Guarding the Soldier's Secret

Guarding the Soldier's Secret by Kathleen Creighton Read Free Book Online

Book: Guarding the Soldier's Secret by Kathleen Creighton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathleen Creighton
his beard telegraphed his smile, and his eyes denied it. “Let’s just say I have an interest in your comings and goings.” His voice hardened and so did his eyes. “Evidently, so does someone else.”
    Yancy sat in stony silence while her heart raced and her mind whirled. She was both furious and frightened, so full of questions she felt she might explode, but acutely aware of all the reasons she couldn’t ask them. Not yet.
    There was Laila, of course, whose hearing was keen and her mind busy even when she appeared to have her attention focused elsewhere.
    But also, there was Hunt, who never answered questions. She thought of all the times...all the questions he’d never let her ask...
    “Where have you—” I would always begin.
    And his mouth would come down on mine, hard and hungry, his beard stubble rough on my face and his skin smelling of gunpowder, smoke and dust, shutting off the rest.
    And I would close my eyes and my mind, letting it be enough that it was to me he came to forget, that it was my clean, female body he turned to, to erase the horrors he’d seen. The ugly things he’d done.
    She eased slowly back in her seat, shaken by the sure and certain knowledge that this time was going to be different. It had to be. Too much had changed. This time she was going to ask the questions, and this time she would not be denied the answers.
    She stared through the dusty windows, and as her emotions settled and her gaze focused, once again she realized she knew approximately where they were. This was another part of Old Town Kabul, only a few kilometers but worlds apart from both the poor section they’d just left and the bustling and modern downtown.
    She slid forward again.
    “You live here ?” She dipped her head, indicating the aged trees shading the quiet street ahead, the high walls of houses with intricately carved wood window screens just visible through leafy branches. She waited for acknowledgment that didn’t come, then went on in a conversational tone. “I did a feature here a few years back. These houses are a couple hundred years old, at least, and most of them are owned by Kabul’s oldest families, families that trace back to the days of the Silk Road. How—”
    “A friend of a friend,” he said, in a way that stated clearly, And that’s all I’m going to tell you .
    She must have made some sound of vexation, because he exhaled through his nose and spoke under his breath. “This isn’t the time. Or the place.” The slight movement of his head recalled her attention to the other pair of ears present.
    His eyes met hers and she realized with a small sense of shock that there was anger in them, mirroring her own.
    She pushed back into her seat again, silently seething.
    He’s angry? He’s angry? He pops in and out of my life—my bed!—without warning, as he pleases, dumps a child on my doorstep, tells me she’s his, then vanishes from the face of the earth for three years, and he’s angry? Really?
    In a quick-as-lightning change of mood, fear returned.
    Why? What is he angry with me about? It can only be something to do with Laila. Is it the adoption? The fact that I brought her here?
    What business is it of his? He has no right—
    A panicky shiver rippled through her. Did he have the right? If he was, in fact, Laila’s biological father—and she had only his word on that, after all. That, and those eyes.
    Might he have a legal claim to her?
    Could he take her away from me?
    It was a new question, and it joined the others whirling in her mind.
    Out of the maelstrom, once again one coherent thought emerged: I have to hold it together...put on a calm face...for Laila.
    * * *
    “Here we are,” Akaa Hunt said.
    Laila ducked her head to look out the car window. She didn’t know why she felt funny about getting out of the car and going into the house with the carved patterns over the windows, but she did. Not scared, exactly, although she did have butterflies in her stomach and her

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