TEARS OF AMUN CHAPTERS 1-3
“Hurry up, Charlotte. Don’t dawdle.” Frustration pinched Victoria Witherspoon's voice until it squeaked.
“Coming, Mother,” Charlotte Witherspoon called out, hastening her step, hoping to avoid her mother’s ire.
Charlotte closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, as she pushed down her vexation. This same scenario had been happening every day for as long as she could remember with little variation. Victoria nitpicked, continuously chipping away at her until she felt like the ruins surrounding them. Unable to deal with the pain, Charlotte squelched the hurt that twisted her insides. There was no sense dwelling on it.
Balancing her bag in one hand, Charlotte picked up her skirt to step over the fallen rubble that once was the great temple of Karnak. She’d made it a few yards farther when her ankle wedged between two rocks and she tripped. The sack flew out of her hands as she tumbled forward. It was at that precise moment that her mother chose to glance back.
“For pity’s sake, Charlotte, do pick up your feet like a graceful young lady should.” Victoria’s hands went to her hips and she shook her head in disapproval. “How many times must I tell you?”
Charlotte felt heat rise to her face. “Sorry, Mother.” She pushed herself up off the ground, ignoring the diggers’ curious stares. It’s not like I did it on purpose, she wanted to say, but didn’t dare speak her mind. It would only make matters worse with her mother, the perfect Victoria Witherspoon, who never did anything untoward. Her mother’s manners were impeccable, her taste enviable, and she expected nothing less from her only daughter; which made it unfortunate since Charlotte took after her father Henry, a self-proclaimed, slightly clumsy bookworm. Despite being eighteen, a fact her mother refused to acknowledge, Victoria had a way of making Charlotte feel like an inadequate, somewhat dim child.
She brushed her hands on her skirt and picked up the sack she’d dropped. Charlotte opened the bag, taking a quick inventory of the contents. The book she’d borrowed from the lending library in London was still there, along with her brushes. She held her breath as she examined the brushes, looking for any sign of cracks or breaks. She let out a sigh of relief. Thank goodness they were intact. Charlotte didn’t want to receive another lecture on carelessness. Assured she hadn’t lost anything she closed the sack and continued on.
Her parents had already slipped into one of the chambers leaving Charlotte standing at the entrance breathing stale air. Their minds were one-track when they were on-site. They probably wouldn’t even notice she was missing, not that the oversight was something new. Charlotte was quite used to being considered a nuisance. Instead of allowing her to stay home, curled up with a good book, her mother insisted she be at the dig. Anything to the contrary would be improper.
Instead of entering the tomb, she stepped back into the sunlight, blinking against the glare. Her parents would be in there for the rest of the day and probably into the night, making traces. Charlotte expelled a heavy breath, knowing she should follow them but unable to bring herself to do so. She was itching to delve into the book in her sack.
She spun on her heel and made her way around the ruins to a spot near some newly uncovered stairs. Huge sand piles hugged the sides of the staircase, like a giant hourglass that had been tipped on its side, making it the perfect hideaway. Charlotte sat on the highest step, drawing out the book. She cracked open the cover, a musty smell indicative of an old tomb wafted from the pages. Charlotte leaned forward and inhaled deeply, closing her eyes for a second in delight. There were few things on Earth that struck her as close to the soul as the smell of a good book.
Methodically she thumbed through the thick sheets until she’d found her favorite spot. Photographs of papyruses dotted the page. Pharaohs gliding across the calm waters of the Nile came to life before her eyes, their bronze skin glowing against the white linen of their embroidered kilts. Charlotte’s gaze caressed the figures, focusing on one man in particular. His chest was bare and unusually broad for an Egyptian. His arms appeared strong, bulging with muscles. The man’s kohl-lined black eyes seemed to penetrate the very pages, demanding her attention, drawing her nearer.
Charlotte ran her fingers over the image. Goosebumps immediately rose on her arms. She knew she was being silly but for some reason couldn’t bring herself to stop returning to him over and over. She’d loved this man since she was fifteen years old, if it were even possible to fall in love with a painted image.
She’d even gone so far as to imagine their life together, what it would feel like if he held her in his arms, pressed his lips to hers. Would his lips be firm or soft? Wet or dry? Charlotte knew if she’d mentioned her infatuation with the picture, her mother would remind her that she needed to get her head out of the clouds and meet a nice young man to settle down with.
That would take your fanciful notions away tout suite. Really, Charlotte, sometimes I wonder where your head is…
Her mother didn’t need to be standing in front of her for Charlotte to be able to hear her admonishing voice clearly in her mind. She glowered. She knew there wasn’t much chance of meeting someone suitable on a dig site in Thebes. All the eligible men she’d met seemed far too wrapped up in trying to make the next big discovery to even notice she was there. Not that Charlotte cared. She wasn’t interested in anyone but the commanding man in the picture.
“If only you were real,” she muttered under her breath, running her fingers lovingly over his still form.
She glanced down at the script under the papyrus. The Egyptologist who’d written the book had believed the figure in the depiction was King Amasis, but had put a side note at the bottom explaining his lack of evidence and all around uncertainty.
“Little help you are.” She laughed.
Ever since Charlotte had learned his name, she’d had a vague sense of dèjá vu, but couldn’t understand why. Once again she could almost hear her mother tsking in disapproval. Charlotte closed the book and put it aside, picking up her brush in its stead. It was time to get to work. At least if her mother wandered by she’d appear to be busy. The air settled around her, hot and oppressive, as she dusted away debris from the half-exposed step with a swish from the brush in her hand.
It had been three years since Mr. Carter and Lord Carnarvon had uncovered the find of the century, Tutankhamen’s tomb. She’d been relegated to this small area of Karnak along with her parents, lesser known explorers who strived for one thing only: the preservation of Egyptian history. While the true Egyptologists were free to delve into the Valley of the Kings.
She stopped, laying the brush down at her side. It wasn’t fair. Her parents had been here just as long as Howard Carter, if not longer. They should have been the ones to stumble upon such a treasure.
Charlotte sighed and went back to work, burrowing deeper into the sand, pushing thoughts of Tutankhamen from her mind. She had made three more swipes when her hand struck something hard beneath the sand. Her breath seized and her heart thudded wildly in her chest. Her vision narrowed to where her hand lay still against the hidden item. With trembling fingers, Charlotte carefully cleared the area. The sounds around her muted as she uncovered a small wooden case.
At first glance, it didn’t look like much. Perhaps a toy left behind by a child, or a worker’s tool kit, long buried in the unforgiving sand. Upon closer inspection, Charlotte changed her mind. She leaned back and glanced around the pile of sand to make sure none of the nearby diggers had observed her making the discovery. All eyes were upon the tasks at hand as they rhythmically worked with picks, buckets, and shovels.
Charlotte stood, wiping the dust from her hands. She slid the item, along with her brush and book into her sack and made her way to the sacred lake of Karnak. In the late morning, the area tended to be deserted. She’d be able to examine her find before taking it to her parents. Perhaps it would be good enough to garner them the recognition they deserved and get them moved to a more prestigious area to dig. Surely if Charlotte accomplished that, her mother would finally see her worth and begin to love her. She sighed. First she needed to confirm its authenticity or her mother would never let her live it down.
Walking over the fallen stones, Charlotte rounded the columns along the path, her heels clattering over the rocks. She stared at the ruins for a moment, wishing it were possible to see the temple at Karnak in its full glory. The sun, golden in the sky, shined brightly on the water ahead, twinkling and radiant. It was the perfect spot to uncover her treasure. Charlotte glanced at the glass-like surface, shielding her eyes, so that she wouldn’t misstep. The area was empty, except for an occasional goose or two that called the Nile valley home. She found a cleared spot near the water’s edge and sat.
