Disclaimer: I do not own the character Ardeth Bay or any other characters from “The Mummy”. I do claim all other characters however. No infringement was intended and I make no money from this. This story is for entertainment only.

Rated: M/18 for sexual content.

Comments: This story is kind of short but sweet. I like happy endings and romance so if you don’t you may want to move on. I also did research and according to the Internet, latex condoms were made in the 1930’s. This story takes place after the second movie and it’s nearly the 1940’s so I’m historically correct.

Tasha was walking through the bazaar minding her own business with her companion Sera. They were eyeing the merchandise and having a pleasant enough conversation when two men in dark robes approached. They simply grabbed Tasha telling her if she screamed they’d slit her friend’s throat. She simply complied and went with them.

A third man approached Sera telling her they were Medjai and taking Tasha somewhere safe, that her life was in danger. Sera ran back to the house to inform Tasha’s chaperon. Sera knew that they were not Medjai, for Medjai did not make it a habit to grab women off the street. She wired Tasha’s father in London. It didn’t take long to figure out that Tasha had been kidnapped.

When Tasha’s father heard he turned to the only people he knew he could trust. They knew Cairo and the locals well enough to help him find his daughter. He was willing to spare no expense to get her back. He quickly put the wheels in motion to find his little girl.

Ardeth looked at the telegram in his hand again. Seeing Evie’s name on it brought back a wash of memories he had tried to forget. Had it really been two years since he had seen them? It seemed like yesterday. He read it again as he drank his tea.

Dear Ardeth.

Need your help. My best friend Tasha has been taken. It is believed she is being taken across Egypt towards Libya. White slavery is suspected. She was taken from the streets of the bazaar by three men posing as Medjai. Please help us find her. She has auburn hair, emerald eyes, unmistakable. Her father is offering one million pounds for her safe return. Hurry Ardeth. I fear her virtue and her life are at stake.

Evelyn

The money did not matter to Ardeth, being of the dessert he had little use for it. What made his blood boil were the three men posing as mighty, and honorable Medjai's. They were soiling the honor and power with their acts. For that they would surely have to die.

As soon as he had read the telegram he had sent his men to investigate. Surely, a red haired woman would be easy to find among the people of his land. It wasn’t long before Omad returned and bowed before his leader. Ardeth acknowledged him and he stood to speak.

“My Prince, we have tracked the men you seek. They are indeed taking the woman across the dessert towards Libya. There are six now and they are three days from here. They have stopped in an Oasis, it appears one of the men is ill and they have stopped to tend to him.”

“And the woman?” asked Ardeth.

“She is alive sir. As for her health, I cannot be sure. They have her bound but she appears to be well.”

“Very well,” said Ardeth, “Ready my horse.”

“Yes, my prince.”

Ardeth twinged at the title. Since the tribes had joined, he was now in line to take over the full leadership of the Medjai when Mohammad Jaded passed on. Among his people he was now treated as royalty and it was not something he was comfortable with. It was one thing to be looked up to by his own tribe but now he seemed to carry the fate of the whole Medjai nation. He knew there were other men in the tribe just as capable of taking the leadership role, yet all eyes turned to him.

He stuffed the telegram within his black robes and stood. He scolded himself for his thoughts, “Enough”. He then placed his scimitars and gun on his belt. He knew there was going to be blood shed when he caught up to the men. It was all part of his duties. He placed his turban over his long curly locks and raised his veil to mask his face. He turned quickly and left the room, his robes trailing behind him.

As he approached his men, he saw Omad holding his horse. Ardeth approached and took the reigns from the young man. He swung onto the horse's back with ease. He looked at Omad and spoke.

“I want you to go back to the tribe,” he said in a commanding tone, “I shall see to the girl.”

“My Prince,” stammered Omad, “You should not go alone. If something were to happen to you Mohammad would have my head.”

“The girl is not of anyone else’s concern. The tribe will not be happy when they find she is linked to the O’Connell’s,” he said, “I will go alone and return the girl safely to her father in London. You know how to reach me. I shall return soon.”

“Yes, my Prince,” said Omad bowing, “Allah be with you.”

Ardeth pulled on the reigns and the horse reared up a bit. He turned the horse swiftly and galloped away from Cairo. The night wind was cool as he headed out across the dessert towards the imposters. The horse was moving swift over the sand as he raced in the darkness. The sound of the horse’s hooves seemed to match the rhythm of his heart as it pounded in his chest. There was nothing like the desert at night.

He had often taken late night rides to clear his mind and as of late they had become more frequent. His thoughts had become troubled as of late and this seemed like just the distraction he needed. He needed to focus on his duties to his tribe as well as the safety of the woman now placed into his trust. He would not fail his friends after all they had been through.

He rode hard trying to cover as much ground as he could but he knew if he pushed his horse too hard he would be left without one. It was nearly dawn when he eased up and decided to camp. He forewent the tent and laid out his bedroll on the ground. He opened a small sack that held nuts and dried fruit. He ate and looked out into the evening sky, which would soon see the daybreak.

As his eyes scanned the horizon, he felt a longing inside. He had been fighting the feelings for sometime now, the feeling that he was missing something from his life. He hated the frustration it caused inside him. It caused him to appear unfocused at times and he knew it caused concern with the elders. He looked down and saw something glimmer in the sand.

He stood up and walked over to the object. He reached down to pick up what turned out to be a rich burgundy colored scarf, with gold beading along the edge. He assumed it must have been bought in the bazaar. He ran the silk through his fingers and then he smelled something. He lifted the scarf to his face and closed his eyes. It was Arabian Jasmine and it burned his senses.

“Tasha,” he said, looking at the material. He knew it had to be hers. “Hold on,” he said softly, “I am coming for you.”

Tasha felt a chill pass through her as the wind blew across the Oasis. She swore she had heard someone speak her name. She looked up to see her captors sitting around the campfire drinking; all except for poor Mr. Matthews who had been taken down by the heat. She had no idea how long she had been asleep. Her whole body ached from her ride. They had rode hard and it was difficult to hang on with her hands tied and her feet tethered.

She too felt the effects of the heat creeping up on her. She was grateful they had stopped even if it was only for a day. She winced as she tried to move her hands, the ropes were rubbing her raw, and she was in agony. She knew now that they weren’t Medjai. She had talked to Evie and Rick enough to know Medjai didn’t behave as these men did. The Medjai had done many things but harming a woman was not one of them, at least not when their friend Ardeth was around.

She had been told on more than one occasion about Ardeth Bay, the man who twice helped them in Egypt. Had she been able to see their faces when she was abducted she would have notice the lack of tattoos on their faces. She remembered Evie’s description of Ardeth and tried to bring an image to her mind. She failed to do so and sighed in frustration. She laid her head down on her arms and tried to keep from crying. A tear still managed to slip down her cheek stinging her slightly sunburned skin.

“Someone please save me,” she said softly.

The next day Ardeth raced across the desert towards the Oasis. He knew if he paced himself right, he would get there just before dark and be able to plan his attack. He would get ahead of them, set up a camp and go back for the girl. He had to be quiet and skillful to keep her from coming to harm. His thoughts on the woman he didn’t know, he prayed to Allah that he would reach her in time. He knew she was worth more to the man that bought her if she remained a virgin, but there was no way of knowing if the men he had hired would follow orders.

Night had fallen and Tasha now knew there would be a second night in the Oasis. She was somewhat grateful for that, her bottom was still sore from the first three days, of being bounced around on a horse. She looked at Mr. Matthews who appeared to be sleeping. He didn’t look well at all. She knew if he wasn’t better soon they would leave him to die. She heard her stomach growl and hoped they would feed her soon.

“Get up!” came a rough voice from over Tasha, pulling her from her thought. She yelped as he yanked her to her feet by her ropes.

“Ow,” she groaned, “Unhand me.”

“Shut your whiny trap,” said the man she had come to know as Thompson, “Come with me.”

Tasha walked and got nervous as he led her away from the light of the camp. He walked her around the tents and back to a pond filled with water. There was soap and a towel for her there.

“Wash up,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“I can’t be delivering my master’s prize all soiled with dirt and grime,” he said, “Wash up!” He started to walk away, “And don’t even think about trying to escape.” Tasha stood there for a moment looking at her bound hands and tethered feet.

“Oh this ought to be fun,” she said to herself, “Wash up indeed. I can’t even remove my garments. Honestly, pig-headed, dim witted, over stuffed, jerk. It would serve you right if a scorpion bit you on your ass,” she muttered.

