Two thousand years before Dez Harkly developed her secret powers, Guardian Astarte was vowed to protect by the binds enslaving her to the Egyptian pharaohs. Discover the prophecy that originated from a very different time, and spans generations to link two very different girls.
This is the beginning.
Set against the backdrop of the Battle of Actium, in the city of Alexandria, Star struggles with her guardian duties as her feelings for the newly named pharaoh of Egypt grow deeper. Not only is Caesarion her duty, he’s the son of Cleopatra, and he’s human. All of which makes their love forbidden.
But when a conspiracy linked to Caesar creeps into Alexandria, Star must choose between helping her fellow Kythan free themselves of their servitude, and protecting her charge—the last pharaoh—while Egypt burns around her.
***Please note that the following scene contains sexual content and is intended for mature readers***
BATH SCENE: XARION’S POV
Star narrows her eyes at me, her full, bottom lip puckering out the way it does when she’s in serious thought—and though I’m listening to her words, all I want to do is trap that bottom lip between my teeth. Nip it and caress it with my tongue.
“I knew you’d say that,” she says. “And that is precisely why I didn’t want you to know.” She raises her hand from my chest and swipes the wet hair from my forehead. Her body subtly moves against mine as she does, and it drives me wild. “A possible retaliation by the guardians is just one more weighted burden on top of the many you already carry. You don’t need the added strain. Let me deal with Candra and the Kythan. They’re my kindred. As long as I’m their equal—in both power and status—I can protect you.”
This woman—the woman I’ve loved my entire life—is my protector. She not only guards against physical threats, but watches over my mental wellbeing. However, I cannot allow her to carry all my problems alone anymore. I want to be her guardian, to be the one to comfort her when she’s fearful, and protect her against this world.
I tilt my head and suck in a deep breath. “This is why you won’t be with me.” I want her to admit it. If she finally confesses that our titles and her battle with the right course of action have been the only reasons for her kept affections, then by Gods…help me from laying her out on this tile and taking her. I won’t stop.
“This is the only reason.” She nods again, and that is all the conformation I need. “Then I refuse to let them keep us apart for one more moment.” I grasp her face between my hands and claim her lips with mine.
Her lips are soft and warm as I achingly coax them into a fevered kiss, unable to hold back my desire for her. I had planned for our first kiss many times, imagined it over and over. The way I would caress her lips slowly and lovingly, conveying my affections. But every emotion I have ever felt for Star rushes to the surface all at once, and I can’t slow. I won’t. I won’t allow her a moment to question our actions, to reconsider us. I’m going to kiss her senseless—kiss the reason right out of her infuriatingly rational head.
She shivers and locks her arms around my neck. Moving my hands along her waist, I grab her shift, clenching my fingers in the material and pulling her closer to me, but also trying to restrain my passion. I’m so hard beneath her; I ache to be inside her. A moan works its way up from my chest. Her body moves on top and then bears down as she rubs herself against me, and it’s my undoing.
I dart my tongue deeper into the hollow of her mouth, craving her taste. Her moan rumbles through me, sending a current rippling over my skin, as if she’s infusing me with her power. As her hands fist in my hair, I touch every inch of her, my fingers wanting to be everywhere at once. I thrust up against her and her hips press down, matching my rhythm. Her thin undergarment brushes over me, and I can feel the heat just beneath the bothersome material. I want it gone—to remove it in one quick motion so that there is nothing between us. Only her soft skin against mine.
A tremor of need rocks my body and I pull back, painfully breaking our kiss. “Don’t deny me your feelings anymore,” I say, my voice hoarse. “I need you now—all of you.” Desire blooms in her glowing blue eyes, and I’m nearly lost in them. I swallow, gaining my conviction. “I want to belong to you. Let me please you… Let me serve you.”
Her eyes flash, and for one second I fear her rejection. I won’t be able to go back, to return our relationship to the way it was before I felt her in my arms, her tongue mingling with mine, her body trembling from my touch. No. I refuse to go back. Lifting us out of the water, I hold her close as I step onto the tiled floor.
She will give me one last chance to convince her. I at least get that before she makes her decision. If she denies me afterward, I will accept it…though I know it will break me.
I hold her bright gaze as I walk us into my chamber, the slight breeze hitting my wet skin with a cool kiss. I pull her body closer to me, reveling in the feel of her legs locked around my waist. I need her to want me as badly as I crave her.
She swallows hard as I slowly lower her feet to the floor. Her body slides down against mine, heightening my need for her all over again. I run my fingers up her arms, and she shivers. Reaching the silver clasps of her soaked shift, I pause, a fire igniting in my stomach, right before I undo them. The wet material hits the ground, revealing her body to me.
