Days became weeks, passing into months. Ardeth came to Angelina when he could; but the main body of his work and life was out there, in the desert, while hers was in Cairo...
It was still dark when Ardeth opened his eyes, but his keen instincts told him it was near dawn. Muted sounds of running water filtered in to the quiet bedroom from elsewhere in the house, and he could hear Angelina's housekeeper moving about. Otherwise, the house was still quiet, its mistress lying curled on her right side in his arms, as limply and trustingly as a child, his bigger, stronger body curved to warm and protect her.
Still more asleep than awake, Ardeth was in no hurry to move - he had everything he desired right here. She felt good - no, better than good, she felt right; curled there in his arms; her back and bottom nestled against his own body. She belonged here, in his embrace; the hills and valleys of her body forming to and completing his own lean, hard muscled form, as if she was made for him and for him alone, and he for her. This deep sense of belonging was still new to him, and he had discovered he enjoyed the feeling - more than that, he reveled in it, and Ardeth snuggled closer to the warm, tantalizingly female body pressed against him. She was soft and warm and pliant, and there was a female smell to her that made his nostrils flare in deep male appreciation as he inhaled the warm, sweet scent of her skin.
Angelina stretched with drowsy pleasure, enjoying the cozy feeling of Ardeth behind her; his naked body, hard and warm, spooned against her own, his breath warm on her shoulder as his legs tangled with hers, his arm a heavy weight around her waist as he held her. She, too, was naked under the sheet despite having gone to bed wearing one of her linen shifts - Ardeth harbored a deep and abiding aversion to letting her sleep in a nightgown, preferring no barriers between her skin and his. No matter how insubstantial a wisp of clothing it was; she had become accustomed to waking naked whenever he was there. Ardeth radiated warmth like the healthy animal he was, and she felt as warm and cozy as if the covers were tucked around her instead of lying in a tangled heap at the foot of the bed. She slid her left hand down the arm about her waist, threading her fingers with his. A deep, quiet pleasure glowed inside her, and she was utterly content here in his arms.
"Are you awake?" Ardeth's early morning voice was like a low, distant rumble of thunder - rough and barely audible, yet full of power. His lips brushed across the back of her neck, his breath warm and moist, the short hairs of his goatee tickling the sensitive skin, commanding an instant shiver from her skin. He slipped his left hand from under hers, its palm big and warm, sensuously rough as he slowly stroked it up to her breasts, lightly rubbing the lower slope with his fingertips... the way he knew she liked; the subtle caress lit a gentle glow of pleasure, and she shifted, moving languidly against him as her nipples tingled into awareness.
"Mmmmh..." He moved his thumb slowly over her nipples, lazily circling around them until they answered him, stabbing into his covering palm. She made a nonsensical, appreciative noise of pleasure, arching into his touch with a feline stretch, seeking more. The low chuckle of warm masculine enjoyment right beside her ear sent another bout of shivers down her back, and excitement begun to furl deep inside her - even though not being able to spend as many days and nights together as they wished... or maybe because of it... she had learned his ways, and his moods, well. He was frankly sexual, so intense in his passion that at times, he nearly overwhelmed her... but he was as generous and considerate as he could be demanding, that her own sensuality blossomed.
Below, his morning erection prodded her, rising insistently against her bottom, and she started to turn over, as eager for the connection of their bodies as he. But Ardeth stayed her, commanding softly...
"Do not move."
He adjusted his position, guiding himself to the soft opening of her body. Angelina arched her back, giving him a better angle, and he moved his hand down to her stomach to brace her. He pushed into her, exquisitely slow and gentle in his possession of her. She was morning soft, morning wet... but their positions made her body yield reluctantly to his intrusion; with her legs together like this, there was not much room inside her, and he felt enormous, stretching her to the limit. A moan escaped her lips, and he paused.
"Are you alright?" His low voice rumbled from within his chest, deep and smoky from sleep and passion. For a moment she couldn't think of an answer to give him...Yes. No. Maybe. The incredible fullness, the almost unbearable sense of invasion as Ardeth slowly, gently forged his way deeper inside of her... it almost bordered on pain - its edge exquisitely perilous to walk.
