Guilty pleasure, p.30
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       Guilty Pleasure, p.30

         Part #11 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
 
Page 30

 

  "Marty, there's nothing else going on," her father promised her, his gaze filled with love, with sincerity. "I would tell you if there were. "

  "If you knew about it. " She glanced to her godfather.

  "And I swear to you, that's all Khalid is involved in," Zach promised. "I would tell you if there were more. Since the attack against you, you've had two men on constant detail to watch your back. I'm not taking chances with your life. "

  Her jaw clenched as she threaded her fingers together and tightened them around one another. She'd had a sense of being watched, but like Shayne, she'd been unable to pinpoint who was watching or what they wanted.

  "I can't believe you two. " Her mother spoke up before she had a chance to, her voice rising in maternal fury. "You suspected she was being followed, she was attacked, shot at and you never called me and warned me my daughter was in danger. "

  "He hadn't shared the fact that she's had a tail on her with me, either. " Joe's tone lowered, became deeper as he attempted to shift the focus from his own knowledge that Marty had been in danger, and that he hadn't called his wife. "What the hell do you think you're doing keeping that information from me?"

  Now, this was familiar. This was one of the reasons Marty had moved out of her parents' home the moment she had graduated high school. They fought over her, constantly. She was the only child, and the source of their greatest disagreements.

  Not that her mother wasn't usually right when she argued with them, but once it began, her fathers couldn't help but bury each other deeper in trouble.

  "I've had enough. " Marty rose quickly to her feet, intent on getting out of the house now as quickly as possible. Staring back at her godfather, the man she had always considered her other father, Marty felt hurt rise inside her. "Perhaps when you're answering Mother, you can let me know as well why you wouldn't warn me that your men were following me. It would have been nice to know, just in case I were wondering if I had gun sights trained on me again. "

  "I did what I thought best. " He rose to his feet, his hands flattening on the table. "Like your father, I had no desire to ruin the vacation you've looked forward to for two years, unless there was no other choice. " He glanced at Khalid then. "And as much as I disapprove of Khalid dragging you into his life, I wanted you to have the time I felt you needed with him. It was bad enough you knew you were in danger. I wanted you comfortable, and I wanted you safe. "

  A scathing reply rose to her lips, but she held it back. She loved her parents, all three of them. She had no desire to hurt them, despite Zach's high-handedness.

  "I'm going home. "

  Khalid and Shayne rose as well. It was easy to see that both of them were intent on following her. She hoped they had fun sleeping in the car outside her apartment, because that was where she was heading.

  "You're staying with Khalid. " Zach made it sound like an order.

  Marty gave a light, low laugh. "I don't think so, Dad. But I'll let you believe it if it will allow you to sleep better tonight. " She was angry. Her sharp tongue was impossible to control in the best of circumstances, but the hurt that rose inside her made it impossible to stem at the moment.

  "Marty, you should stay here. " Her mother rose to her feet and moved to her, reaching out for her with loving hands. "Give your fathers a chance to figure out what's going on before you leave. " She cast Zach a glare. "And they will figure it out, I promise you. "

  "Then they can let me know when they do. " Kissing her mother's cheek, she drew in a hard, deep breath before turning to her father, Joe. "Could I borrow the car, Dad?"

  "Abdul has arrived with the limo," Khalid said. "I'll take you home. "

  "Nice try, Khalid. " This time, her smile was tight, angry. "I think I'll pass. You and Shayne can have a nice ride alone tonight. Consider it bonding time. "

  "Sweetheart, stay the night. " Joe was on his feet, his face creased in worry. "We'll get to the bottom of this, I promise you. "

  "Why are you so worried, Dad?" She gave a light, easy laugh filled with bitter amusement. "After all, Daddy Zach's agents are keeping a nice careful eye on me, remember? I'll be fine. "

  "You'll give me more gray hairs," Zach muttered. "You should listen to us, Marty. Stay here the night. "

  "I have a home and that's where I need to be. " Taking the keys to her father's car, she let her gaze go over the four men once again. "You know, I think you just made a decision for me that I'd only been considering until now. You'll have my resignation on your desk by the end of the week. I'm sorry, Dad, but if you have your men shadowing me without my knowledge, then I have no business being a part of the Bureau. "

  "Damn it to hell, Marty, don't do that. " Zach straightened in shock as she, ignoring his surprise, left the kitchen.

  Behind her, Joe and Zach were beginning to argue fiercely. Khalid and Shayne were stalking behind her; she could feel them as she moved quickly to the door.

  "Marty. " Her mother's hand touched her arm, drawing her to a stop at the front door. "Don't make a hasty decision. "

  Turning, Marty breathed out roughly, staring over her mother's shoulder to where Khalid and Shayne watched her with equal amounts of thoughtful intensity.

  "Go away," she ordered them both, wearily. "Just leave me the hell alone. "

  "We'll be waiting outside. " It was a major concession on Khalid's part, she could tell. She watched as they stepped outside.

