Authors: Jenesi Ash,Elliot Mabeuse,Lilli Feisty,Charlotte Featherstone,Cathryn Fox,Portia Da Costa,Megan Hart,Saskia Walker
Tia paid little attention to the invocation and Lady Illana's hurried prayers. As she had begun to find, when she was in the presence of the goddess, time ceased to exist in its normal sense, the sense she was used to, and she felt herself enfolded in a special, protective aura from which she viewed Illana's subtle anxiety and Hafertiri's nervous foolishness with detached equanimity and a little amusement. The goddess was already with her, and Tia knew she was safe.
It's been so long since I've known the embrace of a man
, Tia thought to herself, and knew that the words were the goddess's, as well.
Just as Astarte is a stranger in this land, so I am a stranger in her temple, and we both need to know the love of this Egyptian prince that we may both find our homes here
Tia was aware that Lady Illana had lit the coals in the braziers, and was burning incenseâmyrrh and cassia wood soaked in oil of rose. She stood up at Illana's urging and allowed the priestess to remove her robe, and she stood naked in the smoke of the incense as Lady Illana looked her up and down, and Hafertiri, leaning against the wall in the corner, did, as well. Illana was looking for some sign, some imperfection that would disqualify Tia from her role tonight, but she saw nothing but a girl's body at the very peak of her sexual desirability, shaved absolutely clean in the Egyptian manner. Her skin was as smooth as the waters of the Nile in flood.
Illana ran her hands over Tia's shoulders and down her arms, then took her breasts in her hands, feeling their sensual weight. She applied the juice of dates ground in oil to Tia's nipples to make them sweet for her lover's lips, then painted them with
madder to bring out their coral hue. She sat Tia down and bent to her makeup, lining her eyes with malachite paste and painting her eyelids blue with pulverized turquoise. She dusted them with gold powder, then dabbed pomegranate juice on Tia's full lips. Tia looked at herself in a polished bronze mirror and saw the face of a goddess looking back at her. She wasn't surprised.
Illana had Tia stand while Hafertiri brought a special robe from the other room. Like the scrim curtain that hid the figure of the goddess in the temple, this robe was a deep sky-blue and yet so finely woven as to be transparent. Illana tied it around her waist with a sash of blue and gold, and then put all the combs and cosmetics away in their carved box, and she and Hafertiri left Tia alone with her thoughts.
Tia didn't know how long she sat there basking in the presence of the goddess. She was an offering to Astarte. More than that, she was Astarte. She belonged to the goddess now, and that gave her a peace and quietness of spirit that finally banished all nervousness. She knew she was beautiful and desirable, and the knowledge gave her a feeling of wonderful power.
By the time she got up and walked into the garden, the moon had climbed into the skyâa sickle moon, horned like the goddess Hathor, symbol of a woman's secret, the door of life. Illana had told her that Astarte often wore horns on her head as well, symbolic of the changing moon and thus sacred to all women. The breeze off the Nile cooled her face, and through the dancing fronds of the date palms she saw the flash of golden oars on the surface of the river as Nekhet came to keep his appointment.
Lady Illana came to watch with her and thought to speak but could find no suitable words.
Finally, she said, “Hafertiri and I will be in the gatehouse. The Great Lady will be with you, I am sure of it. She will see that nothing bad happens to you.”
“I have no doubt,” Tia said, and she meant it.
Nekhet came walking across the empty moonlit Avenue of Osiris, flanked by two of his friends. Tia watched them approachânervous, unsure, like naughty children come to peek up a lady's skirts. When they caught sight of Tia standing outside the gatehouse, poised like a statue in the night, they paused and abruptly stopped their foolishness.
Nekhet spoke to his companions as they stood there in the road, and they left him, walking back to the river with quick glances back over their shoulders. Nekhet wore a new linen skirt, the pleats sharp as knives. Around his neck was a necklace of jet, and he carried his fly whisk in one hand, a leather purse in the other. Without his friends, his step was measured and serious.