She pressed her head back against his shoulder, breathing through her mouth, struggling to stay relaxed; to contain the feeling and still take all of him. Ardeth moved slightly behind her, adjusting his position, then slipped his right arm under her and curved it around her waist, cupping his hand over her mound. Angelina had to draw in a deep breath as he slid his middle finger between her damp folds, pressing lightly on the little sexual nub, the seat of her pleasure... not rubbing, just holding his finger there...so cruel, yet so very kind. Pleasure simmered inside her, intriguing and beguiling, warming her limbs. She felt herself pulsing gently in adjustment about his throbbing thickness.
Ardeth held himself motionless inside her, luxuriating in the voluptuous sensations, the awareness of his senses. He savored the feel of her, lazily stroking his free hand up and down her torso, running his fingertips lightly over and round the tight buds of her nipples until she moved restlessly against him, saying his name on a moan; the single word laden with yearning, and hot excitement made his breath caught as she squirmed against him, repeating his name. He loved pleasuring Angelina; reveled in the way she responded to his every touch with joyous freedom, not holding anything of herself back. He pulled out of her clinging sheath and in a slow, controlled move, filled her again, testing her readiness, almost trembling with pleasure. Angelina shivered in his arms; he felt her loins quiver threateningly against his, he could feel her desire to thrust her hips back against him, and he checked the movement before it could even begin, sending his simmering voice softly in her ear - she was not one to passively wait for anything.
"I said - Do... not... Move."
He commanded, his voice soft but firm, and her protest died in a sudden gasp of pleasure as he finally began thrusting, pulling almost all the way out of her moist clinging sheath, degree by slow degree, then eased himself back inside her again just as unhurriedly, the sensation searing his senses and emptying his mind of everything but the woman, and the pleasure. Angelina was deliciously tight about him as she clung to his throbbing thickness, her sheath moist and supple, and he groaned with true pleasure as each slow surge of possession wrung yet another decree of ecstasy from him. No other woman had ever fit him so well - physically, emotionally, mentally. So perfect that his memories of other women were destroyed, paled out of existence by the depth and intensity of his feelings for this one woman.
Ardeth drove into her with an exquisite combination of passion and tenderness; his rhythm long and slow, yet infinitely powerful, moving her back and forth against his finger. Her breath came in soft pants and she reached back for him; needing to anchor herself against the sensations throbbing in her entire being, hot and sweet and precious. Ardeth took her hand and guided it to his thigh, and she felt his warm skin, the rough sprinkling of small hairs on his thigh tickling her palm. He turned his hand, stroking it up her arm. He trailed his fingers in a delicate dance along the side of face, her neck, smoothing her hair aside, and she sighed, shivering in pleasure as his touch worked its magic.
Sensations coursed through her body; an enticing mingling of languid pleasure and passion. His breath was warm and moist as he moved his mouth on her neck, rubbing with his bearded chin where the smooth line of her neck joined her shoulder, and she shivered violently as an almost painful dart of pleasure shot through her. With a smoky moan of need, she strained against him, wanting him - needing to touch him, to deliver pleasure as well as take it. But Ardeth knew what he was doing, and he was determined to serve as pleasure's only provider this morning. He murmured something soothing, the words somehow comforting against her heated skin, kissing and licking that exact spot where the lightest touch made her melt with pleasure. Tension coiled inside her as he kept her waiting, lingering over her; the brush of his lips and rougher sensation of his wet tongue on her sensitive, heated skin driving her mindless with need.
