All for love 3 series.., p.45
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       All for Love - 3 Series Starters, p.45

           Kris Pearson
 

  She turned away, obviously ashamed, even though Rafiq knew full well the shame should not be hers.

  “And when I looked out, he would be... playing with himself,” she concluded in a strangled mutter. “His ‘thing’ was huge and red and ugly. So you see...”

  Her voice was the merest whisper now. The voice of a frightened child. “When you held me down this afternoon, it brought memories back. Being helpless and frightened. Being in a nightmare that happened again and again. I hated having to watch him, but if I didn’t he’d be smashing at the window and I was frightened the glass would break and his mother would blame me for that as well as the broken door.”

  She sighed, and he heard the weight of huge sorrow in the soft sound.

  “The thought of being locked up again tonight was just too much to bear,” she added. “I’m sorry I lost it.”

  He reached out and found her hand. Curled his fingers around hers in friendship. And wondered what he could ever do to make amends.

  ~♥~

  The tiny movements had been going on for some time now. He’d woken instantly and lain there, alert and primed for action, even though he’d been careful to give no sign of this. He kept his eyes closed down to the merest slits in case Laurel caught their gleam in the darkness.

  He watched as she slowly sat up. With infinite caution she pushed back the bedcover and rose from the bed.

  He launched himself across at her like a heat-seeking missile at a bonfire, yanking her down again as she screamed with terror.

  “Where the hell do you think you’re going, Miss Kiwi?”

  He stretched one arm sideways and snapped on the lamp. The sash trailed from his wrist, but no longer from Laurel’s.

  She lay panting beneath him, breasts heaving, eyes huge and panicked.

  “To the bathroom,” she gasped. “I didn’t want to wake you, but I must have had too much of that nice juice with dinner. Let me up or you’ll be sorry.”

  His eyes bored down into hers, trying to gauge her true intentions. Was she inventing this? Grudgingly he moved aside, granting her freedom but still regarding her with extreme suspicion.

  She rose with a display of hurt dignity and padded across to the bathroom. His eyes followed her slim legs all the way up to the hems of his black silk shorts.

  She crept back in beside him a little later.

  “You’d better tie me up again,” she said, proffering the end of the sash.

  “You got out of it easily enough last time.”

  “Yes, so I did,” she said, sending him a grin that looked far from contrite. “But you don’t trust me, Rafiq. Tie me up again please.”

  ~♥~

  Would this work? She was certain she’d had his sympathy after telling him about Gary. He’d held her hand with such warmth and tenderness then. And somehow she hadn’t felt quite so scared any longer. Now she was thrilled to hear him reply, “No Laurel, I’m sure there’s no need. It was a stupid idea.”

  She stretched and yawned, secretly enjoying the way his eyes zoomed straight to the taut fabric of his shirt as it outlined her breasts. “That’s what I thought in the first place, but you went all macho on me.” She made a small show of checking her watch “Only 1.45? It’s a long night, isn’t it...”

  She snuggled down just a fraction closer to him. She’d undone the top buttons of the shirt in the bathroom and wondered if he’d noticed. She needed to distract him, somehow put him off his guard. He’d kept glancing at her breasts during dinner. Maybe a little skin was the price she’d have to pay to divert his attention. She surely had nothing else to bargain with, and he hadn’t switched the lamp off yet.

  Once again she lay there pretending obedience. He was being a well-mannered pig she had to admit, but there was no way she was willing to be kept prisoner like this. How was she going to get free?

  “Tell me about your parents and your brothers,” she asked. “Unless it’s too painful of course.” She waited, wondering if he would.

  Rafiq didn’t reply immediately, but after a minute or two he sighed and said, “It was a long time in the past, Laurel. Time does not heal, but at least it dulls.”

  “Mmmm.” It hadn’t dulled her memories of disgusting Gary, displaying himself so close to her bedroom window.

  “My father was a good man,” he continued. “Firm but fair. Al Sounam prospered under his rule. The oil fields were productive, we had excellent contracts with America and Great Britain, and there was food for everyone.”

