Authors: Ciar Cullen
Tags: #Will Never Be Enough
Layla had gone deathly pale and goose bumps broke out on her arms. Game face gone.
“Layla, what is it? I’m sure it’s a coincidence, don’t worry.”
“What did the man look like? You said a Greek? Are you sure he’s not Middle Eastern?” Her voice sounded thin, far away.
“Could be, I suppose. A trim beard, tall, very dark complexion.”
Layla sipped her coffee and wouldn’t look up.
“Qatar. That’s it, isn’t it? Tell me.”
She met his eyes and nodded. “It might be one of them. And since it might put you in danger, I’ll tell you.” When Layla shivered, Kevin grabbed her hand. She squeezed his fingers and took in a deep breath. “Four days, three nights.” She laughed nervously. “Sounds like a vacation. I was shadowing Senator Morton on his goodwill mission—ha ha ha—what a joke…through the Middle East. Let’s just say that the borders aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Of course, you know that. They were waiting in my hotel room—three of them—and my partner was never found. I didn’t have a chance. I was put into a truck and taken to a small building, maybe an old prison or hospital. I was blindfolded for most of the time. I learned later we’d actually crossed into Iran.”
Her words cut into Kevin’s soul. “Oh my God, honey, I had no idea. I’m so sorry. How did you escape?”
“Real American heroes.” She smiled. “Well, one Brit. And I don’t even know their names. But I’ll tell you something, Irish, I’ve never seen three more beautiful men in my life, and I don’t expect to again.”
“I didn’t hear anything about this…on the news or… Oh, of course. Because you were CIA.”
“Yes, and because I was rescued before they could use me as a pawn on television.”
Kevin wanted to pull her into his arms and hold her until the pain and memories drifted away. The thought of someone hurting her tore into his gut.
Oh, you’re falling badly, Kevin
“And so you left the Agency. Are you okay now? I mean, have people helped you…”
“Get over it? I don’t know if there’s going to be a time when I’m over it. No, don’t look at me like that. At least I wasn’t harmed, if that’s what you’re thinking. I wasn’t fed and I was a little roughed up, but that’s all.”
“That’s enough.” He moved his chair close to hers and pulled her head to his chest. He felt her tears soak through his T-shirt and her shaking sobs.
She finally sat up, brushing away her tears and looking around, embarrassed. “Well, seems I’ve made a spectacle of myself. Sorry about that.”
“And you believe that man may be after you? Honey, don’t you think you’re just jittery from your experience? I mean, why would they track you now, here?”
“Because I saw them. They would want me dead. They probably think I’m still with the Agency. Maybe revenge, I don’t know.”
Could it be
? He’d have to call his friend in the army and check out the likelihood that she was still in danger.
No, she was paranoid; PTSD. And with good reason.
He clutched her hand and led her across the plaza toward the waterfront.
Layla looked a little more relaxed. She pulled him into shops as she had done in Athens. Kevin felt a rush each time she took his hand.
“Come on, enough shopping.” He pulled her harder.
She laughed and gave up her lustful gaze at an emerald and gold necklace.
“Dinner, seaside, what say you?”
“I’m starving. Isn’t it a little early for dinner here?” She smiled at him and linked her arm in his.
Kevin waved off the aggressive welcoming gestures of a dozen maitre d’s to find a quiet corner table. He finally chose a small
at the end of the street. Their table looked out on the boats gently rocking to and fro, with blue-capped fishermen setting out for their night runs. The sun began losing its strength and started its slow path behind the low mountains across the bay.
“Magical. Absolutely magical.” Layla sighed.
“You seem to really appreciate your surroundings.”
Don’t look at her and you’ll be just fine. Shit
“Are you going to order a feast for an army again?”
Layla looked at Kevin and smiled. He glanced up from his menu and their eyes locked.
And stayed locked.
Her heart stopped for a second. She saw him take in a quick breath.
Oh my God, he’s unbelievable. And I’m falling in love with him
. He ran his hand through his black hair, narrowed his bright blue eyes, and slowly shook his head.
How am I going to get through this, make pretend last night didn’t count, that I don’t want him
He looked serious.
“What’s wrong now?” Afraid to hear his answer, Layla felt her heart flutter.
