A Beautiful Lie

Page 21

Garrett figured they could spend the night at the palace, stay locked in their room for a few hours, maybe make a few noises so the staff would hear them "discover one another" and then in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, do some snooping around.

Parker knew it wouldn't be that easy to lurk around the presidential palace in the middle of the night. The CIA had spent six months preparing her and twenty other agents to spend five seconds in the bushes outside of the palace attaching a listening device to a window. They wouldn't be able to just open their bedroom door and waltz in and out of rooms.

And given Fernandez's possible connection to the death of a young girl, he might be suspicious of everyone and everything. There could be people sitting outside of Garrett and Parker's door all night long for all they knew.

"He loved you more than anything," Garrett told her quietly as he sat down beside her.

Regardless of what he felt for Parker, he could never lie to her. She deserved to know that her fiancé really did love her, no matter what his actions said before he left.

"He had a funny way of showing it," Parker replied softly, staring across the lobby at nothing as she leaned forward and rested her elbows on her knees, absentmindedly twisting the diamond and sapphire ring around her finger.

She'd removed her diamond engagement ring from that finger months before because it just didn't seem right to keep wearing it. She always thought she would feel naked without the ring so she wore it around her neck to keep it close to her. When she took the chain and the solitaire diamond off of her neck yesterday before the dinner at the palace, she felt no sense of loss or sadness. Just touching the ring that Garrett had given her and knowing it would only be a matter of time before it was removed from her finger filled her with an incredible sense of sadness.

"He'd get phone calls in the middle of the night, and I'd hear him whispering in the hallway," Parker continued, pulling her thoughts away from the ring on her finger. "He'd tell me he had to run to the store and then never come home with any purchases. He'd get up out of bed at all hours of the night and just leave, not coming home until the middle of the afternoon, without one word of explanation. I know we both had things we couldn't tell the other, but it was never like this. If one of us took a phone call for work, even if we couldn't discuss it, we could at least say it was work related. He'd pretend like nothing happened and when I'd ask him, he'd blow up in my face. I was convinced he was cheating on me for a while," she said with a humorless laugh.

"He would never cheat on you," Garrett assured her, allowing his instincts to take over as he reached over and pushed her hair behind her shoulder so he could see her face. He let his hand make its way under her hair and to the back of her neck, his fingers kneading away the tension he felt there.

Garrett listened to Milo brag about how often they had sex constantly over the years. After those conversations, Garrett always drowned himself in whiskey and called up a "friend" to occupy his mind. It was unfathomable to him that the same man who boasted about the sex life he had with the woman next to him would go looking elsewhere.

"Well, he had to have been getting it from someone because he sure as hell wasn't getting it from me."

Parker watched her words click into place in Garrett's mind and figured that since she'd gone this far, she might as well lay it all out there.

"In that year, I can count on one hand how many times we had sex, the last time was five months before he left."

Garrett couldn't keep the shock off of his face if he tried. Everything Parker said to him was the exact opposite of what Milo had told him. It wasn't a question of who to believe; he would choose Parker every time. But suddenly, everything about Parker's actions the night she showed up at his place and stripped made sense now. He remembered asking Milo a few days later if everything was okay between Parker and him and how over the top Milo's response was. He had gushed about how happy and in love they were and how they just couldn't keep their hands off each other, going into explicit detail about every sexual encounter they'd had recently. Garrett had thought it was a bit overkill for Milo to go into so much detail, but at the time he just chalked it up to Milo being happy and suffered through the onslaught information.

Garrett wondered if he knew then what he knew now, if that night would have ended differently when he turned around and saw Parker standing in his living room, wet from the rain that soaked her skin and lace underwear. He wondered if the guilt of wanting to sink himself inside of her would have still eaten him alive like it had every day since then.

He wondered if he had known about the problems Milo and Parker were having at the time if he would have taken what she had offered and what he'd wanted since the day he met her.

Garrett thought back to the private cell phone Milo owned with all of the phone calls back and forth from here to the Dominican Republic. He'd never explained to Parker why he questioned her about Milo owning another phone because he didn't want to worry her. He honestly believed his friend would never, ever cheat on Parker or do anything to hurt her. But thinking back to the phone and the way Milo had acted with her, Garrett realized that maybe he really didn't know his friend as well as he thought he did.

Before he could say anything, Parker stood as a sleek, black limo pulled up to the resort. Garrett stood beside her, grabbed their bags, and they made their way to the waiting car.

Once they were seated and the driver stowed their bags in the trunk, Garrett raised the privacy window as they began pulling out of the resort.

After driving for several minutes in silence, Garrett turned towards Parker. She was staring out of her window, but the running lights in the back of the vehicle made it possible for Garrett to see her reflection in the glass. She was lost in thought, and he knew it was his own damn fault for bringing Milo up in the first place. Parker was right, Milo was his friend as well, and he knew he should feel comfortable enough to talk about him, but not at the expense of her happiness.

With Parker's hands resting in her lap, Garrett reached one of his hands over and touched the inside of her wrist with the tips of his fingers, sliding them up through her palm until they pushed in between hers and their fingers were interlaced.

At the heat of his touch, Parker turned her face toward Garrett. He squeezed her hand once, letting her know without words that everything would be okay while he softly rubbed his thumb back and forth over the knuckle of her thumb.

Garrett and Parker stared at each other silently as the limo drove them towards the palace, each of them wondering if they'd be able to pull off the ruse of husband and wife tonight with all of the thoughts and memories threatening to drown them.

Chapter Twelve

Garrett and Parker were able to avoid all the security checkpoints their second time entering the palace since they weren't in their own vehicle. When they were ushered past the security guard with the metal detector wand, Garrett cursed himself for not bringing his gun . After the information they found earlier, he had a really bad feeling about all of this.