  “And your mother?”

  “Beautiful. Much loved. I will show you her photograph. You shall see our whole family, the way we used to be.”

  “You as well?”

  “Of course. But you won’t recognize me.”

  “You were seventeen—quite grown up. Of course I’ll recognize you.”

  “I have been rebuilt,” he murmured. “No-one recognizes me. That’s why I can do the work I now choose to. No-one knows I’m the King’s son, except a very select few. Two doctors. My uncle—who is my father’s twin brother. His wife. Yasmina of course. And several men very high in the Security Service.”

  “And me.”

  “Yes—I shall have to kill you now I suppose.” He lunged at her in the bed, laughing and nipping at her neck.

  Laurel threw out a hand to fend him off, terrified by his unthinking proximity, and connected with the big key through his trouser pocket. It had slid backward; almost slipped onto the sheet between them. If he moved a little more...?

  “You wouldn’t kill me. You rescued me,” she said, trying to keep her voice neutral. Although she was ultra-wary of men and what they might do to her, she’d started to feel safe with Rafiq now several hours had passed with no sexual attack. But the fear was so ingrained she doubted she could let her guard down completely, even if she wanted to.

  “True, Laurel. I wasn’t certain I was going to be able to rescue you, but things went well.” He tucked an arm around her. After flinching a little, she managed to relax against his warm chest.

  “It was unwise of me to tell you who I really am. I need your promise of secrecy. Although I guess no-one would believe you if you claimed to know me anyway. I no longer exist officially.”

  “Everyone thinks you’re dead?”

  “I very nearly was. The merest spark of life. I had incredible luck with my doctors. Incredible luck with the accident, I suppose. I was the only one thrown free by the explosion before the escort vehicle hit my father’s car. All the others burned.” His voice had become far from steady. He tightened his arm around her, sighed again, and fell silent.

  “So then you were King?”

  “Sadly, no Laurel. Then I was a patient, not expected to live. Or if I lived, not expected to function. I was worked on for nearly two years. There were bones to be reset and pinned, flesh re-shaped, my face to put back together. There was unending physio, clever dentistry, skin-grafts and many subsequent operations. But I was young and strong.”

  “And very determined.”

  “As you say, Laurel. I was always a determined boy. After all, I was being educated and trained to rule.”

  “So why are you not King by now?”

  He chuckled at that. “You think my uncle stole my birthright? There’s plenty of birthright to go around. That little emerald encrusted box you were admiring would buy a reasonable city apartment.”

  She gasped. “And it just sits out here in the desert?”

  “Where else? My mother loved it here. She could be herself, away from the constant pressures of the palace.”

  “So your uncle is now the King?”

  “He was heir after my father’s sons. He would have been King himself if my father had not given him a kick while they were together in my grandmother’s womb and made him arrive second—or so he says.”

  She let loose a small laugh at that.

  “My uncle is a clever man,” he continued. “There was so little certainty I would ever rejoin the human race that he let it be kno
wn I’d died with the others. Can you imagine the constitutional problems if the nation found they still had a legal heir who was a dribbling imbecile?”

  “Difficult, I suppose.”

  “Impossible.”

  “But didn’t you mind?”

  “I was in no state to object. And once I was on the way to mending, I could see the sense of his decision.”

  Laurel moved against him restlessly, turning slightly in his arms. “Your scars are visible if I look closely,” she said. “But you’re in amazing shape for a man who went through so much.” She reached up and stroked his chest. In the warm lamplight he shone tautly muscular—hard-honed and tough. She traced her finger across a long scar as far as his nipple, thrilling at the feel of his skin.

  “Aubergine,” she said. “Just the right color to describe this little bit. What a contrast to my pasty fingers.” She scraped her fingernail to and fro across the little mound, watching with fascination as his flesh puckered and rose up in a tiny peak.

