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Authors: Lora Leigh

Tags: #International Relations, #United States - Officials and Employees, #Contemporary, #General, #Romance, #Erotic Stories, #Erotic Fiction, #Suspense, #Romantic Suspense Fiction, #Romantic Suspense Novels, #Erotica, #Fiction, #thriller, #Love Stories

Guilty Pleasure (5 page)

BOOK: Guilty Pleasure
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Joe’s outrage was a tangible thing as he stared at Khalid, but it was Zach’s silence, the quiet, thoughtful look on his face that worried Khalid. Of the two, Zach was definitely the more dangerous.
Khalid refrained from giving in to the sense of discomfort that threatened to overcome him as Zach’s look continued to pierce him with cool hazel eyes.
“Stay away from her unless you intend to do more than simply share her bed for a few nights,” Zach finally stated, as he moved into the kitchen and over to the coffeepot. “She’s not a toy to be played with, Khalid.”
Khalid didn’t miss the edge of steel in his voice.
“Of course she isn’t. I realize that.” He gave a sharp nod of his head.
He did understand. The world he was a part of existed on rules, rules that were not made to be broken, because of the very nature of the men involved.
Zach had given the ultimatum in front of a club witness. It didn’t matter that the witness was also Marty’s father or that he and Joe were both lovers with the same woman. Zach was Marty’s godfather, equivalent to her father, and his wishes couldn’t be discounted.
“Do you?” Zach turned back to him. “I’ve watched her obsession grow over the years where you’re concerned, just as I’ve seen the way you watch her. But I also know you, son. You’re not the forever kind. You’re content to be no more than the other lover. That’s not what she’ll want from you. That’s not what she needs.”
“I understand, I need no lectures from you,” Khalid bit out coolly, barely restraining his anger. “You may have caught us acting like teenagers, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be talked to as one.”
“When you’re caught acting that way in my house, with my daughter, then you can expect it,” Zach informed him just as coolly. “Now stay the hell away from her unless you intend to force my hand in this. You don’t want to do that.”
Khalid stared back at the other man, assessed the degree of sincerity in his tone, and recognized the very serious warning he was being given.
And while he recognized the warning, he could have told the other man that it would be just as powerless against the hunger building between himself and Marty.
Instead, with a sharp nod, he strode from the room, then from the house. It was a warning he couldn’t ignore, he told himself, as his driver, Abdul, opened the limo door and he slid inside. A warning he shouldn’t discount. He wouldn’t until he came against the fiery need in her gaze once again. And it was likely a decision he would pay for.
Zach wasn’t just a member of the very exclusive club they both belonged to; he was also a part of the judicial committee that governed it and one of the most powerful members sitting on that panel.
The rules to their lives were simple, straightforward. They had to be for the club to have survived the past two centuries.
Until now, though, Khalid had never found them restrictive. Until now, he had never regretted them.
2
Marty escaped Zach’s home, as well as her fathers’ presence, without the lecture she had been expecting. Actually, she had managed to escape without so much as a fatherly talk. That one surprised her more than she wanted to admit.
Her fathers had never been shy when it came to discussing any aspect of life with her, claiming that they would prefer her to be prepared than to see her regret any actions she might take.
Khalid had already left. She had been disappointed that he wasn’t there when she came back from her shower. Disappointed that the adventure in the kitchen had come to an end so soon.
Her lips quirked in a smile as she drove from Zach’s home and headed to the heart of downtown Alexandria.
Kissing Khalid was more than an adventure
, she thought. It had been a headlong flight into such the sensual core of pleasure that she would never have been able to pull herself free if he hadn’t released her.
She licked her lips and remembered the feel of his. At first gentle, exploring and relishing, before becoming hungry, before consuming her with sensations she hadn’t expected.
Damn.
She wasn’t going to survive the hunger raging through her. At this rate, she would burn to a crisp.
Making the turn into the downtown area, Marty directed the car to the restaurant and nightclub that she and several friends had agreed on for a nice little girls’ night out.