Parker wondered what was going through Garrett's mind after the admission about her relationship with Milo. Garrett hadn't said a word after she confessed they hadn't slept together in ages. She probably made him uncomfortable speaking about his friend that way, but she'd kept things bottled up for too long. It felt good to confide in Garrett―something she probably should have done a long time ago.

Parker closed her mind from those thoughts for the time being. They had a job to do and wouldn't be able to talk freely anytime soon. The subject of her relationship with Milo was definitely closed for discussion while they were there.

Parker's hand clutched the inside of Garrett's elbow and her shoes clicked against the marble floor as they followed a palace staff member down the longest hallway they'd ever seen. The staff member continued on ahead of them in silence as Parker and Garrett perused the many styles of artwork that hung on the walls on either side of them. The hallway widened after a while, and it looked as though they were entering another lobby of sorts. Parker glanced up at the cathedral ceiling as they walked into the second room and she couldn't help but admire the intricate painted scene of angels locked in a battle between good and evil. The irony of having that scene floating above their heads while they prepared to go to war with the man who lived here was not lost on Parker. This room afforded them a beautiful view of the open hallways to the second and third floors. Arched columns and white marble railings lined the floors, and the staff member paused at the base of a grand staircase at the end of the room and indicated with his arm that they should make their way up to the second floor.

Once at the top, they walked down the open hallway, glancing below where they had just been, while the staff member began to prattle on about the palace's history.

Finally, they came to a set of white and gold double doors. They were unlocked and opened with a flourish. Garrett and Parker took a step inside and both gasped in awe.

When they heard they were going to be staying in a guest suite, they assumed it would be just that-a guest suite. This was more like a three-thousand square foot house inside of the palace.

The doors were closed behind them with instructions to use the house phone in the sitting room for food, entertainment, or anything else they might need during their stay.

The room they were currently in was the biggest living room they had ever seen, complete with twenty foot vaulted ceilings, windows almost as tall, and a view of the ocean outside. The entire room was decorated in cream and gold, and it was warm and inviting.

Garrett and Parker walked wordlessly into the room, turning to the right when they came to another room.

"Holy shit," Garrett muttered.

The bedroom took up at least half of the massive suite. It was decorated in more cream and gold, but darker hues than in the living room. Parker let go of Garrett's arm and walked to the bed at the very end of the room, against the wall, and sat down at the foot. Her body sunk into the soft mattress and she let out a sigh of comfort. Garrett walked past the heavy gold curtains that hung around the room and leaned his shoulder against one of the marble pillars that encased the bed. He stared at Parker's face as she glanced up and saw an elaborate dome that acted as a light and took up most of the ceiling.

"We could make as much noise as we wanted in this room and no one would hear us," Parker joked.

Garrett laughed, remembering his earlier idea of the two of them moaning, jumping up and down on the bed, and rattling the headboard so the staff would know something was going on in the room and report back to Fernandez. Obviously that idea would be out.

"I could do things that would make you scream and no one would know," Garrett said with an arch of an eyebrow and a menacing, serial killer laugh.

Parker laughed along with him.

"Who said anything about you making me scream?" she asked jovially as she stood up from the bed. "I do believe I have proven my ninja skills on more than one occasion."

She moved closer so she could stand on her tip toes and kiss his cheek. She missed the easy camaraderie with Garrett; it was nice to have it back.

Parker pulled away from him slightly so she could see his eyes, sliding her hand up to rest on his chest and turning up one corner of her mouth in a confident smile.

"Don't underestimate my power to make you scream," she said softly.

They stared at each other with humor evident in their faces for several heartbeats. Then, the reality of the situation set in for both of them. They could have been just a couple of friends, making off-color jokes about killing each other or performing some kind of act that would cause enough pain to make one of them scream, but in that moment, standing chest to chest, it stopped being a joke about shouts of pain and became the reality of cries of pleasure.

Garrett swallowed thickly, imagining just what Parker could do to his body that would cause him to shout her name in pleasure, and Parker thought about Garrett's hands and just where they could touch her to bring about screams of ecstasy.

Awkwardness suddenly descended on both of them as they were each assaulted with thoughts about how they should spend the night together in the room.

Parker needed a few minutes away from Garrett to get her head screwed on straight. This was an assignment, and Garrett was her friend. They could watch television, talk, or do whatever they normally did when they spent an evening together. It shouldn't be that big of a deal.

"I think I'm just going to take a shower," Parker said as she took a step back from Garrett and walked around him to go into the living room where the staffer had placed their bags.

Garrett was rooted in place, staring at the bed, and imagining Parker naked underneath the covers. He stood silently with his hands in his pockets as Parker came back into the room a few minutes later, carrying her toiletries and some clothes.

He watched her walk down to the end of the room, past the bed, and disappear into what must have been the bathroom. He waited until he heard the sound of the water running before he snapped out of his daze and went to retrieve his own bag.

Parker's comment when they first saw the bedroom left a bad feeling with him. Fernandez invited them here for a honeymoon of sorts. Garrett found it hard to believe he wouldn't have done something to make sure that's what they used this time for. He didn't trust the man at all and wouldn't put it past him to do something underhanded and sick. Parker was right. They could scream and yell and no one out in the hallway would hear them. The room was entirely too big and the bed was as far away from the door and hallway as possible.

Garrett picked up his small duffel bag and walked with it back into the bedroom. He deposited it on the settee at the foot of the bed and rummaged around inside until he found what he was looking for: a small silver keychain with a square device hanging from it that looked like a remote for a car.

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