Child finder Moriah Dru had accepted a Saudi Arabian prince as a client to find his missing wife and daughter. This is to be her and Richard Lake’s first meeting with the prince. Richard Lake is an Atlanta police lieutenant.
I called my computer geek and research specialist, Dennis “Webdog” Caldwell and instructed him to find all that was available on Prince Husam bin Sayed al-Saliba. Then I Googled the prince. Just seeing his photograph gave me a thrill. I would be having dinner with him this evening. So would Lake, and Lake was due to arrive here in half an hour.
I went from mirror to mirror checking my dress—neckline high, hemline below my calves, three-quarter sleeves—and my face, assessing my make-up, of which I usually wore little except for lipstick. When Lake’s car pulled into the driveway, I made a decision and ran to the bathroom and washed the foundation from my skin to avoid being chided for making up for a prince.
Lake had let himself in while I removed eye liner. When I went into the kitchen he was popping the top of a beer bottle. He looked at me with a frown smearing his face. A few inches over six feet tall, with dark hair and eyes, he was still the best looking man I’d ever seen. An exquisite dark blue suit, white shirt and red-and-blue striped tie decorated his trim, athletic frame.
He drank and rolled his lips inward before he said, “You look well-scrubbed.”
“I ought to,” I said. “I just removed the grime.”
“Hmmm.” He reached for my face, close to an ear, and rubbed a finger across my cheek. He held up the finger. “Flesh colored grime. Did I ever tell you, skin looks good on you?” He kissed my nose. “What if I weren’t accompanying you this evening?”
“I wouldn’t be going. You are going with me by sufferance. Portia’s.”
“Let’s get on the road then, red lips.” He finished his beer and put the bottle in the recycle container. “I think the prince will be pleased to see a naked face. Judging from the extreme make-up worn by rich and famous women, I doubt he sees many naked—uh—faces.” As we made our way to the door, he commented, “It’s nice to see you in a dress. Where are you wearing your gun?”
I patted my right leg. “Thigh holster.” Since the shootout at the church, I’ve been leery of retribution from Atlanta’s drug gangs, one member in particular.
We left my small house, and Lake locked the door. Walking to the unmarked squad car, I said, “I looked up the prince’s photograph. He’s quite handsome.”
On dressy evenings out, Lake holds the passenger door for me. After he’d done so, he lifted a hand above my head, something cops do when putting a subject into a squad car.
“Don’t touch my hair,” I said. “I spent hours on it.”
“I like the scattered result.”
“It’s supposed to be sexy.”
The car’s engine roared to life. He glanced my way. “Already, you’re trying to make me jealous.”
“Oh that I could. I’ve tried my damnedest, but you’re too practical.”
On the way I told Lake what I’d learned from Webdog. “Prince Husam’s religion is Wahabism, an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. He’s thirty-six years old, but Web said that Saudi Arabian royals have a reputation for being cagey about ages. He’s unmarried, but engaged to a Saudi princess, the name I forget.”
“Yet he has a daughter?” Lake said.
“Portia left that for him to explain.”
“An Arab man talking about procreation to a Western woman?”
From American Nights 6th in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake series. New Release
By Gerrie Ferris Finger