Their virgin princess, p.15
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       Their Virgin Princess, p.15

         Part #4 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
Page 15


  “Did you have any run-ins with anyone there?” Dane asked.

  “We helped women and their children escape abusive partners, so there were always threats. They kept their address a secret, but even so, the determined jerks found the place and showed up to rant. But no single incident stands out. ”

  They should have included her in on the case sooner. Cooper saw that now. Some information only Alea could give.

  Dane stared down at the folder. “You called the police on the fifteenth of October about a man who threatened to shoot you. ”

  Cooper felt his blood start to boil. “Shoot you?”

  Alea shrugged, an animated grin crossing her face. “It’s the Bronx. I could have gotten shot just walking down the street. I disarmed him and called the police. He was crying and telling me his tale of woe by the time they got there. I don’t think he had me kidnapped. He had no idea who I was or that I was a student at NYU, much less a princess from Bezakistan. How would he have had access to stationary from the embassy? To him, I was a random ‘bitch’ keeping him from his punching bag. ”

  “But there were potentially a whole bunch of men who came to that shelter with a reason to hate you,” Lan argued.

  She shrugged slightly. “I guess that’s one way to look at it. But, guys, I dealt almost exclusively with very poor people. Didn’t I read something about the person behind my abduction paying for my upkeep? Like five grand every ten days? By the way, that was not five grand worth of upkeep. The accommodations sucked ass, as they would have said back in New York. ”

  He was actually taking her sarcasm as a positive sign. “She’s got a point, Dane. I don’t think it was a person she encountered during her charity work. Seriously, if it had been one of those douchebags, he would have either fucked her himself to show Alea that he was all big and bad, or he’d have made sure she was ‘learning her place. ’”

  “Nice way to put it,” Alea said.

  He held his hands up. “Baby, I’m just telling you the way that kind of man would think. ”

  Alea’s eyes narrowed on him, and it was all he could do not to shrink back. She had a damn fine evil eye. “Not you, too. ”

  It was his turn to shrug. He wouldn’t take it back. “Yeah, you’re my baby. Deal with it. ”

  Her gorgeous eyes rolled. “I have a name, you know. ”

  “I’m going to call you darlin’,” Lan offered.

  “That’s not better,” Alea said, shaking her head.

  “Okay, how about snuggle bear?” Lan returned. “Or puddin’? That’s another real popular choice down South. ”

  Alea sighed. “Darlin’ it is, then. ”

  Lan just smiled.

  Score one for the guys. It was good to know she could be cornered. Why hadn’t they tried this tactic earlier? Now that they had her alone and were establishing rules, everything seemed so much simpler. It was as if her stress level had plummeted, and she seemed more willing to compromise. Maybe being away from her cousins and the pomp of the palace would be a good thing.

  “Could we sort out the endearments later?” Dane asked, obviously annoyed. “Just to be sure, I want you to write down the names of every man you came in contact with at that shelter. I want Anthony Anders to check them all out. ”

  Alea groaned. “Dane, I didn’t catch most of their names. I tended to call them things like ‘Overly Hairy Guy’ and ‘Dude Who Needs Deodorant. ’ I had a very fluid role there. I doubt that most of those men knew my name, either. It wasn’t like I wore a nametag or distributed my bio. I’m not trying to be difficult. I’m just telling you all the reasons I’m pretty sure this is a dead end. ”

  The curtain to the back of the cabin opened, and a heavenly smell wafted through. Coop’s stomach rumbled. The rich really did know how to travel.

  The hostess walked out with a smile on her face, like she was genuinely happy to be serving them. “May I serve the first course of lunch now? It’s a lovely French onion soup, which will be followed with an herb salad with goat cheese croustades. The main course, a beef burgundy, should pair perfectly with the wine from the captain. ”

  “Please,” Alea said, sitting up. “It smells wonderful. I hope you try it yourself. ”

  The hostess inclined her head in a show of deference. Staff tended to love Alea. “I would be thrilled to try it, Your Highness. You’re so kind. If you would gather around the table, I will serve. ”

  Dane frowned and closed the folder. “We’re going to get back to this. I’m not going to stop until we know who did this to you. ”

  “I’m sure you won’t,” Alea conceded. “But it can wait until after lunch. Poor Landon is practically fainting. ”

  Lan did look a little piqued. He stood up. “There was no meat with breakfast. It was all bread and stuff. I’m a carnivore. ”

  The hostess returned and set glasses before them, each filled with a deep, ruby red wine. “The pilot says that this vintage comes from the region of France in which he was born. Enjoy. ”

  Cooper took a long sip of the wine. It was rich and tasted just slightly sweet, with a hint of tartness. Like Alea. But he wasn’t much of a wine drinker. Give him a good beer any day. But so far, the flight attendant hadn’t given them water or anything else to drink. So he took another sip.

  They sat down around the table, getting ready to partake of their first full meal as a family—whether Alea wanted to acknowledge that fact or not. They drank and talked, the minutes speeding by.

  The first course was served, and Cooper felt his every muscle relax. He laughed at something Dane said, but suddenly sounds were strangely far away. So was everyone in his field of vision. Even his muscles felt heavy. In fact, he couldn’t quite lift the spoon.

  Alea looked so happy, relaxed. And he felt so…weird.

  He tried to push the glass away because something was so wrong, but his hands wouldn’t work. They kind of flopped around like fish out of water.

  What the hell was happening?

  “Sir? Sir? Are you all right?” He could halfway hear the hostess. She sounded like she was talking through a funnel.

  Cooper tried to get up. His vision was narrowing, focusing in on one thing. Alea was asleep again. She looked so sweet, but…hadn’t she just napped? Why was her head at that unnatural angle?

  He tried to fight, tried to stay awake, but he failed.

