Drake looked through the picture window of the prefab and rubbed his eyes against the desert sun. Why did they have a picture window in the conference room of the administrative building at all, he wondered. Why not a cooling Alpine scene mural on a blank wall? All he could see was sand and sun and blue sky-and the plumbing equipment for natural gas extraction spreading for miles. He guessed that Wyatt in BG headquarters wanted his people not to forget what they were here for-what possessed them for eighteen-month tours in the sand at a crack.

Drake had only been here as the site manager for five months. He wasn't sure how he was going to survive the next thirteen. But then the canteen waiter, Khalil, glided by with his tray of tea and what Drake knew as cookies but that the bulk of the British work force out here called biscuits, and he thought perhaps he'd do all right on this tour.

This bleak corner of Arab desert was isolated and Drake was king here.

He leaned over to the chief of finance sitting on his right while others at the table were distracted with their tea orders. Their tea orders, Drake thought with a grimace before whispering his questions to Stan. He thought he'd go mad if they didn't start serving anything stronger at these staff meetings. At least Khalil knew to bring him coffee straightaway at the beginning of the meeting and then watch the cup to make sure it didn't go less than half full.

"Did the package arrive?" he whispered to Stanley.

"Yes, and it's in your special account. You know I could do the transfers to the Swiss bank, if-"

"I know you could, Stan, but the home office is more antsy about this than anything else. Only I'm permitted to know the account number."

"More coffee, sir?" Khalil asked as he leaned down from Drake's other side. For a moment their eyes met and there was a flash of something in Khalil's eyes. It affected Drake somewhat lower in his body.

"Thank you, Khalil. I think that will be all for now. Sami can handle the service for the rest of the meeting, I think. The meeting won't be long. You can proceed to your ancillary duties."

Khalil smiled, bowed to Drake, and backed away.

"Now, Margaret, about the production figures for the week . . . oh, yes, what is it John?"

The chief of facilities security had his hand raised. "Sorry, Drake, to break into the agenda, but we have a spot of concern in the western field, I think."

A "spot of concern," Drake thought. From his somewhat droll British chief of securities, this could mean anything from a hangnail on the secretary he was fucking to an invasion of this shaky Arab state they were operating in by its voracious neighbor.

"Yes, John, what is it?"

"Well, the thing is, that we haven't actually heard from the perimeter guards on the western fence . . . well, for twice the amount of time they are routinely assigned to check in. And we haven't been able to establish-"

"The commo equipment must have broken down," Drake interjected. If he let John ramble on like that, they could be here until nightfall. "This would be the third time this week. They sent us shit for commo equipment. Just send a patrol out to them with equipment replacements."

"We did that-an hour ago, but we haven't actually-"

"Just let me know when the western quadrant is back on line," Drake broke in. He had wanted this meeting to be short. There was something else he wanted to be doing. "Margaret, could we have those figures quickly, please? I have a scheduled call with London that I need to get to."

Drake was looking out over the gas extraction field, toward the west, as he walked the glass corridor that connected with the cross hall built against the residential trailers. He didn't see anything over to the west that should cause any alarm-maybe a dust cloud, but that wasn't anything unusual. He regretted a bit being so short with John, but the man's verbosity, combined with his stuffed British pomposity, just rubbed Drake the wrong way. He wondered if he could get the man replaced without much fuss. John had a good eight months left on his tour here. And Drake was sure he'd be a pain in the ass right up to the day he left. He didn't seem to be able to just handle these little problems on his own. He seemed to need to shove decisions on them into Drake's lap. And Drake had enough decisions he himself had to make already.

Speaking of which, he wasn't that wild about having to personally deposit the baksheesh in the Swiss bank for the hush-hush member of the ruling committee of this godforsaken backwater Arab country to cover the privilege of BG extracting gas. He much preferred having cutouts to do this and being able to enjoy deniability. It irritated him that he was expected to provide Wyatt's deniability and no one was providing any for him. Of course no one out here other than Stan and the ruling committee member knew anything about the arrangements.

