All for love 3 series.., p.50
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       All for Love - 3 Series Starters, p.50

           Kris Pearson
 

  “Laurel?” he asked, finding eyes downcast. He tipped her chin up with his hand. “What’s wrong, Miss Kiwi?”

  She shook her head. “Nothing,” she sighed. “Just—you said you were sending me home.”

  “Of course you have to go home. I’m simply keeping you safe for a while. You must see that?” He kissed her softly. “Safe in every way,” he murmured, pressing the condom into her hand and lying back on the fur throw again so she could continue her tantalizing game.

  He presumed she knew the theory, but soon found the practical side of sheathing a man was entirely new to her.

  He threw his head back and clenched his teeth. The sensation of her soft fingers! She was devil and angel combined. Who’d have thought a shy little foreigner could have such an effect on him?

  “Is it right?” she asked dubiously.

  Rafiq swallowed and nodded, trying to keep a tight rein on his self control as she straddled his hips again and sank slowly and experimentally against him. The slippery heat of her body invited him in, but then he lost the glorious sensation as she rose up again. He grasped her hips and pulled her down. Once more she checked his progress. He stifled his frustration and let her control things as she wished. There was plenty of time, and the sight of her above him, all pale skin and fair tousled hair, was erotic beyond belief. She continued to rock gently backward and forward, almost taking him in and then retreating, leaning over so long blonde tendrils slid softly over his chest.

  He reached up to her and buried his hands in spun-gold, combing with his fingers so the full length of her hair cascaded down, lustrous in the moonlight. Then he pulled her face close to his for a deep savage kiss.

  Laurel caught her breath, and after a moment’s hesitation she pressed down until he plunged through her hymen.

  He grunted with shock and sudden understanding. A flood of elation and primal possession roared through him. He was at once proud and humble, sorrowful and delighted. She’d been a virgin and had chosen him to be her first lover. He found no English to express his emotions adequately; instead he whispered to her in husky Sounamese as she continued her cautious advance-and-retreat. Finally she had him buried deep and hot to the hilt.

  He closed his eyes and abandoned himself to sensation. How long since he’d lost himself so completely?

  There’d been many women—women who saw a handsome man, or a rich one. Sophisticated socialites who played him at his own game, trading pleasure for pleasure, company for company.

  But this little girl seemed to have no such expectations.

  He urged her to lean down toward him, and reached up to sift his fingers through her pale moonlit hair again. “Laurel,” he breathed, “Come lower.” He cradled her soft breasts in his hands and fastened his mouth around each nipple in turn as she hung above him and he drove up into her.

  ~♥~

  Laurel sighed as the sudden shimmering sparkle of sensation spread from her breasts to her womb. Now everything was a hundred times more intense, more blissful.

  Yes, it hurt a little, and there was such a strange feeling of fullness each time he thrust deep inside her. But the slippery glide and slide was magic once she became more used to him. And his mouth on her breasts! “More Rafiq, please. Harder,” she begged, surprising herself with the demand.

  “Harder?” he queried. “Like this?” He bucked beneath her with steely strength, invading with masterful possession. Then his teeth fastened around a nipple, and he scraped and bit tenderly until she couldn’t hold back her incoherent moans.

  The pleasure swept through her in a blinding rush, pulsing and flickering, ecstasy flowing sweet and thick to where their bodies thrust together with ever increasing slickness. She trembled and gasped as she clenched around him again and again, and she ground out his name with every sensuous shudder.

  Finally he pulled her down and wrapped her tightly in his arms so her head lay pillowed against his shoulder and her hair cascaded across his chest. Minutes ticked by, and her heart rate gradually slowed to somewhere near normal.

  “I never thought it would be so beautiful,” she murmured.

  Rafiq was assaulted by the twin emotions of smug masculine pride and searing hate for any other man who might try to enjoy her body in the future.

  Or any other man who even thought of touching her.

  “Let me make it happen again,” he whispered. “Again and again—just as good.” He rolled until he lay above her, looking down at her glowing face and tousled hair, and began the delicious journey toward his own release.

