“She’s not missing. She’s in—”
“I bloody well know where my wife is,” Liam shouted.
Sebastian raised a brow and pointed at the chair closest to him. “We need to talk.”
“I don’t want to talk.”
“Never stopped you before.”
“Before you were the one who didn’t want to talk, not me.”
“Would you please stop trying to out-talk me?”
“Fine. I’ll out-silence you instead.” Liam smirked. “Better?”
“You’re still talking,” Sebastian pointed out.
“While you’re still an insufferable arse.”
Sebastian rolled his eyes. “If it pleases Your Grace, I would like for him to shut the hell up, so I can speak.”
Liam sat down. “Speak.”
“That’s a good lad. Now roll over and bite my arse.” Liam stood up again. “Do you have any idea what this is like? Not knowing if she’s okay. Not knowing if she’s eating or sleeping properly. Not knowing if the baby’s okay. Do you have any idea at all?”
Sebastian gave him a look. “I might have an idea.”
Feeling completely stupid, Liam sat down again. “Yes, I’d forgotten.”
“I haven’t.” Sebastian leaned forward. “There’s no other way to say this, but your duchess has been kidnapped, along with three other female missionaries. They are being held for ransom by a local group that the local government turns a blind eye to. Actually, the government doesn’t have time for petty kidnappers when their country is on the brink of civil war. I’m sorry, Liam, but legally, there’s nothing you can do.”
The world closed in on Liam. It became black and red, and then fear turned to anger, and anger into rage. He wanted to kick, bludgeon, maim… strike out at anyone and anything.
“I have to get her back,” he shouted.
Sebastian, damn him, remained calm. How the tables have turned, he thought in the last wee part of his mind still capable of rational thinking.
“Yes, you do. But like I said, there’s no legal way of getting her out.”
“Damn legal to hell and back.” He shot to his feet and placed his hands on Sebastian’s desk. “I will lie, cheat, and steal to get her back. Whatever it takes to get Bella, I’ll do it. No matter the consequences.”
“Are you positive?”
“Hell, yes.” He was more than positive. The woman he loved had been gone for two weeks, and he missed her more than anything. He missed her more than breathing, eating, and drinking. She was the air he breathed. Her beauty, intelligence, and kindness were what sustained him, but he’d been to damn prideful to admit it.
Why couldn’t he have admitted it to her? What would she have done with his heart, with his love, other than cherish it?
“I have someone in mind for the job,” Sebastian said. “Some say he’s the best.”
“What do you say?”
“I say their praise is justified.”
“Do you trust him?”
Sebastian’s gaze didn’t waver. “With my life.”
Liam rapped his knuckles on the desktop. “Let’s do this.”
“It’s going to cost you, more than whatever you have left of your inheritance,” Sebastian said. “Unless, that is, you allow me to—”
“I’ll sell Wintersea.” His heart pounded, as did his head. That castle had been in his family for generations. But none of it mattered as much as saving Bella. And his child. Their child.
“What about the will?”
A corner of his mouth lifted. “My grandfather never fathomed the idea of a Stewart selling the castle, so it’s not in there.”
Sebastian pulled out his mobile. “I’ll find a buyer. In the meantime, I’ll make a call and get Mr. Smith on the job.”
“Yes. Roman Smith.”
“Sounds like the name of a shopkeeper.”
Sebastian’s cold eyes bore into his. “As far as you’re concerned, that’s all he is.”
Liam regarded his best mate. Did he really know everything about Sebastian? Were there some things that even he, despite knowing the man for years, didn’t know about him?
“Bastian,” he began, but he was cut off by a knock at the door.
Sebastian’s secretary stuck his head in. “There’s a Mr. Smith to see you, sir.”
Liam sliced his gaze to Sebastian. “There is no way anyone could have gotten here that quickly.”
“He’s been on standby for a week.”
His mouth fell open. “You’ve been planning this all week?”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Oh, well, then, I’m sor—”
Sebastian’s tipped up. “I’ve been planning this since Bella’s plane landed.”
“Normally, this would be when I’d lecture you on your shady behavior, but—”
“But sometimes there’s a need for people like me in the world.”
Liam clapped Sebastian on the shoulder, knowing that despite the arrogance Sebastian normally displayed, he was, at heart, one of the best men to ever walk the earth. There wasn’t anything Sebastian wouldn’t do for those he called friend.
“There is always a place for good men like you in the world.”
Bella and three of the ladies from the mission house were being held in a sultan’s palace. More specifically, they were being held in a harem.
A real, live harem, where women of every shade and shape walked around in outfits sheer enough that she could see what their natural hair color was—that was, if they kept any.
She suspected they were being held in the harem, because their captors thought it would bother them, not because he wanted to add more women to the collection. Besides, one of them had remarked, that her skin and hair were too dark to fetch a good price on the black market.
But the baby…
She had shaken in terror at the thought of being kept here long enough to give birth and then have her child taken away. She’d read articles about less-than-savory adoption agencies adopting out children who had been forcibly taken from their mothers.
She still shook.
Worse, there were two new guys that had shown up after almost a month of no contact with anyone but their captors. One had dark hair, a ruthlessly handsome face, blue eyes, and spoke in a language that sounded a lot like Russian. The other wore the traditional clothes of the men in this country who made their homes in the rugged mountains.