Then she felt the full moist heat of his mouth close over the spot, his teeth biting down on her flesh with the exact right amount of pressure - and wild, hot arrows of excitement shot through her, igniting the dizzyingly rushing blood in her veins - she felt as if she was burning up; a mindless creature of pleasure and need that only he could satisfy. Wildly she surged against him, trying to part her legs, to lift her thigh over his - but he anchored her leg, held it down. With effortless ease he subdued her sensuous struggles, the great strength of his warrior's body tempered in loving care of her more delicate, feminine form as he held her quivering body and moved within her with endless, heart-stopping mastery. Breath gushed out of her in hard pants, and she had to turn her face against the pillow, to muffle the sounds of keen pleasure and sharp frustration that wrenched from deep within her. His laughter was soft and hot and intimate, the joy he felt ringing clear in the sound, and Angelina quivered as it went straight to her soul.
Ardeth withdrew a little, pure male satisfaction filling him at the sound she made, the way her hips instinctively jerked, trying to undulate, to follow him; the quiver that passed through her flesh as he slowly squeezed forward again, gripping her hip to hold her steady for him; shuddering with the intensity of the sensation. He was so aroused, he felt almost ready to climax right now; yet it was too soon. It would be days, more likely weeks, until he could hold her and make love to her again... Resolutely he pushed that thought out of his mind, not wishing to dwell on it. He wanted to savor the tantalizing female softness of her body against his, the deliciously maddening caress of her silky sheath as she clung to him, her body both pliable and taut, as desire loosed some muscles and tensed others... He ached with the need to imprint the sensation indelibly upon his mind and body, for the lonely nights ahead.
Through the roaring in her ears, she heard him speaking... Arabic words - lovemaking words, hot and low, sweet and raunchy... they washed over her heated skin, making her quiver all the more as the coil of desire wound ever tighter. Sensation swept through her; she clenched the tiny muscles in the walls of her sheath surrounding the swollen, turgid male flesh that filled her to brimming, holding him tight as he pulled back for the stroke, and delighted in the rough, low groan of tortured pleasure that rumbled up from deep within his chest, the convulsive grip of his hand on her hip where he held her still for him. This was why she willingly gave Ardeth free rein of her body; why she couldn't, wouldn't, hold anything of herself back - every time he was right there with her, as swept up in the tumultuous mingling of emotion and sensation as she.
"I want you."
He breathed the words more than spoke them, stinging her skin with their power and heat, a soothing sting. Caressing her stomach with his free hand, he spread his fingers wide on her warm, satiny skin; testing, feeling the aroused tautness of the flesh beneath, the way her stomach muscles quivered as she strained against him.
"Yes..." She whispered, her voice hoarse.
His lips captured her earlobe and he sucked on it gently, keenly aware of the shivers racing through her body, withdrawing then momentarily, just long enough to stroke with a word...to caress with the unseen touch of a breathed confession -
She gasped, the words seemingly wrenched from deep within her. He'd brought her to the boiling point, with touch and words, but would not to let her go beyond... At times he was like this, dominating her completely - holding her down, laughing softly at her attempts to reciprocate in their lovemaking while he rode her with an endless, strong rhythm that had her squirming in frustrated need before he lead her into a shattering release. And she even knew why he was doing it now - to banish the thought of their approaching separation from both their minds... and he had succeeded, gloriously; at the moment, she cared for nothing but the shimmering pleasure he dangled tantalizingly just out of her reach. She squirmed, nearly frantic with need - he anticipated her every movement with ease, mastered it, and as good as the pressure of his finger felt at the juncture of her legs, it wasn't enough... his strokes inside her weren't quite deep enough, or fast enough, or hard enough. So beautifully close...so agonizingly far.
"I have waited long enough,"
His warm breath puffed softly around her ear. Suddenly he not only wanted, but needed her to know what she meant to him... even if she was not yet ready to say the words back to him. In all the months, possibly years, this very moment Ardeth knew was the one allowed for a Medjai heart to unlock itself... for the first time... fully.
"I love you, Angelina Bouchard."
Once released, the words poured out of him - they were at once the easiest, and hardest, words he had ever given voice to. Terrifying... reassuring... heartfelt... dangerous... soothing... sharp... healing.
