Their virgin princess, p.36
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       Their Virgin Princess, p.36
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         Part #4 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
Page 36

 

  “Or me and Yasmin. ” He turned his face to her, a grim expression darkening his eyes. “You have to know how much I’ve always cared for you. ”

  She was not going there. “I’ve always liked you too, Oliver. But I certainly know that I’m never going to drink that particular brand of wine again. What was the name? Vallee d’Harmonie. I did not find it harmonious. ”

  Of course, she wouldn’t be drinking anything for a while. At least nine months. And breast feeding time. She would want that. She would want to hold her baby, rocking and feeding the precious bundle of joy. She could imagine one of her men would bring the baby to her and they would talk quietly while she nursed. That would be harmonious.

  “What?”

  Alea looked up, pulled from her thoughts. “I’m sorry?”

  “What was the wine?” Oliver leaned forward, his body a study in tension. “What did you call the wine?”

  What had she said? “I might not remember it right. It was a red. I just briefly looked at the bottle, but it translated to ‘Harmony Valley. ’ I’ve never heard of the vineyard before. ”

  His face went white. “Oh, god. ”

  “What? Oliver, are you all right?” His hands started to shake.

  “You haven’t heard of the vineyard because the wine isn’t on the market yet. It’s one of my family’s new ventures. We had the first batch brought in the week before the crash. I had it shipped out here because we were going to gift it to your cousins for Piper’s coronation. ”

  “Maybe she put it on the plane as a surprise for you and the pilot used it because it was convenient. ” That had to be it. Except the hostess had said that the pilot had brought it on board.

  Oliver put a hand over his face, nearly moaning his words. “It was in our room that night. I joked with Yas that she wouldn’t be able to drink it for another eight months. She wasn’t in bed early that morning. I thought she’d gone to say good-bye to you, but she didn’t, did she?”

  Nausea washed over her. “No. Oliver, was it your idea for me to take the plane and go to Australia?”

  “No. The idea never even occurred to me. I actually argued against it when Yas brought it up. I didn’t think you should go off on your own, but she was so insistent. She’s been…unstable lately, very emotional and angry. I haven’t quite known what to do with her. ”

  “Is that why you cheat on me with my whore bitch cousin?”

  Alea gasped and whirled to the sound of that voice, completely startled as Yasmin entered the room, lifted a gun, and fired.

  Chapter Fourteen

  Cooper sat down and wished he could think of a damn thing to say to get that dark look off Dane’s face. He’d done the right thing. It was what Coop would have done himself. Alea needed to know they would never leave her. They would fight for her, even if she was the one they had to fight.

  A massive man in a three-piece, charcoal-gray Armani suit stood at the front of the room. He was impressive from head to toe, every inch of his six foot seven inch muscled frame encased in what had to be a couple thousand dollars’ worth of designer handmade wool. Cooper had to give it to him. Dominic Anthony made an impression. If he hadn’t known what the man’s profession was, he would have immediately thought gangster, and not the kind who followed orders. Oh, no, Dominic Anthony would be the one tasking his soldiers to kill. He had pitch-black hair and some of the darkest eyes Cooper had ever seen—and he didn’t just mean their color.

  “Thanks for coming on such short notice, gentlemen. ” Dominic had a deep authoritative voice to go along with his intimidating physique. “I know you just got off the plane, but I think it’s important we go over some of the things Riley has uncovered in the last couple of hours. ”

  “By all means. Tell us,” Talib insisted, taking his seat between his brothers. “I want my cousin to feel safe as soon as possible. She’s getting married in the next few weeks. I would like to have some confidence that her wedding will be peaceful. We’ll need added security. ”

  “I’ll handle it,” Dane said, frowning. He was such a control freak. He wasn’t thinking at all.

  “No, we’ll need to handle Lea,” Coop shot back.

  Dane had been married. Did he not remember everything that went into a wedding? Coop had been in the wedding party of three of his brothers’ weddings, and they had all been nearly comatose by the end of it. This was a damn royal wedding to boot, one they had to throw together in a few weeks. Cooper could foresee all kinds of trouble. Alea was being forced to the altar. They’d have to spend long hours convincing her that they could handle being her husbands. He had no doubt about how they would accomplish that. In bed. At least that made him smile.

  “I think we can handle security for our own wedding,” Lan said.

  “Are you planning on standing at the altar covered in handguns?” Coop asked.

  Lan shrugged. “Not just handguns. I was going to add a P-90 and some knives, too. I feel naked without them. ”

  “You can’t be covered in firearms in our wedding pictures,” Dane said, his lips curving up in the first smile Coop had seen on him all day. “What is wrong with you?”

  Dominic sighed, those dark eyes rolling slightly. It was obvious the man was not impressed with their banter. “If the three of you are done making wedding plans?” He turned to his two partners. “This shit is so not happening with us. If we find a chick, it’s going to be no muss, no fuss. It’s Vegas or nothing. Now, let’s move on. Sheikh, we’ve hit a brick wall with the whole Caymans account thing. I sent Law and Riley to the island where they canvassed the banks, and no one was talking. I tried bribes, but those are well-trained employees. Or they’re terrified of the people they work for. Even if the clients are criminals, if something came out about secret accounts, the mob and the cartels would not be pleased. ”

  “You told us you had some good news,” Dane said, his jaw tight.