  The last thing he saw as he fell asleep was an unfamiliar man in a white shirt standing over them, wearing a triumphant smile.

  Chapter Six

  Dane fought the darkness in his head as though his subconscious knew his sleep was unnatural.

  He heard a low groan to his left before something rolled closer and closer, but he couldn’t open his eyes to see or move in time to prevent it from smacking his head. Pain flared.

  What the hell had happened?

  Using all his concentration, Dane shoved his lethargy aside and forced himself upright. His head throbbed as he reached up and wiped away a trickle of blood. He looked down at the wine bottle that had spun down the aisle and struck him. And now his head pounded. His tongue felt double its normal size and a bit furry.

  Fuck, they’d been drugged. How long had he been out? He held up the bottle before it rolled down and hit anyone else. And he stared at it. Someone—the flight attendant?—had drugged them with this wine. The hostess had served the soup, but none of them had eaten a single bite of it before passing out. The good news was, Dane didn’t think any of them had imbibed more than a half a glass. He glanced at his watch. About an hour since he’d last looked. What the hell was going on?

  “What the hell?” Lan moaned. “Did someone run me over?”

  “Where’s Alea?” Coop asked, his words slurring.

  Alea. Panic threatened to take over. They were on a fucking plane. Who would abduct her on a goddamn plane? And how?

  They all looked around, groaning as they rose to their feet and stumbled around the cabin, searching fo
r her. Shit, he felt like he was in a fun house that wasn’t a whole lot of fun. His vision was like looking through a tunnel, and the floor seemed to tilt down just slightly. He lurched forward and saw Alea, grabbing onto her seat for balance. Relief flooded his system, and his heart started beating again.

  “Huh? I need to sleep,” she protested, all cuddled up in her chair, safe and sound and still in the drug’s happy place.

  Dane started to relax. She was safe. Then, as his own head cleared, he realized something was really wrong. It wasn’t just his perception leading him to think the floor was tilting a bit downward. It actually was. The whole nose of the plane was, in fact. He had to get her—and all of them—out of here fucking fast.

  “No sleep for you, baby. ” He turned to Coop and Lan, who staggered behind him. “We’ve got to get her up. We’ve all been drugged. I don’t think we got much of it, but I have no idea how she’ll react to it. She weighs less than we do, so she won’t metabolize it as fast. I need you two to figure out how fucked we are. There’s no way we aren’t. So find out how far we’re about to take it up the ass. ”

  Coop shuddered, obviously feeling the effects, but he rallied. “It had to be the pilot or the flight attendant. ”

  Since one had brought the wine and the other had served it… “Yeah. Where the hell are they? I think the plane is diving, and if someone’s going to try to kill us before we deal with that, I’d like to know. ”

  He looked around the cabin, but he encountered nothing but the eerie white noise made by the engines.

  Lan staggered, then forced himself to stand tall. He looked out the window. “Diving? Is the pilot trying to crash the plane? There’s nothing but ocean. Where the hell are we?”

  Coop ran a hand over his head. “It’s been a while since I’ve flown and I’m not familiar with planes like this, but I’ll figure it out. If the pilot doesn’t shoot me first. ”

  “Both of you gear up,” Dane said, looking down at Alea. Her color was good, her lips curving up in sleep.

  “My gun is still in its holster,” Lan said, pulling his SIG Sauer from underneath his jacket. “Why would the person who drugged us leave us with guns? Why wouldn’t they just kill us in our sleep?”

  It didn’t make a lick of sense. If whoever had poisoned the wine wanted them unconscious, why wouldn’t they have used that time to disarm the three big bad soldiers? Or kill everyone since there’d be hell to pay once the drug wore off. What the fuck was going on here?

  Coop took out his piece and started for the cockpit, his feet moving silently across the floor while Lan went in the opposite direction, gun drawn, in search of the hostess. Alone, he stood over Alea.

  “Come on, Princess. Get up and don’t freak out on me. I’m going to have to touch you,” Dane explained.

  Her eyes fluttered open. They had almost a dreamy quality to them. God, she was so beautiful. Even in the midst of life or death, he couldn’t not notice how fucking gorgeous she was. Especially when she looked so soft and sleepy. Welcoming. That was how she would look after they made love to her, when she’d taken them all and they surrounded her. She’d look happy and exhausted and satisfied.

  “You have to touch me? Oh, what a shame. Which part are you going to touch, babe?”

  He felt his eyebrows rise. “Babe?”

  “You call me baby. I get to call you babe. Or maybe I should go with sweetie pie. ” Her voice was low and languid. Seductive.

  Wow, she was high. Apparently a little wine and some sedatives did wonders for her disposition. “You can call me anything you like, Princess, but right now you’re getting on your feet. ”

  She shook her head, her lips pursing in a sweet pout. “No. Need sleep. But you can touch me. You like my breasts? Touch mine. Second base. ” She giggled before sleep overtook her again.

  Oh, what he would do to her if they weren’t potentially in a fight for their lives.

  “Yes, Princess, we’ll get to second base eventually—and way beyond—but right now I need you to stand. Up we go. ” He lifted her, forcing her to her feet.

  Alea groaned and tried to wiggle away from him. “This is mean. I’m having a good dream. Go away. ”

  He needed to get some coffee in her, but even if the hostess suddenly appeared and offered some, he wouldn’t trust that it hadn’t been drugged either. But damn, where had the flight crew gone? Had they managed to get off the plane somehow? They couldn’t have opened the door. Despite what happened in movies, the pressure from the outside would keep the door closed, no matter how hard someone tried to push. They would have to blow the door. If that had happened, there would be nothing between the pressurized cabin and the great outdoors now, and they would all have been sucked out of the plane already.

  Since he, Alea, and the guys were still in the plane, it followed that whoever had drugged them was still on board, too.

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