High Treason(2)By: DiAnn Mills
The moment the limos pulled off Westheimer into the busy shopping strip housing the Frozen Rock, uneasiness crept over Kord. A sensation he couldn’t shake and one he’d learned to trust. He scoured the area looking for potential danger. “Prince Omar, I don’t think we should do this.”
“This is one of Mother’s favorite excursions, and my sisters enjoy it too.”
He glanced at his friend. “Zain and I can take orders and deliver them. My gut tells me this isn’t safe, and I can’t give you a solid reason why.”
“I know your gut talk,” Zain, the head Saudi bodyguard, said. “Kept us from getting killed a couple of times.”
Prince Omar sighed heavily. “We have eight armed men. This is a go.”
Wasi drove the limo to a far corner beneath an oak where both limos had room to park. The Frozen Rock sat midway in the retail center.
Zain turned to the prince. “Kord and I will make the initial trip and ensure the area is secure. After I talk to the owner and pay him per the conversation Malik had yesterday, I’ll call you. If I detect anything risky, we can cancel.”
The prince lifted his phone and frowned. “My battery is dead. Must have used it up at the airport. Call Malik if there’s a problem.”
Per the State Department and HPD, the bodyguards, all dressed in suits, were permitted to carry weapons in case of an attack. But Kord couldn’t shake off the wariness. Only Zain and Prince Omar wore white cotton pants and shirts under their thobe and ghutra with a black mishlah. The men shared a remarkable resemblance, but having Zain disguised as the prince gave Kord little relief. He surveyed the area, noting teens from the high school across the street, two women in workout clothes, and others who gave no apparent reason for the hesitancy in his spirit. “Would you like for Wasi and Malik to join us?”
Zain laughed. “You and I have faced a lot worse than a store owner forgetting to open early.”
“True.” No talking down a stubborn Saudi when he’d made up his mind.
Wasi placed the limo in park.
Kord exited the limo and walked around the front, his attention focused on every conceivable point where danger could be lurking. Finding nothing, he opened the door on Prince Omar’s side, and Zain stepped out, his slender body wrapped in centuries-old culture and tradition.
The two strode across the parking lot toward the window-walled Frozen Rock, painted in vivid orange and neon green. A Closed sign on the door met them, but lights were on inside the shop. Good. The reservations were intact. Now to get the prince and his guests fed and out of there. Was Kord crazy to be so apprehensive?
He knew Zain had his eyes and ears on what was happening around him while his fingers were inches from his weapon. A few feet from the glass door of the ice cream shop, Zain broke his stride.
He fell against the glass door.
The pop of a rifle sounded.
Kord grabbed him, pulling out his Glock with his other hand. Shouts in Arabic alerted him to bodyguards emerging from the limos close behind him. Time hung suspended. Zain’s body slid to the sidewalk facedown, the ghutra soaked in red.
Kord bent to his friend and felt for a pulse. “Zain,” he whispered, “this isn’t the way it’s supposed to happen.” No response or faint heartbeat. Blood oozed from the back of his skull, draining a Saudi life onto US concrete.
Screams rose from nearby women and children.
The man who’d shared Middle Eastern danger and saved Kord’s life was dead. No doubt mistaken for Prince Omar. How did the sniper know about the stop at the Frozen Rock?
Monica poured a large cup of the Arabic blend for a regular customer. “Chicken-bacon wrap too?”
“You bet. Add a bag of chips and a banana.”
She peeled off a label containing a quote, sealed it onto the side of the cup, and handed it to him before bagging his lunch order to-go. “Been to the rodeo yet?”
“Taking the family on Saturday. The crowds will be crazy, but that’s part of it. What about you?” He gave her a polished smile, one he used for her and every person he met there. Dressed in a dark suit and a two-hundred-dollar tie, he looked every bit the successful lawyer.