Guilty Pleasure, Page 31Lora Leigh
Turning her head, she stared at them for long moments before rolling her eyes and turning the key.
"You know, this on-again, off-again stuff is going to get on my nerves," she stated as they neared her. "I'm really tired, Khalid. Would you be good enough to take your friend and go away for a while?"
Khalid paused within inches of her. "I would suggest you pack a bag," he told her. "You'll be staying at the estate for a while. "
He ignored Shayne's heavy sigh.
"You know, Marty, I really thought you had better taste in men. " Amusement filled the other man's voice as Marty's gaze remained locked with Khalid's. "This one isn't exactly the kind and gentle sort, you know. "
"I really thought he had better sense," she said mockingly.
"It would appear he doesn't. " Shayne shrugged as Khalid crossed his arms over his chest and stared back at Marty demandingly.
Shaking her head, Marty pushed the door open.
Khalid had only a second's warning. He saw the shadow from the corner of his eye gaining speed as it moved toward the door and toward Marty.
There was that split second that adrenaline tore through him, that strength rushed through his body. Gripping her arm, he jerked her back, threw her into Shayne, and tried to block the intruder rushing toward them.
"Fuck!" Shayne yelled behind him as Khalid felt a bulldozer plow into his chest, throwing him into Shayne and he heard Marty yelling about guns and getting down.
A rapid, muffled retort of gunfire had him trying to throw himself over her. Unfortunately, she was one step ahead of him and Shayne.
As the black-garbed intruder threw himself around the corner of the hall, Marty was chasing after the fleeing form, a weapon held closely against her thigh as she rushed past them both.
Jerking the Glock from beneath his jacket, Khalid was on her ass, with Shayne running fast behind him as they all stopped at the corner.
Raising his hand, Khalid glared at Marty as she began to duck and peek around the corner.
Bending low, Khalid also gave a quick look, jerking back as gunfire sounded from the open window and the fire escape outside.
With a quick gesture indicating he was heading to the next floor via the stairs, Shayne rushed from his position and pushed through the stairwell doors.
"Now what?" Marty turned her head and arched a brow tauntingly.
"You go low, I'll go high. " Adrenaline coursed through his body as she flashed a bright, honest-as-hell smile before giving a quick nod of her head.
Behind them, apartment doors were opening, voices were demanding explanations, and all Khalid could do was feel a strange, unfamiliar sense of completeness.
He'd never had a lover who could match this side of him. That side that hungered for danger.
"High, low," she mouthed back. "One. Two . . . "
On three, they moved.
Marty threw herself to the floor, rolled, and came up across the hall with her weapon aimed at the now empty window and unoccupied fire escape.
Almost simultaneously they were up and running at the same time to the window. Marty went low, he went high. They both stared at the empty fire escape for a long moment.
"Bastard's gone," Shayne called out from the level below them. "No car, no nothing, just gone. "
Gone. That meant that whoever the hell was after Marty was still out there.
"Get up here," Khalid ordered, his voice harsh as he gripped Marty's arm and began pulling her back along the hall.
Residents at the open apartment doors stared at them in curiosity and shock.
Ignoring them, Khalid continued to draw Marty back to her apartment.
"Everything's fine. " Marty waved them back toward their apartments. "You can go back to your homes. Have a drink for me. Don't worry, this is your building's owner. Nothing to fret about. "
"Shayne will be here in a minute. " His voice was harder, demanding. "Get some clothes together or do without them, it's your choice, but hurry. "
The door slammed closed behind them.
"Of course you would. " Marty jerked her arm out of his grip as she bit back the need to roll her eyes at him. "Let me guess: A club member can help you out of this under the right circumstances. "
She moved to her bedroom and jerked the overnight bag she kept handy from beneath the bed. It was filled with several changes of clothes and needed supplies, as well as an extra weapon and ammunition.
"Your fathers can take care of anything I need where the police are concerned," he informed her. "I'd just prefer to be on home ground. "
"Fine. I'm ready. " She slung the strap of the heavy backpack over her shoulder as she turned to face him. "Let's go. "
His gaze flicked to the backpack, but he surprised her when he didn't make a comment. Instead, he held out his hand to her.
Marty stared at that hand for a long moment before placing hers in it. Feeling his fingers curl around hers as he drew her quickly through the apartment back to the door sent a strange feeling of warmth surging through her.
He hadn't gripped her arm and pulled her along. He'd extended his hand and invited her to go. There was a difference, and that difference sent a wave of unfamiliar emotion washing through her.
"Abdul has the car waiting. " Shayne met them at the elevator as the doors slid open. "I called Joe Mathews. He's chomping at the bit to race out to your estate, but I convinced him to hold off until morning. Someone will be coming out for his car tonight. "
The ride to the lobby was made quickly. As the elevator doors slid open, the manager rushed from the security station toward Khalid.
