Forty Days & One Knight

Trident Security Omega Team #2
July 18, 2019
Suspenseful Seduction Publishing
Available in: e-Book, Trade Size

Forty Days & One Knight

Princess Tahira had grown up not worrying about being pushed into an arranged marriage, but after her mother’s near-death illness, King Rajeemh orders his only daughter to choose a husband within forty days or have one chosen for her. While the deadline looms, Tahira and her cousin are kidnapped during a trip to Jamaica.

Trident Security operative, Darius Knight, has been working undercover for several months, infiltrating a human-trafficking cartel. Just when he’s almost in the position to take them down, a huge wrench is thrown into the mission. If he saves the woman whose body he’s guarded in the past, his cover will be blown. But if he doesn’t, he’ll never be able to live with the results.

When the rescue doesn’t go as planned, Darius makes a rash decision that will affect both their lives. To keep their secret means he’ll probably lose his dream job. To reveal it will destroy the woman who is inching her way into his heart.

*If you prefer trigger warnings, please scroll down to the bottom. If you don’t want to read the trigger warning, this is your chance to avoid it.

*The books of the Trident Security series and its spin-off series can be read as standalones, however, for optimum enjoyment they are best read in order.

**The Trident Security series contains elements of the BDSM lifestyle, sensual romance, nail-biting suspense, and happily-ever-afters.

***Trigger warning: Forty Days & One Knight contains a fade to black sexual assault. (less)

Sitting between Nala and Lahana, in the backseat of the SUV her bodyguards had rented, Tahira tried to relax and enjoy the excursion. That meant pushing her impending marriage from her mind, even just for a little while. She had forty days left . . . forty days to choose a husband or her father would take the choice from her.

Up until her mother had been critically ill with renal failure last year, Tahira had always been told that when she got married and to whom would be her decision. Her parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and other ancestors had all had their marriages arranged for them at a very young age—usually by their fifth birthday. The weddings had then taken place within weeks of the men turning eighteen, while most of the women were still a year or two younger. The way her mother had explained it to Tahira, her parents had barely known each other on their wedding day and neither had liked their chosen spouse at first. Over time, though, that all had changed, and by their first anniversary, they’d fallen in love. They’d also vowed not to force their future children into unwanted marriages, forgoing a century and a half of royal tradition. But then, six weeks ago, following her brother’s wedding, Tahira’s father had reneged on the decision he’d made years ago. He wanted her married while he and her mother were still alive to see it happen.

Tahira was convinced her soul mate was out there somewhere. She even sensed she’d met him already, but neither of them had yet realized they were destined for each other. Her maternal grandmother had what some referred to as “the sight,” the ability to see a person’s aura when others couldn’t, and, apparently, it had been passed down to Tahira. The problem was her grandmother had died a few days before Tahira’s fourth birthday, so there hadn’t been anyone close to her that could help develop her gift as she’d grown older. What she did learn about it had been by wading through countless websites and blogs over the years, trying to figure out what was false information versus what was truth. While she didn’t understand all of what she saw in other people’s auras, she’d learned how to interpret many of the varying energy fields surrounding them. Every person was different, with some of their colors changing with their mood or experiences. Myriad shades of the primary and secondary hues of the rainbow meant different things. The color red surrounding a person could mean strength, anger, tenacity, passion, and sensuality, among other things, while pink represented love, deep friendship, compassion, and an appreciation of beauty. It had been a combination of pink, red, and a few subtler colors that’d helped her realize one of her Trident Security bodyguards, Brody Evans, had met his future wife about a year ago. While he’d known he was attracted to Fancy, he hadn’t yet figured out she’d been “the one” his heart had been made for when Tahira had read his aura. That had since changed, and the couple was now married and expecting their first child. Tahira was thrilled for them.

Occasionally, she came across people whose auras she couldn’t read. Ian Sawyer was one of them, and so was Mousaf Amar, the head of the royal guard. There were also times when she misinterpreted a person’s colors. When Tahira had reached the age of eighteen, and had gained more freedom, she’d researched many healers who’d mastered the talent of reading auras. When she’d found one who was willing to be her mentor, she’d often invited him to visit the palace to tutor her. Knowing Tahira had inherited her mother’s gift, Queen Azhar had encouraged her to learn what she could, despite the beliefs of some people who thought it was nothing but nonsense.

