Guilty pleasure, p.38
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       Guilty Pleasure, p.38

         Part #11 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
Page 38


  What the hell did he want?

  She made the decision to follow him, hoping that if she let him get whatever he had on his chest off it once again, she wouldn't have to worry about a public display of idiocy.

  He wasn't above it.

  "Excuse me, I think I need to make a trip to the ladies' room. " She excused herself to Khalid as she looked around and saw Shayne moving toward the hall from another angle, his gaze flicking toward her.

  "Be careful," Khalid warned her softly, as his touch retreated from her back.

  "Always. " Throwing him a pointed smile, she moved in the direction of the hall as Khalid stepped over to the group her parents were with.

  Once in the hallway, she strode as quickly as four-inch heels allowed along the corridor, wondering where Deerfield had gone off to and if Shayne had been following him as well.

  As she rounded a corner she glimpsed a door farther up the hall that had been left open. As she moved closer to it, she hid her surprise as her former boss stepped into the doorway and motioned her in.

  The small study was designed simply. There was a large desk and bookshelves and, at the side of the room, a luxurious couch and matching chairs.

  Closing the door behind her as she turned to face him, Vince Deerfield glared at her.

  "Everyone is wondering how long he's going to keep you in his bed," he snapped. "Have you lost your mind, Agent Mathews? I can't believe you'd flaunt this affair so publicly. Hell, I couldn't believe you were actually involved in it until I heard the gossip tonight. "

  "Others can wonder whatever the hell they want to," she told him briskly. "Now, what did you want? I need to find a ladies' room and I had assumed we no longer had anything to talk about. "

  He shot her a malevolent look and strode across the room to the small bar in the far corner.

  "I always assumed you had more class than to allow yourself to get mixed up with that bastard, no matter the rumors that circulated concerning his interest in you. He has his own harem, for God's sake. "

  He has six girls his father had sent to him as children who he adopted and now raised as sisters, Marty thought. Unfortunately Deerfield had never believed it, no matter the proof he had been given to the contrary.

  "I'm hoping to enjoy the party," she finally said, shrugging. "And he'll miss me soon if I don't hurry. What do you want?"

  Deerfield shot back his drink with a hard grimace before slapping the glass back on the dark gleaming wood.

  "Your godfather seems particularly proud of this relationship that everyone assumes has developed between you and Mustafa," he said. "I had more respect for Zach Jennings than this. I never imagined he would allow you to make such a decision. "

  Marty arched her brows slowly. "Why wouldn't they be proud? Neither my father nor my godfather runs my life for me, Vince. " The use of his first name was a deliberate insult and a reminder that he no longer had any power over her.

  "Does your father know the bastard shares his women?" he asked snidely. "Did you know?"

  She stared at him as though he had lost his mind.

  "What are you accusing me of, Vince?" she asked him carefully.

  Pushing his fingers through his short brown hair in agitation, he narrowed his eyes and stared at her angrily.

  "Don't try to deny he's shared his women," he ordered her.

  There was no denying that one.

  "That simply means he has a past. " She shrugged. As well as a future, but there was no sense in lingering any longer here than she had to.

  He grunted at that. "I would hope you would be smarter. " He didn't sound as though he believed she was, though. "I'd be careful, though, if he brings that brother of his for a visit. The last woman they shared they murdered. "

  She didn't try to hide her surprise, or her disbelief. "And that's not in our files, why?"

  Deerfield grimaced. "Because it was taken out by your godfather. " He sneered. " 'No proof, supposition only,' was his damned argument. We couldn't find proof. "

  Now wasn't that a familiar scenario.

  "Perhaps because no proof existed," she suggested, as she gripped tightly in anger the small purse she held in her hands.

  "But the proof was there, proof I wasn't allowed to use because of international implications. " Deerfield sneered. "And I suspect because your godfather thought more of his friendship with Mustafa than he did of his country. "

  "I'd be careful, Vince. My godfather wouldn't cover up murder. Nor would he pull information he believed was relevant," she stated.

  His lips twisted furiously as he turned and poured himself another drink before turning back to her. "He wouldn't accept the proof," he told her, his voice rough. "Eyewitness accounts. Witnesses who saw the girl's body, saw the sexual abuse inflicted on it. She'd been raped, Agent Mathews, horribly. An autopsy confirmed she had been raped to death by two men at the same time. And Khalid's and Abram's depravities together were well-known. She was Abram's wife, and evidently he simply grew tired of her. "

  Shock filled her. "This isn't information that I uncovered, and I've researched every facet of Khalid's life. "

  "Then you didn't research enough," he snapped. "Abram is as depraved as Khalid. He disgusts even his own people. He'll never succeed his father as ruler, because the religious hardliners will never accept an unmarried king who allows others to fuck his whores as he watches. His second wife died before she could even give birth to his child, and he has no intention of acquiring another wife. He gets tired of them and he kills them. Men like him and Khalid are a disease, Marty. One that requires a cure. "

  Hatred gleamed in his eyes as the fury seemed to build within him.

