Taken by a trillionaire.., p.30
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       Taken by a Trillionaire 1-3, p.30

         Part #1 of Taken by a Trillionaire series by Ruth Cardello
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  “Do you really think they have her there?” Bryan said.

  “Yes. I do.”

  “I think he’s right, Bryan. They will have her there. Whatever it is they are about, they think they’re the ones in the right. They will have her there and they will kill her almost immediately once Chris appears.”

  “Then how in the hell are we going to rescue her and still keep our brother, and ourselves, alive?” Bryan asked.

  “Do you know about the southern tunnels?” Xander asked.

  “No,” Chris replied. “What tunnels?”

  “They were started shortly after the palace was built. It was in an age of uprisings, and then — as now — our entire family line was threatened,” Xander told Chris and Bryan. “It took nearly a hundred years to finish the system, and the knowledge of them has been kept secret. But the special thing about the Rinalde Mountains is their interlocking caverns. You can hide there for as long as you need to.”

  Bryan stared at him in disbelief. “I know our family history. None of our ancestors would have gone into hiding rather than battle a sworn enemy.”

  “You’re absolutely right, brother, but they would have done anything at all to protect their families, to ensure that the royal line carried on. That’s why the tunnels were built that lead to the caverns, and to this day the caverns within the mountain are kept full of provisions. We can go through the tunnels and come up behind the enemy. They will have no one on the lookout from that direction.” Xander moved toward the phone.

  “Who are you calling?” Chris asked. “I want no one to know about any of this.”

  “It’s only logical to bring guards with us,” Xander said, but he didn’t pick up the phone.

  “I trust no one, Xander. Someone tipped off the Arcano that Adara was here and that she was alone when they got to her. I’m not taking any chances. We can do this without the guards.”

  “You might well be right, Christopher. We do this together — just the three of us,” Bryan said. “We’ll make it past this crisis.” He finally let go of Chris’s arm, but he remained by his brother’s side.

  “Then I’ll tell Reanna that we have urgent business,” Xander said, picking up the phone and dialing his private suite.

  “I’ll do the same with my wife, though I hate such deceit,” Bryan said, and he picked up the phone next.

  “Thank you both for helping me,” Chris told them.

  The three brothers formed a circle, their hands on each other’s shoulders, united now — as they always were when it came down to it. The Arcano would not win.

  Chapter Fourteen

  The brothers strode through the maze of tunnels in silence for about an hour before they reached the connecting caves. Xander stopped and looked at the map with his flashlight.

  “How much farther?” Chris asked impatiently.

  “It’s not as if we can get there quickly,” Xander told him, looking at the different routes in front of them. “We go to the left now.”

  They soldiered on, making their way through narrow channels, some obstructed by rocks and others with pools of water from the underground river. Thank heavens Xander’s map was drawn out well.

  “Don’t shine the light upward. I hear the squeaking of the bats,” Bryan said quietly after they’d trudged for another hour through the maze of caverns and trails inside the enormous mountain.

  But when two hours turned into four, Chris became more and more impatient. What was happening with Adara? Was she still alive? Yes, his brothers had saved him from a suicide mission, but knowing that didn’t kill the fear that lay low in his gut.

  They finally came to a downward slope and made their way carefully closer to their destination. They’d emerge from one of the caves about a mile from where their enemy lay in wait.

  Despite the flashlight, the journey had been dark and forbidding, and when they saw the natural light drifting in, Chris had to let out a sigh of relief. They could have become lost so easily in that damnable mountain.

  He picked up his pace. “We need to get to her quickly,” Chris said insistently.

  “Hold back, brother,” Xander told him. “We need to be very careful now. It’s possible that they were aware of the tunnels. If we rush out and find ourselves ambushed, we’ll do your Adara no good.”

  With the sound of the underground river behind them, the three brothers moved slowly to the exit from the series of caves. Chris took the lead now. He peered out, searching for any sign that sentries of the Arcano were around.