Tia felt his approach in the pit of her stomach, and felt as though she was pulling him toward her by the force of her beauty, a beauty to rival the night. Indeed, she felt that her beauty actually partook of the night and of the moon sailing through the starry heavens, for both were ruled by the goddess and surely the goddess had already taken control of this man. She could already feel the goddess standing huge and smiling behind her. The breeze blew through the fine weave of her robe, carrying it open and exposing part of one breast to the moonlight. She felt her nakedness like a delicious warmth, like a sexual aura about her, and she knew she was irresistible.
“Lady Tianefhet,” Nekhet said, clearing his throat.
Tia could have laughed with eager joy, seeing his sudden boyish nervousness, but instead she said, “My lord prince.”
“I have brought a purse for Lady Illana,” he said, holding out the leather bag. “For the stone. For the temple.”
“She is not here,” Tia said. “But I will give it to her.” Nekhet handed the purse over to Tia. It was very heavy.
“It's more than I can carry, my lord. I am but a woman. Could you bring it into the temple?”
“By all means,” he said, anxious to have something to do.
Tia stood by the gate to let him precede her into the sacred precincts, and as he passed she leaned subtly forward so that the petal-soft buds of her nipples brushed against his naked arm. She felt him pause just momentarily, perhaps shocked by her boldness. He was scented, his chest anointed with oil in which she could detect the masculine odor of cedar and pine and muscle that had been working in the sun.
Once inside the gate she felt a passion take hold of her like a trembling hunger in her stomach. She walked in front of him, leading the way through the shadowy garden to the soft warm glow of the goddess's sanctuary, yellow amidst the blue and deep purple shadows.
He was a prince of Egypt, and no matter how remote from the throne he might be, the air of royalty and divinity clung to him like a perfume. His father was Ra's spirit on earth, the Righteous Bull of Truth, and some of that power surely ran in his veins. Tia knew he was to wed the foreign princess, but she also knew that such things meant nothing to the desires of the heart. Great Pharaoh married all his children to foreign princes and princesses; it was how he made alliances. The heart of Prince Nekhet did not belong to this princess, and Tia knew it had never belonged to any woman.
She could feel his eyes on her hips as she led the way through the fragrant garden. The robe she wore was all but invisible, and it was the goddess who made her roll her hips as she walked, of that she was certain. She was already damp with excitement and her breasts felt full and heavy, her nipples keenly aware of the sheer cloth against them.
She stopped at the door to the sanctuary and waited for him to enter, but he stopped.
“I have heard things about this goddess,” he said. “And about her priestesses.”
Tia bowed her head. “And what have you heard, my lord prince?”
He kept his eyes on her as he spoke. “I have heard that they sleep with men who come to her temple. Is this true?”
“It is as you say, my lord prince.” She said no more than that, although her face felt flushed and hot.
“How is this done?” he asked.
“Need you ask, my lord prince?”
He was discomfited, then laughedâa short nervous laugh. “No,” he said. “I mean, what ceremonies must be performed?”
“There are no ceremonies, my lord. Not this night. When the goddess enters a priestess, she becomes one with the Great Lady. You may take her then, but not before.”
For the space of two heartbeats he said nothing, then he raised his hand and laid it on her breast. Standing in the yellow light, his words were as soft as the moonlight on the plants in the garden. “Then let her take you, Lady Tia, that I may take you, as well.”
Tia knew he could feel her heart, and she rang with a sudden nervousness. She knew he was hers, and that he would be powerless to resist her, and yet the goddess told her she wasn't quite yet ready. With her eyes cast down to hide her own excitement, she could see his arousal already awake in the lift of his skirt and she felt her own answering wetness. And now she knew what she had to do. She took his handâa strong hand, with long, sensitive fingersâand led him into the sanctuary, and she watched his face as she led him to the figure of the goddess.
He stood erect as he regarded the face of Astarte, and Tia regarded him. She bent and took a handful of incense and threw it down on the coals, then she turned her face to the goddess. As the smoke enveloped them, she saw the goddess's smile and she felt a sudden surge of such need and wild passion that she almost cried out, almost fell against him. The goddess had entered her, and her need for this man suddenly overwhelmed her, sweeping all fear and reservations aside. She
turned to him and put her hands on his shoulders and looked into his eyes. Of their own volition, her hips pressed against his and she felt his amazing hardness.
