Vengeance, book two in the thrilling Tip of the Spear series!
Layla Wallace Hassani is living her dream, curating a major art exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. She has it all, a fabulous career, the perfect marriage, and the perfect child. She’s madly in love with her husband Cyrus Hassani, a Mossad agent, and lives in Tel Aviv with their four-year-old daughter Cerise.
Layla’s life couldn’t be better when disaster hits. She’s kidnapped by Iranian terrorists during the bombing of a restaurant in Manhattan. Chained to a bed at a remote location, Layla is a pawn in a deadly game. She’s the bait to lure Cyrus to his death.
Driven by vengeance and love that knows no bounds, Cyrus will do
Layla knows her Superman, Cyrus, is coming to save her. She also knows, unbeknownst to him, by doing so, it will mean the death of their child. Caught in a mousetrap, she struggles to find a way out of her deadly situation and to fend off the sexual advances of the kidnapper terrorist who’s fallen in love with her.
Layla must make a choice, save her child or sacrifice herself and her marriage. The hunt is on. The clock is ticking.
Layla smiled at the woman who pushed the chair. “Don’t worry, take your time.”
In accented English, the woman thanked her as she tried to help the invalid rise. She struggled to lift the large, unsteady, woman.
“Here, let me help you.” Layla kneeled to assist and felt a prick in her leg. “Ouch!” She looked down and saw the glint of a hypodermic needle. She tried to scream, but her vocal cords seized, her protests sounded like the hissing of a snake. Oh, my God. My voice? What’s happening to me? Her legs gave out beneath her. She sank paralyzed, all her ability to control her muscles gone. She knew her eyes were bugging out of her face with terror. She tried to form the words Help me…somebody help me? Tried to wrap her lips around them, but she could hear nothing but hiss, hiss, hiss.
The two women worked as a team, together they picked her up and lowered her into the chair. The woman who’d pretended to be incapacitated kneeled in front of her, unwound the scarf from her head and grinned. Layla wanted to scream, to kick, to claw the eyes that smiled, taunting her. Am I in some weird, parallel universe? The woman was a man.
He ignored the soundless cries coming from Layla and reached underneath the wheelchair. When he rose, he held a briefcase. After entering a code, the briefcase snapped open. Carefully he activated a switch, and the contents came alive. He gave a satisfied nod to his accomplice and locked the case. Then he pulled a roll of duct tape from beneath the chair. Terrified, she watched him tape the briefcase behind a Demilune cabinet situated against the wall.
In a frantic effort to resist she tried to move her fingers and hands, but no part of her body responded.
Unable to fight, they effortlessly secured and wrapped her in a scarf and blanket.
How could she have been so stupid to blow off her security? To risk everything without a thought to the danger? Her husband was a target, which made her a target. She was going to die. Poisoned and paralyzed, she was going to die, and she’d brought it on herself. All she could do was watch as the man who’d sat in the wheelchair removed the long black shroud-like cover he’d been wearing. Beneath the shroud-like garment, he wore slacks, a shirt, and a tie. He grabbed a sports jacket from beneath the wheelchair and put it on.
With the transformation complete he nodded to his accomplice. The woman peeked out the door, nodded okay, and her accomplice left the ladies’ room. A minute later, the other woman wheeled Layla, her hair hidden beneath a scarf, through the dining room. She tried to scream for help when they rolled past Avi, but her body was no longer hers. He didn’t give them a second look. She saw her life pass before her. I can’t be kidnapped again. The thought that she might never see her family again filled her eyes with invisible tears.
At the entrance to the restaurant, the man with shoulder-length dark hair waited, holding the door open. She was screaming, she could hear it in her head, but her cries were no more than hisses that emanated from an unfortunate woman. She managed a slight tremble, causing the wheelchair to infinitesimally shake, which only registered in the maître d’s eyes as pity. He quickly looked away and bid them goodnight.
Outside, a black SUV idled at the curb. The doors swung open, and a man with wavy dark hair jumped out. The two men lifted Layla out of the wheelchair, strapping her into the car with a seat belt. Abandoning the wheelchair, the two men and the woman who’d pushed her outside, jumped in the SUV as it sped away.
Her heart pounded, fear strangled her. She struggled to gain control of her body—she needed to fight the drug that immobilized her. If she had any hope of being rescued, she needed to stay vigilant. Even the smallest detail might mean the difference between life and death. Death! Am I going to die? Why is this happening?
The vehicle raced away and left Ma Maison behind with a screech of rubber on the pavement. The long- haired man in the front seat turned. A wordless exchange passed between him and his accomplices. He punched numbers into a cell phone. His finger hovered over the keyboard for a second. He looked at each passenger, and they nodded their approval. He pressed a key, and a series of deafening explosions rocked Midtown Manhattan. Windows fractured up and down East 52nd Street. The deafening blare of fire alarms going off shattered the silence. She caught a brief glimpse of terror on the faces of people in the street as they whizzed past.
Inside the car, the kidnappers shared a moment of excitement, their tones ominously congratulatory. It was madness. People were dead and dying, and they were doing a happy dance. For the first time in her life, she wanted to kill. She recognized the language. Farsi. They’re Iranian. A fear of a different kind crept up her spine. Kidnapped, I’m kidnapped. These monsters just blew up the restaurant and murdered innocent people, and I’m the cause. She was bludgeoned with guilt.
Even the debilitative drug couldn’t prevent the tears welling in Layla’s eyes. Oh, God! Avi, all those innocent people. Was there something I could have done to avoid this? If I’d only brought my guards would it have made a difference? Or would they too have been part of the body count?
Her throat felt like she was being made to swallow rusty nails. She pictured the sweet face of her daughter, Cerise. An image of Cyrus, his face fractured with pain, tore a wrenching cry from her. The startled kidnappers began arguing. When Layla saw the women remove another hypodermic from her bag, she struggled to twist away. A scream pierced the air. Her scream. Her vocal chords pushed against her throat. The needle punctured her skin, and she howled like a banshee. The effect was immediate. Consciousness withdrew. A black curtain came down over her eyes.
Belle Ami writes romantic suspense and thrillers. Her first novel was a finalist for a major book award and launched her dynamic writing career. Belle's new suspense series (Tip of the Spear) is rich with intrigue and captivating characters. When Belle isn't working on her next book, she'll most likely be in the kitchen whipping up something delicious for her family to enjoy. In addition to being a gourmet cook, Belle is also an accomplished pianist, skier, and world traveler. She lives in Calabasas, CA with her wonderful husband and two kids. She also lives with Cindy Crawford and Giorgio Armani (who just happen to be a horse and a chihuahua).
Prize List book: Mary