Drake entered his trailer's living room and went straight to the bar and poured himself a stiff scotch on the rocks, downed it at one go, and then splashed another shot of scotch into the glass. He undid and removed his tie and then pulled the tails of his dress shirt out of his trousers, unbuttoned his shirt, and pulled it off his back. He turned to the mirror on the wall next to the bar and flexed his chest and bicep muscles and did a critical examination. He'd only been out here for five months, but the boredom of the place had already shown great dividends in the definition his body had gotten from the increased gym time. He was pleased with himself.

Tossing the shirt and tie into a chair, kicking his loafers off, and clinking the ice in his scotch glass as he walked, he continued on into the bedroom.

Khalil was sitting, demurely covered in the white cotton robe the Arabs called a thawb, at the end of the bed. He was barefoot and was looking down at the hands folded in his lap and didn't look up when Drake entered.

Drake felt himself going hard. A man and yet still so much like a boy, Khalil was a dark beauty with brown eyes flecked with hazel, and black, curly hair. Although less than average in stature, Drake well knew that he was beautifully formed and proportioned and that his dusky skin had a luminosity about it that nearly took Drake's breath away.

Khalil had known from the beginning what his ancillary duties would be. BG knew their managers very well. And Drake had only taken the post knowing that his personal needs would be met. Drake was a valuable manager. Plus he knew where too many of the skeletons were buried in BG headquarters. He had a physical need that required constant attention, and his superiors were willing to feed that need. They had supplied Khalil fully knowing how Drake would use him. At the same time, providing him for Drake was their hold that kept Drake from taking his talents to another company that wouldn't be so understanding of his special needs.

Drake went around the side of the bed, to a nightstand. He took another swig of his scotch and then put the drink down and opened the nightstand drawer. He extracted a bottle of lubrication, a couple of packets of condoms, and the leather straps he liked to use for restraints. Then he came around to the side of the bed and placed these on the bedspread next to where Khalil was seated.

Neither men said anything. Khalil continued looking down at his hands. Drake could see that there as a slight smile on his face, though. Drake reached down and gathered up the material of the thawb on either side of Khalil's waist and pulled the garment over his head. He took his breath in again at the beauty of the young body. Khalil was naked under the thawb.

When he was naked, Khalil, still looking down, lifted his hands, the wrists held together, knowing the ritual. Drake tied the wrists together. Then he walked around to the side of the bed and took another slug of scotch. On the walk back, he unbuckled his belt, unzipped his trousers, and flared the fly out. Standing in front of Khalil, he put his hands on the back of the curly black hair of Khalil's head and pushed his now-erect cock between Khalil's lips.

Khalil gave him head for several minutes while Drake threw his head back and let the tensions of the day dissolve.

When he felt that nothing else was in his mind but sexual pleasure, Drake pulled his trousers and briefs down off his legs, sat down on the bed, and pulled Khalil's slight body over into his lap. His cock was long enough that he came up from underneath and between Khalil's thighs, pushing between the young man's balls and pressing up under his own cock.

Drake could work both cocks together, which he proceeded to do, while turning Khalil's torso sideways against his own chest and arching it back with Khalil's bound arms over his head. This position gave Drake free mouth, lips, and teeth access to Khalil's mouth, the hollow of his neck, and his pert nipples, which Drake proceeded to work along with the two cocks, until, writhing and groaning and moaning, Khalil ejaculated.

Drake had also been working Khalil's ass entrance with lubricated fingers. After Khalil had come, therefore, Drake had to lift and slightly readjust the young Arab's pelvis a bit before he could place the bulb of his now-sheathed cock at the hole and begin to work inside.

Khalil was babbling something unintelligible in Arabic as Drake turned him so that the young man's legs were split by Drake's pelvis and Khalil was arched out over the carpeted floor at the foot of the bed. Drake pulled and pushed Khalil's torso back and forth on his cock until he had ejaculated, in the first real sense of release he'd had all day.

Khalil was panting and whimpering and half sobbing, and Drake pulled him up to his chest, embraced him closely, and kissed him on the mouth and the cheeks and on his neck and shoulders while Khalil's trembling slowly decreased . . . and while Drake felt the juices in his body reboiling and himself getting hard again. These were the aspects of having sex with Khalil that pleased Drake the most-the aura he had of innocence, of being taken for the first time, each time, and for his dutiful compliance to anything Drake wanted to do with him.

