Guilty pleasure, p.6
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       Guilty Pleasure, p.6

         Part #11 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
Page 6


  Courtney flipped around to glare at them. "I am not pissed at Ian. I am simply mildly displeased. "

  Marty glanced at Alyssa, then they both looked at the glass of wine as Courtney finished it.

  "I give her an hour," Marty stated, taking her seat before turning and giving the hostess her drink preference.

  "I give her less than that, actually," Alyssa said, as she shook her head, her blue eyes somber, her expression as carefully composed as always. It was rare for Alyssa to show emotion at all. She was the most carefully composed person Marty had ever met.

  "I tell you both, tonight, I am not pissed at Ian. " Courtney spun around, her regal stature spoiled by the frown on her face as she looked at Marty. "And you are late. "

  "So sorry. " Marty almost rolled her eyes. "I was busy today. "

  Courtney narrowed her eyes at her. "I was by your parents' home today. I saw your car, and Khalid's, and I have been dying of curiosity. Ian has refused to tell me any gossip he may have heard. " She pouted charmingly. "Tell me there is gossip, Marty. "

  It was all Marty could do to keep the flush from her face.

  "Khalid was at the house to see Zach. " She shrugged. "No gossip there, sorry, Court. "

  Lying to Courtney wasn't easy. Most people couldn't manage it. Marty had about a 50 percent success rate. Which wasn't that good, considering how many questions the woman could ask.

  Courtney stared at her for a long moment before smiling beatifically. "You are such a liar, my dear. But I'll forgive you if you tell me the truth this moment. Otherwise, you will only force me to ask my good friend Khalid. "

  Marty arched a brow quizzically. "If you're such good friends, then he would have already told you any gossip there was to tell," she pointed out. "Now stop interrogating me. We're supposed to be having fun tonight. "

  Courtney sat back in her chair and crossed her arms over the brilliant scarlet top she wore as she glared, first at Marty, then at Alyssa. "Why do my good friends want to withhold the juicy details from me? It's not as though I ask for much. "

  "Is she becoming more spoiled or what?" Alyssa stared at Marty in mock surprise. "I think Ian's ruining her. "

  "I think she's the pot calling the kettle black. " Marty turned back to Courtney with a sweet smile. "Tell me what you know and I'll tell you what I know. "

  And, of course, Courtney couldn't agree to that one. Marty watched as her friend glared at her once again, before huffing and picking up her drink.

  "Are you still investigating Mustafa?" Alyssa asked Marty seriously. "You know Courtney won't give you any information on him. "

  "I want other information. " Marty shrugged. "The investigation is over. It's personal now. "

  Courtney perked up. "Personal?" She propped her elbow on the table and cupped her chin in her hand. "How personal? Merely friends and concerned or 'wanting to jump that luscious body' personal?"

  "She's always wanted to jump his body. " Alyssa spoke low, in a too serious voice, as though afraid someone would hear her. "I believe we were fifteen at the time. " A smile almost tipped her lips.

  "Almost sixteen. " Marty frowned back at her. "And that is really beside the point. "

  Courtney rubbed her hands together gracefully, her smile wrinkling her pert nose. "Ahh, the downfall of Khalid. I could get into this. I really could. "

  Marty simply stared back at her for long moments before leaning closer. "Who is his latest liaison?"

  Courtney blinked back at her. "His latest lover? I don't believe I've heard. "

  "Who is he playing a third to?" Marty simplified the question.

  Courtney narrowed her eyes, as though considering the question, before sighing heavily. "That information is not mine to give if you do not already have it. You know how this works, Marty. The rules are clear, and as a child of this world, I know you understand them well. "

  Marty hated the rules. There were times she hated the world she was born into. The club. That damned club that her fathers were part of, that Khalid was part of. They guarded their privacy like America guarded its gold.

  No one admitted to being part of the club, no one ever confirmed anyone else's membership, and no one sure as hell revealed relationships. Especially Courtney, the wife of the too-arrogant, too-secretive owner of the club.

  "Look, it's not as though he'll get involved with anyone else if he does start a relationship with you, Marty," Alyssa stated then. "Khalid is very well-known; his reputation as a man who keeps his word is beyond reproach. While you're with him, he wouldn't be involved with anyone else. "

  "That's not the point," Marty told them, as she leaned closer to the table. "To catch him, I first have to make certain I don't have someone else standing in my way. Why make a fool of myself otherwise?"

  The idea of seduction was slowly taking hold in her mind. Could she do it? Khalid was more experienced than she was by far. Other than the lapses today, he had managed to keep a careful distance between them.

  "Trust me, there is no relationship. " Courtney waved the thought away. "The path is clear, my dear, and I'm certain we could help you if you were of a mind to truly capture our elusive Khalid. No other woman has managed to snag his heart before. You may be the first. "

  She would be the only. Marty was determined in that. If she managed it, her intent was to seduce more than his body. She wanted his heart. To reach the heart, she just might have to take other paths first, though.