"Mr. Mustafa, security has been sent to Miss Mathews's floor and the police called. "
"Cancel the call to the police and get security back in place, everything's fine," Khalid ordered, as he led the way through the lobby at a quick pace. "I'll be in contact with you soon. "
"But Mr. Mustafa . . . "
Khalid pushed the door open and led Marty outside.
Marty felt the strangest sense of unreality as they passed through those doors, as though she had entered another world rather than simply left a building.
Abdul waited by the limo, concern marking his face as they rushed inside. The door closed behind them, enfolding them in privacy as he quickly slid behind the wheel and put the vehicle into drive.
The sound of oncoming sirens could be heard as the limo sped away quickly from the apartment building.
"Mathews wants a report asap," Shayne told them, his expression tight and closed as he stared at Khalid before turning his gaze to the traffic around them.
"That makes two of us. " Marty breathed in roughly. "I didn't even have a chance to get a look at his face. "
"His face was covered," Khalid stated.
"And my apartment was very professionally searched," she reported. "There was just enough out of place to show he was in a hurry. "
What could he have been searching for? Marty never brought files home; her computer was used for personal e-mail and business records only. She wrote about or logged her reports from her office computer.
"The search was a smoke screen," Khalid informed them. "They weren't after information. "
"They were after Marty," Shayne finished.
Marty stared back at the two men as she tried to make sense of what they were saying.
"He was there to kill me. " She had known that the second she had realized what was going on.
The gunfire hadn't been loud; the assailant's weapon had been silenced. She had known the sound of that pop-pop as the bullets had been fired from the fire escape.
Something flashed in Khalid's face then. It wasn't just fury; it was pain, an agony that went far beyond the thought of what could have happened.
It was there and gone so fast that she couldn't be certain of the emotion she had seen there.
"He was there to k
ill you," Khalid finally agreed. "We need to figure out what the hell is going on. " Khalid glared at Shayne. "When we get back to the estate I want you to pull in as much information as possible from your sources. Don't scrimp, Shayne; we don't have much time. That assassin was too close. If they follow previous patterns, then they're here in Alexandria. They would want to be close. They would need to see me suffer. They wouldn't wait in Saudi and merely guess at my reaction. "
"If your brothers hate you so much, then why come after me rather than you?" she asked.
"Oh, they will," he promised her. "But they would want me to suffer first, Marty. Killing you would ensure that suffering, even more than they could guess. Before they kill me, they want me to know they've taken my woman, destroyed her. They'll be satisfied with nothing less. "
"Have they threatened the girls you look after?"
There were six young women who his father had sent to him years ago as sex slaves; at least, that was the rumor. Khalid had adopted them instead.
"The girls have never been threatened, because they were a gift from my father," he sneered, his voice deepening, darkening with a ragged agony that tore at her soul. "Until he dies, Ayid and Aman won't tempt his patience with them by harming them. "
"But your lovers are fair game?"
"My lovers are fair game," he agreed quietly, but the echo of rage in his voice was clear. "Over the years I've cost my brothers a lot, love. Even more important, I've steadily worked at destroying them. The last cell we captured was more important to them than most. The mission they were on was one that would have brought glory to Ayid and Aman among the terrorist community. Taking that from them ensured that they would strike against me. "
Marty stared back at him, not in horror but in confusion.
"Why?" She surveyed his expression carefully, watching the subtle emotions that flickered through his eyes. "When you first went to Saudi fifteen years ago, according to the file I had on you, there was a sense of alliance between you and your three brothers. What happened, Khalid?"
"They found out I was working against them," he stated baldly. "And in doing so, I was responsible for the attack on the headquarters of a small cell based in Riyadh that was planning to infiltrate the royal palace and blow it to hell. The strike the government made against those headquarters resulted in the deaths of their wives. They swore then they'd destroy any woman I claimed as my own. It hasn't helped matters that I've continued to attempt to destroy them over the years. "
Silence filled the limousine as Marty stared at him in surprise and pain. The grief that seemed to envelop Khalid drove a wedge of pain inside her chest. To see him, his black eyes flickering with sorrow, tore at her. A sorrow that his brothers had destroyed any hope of a future with any woman he could love, any child he might have.
Marty saw the agony he felt, that at no time had he ever been safe. That his friends, his family, that everyone he loved could be struck at any time. The weight of the knowledge must have been horrible.
Breathing in tremulously, she considered the options they had.
"What do we do next, then?"
"Tomorrow, I'm taking you to the club," Khalid said, causing her lips to part, first in shock, then in mounting anger. "Ian has agreed to allow you to stay in a specially prepared area beneath the club for those members' lovers, wives, children who are in danger. You will be safe until this is finished. "
Marty couldn't believe what had just come out of his mouth.
"Ian is not going to allow me back in that club," she informed him. "Not after tonight. "
"The agreement has been made," he informed her. "The rooms beneath the club are safe, Marty. Neither Ayid or Aman, nor their assassin, can get to you there. You will be completely sheltered. "
She looked at Shayne. Once again, he had found something else to direct his attention to.