By: Sienna Mynx

Tarek stopped listening. His gaze cut left. His head didn't need to move to see her. A detective had to help her walk. She wore his shirt and his pants tied around her waist. Still under the clothes that swallowed her, he saw her beguiling beauty. And as if on the same wave length, she felt his rage. Her head turned, and she looked at him. She stopped limping. She stopped moving. Hell, if he didn’t know any better he’d swear she’d stopped breathing. She stared at him. The detective made sure she saw him. That was their game. Show her the monster and then convince her that they would be the only ones to protect her.

Tarek narrowed his eyes on her. But there was a deeper game between her and him. One that started long before he realized. She was cunning. She was sweet. She was guilty and she was innocent. And she was his. That much he was sure of.

He couldn't speak to her. To explain the past and the sacrifice she would need to make to live long enough to have a future. He couldn't undo what he'd put her through. For the first time since he learned who she was, he saw that little brown girl again with long ponytails and bright eyes. The one he'd forgotten from a lifetime ago.

Tarek cut his gaze from her to the detective that held her arm and remembered his face. He remembered all their faces. Kassidy was led away but Tarek tracked her with his eyes until she was out of sight. She was alive, and she was still his whether she knew it or not. A smile formed under the restraint clamped down on his mouth. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to forget her lies and focus on the truth.

Part One

Chapter 1

March 2014

“Wow! No one told me how cold it would be in Chicago,” Kassidy unraveled the scarf from around her neck. Daniel didn't look up from his laptop. He kept pecking away. His dark frame glasses were pushed up on his nose and his eyes were magnified as they scanned the screen. His passion and dedication to the cause of climate change and wildlife preservation was admirable but borderline obsessive. If he were working on a new blog update, she'd have to sit in silence for however long it took for him to finish his thought.

Kassidy removed her gloves and glanced around at the posh restaurant. They were in the lobby of the Langham Hotel in downtown Chicago. Dining was set under white table cloth tables with spit-shined utensils and crystal glasses. The people enjoying an early dinner were sparse and spaced away from each other. Daniel sat in the only booth seats that were next to the windows. “This place is fancy! Are you sure you can afford to put me up here?”

“I’ve already paid your bill. You need to go upstairs and get your things and check out. We're calling it off.” Daniel’s voice snapped like the tail of a whip.

Kassidy gaze swung back to him. “What did you say?”

“It's not going to work. This plan of yours. I'm working on something else...”

“Wait! Wait,” she lowered her voice and forced the lid of his laptop to shut. Daniel blinked as if he were unplugged from the thing. He looked at her as if just seeing her.

“We had a deal. This will work. Remember I'm the one that knows him. I’m the one that has been sitting in these boring lectures all week to get close to him. He’s supposed to be here any minute.”

“This man is dangerous. We aren't talking about corporate greed. We're talking about real danger. I'm going to post my latest YouTube vlog. It'll get everyone talking.”

“Without proof? What do you have?”

“This is America. We don't need proof. Just speculation. The media doesn't look for news. They want sound bites. And I got plenty.”

“Your team has tried for over three years to expose the Marshall family. No one listens, not the government, not the media, no one. And your hackers are crap. We have to fight dirty. Really get into this fight Daniel, or nothing will ever change. Trust me. I learned a lot here at the conference. Get me close to him and I can do the rest.”

“No,” Daniel said, he lowered his voice. “What you're talking about is prostitution.”

Kassidy laughed. “I'm not going to sleep with him, dummy.”

“You think you're going to share a glass of wine with him in that dress and sex isn't on the menu?”

“Sex is always on the menu with men. I just need to get his attention. And then I can work on gaining his trust. We have to find a way inside. Right?”

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