Alyssa Stanhope had been a friend since childhood. She had always envied the other woman for her naturally streaked, blond hair, and soft, light blue eyes. For years, Marty had thought that Alyssa’s life must be perfect, because of her tall, statuesque good looks. The truth was quite the opposite. Her father was a long-standing member of the U.S. Senate and an acquaintance of the Mathewses that they never socialized with because of Senator Stanhope’s often cruel approach to his daughter.
Courtney Sinclair was Spanish, beautiful, and the wife of the owner of the exclusive, secretive establishment known merely as “the club.” An establishment Marty had tried to investigate once. Her father had put a stop to that faster than she could blink.
She grinned at that thought. Her father and godfather, both of whom she had called Father, or Dad, on any given occasion, were members of that club. Men who shared their lovers or their wives. Men gathered together to protect themselves, their families, and their own reputations. It was an interesting concept, she had to admit. From what little she had learned over the years, the concept was one that had kept many high-standing social, as well as political, members out of the hot seat when it came to their personal and even their business lives.
Alyssa and Courtney had an odd relationship. They argued like enemies but seemed to stick together like sisters. As different as night from day, the two women had still managed to find common ground.
While making her way from the parking lot to the restaurant, Marty glimpsed Khalid’s limo from the corner of her eye. His driver and bodyguard, Abdul, threw his hand up as he cast her a huge grin.
As she moved toward him, she smiled cheekily, knowing he would have something to say about the short skirt, snug top, and high heels she wore. Not to mention the makeup.
And she was right. He was now scowling as she walked toward him, his dark brown gaze filled with amusement and chastisement.
“So much beauty should never be displayed so indiscriminately,” he sighed, as she approached him. “It should be saved for the husband who would better appreciate it.”
“Give it a rest, Abbie.” She laughed, as he flushed from the nickname. “How are you doing?”
She accepted a gentle kiss on her cheek before moving back.
“I am doing well, very well,” he stated, with a sharp nod of his head. “The master, he is rather pissed with the world.” He grinned back at her mockingly. “Have you been following him again?”
“Oh, so it’s my fault he’s in a bad mood?” She gave a light laugh. At least she wasn’t the only one affected by the afternoon’s adventure. “Trust me, Abdul, Khalid and a bad mood go hand in hand.”
Abdul gave a heavy sigh, now staring at her with sad eyes, his weathered face creased into lines of concern. “I worry for him.”
“Well, don’t.” She patted his shoulder as she moved by him. “Trust me, Khalid takes care of himself very well. We both know that one by now.”
He took care of himself so well that he was one of her father’s deepest undercover agents. Khalid managed to get information no one else could access, and infiltrated groups that no other agent could hope to slip into alive.
Striding along the cement walk to the entrance of the nightclub and restaurant, Marty threw an appreciative smile at the large doorman as he opened the door for her with a flourish.
Entering the building, she took the left hall and moved along the rounded wall quickly to the hostess’s station and the smiling blonde standing in attendance.
“Ms. Mathews, it’s so good to see you back.” The hostess gave her a wide, toothy smile. “If you’ll come with me, your party is waiting.”
Her party wasn’t waiting where they had promised they would be, in the restaurant itself. They were sitting instead inside a private balcony that looked out over the dance floor of the nightclub.
Courtney was staring over the balcony rail with a frown, her long brown hair cascading over her shoulder and the dark wood and brass rail, while Alyssa sat along the side of the wall, watching the other woman, also with a frown.
Alyssa tended to sit in corners, to hide, whenever she was in public. There were too many wagging tongues that were too eager to run to her father with the news of where she was and who she was with. And often, they were complete lies.
“Is she drunk yet?” Marty asked the other woman, as Courtney tried to find an angle that would allow her to see better. Though what she was trying to see, Marty couldn’t decide.
“Not yet.” Alyssa sighed, a small attempt at a smile tugging at her lips as she picked up her drink and took a long sip. “Give her time, though. She’s pissed at Ian.”
Courtney flipped around to glare at them. “I am not pissed at Ian. I am simply mildly displeased.”
Marty glanced at Alyssa, then they both looked at the glass of wine as Courtney finished it.
“I give her an hour,” Marty stated, taking her seat before turning and giving the hostess her drink preference.