Despite herself, Tasha stepped towards the water. It did look rather inviting, and she hadn’t bathed in days. She was wearing only her slip and undergarments. Her dress had been taken from her in an attempt to keep her from running, as were her shoes. She picked up the soap and stepped into the water. She waded in up to her hips it was cold but it felt wonderful. She lowered her hands into the water letting the coolness wash over her raw skin. She couldn’t help but let out a sigh.

She plunged under the water and came up gasping for air from the coldness. She saw her breath in the air. The desert amazed her with its nuances. In the day, the sun felt like it could burn you alive and at night, you could freeze if the conditions were right. She welcomed the cold feeling as it washed away the effects of the heat.

Her slip now clung to her body as she stood in the water. She worked the soap between her hands and got a good lather, she then managed to work it into her hair. It felt good to get the sand from her hair. For a moment she felt good, almost relaxed as she washed the days of travel from her weary body.

Ardeth had watched as she had been led from the camp to the water. He kept watch to make sure that the man did not return to watch her. Despite her low tone, he heard a few of her words about the man. He had to almost laugh at her. He looked at her now as she stood in the water her garment clinging to her body. The full moon gave him just enough light to see her. He easily took notice of her full bosom, flat stomach, and round bottom. She was more beautiful than he could have imagined and he could easily see why someone would take her. Her beauty was rare in his part of the world.

He could see her nipples taunt against the thin fabric, her chest heaving a bit from the cool night air. He watched as she worked the soap into her long hair. He could see her struggle a bit with her hands being tied. He felt a stirring inside him as he watched her, and felt a pull in his groin. She was like a goddess in the moonlight.

She finished washing and he was surprised that she simply headed back to the camp. At least she knew what was good for her. She had wrapped the towel around her and sat by the campfire trying to warm herself. He watched as they let her eat and he took comfort that they were not abusing her terribly. He settled back. He would wait until they had eaten before making his attack.

Tasha had just dozed off when a scream pierced the air. The sound of hoof beats rumbling across the sand made her scramble from her place of sleep and cower next to a tree. She watched as the figure in black thundered through the camp on horseback with his sword drawn.

He quickly cut down the men in his way, spilling their blood onto the white sand until no one was left standing. Tasha let out a gasp as he jumped down from his horse and looked for others. He walked over to Mr. Matthews and bent down touching his neck. “He’s feeling for a pulse,” she thought. He shook his head and threw a blanket over the man. She knew he was dead.

He stood up and looked around the camp emptying the canteens and scaring off the horses. He turned and spied her movement. His gaze fell on her and she backed up in fear as he strode towards her. She tried to turn but his hand was on her wrists and he yanked her back. She yelled and his eyes fell to her wrists that were rubbed raw from her ropes. She turned to him and he could see the fear in her eyes. His gaze softened on her as he spoke.

“Come with me if you want to live,” he commanded. She simply nodded as he took hold of her.

“Behind you!” she screamed.

Ardeth turned to see Thompson on his feet trying to aim a rifle at him. He took his shotgun and quickly fired on him. Thompson dropped to the sand in a heap.

“Come,” he said.

He led Tasha over to his horse. He took out a small dagger and cut the ropes from her hands and feet. She gasped in relief to be free of the ropes. He quickly removed his over robe and draped it over her shoulders. He helped her onto the horse and swung up behind her. As he turned the horse to leave she grabbed onto him.

Ardeth rode into the night with an arm around Tasha to steady her. She was quiet against him as they rode. She was relieved to be free of her captors but wondered about the man who had saved her. At least she hoped he had saved her. She had no idea who this man was or where he was taking her but for some reason she no longer feared him. She could only see his eyes through his veil and wondered, could this be the man Evie spoke of? Could this be Ardeth Bay?

Ardeth could smell the faint smell of perfume on her skin and the fresh soap in her damp hair. She was now relaxed against him as they rode through the night towards the safety of his camp. There were no survivors and he was sure that all six men were accounted for. He now had to concentrate on getting her safely home.

After what seemed like hours, they arrived at a small camp. There was a large circular tent with a fire pit just outside of it. There was light coming from the top of the large tent. He stopped the horse and slid off, he then reached for her. She leaned, letting herself slid into his strong arms. She didn’t feel her feet touch the sand as he was carrying her. He walked over to the tent and took her inside. There was a fire burning in the center of the tent and a bed made of pillows and soft blankets. He set her down on the bed.

“We must tend to your wounds,” he said softly. She found her voice to speak just then.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“The O’Connell’s sent me to return you to your father,” he said calmly.

“Ardeth Bay,” she said softly. He turned to her.

“You know me?” he asked.

“I know of you. Rick and Evie speak very highly of you,” she said, “They consider you a trusted friend.”

“I feel the same for them,” he said. He came over to her with a bowl of liquid, “This may sting.” He dipped a cloth in the liquid and touched her wrists with it. He saw her wince, “I am sorry.”

“It’s all right,” she said. She looked at him. “Is the veil still necessary?” she asked quietly, “I’d like to see the face of the man who saved my life.”

“As you wish,” he said.

He reached up removing his veil and turban. Long locks of thick dark hair spilled out from his head wrap. When he looked at her, Tasha felt herself gasp. He was even more breathtaking then Evie described with his full lips and neatly trimmed beard. He was actually beautiful. She found herself lost in his deep brown eyes as their gazes met. Without thinking, she reached out and touched one of the tattoos on his cheek. He pulled back from her touch.

“I’m sorry,” she blushed, “I’ve just never seen tattoos such as yours. Did it hurt?”

“A bit,” he said, “But it’s something we are trained to endure.” He continued caressing her wrists with the liquid.

He then took some silk material and gently wrapped them for her before moving to her ankles. She felt herself tremble as he took the liquid and caressed her sore ankles with it. His touch was surprisingly gentle. It was weird to her since she had just seen him slay five men, yet now he was being tender to her.

“Hopefully there will be no scaring,” he said when he finished.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You are welcome,” he said, “You must rest now. We have a long journey head of us.”

“It’s not that far to Cairo,” she said.

“We will not return to Cairo. That is the first place they will look for you. These men were hired to take you, when their employer finds out you have been freed he may send more men looking for you.”

“Oh,” she said.

“It depends on what you are worth to him, but I cannot take the chance. I must get you to Port Said. From there we can take a boat back to England, and to your father,” he said. “Rest now,” he said stepping towards the entrance.

“Where are you going to sleep?” she asked.

“I will sleep just outside,” he said, “Do not fear, you are safe with me. I bid you goodnight.” He bowed to her and turned.

Ardeth stepped from the tent and the flap closed behind him. Tasha suddenly felt tired and she laid down on the soft pillows, his robe still wrapped around her. She wondered if she should have given it back. She felt her eyes grow heavy and soon drifted off to sleep.

Ardeth settled in on his bedroll and pulled a heavy blanket from his pack. After removing his scimitar and gun, he laid down and looked into the night sky. The stars shown bright above him and he sighed to himself. The desert could definitely be lonely at night. His thoughts turned to Tasha in the tent. She was such a gentle soul, so innocent and fragile. He knew he would have to be careful with her for both of their sakes.

In the night Ardeth was awakened by noise coming from within the tent. He sat up his senses on full alert listening intently. He heard a moan as if she was in pain. He drew up with a scimitar in hand and carefully stepped into the tent. His eyes saw her in the dim glow of the fading fire, she was writhing as if she was in agony and a deep groan escaped her lips.

“Help me!” she cried causing Ardeth to stiffen a bit, “No!”

Carefully setting his sword aside, he moved towards the bed. She once again cried out as if she was being attacked. Her cries of terror now sounding more like sobs, she was pleading.

“No! Please don’t!” she cried. His blood began to boil at the thought of someone hurting her so. He moved to the bed and carefully spoke to her.

“Tasha,” he said, “Tasha awake.” She didn’t respond.

He gently reached for her only to have her bolt straight up and scramble away from him. She backed up towards the edge of the tent her eyes wide with fear. She took a wild swing only finding air. She was confused and scared. Ardeth held his spot as she settled on the edge of the tent. After a moment, she caught his eyes. She saw the concern and tenderness on his face and suddenly realized where she was.

He watched as the tears welled up in her green eyes and spilled down her cheeks. She pulled her knees to her chest and lowered her head. She started to shake uncontrollably as she sobbed. Ardeth crawled over the pillows moving slowly towards her. He sat close to her and spoke to her gently.

“Tasha?” he said, “What did they do to you?” She only answered with a sob. “Tasha, please tell me who has caused you this pain?”