“What about this one? Iggi Kwei—he’s a good-looking doctor.” Nineteen-year-old Nala showed her cousins the profile photo of one of the potential Timasurian husbands that had been posted in a private Facebook group.

Tahira glanced at the photo. While the doctor was a handsome man, she wasn’t drawn to him in any way. Most marriages were arraigned in their country, with dowries being offered in exchange for the bride’s hand. In some instances, couples never met prior to their engagement parties. Tahira had seen several of her friends married off to men who were not ideal mates. More than one of them were in abusive marriages, but none would admit it. To do so would be an insult to their husband and both their families. Tahira had hoped that by being allowed to choose her own spouse, it would encourage other parents to allow their children to do the same. While her brother, Raj, had chosen his wife, it would be viewed in a completely different manner if Tahira chose her husband. Raj had also been in love with his bride and proposed before his father had decided to reverse the edict his children had grown up with. Their impending engagement and wedding had just been earlier than the couple had expected—their nuptials had been a huge affair with citizens of the small country, and beyond, lining the streets to get a glimpse of the happy couple. Now that they were husband and wife, King Rajeemh had turned his attention to making sure his only daughter wed soon.

Being the second born, Tahira never expected to ascend to the throne. Her father was in his mid-fifties, and Raj was twenty-eight, two-and-a-half years older than his only sibling. Both men were very healthy and didn’t participate in any risky activities that might cut short their lives. While there was a remote chance something could happen to both of them before Raj and his wife, Princess Kainda, produced an heir, it was highly unlikely, and, for that, Tahira was grateful. She was loyal to her country but did not want to rule it. Politics and international relations were not things she was interested in. She was content to be involved in charity work to help improve the lives of Timasurians who had not been born to privilege. One of her favorite things to do was visit the children’s hospitals. She loved seeing the little ones’ faces light up in delight when they realized Her Royal Highness was there to see them. Tahira could spend hours interacting with them and often hated to see the day end when she had to say goodbye.  

She shrugged and looked out the window at the passing countryside. “I would rather enjoy my day instead of picking a husband I am not in love with.”

Beside her, twenty-four-year-old Lahana rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why you’re being so resistant, cousin. Most women your age have already been married for years and have children in school. You will learn to love your husband—just like your mother, my mother, and Nala’s mother did with their husbands.”

Gritting her teeth, she fought to keep her tone respectful. “I do not want to learn how to love my husband. I want to marry because I already do love him.”

“Ugh, that’s so American. And their divorce rate is what? Fifty percent?”

Tahira frowned. “That is because people have gotten married for the wrong reasons or they only thought they were in love. If it was not so difficult for our courts to approve divorces, I am sure there would be a lot more of them.”

“I doubt—”

Holding up a hand, Tahira stopped her cousin from going any further with her argument—one they’d had multiple times before. “Seriously, Lahana. I do not want to talk about it anymore. I just want to have fun on our excursion. We have five days left on the cruise, and then I will figure out what to do about finding my future husband. Can we not just go and enjoy ourselves? Please?”

A smile spread across Lahana’s face. “You’re right. Let’s go have some fun. We’ll flirt with a few guys who don’t stand a chance with us, bask in the sun, and play under the waterfalls.” Her gaze shifted to the bodyguard who was driving. “Are we almost there, Kojo?”

“Yes, madame. According to the GPS, we’ll be there in three minutes.”

As their journey continued, Tahira stared out the windshield, while her cousins tapped away on their cell phones. She wished she could dismiss the subject of marriage from her mind as quickly as she’d succeeded removing it from the conversation, but it was nearly impossible. At least Farid and his friend had allowed the women to go to the park without chaperoning them. Tahira was tired of her cousin trying to play matchmaker between her and Diallo. The businessman was nice, but something about him turned her off. She couldn’t put her finger on what really bothered her about him, but his penchant for giving others the impression they were together on the cruise was annoying her. She was glad to be free of him for a few hours. Farid could be a pain in the ass too, but she had no problem putting him in his place as she’d done while growing up with him. The man liked to throw around his status as a member of the royal family, even though he was too far down in the line of succession to doubtfully ever take the throne. He was too much of a playboy to even want to be king—running the country would put a damper on the extravagant lifestyle he’d become accustomed to.