Sweat trickled down her neck and under her white blouse. Her eyes once again sought the promise of cooling water. The still liquid, tempting in its calmness, called out to her. Charlotte grumbled and ignored it. She couldn’t go swimming in the sacred lake. It was forbidden. Her mother would be appalled that she’d even considered it. Besides, it was probably full of crocodiles.
She removed a handkerchief from her sleeve and dabbed at her forehead. The white linen came away with a smudge of dirt across it. Charlotte scowled. Nothing stayed clean in the middle of the desert. She tucked the now soiled linen back up her sleeve and removed the wooden box and her brush from the sack.
The box was no larger than a thin loaf of bread. She gently blew away the sand covering it. The cartouches were well worn, but still clearly visible in their gold inlay. Charlotte stared in wonder, turning the box this way and that, studying the craftsmanship. The wood felt rough against her fingertips from the sand’s harsh treatment.
She looked for an opening. There didn’t appear to be one. It certainly hadn’t belonged to a commoner. The gold was a dead giveaway. Had a thief dropped it while trying to make his escape? It wouldn’t be the first time priceless artifacts had been found discarded in the sand like rubbish. She shook her head in disgust.
Charlotte picked up her brush and proceeded to clear away the last remnants of sand until she was able to read the inscription. Her eyes widened as the words on the box came to life in her mind.
Through the sands of time
By the pharaoh’s breath
When the waters rise to highest depth
Then the veils will thin
For two worlds to see
A fated love that must once again be
He who gazes upon the one wearing the Tears of Amun
Shall go on to rule the kingdoms of Egypt
She almost dropped the box as she read the last words. It didn’t sound like a curse, but it certainly sounded ominous. She set the box down, taking a moment to catch her breath. Who had owned this and what were the Tears of Amun? She’d never heard of them, even though her parents had taken care to teach her about all of the legends and pharaohs that existed in ancient times.
They’d pounded everything Egyptian into her head, until she could read and write Hieratic, Demotic, and Hieroglyphs. Charlotte could also speak Arabic, Coptic, and even a little Ancient Egyptian, although her pronunciations on the latter two might not be correct, since they had been virtually extinct for over a thousand years. She picked the box up again to examine it further. The words inscribed on top floating through her mind like an apparition, a ghostly voice from the past that spoke directly to her soul.
Her mother and father had warned her about curses, although they didn’t believe in them personally. Charlotte wasn’t so sure. Howard Carter had lost several men who’d been there to open Tutankhamen’s tomb. Whispers of a curse had spread like wildfire throughout the campsites. She shivered at the thought of bringing misfortune to her family. Maybe she should put it back.
Charlotte jumped as something splashed in the water, her hand automatically flying to her heart. It took her a second to spot the culprit. A duck paddled around the center of the lake, unconcerned with her presence, quacking away. She laughed, the nervous sound grating to her own ears. Why was she so jumpy? It wasn’t like she’d done anything wrong.
Sweat was now pouring off her. She told herself she’d just go to the water’s edge to wet her handkerchief, then come right back. Charlotte stood the box on end. A latch she hadn’t noticed before slid free, releasing a golden necklace. It dropped onto the ground with a heavy thud. Her breath caught as the sun hit the precious metal and sparkling red stones inlayed in the gold. They were drop shaped like tears and as crimson as blood. Charlotte ran her fingers over the gems. Rubies…the Tears of Amun.
Charlotte heard footsteps and immediately grabbed the necklace, slipping it over her head before someone could spot her. Hanif, one of the workers, stepped from behind a column, his slight body drenched in sweat. She waved to him. Hanif smiled back, white teeth flashing against bronze skin. The man turned silently, as if realizing he’d intruded on her private space. Once again she was left alone with her thoughts and her precious treasure.
It was only after he departed that Charlotte noticed her head was spinning. The gold and jewels around her neck seemed unusually heavy, weighted. The necklace heated her skin, eclipsing the warmth of the day. Lightheaded, she stumbled to the water and pulled a square of soft linen from her sleeve. She knelt down near the edge to dip her handkerchief. Unable to reach the surface, she inched closer. The rock near the shore crumbled, toppling her headfirst into Karnak’s sacred lake. The air was knocked from Charlotte’s lungs as she hit the water.
The lake was hot, stagnant from lack of current. As she struggled to break the surface, Charlotte felt as if a thousand hands were tugging her from below, preventing her from gasping much needed air. She opened her eyes. Her movements slowed as she watched the light from the sun fade and reappear over and over again until it became a blur. Surely her mind was playing tricks on her due to lack of oxygen. She blinked as her body became weightless. She was drowning.
Fear surged through her, giving her an added boost of adrenaline. Charlotte broke the surface, sputtering and coughing, trying to rid her lungs of Nile water. Reaching out with both hands she grasped the rough stones near the water’s edge. Her hat was gone, leaving her curly brown hair plastered to her back. Her clothes hugged her like a second skin. She brushed a hand over her face, ridding her eyes of water. Geese honked overhead as they flew by.
Charlotte blinked again as she pulled herself out of the lake enough to sit on the stone edge. She scanned the area, a frown upon her face. Once again she wiped at her eyes while her mind struggled to decipher what she was seeing. The columns in Karnak were aligned with intricate painted carvings at the base, no longer crumbling and worn. She stood to get a better view. The stones that she’d carefully maneuvered around to get to the sacred lake had been smoothed into level walkways. A wall rose up in the distance marking the entrance into the temple area. Charlotte reached over and pinched her hand.
Her flesh turned an angry pink upon contact. Well at least she knew she wasn’t dreaming. Was it possible that she’d drowned and gone to heaven? She glanced out at the lake and saw craft upon the Nile in the distance. They didn’t look like the normal boats used by modern Egyptians. They appeared to be longer, thinner. Dark-haired people dressed in white linen stood at the ends of the vessels steering them through the black water.
“This can’t be…it isn’t possible,” Charlotte muttered to herself. “I must have hit my head on the bottom.” She closed her eyes, resting her head in her hands. Perhaps if she sat here long enough the world would right itself and return to normal. “Wake up, Charlotte. It’s only a dream.” A cough coming from behind one of the nearby columns jolted her back to reality. She stood quickly.
“Hanif, is that you?” she called out.
There was no answer.
“Hanif, I’ve had a terribly bad day. Please show yourself.” Her voice quivered.
A brown hand appeared to the side of the column. Charlotte released the breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding and waited for Hanif to appear. Instead, the most striking man Charlotte had ever seen stepped from behind the column. He wore a white linen kilt with embroidery at the top around his slim hips. The material hung down to his knees, leaving his well-developed calves exposed. His slightly slanted dark eyes were lined with kohl like the Ancient Egyptians depicted in carvings. Like the carvings, his face was a work of art, sculpted with high cheekbones and full lips, squaring into a firm chin.
Charlotte frowned. He looked familiar.
His chest was wide and heavily muscled. Gold bracelets with blue scarabs crowning the tops encircled his wrists. A gold necklace bearing the shape of three flies encased his throat. Hair of the blackest night hung to his shoulders and had been ornately braided. Charlotte instantly recognized the necklace as a sign of bravery. Why was he wearing it? And who was he?
His black eyes heated as his gaze locked onto the front of her shirt. Charlotte watched the rise and fall of his chest, the rhythm mesmerizing, as his fire took hold of her. She glanced down to see what held him so captivated.
The white of her shirt had turned transparent from the water. The Tears of Amun were clearly visible through the garment, along with her rosy nipples, which had taken that moment to bead under his close scrutiny. Charlotte sucked in a surprised breath and covered her breasts with her hands.
For a moment more, his gaze lingered then slowly returned to her face. When his eyes met hers, he smiled. The simple act melted her insides. She knew in that instant why he seemed so familiar.