She brought her head up and looked at Ardeth through her auburn hair. She could see how concerned he was for her and the gentleness in his eyes. She felt so ashamed at that moment and didn’t know what to say to him.

“It is all right,” he said touching her foot with his hand, “Tell me, was it one of the men who took you?”

“No,” she said through her tears, “It was the man I was to be delivered to. He was with us the first night.” The tears spilled over her pale cheeks and Ardeth felt a twinge in his heart.

“What did he do?” he asked in a firmer tone.

“I can’t,” she whispered.

“It is all right,” he said, “What did he do?”

“He touched me,” she said beginning to cry again, “On my breasts, and legs.” Her breath caught, “He put his mouth on me and his fingers,” she stopped unable to go on. She shook with tears as Ardeth moved his hand to take one of hers.

“Did he soil your virtue?” he asked in a tone that took her by surprise.

“No,” she said, “He said he would wait until he had me alone to himself.”

Ardeth felt a rush of relief to hear her virtue was still intact. He reached out and carefully moved her hair back revealing her soft face. She looked at him and for the first time he noticed her eyes, they were a deep green and shown like emeralds in the soft light. She was breathtaking.

She took Ardeth by surprise when she put her arms around him hugging him close. He closed his eyes and enveloped her in his strong arms. His hand went to her silken hair and he gently stroked it and her back.

“You need not worry now,” he said softly, “You are safe here. He will never hurt you again. I swear it. I will protect you with my life.”

She pulled back and looked at Ardeth. She was surprised to hear such words from a man she had known only hours. As their eyes locked, she saw something in Ardeth’s eyes, like a flicker as he looked at her. The fear brought on by her dream seemed to melt like snow on a sunny day replaced by a sudden longing. She brought her hand to his face and gently touched his tattooed check, this time he didn’t move from her touch. He took a sharp breath as her fingers moved to his lips. She wanted to feel them on hers in a kiss just once.

“May I kiss you?” she asked quietly. She looked intently in his eyes as she waited for an answer.

“If you wish,” he whispered.

Ardeth didn’t move as she leaned close and pressed her lips to his. They were soft like the silken scarf he carried, and warm. He held himself at bay as she tasted his lips but he soon began to melt as he felt her tongue caress his lower lip eagerly seeking entrance to his mouth. He felt himself gasp and part his lips slightly, it was his undoing as she slid her soft tongue into his mouth.

His control cracked at that moment as he slid his hand deeper into her soft hair. He moved his tongue against hers now tasting her back as she moaned into his mouth. He tilted her head back and probed her mouth as she clung to him tightly. She tasted sweet like honey and it was intoxicating to him. He suddenly tore his mouth from hers hearing her whimper as he did. He caught his breath and looked at her.

“We must stop,” he said, “I will not allow myself to dishonor you further.”

“You haven’t,” she said, “Not at all.”

“But I could if we continue,” he said, “This is not proper for us. You must sleep now.”

“Please don’t leave,” she said pleading with her eyes, “Please I just need to know you’re here.”

Ardeth saw the look on her face and could see she was still a bit shaken. He simply nodded and motioned for her to get back on the bed. She did and once she was settled, he retrieved his scimitar. He laid it nearby and laid just inches from her. She closed her eyes and soon Ardeth heard her breathing slow as she drifted off. By that time, however sleep was sneaking up on him as well. He slowly welcomed it drifting off to slumber as well.

The next morning Ardeth awoke feeling Tasha in his arms. Her head was resting on his chest and one of her legs laid over his. He held still feeling her warmth against him; he could feel her heart beating against him, her breath on his skin. He carefully tried to move but it only caused her to cuddled closer to him. He brought his hand up and carefully ran it through her soft hair. He stroked it gently and he felt her stir. She lifted her head to meet his gaze and blushed. She pulled away from him and his missed her warmth instantly. “I’m sorry,” she pulling herself away and covering up with a blanket, “I didn’t mean to for us to be in such a compromising position.”

“We are alone,” he said, “No one else need know if that is what you wish.”

He sat up and then quickly rose to his feet. He gathered his sword and walked towards the entrance of the tent. He stepped out and came back a short time later. He had his robes on and a bundle in his hand. He knelt before her and untied it. Tasha soon realized that it contained clothing and toiletries for her.

“If you are going to travel through the dessert with me, you need more appropriate clothing,” he said, “There are other things here for you as well.”

“Thank you,” she said.

“I will leave you to dress. I will prepare some food then we will break camp and be on our way,” he said.

He left the tent and Tasha slipped his robe from her body. She took her slip off and looked at the clothes that he had brought for her. The clothes were black but of a lightweight material. There was a pair of pants, a blouse, and tunic. He had also brought her boots, stockings, and a veil for her face and head. She dressed and soon emerged from the tent. There was another man with Ardeth as well as a camel packed with gear and such. Ardeth rose from the fire site to acknowledge her.

“Do not be alarmed,” he said to her gently, “This is Omad. He is a member of the tribe of Medjai, and my most trusted advisor.” Omad bowed to Tasha.

“Miss Tasha,” he said.

“Omad has brought the supplies we will need on the rest of our journey,” said Ardeth, “Come you must eat.”

Tasha moved to the fireside and Ardeth handed her a plate with some meat on it. She ate it quietly as the men talked between themselves. She heard her name as well as “The O’Connell’s” and “England”. When they were done eating, she watched as Ardeth and Omad made quick work of breaking down the camp. Soon the camel and horse were ready. Ardeth motioned to Tasha and she went to him. He lifted her onto the horse and swung up behind her. Omad handed the rope to the camel to him and stepped back with a bow.

“Allah be with you,” he said to him.

“Thank you my friend,” said Ardeth as they turned to leave.

Ardeth clicked his tongue as they moved out across the desert. They started slowly working their way over the mounds of shifting sand. The sun was hot and bright as they traveled. Tasha was grateful for the clothing that Ardeth had given her. She felt him as he brought his arm around her with a canteen.

“Drink,” he said softly.

“Thank you,” she said taking it from him.

“We will stop in a while and water the horse,” he said.

“Where?” she asked looking around, there was nothing but sand as far as the eyes could see.

“You will see,” he said.

They traveled for a long time with nothing much said between them. She finally spoke to Ardeth fulfilling her need to break the silence.

“Have you lived here all your life?” she asked. There was a long silence before he answered.

“Yes, I was born here,” he said.

“Yet you speak perfect English,” she said.

“My parents decided it was important for me to know English. In recent years, we have had many visitors from England and the Americas. They felt it necessary for us to be able to communicate with the foreigners,” he said.

“I thought you drew first and talked later,” she said.

“When it came to Hamunaptra and the creature, yes,” he said. “After Rick and Evie I guess you could say things changed somewhat. Of course now that the city is buried and Imhotep is in the underworld, our job has become easier.”

“You don’t think that anyone will bother the city again?” she asked.

“Many have come to look but the city is impossible to find if you are not familiar with the land. The books are in a safe place now so I do not fear that,” he said.

“So you’ve outlived your usefulness a bit, haven’t you?” she asked. He looked at her sharply. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“No, it’s all right. You are right,” he said. “After the last battle we lost many men. The remaining have formed into one tribe. We still keep watch over the city but less and less people come now.”

“Are you the leader?” she asked.

“I am one of the heads of the Medjai. I am considered the Chieftain of the warriors. I am second in line behind Mohammad Jaded. When he passes, I am in line to succeed him. I must pass certain tests to become leader,” he said.

“I see,” she said, “Have you ever been to America?”

“No,” he said, “I have only been to England. I was there when the creature was last removed.”

“I’ve always dreamed of going to America. Rick has brought many things back from there for us. I find them a bit fascinating,” she said.

“They are exasperating people,” he said.

“That too,” she said.

“Here we will stop now,” he said.

He reined in the horse and stopped them. He slid off the horse and helped Tasha off. He went to the camel and pulled some odd looking tools from a pack. He kneeled in the sand and started digging a bit. He worked with the tools and Tasha looked on in fascination. Soon she was surprised as the sand got wet and soon water came bubbling from the ground. Ardeth took the horse over and it started to drink.

“That’s amazing,” she said, “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

“Something we’ve learned to help us survive out here. Living in the desert is not the easiest life,” he said.

“Neither is living in London, sometimes,” she said half to herself.

“How do you mean?” he asked.

“It’s nothing,” she said.

“It’s something or you wouldn’t have brought it up,” he said.

“It slipped out,” she said.