“You’re a lot to look at, Layla Swann. An awful lot for a man to take in, to ignore. Sarah was right. I made a horrible mistake by bringing you along.”
No, no, no
You like how I look. One more night, please
“Fine, then, send me home. Just write out the check first.”
Kevin pushed his chair away from the table and laced his fingers behind his neck. He regarded her, seriously, eyeing her lips, her breasts, letting his gaze linger. “Is that what you want? To go home, check in hand?”
“That would be fine.”
Kevin nodded and turned back to the menu. “That’s a shame.”
“Is it?” Layla heard the anger in her own voice. They sat in silence for a few minutes.
“Why ‘wine-dark’ sea? Isn’t that what Homer called it?” Layla asked the air as if Kevin weren’t going to answer.
“We’ll ask my brother. I’m afraid my expertise doesn’t run to classical literature.” He stood and pulled out Layla’s chair, but didn’t reach for her hand. “We’ll grab something at the hotel, since this romantic evening seems to have come to an abrupt close.”
In silence, they roamed through the narrow cobbled streets, and then took a flight of narrow stairs to a higher street near their hotel. Kevin suddenly stopped and sat on the top step. Layla shrugged and joined him. The view of the town was spectacular.
Kevin looked at Layla. When he spoke, his voice was dark and soft.
“You’re killing me. Do you know how hard you’re making this?”
Her body screamed for him, for his touch, his tongue, his hands. She sighed in resignation. “I’m embarrassed, boss. It’s just what Sarah tried to warn me about. Everyone wants you, and no one gets you. And you’re very sorry to have done that to me. Is that it? You like flirting with the hired help but feel guilty once it works?”
He smiled and narrowed his eyes. He looked up from beneath his black lashes, then closed his eyes. His voice was a whisper. “Did I do that to you, Layla? Did my flirting work?”
“Based on last night, you could say you were fairly successful.”
“That’snot what I mean. I mean, have you started to…ummm…fancy me at all?”
“Fuck you and your ego! You wanted a one-night stand, you got one.”
Layla’s cheeks flushed with anger. She stood and stormed down the street toward their hotel. She listened for a moment at their door, then fumbled for her key and made her way inside.
After throwing her purse on the bed, she went to the balcony.
Kevin entered the room a few minutes later. He stood in the balcony doorway, arms folded across his chest. “You didn’t let me finish.”
“I made an ass of myself. Now I can’t dig out and you certainly won’t let me, I’m sure.”
“Actually, I’ll cut you a break. If you’ll do one thing.”
“Tell me again how everyone wants me. And then tell me that
“Go to hell.” Layla tried to walk past him into the room, but he caught her around the waist. “Let me go.”
“Why would I do that?” He looked down at her, and she clutched at his arm. “Tell me, Layla.”
She sighed in resignation. “Why bother telling you? I handed you my goddamned phone number the first five minutes I knew you, remember? How the hell am I supposed to pretend I don’t want you?”
Kevin sighed in relief and smiled. “Tell me last night was good. I know, my ego. Please, just say it.”
“It was the most incredible one-night stand of my life.” She shook her head in dismay. “It was my
one-night stand. But it
incredible. There, satisfied?”
“Not nearly satisfied.” Kevin kissed her hard, desperately, and then held her to his chest. “Layla.” He put a finger under her chin and lifted her face so their eyes met. “Damn, this is hard.”
“Is there any chance at all…that we could…”
“Make it a two-night stand?”
“No. Make it real. Because I have a horrible, hopeless crush on you, and two nights would never be enough. I don’t think two weeks is going to cut it, either. I’m thinking maybe two months is short.”
A tear escaped one of her eyes and made a slow path down her cheek. Kevin kissed it away. More tears followed, and he kissed those away as well.
“Is that a yes?”
She nodded and continued crying.
Kevin lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed. He carefully put her down and smiled.
“You’re so handsome it hurts to look at you, Irish. You’re not pulling my leg?”
“I’m falling for you, Layla. And don’t pull
leg. I don’t do well with rejection.”
Kevin laughed and pulled off his clothes before he stripped her. He climbed up next to her, caressing her cheek and neck and breasts. Heat worked through Layla, and she touched him everywhere in return.