My eyes longingly take in every curve, every silky inch of skin, the swell of her breasts and their perked peaks. I run my tongue over my lips and force my eyes away from her beautiful body, reminding myself why I brought her in here. I tear myself away from her side to search for the asp necklace I’ve wanted to give her since…forever.
I don’t know the exact moment I knew I loved Star. It didn’t smack me over the head. Looking back, it’s as if I’ve always loved her in some form, whether as a friend, a confident, or a desired lover—as if I’ve always known she was the only woman for me. But I do recall the day I bought the asp. We were swimming in the ocean. She was lying on her back staring into the sky, her wet shift teasingly outlining her body…and I just watched. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I’m sure I had a dumb look on my face, but in that moment, I wanted her. No other would ever compare.
That day I made up a weak excuse to leave and rushed to the Emporium, frustratingly searching for something to convey my feelings. And when I found the golden asp, I felt confident that it would show her how I felt. Only, I never gathered enough courage to actually give it to her. There was always something to get in the way. Bad timing, or bad circumstances. Truly, I was a coward. And standing here before her now, naked and vulnerable, I’m still a coward.
But my stubbornness to have this woman overpowers my fear.
I circle her and come up behind, then sweep her dark hair to one shoulder. She presses her back against my chest, her warm body causing all logic to flee my brain, and I clench my jaw. I place the asp around her neck and fasten the clasp.
Inhaling a deep breath through my nose, I brace myself for her reaction. She picks up the necklace in one hand and glances down. “Xarion—”
“I should have given it to you long ago,” I say, emboldening myself to move before her, to see the wary expression lighting her face. “But you would never give me a moment’s peace to attempt it.” A nervous laugh escapes my mouth.
She understands the meaning behind this gift—the weight of it. I’m asking her to be my intended. To accept me as her lover, husband—her other half.
“This is so dangerous, Xarion. If anyone ever found out—if the Council discovered—”
“I don’t care.” I run the pads of my fingers over her smooth cheek, tilting her head up. “My title be damned. I’ve loved you for ages. And I’m going to make you mine.”
I kiss her. With all the love and passion in my being, I kiss her. I want her to feel every emotion thrumming through me. And her whispered words of fear—fear of them, not of us—bolster my resolve. She has always belonged to me. I was only too dim-witted not to recognize her feelings, and how afraid she is. I’m going to erase every fear inside of her and replace them with the certainty that we were made for each other.
I caress her lips with mine, slowly at first and then with more determination, as I guide her backward onto the mattress. Her body fans out beneath me. I grasp her thighs, encouraging her legs to part, and lower myself between her. She releases a soft gasp as my lips travel her skin from knees to thigh—my hands gripping her hips.
My mouth follows the curve of her hipbone to the sensitive skin below her belly button, and I’m tempted to taste every bit of her; not leave any part of her undiscovered by my mouth. But as I reach her breasts, she slides her legs along mine, bringing me closer—and my body trembles as I try to hold back, to go slowly, the need to be inside of her so fierce and demanding it causes a physical pain in my lower half. I clamp my eyes closed as her hands roam over my back, coaxing me to continue.
My chest lowers to hers, our bodies melding together. The heat of her desire washes over me, and I’m through. I can no longer hold back. I bury my face in her neck and greedily take in her scent as I find her. A small gasp escapes her mouth as I slide in slowly…the feel of her driving me mad—wanting to be within her all at once.
Her nails sink into my skin, and the pain causes me to shudder. I push in farther, and her warmth surrounds me. My eyes roll into the back of my head with pleasure I’ve never felt. I kiss her neck, my tongue working over her soft skin, her shoulder, her breasts—I’m all over the place. I reign in my need and push up. Hovering above her, I find her eyes.
I open my mouth to ask if she’s all right—if I need to stop. But her eyes are heated and glassy as she nods, and a smile flits across her face. She pulls me to her, her fingers gripping my hair as my lips come down on hers. A moan rumbles from the back of my throat as she lifts her hips, pushing me in deeper yet. I thrust once, deep and claiming.
Her cry is breathless and needy and it sends my hands to her hips, guiding her body along with mine. I’m losing control. I want the release but I never want to stop. It’s maddening and frightening all at once, and I want her to feel pleasure, too. This is more painful for her…and I vow to give her pleasure immediately after. To kiss the swollen skin and work her body into a frenzy until she gives over to the feeling that’s leveling me.
My name on her lips is all it takes. I’m pulsing within her, my body quaking, my insides trembling as the surge of pleasure and release finds me. Her arms and legs wrap around me, anchoring my body to hers, and my muscles can no longer hold my weight. I collapse, and her slick, warm body swallows every emotion drumming through me.
Pressing my lips to her temple, I kiss her over and over, trailing them to find her lips before I whisper, “Forever. I’ll love you forever, Star.” I lift up to see her glistening eyes. “Now”—I bring one of her legs up over my shoulder—“your turn.”