“Tell me,” he said. She looked at him for a moment and knew it was pointless to put him off.

“It’s just that my father has been trying to arrange a marriage for me since my mother passed. He says he’s concerned for my well-being. I do not want to marry this man,” she said.

“Is he mean? Would he miss treat you?” he asked.

“I don’t know him that well but I don’t think he would,” she said, “The point is that I don’t love him. I will be damned if I will share my bed with a man I don’t love!” She looked at Ardeth and blushed, “I’m sorry I don’t believe in arranged marriages, I think they are hopelessly out of date.”

“My own people have begun to do away with such practices. More and more of our people are choosing to marry for love rather than tradition,” he said.

“How do you feel about that?” she asked.

“To each their own. I trust in Allah to bring me my bride,” he said, “I will know her when he wishes me too.”

Tasha felt a twinge in her heart at that. She wanted to be his bride. She had never met anyone quite like Ardeth. He was strong, and passionate, completely powerful, yet she had seen his tender side. Ardeth had an almost vulnerable quality. He tossed her a little bag.

“Here,” he said, “Eat.”

She sat in the sand and opened the bag. Inside was dried fruit, and nuts. She munched on it and drank from her canteen. Ardeth pulled out an umbrella and positioned it behind her. She was grateful to be shaded from the sun for a while. They rested and soon they packed up and were off again.

They rode and soon the sun began to set. Ardeth soon found a place for them to camp. He once again helped Tasha from the horse. He began pulling stuff off the camel to set up camp. She picked up a bag to help him, he took it from her, and when their hands touched, she got a chill.

Ardeth set up the fire pit and a tent for Tasha. She helped him by bringing him stuff and trying to stay out of his way. Soon he had a roaring fire going and she sat across from him. He had some canned food that he opened for them to eat. Tasha was grateful for a hot meal even if it was beans and soup. She looked up into the sky and she was awe struck.

“Is everything all right?” he asked.

“I’m sorry, I’ve just never seen so many stars,” she said, “In the city with all the lights it’s so hard to see them.”

“Yes, I noticed that too,” he said.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, “It must be nice to sleep under the stars. I don’t know if I could do it every night.”

“I don’t know. It seems like a change would be nice but sometimes when I have to sleep inside I feel caged, and I miss the open air,” he said.

“Wow,” she said, “Scorpion.”

“What?” he asked slightly startled.

“That constellation there is the sign of the Scorpion. It’s my birth sign,” she said.

“Show me,” he said.

Tasha pointed into the night air as Ardeth moved closer to her. He could smell her as she leaned in showing him the cluster of stars she was born under. He had to admit he was more interested in her than the stars at that moment. The kiss had been playing repeatedly in his mind. He wanted to take her to his bed making her his completely, but he couldn’t. He had made a promise to her father that he planned on keeping.

They ate and soon he could see that Tasha was growing tired. He gently told her to go to bed and she didn’t fight with him. She went into the tent and removed her headdress and boots. There was a bedroll with some pillows and blankets for her. She laid down and tried to doze off.

Ardeth decided it would now be safe to bathe. He picked up the canteen and started to strip his clothes away. He wet his towel and ran it over his chest and arms. It felt good to wipe the dirt off but he wished for the Oasis to bath in. Tasha had heard the movement outside and peeked through the tent flap watching Ardeth. She had seen him remove his shirt and studied him more closely. The tattoos on his arms, and chest stood out in the firelight. She watched as he washed himself, and her breath caught as he undid his pants letting them fall to the ground.

He wore no undergarments of any type; he just stood there in all his nakedness. Tasha’s eyes traveled over him as he cleaned his body. He had a strong body, strong arms and thighs, smooth chest, and chiseled stomach. She had to admit she had never seen a buttock like his, it was tight and firm. He poured the water over his head wetting his dark hair. Then he turned slightly and Tasha caught a glimpse of his manhood. If he was that big when he wasn’t aroused, she wondered what it looked like when he was. Her cheeks turned red as she back away from the tent opening and laid back down.

Ardeth laid on his roll under the stars. In his heart, he wanted to be in the tent with Tasha. He couldn’t understand why he was falling under her power so quickly. There were many beautiful women in his tribe yet he was drawn to this stranger. He thought that maybe it was because she was forbidden fruit. Of course, that wasn’t necessarily true either.

Since the fall of Hamunaptura, many of the men had taken wives from outside their own people. Many of the men had even left the tribe to live in Cairo; some had left the country all together. The Medjai seemed to be scattering to the wind. He took a deep breath and tried to push her from his mind. Unfortunately, once he was asleep his mind had other plans.

Ardeth was in a strange place; it looked almost like a palace. He looked down at his robes; they were white instead of his traditional black. There were people around him some he knew, some he didn’t. He saw another figure in white coming towards him. He couldn’t see who it was. He reached for the figure but it disappeared before he could touch it. Suddenly he woke with a start reaching for his sword. Tasha let out a gasp as he drew it on her.

“Oh God,” she gasped, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to alarm you.”

“What is wrong?” he asked in an irritated voice.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t sleep. I’ll just go back to my tent,” she said.

“No,” he said. “Come,” he said touching the place next to him on his bedroll.

She knelt down and moved to lie next to him. She laid with her back to him and she felt him place the blanket over her. He placed a hand on her hip as she laid there. He heard her let out a deep sigh.

“What is wrong?” he asked.

“I wish I didn’t have to go home,” she said, “I wish I could just disappear, go somewhere and start over.”

“Why?” he said, “Because you’re father wishes you to marry?”

“Because he insists on forcing me to marry,” she said. “I do not relish the thought of,” she stopped.

“What?” he asked.

“I don’t know if I should be talking about this,” she said.

“Well,” he said, “When you wish to I am here.”

She let a sigh out again and cuddled back against him. He let his arm move holding her closer to his body. He soon felt her relax against him. He soon fell to sleep as well.

The next morning after eating breakfast, they made quick work of packing up. As he lifted Tasha onto the horse, he heard a bird scream overhead. Tasha looked up to see a hawk circling overhead. Ardeth retrieved a glove from his things and slipped it on. He stepped away from the horse and lifted his arm to the bird. Tasha watched as the bird came in and gracefully landed on his hand. Ardeth retrieved a message from the bird’s ankle.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“We are being pursued,” he said, “We must move quickly. We will have to lose some of our supplies.”

“Of course,” she said.

Ardeth wrote out a message and put it on the bird. He raised his hand and released the bird watching it take off. Tasha watched it leave.

“What is the birds name?” she asked.

“O’ Connell,” he smiled, “We must hurry.”

Ardeth stripped the animals of unessential equipment and repacked the horse. He slapped the camel on the rear and it started in the other direction than where they were heading. He walked over to the horse.

“You will have to ride behind me now,” he said, “We will make faster time.”

Tasha moved and Ardeth got on the horse. She wrapped her arms around him as he kicked the horse and bolted across the desert. The feel of the horse pounding across the sand at top speed was exhilarating to Tasha as she hung onto Ardeth. They rode hard through the day stopping shortly for the horse to rest. Although she was a passenger, the ride was exhausting to Tasha.

Finally as the sun set, they stopped for the night. Tasha nearly fell from the horse, as she was exhausted from the ride. He took her into his arms and set her down as he set a bedroll out for her. He laid her down and she was asleep instantly. After getting settled, he laid near to her with his sword ready to draw, his pistol nearby. He covered her with an extra blanket. He did not make a fire for fear of being seen.

He slept lightly that night and awoke to the sound of his horse snorting. He sat up drawing his sword into his hand. He went to stand when Tasha moved. He placed his hand over her mouth as her eyes widened. He signaled her to be quiet. She nodded that she understood and he covered her with the blanket. Ardeth stood and started walking towards his horse. Suddenly a man appeared with a sword of his own pointed at Ardeth. Ardeth stepped forward.

“I don’t think you want to do that friend,” said the man, “Now just hand over the girl and no one gets hurt.”

“She is not yours for the taking,” said Ardeth his hand gripping his sword tighter.

“I paid for her friend,” he smiled, “And my gut tells me she’s worth every penny.”

“I am not your friend, and you are not taking the girl,” said Ardeth moving to one side. The other man moved as well circling closer to the bedroll Tasha was on.

“I’ll just kill you and take her anyway,” he said.

“You’re welcome to try,” said Ardeth.

Their swords met and soon the grunts of their fighting filled the night air. Ardeth wasn’t about to let this letch get his hands on Tasha. They fought hard and suddenly without warning Ardeth was relived of his sword. His other still on the bedroll, he raised his hands briefly in defeat.