  “Why didn’t you tell me?” he demanded, minutes later.

  “Tell you what?” she murmured, eyes flicking open to lock with his.

  She looked gorgeously cozy, wrapped in his arms, surrounded by the huge fur throw.

  “Why didn’t you tell me I’d be your first man?”

  “Oh that,” she said, closing her eyes again.

  “That,” he said, “was important. I might have hurt you.”

  “But you didn’t. Well—only for a moment.” She slid a hand out from under the fur and traced a fingertip along each of his dark eyebrows.

  “This was the first piece of you I saw when you pulled the bag off me,” she said.

  “My eyebrows?”

  “And your eyes. So fierce and foreign.”

  “And now you’ve seen all of me, which piece do you like best?” he teased.

  ~♥~

  The rising sun sent fingers of gold over the big bed next morning.

  “Rafiq?” she murmured. “That thing you do with your tongue?”

  Sudden shyness appeared to assail her.

  He smiled drowsily. “Yes Laurel?”

  “Umm—it was nice.”

  “I’m pleased. I meant it to be.” He waited, stroking a hand over her bare rump as she lay half across his chest.

  “Rafiq?”

  “Yes, Laurel?”

  “Would you like to do it again...?”

  He laughed, rich and deep, at her plaintive tone. Satisfaction flooded the length of his body, and he pinched her bottom. “I would be honored to do it again, Laurel, but first—what are we going to do about this?” He moved her hand to enclose his morning erection. “He always wakes up before me, the devil.”

  “Always?” Her eyes were huge.

  “It seems that way, Laurel. Perhaps we should deal to him first and then, after our bath, I could do that thing with my tongue...?”

  Chapter Twelve — Reliving the Past

  Ash Winthrop stretched as far as the cramped seating allowed. It had been a long tiring trip, and they’d changed planes twice—first from the international jumbo to a noisy old 747, and then to this smaller and smarter commuter craft. Beside him, reporter Barry Marsh snored softly, having enjoyed an unholy amount of free airline alcohol on the first long flight.

  Ash’s brain still spun from the speed of things. After the first TV news item it seemed every journalist in New Zealand, and several from Australia, had besieged Trinity Stud hoping for interviews.

  He wasn’t playing ball. The TV channel had promised to fly him to Al Sounam at their expense if he let them have exclusive rights to the story. He’d intended to somehow get there under his own steam so this suited him fine. The airfare he didn’t have to fork out for, and the extra payment they’d offered, would take care of a lot of work around the stud.

  The address system crackled on with a message from the pilot. The language was incomprehensible—to Ash’s ears it sounded full of clicks and throat clearings. He was relieved to have it repeated in curiously correct English.

  “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. In twenty minutes we will be landing in Al-Dubriz, the capital city of Al Sounam. The weather is fine, with a light breeze from the south, and the temperature there is thirty-eight degrees Celsius—or around a hundred and four for those of you more familiar with the Fahrenheit scale. We expect no significant turbulence between here and our destination.”

  Ash settled bac
k in the seat again, unable to suppress his very definite feelings of excitement. In twenty minutes he’d be on the same ground as his grand-daughter, and then the real work would begin.

  His movements were enough to shake Barry Marsh from his doze. Barry gazed around blearily.

  “On the ground in twenty minutes,” Ash said with satisfaction. “It’s a hundred and four.”

  The rumpled reporter cursed, heaved himself upright, and glanced at his watch. “Do we need to go over this once more?” he asked. “We’re here as visitors—no mention of TV or your grand-daughter—and we’re travelling home in a week?”

  “Fine, fine,” Ash said evenly. In fact he seethed at the young reporter’s somewhat high handed treatment—as though he was some old codger in his dotage instead of the well-respected owner of a very fine thoroughbred stud, even if its reputation was now somewhat on the wane. But Ash was wily enough to keep any resentment well hidden until he’d achieved everything he could. After all, this young pup was currently his best chance of meeting Laurel, and possibly tracking down Debs as well.