“I give her less than that, actually,” Alyssa said, as she shook her head, her blue eyes somber, her expression as carefully composed as always. It was rare for Alyssa to show emotion at all. She was the most carefully composed person Marty had ever met.
“I tell you both, tonight, I am not pissed at Ian.” Courtney spun around, her regal stature spoiled by the frown on her face as she looked at Marty. “And you are late.”
“So sorry.” Marty almost rolled her eyes. “I was busy today.”
Courtney narrowed her eyes at her. “I was by your parents’ home today. I saw your car, and Khalid’s, and I have been dying of curiosity. Ian has refused to tell me any gossip he may have heard.” She pouted charmingly. “Tell me there is gossip, Marty.”
It was all Marty could do to keep the flush from her face.
“Khalid was at the house to see Zach.” She shrugged. “No gossip there, sorry, Court.”
Lying to Courtney wasn’t easy. Most people couldn’t manage it. Marty had about a 50 percent success rate. Which wasn’t that good, considering how many questions the woman could ask.
Courtney stared at her for a long moment before smiling beatifically. “You are such a liar, my dear. But I’ll forgive you if you tell me the truth this moment. Otherwise, you will only force me to ask my good friend Khalid.”
Marty arched a brow quizzically. “If you’re such good friends, then he would have already told you any gossip there was to tell,” she pointed out. “Now stop interrogating me. We’re supposed to be having fun tonight.”
Courtney sat back in her chair and crossed her arms over the brilliant scarlet top she wore as she glared, first at Marty, then at Alyssa. “Why do my good friends want to withhold the juicy details from me? It’s not as though I ask for much.”
“Is she becoming more spoiled or what?” Alyssa stared at Marty in mock surprise. “I think Ian’s ruining her.”
“I think she’s the pot calling the kettle black.” Marty turned back to Courtney with a sweet smile. “Tell me what you know and I’ll tell you what I know.”
And, of course, Courtney couldn’t agree to that one. Marty watched as her friend glared at her once again, before huffing and picking up her drink.
“Are you still investigating Mustafa?” Alyssa asked Marty seriously. “You know Courtney won’t give you any information on him.”
“I want other information.” Marty shrugged. “The investigation is over. It’s personal now.”
Courtney perked up. “Personal?” She propped her elbow on the table and cupped her chin in her hand. “How personal? Merely friends and concerned or ‘wanting to jump that luscious body’ personal?”
“She’s always wanted to jump his body.” Alyssa spoke low, in a too serious voice, as though afraid someone would hear her. “I believe we were fifteen at the time.” A smile almost tipped her lips.
“Almost sixteen.” Marty frowned back at her. “And that is really beside the point.”
Courtney rubbed her hands together gracefully, her smile wrinkling her pert nose. “Ahh, the downfall of Khalid. I could get into this. I really could.”
Marty simply stared back at her for long moments before leaning closer. “Who is his latest liaison?”
Courtney blinked back at her. “His latest lover? I don’t believe I’ve heard.”
“Who is he playing a third to?” Marty simplified the question.
Courtney narrowed her eyes, as though considering the question, before sighing heavily. “That information is not mine to give if you do not already have it. You know how this works, Marty. The rules are clear, and as a child of this world, I know you understand them well.”
Marty hated the rules. There were times she hated the world she was born into. The club. That damned club that her fathers were part of, that Khalid was part of. They guarded their privacy like America guarded its gold.
No one admitted to being part of the club, no one ever confirmed anyone else’s membership, and no one sure as hell revealed relationships. Especially Courtney, the wife of the too-arrogant, too-secretive owner of the club.
“Look, it’s not as though he’ll get involved with anyone else if he does start a relationship with you, Marty,” Alyssa stated then. “Khalid is very well-known; his reputation as a man who keeps his word is beyond reproach. While you’re with him, he wouldn’t be involved with anyone else.”
“That’s not the point,” Marty told them, as she leaned closer to the table. “To catch him, I first have to make certain I don’t have someone else standing in my way. Why make a fool of myself otherwise?”
The idea of seduction was slowly taking hold in her mind. Could she do it? Khalid was more experienced than she was by far. Other than the lapses today, he had managed to keep a careful distance between them.
BOOK: Guilty Pleasure
8.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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