Moments after they’d arrived at the crowded parking lot of the Dunn’s River Falls and Park, Tahira was happy to see there were plenty of sights to catch her attention and get her out of the funk she’d found herself in once more. The falls were a popular tourist attraction, and they had to park at the far end of the lot, in between two empty tour buses. Once Kojo and his partner, Alake, had done a visual sweep of their surroundings, ensuring the women’s safety, they stayed close to the princess without being intrusive. They’d both been part of her team of royal guards for over three years now and knew their jobs well. They were handsome men, but Tahira never flirted with them for two reasons. One—they were both married to lovely women, and Alake was the father of three precocious boys. Two—she only did that with bodyguards who were temporarily assigned to her outside of Timasur, like the men of Trident Security when she visited the royal family’s estate in Clearwater, Florida. She also reserved her flirting for when she was out of the public eye. After studying their auras, she knew which men she could tease and not worry about them reacting to it in a negative way. They were strong, protective men, who would never use their strength to take advantage of a woman.

There had been times during visits to the royal residences in New York City and Los Angeles when Tahira had sensed some of the men on her detail were not as trustworthy as they tried to portray, and she avoided flirting with them. But the Trident Security operatives were her favorite, and it had been bittersweet over the past few years as each one of the original six-man team had met their soul mates and, therefore, had to be removed from her “flirt” list. Whether some of them realized it or not, she cared for them as friends and was happy they’d found their true loves but saddened she couldn’t tease them anymore. However, there were new employees who had recently been hired that Ian Sawyer had introduced her to. Tristan and Cain were the leaders of the Omega Team as it was called. Their subordinates included Darius, Kip, Valentino, Logan, and Lindsey. Logan was living with his soul mate, so he was off-limits, and Lindsey was a female operative who Tahira adored. Apparently, her head of security, Amar, liked Lindsey very much as well. They’d managed to keep their attraction hidden from others, but Tahira had seen through their charade and was happy for them. 

Smiling, Lahana grabbed her cousins’ hands as they walked across the parking lot to the entrance. “Let’s go! I can’t wait to see the falls. They looked gorgeous online.”

Tahira had to admit she was looking forward to seeing them too. It felt wonderful to act like just another tourist and not a member of the royal family. Being so far from home, it was doubtful anyone would recognize her and fumble over themselves trying to please her. While she’d gotten a kick out of that when she was younger, it’d gotten annoying as she’d reached adulthood. She knew many people were overly nice to her merely because she was a princess and not because they liked her as a person. Everyone always seemed to have an ulterior motive for wanting to be her friend—well, not everyone, but most people fell into that category. It was one of the many reasons she enjoyed the company of Ian and Angelina Sawyer and their friends and family. While they had always been respectful of her title, she felt as if they treated her like everyone else they knew. And that’s the way she liked it. She wasn’t better than them or beneath them. Yes, Ian used to think of her as a spoiled child—all her Trident Security men had—but that was back when she was younger, less mature, and used to flirt with him, before he’d met his wife. Since they’d visited Timasur and stayed in the palace at her parent’s request two years ago, Ian had gotten to know the real Tahira—the one she tended to keep hidden from the rest of the world due to self-preservation. Now, he acted like a big brother to her, and she loved it. In fact, she couldn’t wait until Angelina gave birth in a few weeks. Tahira had already picked out a few gifts for the baby; she was just waiting to find out, like the rest of them, if it was a boy or a girl. No matter the gender, the child would be gorgeous, as Ian and Angelina made a stunning couple.

The thought of her friends’ baby had Tahira thinking of the children she would hopefully have someday. A flash of a young boy with her dark hair and soft brown skin appeared in her head. It was an image she’d had before, but this time, she noticed something different. The boy’s eyes weren’t hazel like hers—they were green. A deep, rich, emerald green. They reminded her of the jeweled necklace and earrings she’d received from her parents on her eighteenth birthday. Was her mind playing tricks on her? The boy’s eyes looked so familiar, yet she couldn’t recall who they belonged to.

“C’mon, cousin!” Nala said on a laugh, tugging on Tahira’s hand and breaking her out of the mental spell she’d been under. “Let’s go have some fun!”

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