Angelina stammered, reeling with shock - not at what he was saying, for where he was concerned, words weren't always necessary: she had sensed his emotions running as deep as her own; seen it in his eyes when he looked at her, felt it in his every touch. Knew. She was reeling at when he was saying it, these words she hadn't quite realized how very much she wanted to hear him say, and above all, mean - but for Heaven's sake, he was saying them when she was on the verge of dying!
"From the very moment I saw you, I desired you. You belonged to another... there was my honor...your honor...I turned away from you, buried my need. I could do nothing else. But now you are free, Angelina...And now I want..."
"Ardeth...I love you, too."
The words came in a gasp, trailing into oblivion. Continued words failed her...only her body and soul could speak to him now... a tethered squirm in it begging him to hold words and speak with flesh...to finish.
"I love you."
He answered, hearing the raggedness of his own breathing, the rawness of his voice as her words seemingly burst inside of him, his mind spinning madly with them. Nearly delirious with the intensity of pleasure, his entire body taut and heavy with need, he gritted his teeth and sank back into her again; the hot, wet, welcoming of her body robbing him of what little breath he had left. The voluptuous sensations drowned him, and he never wished it to end... yet she was fighting him, vying for the control in her own way, molding herself to his rigid length, and he groaned helplessly, lost in the delicious sensation, feeling every inch of her turgid hot, wet, tightness as he plunged in and out of her steadily... and as always, in the end, the lure of pleasuring her was irresistible, so that he was on the verge of exploding anyway.
"Let me put my leg on top of yours," she pleaded. "Move faster. Harder - please - do something!"
His scent surrounded her, musky and wild; his ragged breathing sounded in her ear, his grasp on her hip convulsive in its strength - she could sense the fierceness of the passion coiling within him; fighting to be set free - he too was fiercely aroused; it would not take much longer to prod him over the edge... If only the flames didn't consume her first: desire was spiraling in her, hot and wild and sweet. Her entire body throbbed, tightened beyond endurance and she fought him, not with her fists, but with every muscle in her body, clamping down on him hard, to hold him tighter than ever even as he pulled back for another stroke.
A wail of frustration, of pleasure nearly unbearable... and finally, finally... he relented. Lifting her thigh, he moved into her hard and fast, plunging deep - and she erupted. Her entire body stiffened, her legs trembling as the coiled spring inside her released and, for an endless moment, she was reduced to a completely physical being, awash in such extreme sensations that as pleasure convulsed her flesh, she was aware of only Ardeth; the hard pressure of his strong fingers supporting her thigh, digging into the soft flesh; the power of his movements as he drove himself onwards to his own climax. She moaned, gasping for breath as the pressure of his finger on the little sexual nub between her legs rebuilt the intensity before it even ebbed, and she felt her shelf sliding again, gliding unstoppably towards another climax.
Ardeth pumped into her, hard, burying himself to the hilt. She spasmed in renewed pleasure, and the feel of her soft internal shudders milking him blasted the last of his restraint to smithereens. His body burning with the extremity of sensation, he lunged deep, burying himself one last time - and he erupted, jerking and shuddering, his seed pulsing hotly from his body into her welcoming depths. He dimly heard his own deep groans as the little death consumed him in a sweet madness.
Afterwards, Angelina still couldn't stop trembling - the pleasure had been too intense, too prolonged. It was a long while before Ardeth moved, his body heavy, his movements blind, uncoordinated - a stark opposite from his usual grace. She herself was too dazed to do anything but turn, all but collapsing against him, their perspiration slick bodies gliding against each other. She felt completely sated, and as weak as a kitten. She could have stayed there forever... but sooner rather than later, the knowledge of the approaching morning won over the lassitude.
Ardeth was watching her through heavy lidded eyes, his hand moving over her back in a lazy caress. Air of relaxed satiation and a certain male arrogance surrounded him; it glittered in his eyes as he let his gaze roam over her flushed self, as possessive and tangible as a touch, as she sprawled there beside him: sated and exhausted, a fine sheen of drying sweat glowing on her skin in the early morning sunlight pouring through the shutters and streaming across the bed. Angelina blinked, surprised - so engrossed she had been in their love play that she hadn't noticed when the sun had risen. It was almost time to get up.