  "That's not your call, Deerfield," she argued. "And a man's sexual tastes don't define him, nor do they make him a murderer. "

  "They do when he kills the stupid bitches willing to fuck him and his brother at the same time. Silly little whores who fool themselves into believing those men love them, only to learn they're no more than a toy. Then you're damned right, it defines him. "

  "You're losing your objectivity," she said, backing slowly to the door. "Nothing you've said here warrants the Bureau's harassment of him. If you're not very careful, he's going to have a lawsuit against the entire Bureau. "

  Deerfield smirked at her warning.

  "Worry about yourself, I'll worry about the Bureau. That's my job, and I'm damned good at it. "

  He's not stable, she thought. He is slipping over an edge that could end up causing irreparable damage between the United States and a potential ally.

  "My job is nearly over," she warned him. "Khalid is no traitor, and he's no murderer--"

  Deerfield broke her argument off with a sharp, derisive laugh.

  "You've fallen for him, haven't you? Wouldn't your father be proud to know how far you'll end up sinking for that bastard? Would you betray your country for him, Agent Mathews? Would you let him watch as another man fucks you?"

  "You've lost your mind," she breathed out roughly.

  "Ask him about her," he snarled, his expression twisting into lines of fury. "Her name was Lessa. She was Abram's wife. A tiny little thing who they broke. " His gaze flicked over her in scorn. "I hope you never experience the horror she must have faced as they fucked her to death. "

  "I don't have to ask him about anything. Khalid isn't a monster, and he'd never hurt one of his lovers, or anyone else's. And I will remind you, you're the one who put me on that assignment to watch him. It was your responsibility to tell me everything, no matter the fact that someone else believed the information irrelevant. "

  "I didn't tell you to fuck him!"

  "Speak to me like that again and you'll regret it. " Marty's fingers clenched her purse even tighter as anger coursed through her. "I've taken your abusive tirades long enough, Deerfield. "

  "For God's sake, do you think I'd bother to berate you if I didn't thi
nk you'd make a damned fine agent one of these days?" Surprise seemed to reflect in his expression now as he held his hands out in supplication. "You're risking your life and your career with this man. "

  "And I will remind you that it's no longer your concern. " She could feel her heart racing, adrenaline surging through her as she recognized the fact that her boss's sanity just might be slipping.

  "I thought you were smarter than this. " He shook his head slowly. "Damn. I thought you were a better agent than this. "

  Marty gripped the doorknob behind her and stared at him in fury. "I think you should sit down and think about what you're doing, Deerfield," she told him coldly. "You're the one risking your life. You're the one whose career is already shot to hell. Don't make it worse. "

  He smiled slowly, confidently. "I'll win in the end. "

  "Don't bet on it. " As she jerked the door open she threw him a hard, enraged look before turning and stepping back into the hall.

  She was trembling with anger as she slammed the door closed and came face-to-face with Shayne.

  His blue eyes were as cold as ice, his body tense with anger as he stared at her, then at the door.

  "You heard?" she asked.

  His jaw clenched. "It was hard not to. And you're damned lucky Khalid didn't. He would have killed the bastard for talking to you like that. "

  As she moved away from the room, Marty glanced back at the door, wondering what Deerfield was doing inside.

  Marty shook her head at the instability she had glimpsed in her former boss before drawing in a hard breath and asking, "Who is Lessa Hadad, Shayne?"

  Silence met her question for long moments. "She was Abram's wife," he finally said. "If you have any other questions concerning her, then you should ask Khalid. "

  "Khalid hasn't mentioned her yet," she pointed out stiffly. "What did she mean to him?"

  He stopped her before they stepped back into the ballroom.

  "Ask Khalid about this, Marty. Let him explain Lessa to you. But be very careful. Remember, Khalid is the way he is for a reason. Sometimes, once the darkness takes hold of you, you don't want to ever return to the memories that caused it. "

  As Marty walked away from him, that statement stayed with her. There was definitely a darkness raging inside Khalid, one he battled often when it came to standing back rather than interfering in the career she had chosen for herself.

  That would be hard for him, she admitted. A man like Khalid didn't just stand aside while his woman endangered herself. Yet, he had done exactly that more than once.

  He was allowing her to be who she needed to be. No matter his disagreement with it, he was standing back. She could see the torment in his face when he did so, just as she had glimpsed his fear for her more than once.

  As she moved across the ballroom, she caught sight of several familiar faces. Men she knew were members of the club had gathered around AT at the other side of the room. They were talking quietly among themselves, several of them nodding seriously.

  AT was always plotting and planning.

  Ian Sinclair was part of that group. He watched AT with narrow-eyed intent before he nodded carefully and glanced out over the room and saw her.

  Amusement marked his expression. Evidently there were no hard feelings about the fact that she had managed to slip into his club.

  She returned to where Khalid stood with her fathers and mother.

  There was a sense of readiness that filled the three men. As Shayne joined them seconds later, that readiness intensified.

  "Everything's in place. " Her godfather leaned close to her. "We've picked up two transmissions from here since you and Khalid arrived. They spoke with Ayid, who promised to be on a plane to D. C. ASAP, since the man he sent here couldn't seem to do the job right. We have assets moving in there to let us know when he moved. "
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