He was the man from her book.
The same man she’d spent countless hours gaping at like a schoolgirl suffering from her first crush—except he was real. It wasn’t possible, was it? Had she wished so hard, he’d come true?
Charlotte felt heat start at her toes, rise along her legs, over her knees, gravitating to the apex between her ample thighs. If he could do that with just a look, what would it feel like if he touched her? The scandalous thought entered her mind, sending warmth flaring to her face. She knew without the aid of a mirror, she was blushing.
Her dream man stepped forward. Charlotte hadn’t noticed the harpoon in his other hand. She glanced over her shoulder at the water. There was nowhere for her to escape. Her eyes once again found his. He paused, then frowned as if reading her thoughts. He set his weapon down. Charlotte forced herself to smile, willing herself to keep calm as panic warred with excitement.
Why panic over the fact that my fantasy man has come to life from the pages of a book? It happens all the time. Yes, and Mother thinks I’m the perfect daughter.
The man continued forward slowly, making his way toward her until they stood but a yard apart. The detail of his clothing was unmistakable. Charlotte had never seen anything like it with the exception of Howard Carter’s finds and the book she’d borrowed from the library. She glanced to the ground where she’d left her sack before falling into the lake, but it was gone. She glanced at the lake, but didn’t immediately spot anything.
Charlotte looked back at her dream man. A shift of the wind brought his spicy scent to her. Awareness slammed into her body, making her knees weak. Her senses came alive, zeroing in on him. The juncture between her thighs started to throb and she had no idea why. Her nipples beaded painfully. It was as if his mere presence jolted her body awake from a deep, deep sleep. Charlotte fought the urge to move closer so she could inhale more of his delicious scent. Touch his bronze skin. He was even more handsome than she’d imagined. The picture had not done him justice.
What was she saying?
In all likelihood this man simply resembled the man in the picture. He couldn’t possibly be him. That man’s name was Amasis and he’d lived over two thousand years ago. Charlotte felt the back of her head, her fingers tangling in her wet locks. There had to be an injury somewhere. That was the only explanation for the changes in her surroundings. She gave up after a moment, unable to locate a wound.
If she wasn’t hurt, then she needed to figure out what had happened and where he had gotten all of the items on his body. She needed to authenticate what she was seeing, and then inform her parents of the find. Charlotte was sure her mother would have a thing or two to say about her appearance, but it couldn’t be helped. After all, she hadn’t planned to take a swim in the sacred lake. It was an accident, like all the other times...
She held out her hand. “My name is Charlotte Witherspoon.”
The man looked at her hand and then back to her face. When he made no move, Charlotte clasped his hand. His large palm enveloped hers, sending delicious tingles racing up her arm. His eyes widened but he didn’t pull away.
“It’s nice to meet you,” she prompted, before quickly releasing him. He certainly felt real enough.
She blew out a ragged breath and ran her hand through her hair. Charlotte wasn’t sure why the man wasn’t speaking. Fantasies don’t talk, the little voice in her head chided. She dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand. She needed to focus, but it was difficult with his resemblance to the picture being so uncanny. Perhaps he refused to talk because he thought she’d turn him in for theft. Charlotte glanced at his necklace. For something over two thousand years old, it showed remarkably little wear. In fact, it looked almost new, along with the temple’s pillars, which was impossible.
“What is your name?” she asked in her best Egyptian tongue, the words stumbling from her lips.
His brow furrowed and then rose as he finally comprehended. “My name is Ahmose.” He pressed a large hand to his wide chest.
“Ahmose,” she repeated, letting the name play across her lips. Charlotte tried to ignore the way his taut skin was stretched in a canvas of hard muscle. “I like it.” She smiled. At least that answered the question at the back of her mind. He wasn’t the man in the picture. His name wasn’t common in Egypt, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. She brushed the thought away, deciding to examine it later.
Charlotte placed a hand over her breast, her erect nipple stabbing her palm. Surprised by her body’s strange reaction to the man’s nearness, she gulped and forged on, praying he hadn’t noticed. “I am Charlotte Witherspoon.”
He stared at her for a moment, his gaze caressing the rigid crests, as if they were still visible. Well so much for him not noticing… Her skin prickled. Once again his dark eyes sought hers, then his lips pursed as he tried to mimic what she’d said.
“Ch-aaarleete,” he said attempting to imitate the sound she’d created.
She nodded encouragingly.
“Ch-charlotte,” he said again.
“Yes.” She smiled.
Charlotte glanced over his shoulder at the temple of Karnak. Why wasn’t it in ruin? As the question ran through her mind again, her head began to swim. The temple was complete, not a stone out of place. It wasn’t just the nearby columns and walkways like she’d first assumed. There were no ruins in sight.
Several men rushed toward their location, weapons drawn, dressed exactly like Ahmose. Gone were the diggers and the workers her parents had hired.
There was no way this could be happening. The man standing before her wasn’t a dream. She’d already confirmed that by touching him and asking his name. Charlotte shook her head in denial as she stared at Karnak in all its glory. She was not back in Ancient Egypt. It wasn’t possible.
Charlotte’s gaze locked onto Ahmose and she swayed. He grabbed her before she fell. The warmth from his palms penetrated her skin just as her world faded into darkness.
Charlotte’s lids fluttered as she willed herself to open her eyes. No longer hot, she felt comfortable for the first time all day. She stretched, trying to recall what she’d been doing earlier. She’d found a necklace while sitting beside the sacred lake at Karnak. She’d also been talking to the most beautiful man she’d ever laid eyes on, and then everything went black.
Her eyes flew open. Had he struck her? No, she didn’t think so, her head bore no pain. She glanced around at her surroundings, expecting to see her parents’ home. Instead, she appeared to be inside a chamber of some kind. Had he carried her into the tomb?
Torches protruded from the sienna-colored walls, lighting the area. A ceremonial-looking axe hung between two torches, its gold glittering in the firelight. Shifting, Charlotte looked down at her side. She’d been placed upon a bed constructed of mud brick that appeared to be layered in reed mats, then covered with thin linen. The material was soft against her skin. The odor of frankincense wafted in the air, its spicy aroma soothing.
She turned over, allowing the material to slip down her shoulder and over the fine hairs on her arm like a sensuous caress. A slight scrape over her nipples drew her attention down. The rouged pink of her nipples poked out over the top of the covers. Her eyes widened. Her clothes were gone. She glanced down again. Yes, she was definitely naked except for the Tears of Amun draped around her neck. When had she gotten undressed?
Confused, Charlotte pulled the linen close and scanned the room to ensure she was alone. Had Ahmose undressed her? She flushed at the thought. What had it felt like to have his large hands on her body? Were his palms rough or smooth? Had he taken his time lingering over her breasts, perhaps stroking the tuft of hair between her legs? She squeezed her thighs together to halt the ache that had begun. Charlotte tried to muster outrage, but could only manage insatiable curiosity.
She flopped down on her back and stared up at the ceiling while she tried to make sense of the situation. Leaves had been intricately painted on the mud brick, giving her the sensation of being out-of-doors. The walls were smooth and appeared to be thick, lending to the coolness in the room, the firelight gave them a golden glow. The details were familiar to her, but different. The only time she’d seen anything similar was on a dig and no one in those sites had lived in the dwellings for over two thousand years. It just didn’t make sense.
Ahmose appeared in the doorway. Charlotte whipped the covers up to her chin, suddenly feeling vulnerable and small in his presence. He looked as handsome as before with his brown sun-kissed complexion and brilliant smile. His skin had been oiled, carrying the aroma of frankincense.
