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Authors: Arabella Kingsley

The Art of Retaliation

BOOK: The Art of Retaliation
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The Art of Retaliation
By
Arabella Kingsley
 
 
 
Text copyright
©
2015
Arabella Kingsley
All Rights Reserved
 
 
 
 

Table of Contents

Chapter One
...................................................................................................................

Chapter Two
..................................................................................................................

Chapter Three
...............................................................................................................

Chapter Four
.................................................................................................................

Chapter Five
..................................................................................................................

Chapter Six
.....................................................................................................................

Chapter Seven
................................................................................................................

Chapter Eight
.................................................................................................................

Chapter Nine
..................................................................................................................

Chapter Ten
...................................................................................................................

Chapter Eleven
..............................................................................................................

Chapter Twelve
.............................................................................................................

Chapter Thirteen
..........................................................................................................

Chapter Fourteen
.........................................................................................................

Chapter Fifteen
.............................................................................................................

Chapter Sixteen
.............................................................................................................

Chapter Seventeen
........................................................................................................

Chapter Eighteen
..........................................................................................................

Chapter Nineteen
..........................................................................................................

Chapter Twenty
............................................................................................................

Chapter Twenty-One
....................................................................................................

 
 
Chapter
One
 

Paris, Rue di
Rivoli
.

 

Mara Logan took another sip of coffee and glanced at the bustling
waiters weaving in and around the tables, serving food to a large contingent of
tourists, bristling at coarse English tones that made no effort to sound
French.
 
Giving a heavy sigh she
rolled her deep brown eyes and glanced at her watch.
 
She lowered her arm to her lap in a
tired motion.
 
As usual Maxine was
late.
 
She was always late when they
were due to meet and this evening would be no exception.
 
Mara paid the bill and wearily made her
way over to the taxi rank across the road from the small roadside bistro
outside the
Tuileries
gardens.

 

She sat back on the plush leather interior of a Mercedes and gave
the driver Maxine’s address.
 
The
fatigue she had been battling all day was beginning to catch up and take over
making her sink back in to the leather and close her tired eyes.
 
Being able to leave the office had
appeared impossible and she had nearly missed the 3pm Eurostar.
 
Mara was looking forward to being able to
relax but there seemed little chance of it just yet.
 
She opened her laptop bag to check that
the documents for her client’s contract with the Paris based company Matisse
for the
takeover were
still there.
 
It was a bad habit, checking and
rechecking, but as a corporate lawyer and partner in the large successful firm
of Trent Mackenzie Solicitors in London she needed to make sure everything went
smoothly.
  

 

Mara grimaced,
Dr
Martin’s words echoing
in her mind from when she went to see him about the dizziness that was plaguing
her more and more.
 
Rest and more
rest or she would make herself ill from exhaustion and then she wouldn’t be
able to do any bloody work.

 

“Impossible,” she muttered under her breath putting the papers bag
and pushing the bag away from her in a defiant gesture.

 

Using some of her free time to work some details out with Matisse
was essential and in her
mind
a small price to
pay.
 

 

Just a couple of days work
and then I will rest,
Dr
Martin.
 
I promise.

 

It wasn’t long before the taxi reached Maxine
Villenneuve’s
salubrious apartment on the Avenue de
Foche
.
 
The lift was out of order and by the
time Mara made it up the stairs she was breathless.
 
Another dizzy spell made the corridor
swim in front of her.
 
Determined to
give Maxine a lecture on keeping her appointments, Mara rapped on the door with
a hard knock.
 
There was no
answer.
 
She tried the handle but
didn’t expect it to open.
 
A shiver
trickled along her spine as the door slowly opened, creaking into darkness.

 

“Maxine,” she called out softly with her heart beginning to thud
inside her chest.

 

No answer.

 

Mara fumbled in the dark, moving her hand along the wall trying to
find the light switch at the side of the door.
 
She stopped dead when a silhouette moved
across the closed curtains in the dim twilight.
 
Fear rose in a lump in her throat when
she realized she was not alone.
 
The
silhouette had been of a man’s figure not Maxine.
 
The instinct to run pumped adrenaline
around her system but before she could escape there was a suffocating smell of
thin leather when a smooth gloved hand covered her mouth from behind.

 

A male arm wound tightly around her waist.
 
Instinctively she began to struggle to
release the grip but only succeeded in provoking the man’s hold to
strengthen.
 
Worn out with her
futile efforts she relaxed and resigned herself to capture.

 

All of a sudden the light was turned on and Maxine’s slender body
held in a way similar to her own came into view across the room.
 
A handsome tall man in his early
thirties walked forward towards her blocking her view of Maxine.
 
He waved his hand at the man holding
Mara, motioning for him to uncover her mouth.
 
The hand slid dutifully away but the
grip on her body remained.

 

“Mademoiselle Logan, I presume?” he enquired moving closer with an
attractive smile lightening his sensuous mouth.

 

Mara frowned and defiantly raised her face displaying her annoyance
at being manhandled on her finely carved features feeling perturbed by the
strong masculine presence towering over her.
 
Struggling out of her captor’s hold and
making a run for it didn’t appear to be an option.
 
She was going to have to talk her way
out of this one.

 

Mara’s eyes met a cool blue gaze that was hypnotic, drawing her in,
twinkling with amusement at her endeavors to resist being charmed by the
appreciative sweep of his eyes over her form.
 

 

“Yes it is. Who are you and what do you want before I raise the roof
off this place and have you arrested,” she demanded with authority, determined
to appear in control despite being trapped.