Khalil's eyes betrayed a struggle of fear and arousal-and also maybe awe-all of which pleased Drake, and he moved the young Arab until he was belly down on the bed, with his short legs hanging over the end of the tall bed, not quite reaching the floor. His bound arms were raised over his head.

Crowned with a fresh condom, Drake was kneeling behind the young man's body. He was patting and kneading and kissing the plump nut-brown buttocks while he bound Khalil's ankles and calves just below his knees with leather strips. He wrapped his belt around Khalil's thighs and buckled it tight.

Khalil was pleading with him about Drake being too large for this and how he was split when Drake did this. He was close to sobbing. It was all part of the game, Drake knew, though. He had no idea how close to the truth it cut from Khalil's perspective, but it was a game they both knew-Drake liked the "feel" of taking a virgin each time. And Drake had no reason, really, to care what Khalil thought. Drake was the king in this little slice of this forsaken Arab country.

Drake stood over Khalil's hips and slowly fed his cock into the restricted channel, with Khalil crying out and begging for mercy that didn't come. When he was in and started pumping, Khalil was just reduced to sobs, groans, and moans.

At the moment Drake exploded, all hell broke out around the compound in the form of other explosions and the terrifying punches of automatic weapons fire. Drake didn't even have time to pull out of Khalil before the room was filled with Arabs in black thawbs, their heads and faces covered with black Arab headdresses known as the keffiyeh. Only their eyes were seen, and these were flashing with anger and triumph. They held automatic rifles, pointed variously at the ceiling and at Drake and Khalil.

The last sensation Drake had before being hit in the head with the butt of a rifle was being pulled off of Khalil and both he and a squirming Khalil being dragged across the room by a swirl of black material and strong arms.

* * * *

Drake half awoke with a groan to the sensation of being in a pile of black-clad bodies, in the back of a truck that was driving fast across uneven terrain and jostling its occupants together. Groggily he started to rise out of the pile, but he heard something intelligible being said in Arabic over the whine of a vehicle engine and a cloth held by a hand came over his mouth and nose. A sweet-pungent smell, and he was out again.

When he next woke, he was inside an extensive tented area. The tent walls were black. He awoke to his head snapping back and forth from slaps.

He opened his eyes and groaned. He felt the hair on the top of his head being grabbed and his head lifted up. Above his face, close, was a set of those flashing eyes he recalled from his trailer, the rest of the man's head being swathed in a black keffiyeh.

Drake was bound and in a somewhat awkward position. His arms were stretched up and out and tied to the arms of an X-shaped metal beamed affair. He was sitting in something like a tractor seat, but with his butt thrust out away from the X-shaped form and his legs spread and raised and tied at the ankles to pillars in front and to each side of his body.

He still was as naked as he was when he'd been seized in his bedroom.

"Are we awake now, Mr. Manager?" the man with the face above him asked in a thick Arabic accent.

"Some mistake. There's been some mistake," Drake mumbled. His voice sounded far away and fuzzy. It didn't sound like himself. But he felt he had enough presence of mind to try to dissemble. "Just a visitor to the fields. Just a friend visiting."

"You are Drake Ellinger, and you are the general manager of the BG gas field," the man said. "You needn't play games with us. But we saw that you like to play games-that like all vultures from the West you like to fuck the Arab people."

"The others. Where?"

"That's not for you to worry about, Mr. Ellinger. Although one of your people is here. Can you see him over there . . . the young Arab man you like to fuck?"

The Arab gripping the hair on Drake's head turned his head so that he could see over in another part of the tent. A cot. And bound on the cot, Khalil. Khalil was looking at him with wide-opened, frightened eyes and, now that Drake's facilities were returning, he could hear the young man whimpering in fear and snuffling. Standing on the far side of the cot were three monster men, all muscle-bound brutes, wearing only the black keffiyeh that hid their facial features. Their arms were crossed and their cocks were huge and half hard.

"Do you value your employees, Mr. Ellinger? Like this one, for instance, that you were being so intimate with?"