He opened his mouth and began to speak. The slight difference in dialect compared to what she’d studied had her scrambling to keep up. In over a thousand years no one had heard Ancient Egyptian spoken aloud. And no matter what her mind was telling her, Charlotte knew beyond a doubt that was exactly what he was speaking.
For a few seconds she just stared in wonder, listening to the words roll seductively off his tongue, her fantasy come to life. From her earliest memory, Charlotte had been surrounded by Egypt and the digs. Her parents had brought her on her first excavation when she’d been barely able to toddle. They’d filled her head with tales of the ancient kingdom and of the great rulers and cities that had once existed. It had been Charlotte’s fondest wish at the time to be able to see the cities in all their glory, exactly how her parents had described. And from the looks of things, it had come true.
“Be careful what you wish for, Charlotte Witherspoon,” she murmured under her breath.
The man arched his brow.
“W-where a-am I?” Charlotte struggled to speak his language, enunciating every word to make sure she was understood. Her lips puckered as she twisted her tongue around the dialect. Having never heard Ancient Egyptian spoken it was difficult.
He looked around the room. “You are in my home.”
“But where exactly is that?” She glanced at the walls, then back to his face, all the while keeping herself covered.
“The great capital city of Egypt—Thebes.” Ahmose’s hands moved to his hips and his chest seemed to puff out at the proclamation.
Charlotte frowned. Thebes wasn’t the capital of Egypt, but she wasn’t about to tell Ahmose that, especially under the circumstances. She didn’t want to know, but she had to ask.
“Who is the leader of this land?” Charlotte’s fingers gripped the material at her throat until her knuckles turned white.
“The great King Kamose,” he replied, as if she were dense.
Her mind screeched to a halt. The pharaoh Kamose ruled in the Second Intermediate Period followed by Ahmose the first, who heralded in the New Kingdom. Charlotte’s eyes locked with his and she couldn’t seem to catch her breath. He couldn’t be thatAhmose, could he?
“And King Kamose is your…”
“Brother,” he supplied.
This was Prince Ahmose, the man who would be king. Or as the Greeks called him, Amasis, the very man from the picture in her book. Charlotte brought a hand to her head, trying to stop the wave of dizziness threatening to overtake her.
“You wear the Tears of Amun.” He pointed to the spot beneath the linen where the jewels poked through.
She glanced down at the necklace beneath the covers.
“Do you know what this means?” he asked, as he crossed his arms over his chest.
Charlotte wasn’t absolutely positive, but from the inscription she had a pretty good idea. Perhaps it had been a curse after all, considering she’d been catapulted through time. With speed she hadn’t anticipated, Ahmose closed the distance between them, snatching the cover down. She gasped in surprise.
“What are you doing?” She tried to grab the cover back, but his grip was too firm.
Ahmose slid his hand beneath the necklace, his fingers scorching her skin. “It means that whoever gazes upon the Tears of Amun shall rule all the kingdoms of Egypt, with the wearer by his side.”
Charlotte’s eyes widened. “It didn’t say that,” she whispered, distracted by the heat of his hands.
“The last part I added myself,” he practically purred. “I care not, whence you came. Nor that you speak my tongue strangely. Only that you are here now to become my qefent.”
She couldn’t seem to focus. She must have misunderstood him. Had he just told her that he wanted her…the word for that part of the female body was too disgusting to even repeat. She scowled at him, but he seemed unrepentant. It took her a second to remember the other meaning of the word qefent. Surely he didn’t expect her to…to become his wife?
His gaze heated as it latched onto her nipples. Charlotte’s body responded, despite her shock and the need to protect her modesty. With his free hand, Ahmose dropped the necklace and reached out slowly, giving her plenty of time to move away. She froze as his fingertips made contact with her jutting flesh.
Charlotte gasped, then sucked in a surprised breath at her body’s response to the warmth radiating from his hands. No one had ever touched her so intimately. Growing up on a dig site had kept her fairly isolated. Had it not been for reading Casanova’s The Story of My Life she would be completely ignorant. As it was, she’d only managed to experience the sensation of kissing a couple of years ago on her sixteenth birthday. Luckily for her, Victoria had been too preoccupied to know of either event.
Ahmose fondled her nipples, drawing her back from her musings. Charlotte knew she should slap his hand away. But her flesh had begun to tingle, feeling as if a fire flared beneath its surface. Besides, being in another time period meant things like this held no consequence, didn’t they?
He circled her nipple with the pad of his thumb, until it was standing at attention. Charlotte’s breasts ached for what, she did not know. He pinched her nipple gently and she moaned. Without thought, she leaned into his hand, seeking his scorching touch. His eyes were locked on her face as if gauging her reaction. Charlotte flushed from head to toe.
No matter how hard she tried to fight herself, she couldn’t seem to utter the words to make him stop. She’d dreamt of this moment with him for years. Well not this moment exactly, but something similar. Everything felt so new and exciting, yet so right as if they’d done this a thousand times before. Was it wrong to want to experience something so beautiful with the man she’d loved since the age of fifteen? Her mind refused to think so.
Charlotte stared at his mouth, wanting more than anything to feel his lips upon hers. What he was doing with his hands was driving her insane. She couldn’t seem to think clearly, focusing solely on his insistent massage. The ache between her legs had grown to an inferno and she had no idea how to assuage it.
He plucked at her nipple and Charlotte’s lips parted. Ahmose didn’t hesitate. He swooped down and captured her mouth, drawing out a teasing kiss. Charlotte’s body fired off every nerve at once. She couldn’t breathe. Her heart pounded in her chest loud enough to make her believe Ahmose could hear it. He tasted of spice and honey, blended nicely with all that was male. She found him utterly intoxicating and was drowning in his embrace.
It wasn’t enough. Suddenly there were too many covers on her body. She pushed at them, until he let them drop from his hands and onto the floor. Charlotte sat up to meet his lips. The second her naked body made contact with his muscled chest, her world tilted.
Skin on skin, their bodies slid together as if they were meant to be. He deepened the kiss, tentatively dipping his tongue inside her mouth, then plunging in once she didn’t recoil. Charlotte’s fingers reached out and grasped his forearms to keep herself from being pulled over the edge into the abyss. He increased the pressure on her mouth, dominating. A growl escaped from the back of his throat, as Ahmose’s hands slid over her breasts and around her waist until he could cup her bottom. Charlotte gasped, her fingers digging into his skin. They merged once more, the kiss turning fierce.
He gently guided her back onto the bed. Only then did Ahmose break the kiss. He stepped back and quickly removed his embroidered linen kilt. It fell away from his body. Charlotte’s eyes locked onto the rising shaft nestled within a bed of crisp ebony curls between his legs. It was as thick as her wrist and more than a little intimidating.
Heat gathered and pooled between her legs along with moisture. Her lungs heaved in air as he slowly approached the bed. He nudged her over, then laid down beside her. Every rule Charlotte had been taught about the proper etiquette for young ladies flew out the window when Ahmose’s mouth came down on her breast. He suckled and licked, teasing the bud into bloom. Charlotte cried out, restlessly shifting her hips in an invitation older than time. Her senses went into overload and she couldn’t seem to take in everything that was happening. She wanted this man more than she’d ever wanted anything. Ahmose finally took a breath, giving Charlotte a moment to gather her addled wits.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” she gasped, as he ran a finger along her arm. “We don’t know each other. It’s improper.”
“We have a lifetime to get to know each other.” His eyes were intent as he focused on her face. “Our destiny was written long ago. It cannot be avoided or ignored.” His deep voice was raspy as he spoke.
Charlotte tried to concentrate on his words, so she could come up with a reasonable argument. This was wrong. They were wrong. She wasn’t meant to be here, was she? She shouldn’t even be contemplating mating with this man, or any man for that matter. They weren’t married. It’s all you’ve ever dreamed of, the traitorous thought entered her mind. Eventually she’d have to return to her own time. Her parents were probably worried sick. If they even notice you’re gone, the insidious voice whispered inside her head. Why not enjoy the time you have here?