  “I have some news about the girl who’s on the news right now. ” He looked down at his file. “Brittany Hahn. She’s a twenty-two year old from San Bernadino. She was partying in Tijuana during spring break a couple of years ago when she was taken by the same group that was hired to acquire Alea. I’ve done a little more background on these thugs. They’re tied to a cartel in Colombia. Real entrepreneurs, those guys. They’re diversifying. This particular cartel has its hands in cocaine, slavery, and kidnap for fun and profit. It’s a new enterprise that’s starting to become more popular. They take high value targets like celebrities and upper-level businessmen, then they ransom them back to their families or businesses. Let me tell you, if you’ve got money, you don’t walk around parts of South America without ransom insurance. ”

  “But my cousin wasn’t taken from South America,” Kade said.

  “No. But I believe this was a kidnap for hire all the same,” Dominic said.

  “We’ve gone over and over everything, and it’s the only thing that makes sense,” Riley explained, taking over. “If she’d been taken for use in the brothel, then she would have been raped. ”

  “Alea was raped,” Cooper stated grimly. “Maybe not physically, but she was violated all the same. ”

  If Burke and Cole Lennox hadn’t already killed the motherfuckers and burned down that house, Cooper would be on his way to Colombia.

  “Agreed. ” Riley nodded. “But nevertheless if the purpose of her kidnapping was to use her as a prostitute, she would not have been discovered fully intact, so to speak. So the question then is, why was she taken at all? And who was paying for her upkeep?”

  “I assume someone was going to buy her,” Dane surmised, his hands tightening into fists. “And they were holding her for this asshole. ”

  “I don’t know about that,” Dominic said. “Put yourself into the head of a man who would purchase a female for his own use. We’re not talking about D/s, but true criminal slavery. Still, the owner’s impulse would be very similar to what a real Dom would feel. ”

&
nbsp; “Possessive. ” Cooper knew exactly what he was talking about. They all found the possessive instinct at first with Alea. “Any man who would want to buy a virgin is going to be possessive and territorial. ”

  “He wouldn’t leave her there for long. He wouldn’t leave her training to someone else,” Lan added. “I know I wouldn’t. And the so-called training they gave her was mostly psychological torture. ”

  “And they got her hooked on drugs,” Cooper added. He hated the thought of his Alea strung out and aching. They had used the drugs to keep her calm and quiet and to make her dependent. Alea was strong. He could imagine she’d given the fuckers hell in the beginning. “Do you think they would do that at some buyer’s request?”

  “No, especially not heroin. That’s not cheap,” Dominic said. “I don’t think they had a buyer lined up for Alea at all. These are not the type of men who allow for installment plans. But they do love a little blackmail. I have a different theory of what happened. I believe the princess was kidnapped and that the men had help from an insider who plotted to draw Alea out, then help to urge the sheikh to pay the ransom as soon as possible. ”

  Tal shook his head. “I never got a ransom. ”

  Dominic leaned forward. “Ah, yes, but from the kidnappers’ point of view, why simply take money from the victim’s family when they could first blackmail the person who set up the abduction? Once they bled their ‘cohort’ dry, they could always come to you with an exorbitant ransom request. And by doing it this way, they don’t have to give their conspirator any of the promised kickback. They simply could have cut them out altogether or killed them. Either way, they’re not sharing the fat ransom. So the longer they kept your cousin, the more likely you would be to pay an outrageous sum to get her back. In the meantime, they were busy getting paid by the same dirtbag who aided them in her kidnapping. ”

  “But the Lennox brothers found her first,” Cooper pointed out.

  “Yes, and their only job was to rescue the princess and save the girls. They weren’t investigating the whys and wherefores because everyone assumed Alea had been caught up in a simple slavery ring. So the question becomes, who hates the princess enough to subject her to hell? And more than that, who needed the money her ransom would have brought?”

  Dane held up a hand. “You said this had something to do with that girl on TV, the Hahn woman. Are you trying to tell us she had something to do with this?”

  “Not at all,” Riley replied. “She really was a victim, and as far as I can tell, she has some very dark emotions toward Alea. You see, we believe that her story is true. Alea really was there during her torture, but maybe she was forced to use drugs as well. If so, her memory is not necessarily accurate. She would have had nightmares and delusions. It would be easy in that situation to see Alea as a villain. She wasn’t raped the way Brittany was. Even without the drugs, it’s possible that, because Alea’s torture was easier than her own, she would be resentful. I’ve talked to some of the other victims, and most of them see Alea as one of them. A couple of the women asked me to reach out to her. They want to meet and talk because they’re the only ones who really know what happened. ”

  “So if she’s not the one who helped with Alea’s kidnapping, what does she have to do with the person who did?” Cooper was starting to get antsy. His instincts had always been good, and he didn’t like the way his spine was prickling now. Something was very wrong.

  It was the same feeling he’d had when he and Dane had been in the Korengal Valley just before everything went to hell. It was a combination of adrenaline and pure doom.

  “Someone sent her money to buy a new wardrobe before her TV appearances. ”

  “Someone put her up to this? Someone wants to ruin Alea’s image?” Lan asked.

  “Yes, the same someone who wanted to use her to make money. It would have been easy to hire someone to simply kidnap the princess. She was vulnerable in the States. She didn’t have the same type of security. The flip side was not a lot of people knew her connections to the royal family. There were some people in the embassy, but almost no regular New Yorkers knew who she was. ”

  Dominic Anthony seemed to deeply love the sound of his own voice. He was dragging this thing out like Sherlock Holmes reporting to the damn queen. “Who? Just give us a damn name please. ”

  Law seemed to be the only one who wasn’t into theatrics. “It’s one of the Thurston-Hughes people, most likely the chick, Yasmin. She was working for Reaching Across Cultures, the charity fund Alea had originally set up and planned to head once she got her master’s degree. The money that went to Brittany Hahn came from an account directly accessed by the charity fund director. I also confirmed that the Thurston-Hughes family has several offshore accounts, several in the Caymans. ”

 
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