  “It’s seems to be clear,” he told Xander and Bryan.

  “We still need to stay hidden,” Bryan said. “We need to discover where they’re keeping Adara.”

  They crept forward. About a quarter of a mile away from the place where Chris was to meet the Arcano, they spotted the first member of the group hiding behind a huge tree, peering toward the north.

  “I’ve got this,” Bryan mouthed to them, and then moved silently forward, coming up on the man before he had the slightest chance of knowing someone was there.

  Bryan silenced this guard without delay by wrapping his arm around the man’s neck and ensuring that he couldn’t cry out for help. The king and princes wanted to keep any remaining members of the Arcano alive so they could be interrogated. Xander and his brothers needed to find out how many of the enemy were left. It was the only reason this man was still breathing at all.

  When Xander and Chris approached, Xander’s face fell for just the briefest of moments before he composed himself again.

  “Why?” was all that the king could say.

  The man’s lips moved, but he could barely get any oxygen in, let alone speak. Xander looked at his brother, and Bryan loosened his hold, but not before threatening the man with dire consequences if he tried anything.

  “How could you serve me in my household and still be a part of this ungodly conspiracy?” Xander demanded. “You were one of my best guards, Emanuel.”

  “That was always my mission,” Emanuel said. “To serve the Arcano.”

  “I can’t express the depth of my disappointment,” Xander said. Loyalty was everything to him.

  Before he could say anything more, Chris had his own question. “How many men are out here?”

  “The Arcano have always ruled. They will kill me if I talk,” Emanuel said.

  “Tell me what I need to know. Now,” Chris said, fully focused on saving his fiancée.

  “Never,” Emanuel said.

  “You will be tried for treason,” Xander told him. “Don’t make your fate worse by letting a future princess of this land be murdered. Trust me, Emanuel, there are things far worse than death.”

  The look in Xander’s eyes would have turned the bravest of soldiers to stone. It finally broke Emanuel’s resolve.

  “There are only six of us here. Our numbers have dwindled.”

  “What is the plan?” Bryan asked.

  Emanuel looked too terrified to say any more, so Chris pulled out a knife and cut the man’s shirt open, then poked the blade into his chest just far enough for a small trickle of blood to drip down. “Speak now or you won’t speak again.”

  “As soon as you were in captivity, we were going to . . .” He stopped speaking and Chris put a little more pressure on the blade.

  “Where is she?”

  “There’s a hunting cabin next to the mountain. You’ve been there before. Once you arrived, she was to be dragged out and . . .” he trailed off.

  “And murdered? Isn’t that what you wanted to tell me?” Chris snapped, the knife poking in just a little bit more, making the man begin to shake.

  “And exterminated, yes,” Emanuel said.

  “We’ll deal with you later,” Xander said. “Let’s go, Chris. If there really are so few of them here, we should be able to get to her before we’re spotted. We’ll get Adara to safety, and then end the Arcano once and for all.”

  “Agreed,” Bryan said. He tied Emanuel to the tree and bound his mouth with stron
g tape. Then the three brothers rushed toward the cabin. They’d often hunted here.

  “I see one guard to the left, and another up front,” Xander said.

  “I see the same,” Bryan told him.

  “You take the man on the left, Bryan. I’ll get the guard in front. Do it quickly. Make sure they don’t make a sound to alert the others. Chris, you get Adara.”

  “With pleasure,” Chris said.

  While Xander and Bryan took out the two men, Chris moved to the cabin, circling it first, and then approaching the door. Testing the knob, he found it unlocked, and though his heart pounded with the need to kick it in, he pushed it open slowly, then scanned the room.

  What he saw next wasn’t what he was expecting.

  “Christopher!”

  “Vanessa?”

  “What? How? I don’t understand,” she stuttered. Her gun was on the table, three feet away from the chair she was sitting in. He watched as she eyeballed the weapon before her gaze returned to him.

  “I wouldn’t even think of attempting it, Vanessa,” Chris said as he stepped closer to her.