Even as the thoughts swept across her mind, Ahmose’s hands were beginning to do strange things to her ability to reason. He stroked lightly over her skin, leaving gooseflesh behind. His breathing had deepened until it matched hers. Charlotte’s gaze found his black eyes. They were like molten liquid, shimmering, fiery and scalding in intensity. The temperature in the room seemed to rise within seconds. Charlotte felt feverish, needy.
He smiled in understanding, then dipped his head down to the other breast that had been neglected earlier. Charlotte’s lids dropped, colors exploded behind them. All thoughts of refuting him and returning to her own time left her head. Her body was his for the taking. She let him explore freely.
Ahmose examined all of Charlotte’s hidden peaks and valleys. He couldn’t seem to get enough of the fair vision that had appeared out of the sacred lake. He knew better than to question the gods on their wisdom. She arrived bearing the Tears of Amun, which was all he needed to know. He would follow his destiny as was foretold in the stars and bring the kingdoms of Egypt together once again.
He caressed her nipples, the rosy skin as soft as the petals on a flower. Her innocence blossomed under his touch. His fingers trembled as he lingered over the soft curves of her full breasts. Ahmose dipped between the valley, trailing his finger down toward her navel. He circled the sensitive area several times, before following the same route with his mouth. Her breath seized as he placed tiny kisses across her skin. Her inexperience scorched him, tore at his control. He slowed his exploration, when all he really wanted to do was claim her. He took his time, cherishing this gift, paying homage to her beauty. Praise be to the gods.
Charlotte’s full hips bucked as he ran his hand along her leg, scraping his nails over her thigh. She peeked out from beneath her lids, following his exploration. Ahmose marveled at the contrast between the white of her skin against the brown of his hands. The oil from his body added to the glide as he explored her flesh.
Ahmose slid down until his head was situated above her mons. The sweet aroma of Charlotte’s arousal wafted in the air, mingling with the oil on his skin. He inhaled deeply, dipping one finger into her wetness. She gasped. Her eyes flew open, locking on his seeking fingers.
“Such beauty,” he murmured low. “You are fairer than the flowers growing along the Nile.” He slipped the finger into his mouth. “And far sweeter.”
Ahmose swiped his finger again, this time connecting with the bundle of nerves hidden beneath her folds.
Charlotte thought she was going to come off the bed, her body was responding in unfamiliar ways. She had the overwhelming urge to hang on to something, just so she wouldn’t fly apart into a million pieces. Ahmose dipped his head and laved the same spot he’d just touched.
She gaped in shock. “What are you doing?”
Her heart thudded and her world narrowed to his insistent mouth. Nothing else mattered or existed. Ahmose shifted again until his body was positioned between her thighs, then he proceeded to devour her with tongue and teeth.
Tension built inside of her, winding tighter and tighter, until she was on the verge of breaking. Her hips were moving of their own volition, trying to match his probing tongue. Charlotte grasped his head, her fingers sinking into his ebony hair as her sheath pulsed with need. It seemed to be all the encouragement Ahmose required. He became frenzied, plunging into her drenched channel.
The blood was pounding so loudly in her ears that Charlotte could hardly hear. “Please,” she begged, not at all sure exactly what she was asking for. She closed her eyes against the sensation. Her hips thrust against his mouth, wanting, needing, and desiring something more.
Ahmose sucked the hidden bundle of nerves between his teeth and purred, vibrating the sensitive flesh, until a dam seemed to burst inside of her. Charlotte cried out as she slipped over the precipice and into the unknown below. Bliss enveloped her, surrounding her in a cocoon of warmth. Her body tingled from head to toe. She couldn’t seem to stop twitching, as contraction after contraction of pleasure rolled through her.
When she could finally open her eyes and focus, Charlotte glanced into Ahmose’s smiling face. His grin said it all. He was more than pleased with what he’d done to her. Any moment he’d start crowing.
Charlotte thought about exactly what she’d let him do and her gaze dropped. She didn’t think she’d ever be able to look Ahmose in the face again. He’d kissed her and she’d turned positively wanton in his arms, thrusting her body in his face like a dog in heat. What must he think of her?
As if reading her thoughts, Ahmose shifted until his hips were cradled by her own. Charlotte’s gaze flew up, meeting his eyes. She could feel the hard evidence of his arousal, digging into her soft belly. He held her captive as if willing her to recognize the woman she was about to become.
“I’m not sure I can do this,” she whispered.
He smiled again, his cock bucking against her skin. “We have been made for this since the beginning of time, my precious jewel. Trust in what is to be.”
Ahmose shifted his hips until his cock lay poised at her entrance. It took every fiber of his being to keep from thrusting forward and taking what was rightfully his. She’d bloomed just like he knew she would. Not it was time to finish the journey and he wanted Charlotte to go with him. He slipped his hand between their bodies and began to rub the crown of his shaft over her slick folds. She sucked in a breath, then bit her lip. Ahmose allowed the head to slide into her entrance—it was like being kissed by the gods, tight, hot, and oh so pleasurable. Charlotte’s eyes widened in surprise, but did not show fear. The fact made him prouder than it should have.
“This will hurt but for a moment, my love,” he murmured against her cheek as he placed kisses upon her face.
Ahmose slipped his cock in a few more inches, until he encountered her thin barrier. Her velvet channel was molten as it gripped his length, drawing him deeper inside her sheath. There was no easy way to aid this first joining. Ahmose latched onto her nipple with his mouth, and thrust forward at the same time. A pain-filled gasp escaped from Charlotte’s lips, but he continued to embrace her, lapping at her nipple soothingly. He held his body completely still, the muscles in his back and buttocks straining against the urge to move.
Charlotte couldn’t breath. The pain…the pain she’d felt moments ago was fading and turning into something else. She felt full, stuffed, and unable to move. Ahmose was in her, surrounding, dominating her with his presence. Before this, she hadn’t thought their joining possible, but now her body was adjusting, accepting, and welcoming his as if it belonged. He slowly released her nipple. Just when Charlotte thought the sensations would cease, he hunched, a gentle thrust at first, testing her. She gasped, but instead of pain she felt only pleasure.
Her nipples beaded against the scrape of his hairless chest as he rose up to support himself with his elbows. The small movement brought him deeper inside of her, nudging her womb. Her channel flooded to accommodate his size.
“Are you all right?” he asked, little lines of concern creasing his face.
“I’m fine. It feels…”
He thrust again.
She gasped. Passion exploded inside of her. “Wonderful.” The word came out on a sigh.
Ahmose smiled down at her as he picked up speed. His shaft plunged deeper, his rhythm picking her up and carrying her along on a wave of desire. He rocked sideways, massaging a spot inside of her that was almost as sensitive as the little nub on the outside. Charlotte mewed, allowing herself to fall into the feeling. Ahmose’s hips bucked and surged, riding her harder and faster. Charlotte’s lids started to fall.
“No,” he cried. “I want you to look at me when you find bliss again.” The muscles in his neck strained. “I want you to know who will be your king.”
Charlotte opened her mouth. She wasn’t sure if she was about to protest or concur. Ahmose took that moment to dip his tongue inside, circling and twisting with her own. The now familiar throbbing sensation started low in her belly. Charlotte’s grip tightened. Ahmose drove deep, centering his effort at her very core. It was all that was needed to hurl Charlotte into another release. She cried out, all of her muscles tensing at once as her body milked his cock.
The second her sheath clamped down on him it was over for Ahmose. His seed spilled from his body. Her unrestrained response sent him roaring into oblivion. His hips continued to move as the last of his essence emptied into the vessel that would soon hold new life. This wonderful gift from the gods was his, all his and he had no intention of ever letting her go.