  “Your ivory fingers,” he corrected in a tight voice. He glanced at his watch and eased his arm away from her shoulder. “It’s nearly two, Laurel. We both need to sleep. There’s no way I’ll tie you up again.” He snapped off the lamp.

  She smiled in the darkness with secret triumph. Step One had been achieved.

  Chapter Eight — Kiss of Frustration

  He wasn’t snoring, but he was definitely breathing as though he’d fallen asleep.

  She tried a little stretch and murmur to see if he’d react. Nothing. Her fingers wandered towards him. There was no sign the key had fallen from his pocket yet. Softly, slowly, she investigated. Touched his trousers. Located the edge of his pocket.

  He heaved out a deeper breath than usual and Laurel stilled. He relaxed again and so did she. She counted out sixty long seconds before she dared to start moving again.

  So lightly along his thigh.

  So cautiously over the trouser fabric.

  So softly along the pocket edge.

  She slid a finger inside, seeking, seeking. She felt the thin split-ring the key hung from, inserted her sneaky finger through it and started to draw it free.

  She got the key into the keyhole before he reared up from the bed with a torrent of husky curses, hurtled across the room, pinned her hard against the timber door with his hips, and wrapped both hands around her throat. They stood welded together, lips a heartbeat apart, both gasping with fright and frustration.

  “I should strangle you,” he ground out.

  “Then do it,” she unwisely challenged. “If you think being locked into a bedroom with you is such a great treat, it’s one I can live without.”

  “You have no idea what you’re putting in jeopardy. You have no inkling of your silliness. You can’t possibly escape from here without my help.” He gave a hard thrust of his hips to emphasize his words. “And if you knew what was at stake, you wouldn’t try. Your life, Laurel. My life. The lives of many others.”

  He held her immobile, clasp far from friendly, body vibrating with fury. And then, without warning, he kissed her, hard and hungrily, before he jerked the key from the door with another rattling volley of Sounamese and strode across the room.

  From that safer distance, he said “You will not stay alive in the desert, Laurel. Just because you managed to get here along the watercourse with my directions doesn’t mean you’ll find your own way to anywhere else with ease. If you retrace those steps you’ll be going further and further from civilization. You’ll have no idea which way to take in the dark. I trust you were not planning to steal the helicopter?”

  She stood there astounded, reliving the sensation of his mouth on hers. The heat, the passion, the incredible surge of liquid fluttering deep in her belly.

  “Why did you kiss me?” she demanded.

  “What?” he asked, apparently thrown by her abrupt change of subject.

  “Why did you kiss me? Just then.”

  “What does it matter? A man sometimes does stupid things when he’s with a woman. I did a stupid thing—maybe because I’ve spent several frustrating hours sharing a bed with you with no prospect of further pleasure.”

  “Further pleasure?” she queried faintly. “Further than what?” Her lips were a hundred times more sensitized by his kiss than her fingers had been in the salon.

  “Further than being able to see you, and smell you, and feel you moving about so close to me. Further than having you caress my chest as though it was nothing, and play with my nipple without thinking how arousing that can feel. Further than having you wear clothing against your skin which has been against my skin. And knowing my honor forbids me from getting closer to you.”

  “Lust,” she sneered, flushing hot all over after hearing some of the exact things she’d been thinking herself. “All men are the same.”

  He dropped his flashing eyes from hers and bent to rummage in a leather briefcase which she’d not noticed until that moment. He produced the rest of the reel of thin orange polyester rope and the cigarette lighter.

  “No,” she gasped.

  “Yes,” he insisted. “Come here. Plainly I can’t trust you, so we’ll take care of things this way. Hold out your hand.”

  “Never. You can’t make me.”

  “It would be easy Laurel. Perhaps I should stretch your arm along the floor and sit on it. No matter if I dislocated your pretty shoulder or broke your delicate wrist or burned your soft flesh. I have trained for things you’re better not to think about. This is nothing.”

  She heard his cruel words and quailed. Yes, with a body as strong as his, such things would be possible. Meekly she held out her hand. Once again he knotted the hateful rope around her wrist and melted the ends together with care.