"Don't . . . don't do-"

"I think you need to know how serious we are, Mr. Ellinger. We'll have a little demonstration, and then I'll ask you some questions. And if you give me the answers I want, we'll let you and your employees go."

"Who are you? What do you want? No . . . please . . . stop him. Ask me your questions. But I'm only visiting. I don't know . . . Oh, god, no."

But one of the big bruisers was already crouched between Khalil's legs, wishboning them, and working his gigantic cock inside the small channel, while Khalil screamed bloody murder. Once inside, the big bruiser began to piston hard, and Khalil's screams died out and his face flopped toward Drake and his eyes closed.

Drake watched in horror and fascination. He was almost ashamed of himself that he was watching more in fascination, but such were his interests that he couldn't completely separate out his distress from his arousal at seeing the small Khalil being taken-by the second and third hulky brute after the first one was done.

When they were done, by which time Khalil was conscious again but just dully staring in Drake's direction with his tongue hanging out and panting deeply, the three unbound Khalil, one of the brutes threw his limp body over his shoulder, and they left through a flap in the tent.

Drake found that he was breathing hard. He also found that the man staring down in his face had a hand wrapped around his engorged cock, although not so tightly that Drake hadn't been stroking inside it. He was close to coming.

The Arab released the cock and slapped it, causing Drake to cry out and lose all sense of ejaculating, and stood off away from Drake.

The man was young. He wore the black keffiyeh as did all of the figures Drake had seen-there were two other burly men standing on either side of the tent flap, and wearing black thawbs as well as the keffiyeh. Each had an automatic rifle pointed in the air.

The young man, though wasn't wearing a thawb. He was stripped to the waist and was wearing billowing black cotton trousers that had some sort of flap at the groin, of material that came through his legs and triangulated out to strips that were tied at the back of his waist and held the crotch flap in place. The trousers were low risers and Drake could see the muscles and superb cut of his abs almost down to the root of his cock.

"That was just a demonstration, Mr. Manager," he said with his thick accent. "I have some simple questions for you, and if you answer them well, you all may go back to your business. If not, I can have each of your employees brought here in turn and given the attention by my men that was just given to your young friend."

"Please," Drake moaned. "I was only visiting the gas field. There's nothing I can tell you. But what is it you want to know?"

"Do you like my body, Mr. Manager?" The Arab asked. He was untying the sash of the crotch flap, which he left drop. He rotated his hips a couple of times so that Drake could see the goods-which were very good indeed. And then he dropped the trousers and stood there, undulating a bit and posing for Drake, naked but for the keffiyeh.

Drake involuntarily moaned and felt himself going hard again.

"We know what you like to do with young Arab men, Mr. Manager. Would you like to do that with me too? Just a few simple answers and perhaps you and I can enjoy ourselves before you go back to your gas field."

Drake groaned. "I was just visiting."

The young Arab came in close to Drake's body again. Once again his hand was enclosing Drake's engorging cock. "I am Farid. I find your hard body arousing. I think that I may let you fuck me after you've answered my questions and before you return to your work."

Drake moaned. His hips were moving, his hard cock stroking in Farid's loose fist.

"Three questions only," Farid's material-covered lips were close to Drake's ear. "First, we wish to know where explosives can be laid in the gas field to do the most damage."

Drake went rigid, and his eyes opened wide.

"Second, we want to know the name of the member of the Council of Ten in the capital city who is the protector of your operation."

"I can't . . . I am . . . only visiting the-"

"And third, we want to know the number of the Swiss bank account that the bribery money you have been giving this man is sent to."

Drake practically went into shock. Two of the questions he could never answer. But how in the hell did these men even know of the man in the Council of Ten and of the bank account-let alone that Drake was nearly the only man on earth-certainly the only one here in this country who would know?

"I sense you are not ready to tell me. But you will, Mr. Manager. Before long you will beg to tell me."

Without showing Drake his face, the Arab pulled the keffiyeh from his face, kissed down Drake's torso to his belly, and opened his mouth over Drake's cock. Drake moaned and set his hips in slow motion, feeling himself ready to explode.

But before he did explode, Farid pulled his mouth off, flung the keffiyeh across his face, laughed, and slapped Drake's cock again. Drake cried out and felt his cock going flaccid. But he also felt the ache in his balls. He needed to come. If only his hands were free. But they weren't.