  “You don’t understand . . .,” she said, and tears filled her eyes.

  “Don’t try tears on me, Vanessa. They won’t work,” he said, moving another careful step toward her.

  “Fine!” she snapped, the tears instantly evaporating. “What are you going to do, Christopher? Kill me?” No fear, only hatred, was pouring from her now.

  “It’s crossed my mind. So you’re part of the Arcano. For how long?”

  “My entire life. My family goes back to the original inhabitants of this island. I was groomed to be your wife, to bring power back to the rightful leaders, the true heirs to the kingdom.”

  Chris didn’t know what to think. Was she crazy? Or was there some truth in her words? Had the Arcano truly been waiting for this many centuries to take back the land that they believed to be theirs?

  “This makes no sense. Why come after Adara? After me? I’m not the king. That’s Xander.”

  “You foolish man. I had to go after your whore. You and she ruined all our plans. I was supposed to marry you, produce royal heirs, and then your brothers and their family members were to be killed. But you had to find a ridiculous American and decide to make her your bride,” the woman spat before she looked over at her gun again.

  “I don’t even know what to say to you, Vanessa, but I never planned to marry you. Yes, we had a fling a few years ago, but I never would have made you my wife, even if Adara hadn’t come into the picture.”

  “Of course you would have. I was groomed just for you, to be everything you could ever want. Now, it’s all ruined.”

  She leapt from the chair and grabbed for her gun. But Chris was prepared for her. Gripping her waist, he easily restrained her, though her claws were flying.

  Xander came rushing into the room, and Chris pushed Vanessa over to him so he could deal with her. He’d wasted enough time speaking to this insane, vicious woman. He needed to get to Adara, who had to be in the only bedroom in the cabin.

  When he pushed through the door, the sight before him made his stomach drop. Adara was on the floor, tied up and gagged, and curled into a ball in one corner.

  He had to tamp down the rage he was feeling. He had to assure her that she’d be all right. And most importantly, he had to get her to safety.

  “Adara?” He crept forward so he wouldn’t startle her.

  Fear was bright in her eyes at first, but when she realized it was Chris coming toward her, she instantly began trembling in what he assumed was relief.

  “Oh, baby, I’m so sorry,” he told her as he bent down, untied her, and took off her gag.

  She said nothing, but as soon as she was free, she wrapped her shaking arms around him and sobbed in his arms.

  “Did they . . . touch you?” he had to ask. He didn’t want to know whether the worst had happened, but he had to know how hurt she was.

  “They drugged me, and they hit me a few times, but that was all,” she whispered. He searched her face, finding no bruises. He was afraid to even touch her, afraid of hurting her further.

  “I’m so sorry,” he had to say again. Carefully, he lifted her in his arms, holding her snugly against him as he moved back out to the main room of the cabin.

  “We need to hurry, Chris,” Xander whispered.

  “Wait,” Adara said, struggling to be set down.

  Chris placed her on her feet. “What is it? If there’s anything here, we don’t need it.”

  She approached the woman, who was now the one bound and gagged. “Bitch!” Adara said before reaching back and, with a mighty blow, instantly bloodying the woman’s nose.

  “Now we can go,” Adara said, and she started shaking again.

  They made it back to the caves and then through the caverns and tunnels without any further incidents, the trek seeming endless now that their adrenaline wasn’t quite so high.

  Chris didn’t draw his first full breath until they stepped into the long-unused palace dungeons, where the tunnels began.

  “Lock Emanuel up,” Xander said. “And keep the guards out. I don’t know who else is on his side, and until I do, I want no one to know he’s here.”

  “Agreed,” Bryan said, leaving the gag and blindfold on Emanuel and locking him into a cell. They would deal with him later.

  Chris left his brothers and took Adara up to their suite, and straight to the bathroom.

  “May I help you with anything, Your Highness?” Adara’s maid asked.

  “No. Leave us.”

  Chris locked the doors and drew Adara a bath.