Before he’d given it another thought, Ahmose decided they would wed before the celebration of the Opet. Charlotte would become his princess and then later his queen. Together they would unite the kingdoms of Egypt.
Charlotte was seeing stars across the handsome face above her. He was everything she’d ever imagined in a lover and more. His passion had been limitless. They were still joined, but the fact no longer held embarrassment, only joy. Her heart swelled as she felt him throb inside her.
This man, this prince, had wanted her, Charlotte Witherspoon, the woman who’d fallen in love with a picture, when he could have had anyone in the kingdom. The thought was empowering and a little terrifying. She reached up and moved a satiny braid of his hair over his shoulder, so that she could see his face clearly. He was grinning down at her, possession burning in his eyes.
A loving curve touched Charlotte’s lips.
“What brings you joy?” His smile reached his eyes.
She ran her finger along his firm jaw. “I was just thinking how lucky I am to have found someone like you to be my first lover.”
His expression darkened, storm clouds filling his eyes.
Charlotte dropped her hand away. “Did I say something wrong?”
“You shall have no other lovers from this day forth. You have given yourself to me. I have planted my seed. It is done.” He slipped from inside her and slid off her body.
Suddenly Charlotte felt cold, empty. She frowned as she tried to think about his words. “You can’t expect me to stay here. I don’t belong in this t—”
“I shall hear no more of this.” He fastened his kilt in haste. “You are to become my wife.”
“Wife!” Charlotte sat up, scrambling for the covers at the same time. “I can’t become your wife. I have to get back.”
For a moment an expression of confusion crossed Ahmose’s face, then just as quickly it cleared. “I will offer the proper gifts, ones fitting for a soon to be queen. Tell me what land I must send them to and it shall be done.”
“Queen? Land?” Charlotte was struggling to keep up—first his wife, then his queen? The pieces of the inscription fell into place like an iron latch. “Ahmose, there’s been a terrible mistake. The Tears of Amun aren’t mine.”
He stared, aghast. “You stole them from their rightful owner?”
Charlotte’s mouth dropped open. “I would never.”
Relief flooded his features. “Then it is settled. We wed in a few days, just in time to join the Opet festival.”
She simply stared, unsure of what to say next.
“I will return with some clothing, since your old garments were…unsuitable.” Ahmose slipped from the room before she could respond.
Charlotte watched his retreating back until he disappeared around a corner. She had to explain, try to convince him to call the wedding off. Her heart sank. It would do no good falling in love with the man, when in the end she’d have to leave him.
Who was she trying to fool? She’d fallen for Ahmose years ago when his name had been Amasis and he’d only been a picture on a page. The thought of never seeing him again bothered Charlotte more than she cared to admit. It had been bad before, but after today, how was she going to live without him?
Charlotte lay on the bed, sated, awaiting Ahmose’s return. As much as she liked being here with him and experiencing the joys of lovemaking, she had to find a way out of his time and back into her own. If there was a way in, there had to be a way out. Besides, if she ended up staying, history could be irrevocably altered. The question was…how to get back.
She was playing with the gold around her neck when Ahmose returned. He brought her delicate linen, much like what he wore, and carried a wooden chest, laminated in precious gems and mother of pearl, which he proceeded to open. Charlotte almost fell off the bed when she saw the jewels and mass of wealth he displayed. Only in Tutankhamen’s tomb did gold like this exist. Her heart thudded as he picked up a ring of gold. Charlotte stared as he slid the ring onto her finger. Tears sprang to her eyes as she realized no matter how much she wanted this, it could never be.
“If you do not like this one, I can get you another.” He hesitated, then began to dig through the jewelry.
She swiped at the tears with the back of her hand, then reached to still his movements. “It isn’t that. The ring is lovely.”
“Then why the tears?” He ran the pad of his thumb over her cheek, wiping away the moisture.
“I’m a little overwhelmed.” She shrugged. “I’m a long way from home and not sure how to get back.”
He smiled. “Egypt has some of the finest trackers in the land. I’m sure they will find your home, if that is truly your wish.”
Charlotte laughed. She doubted very much if anyone here would be able to find her home. Ahmose reached back in the chest and was once again looking through various items. He picked up two ruby earrings and grinned as he held one up to the side of her face.
“Perfect. They match the Tears of Amun and the fire that lights your eyes.”
Charlotte brought his hand to her mouth. She placed a chaste kiss upon his knuckles, before allowing him to hang the earrings from her lobes. Ahmose helped her get dressed, showing Charlotte how to tie the linen about her. By the time he’d finished she felt like a true Egyptian princess. He slipped sandals onto her feet and then led her out of the room.
They walked down a narrow corridor into a courtyard. A tree grew in the center, lending shade to the hot afternoon sun. They continued on until reaching the main entry, where several women sat.
“These are my servants. They will assist you with anything that you might need.” He swung his arm wide, indicating everyone in the room.
“I’m not sure I need so much help.” Charlotte stared at the women, giving them a tentative smile.
Ahmose squeezed her hand. “This is how I live in Thebes. Later we will visit my brother’s harem. He will be anxious to meet you.”
Charlotte pictured a houseful of naked women running around feeding the men grapes. She knew she was just being childish. This was how Ancient Egyptians lived—at least the ones who had money.
“Do you have a harem?” she asked without thinking.
Ahmose turned to her. “You are standing in my harem.”
Charlotte’s gut clenched. “B-but I thought these women were your servants, not your wives.” Her gaze traveled over their faces once again, jealously scrutinizing their appearance.
Ahmose tipped her chin until she looked at him. “A harem is private quarters. A retreat. These women are my servants. You will be my wife.”
Charlotte leaned into the warmth she saw in his eyes. His gaze held so much promise, so much…love? She knew it wasn’t possible, but there it was in the depths of his black eyes—love. He’d just met her. There was no way he could be feeling such a thing. It couldn’t happen, she wouldn’t allow it.
What are you going to do, rip out his heart? The thought had her cringing. If she stayed here for much longer it could very well happen when she left.
“Come, my love. Let us eat.” Ahmose clapped his hands twice and the women scattered in all directions.
Within moments a linen throw had been tossed on the floor and an area had been set up for them to dine. Bowls containing dried fish, fresh fruit, and bread were laid upon the blanketed floor. Cushions stuffed with goose feathers were brought for them to sit upon. A thick beverage was poured into two cups. The servants tossed in dates and stirred in honey. One was handed to Ahmose, the other to Charlotte. He held up his cup and waited for her to do the same.
“Here’s to my future bride.” He grinned and took a sip.
Charlotte smiled back and drank from her cup. The brew was thick and grainy as it slid down her throat. She’d read about this drink, but this was the first time she’d ever tasted barley beer. From the darkness and the taste of the brew, it was quite a potent batch. As Charlotte drank, her muscles begin to relax. Ahmose tore off a bit of the crusty bread and handed it to her, then passed the fish.
“How long have you lived here?” Charlotte asked. There was so much she wanted to learn, so much she wanted to see.
“Many years.” He swallowed the bread he’d been chewing. “My brother and I were raised in Gurob, near the Fayuum oasis on the edge of the desert. My family has another harem palace there. Perhaps you’d like to see it sometime?”
“I’d love to.” Charlotte couldn’t hide the enthusiasm in her voice.
This whole experience was like a dream come true. Ahmose was a dream come true. She was afraid at any moment she’d awaken and it would all be gone. He’d be gone. Charlotte’s heart squeezed in her chest and for a moment she had to look away, unable to meet his gaze. After a few seconds, she’d composed herself enough to continue their conversation.
“Would it be possible to view the city of Thebes today?”
