Secrets Within

A Fan Fiction of Harlequin Intrigue #668 MONTANA SECRETS by Charlotte Douglas

Chapter One: Identity

She could not breathe. The acrid stench of smoke was searing her lungs.

Everything burned. Her skin, her head, her face and chest everything.

The darkness drowned her, and she tried to breathe but could not. The heat was overwhelming nothing like the ice-cold she expected.

But then again, she had never expected to die saving the lives of her best friend, Ryan Christopher, and Prince Asim Barakuh Ben Yaman.

The man she had fallen in love with.

Another bloodcurdling scream split the air as Asim charged into the room with Trace on his heels, both men wielding automatic handguns.

Trace slammed the light on and both men's eyes locked on the producer of the sound: Cassa.

Cassa lay in the queen-sized bed, trashing as she fought of an invisible attacker. The sheets lay tangled around her legs as her oversized T-shirt and long, dark hair practically choked her.

"Allah save me!" Asim heaved as he handed the gun to Trace and swept towards the bed.

"Cassa, wake up!" he urged as the woman's body began to convulse. Asim grunted as he trapped her wrists his hands, Cassa moaning in her sleep.

"B-bomb… in the Embassy!" she gasped, her breathing labored as the sweat rolled on her brow.

"What!" Trace gasped, looking up from untangling his friend's legs. He luckily missed a swipe from Cassa's foot.

"Sshh, Malaeka. There is bomb, but you have to wake up!"

Asim did not let Trace see the pinched expression etched into his face.

Cassa's memory was returning in her own Nightmares.

"She said 'bomb', Asim!" Trace stated, holding down the woman's legs (long ones, for someone petite) as she began to kick violently once more, narrowly missing his head.

This is the most intense one yet. The Colonel needs to be notified…

"Trace, call the Embassy. I n we need to talk to the Colonel."

Kena screamed as she and Ryan jumped Asim and the Ambassador of the U.S. from behind.

Just as the floor underneath them crumbled, the office doors at hers and Ryan's backs exploded, and the roof over their heads caved in on top of them.

Asim held her down as she let loose a back-arching scream. Tears had long since begun to stream down her cheeks, which were flushed crimson in the heat of the night.

"Cassa!"

By now, the room had been flooded with men in and out of uniformed, all bodyguards of the sovereign ruler of Tabari. Trace and others were on the phone to the Embassy and D.C., the rest assisting the Prince in any way they could to wake Cassa.

"Dammit, woman! Wake up!" Asim roared, his hand scoring the woman's cheek and snapping her head to the side.

The men in the room immediately ceased all action and silenced as Cassa's eyes snapped open to reveal a pair of tear-filled stormy greys.

Her chest heaved as she took a deep breathe, but choked and began to sob.

"Thank you, but I will take it from here. Everyone out except Trace." Asim grimaced and pulled Cassa's shaking body to his chest. Exchanging looks of worry and concern, the men slowly filed out until only the three were left.

"Sshh. You are all right, Malaeka. I am here," Asim murmured soothingly into her hair as she cried against his chest.

"You are all right, Cassandra."

He noticed her stiffen before she shoved roughly away from him. A second later and the sound of Cassa's hand colliding with Asim's cheek echoed into the air as the man was stunningly knock from the bed to the floor in an instant.

"Cassa!" Trace cried in confusion and moved to help Asim; but he raised a hand to stop him, sitting up on his own.

"You… you son of a b*tch!" she hissed and slumped to the floor herself, pain and hurt written in stone on her lovely face.

"That's not my name…" she sobbed, turning to bury her face into the comforter.

"Oh, god; that's not my name!"