  “Oh, Chris, I was so frightened. I didn’t know if I would ever see you again.”

  “I felt the same way, baby,” he said. “I don’t ever want to lose you.”

  His throat hurt with the emotion rushing through him.

  “I knew you’d come for me,” she whispered, her eyes so trusting that it nearly broke him in half.

  “Always,” he promised.

  He kissed her gently before he began stripping her clothes away. There were a few bruises on her arms, one on her side, and another on her thigh. The thought of anyone harming her sent even more rage through him, but he managed to control it. That wasn’t what she needed to see right now.

  He turned to leave, thinking she might want a private bath, but two words of hers stopped him.

  “Please stay.”

  “Forever,” he told her.

  And forever was what he intended.

  Chapter Fifteen

  They both should have been exhausted after the events of the day, and it was after midnight. So they knew they should get out of the tub, but they just didn’t want to leave. Chris sat behind Adara, running his hands gently up and down her arms, her sides, her breasts, her legs, coating her skin with soap before the lapping water washed it away.

  The longer they sat there together in soothing silence, the calmer she became. This was right; this was where she belonged. With Chris, right here, right now.

  “Make love to me, Chris. I need you,” she said, turning her head to look up at him.

  “We shouldn’t right now, Adara. You’ve been through a terrible ordeal,” he replied, though she felt his manhood spring up against her back.

  “And all I could think about was being with you again. Please,” she begged. She pulled his head down, and grabbing his lips with hers, poured out her passion through that kiss and showed him with her body how much she loved him.

  He drew her around and put her on his lap as he deepened the kiss. His arousal was so close to doing what she wanted and needed, and yet so far away. She groaned into his mouth.

  He broke away from the kiss. “Not in here. Not this time,” he said, and stood up with her body cradled in his arms.

  He set her on her feet, then dried her off. The friction of the towel ignited even more flames inside her.

  Chris also dried himself quickly before lifting Adara in his arms again and car
rying her to the bed. After sitting her down there, he gazed at her possessively, his eyes flashing with passion and so much more.

  “The thought that I might lose you almost killed me,” he said before dropping down and kneeling before her.

  “I felt the same. All I wanted was to see you one more time,” she said, emotions clogging her throat.

  “I need you, Adara, I love you.”

  “I love you, Christopher, and I so need you, too.”

  His eyes lit up with wonder and excitement, and she knew she’d made the right choice in telling him how she felt.

  “I’ll show you what you mean to me,” he said. And he brushed his lips against hers.

  She moved her hands from his well-defined shoulders, bringing them slowly down his chest and to his abs. He was so smooth and solid. The cool air whispered along her skin, but it couldn’t put out the fire burning between them.

  He skimmed her satin skin with those amazing fingers, sending ripples of delight all through her. She grew bolder and started to return the favor, caress for caress. He groaned in pleasure.

  She reached his hip, grasped his arousal, and rubbed it feverishly.

  “Slow down, darling,” he told her. “I have my limits.”

  He kissed her deeply, exploring the contours of her mouth. Then he moved his lips down her slim throat and nipped at her pulse while she brought her hands up and ran her fingers through his hair. Her whole body was aching for his possession.

  But he swiped his tongue across her peaked nipples and then blew warm air across the tender buds. She arched off the bed and moaned. She was so hot, so wet. And she was done with foreplay. She ground her hips against his in urgent invitation.

  “Patience” was all he said as he continued down her body. She couldn’t protest — what he was doing was melting her.

  He finally reached her thighs and spread them apart gently. “You are perfect. You awe me,” he whispered, and he licked the sensitive skin on her stomach.

  He moved his lips inexorably down. He slid his tongue against her folds and her swollen clitoris, and inserted a finger into her aching core. The sensation was so intense that she nearly shattered right then. She tried to pull away — she wanted him inside her. But he didn’t let up. He started moving faster, and the rhythm of his hands and mouth sent her off into a perfect storm of ecstasy.