“Now,” he said, “What should I do with you? You know instead of killing you maybe I’ll tie you up first. I don’t know if you know this but she’s a sweet young thing. I’ve tasted her for myself. Pure as driven snow,” he said. “Maybe I should let you watch," he hissed but before the man could move a shot rang out.

The man froze with a surprised look before dropping to the sand. Ardeth looked up to see Tasha with his pistol in her hands. She was trembling as she held it. Ardeth knelt down and checked the man. She had shot him in the back and he was dead. He walked over to Tasha who still had the weapon aimed. He walked over and grabbed her wrists lowering her hands and the gun. He took it from her hand as a tear slid down her cheek.

“He’s the one who touched me,” she said quietly, “I’m sorry.”

“I would have killed him anyway,” he said, “It is all right. It’s over now. Sit and I will take care of the body.”

Tasha sat down as Ardeth dragged the body from the camp. Tasha felt numb as she sat and waited for him to return. He soon did and walked over to her.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“I’ve never kill anyone,” she said, “I never thought I would have to.”

“It will be all right,” he said, “Come you need to rest.”

He laid with her and covered her again. He could feel her trembling and pulled her into his arms. She turned to him and buried her face in his robes. He smelled of leather, sand, and sweat. She loved the way he smelled. He pulled back and she felt him caress her cheek. She lifted her face to his and gazed into his brown eyes. Even in the darkness, she could see his face now, the desire in his eyes.

He leaned in and pressed his lips to hers. She let out a sigh as he hugged her to his body and caressed her lips with his tongue. She parted her lips and Ardeth took it as an invitation to deepen the kiss. He slipped his tongue into her mouth and she gripped his shoulder as he did. He probed her mouth gently at first slowly growing more intense. She pressed her body to his and she heard a growl escape from deep in his chest. He suddenly tore his mouth from hers.

His lips were hot on her neck and she moaned at the sensation. She ran her fingers into his thick hair and pressed against him again. He ran his strong hands up her back into her soft hair. She felt incredible and he felt an overwhelming desire to be inside her. He brought a hand to her front and cupped a breast in his large hand. She moaned as he caressed it bringing her nipple to a hard peak beneath her top. She wanted him to take her right there and then. He suddenly tore from her a pained look on his face.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I can not do this.”

“Ardeth,” she said, “I’ve been wanting you to.”

“It does not matter,” he said, “I promised to return you to your father, unharmed and unsoiled. I will not break my word.”

“Ardeth,” she said.

“Enough,” he said, “Sleep.”

Tasha rolled over putting her back to Ardeth and moving from him. He laid down and closed his eyes. He could hear her breathing and knew that she was crying. He hadn’t meant to hurt her but he had made a promise.

In his heart, he desired her, but he did not want to bed her in the sand like a harlot. She was special and refined; she deserved better than to be ravished like a whore. She was worthy of being taken as a wife, in a marital bed, properly not just to satisfy his own lust then and there. He just wished he could tell her that without insulting her. He heard her breathing slow and knew she had finally gone to sleep. He soon drifted off himself and hoped that the next day things would be better.

The next morning however Tasha was distant from Ardeth. She wouldn’t meet his eyes and had become sarcastic in her tone towards him. He bit his tongue as they rode towards the Port. He did not have time to smooth things over. They weren’t far now and once there they could wire England and let her father know that she was on her way home. Once on the boat, there would be time to talk.

Ardeth intentionally rode hard forcing Tasha to hold tight to him for fear of falling off the horse. When they got to Port Said Ardeth quickly found them rooms for the night. As Tasha took a bath Ardeth telegraphed her family back in England and booked them passage back to home.

When she finished with her shower, she went into the bedroom to find clothes laying on the bed for her. There were new undergarments, as well as a burgundy dress. There were brushes, and hair combs for her as well as perfume, and such. She got dressed and she missed the clothes that Ardeth had given her for in the desert. She sat in her room packing the rest of the clothes that he had purchased for her in the bag he had bought as well. She packed the other clothes as well.

She then noticed the note on the floor. She went over and picked it up. It was from Ardeth. He informed her that he had business to attend to and would see her in the morning. She was to meet him in the lobby to leave for the boat. Her heart fell to her feet; of course, she didn’t blame him. She had been rather rude to him since that night they had last kissed. She stayed in her room having a meal brought to her and contemplated going home. She wasn’t looking forward to it.

The next morning Ardeth found Tasha waiting for him in the lobby. She took a deep breath as she saw him. He had on a new black robe trimmed and decorated in silver threading. His hair was freshly washed and dried, the curl more apparent then ever. He was so handsome she thought her knees were going to give way. He walked over to her with a cold look in his eyes.

“Come,” he said, “We don’t want to miss the boat.”

He picked up her bag and she followed him through the crowd to the gangplank. She followed Ardeth and he handed their tickets to the man. He gave Ardeth directions and he led the way to their room. Her father had arranged a stateroom for them. He insisted that Ardeth stay nearby until Tasha was safely home. Ardeth took their bags into the stateroom and Tasha looked around. It was good to see a normal bed, and she suddenly felt a bit more at home.

“Miss Rochenchof,” said a man coming in, “Welcome aboard.” He smiled coming over to her, “Your father has asked me to inform you that he has arranged more clothes for you. They will be brought to you shortly. If you need anything while you are aboard our ship please feel free to call upon my services.”

“Thank you, Mr.?”

“Mr. Chad,” he said.

“Thank you Mr. Chad,” she smiled.

Soon trunks with more clothing for her arrived as well as servants to unpack them. Ardeth sat back and observed. Her father obviously had more money than they he had originally thought. Soon the women left and Tasha came out in a stunning dark green dress. She had her hair done up and a hat as well.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Up on deck,” she said, “Listen I realize my father wants you to tag along until I get home, but as far as I’m concerned your services are no longer needed.”

“Tasha,” he said.

“From now on you can call me Miss Rochenchof,” she said.

“I want to explain something to you,” he said.

“I think you’ve made your position quite clear,” she said, “Now let me make mine clear, we are stuck on this boat together for a while longer. If I were you I would just stay out of my way.”

“As you wish,” he said.

Tasha pushed past him and left the room. Of course, despite her tone with him, Ardeth still followed her. He kept at a distance and watched her as she stood at the railing looking out. The sea breeze whipped at her auburn hair. He had kept her at arms length out of a sense of doing right by her. Instead, he had hurt her and now she was pushing him away in return. He ached for her and wanted to set it right.

That evening after dinner, she returned to the stateroom. She knew she wasn’t alone; Ardeth was following her like a ghost through the ship. She took her things with her into the bathroom and changed. When she came out, she saw Ardeth looking out at the ocean through the little porthole. She walked to her bed and ripped back the sheets. She climbed into the huge bed and pulled the covers back.

“Are you going to stand there all night?” she asked.

“What would you suggest I do?” he asked.

“Go to sleep,” she said. He cocked an eyebrow at her. “You’re of the desert, sleep on the floor.”

With that, she pulled the covers over her and turned away from him. He fought the urge to go over there and yank her from that bed. He wanted to shake the daylights out of her stubborn head, but he knew that wasn’t the best approach. He simply did as she suggested and slept on the floor.

Over the days at sea the tension remained. It killed Ardeth inside to be just feet away from her and unable to talk to her, to hold her, to kiss her tender lips. Every time he tried to talk to her, she pushed him away, cut him off at the knees. It was getting worse and Ardeth was slowly losing his patience. He was madly in love with her and it was causing them both pain. Their time together was growing short and he knew he had to put a stop it this soon.

That night he saw Tasha leave in a seductive red evening gown. It accentuated her full bosom, and hugged her hips. He felt it was too tight, too revealing. She of course ignored his every comment. He knew there was a ball and he of course followed her. He sat in the corner watching her flirt with men and dance the night away. His blood boiled to see her acting like a common harlot with total strangers.

He suddenly noticed that Tasha had slipped from his sight. He immediately went to search for her. He soon found her being groped by a young man in a back stairwell. Ardeth yanked the man from her and threw him to the ground. He stood to face Ardeth and backed away as he met his cold stare.

“What the hell are you doing?” she yelled at him.

“Stopping you from making a fool of yourself,” he said.

“What do you care if I’m with him?” she said, “My father's forcing me to be with a man I don’t love so why not start early? Oh I forgot, your promise, unharmed and unsoiled.”

“Yes partly,” he said.

