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Remembering One Wild Night
By Kathie DeNosky
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWhen Travis Whelan stepped off the Learjet with fellow Texas Cattleman's Club member Sheik Darin ibn Shakir at the private airstrip just outside of Royal, Texas, he wanted three things - a hot shower, a cold beer and a week's worth of uninterrupted sleep. Was he going to get them?
Hell, no. He and Darin had been invited to David Sorrenson's ranch for a New Year's Eve party. But the carefully worded invitation that had been waiting for them when they arrived at the airfield hadn't fooled either one of the them. David's party wasn't the reason they'd been summoned. Trav and Darin both knew the TCC had another high priority case.
"Did the message indicate what's up?" Trav asked the stoic figure seated on the passenger side of his dark silver SUV.
"The directive did not say," Darin answered, staring straight ahead.
"It has to be something pretty damn important if it can't wait until we meet the day after tomorrow for the Obersbourg debriefing," Trav said, turning the Mountaineer onto the road that would take them to the TX S Ranch.
Darin gave a short, unemotional nod. "It would appear to be so."
Surprised, Trav glanced at the man. Darin was in an unusually talkative mood, which wasn't saying much, considering the man normally limited his responses to no more than a word or two, and then only when directly addressed. Otherwise, he remained silent - a solitary figure whose demeanor was as dark and foreboding as the black clothing he always wore.
In the two months they'd been working together to find the assassin trying to kill members of the royal family of Obersbourg, Trav had come to know the mysterious, brooding sheik as well, if not better, than any of the other TCC members. And that wasn't much. All Trav knew for sure about Darin was that the man drank enough coffee each day to bleed black if he cut himself shaving, wanted absolutely nothing to do with the trappings of his own royal heritage and preferred working cases alone.
Steering the SUV onto the driveway leading up to the main house at the TX S Ranch, Trav yawned and checked the digital clock on the dashboard. With any luck, he could find out about the club's next mission, get one of the other guys to drive Darin home and be in bed an hour before the beginning of the New Year.
It wasn't the way most people in the good town of Royal would expect their jet-setting, playboy prosecutor to ring in another year. But they were only looking at the carefully crafted facade that Trav had fabricated for his undercover work with the TCC, and not the real man beneath the surface.
He almost laughed out loud at how far from the truth the persona really was. Only his younger sister, Carrie, and best friend, Ryan Evans, knew the true extent of the ruse. Trav was basically a good old boy at heart, much more comfortable in jeans and a work shirt than a suit and tie. And more times than not, his Saturday nights were spent vegging out on the couch in his family room with a bag of popcorn, a cold beer and an old movie playing on his big-screen TV. Alone.
As he thought about watching the vintage films, an image of the woman who had gotten him interested in them came to mind. How was she spending her New Year's Eve? Was she watching her favorite classic movie in the arms of another man?
His gut twisted at the thought and he had to remind himself that it was ancient history. Things hadn't worked out between them, and spending time thinking about it wasn't going to change that fact. Natalie Perez had made it perfectly clear that if she never set eyes on him again it would be all too soon.
Parking the truck among a variety of vehicles ranging from a sporty little Jaguar to a couple of boxy-looking Hummers, he got out of the Mountaineer with Darin and walked toward the house. Music and laughter greeted them, growing louder the closer they got to the front door.
Trav yawned again as he pressed the doorbell. As soon as one of the guys filled him and Darin in on what was going on, he was out of here. He might even forgo the cold beer, but nothing was going to keep him from that hot shower and his king-size bed. Whatever the new mission was, it was just going to have to wait until tomorrow morning for them to get started on it.
When the door opened, David Sorrenson grinned at Trav and Darin. "We were taking bets on when you two would finally show up."
"Well, hello to you, too, Sorrenson," Trav said, laughing as he and Darin entered the stylish, modern ranch house. "So who won?"
"I'm pretty sure it was Kent." David fished a small piece of paper from his shirt pocket. Glancing at it, he nodded. "Yeah, Alex Kent had the times between nine and ten."
"Who is it, David?" an attractive, petite blonde asked, walking up to stand beside him.
Sorrenson slipped his arm around the woman's waist, then bent his head to kiss her like a soldier returning from war.
Trav glanced over at Darin about the same time the sheik looked at him. The corners of Darin's mouth turned up slightly in a rare smile, surprising Trav further.
What the hell was going on? When their flight cut across the Bermuda Triangle on the trip home from Obersbourg, had he been thrown into the Twilight Zone and failed to notice the fact?
Darin had been talkative. David was showing the little blonde more affection than Trav had ever seen him show any woman in front of the guys. And now the sheik was smiling?
"Honey, this is Travis Whelan and Sheik Darin ibn Shakir," David said, grinning like the cat that swallowed the canary. "Travis, Darin, I'd like you to meet my wife, Marissa."
"Your wife?" Trav asked incredulously.
David nodded. "And, hopefully this time next year, the mother of my baby."
Excerpted from Remembering One Wild Night by Kathie DeNosky Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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