  “No mention of TV,” Ash repeated, nodding.

  They were to be met by a local journalist known to Barry through other overseas assignments, then transported straight to the TV studios where Ash would be subjected to yet another interview. Barry had explained in far too much detail why it was best not to draw attention to themselves ‘in this part of the world’. Hence they’d negotiated to make use of local TV facilities instead of bringing their own crew. The story was advantageous to both networks—some sort of split/share arrangement had obviously been worked out.

  “Don’t let the heat faze you,” Barry said. “The cars all have air conditioning. Ditto the buildings. You won’t be out in it for long.”

  “I’m not averse to a bit of heat,” Ash snapped. “I worked a few years on an Australian cattle station back in the sixties to get the money together to start the stud. A hundred was nothing there. You young people have it soft.”

  Barry’s cocky grin said otherwise. “Right,” he agreed.

  ~♥~

  Yasmina nodded with approval when Laurel arrived in the kitchen wearing a hip-length knitted silk top. The warm pink tone brought a soft flush to the girl’s pale cheeks. The slippery fabric revealed her womanly curves for the master. It was a shame about the faded old jeans, but if they were riding the horses then it wouldn’t matter. The master often wore jeans himself when he rode.

  Why had Lord Rafiq not brought his woman proper riding trousers? Using the excuse of turning down Laurel’s bed, she’d made a quick inspection of Rafiq’s purchases the evening before—admiring the colors and fabrics of the swirling skirts and fitted tops. She’d pursed her lips as she turned back the sheets; the proper formalities must be observed, even if there was very little chance the girl would be sleeping there.

  That morning Rafiq had directed her to take the tea tray to his bedroom, and she’d found the girl sitting in bed, looking slightly embarrassed but thoroughly at home.

  Now, after a second night at the lodge, her position seemed even more secure.

  Yasmina paid careful attention as Rafiq arrived in the kitchen. His eyes roamed possessively over his house guest, and he took a few small white flowers from the vase on the table and threaded them into Laurel’s hair.

  The master did not do this kind of thing. Yasmina turned away to hide her smile.

  ~♥~

  Once again Muzaffar and Azizah whickered their welcome. This time Laurel leaned against Azizah’s warm side without being coaxed, patting her neck and whispering endearments in her ear. “Do they like to run?” she asked Rafiq.

  “They’re Arabians—the fastest in the world. They’re bred to run.” He turned aside to gather up their robes.

  “But do they like to run?”

  “They need the exercise. I won’t have them growing fat and lazy. They have no choice but to run if I command it, just as I have no choice about the work I do. It is necessary.”

  “And you are commanded?”

  “Commanded by me.”

  “Because of your lost family or your royal position?”

  He smiled grimly. “My family. I have no position right now, Laurel. That’s why I can work undercover. I’m not known. I barely exist.”

  “But you still have the resources of the royal family behind you?”

  “I have my own family’s personal fortune. And I have the encouragement of my uncle, the King. I also have the motivation I need. To lose your whole family... to very nearly lose your own life... those are powerful incentives.”

  Laurel bit her bottom lip and wondered if she should ask the next question. “So you’ll be the King one day? Will you enjoy that?”

  He gave another small grim smile and passed one of the robes to her. “My uncle would not stand in my way. I’m heir to the throne, and have all the evidence I need to prove it. If I choose, then yes, I would be King.”

  It wasn’t exactly the answer she sought.

  “So will you enjoy being King?” she asked again.

  “Not the ceremonial occasions,” he admitted. “My uncle and aunt are wonderful figureheads. He loves the limelight and she adores the clothes.”

  He pulled a wry face and donned his robe before continuing. “My uncle’s not the King my father was. That’s not just a fond son speaking. My father instituted many reforms. They were mostly complete by the time my uncle assumed the throne. And eleven more years have passed since then. Democratic changes mean the government has the power now and the King is much more of a symbol than my father ever was. I don’t see myself rubber-stamping other people’s plans.”

  “So you enjoy what you currently do?”