  "How do you capture a man determined to stay away from you?" She sighed. "More than ten years, Courtney, and I'm still trying. "

  "Men are stubborn. " Courtney shook her head in confusion. "They know they want us, want to possess us. They want the heart and the soul of a woman. The more they want it, the harder they run from it. Trust me, if he hasn't taken you up on the invitations you have thrown at him, there could only be a few reasons why. One of which could be how much he does need you. " She shrugged as though it were the only logical explanation.

  Could it be that simple?

  Marty concentrated on her drink, the idea rushing through her mind with the force of a tidal wave. She knew he wanted her. He wanted her badly enough that he had nearly taken her in Zach's kitchen. And his response hadn't been lukewarm. He had been burning for her.

  "Has something happened?" Courtney leaned closer. "Tell me, Marty, has our beautiful Khalid made a move?"

  Marty glanced up, smiling. "Maybe. "

  A soft, excited scream escaped her friend's lips as a wide smile finally crossed her lips. "Tell me about it," Courtney said. "What did he do?"

  "Not much. " Marty laughed as Courtney's expression fell from excited to disappointed.

  She wasn't comfortable giving her friends details. Besides the fact that Marty was aware that Khalid had once played in Courtney's bed as the third in her relationship with Ian Sinclair before their marriage, there was also the fact that sharing such intimate details wasn't something Marty could ever do, at least not easily.

  "I should interrogate Khalid instead," Courtney grumbled, her brown eyes filled with amusement. "Perhaps I could get the truth from him. "

  "I doubt that one," Marty retorted. "I don't think Khalid gives anyone the truth about anything at any time. "

  Courtney fell silent, her gaze thoughtful as she stared back at Marty for a long moment.

  "Perhaps because no one has demanded the truth from him. " It was Alyssa who broke the silence.

  Though she was serene and composed, her regal features somehow were heartbreakingly set into lines of thoughtfulness.

  "No one has ever gotten close enough to him to get the answers they demand," Courtney interjected. "Making him invest himself will be the hard part. That's not something Khalid does easily. "

  There had to be a reason for that, though. As the waiter appeared with menus the subject was dropped, but Marty had to admit the questions the conversation had raised intrigued her.
br />   As Courtney said, Khalid didn't invest himself in his relationships. The women he slept with weren't his own; they were the wives or lovers of other men. He was the third in the relationships she had managed to uncover.

  Not that it was ever easy to figure out who Khalid was involved with. But over the years she had developed an internal radar where he was concerned. She could sense whenever he was with a woman and if he was sleeping with her.

  What would it take to get Khalid to invest himself in her? To steal his heart? God knew she had waited for him long enough, hungered for him with a power that kept other men at arm's length despite the loneliness that often plagued her.

  She wasn't a one-night stand. And she couldn't force herself to begin a relationship with another man only to manipulate him into bringing Khalid in as a third. That would never be enough for her. It could never satisfy the need inside her.

  "Speak of the devil. " Courtney said, drawing Marty's attention as the waiter refreshed their ice water. "There is our elusive prey, my dear. Watch how he moves through the crowd, his gaze scanning, searching faces. Perhaps he's looking for you?"

  Marty's gaze was drawn to the dance floor where, as Courtney pointed out, Khalid was moving through the throng of dancers, his gaze restless, his expression predatory.

  Dressed in that white silk shirt and those blue jeans, he looked every inch the dangerous creature he truly was. Silk could never hide the strength in his body or the determination in his eyes.

  Marty watched curiously as he paused at the edge of the dance floor, his gaze sweeping around once more before it lifted, and within seconds met hers.

  A brutal punch of sensation slammed into her womb as his black eyes captured hers and held them. Heat flushed her body, bringing her nerve endings to life as they sizzled with anticipation and the memory of a touch so filled with pleasure that they ached for more.

  Her breasts became swollen, her nipples hard. Her clit swelled instantly and throbbed as she felt her sex begin to heat, to dampen.

  Her lips parted as she watched him, her breathing became harder, rougher. The memory of his touch swept through her, weakening her until she wondered whether her knees would hold her up if she actually stood to her feet.

  For long, brutally intense seconds he held her gaze, stroking her with his eyes alone before his attention was pulled from her, leaving her shaking and fighting to hide the effect he had on her.

  "My God," Courtney whispered at her side. "I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that. "

  Swallowing tightly, Marty looked at her with an edge of desperation. "What are you talking about?"

  "Dearest, he was eating you with his eyes. " A satisfied smile curled Courtney's lips. "I don't believe I've ever seen Khalid stare at another woman quite like that. "

  "He hasn't," Alyssa stated. "Khalid is always cool and composed. It's his trademark. "

  "Tonight, he lost that trademark. " Courtney fanned her face with her hand. "I'll definitely have to tell Ian about this. "

  "Why? According to you, he doesn't share information with you," Marty stated in irritation.

  "Well, this is true. " Courtney nodded. "But perhaps he just needs a bit of a nudge and a small incentive. " Her gaze twinkled in knowing amusement. "Sometimes a woman simply must use the right bit of bait to lure in the information she needs. "

  "Or the man she needs," Alyssa murmured, her gaze catching Marty's. "Stop holding back, Marty. You keep waiting for him to come to you, and we all know Khalid has a will of steel. He can control himself with exemplary strength. But he can't control you. You're your own ace in the hole. "
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