Farid had pulled his trousers back on and already was headed toward the exit from the tent.

* * * *

"What is it that these bastards want?" the BG vice president yelled into the computer link with John Singleberry, the gas field security chief who the masked Arabs had freed to pass on their demands.

"They have all of the staff locked into the conference room," Singleberry babbled breathlessly. "They say they've set explosives to go off if anyone tries to rescue them-and explosives out at the equipment heads too."

"Steady there, John," Wyatt said. "Let's take it slow. Are all of the staffers OK?"

"I . . . I don't know, Sir Wyatt. They didn't let me into the conference room. They seemed to know who I was. I don't know how they found out. There were bodies on the grounds, but I think they were local guards. I just don't-"

"Shut up and listen to me Singleberry," Wyatt yelled. Christ almighty, he thought. I should have replaced this man months ago. "They must have let you go for a reason. Who are you with now? Did the attackers say what they wanted?"

"I'm with a military officer. His people are making plans to storm-"

"Absolutely not, John. Put the officer on and then calm yourself and come back after I've talked with the officer and tell me what these bastards want."

It didn't take Wyatt long to convince the military officer that the gas field could easily be turned into an inferno and that storming it shouldn't be something that should be done rashly.

When John Singleberry came back on, he was calmer. "They said they were holding the staff and the field hostage. They said they were something called the Mask of the People and were revolutionaries. They say they will release one hostage for each million dollars BG puts in an off-shore account, and for ten million more they won't fire the field. And they say that Al-Jazeera TV will have to broadcast any video they send them."

"OK. That gives us something to work with, John. They must have given you some way to contact them to agree to their terms and coordinate the releases."

"Yes. They gave me some commo equipment dialed to their frequency. And it's pretty good stuff, not the crap that-"

"Listen to me, John. Tell them we agree to their terms but must have the hostages released five at a time so that we know they'll hold up their end of the bargain. That will give the military officer there time to get a possible rescue operation planned and poised. And, John, this is important. Tell them we'll supply the names of the hostages to be released. That we have records of who has a medical problem or should be released first on humanitarian grounds. And we want Drake Ellinger released in the first set."


"Yes, tell them he has a condition that requires periodic medication. That he might die if he doesn't get it."

"I didn't know that. As far as I know Drake is as healthy as a-"

"Shut up, John. Just do it. Don't think; just do as I tell you." This was at the top of Wyatt's mind. Drake held the mostly closely guarded secrets of the gas field operation-not the least the name of the host government official protecting them. They needed Drake out of that situation as soon as possible. "Now, put the officer back on, John. We have some planning to do."

* * * *

Drake was moaning and thrusting up as his bindings permitted. The Arab, Farid, wearing only his keffiyeh, was straddling Drake's lap, his channel clutching Drake's buried cock. Pumping, pumping.

The bound hostage was just about to go over the moon. His balls had ached since Farid had last teased him. If Drake wasn't permitted to ejaculate soon he was going to explode. This was Drake's condition. He had to have sex often, to evacuate his system. He had to fuck a young man.

He was coming close. Farid pulled his hips up, bringing the bulb of Drake's pulsating cock to his entrance. He had his arms around Drake, holding him close. His well-muscled chest had been rubbing Drake's, but he lifted it up now. He whispered in Drake's ear. "The three questions. If you answer those three questions now, I will bring my channel down on the cock. You will explode inside me. And you will have relief. All you have to do is to answer those three little questions."

"I don't know the answers . . . I was just visiting. I don't . . . oh shit."

Farid pulled his body off Drake's lap, slapped the cock, and pulled away toward the opening of the tent. "It's just a matter of time. And not much time," Farid said. "In many ways you are a strong man, Mr. Manager, Drake Ellinger. But in this one way you are weak. You cannot resist me in this one way. We know you well."

Drake huffed in frustration and in a dying attempt to grab at an ejaculation. He couldn't reach his cock himself. There was nothing he could do. He had tried to imagine having sex. But it hadn't worked. He needed his cock inside a young man.

And he knew he was weakening. He didn't know how Farid knew what his weakness was, but he did know. Drake knew he couldn't hold out much longer.