  “I enjoy the results of what I do. We track terrorist cells and gather information. We trace and dispose of unfriendly agents who choose to hide in Al Sounam while they plot harm elsewhere. We prevent much death and suffering.”

  “And no-one ever knows.”

  “It’s the way it has to be.”

  Laurel sighed and fixed her eyes on his. “I’ll hate thinking about your work when I get home to New Zealand. Never knowing if you’re safe.” Her heart gave a lurch of absolute terror, and she turned away to press her forehead against Azizah’s warm neck so no tears would show.

  “I think they like to run,” she said in a small voice. “When I watched you on Muzaffar yesterday he took off so fast and just kept going and going. I could feel Azizah wanted to follow.”

  And I wanted to follow, too. I wanted to be that free. I wanted to forget you’re sending me home like an unwanted parcel.

  “It’ll be many more lessons before you can gallop like that.”

  She shrugged and walked outside, leading the gentle mare. She didn’t trust herself to speak again for several minutes.

  They rode, and returned to the lodge.

  Rafiq led her to his father’s study and showed her family photographs as promised. She could see a slight likeness to his grandfather but none to his father. She had to agree the soft-faced Rafiq of seventeen bore no resemblance to the imperious man of twenty-eight.

  They ate a light but delicious lunch, then lay in the shade of the Casuarina tree and read. And midway through the afternoon Rafiq took a phone call which turned his face to thunder.

  “Laurel, I need to be away tonight. I wouldn’t leave you alone unless it was truly important. Can I trust you to stay here where you’ll be safe? No more trying to escape?” His black eyes drilled into hers.

  Panic struggled up her throat and she pushed it down again with steely determination. He was going into danger again for sure. He might never return.

  She could do at least this for him; take away the worry that she was a liability. She leaned over and kissed his fingers.

  “Yes, you can trust me, Rafiq. I know what the odds are now. Very small that I could escape anyway, and very large if you or I get caught. I’ll be here when you come back.”

  She waited for his smile of appr
oval—needed his smile of approval to make the rest of the day bearable.

  Rafiq simply closed his eyes and nodded.

  ~♥~

  His gut churned. He would put Malik on twenty-four hour guard, although he prayed he wouldn’t need to be away for so long. This little girl was precious now in more ways than one but he could never let her know that.

  “Come and help me pack, Miss Kiwi,” he said, hoping to dispel the intensity of the moment. He pulled her to her feet and laced his fingers through hers. “We’ve time for one more cuddle.” He raised a dark eyebrow and finally managed the smile that had refused to appear before.

  “Just a cuddle?” she queried, sounding unworried and flirty.

  “You think I could manage more after all the hard work you expected from me last night and this morning?”

  “I think you could manage a whole heap more if you tried.”

  “Then I’ll try. I wouldn’t want to disappoint a lusty woman like you.”

  She poked his chest and laughed. “I’m not lusty.”

  “You’re very hungry,” he said with satisfaction.

  “Hungry for you. I’ve never been offered such a feast before. I need to make the most of my banquet while I’ve still got you.”

  And as fast as that the levity disappeared. Without caring if his servants saw, Rafiq pulled her against him and branded her mouth with a savage kiss of ownership. She wrapped her arms around his back and ground her hips against his.

  “I’ll be back here again tomorrow,” he grated when they finally drew apart.

  “See that you are,” she shot back.

  ~♥~

  The lodge felt horribly empty without him. Laurel amused herself for a while by trying on the rest of her new clothes, but there was no joy in them without Rafiq’s dark eyes approving... his husky voice passing comment.

  She untangled the chains and necklaces—more beautiful than she’d ever expected to wear—and laid them out one by one on top of the big chest under her window.

  She took her book back to the shady seat under the tree, and still she couldn’t settle. What was he doing? Was he with Nazim and Fayez again? Were they giving him another grilling about her apparent escape? It would be two to one if they decided to get rough, and however fit and well trained he was two to one were bad odds. Her stomach roiled with apprehension.

 
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