“Lady Tia,” he began, shocked at her boldness.
“Not Tia,” she breathed. “But a goddess for you.”
She reached up for his hair and pulled his face down to her kiss, and he stood there, stunned by her sudden hunger, feeling her feminine softness as she ground herself against his cock. His hands went around her and felt the catlike muscles in her back, her female strength, then slipped down to cup her ass through the delicate fabric. Her buttocks clenched as she shifted her weight and rolled her hips against him. Her mouth opened and her tongue sought refuge between his lips.
Nekhet kissed her back. He'd been caught off guard by her sudden assault, but he had known more than a few professional women in his time, the best Egypt had to offer from the Nile Delta to the Second Cataract, and he quickly regained his poise. However, Tia didn't stop. There was nothing studied or contrived about what she did, or in the way she moved against him, and her breath was as hot as the smoke from the incense, hardly the cool breath of a harlot. She ground her breasts against him, her stiff nipples poking through the fabric of her gown and pressing like coals against his chest, and the way the muscles of her bottom tightened and relaxed in his hands, lewd and obscene, as if she were already trying to draw the seed from him, made him dizzy.
He knew how it went with a whore. After her first onslaught she would step away from him and make some teasing remark, then lead him to her bed and beguile him with her tricks and techniques. But no, it didn't happen that way at all. Tia rocked back just far enough that she could grab his cock beneath his linen skirt, and the feel of her eager touch, her frantic need for him, made his own lust swell in his chest.
He felt hard and heavy, but her skin was wonderfully soft
and velvety as she began to fuck him with her fist. Her touch wasn't studied and contrived like a whore's. It wasn't expert and efficient. It was all hunger and raw passion, her fingers curling around him and squeezing with excitement, reaching under him to feel the potent weight of his balls as her kiss deepened in response to his rising excitement. She began to melt against him, as if just the feel of his virility made her weak and pliant.
Nekhet was not used to a woman taking the lead like this. Usually at this point they were on their backs, asking him what his pleasure was, eager to provide it, but Tia stood against him with no sign of surrender, one arm around his broad shoulders, shamelessly frigging his hard prick as her tongue fluttered in his mouth like a hummingbird lapping up dew.
Her hand was soft and cool, yet feverish in its ministrations. For one so small, she clung to him with wonderful strength. He had never felt such desire in a woman.
“Who are you?” he asked her at last, suddenly breaking away from her kiss.
But Tia didn't answer. She was beyond speech, knowing only a terrible ache like an urgent thirst between her legs, a thirst that now crept up into her throat, as well. She sank to her knees before him, trailing her red lips down his chest, his stomach, kissing his hips, raking her nails over his muscular thighs. She impatiently threw his skirt aside and took his cock in her hand. He was shaved and hairless, as were all Egyptian men who could afford it, and she stared eye to eye with that powerful and angry rod of Seth. She tossed her hair back, opened her lips and swallowed him into her mouth.
“Ahhhâ” Nekhet threw his head back in pleasure, then looked down to watch this remarkable girl on her knees at his feet as she sucked on his prick, pulling at him with her lips. She cradled his balls in her hand, hefting them.
Nekhet was beside himself. He was used to taking com
mand, to telling his women what to do, but Tia was too fast and too excited for him, and there was a hunger in her like he had never sensed in a woman before, a desperation for him that made him tremble even as she bobbed her head slavishly over his loins. It was as if she were indeed a goddess, a goddess of desire, famished for him, refusing to be denied.
Finally she had to pull her face off him to breathe, gulping in air as she continued to stroke him. She was aware that she was out of control, but she also had never felt such delicious desire. She knew now how the Lady could claim both love and war as sacred to her spirit. Tia's desires were warlike; there was that same high passion, that need to possess and conquer or be conquered.
“Come, come, to your feet,” Nekhet said, grabbing her elbow and pulling her off the ground. “Is this how a priestess acts?”
“Yes,” she said, wiping the saliva from her chin. “Yes, it is exactly how a priestess acts. I am all desire, my lord prince. I die for you. My life is in your hands.”