross lack of security that had allowed her to get this far.

  She let a small grin of satisfaction tilt her lips. She could say she was one of the few women to ever breach the hallowed halls of this elite establishment.

  Sliding around the antique cherry bureau, she made her way cautiously to the spill of light reflecting from the glistening wood floors.

  She could hear voices from inside, and if she wasn't mistaken, one of those voices was Khalid's. It was a rumble of sound; no actual words could be heard. Even as she stopped at the side of the door and strained to hear, she could catch no more than bits and pieces of words.

  She couldn't be certain who was in the room, though it sounded as though there were several engaged, not so much in an argument but in a heated disagreement.

  Biting her lip, she gripped the doorknob, meaning to turn it slowly and subtly, and hopefully to crack the panel open just enough so she could be certain of who was speaking.
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