  She watched his sculpted chest rising and falling with every fierce breath he took. He was still just in control of his anger, but she’d obviously pushed him close to his limit. Such a thought was thrilling, and caused her pulse to quicken. She shouldn’t be feeling so excited—so strange, so curiously powerful—even as he tied her up and stole her freedom again, but for sure the feelings were there.

  She’d taken care never to be alone with a boy since Gary Gorridge had so effectively demonstrated how out of control a male animal was. She’d joined in the groups her room mates assembled for parties and movies and clubbing, but had avoided solo dates as though her life depended on it.

  Now she was as solo as it was possible to be with a man—and in his room, and expected back in his bed—and tied up so she couldn’t escape from him no matter how much she wanted to.

  She stood close, feeling the heat radiating from him as he made a second loop on the last few inches of the rope and melted that knot. Then he moved aside to heave up a corner of the huge bed and tethered her by slipping the loop around the bed leg. She was as helpless again as she had been in the terrifying bunker that afternoon.

  She continued to stand as he lounged back on the pillows, implacable.

  “There’s enough length there so you can go to the bathroom or sit at the far end of the room and sulk. Do as you please, Laurel. Or you can come back to bed with me.”

  “Why would I want to do that?” She spat the words at him, hating him. Hating herself for enjoying his kiss. Hating that she wanted to spin silly fantasies of how it might be if she was right there beside him and being kissed again.

  “Because it is now three-fifteen and I need some sleep,” he said wearily. “I have to pilot that helicopter safely at dawn. Come back to bed.” He held out an arm.

  With great reluctance she crept closer, seething, not trusting him or herself.

  “Is the rope long enough for me to reach those knives outside the door?”

  “Probably,” he said with a sigh of exasperation. “Come back to bed.” He made a grab and reeled her in until she was obliged to scramble up beside him.

  He hauled her down against his chest and held her there, tucked her head under his chin, and dropped a small kiss onto her h
air. She wriggled with annoyance.

  “You’re spending the rest of the night right there. And stay still or you’ll find you have a most uncomfortable lump to contend with.”

  He snapped off the lamp.

  She lay in the darkness, heart pounding, her face cradled against his shoulder. Her arm had settled around his waist. He’d twisted to wedge one of his long thighs between hers, holding her down, pressing against the silk boxers that covered her groin. She felt a fast pulse there—his or hers?

  “Rafiq,” she groaned. “Let me go.”

  “Let you go where, Laurel? I’ve got you just where I want you now. If you try to escape again I’ll feel you moving, never fear.”

  “You’re disgusting.”

  He laughed harshly in the darkness. “I’m working on a very tough undercover mission, and you got in the way. You have no idea how difficult tonight is for me. Harder than infiltrating the insurgents. Harder that pretending to be rough with you in the van. Harder than putting you through that recording circus with the phones.”

  “Harder than walking all that way through the desert with nothing to drink for yourself?”

  She felt his slight twitch of surprise.

  “You noticed, did you? Yes, probably harder than that, too.”

  “Why didn’t you drink?”

  After a short silence, he said, “I had to make it look like you’d hit me with the chair and escaped. As though only your two bottles were missing.”

  “As though I hit you? However was I supposed to do that?”

  “A moment’s inattention on my part. Long enough cord on your part. Bam.” He took her hand and raised it to his brow, running her fingers over the dressing that Yasmina had so lovingly applied.

  “And Nazim and Fayez hit you because I escaped?”

  “I hit me. So it would look as though you had. Go to sleep Laurel. Behave this time. Please...”

  He’d reduced her to shocked silence. She started to shake and finally to sob. Hot tears leaked down onto his bare chest.

  “Thank you,” she whispered. “Thank you, Rafiq.” She rubbed her face against him, kissed his skin, tried to lick up her tears, and drove him mad. What was a man to do except kiss her to stop the torment of her tickling tongue? He tipped her face up and searched until he found her soft lips with his own.

 
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