He groaned and moved on top of her, kissing her hungrily. “I don’t want to wait,” he hissed.
Layla gasped at the feel of him, filling her, body and soul.
“We fit, Layla. Tell me we fit.” He began an achingly slow movement, in and out.
Layla shuddered and groaned. “Yes, Irish. We fit perfectly.”
Kevin brought his mouth onto hers and lifted her ass into the air with his strong arms, holding her aloft to angle better into her core. “Keep looking at me, Layla.” The dark blue pools of his eyes hazed over with pleasure. Layla caressed his cheek and ran her nails down his back as he continued his slow torture.
“I’ve never felt like this…”
“Tell me. Tell me how it feels.”
But it was too late. Layla tremored and arched, stars filling her vision as she cried his name. And still he wasn’t finished. He rolled onto his back and took her hand, leading her to her position. She lowered herself onto him and squeezed, caressing his cock with her tight wetness as she took him in.
Layla moved as slowly as he had, thoroughly, watching his eyes, letting her breasts fall to his mouth. He sucked at her nipples, and she felt the throbbing begin to course through him.
He shook and pulled her down on top of him, then whispered in her ear. “Don’t leave me, Layla. Please don’t leave me.”
And at the moment of his release, when he called her name, she felt a piercing burn in her shoulder, and wondered what had caused it.
Then she saw the blood drip onto Kevin’s chest. Qatar was back and she would die, just when she found the love of
She passed out in Kevin’s arms.
Kevin stared horrified at the man aiming the gun at him—the man from the airport, the man in the square. He heard Layla’s shallow breathing and prayed the wound wasn’t as bad as it looked. He gently rolled her onto her side and pulled a sheet over her naked body, then pressed the blanket onto her wound to stop the bleeding.
“Stop moving. Now!”
“She may die.”
“That does not concern me.” The man motioned for Kevin to get up and dress.
Kevin wiped Layla’s blood off his chest and pulled on his pants, his mind racing. Greek, the accent was Greek. Robbery? No, this man wasn’t a thief. He was a killer. The silencer on the gun spoke volumes. His cold dark eyes watched Kevin’s every movement.
Don’t let Layla die, please. I’ll give her up, but don’t let her die
“Sit.” He motioned Kevin to a chair but remained standing, the gun never moving from its target.
“All right. What’s this about? Because nothing is worth Greek prison, my friend.”
“I’m not your friend. In fact, I am your sworn enemy. You have one chance to live, to save her. Tell me everything.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Then I’ll enlighten you. My name is Kostas Ardros, and you are the mother-fucker who killed my brother. You are the man who betrayed him to the police.”
Kevin tried to keep his face void of emotion as he stole a glance at Layla. She moved slightly, but Kostas didn’t seem to notice. “Your brother is dead? How?”
“He could not face the shame. Now my family will live in shame for eternity. Where did you get your information about Niko’s business?”
“I didn’t give the government the information—they gave it to me. I swear!”
Kostas aimed the gun and Kevin squeezed his eyes shut. “You have one more chance. Name the man!”
Kevin tried desperately to think of a likely name as he heard the click of the chamber. He jumped at the pop, wondering why he didn’t feel the hit. Then he saw the blood seep onto Kostas’ white shirt. The man fell to the ground, dead.
She dropped the gun to the floor and groaned.
“Honey, you’ll be okay, stay with me.” Kevin ran to her and pressed the blanket on her shoulder.
She nodded weakly.
“How did you…where was the gun?”
“You’re not very good at this stuff, are you, Irish?” She pointed under the mattress and fainted again.
Layla popped four painkillers and poured herself a Scotch, hoping they would numb more than her shoulder. His words rang in her ears, every hour, every night, Kevin Colin on the phone while she lay in the hospital bed next to him, telling his lover he’d be home…
“Oh baby, I’ve missed you so much. I can’t wait to hold you. I love you so much. Tomorrow, I’ll be home tomorrow.”
Layla had scrawled a note for Kevin and handed it to the nurse, who screamed at her in Greek and broken English not to check herself out of the hospital. In a day she was home. She had left a message on Sarah’s answering machine, resigning. And promptly unplugged her land line and silenced her cell phone.