Ahmose was watching her closely, not missing the moment her eyes misted over. “I think that would be possible. My chariot is housed with my horses.”
She squealed in delight.
“Tell me, my love, where do your people hail from?”
Charlotte stilled mid-motion from picking up her cup to take a drink. She’d hoped they could avoid this question. At least a little longer. She put the beer down and bit her bottom lip. Finally she released a breath.
“I come from lands far to the north, beyond the realms of Egypt, across the seas.” She began picking at a loose thread on her kilt.
“How did you come to be here?” Ahmose took a drink of his beer, and then set the cup down.
That was a very good question and for the life of her, Charlotte wished she had the answer. She couldn’t exactly blurt out she was from a different time. Ahmose would probably have her stoned to death. So she fibbed. “My people left me on their journey farther south.”
Anger flashed in his black gaze. “How could they leave the bearer of the Tears of Amun and one so fine and beautiful as you?”
Charlotte glanced down at her lap, then back up into his face. “Where I’m from the Tears of Amun don’t have the same meaning.”
“How can that be?” He shook his head. “The gods would not allow it.”
“My people have moved away from the gods. They are not as well thought of as they are here.”
Ahmose gasped. “This cannot be. It is blasphemous.” He rose from the floor, his hands going to his hips. “I do not understand your people.”
Charlotte chuckled. “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t either.”
“Come.” He held out his hand. “Let me show you Thebes.”
Charlotte let Ahmose pull her to her feet. He led her behind the palace to a stable. There were many horses of various colors in a paddock, and off to the side stood five chariots.
“Are those all yours?” She pointed to the chariots.
Ahmose grinned. “They are mine and my family’s. The one on the end is my favorite.”
Charlotte could see why it was his favorite. The front of the chariot was inlaid in gilded gold. The wood paneling at the sides had been painted and carved with depictions of Ahmose defeating his enemies in battle. The vehicle was so ornate, Charlotte wondered if they should really be riding in it. The transport seemed ceremonial, not like something you’d flit around town in.
“Come.” He tugged her arm, pulling her forward. “What color do you prefer?”
Ahmose nodded toward the horses. Her gaze flew to the horseflesh prancing around the ring, kicking up sand. A dappled gray stallion bucked and reared, nickering loudly, drawing her attention from the others. His long white mane and tail glowed in the sunlight. The muscles in his sleek body rippled with unbridled strength. He tossed his head in her direction, then snorted.
“Him.” She pointed to the stallion.
Ahmose smiled again. “He’s my favorite. I call him Hasani. It means handsome.”
Charlotte glanced back into the paddock. “It fits him,” she said, laughing.
Ahmose whistled, three quick bursts of sound. Hasani’s ears twitched then perked up. He repeated the whistle and the stallion trotted over to stand next to him.
“That’s a great trick.” She nodded toward the horse. “Do they all do that?”
It was Ahmose’s turn to laugh. “Only when they feel like it, I’m afraid. They are much like women—they do nothing unless they want to.”
Charlotte opened her mouth to protest.
Ahmose winked, immediately soothing her ruffled feathers.
How did he calm her so easily? She shook her head and rolled her eyes. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, then signaled for his servants to ready the chariot.
Moments later, wind whipped through Charlotte’s hair as they raced down the roads of Thebes. Several people lined the streets to see the chariot pass by. Hasani’s slashing hooves and the chariot’s clattering wheels left dust plumes rising over the stones in their wake. Ahmose had her pressed to the front of the chariot, his body snug against hers as he balanced the conveyance. Charlotte could feel his cock brushing her back. With each jolt, it grew, lengthening to outrageous proportions.
She felt strong, powerful, like a woman. Not the klutzy girl she’d been when she left her time. She wiggled and his shaft pulsed, hard and urgent. He groaned, dropping one hand to his side. Suddenly she felt a tug at the back of her kilt and then a breeze on her heated flesh. Charlotte froze.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
He pressed his lips to her ear. “Spread your legs a little more.” He rasped his fingernails over her silky skin, leaving gooseflesh in its place.
Without thinking, Charlotte did, exposing her sex to his machinations. Ahmose bent his knees and slipped inside her from behind, filling her completely, before taking up the reins once more. Each bump they hit drove his thick cock deeper into her core. The slow torturous movements seared her, fanning out across her body like licking flames. Charlotte tried to wiggle around so she could see him.
“Don’t move.” His hips pressed against her, holding her to the front of the chariot. The pressure caused her clitoris to throb. “Or someone may notice,” he whispered, taking care to steer the chariot over the uneven road.
She couldn’t breathe or think, only feel as she gripped the front of the chariot. He continued to slip in and out of her moist channel. Her nipples stabbed against the linen, rasping, driving the air from her lungs. Ahmose placed the reins in one hand and circled her clit with the other. His thumb probed and stroked, feathering the nubbin with glorious attention. Charlotte’s body shuddered, then she came hard, her cry muffled by his rapacious kiss. The chariot turned down a deserted road. Ahmose thrust rapidly, driving into her like a man possessed, before following her into the abyss.
This was one chariot ride Charlotte wouldn’t soon forget. Deliciously sated, it took her a few moments to realize that they had passed the temple at Karnak. Sand dried out her mouth, but she didn’t want the ride to end. She breathed in. The heavy spice from nearby kitchens perfumed the air. Charlotte could almost taste the food from the aroma alone.
Ahmose slowed Hasani to a trot, his hooves clopping, as they echoed off the walls of the many shops and homes tucked throughout Thebes. The sun was setting on the horizon, brilliant rays of red, purple, and pink, catching the sails from the boats on the Nile in its fading light. Charlotte sighed and snuggled deeper against Ahmose’s chest, a smile planted on her face. She could get used to this way of life quite easily. The thought should scare the wits out of her, but it didn’t.
They returned to the palace as the last rays of light dropped below the horizon. Ahmose helped her down from the chariot and handed the reins to one of his servants. “Come, it is time to break for the night.” He guided her along the path, his big hand resting on the small of her back.
Charlotte could feel heat from his touch through her clothes as if he’d placed a hot iron against her skin. Her stomach knotted in anticipation. Ahmose didn’t look at her, but she could tell he was aware of her slightest movement. They entered the palace, passing through the main parlor area, out into the courtyard beyond, and then into the chamber that held his sleeping area. Charlotte couldn’t seem to remember how to walk. She tripped over one stone and then another, until Ahmose clasped her elbow, steadying her.
His singeing touch only served to intensify the emotions she was feeling. Her skin burned. Was it possible to spontaneously combust? At the moment, Charlotte thought so. She tugged at the material near her neck. Her clothing felt as if it were smothering her, every fiber woven together to add to her discomfort. She glanced out of the corner of her eye and caught Ahmose smiling at her. She didn’t think this situation was in the least bit funny.
“Are you warm, my love?” He leaned in until his lips were almost upon her ear.
“I can help,” he all but growled. “Perhaps you’d like some water?” His eyes twinkled in the torch-lit hallway.
She shot him a look. Ahmose didn’t even flinch. He was enjoying the fact that he could toy with her. He knew she was at the mercy of her hormones. Well two could play that game. She may not have much experience, but if the chariot ride was any indication, she wasn’t completely without means.
Charlotte ran her hand along Ahmose’s arm, pausing at his rounded shoulder. His muscles tensed beneath her fingertips, but he did not pull away. She continued her innocent exploration onto his chest, his skin searing her hand. When she reached the flat disc of his nipple Charlotte rubbed it between her thumb and forefinger. Ahmose’s breath caught and his eyes flashed.
“You are playing a dangerous game, little one. Everyone knows not to tease a lion.” His grin turned feral.