 

The man gave his co-conspirator a grin.
 
He spoke in French and the other men in
the room started to laugh.
 
She knew
enough French to know they were amused by her stance.
 
They were trying to humiliate her, make
her lose her cool and become frightened so they could get what they wanted,
whatever that was.
 

 

Stay calm and think.

 

Alert she noticed her captor’s grip had slackened as he listened to
the man and she was quick to take advantage.
 
She brought her elbow back into the
man’s stomach and then raised her small fist and punched it back against his
face as she tried to wriggle free.
 
He groaned with pain but lunged forward and caught her waist.
 
He shook her, growling in her ear that
if she moved again he would hit her.
 
Once more the man who appeared to be running the whole show was amused.

 

“Struggling won’t do you any good.
 
I have no wish to hurt you or your
friend,” he said with a gentle French lilt riding seductively on his perfect
English.

 

He glanced at the man who was holding her again, cursing in French
as he wiped a trickle of blood from his nose with his free hand.

 

“Impressive as that was, if you try to do it again I will have to
let Leon take his revenge,” he informed her in a firm deep voice.

 

Condescending, pompous,
sophisticated, extremely good looking… stop it what the hell are you
doing?
 
Concentrate on trying to get
out of this mess and don’t provoke him any further.
 
Box clever with your words not your
hands.

 

Reluctantly Mara nodded and suddenly aware of Maxine’s sobbing.
 
Struggling would only make things worse
and she’d been wrong to think she could escape three men and drag Maxine with
her.
 
Leon released his restraining
arm allowing Mara rush to Maxine’s side and
wrap
her
arms around her friend to give her some comfort.

 

“What do you want, Monsieur?
 
Who are you?” she repeated.

 


Stephane
Garreau
,
The Count of
Albain
, is my full grand title,” he
laughed at himself giving a mock bow.
 
“At your service,” he grinned.

 

It was when he smiled Mara knew she had seen his face before.
 
Further study revealed his identity.

 

“I know who you are.
 
You
are that French billionaire who owns
Garreau
Aerospace whose sister has gone missing.”

 

Mara folded her arms and viewed him with disapproval when his eyes
narrowed at the mention of his sister.
 
Whether she like it or not Mara was having trouble disguising the fact
that a part of her was checking him out.
 

 

The billionaire knew he was good looking, his lean taut athletic
body was clearly defined in an immaculately tailored black suit, white shirt
and a black and white patterned silk tie.
 
There was a light golden tan to his smooth skin underneath his short
dark brown hair completing the attractive package.

 

“What I want, Mademoiselle Logan, is you,” he answered her previous
question and made no reference to her comment on his identity.

 

“Me?”

 

Mara took a breath allowing the words to repeat in her head.
 
There was something about the way he
said them that caused a tremor inside her body that made her soften as though
he had broken in and snatched her resolve before she could turn around.
 
It made the notion of him wanting her
more than palpable.
 
She camouflaged
her reaction under a veil of indignation and annoyance but was sure she was
blushing.

 

“What the hell have I done to offend you? I only entered Paris an
hour ago.”

 

Her frustration was clearly evident in the tone of her voice and
Stephane
appeared to be enjoying her reaction to his words
by the seductive curl of his lips.

 

Mara watched his eyes sweep appreciatively over her petite curved
figure traceable by the elegant cut of her light grey summer suit.
 
Her dark lashes lowered in response to
his assessment making her feel vulnerable, an aspect of her personality she
always tried to hide.
 
For some
reason this man wanted something and he had her trapped.
 
He had enough money and power to see
that whatever it was he got it and perhaps enough to get away with kidnap and
perhaps murder.

 

Mara fought every impulse not to give in to fear and instead remain
strong and controlled under the man’s powerful stare.

 

“I don’t know what I have done, I don’t even know you,” she repeated
with firmness.

 

‘True but your fiancé Ryan Sadler does.
 
Ryan is a gambler but unfortunately not
a very good one.’

 

“That’s ex fiancé,” she snapped.
 
“What the hell has he got to do with
this?”

 

“Ryan has taken something very precious from my family and now I am
going to do the same to him.”

 

He was using Ryan’s name with ease as if he was a friend.
 
Mara walked towards him,
fear giving
way to anger as he discussed her favorite topic
of torment, Ryan.

 

“This is unbelievable.
 
I
don’t know how you know Ryan but…”

 

Stephane
bowed his
head to hide a smirk as Mara put her hands on her hips underneath her suit jacket
at first unaware her large breasts were jutting out towards him almost in
offering.
 
Her curved hips swayed as
she began walking around the room, holding court trying to get some control
back in the situation, playing the lawyer to full effect as she threw questions
about what was going on to him.

 

The billionaire would answer none of them.
 
He raised a hand to silence her.
 

 

“I am growing tired of your refusal to accept that I am in control
here, Miss Logan.
 
You are coming
with us . . .

 

“No way,” she interrupted.

 

“Oh yes you are.
 
Until
Ryan returns my ill sister to my family you will remain with me as ransom.
 
Do you understand?”

 

Mara stared at him with wide eyes.

 

“You are kidnapping me?”

 

That annoying attractive smile was there again on his handsome face.

 

“Yes, both of you,” he gestured with his hand towards Maxine.
 
“That way you won’t get lonely,” he
teased.

 

“Who the hell do you think you are?
 
This isn’t the dark ages.
 
You can’t just kidnap us,” she said
angrily, her voice
rising
an octave as Maxine ran to
her.

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