The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(50) by Susan Mallery
He climbed out of the helicopter first, then held out his hand to assist her.
She took it and instantly felt the warmth of his fingers. Weakness invaded her, a weakness she had to learn to control and eventually conquer.
In time, she promised herself. She would heal in time.
Reyhan entered the interrogation room and stared at the young man sitting there.
Fadl was all of eighteen, slightly built and sullen looking. The youngest son of a powerful chief. While he would not have inherited all his father’s wealth, he could have made a good life for himself with the tribe. Instead, he’d chosen to take what he wanted.
“You have crossed me,” he told the young man. “You knew that your father didn’t want you harmed or arrested. He thought you would come to see the error of your ways. But I am not a foolish old man who still indulges a spoiled child. I am Prince Reyhan of Bahania and now we will play by my rules.”
Fear flickered in Fadl’s eyes. “That’s a load of bull. You can’t hurt me. You promised my father.”
Reyhan allowed himself a small smile. “I agreed to let you run around and play at being a man until you broke the law. Which you did by stealing parts. Now the deal doesn’t exist and you are mine.”
The young man squirmed in his seat. “I don’t believe you.”
“Good. I will enjoy putting you in prison. Because of you, the oil rigs must be checked for sabotaged parts. That will cost my country hundreds of thousands of dollars. As I know you have no funds of your own to compensate me, I will take what I can out of your hide.”
Fadl visibly paled. “How did you know that’s what we were going to do?”
Reyhan kept his expression impassive. He’d guessed correctly. Now he simply had to get the details from the boy and let Will deal with damage control.
“What made you think you could succeed?” Reyhan asked. “You know nothing of the oil equipment. You certainly haven’t worked the rigs.”
Fadl shifted in his seat. “I don’t want to go to prison.”
“You don’t have a choice. The question on the table is for how long. Please me and I will make sure your time there is almost pleasant. Annoy me and I will find a particularly uncomfortable place for you to call home.”
There were several seconds of silence. In the end, fear won.
“It wasn’t us,” Fadl admitted. “Not really. A bunch of us were at a bar in El Bahar and we were trying to come up with a plan. This guy approached us. He said he’d been listening and that we were amateurs. If we wanted to make some big money, we needed to hire professionals. So we did.”
Reyhan’s blood ran cold. He crossed to the door, pulled it open and yelled for Will to join them.
Fadl told them everything. The name of the man whom they’d hired, how many associates he’d brought into Bahania and how much Fadl and his gang were to pay them.
“We haven’t put back any bad parts,” Fadl said frantically. “They’re all in our camp. You have to believe me, Prince Reyhan. I swear. We were just after the money and this seemed like an easy way to get it.”
Reyhan stared at him with loathing. “See if you feel that way after your stay in prison.”
Emma wandered around the oasis. Her bodyguards kept far enough away that she was able to forget about them. As she’d seen before on her outing with her parents, there were children playing and filling the afternoon with the sound of laughter. Several small dogs tumbled over each other in a game only they could understand. Women clustered together sewing and cooking and sending glances her way.
A little girl of about seven or eight ran up to her and offered a plate of dates. Emma smiled her acceptance and bit into one. Soon another little girl joined them, then another and another.
“I can’t eat all these,” Emma said with a grin as she touched the closest girl’s smooth dark hair. “But thank you for offering.”
A little boy tugged on her sleeve. She bent down to his level and he pulled on her head covering. She reached up and slipped it down to her shoulders. All the children gasped at the sight of her red hair.
“I know. Not the usual thing,” she said happily.
A girl reached out to touch it, then shrank away. Emma laughed.
“It’s all right. It doesn’t burn.” She stroked her hair herself, then took the girl’s hand in her own and brought it to the side of her head. The child touched her lightly, giggled and touched her again. The other children crowded close.
“My, my, my. Aren’t you a pretty lady?”
At the sound of the male voice, the children scattered. Emma stood and turned, only to come face-to-face with two tall, armed strangers. Her bodyguards were nowhere to be seen.
“You’re American,” she said, trying not to betray her nervousness.
The man closest to her grinned. He had close-cropped blond hair and a tattoo of a snake on his forearm.
“Good guess,” he said and stepped behind her. Before she could make a move, he had grabbed her and pulled her close, then pressed a knife to her neck. “And you’re our prisoner.”
“What the hell were you thinking?” Will demanded as he paced in front of Fadl.
“You hired a man you met in a bar. Didn’t it occur to you that he wasn’t just a military consultant? Didn’t you think you were getting in over your head?”
Fadl looked miserable, young and scared. “He said if we didn’t do what he wanted, he’d kill us.”
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