He didn't have time to dwell on that. The three bruisers who had taken Khalil the previous day had come into the tent and were untying him. At first he assumed that they would do the same to him that they'd done to Khalil, but he almost didn't care. If they did, maybe he'd be able to ejaculate and bring relief to his aching balls. And if so, he could hold out longer. He'd been fucked before. He wondered if Farid knew that. He might even enjoy these hulks. He wouldn't let on that he did, though. He was in a cat and mouse game with this. As long as the hulks got him off, he'd be able to endure their pounding and Farid's questions as well.

But they weren't assaulting him. They were taking him to a smaller tent. They first took him to the latrine where he'd been taken every few hours since he'd been brought here and was permitted to piss and shit and was doused with water. He'd been shocked when he'd left the bigger tent the first time. He appeared to be in a wadi of sorts out in the desert. He hadn't seen any sign of the gas extraction installation. They must be outside the parameter of the installation. And there were just a few tents. Not nearly enough to hold all of his staff members. Had he and Khalil been separated off? And where was Khalil now? Was he still alive? Had he been asked the same questions and been eliminated for convincing them he didn't know the answers?

After the latrine, Drake was taken into the smaller tent and laid on a bed, with his wrists bound over his head to the frame. Then they had left. It was almost twilight already, and, exhausted, Drake went to sleep with the fall of night.

He awoke with Farid's naked body covering his and moving on his body in a highly arousing way. They wrestled with each other, with Drake doing everything he could to get his cock inside Farid and Farid teasing him into an "almost," and then slipping away. Drake couldn't control either Farid or himself because his wrists were bound over his head.

Farid was wearing nothing, not even his keffiyeh. And his lips were everywhere, bringing Drake to an ultimate arousal and then backing off. Drake was breathing heavily and whimpering and groaning in unrealized need. Farid was hovering over Drake's body, Drake's cock head kissing Farid's entrance. But Farid just holding him there.

"The three questions," Farid hissed in his ear. "Three answers and I release your hands and descend on your cock and let you have your way with me for the rest of the night."

"One." Farid's demand cut through the silence like a pistol shot.

"Bring me a map in the morning and I'll show where the explosives could be set," Drake answered through clinched teeth. He was tired, oh so tired, of this game.


"Ahmed Al-Sud. The ruling council member we pay off."

"And three."

"I'll write the number out for you in the morning."

"You'll recite it now. I know you have it now-memorized."

With obvious pain and reluctance, Drake recited the number. A figure hovering by, who it struck him by the person's walk as someone he should know, wrote the number down on a pad of paper and then retreated into the shadows.

Farid was going into high gear. He really did want to fuck. He started to descend his channel on Drake's cock, quickly untied Drake's wrists, and sank his face into the hollow of Drake's neck. He latched on to a fold of skin there and sucked hard. Roaring with lust, Drake threw his arms around Farid's torso and thrust up hard just as Farid thrust down with his hips. They both went wild, thrusting hard against each. Drake exploded, releasing all of his frustrated comings, and Farid collapsed on top of him. Farid moved his lips to Drake's, and they went into a deep kiss as Drake fired once, twice, three times.

They laid there panting hard for several minutes, trying to catch their breath, wanting to be melded into each other's bodies-at least Drake did; there was no telling what Farid was thinking, other than that he'd gotten what he wanted.

Drake was getting hard again. "I need to take you again," he muttered. "And I need to control. I need to take you on my terms."

"Only if I get what else I want," Farid answered.

"What else? I've given you everything."

"Not everything," Farid whispered. He moved his lips to Drake's ear and told him what else he wanted.

They held there, for a minute, still breathing heavily, Drake still getting harder. And then Drake turned Farid on his back, worked his knees between Farid's thighs, slid back inside him, and began a slow pump.

It was then that he saw it. He could see Farid's face in a beam of light entering the tent from the camp outside. Farid was looking at him and smiling. But it wasn't just Farid's face. It was Khalil's too. Brothers. They must be brothers, Drake thought. And the one writing the bank account number down. Of course. That was Khalil. Now Drake knew why and how Farid had known what he did about who Drake was, what he knew, and how he could be approached to give the information up.