“Are you afraid you’ll only get half the money if you only keep half the promise?” she asked.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“This,” she said pulling out the telegram. Ardeth froze trying to think where he must have lost it. “One million pounds for my safe return.”

“I am of the desert. How can you think I care about the money?” he said.

“Because it’s just like a man,” she said storming past him.

“Tasha,” he said, “Is that what you think of me?”

“Every man I’ve ever trusted in my life has betrayed me,” she said still walking, “Why should you be any different?”

“You would judge me against others after everything we shared,” he said.

“Oh go to hell,” she said as she made her way to the stateroom. She unlocked the door and stepped inside. She tried to close the door on him and he shoved it open. “Go away!”

“No,” he said, “You are being stubborn.”

“And you’re being an ass,” she yelled, “How could you say that to me? How could you kiss me with that much passion and turn cold on me? Do you really think this is how I wanted to spend our last moments together?” He was silent; “I hate you for being cold to me. And I hate you for taking me back to my father. And I hate you for not knowing what you mean to me,” he just looked at her, “I would go to my father and tell him that I refused to be forced into a loveless marriage. I would walk away from everything I had, the money, and the power, even my friends. If you had just given me one small sign that you truly cared for me,” she was crying now, “I would have given myself to you freely instead of having my virtue taken by a man who claims me as his wife against my will. All I wanted was for you to love me as much as I love you,” she sobbed and turned her back to him. Ardeth walked over to her and gently touched her shoulder.

“I do love you,” he said softly to her, “That is why I turned you away. I have taken harlots and whores on bedrolls in my life. I did not want to bed you in that fashion. In my tribe, you only bed those kinds of women in the sand. The woman you love you bed properly,” he said caressing her neck, “I wanted to take you as my wife, in a marital bed like you deserve.” She was crying again now but now she was crying over his words of love. She turned to him and he lifted her face to his, “My only wish was not to dishonor you.”

“You wouldn’t be dishonoring me,” she said, “I love you Ardeth. I just want to be with you. I’m willing to give myself to you freely now, because I love you with all my heart.”

“I love you too. I don’t know,” he said, “I’m concerned about what might happen. I don’t want to,” he stopped. “No offense, but I do not wish to impregnate you before we can be wed,” he said.

“Maybe you’re right,” she said. “This is frustrating,” she sighed, “I want to be with you so much. What did you do with the harlots?”

“They had their own way of dealing with the matter. It was something they never seemed to worry about,” he said, “Ah, wait,” he went to his bag and pulled something out. He went back over to her and held something out to her, “Do you know of these?” In his hand was a condom. She blushed as she looked at it in his hand.

“Yes,” she smiled, “I know of them. My friend has educated me on their use.”

“Recently I noticed that some of the men had been getting ill after seeing the harlots in Cairo. O’Connell has been supplying these for my men. Until now, I saw no use for them. I haven’t been with anyone in a while so,” he stopped for a moment, “They are suppose to prevent pregnancy?”

“Yes,” she said once again blushing.

“I’m sorry I have made you uncomfortable,” he said, “Maybe we should give this more thought.”

“No,” she said moving closer to him, “Let’s just start over,” she smiled.

She reached up and untied his cape. She pushed it off his broad shoulders letting it fall to the floor. She slipped her hand up his chest and felt his breath catch as her hand touched his skin. She felt his hands on her waist drawing her closer to him. Her hand moved to his shoulder and around to his neck. Soon her fingers were in his hair as his eyes met hers.

“Make love to me Ardeth,” she said softly, “Take me and make me yours.”

“Tasha,” he moaned softly.

She pressed her lips to his eagerly kissing him. He eagerly returned her kiss as he ran his strong hands up her back. He parted her lips and she let out a soft moan as he explored her mouth deeply. She clung to him feeling her mind swimming at finally being able to touch him. His hand found the pins in her hair and swiftly removed them letting it fall over her silky shoulders. He moved his mouth from hers and placed his mouth on her neck kissing gently to her ear. He nipped and kissed it as she moaned slightly.

She moved her hands to his waist and felt along his robes. She soon found the tie and slipped her hands inside. Ardeth let out a groan as her hands ran over his smooth chest. She opened his robes and then pushed them back off his shoulders letting them fall to the floor. As he pressed his bare chest against her silken dress, he felt for her zipper.

He soon found it and lowered it, exposing her bare back. She wore no bra and he let out another groan as he felt her hot bare skin. He moved his hands and quickly removed the dress letting it pool around her feet. Without warning, he then lifted her into his arms and carried her to the bed.

He laid her down and then quickly removed the rest of their clothing. He stood for a moment as he dimmed the lights. Tasha looked at him now seeing him naked and fully aroused. He was big, just as she had thought he would be. He made his way back to her and joined her on the bed.

He kissed her again feeling her tremble as he pulled her close. His mouth soon left hers and was once again blazing a trail of kisses over her skin. He moved swiftly kissing his way down and then she felt him cup a breast with his hand. He ran his thumb over her nipple causing her not only to moan, but causing it to become firm under his touch.

When he flicked his tongue against the swollen peak, he heard Tasha moan again. She clutched at his hair as he drew it into his hot mouth. He suckled it and nipped at it causing her to press against him. He repeated the action with her other breast causing her to moan his name. He would suckle one while teasing the other with his fingers. She parted her legs slightly and Ardeth took advantage sliding his strong thigh between hers.

He felt the heat and the wetness from her arousal as she began to rub against him. He knew that it was purely instinct on her part but it was driving him wild. He slipped his hand between her legs and she cried out as he began caressing her sensitive jewel. A wave of moans broke from her lips as he caressed her. She arched as he fondled her and he could feel her wetness increasing as he continued.

She cried out more as he brought his mouth down on her tasting her sweet nectar. She bucked wildly as he probed her gently with his tongue. She once again clutched at his long hair and cried out, as he tasted her repeatedly. He slid his hand deeper and caressed her slick opening. He could smell the sweet scent of her, as he guided a long finger into her. She gasped at the intrusion yet arched to meet it. He withdrew his finger and thrust it in again. He felt a curse escape his lips as he probed her.

“Damn,” he said.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, trying to catch her breath.

“You are tight,” he said, “It may be difficult to penetrate you. Do not worry, I will try to be gentle.”

Ardeth reached for the condom and quickly slipped it on. He repositioned himself between her legs and he heard her gasp as his erection brushed her eager opening. He guided himself in and heard her breath catch. He leaned over her whispering softly to her. Some words were in English others in his native tongue but all conveying his love for her. He felt her relax a bit and then with a swift movement he pushed past the obstruction.

Tasha cried out as she felt the burning inside her. Her breath caught and Ardeth saw the tears pooling in her emerald eyes. He took her mouth and kissed her gently as he held his position. He felt her trembling and shaking as he held still giving her a chance to recover. He could feel her muscles contracting on his shaft, as he remained buried inside. She soon began to relax and he slowly withdrew from her.

She gasped again as he thrust back into her. There was still some pain but Ardeth knew that it would subside as he kept going. Slowly he withdrew again, then thrust back into her. He soon noticed her cries changed from sharp cries to low moans as he rocked against her. He began to quicken his pace as the soft moans once again started to break from her lips. He guided her hips as he thrust into her and she soon found the rhythm and met each thrust. He felt Tasha’s nails in his shoulders as he pounded into her hips now.

Sweat was forming on his brow as he continued to thrust with all his strength waiting for her release. He soon heard her cry out for him and suddenly she bucked wildly beneath him as she found her release. He continued to pound against her as he now raced to find his own release. With a final thrust, he found it and struggled not to collapse on her when it was over. He withdrew from her and disposed of his condom.

When he returned to the bed he found Tasha laying with her back to him. She had her legs pulled to her chest and was crying. Ardeth went to her. He covered her with a blanket and pulled her close against his strong frame.

“Why do you cry my love?” he asked tenderly.

“This is our last night alone,” she said, “Tomorrow I must face my father.” She turned to him and he hugged her close, “I will not give you up without a fight Ardeth. You are my heart, and my life now, there will only be you. I love you.”

“I love you too,” he said, “Do not fear for our future, we are meant to be together.”

When the boat docked in England there was a car waiting for them. Ardeth escorted her to the car and soon they were on their way to her family home. Ardeth never thought he would see the streets of London again, but there he was. After a long ride, they finally arrived at her home. Ardeth helped her from the car and escorted her to the door. They were both surprised when it was yanked open by a middle-aged man. Tasha knew him as Charles her father’s advisor.