"You take entirely too much pleasure in driving me out of my mind, you know,"
She pronounced with a sleepy stretch, luxuriating in the feel of his hard, warm body beside her. She couldn't quite manage a facade of seriousness... she felt like she was glowing from his lovemaking - all warm and rosy; no amount of acting would hide that from him.
"I'll get you for that... you just wait and see."
Ardeth gave her a smoldering look and one of those shiver-inducing predatory smiles curved his full lips... and despite having just been thoroughly satisfied, she was momentarily caught by the thought of what he could do with those lips to her.
"Anytime, Habiba... anytime."
Then his expression changed, a curious mingling of vulnerability and the more accustomed self-assuredness that at times bordered on arrogance. A fine tension invaded his muscles and he caught her fingers, pressing them to his lips before folding them in his hand.
"Did you mean it?"
She touched his face, cradling his cheek in her palm.
"Yes, I did... every word."
A shudder wracked through him, and for a moment he seemed to lose the power of speech. Then with a rough sound, he gathered her close, closing his strong arms around her, arms she held onto tightly. He claimed her, and she him in their embrace as Ardeth was the first to speak this truth;
"You are mine now; mine is the only body to give and take pleasure from yours. Forever, Angelina."
He murmured the fact, his voice colored with fierce possessiveness and equally fierce joy. A great burst of love swept over her; so intense that she almost cried out...almost. Instead, she pressed her face to his neck, inhaling the warm, familiar scent and whispered that she loved him. His arms tightened around her and she felt him nuzzle her hair, returning the words again and again, his voice low and rough... as if once having spoken them, he couldn't stop. His heart beat strong and steady under her cheek, and she couldn't seem to stop touching him.
"I know you cannot leave your work here in the city; we will work it out,"
Ardeth murmured, enjoying the soft, vibrant feel of her. His need to touch and be touched was just as acute, and he let his hands roam over her satiny skin. Living in the desert, patrolling from one distant location to another, he was accustomed to going without the softness of a woman... but once a man had felt that special softness in his arms, the memory lingered... and, Bis'mil'Allah rakhman el Rahim if it wasn't the easiest thing to get used to; to expect to have each night when he found the one woman who completed him.
"There is no need for decision now, Habiba. Or tomorrow. Duties may await, but I promise you this; I'll not ask from you more than you can give."
Reality intruded, in the form of loud, insistent knocking on the bedroom door and the voice of her housekeeper, reminding them that Angelina was expected at the infirmary this morning. She looked at Ardeth, torn. By dawn's early light...a waking not welcome.
"I don't want to leave you, not yet... but Mawiyah Amani won't be here much longer."
A few short hours would see Ardeth riding out of Cairo, and an undetermined amount of time would pass before she would see his beloved face again... But she also did not wish to miss the opportunity to learn from a most honored and skilled Medjai healer who practiced the old ways, and who would be returning to Aswan, to her tribe, in a few days' time, escorted by some of Ardeth's own men. It seemed to always be like this, this or that separating them... as long as her life remained in Cairo, and his in the desert, it would be so; she had known it from the beginning, and accepted it. What is, is... but there was no law, spoken or unspoken, requiring that she like it.
Ardeth rose gracefully to his feet, naked and powerful... a familiar, if always breath-taking sight, and Angelina found herself staring at him with nearly painful, frank female appreciation even as her mouth went dry and her pulse began the slow throb of arousal. He always seemed to have this effect on her, now - the long hours in bed with him did not sate the hunger... they made it grow, until loving him was as necessary and natural as air. As if it sustained life more than merely heightening it.
"I know, muHabb... Come, let's shower, and have breakfast."
Angelina allowed him to pull her up and guide towards the bathroom, her heart beginning a heavy beat of anticipation. His eyes darkened, and he stroked his hand down her back to her buttocks, his touch warm and intimate, promising.
"And then I shall accompany you to the infirmary."