But now Drake no longer cared.

* * * *

"What do you want, John?" Sir Wyatt said when he was brought to the screen. "We already sent the list for the third set of hostages to be released, and I absolutely insist this time that Drake Ellinger-"

"Switch to Al-Jazeera TV, Sir Wyatt. There's a video from the Mask of the People. They've run it once. You must see the rerun."

The technician changed the image for the BG vice president, and he suddenly found himself watching Drake Ellinger on his knees, dressed in a white thawb, and surrounded by hulking men in black thawbs and keffiyehs. Drake was condemning the West and the grasping oil companies and imploring the people of the country his gas installation was in to rise up and overthrow the Council of Ten.

A man was standing by with a sword. The clip was short and blacked out before any move was made toward Drake. There simply was a statement that there would be another announcement at the same time the next day.

Sir Wyatt was roaring curses when the communications switched back to John Singleberry. Singleberry was rattling about hoping that Drake wasn't being assassinated. That didn't faze Wyatt a bit, however. Having Drake assassinated would be one answer to the problem if he was silenced before he gave away the company secrets.

"Shut up, John. Didn't you see it?"

"See what, sir?"

"It was a tent, a fucking tent. The video was shot in a tent. There are no tents like that on the gas extraction installation. Ellinger isn't there. He isn't with the other hostages. Let me talk with the fuckin' military guy. Now!"

* * * *

Drake was standing at the side of the cot. Khalil was laying on his back in front of him, his legs strapped together and rising up Drake's chest. Khalil's arms were stretched out straight from his body and were bound with leads tied off at the head and foot of the cot frame, respectively. Khalil was arching his back and crying out the tightness of the cock in his restricted channel as Drake fucked his ass in slow, deep strokes. Drake was in ninth heaven.

Farid, standing by to replace Khalil when he was exhausted, was smiling benignly at Drake. It had been easier than he had thought to extract the information from the man and to control him ever since. As soon as they had cleaned out the Swiss bank account and dealt with the Council of Ten traitor, the Mask of the People could decide what to do with the man. But perhaps he had more secrets Farid and Khalil could extract from him. And maybe he would have other uses for Farid, if not for the Mask of the People. Farid had to admit that the man certainly could fuck.

* * * *

Sir Wyatt was sitting in front of the screen the next day as the first running of the second clip for Al-Jazeera TV came on.

It wasn't quite what he expected, although he hadn't really known what to expect. He had been confused since the morning when John Singleberry had contacted him to tell him that the rest of the hostages had been freed-or rather had been abandoned. No one had come with food for them that morning, and when they checked, they found that the conference room at the gas installation was unlocked and that the area was deserted. There were no insurgents to be found. It had been a few hours before they could make contact with the outside world, though, because the commo equipment BG headquarters had sent out to them was malfunctioning.

The insurgents and their demands for a million dollars for each hostage and ten million for the protection of the gas fields had evaporated in the night.

When the Al-Jazeera clip came up, it was a similar tableau to the one they'd seen the previous day. But this time, kneeling within the ring of black-clad insurgents was Ahmed Al-Sud, BG's man on the Council of Ten. He was babbling his sins of avarice and having been a traitor to his people and country.

After he recovered from the shock of seeing the man he was paying off kneeling and revealing all, Sir Wyatt's eyes roamed the line of men behind him. He stopped at a set of eyes swathed in a keffiyeh and his own eyes slitted. He'd recognize the eyes of Drake Ellinger anywhere. If he'd ever actually seen the young Arab man his money had paid for to keep Ellinger happy, he probably would have recognized the hazel-specked brown eyes of the man standing next to Drake as well.

This time the clip did not fade out before the swing of the sword.

Sir Wyatt roared out to no one in particular, "Someone get Interpol and the Credit Suisse on a conference call immediately."

But even as he said it, he knew it was too late. He knew the Al-Sud account had been wiped out.

The technician was nudging him, pointing out that something was on the screen for him to see again. It was John Singleberry. He was standing in what was obviously the gas installation administrative compound. Behind him, billowing flames filled the screen. Wyatt didn't have to be told that the gas field was exploding.



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