She gave him a wide-eyed look as if to say she didn’t know what he was talking about, and worked her hand lower. Charlotte’s fingers slid over the ridges of Ahmose’s muscled stomach. When she arrived at his navel, he flinched. This was fun. Having this big strong male at her mercy was more enjoyable than she’d thought possible.
She circled his belly button, allowing her nails to lightly scrape his skin. Charlotte slid her hand along his belted waist. She glanced down and saw the evidence of his arousal pushing against the white linen of his kilt.
His cock grew thicker the longer she stared. Finally Charlotte couldn’t resist. She slipped her hand over his shaft. Ahmose froze for a second and then pressed his length into her hand. Charlotte’s fingers wrapped around his shaft. His breath came hissing out.
“Are you trying to cause injury to me?” he asked, his voice hoarse.
“No.” Charlotte went to pull away, but he stopped her.
He took a deep breath. “I was trying to be gentle with you since today was your first time. But such torture is driving all honorable thoughts from my head.” His body trembled beneath her touch. Ahmose’s gaze bulleted to her lips. “Ra, give me strength.” He groaned and leaned down, pressing his lips to hers. The kiss was tender, not rushed, as if they had all the time in the world.
She didn’t think there would ever be a moment when she would tire of his embraces. Her knees quivered as he deepened the kiss, his mouth firming as hers grew more yielding. His tongue swiped at her lower lip, seeking entrance. Charlotte opened for him, welcoming his spicy taste. His hands moved to her shoulders. He rested his palms there for but a moment then pulled her closer without shifting her hand from his shaft.
Charlotte felt him buck against her fingers. Tentatively she stroked down, unsure of exactly what to do. He rocked his hips in encouragement. She reversed direction and slid her hand back up his length. Ahmose growled against her mouth. Feeling confident, Charlotte stroked him again, this time without pausing. His grip on her shoulders increased, but he didn’t break the kiss. She increased her speed, enjoying the feel of his fullness in her hand.
Sweat broke out on Ahmose’s brow. He was trying very hard not to drag Charlotte to the ground right in the hallway. His fingers bit into the material around her shoulders, trying to anchor his need. She slid her silken fingers over his crown and gently applied pressure. He clenched his jaw against his instinctive response to thrust. If she kept this up for much longer he was going to spill his essence. Unable to take a minute more, Ahmose pulled back from the kiss, gasping.
“Woman, if you wish to torture me, I can think of better ways to do so.”
He grabbed her hand, pulling Charlotte more forcefully than he’d intended toward his bedchamber. He was loosening the ties holding her kilt together before they even reached the door. Her lips were swollen and red from his kisses. Ahmose snatched up a wisp of her curly hair and brought it to his nose. She smelled of wind and sunshine. Her eyes widened and sparkled in the torchlight.
He released her long enough to shut the door. He then walked to a small bowl containing myrrh and frankincense, crushing the resin in his hand until the room smelled of spice. He turned in time to see Charlotte remove the remaining linen from her body. Ahmose’s breath caught. Her skin glowed like alabaster. The rose of her engorged nipples all but called out to him. The dark thatch of curls between her thighs had already begun to dampen, glistening like a beacon for which he could not resist.
She wanted him, just as much as he wanted her.
His mouth watered at the thought of sinking between her spread legs and sampling of her bounty once again. He wanted to taste her juices as they burst from her body. His cock strained beneath his kilt, demanding to be released. The Tears of Amun adorned her neck, while the ruby earrings he’d given her flashed fire against her ears. Ahmose swallowed hard. He longed for the moment to last. He wanted Charlotte by his side in this lifetime and into the next. He fisted his hands at his sides to keep from reaching out and taking her. He wasn’t done looking his fill.
Charlotte shifted under his intense gaze. Inside her a fire raged that only he could douse. She had no idea what possessed her, but she brought her finger to her mouth, gave it a quick lick, then ran the same finger around her nipple, leaving a trail of moisture. The areola puckered. Ahmose’s nostrils flared and his body trembled. He removed his kilt in seconds flat and fell upon her. This time his kiss was aggressive, hungry. He pushed past her defenses, attacking her mouth savagely.
His hands seemed to be everywhere at once, groping, pinching, squeezing, and caressing. He kneaded her flesh, stroking her mons at the same time. Charlotte moaned against his mouth, lost to sensation. He dipped one finger into her drenched channel and began to thrust in and out. When her hips joined in the rhythm he added another finger. The tension in her abdomen rose as she drew nearer to release. She tightened her inner muscles, holding his hand in place, seeking the relief he promised.
Just when she was about to slip over the edge he broke the kiss and pulled out of her, maneuvering her toward the bed. Charlotte went to lie down, but Ahmose stopped her. Instead he bent her forward until only her elbows rested on the reed mats. Charlotte’s heart leapt to her throat and her breath seized. Visions of the chariot ride passed through her mind, fueling her need.
For a few seconds she stood there, her bottom raised in the air toward Ahmose. Then she felt his shaft brush against her cheeks, hard like granite, yet soft as satin. He didn’t try to enter her. He just continued to stroke over her skin, teasing the edge of her nether lips. Charlotte pushed back in encouragement.
“Not yet, my glorious feline.” He laughed and held her hips still. He leaned down and placed a kiss on each globe.
Ahmose stood, and then gently pressed her head to the mats. “You have punished me long enough,” he whispered against her hair. “Now it is my turn.”
Excitement thrummed through her. She could feel her nipples bead to the point of pain. Her sex was saturated. And not for one second did Charlotte care, her sole focus remained on the large cock between Ahmose’s thighs, and the sexy voice vibrating through her senses. Her clit twitched as he slid the crown over her, his heavy sac brushing her leg. Charlotte bit her lip to keep from crying out, or worse yet, begging.
Ahmose stuck the tip of his cock in her waiting entrance, his fingers digging into the flesh of her hips in preparation. He would torture her for a few minutes more and then fuck her senseless. He pulled out and she whimpered, opening her legs wider.
“Is there something you wanted to say to me, my love?”
Charlotte groaned. “No.”
He dipped inside once more, this time releasing one hip so that he could massage the hooded bundle of nerves cradled between her ample thighs. Charlotte whimpered, her legs almost giving out. Ahmose circled her stomach, holding her up with one hand. He rocked forward again, his shaft sliding past her entrance and along her crack. She bucked within his hold like a skittish mare cornered by a stallion.
“Please,” she begged.
“That’s all I wanted to hear.” His voice was gravelly as he released her long enough to grab her hips once more and plunge in from behind, sinking deep, branding her.
Charlotte gasped as an orgasm racked her body, throbbing as wave after wave hit her. She could hear the suction noise as Ahmose drove his cock in and out of her, his heavy sac slapping rhythmically against her skin. His hips thrust against her bottom, lifting her up onto her toes. Charlotte bore down to take all of him. It was his turn to groan. She clamped her muscles tight around his shaft and his movements stuttered.
“Charlotte, if you do that again, I will spill,” he growled, his voice strained.
She smiled, considering it for a moment, then squeezed. Ahmose gripped her tighter and then thrust one more time, a cry dying on his lips. His hips continued to flex. Charlotte could feel his hot seed spurting into her body, filling her womb. For a moment the thought panicked her, but then she realized if she got pregnant, she’d be carrying Ahmose’s child.
“You are truly a sorceress, my love.” He dragged in a ragged breath. “And I thank the gods that you are mine.”
Charlotte rested her head on the bed. She wasn’t sure if she moved her legs would support her. Sweat dripped down her back and under her breasts. The lips of her sex felt pouty and swollen. The room smelled of spice and musk. The aroma of their lovemaking was the sweetest she’d ever inhaled.
Ahmose lifted her from behind and placed her gently on the bed. He gathered the rumpled covers before slipping in beside her. He pulled Charlotte tight against his smooth chest and fell into deep satiated slumber.
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