“Natasha, your highness,” he said bowing to Tasha, “We are so grateful for your safe return.”

“Your highness?” asked Ardeth.

“Your father is waiting in the study to attend to Mr. Bay,” said Charles, “Your ladies are waiting to see to your needs.”

Before Tasha could say another word, she was being ushered away from Ardeth. Ardeth was still in shock at hearing her title. Tasha tried to fight off her servants but they pulled her away. She knew she had to speak to her father. Ardeth was led into the study where Tasha’s father was waiting for him.

“Mr. Bay,” he said coming forward to shake Ardeth’s hand, “I can not thank you enough for returning my daughter safely to me. I of course have your payment ready for you.”

“I do not want your money, your majesty,” said Ardeth.

“Cat’s out of the bag,” he smiled, “I’m sorry for not telling you my daughter and I are royalty. I wanted to be sure that she had some anonymity. Well if you do not want my money how can I repay you?”

“I wish to have your daughters hand in marriage,” said Ardeth.

“I see,” said Rochenchof, “You have fallen for my daughter. I’m afraid she has all ready been promised to someone else. Plus she is a Princess and she will only marry a Prince.”

“How can you make your daughter marry a man she does not love?” asked Ardeth.

“My daughter will marry who I choose, and she will marry the man who brings the greatest benefit to our family.” This made Ardeth suspicious.

“I am a Prince among my people and your daughter has all ready declared her love for me,” said Ardeth.

“The subject is closed Mr. Bay. If you will not take the money then I suggest you leave, I have a wedding to plan. Goodbye Mr. Bay,” he turned to leave and the Royal Guards escorted out Ardeth.

Tasha was furious and slapping the hands of her ladies as they tried to primp her. She just wanted to see her father before it was too late. He soon came bursting into her suite as she yelled at the servants.

“What in God’s name is going on in here?” he asked.

“I’ve been wanting to talk to you,” said Tasha stepping down from a platform, “All of you get out of here.” The ladies quickly left leaving her alone with her father.

“What is the matter my dear?”

“I wanted to talk to you about Ardeth Bay,” she said, “I love him and I want to marry him.”

“I’m afraid that’s quite impossible,” he said, “For one Mr. Bay is not royalty, and two he has already left with his money.”

“You lie,” she said, “Ardeth wouldn’t do that, and he loves me.”

“He played you for a fool my dear. He took his million pounds and never gave you a second thought. You my dear will marry Prince Jared in one month's time and that’s all there is to it.”

He turned and left the room. Tasha was left standing there in shock. It couldn’t be true; Ardeth wouldn’t just leave like that. He wouldn’t turn his back on her after the night of passion they had shared. She slumped to the floor tears stinging her eyes.

“No,” she sobbed, her body shaking, “It can’t be true, Ardeth.”

As the time of her wedding grew near Tasha became more despondent. She missed Ardeth terribly and couldn’t believe he had just left her behind without a fight. She stood on the platform now seeing herself in the mirror. She was the saddest bride she had ever seen. Her dress was beautiful with the high collar and long sleeves. It was beautiful white lace trimmed with silver thread and beads. As much as she loved the dress, her heart was too heavy with sorrow to enjoy it. She longed to see Ardeth, to feel his lips to be in his arms. Somehow, it had to be a mistake.

Jared was a nice man but Tasha did not love him. She had given herself to Ardeth and he was the only man she wanted to be with. That thought now scared her as well, what would her husband to be say when he discovered she was no longer a virgin? It was something she hadn’t thought about until that moment.

“Please,” she said quietly, “Save me Ardeth, please.”

The day of the wedding Tasha stood motionless as her ladies prepared her for the ceremony. They bathed her and anointed her with oil before placing her undergarments and dress on her. The final touch was a heavy veil through which she could not see. She sat and waited for them to come for her. From what she understood, it was a simple ceremony.

Jared was from Egypt oddly enough. After she was prepared the groom went through a small ceremony on his own. Soon they would come for her. They would simply exchange rings and he would then take her to their bridal suite. Once there they would consummate their marriage that was it. No vows, no words of love, just silence. She froze in panic; there would be no blood. There would be no evidence to prove the consummation, she thought. How would she explain that to her father and her husband’s family?

She soon heard the door open and knew it was time. Two women took her hands and guided her down the corridor. She could feel more people looking on as she stood there only seeing the white veil in front of her. She soon felt another hand take hers and place a ring on her finger. A tear slipped down her cheek as she felt her heart break and cry out. In her mind, she was screaming for Ardeth. A ring was placed in her finger and she was shaking as she placed it on his hand.

After a blessing was spoken over them, she felt a hand on her elbow. She knew what was coming now, and where he was taking her. She started to cry harder with each step wanting to turn and run from him. It was over now, and she wanted to die. She would rather kill herself than let anyone other than Ardeth touch her. She heard the door close and her heart fell into her feet. There was no way to stop it now. She was his wife. She stood and waited for him to do something. She felt her veil lift from behind as it was pulled away.

She squinted her eyes in the light now but did not turn to face him. She knew she must have looked awful from all her crying. She could only imagine what he would think of her. She waited staring at the floor, waiting for something. She felt strong hands on her shoulders and stiffened at his touch. Tears gripped her again as her shoulders began to shake.

“Why do you cry my love?” came a familiar voice. She spun to see Ardeth standing before her. Before she could speak, blackness over took her.

Tasha felt a gentle hand caressing her cheek as she slowly opened her eyes. She could only make out shadows at first as she tried to focus. She couldn’t make out what was being said to her at first, her mind felt foggy. Slowly her eyes focused on the face hovering over her.

“Tasha,” he said softly, “Darling?” He saw her eyes begin to clear.

“Ardeth?” she asked softly, “Am I dreaming?”

“No darling, it is real,” he said smiling at her, “Did you really think I would let you wed another man?”

“Oh Ardeth,” she said sitting up. She flung her arms around his strong shoulders as he hugged her close; “I thought I had lost you forever.”

“Never my darling,” he said stroking her back, “I told you that you were mine forever.” He pulled back and looked at her, “Allah has truly blessed me this night.”

“I love you Ardeth,” she said.

“I love you too,” he said, caressing her cheek.

“Wait, I’m confused. I thought you were to take over as leader of your people. And how did you ever convince my father to let you marry me?”

“I was just one of many that were in line to take over as leader of my people. Other candidates were just as well suited to take over. I was the one with the most experience and the first choice, but my heart is here with you,” he said.

“And my father?” she asked.

“Let’s just say that I can be very persuasive,” he smiled.

“But,” she started as he placed a finger to her lips. “My dear this is our wedding night,” he said softly, “The last thing I want to do is talk.”

He pressed his lips to hers and drew her close. She eagerly opened her lips to him and he immediately began to probe her sweet mouth. It had been a month since he had held her in his arms and his mind was swimming now as he held her. He ran his hand up her back feeling for the closure of her dress. He soon found it and began undressing her slowly. She reached up untying his cape from his neck and pushing it back from his shoulders. She had noticed that he was in white with silver ornamentation.

He gently reached up pulling the lace from her shoulders and moving it down her arms. He had longed to feel her skin next to his, to see her nakedness and drink in her beauty. His mouth left hers and burned kisses up her neck as he held her close. She pushed back from him and smiled.

“Let’s speed this along,” she smiled.

Tasha rose from the bed and Ardeth watched as she finished removing her wedding dress. He stared at her as she stood in her flimsy undergarments. She then got to enjoy as Ardeth stood in front of her removing his white robes. He left just his pants on and walked over to her. He pulled her into his arms and pressed her to his strong chest. He looked into her eyes and she blushed under his intense gaze.

“Tonight I make you mine forever,” he said.

“Yes Ardeth,” she sighed.

He claimed her mouth again in a hungry kiss. He sank his long fingers into her hair pulling her head back as to probe her mouth deeper. She clung to him as he took his other hand and cupped a breast. She let out a deep moan as he took his thumb and began caressing her, bringing her nipple to a hard peak under his firm touch. She moaned into his mouth and pressed against him. He tore his mouth from hers and she could feel his hot breath against her neck.

“Forgive me my darling,” he moaned.

He grabbed her bra in his hand and ripped the thin material from her body. She let out a gasp as her breasts were freed, and she felt his chest press against her. He quickly reached down and lifted her into his arms. He took her back to the bed and laid her down. She let out a loud moan as he moved down her body blazing a trail of kisses as he went.