  Turning back to her mother, she shook her head tiredly and fought back tears. "You know, Mom, I hate having my life played with. "

  Virginia's smile was loving, understanding. "You learn how to deal with it," she said softly, "when you're married to them. I love them both, Marty, but sometimes I can't wait for my vacation just to get away from them. "

  Wrapping her arms around her chest, Marty dipped her head for a long moment as a sense of helplessness seemed to steal over her. "I think leaving the Bureau is best," she finally said. "They can't watch over me like a mother hen if I'm not there. And I doubt Braque Sawyers will give a damn what my fathers want when it comes to the assignments I get. "

  Braque's private security and investigation firm was a multinational enterprise. Marty knew for a fact that Braque wouldn't consider the salary she was demanding if there was a chance of giving in to the FBI director's controlling impulses where Marty was concerned. Nor would he give in to Khalid's.

  "You're growing up," Virginia stated sadly. "Just remember, Marty, they love you. They love us. "

  "And I love them, Mom. " She sighed. "But if I'm going to keep loving them, then I need to get the hell away from them. "

  "And Khalid?" Virginia asked. "Do you need to get away from him as well?"

  Did she? "I rather hope he's trainable. " Marty groaned; she knew the chances of that were slim to none. Well, slim actually wasn't in the equation.

  She doubted very seriously that Khalid was trainable in the least. If her mother's skeptical look was anything to go by, then she doubted it as well.

  Marty's lips quirked with a bit of mocking amusement as she fought back a rueful laugh. Her mother didn't bother to fight back her own amusement, nor her laughter. They both knew exactly the battle Marty was facing.

  She reached for her mother, gave her a tight hug, then moved toward the door. "I'll call you tomorrow, Mom. "

  "Do that," her mother commanded gently. "After all, I cut short sun, fun, and sand to come home and try to control your fathers for you. I, at least, deserve a call, as well as a few luncheons and a day of shopping. "

  Marty groaned as she left the house and closed the door behind her. She hated luncheons and shopping days with her mother. They wore her out.

  Ignoring the two men awaiting her, she moved down the steps and strode purposefully to her father's black Jaguar, which was parked at the side of the circular drive.

  She was aware of them getting into the limo, just as she was aware of the limo following
her every step of the way as she headed home.

  She was aggravated, tired, and holding on to her temper by a thread. Dealing with not one but two impossibly arrogant men wasn't her idea of a fun night tonight. But it appeared it wasn't something she was going to get out of, either.

  Chapter 13

  Khalid watched the taillights of Joe Mathews's car as it sped through Alexandria's sparse, late-evening traffic. From his position in the back of the limousine, facing forward, he kept his gaze centered on those lights and the woman heading away from Joe's home and to her own.

  Shayne sat in the opposite seat, his back supported by the corner, his gaze shuttered as he watched Khalid.

  There was much about his past that this man had been privy to, Khalid knew. At a time when Khalid had felt invincible, indestructible, Shayne had been on the fringes of his life.

  As a deep-cover agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Khalid had worked with Shayne in the border area of Saudi Arabia and Iraq several times. Shayne had been the CIA agent in the area. They had exchanged information several times, worked together, and fought to identify terrorists and uncover the various plots to strike against America and its allies.

  Until that last brutal, bloody day. Until Khalid had realized that nothing was sacred, and that no one lived forever.

  "We should have never taken her onto the club grounds," Shayne said thoughtfully. "I knew she wouldn't stay put. I think you knew it as well. "

  Khalid shot him a withering look. "You believe I wanted to deal with this tonight? To have the woman I am trying to convince to move into my bed see that I am still conspiring with her fathers behind her back?"

  He couldn't believe something so insane could have passed the other man's lips. They had endangered their own memberships by allowing her the chance to slip into the club. The only assurance they had that there would be no repercussions was the fact that both Joe and Zach were on the judicial committee that oversaw possible punishment for such offenses.

  "What better way to drive her out of your life?" Shayne asked, as the limo made a turn onto the residential street where Marty's apartment was located.

  Khalid's lips curled in disgust at the observation.

  "It would be no hardship to choose another third, Shayne," he informed the other man sharply.

  Shayne's expression never changed. The amused condescension was firmly in place.

  "Try choosing one who will put up with your demands as I do," Shayne laughed, as he lifted the fingers on one hand and began counting. "Forget about her heart. Don't touch her unless you're present. You're to know every move she makes. He shook his head. "Hell, I know there's more, but it's beginning to piss me off. "

  The limo came to a stop on the street in front of Marty's apartment, just behind her father's car.

  "Wait here, Abdul," Khalid ordered without deigning to acknowledge Shayne's mocking reference to the rules Khalid had established.

  Throwing the door open, Khalid and Shayne exited the vehicle and strode purposely to the secured door of the building. The lock clicked open as Khalid reached for the handle, the security guard on duty recognizing him immediately.

  "Good evening, Mr. Mustafa. " The guard nodded as they moved toward the elevators.

  Khalid nodded in return before hitting the elevator button and waiting impatiently.

  "Any rules for this little meeting?" Shayne asked mockingly.

  "Shut the hell up before I break your damned neck," Khalid said as the doors slid open.

  The elevator moved swiftly, depositing them on Marty's floor in time to catch her as she slid the key in her lock.
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