He teased her taunt nipples with his hot tongue feeling her clutch at his shoulders and cry out. She felt another moan break from her lips as he took one of the hard peaks in his mouth and began suckling it and nipping at the sensitive tissue. He moved back and forth between her ample breasts savoring the taste and feel of her. He soon slipped his thigh between hers and could already feel her heat.

She eagerly rubbed against his hard thigh trying to get some relief from the hard throbbing she was feeling. He ravaged her mouth again nearly stealing her breath as he ran his hands over her. He felt her hand on his as she it guided down. He moved his thigh anticipating where she was leading him. She placed his strong hand between her legs and cried out as he began caressing her through her panties. Her panties were already wet from rubbing against him.

She let out another gasp as he tore her flimsy panties from her body. He began caressing her again feeling her arch against him and cry out as he massaged her jewel of pleasure. His fingers found her eager opening and he slipped one inside feeling her tightness. He needed to be inside her. He removed his pants as she caressed his back.

Tasha gasped as Ardeth moved between her legs but eagerly opened herself up to receive him. He guided himself into her feeling her tightness on his hard shaft. He slipped inside of her, feeling her fully accept his length. He held his position feeling her muscles contract around his manhood. He looked into her green eyes and could see her desire building.

“Ardeth,” she gasped, “Now, please.”

He withdrew from her almost completely causing her to moan as he did. He guided himself back in as she arched to meet him. He slipped his arms under her grabbing her shoulders as he increased his pace. Tasha moaned and arched to meet each thrust as he pushed her towards her release. He felt her nails in his lower back as he thrust into her. Soft moans and sighs broke from her sweet lips as he pumped against her.

“Oh Ardeth,” she moaned, “Oh yes my darling.”

“Tasha, my love,” he groaned as he felt her tighten around him.

He continued to thrust into her and soon he felt her buck underneath him and clutch at his buttocks as she hit her release. He continued to pump against her and with a few final thrusts he spilled his seed into her, making her his. He lowered himself to her as she hugged him close. She welcomed the feel of his weight on her as he laid in her arms. She ran her fingers through his long hair as he nuzzled her neck.

“I will stay here with you,” he said softly as he laid with her.

“What about your people?” she asked.

“Hamunaptura and the creature are no longer a threat. There are many great men among my tribe that can lead, my place is with you,” he said.

“What about your family?” she asked.

“My family has long since perished. You are my family now, we will have children of our own soon enough,” he said. He moved from her and looked in her eyes, “You are my life and my love.”

“Oh Ardeth,” she smiled. He kissed her and then felt her tense.

“What is wrong?” he asked.

“You have all ready taken my virginity,” she whispered, “The women will look for a sign of consummation and find nothing. They will know.”

Ardeth moved from her and lifted his robes. He pulled out some fabric and went back to her. He unwrapped a small vile and she noticed the material around it.

“My scarf,” she said taking if from him.

“Yes, I found it the night I set out after you,” he said.

“And you’ve carried it all this time,” she said.

“Yes,” he said, “It carries your scent. I carry it next to my heart.”

“Ardeth,” she smiled, “What is that?”

“You will see,” he said. He took the cork from the vile and poured its contents onto the sheets. It produced a pale red stain on the sheet, “It is berry juice, water, and some spice. To the naked eye, it will appear to be blood. No one need no that tonight was not our first time together.”

“I can’t believe you thought of that.”

“I would not disgrace you before your family. We made a decision to be together that night. They would not understand our reasoning for doing so, so they need not know,” he said.

“Thank you Ardeth,” she said kissing him.

“I would do anything to keep you from harm,” he said kissing her back. He took her into his arms again and she playfully pushed him away. “What are you doing?”

“I want to give you pleasure,” she smiled.

Ardeth smiled as she pushed him back on the bed. She straddled his strong body and pressed her lips to his. He eagerly kissed her back but he let her stay in control. Her mouth left his and he felt himself shake as she kissed up his jaw line to his ear. She nipped at his earlobe and she half smiled when she heard the gasp escape his lips. She kissed down his neck to his throat lingering over his Adam’s apple.

She worked her way down his chest and flicked her tongue against one of his nipples. She heard and felt him take a sharp breath as she took it in her mouth biting it gently. She felt him twine his fingers into long hair as she moved her mouth over him. She moved down and Ardeth let out a soft curse when she took him in her mouth. It instantly sent a wave of tremors through him as she moved her mouth over his hard shaft.

He still had his fingers twined in her soft hair as she moved on him. It was taking every ounce of strength he had to keep from losing control. He wanted to let her finish what she had started. He let out a groan that sounded more like a growl as she moved over him.

“Tasha,” he gasped, “I need to be inside you.”

She quickly released him and then straddled him again. She felt him arch his hips trying to gain access to her. She moved and then took him in her hand again. She guided herself onto his shaft and she heard a string of what she assumed were curse words escaping his lips. She began to move against him and Ardeth’s breath caught at the movement. He quickly grabbed her hips and matched her rhythm as he thrust up to meet her.

She cried out in pleasure as he rammed into her eager opening. Without warning Ardeth sat up and grabbed her around the waist. Without withdrawing, he lifted her and she soon felt her back on the bed. Ardeth grunted as he began thrusting into her hard.

“OH!” she cried as he pounded against her, “Oh Ardeth, yes,”

He continued to thrust into her and soon he felt her convulse as her release shook her body. With a final thrust, he joined her spilling his hot seed into her tired body. He withdrew from her then held her close. He loved making love to her; it was like nothing he had ever felt before. They made love more during the night finally falling asleep as the dawn began to break. They drifted off into slumber full of love and hope for their future together.

One year later

Ardeth rolled over and felt the empty space in the bed next to him. Her pillow was still warm so he knew she hadn’t been gone long. He rose from the bed and slipped on his robe as he left their room. Once in the hall, he saw the pale light coming from under the nearby door and went to it.

He pushed the door open and there she was. She was sitting in the moonlight, in her rocking chair. He could hear her humming softly as she rocked. He moved inside and she looked at him as he approached. He gave her a soft smile as he saw her. Her breast was exposed and he watched as his son nursed from her full bosom. He reached out and touched his hand to his son’s silken curls.

He had Ardeth’s dark wavy hair, and his mothers emerald eyes. Even at such a young age, he was proving himself quite strong. Ardeth had felt his kicks when he was still in the womb and he had much power. At just a few weeks old, he was already trying to lift his head. He was now growing sleepy in his mother’s arms and released her breast. She placed her son on her shoulder and rubbed his back until he burped. Ardeth smiled at such a big noise coming from such a small body.

She carried her son to the changing table and changed his diaper. She held him close and Ardeth looked at her. Her eyes were full of so much love for the tiny bundle in her arms. She had been so strong and brave when he was born. She took nothing for pain and agonized for hours while trying to birth their son. Ardeth insisted on staying with her and got to witness his son’s entrance into the world.

They named their son Richard after his dear friend Rick O’ Connell. It was his way of thanking him for reuniting him with Tasha. Ardeth had finally broke and told Tasha the truth about how he came to marry her. After the conversation with her father, he went to Rick. They did some digging and found out that her own father had staged her kidnapping. He hadn’t arranged a marriage to Jared at all; he was selling his daughter to the highest bidder. The kidnapping was planned to extort more money from her perspective husband. For all his wealth, his daughter was a pawn in his eyes.

Ardeth went back to her father and confronted him with the information. Between the threat of being arrested and having Ardeth’s scimitar pressed to his throat he had little choice but to let him wed Tasha. Ardeth finally told her the whole truth after her father was killed in a hunting accident. He felt it wasn’t truly an accident at all.

His son was now resting in his cradle as Tasha turned to her husband. She smiled at him as she walked over to him. He drew her into his arms and hugged her close. Living in England was an adjustment but one he took in stride. He had Rick to help him through the rough spots and was even adjusting to the clothes. He still drew looks though with his tattoos but he was getting use to it. He liked having Rick to talk to and the two families spent a great deal of time together.

From time to time, he missed the desert and even though it was no longer his home, he knew someday he would return. When his son was old enough he wanted to take him back to Egypt, and let him see the wonders of his homeland. He heard a deep sigh escape from Tasha and he ran his hand up her back.

“Is everything all right my love?” he asked softly.

“Yes,” she smiled looking into her husband’s eyes, “Everything is perfect. Our strong little warrior is now asleep.”

“Then we shall return to our bed,” he said with a devilish smile, “I wish to hear your cries of ecstasy my loving Princess.”

“As you wish, my Medjai Prince,” she smiled.
 

The Journey Home

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