Into the Pride (Nuuba Pride Shifters #1) by Michelle Monkou (6 page)

BOOK: Into the Pride (Nuuba Pride Shifters #1) by Michelle Monkou
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With the eagerness of a beaver building a dam, David scrambled their clothes together. In a disheveled heap, a makeshift palette appeared for their comfort. He motioned for her to enjoy the simple amenity.

Once she was settled, he sat on his haunches at the end of her feet. His erection was ready for the charge, just waiting for the sound off.

“Damn, you’re magnificent.” She slapped her hand over her mouth.

“You, my dear, are damn fine, too.” He grinned.

He watched her finish undressing, ditching the boots and pants, and saw her matching, laced thong. Another hidden temptation. He mentally saluted. He followed the long, shapely line of her legs all the way to those panties. She hooked her thumb in them and stripped for him. Her dark eyes didn’t waiver in their gaze. There before him was a clean shaven pussy, moist with her juice.

“Now, that’s a nice surprise.”

“You like it? I came prepared.” He recognized her nervousness as she tightly wound her hair around her finger. “You see, I want you as much as you want me.” She lay back down in front of him.

Her pussy called to him. And he dived in with his answer.

With his nose buried against her flesh, he inhaled her scent. Using the length of his nose, he stroked her clit and tender lips. Her juice bathed the tip of his nose and dripped onto his lip, trickling into his parted mouth. She tasted like the honey he’d imagined—sweet and alluring.

Along with his cock, he knew his other asset was his long tongue. He stretched it, curving to the natural seam leading to her puckered hole. He bathed her with long licks, sucking in the juice her body shared so willingly.

“Are you holding on, sweetheart?” He waited a beat, as her nails gripped his ass, before plunging his cock into her wet chamber.

Her moans echoed louder and more lustful. She arched, pushing her hips up, even as he drove into her. Her fingers mussed his hair.

His thrusts increased, pushing to the depths of her walls.

She gripped his hips with legs tightly locked around him.

He had reached the point of no return and together they stormed the gates, bursting free, uninhibited, and wild.

Clinging to each other, his mouth resting against her forehead, they floated back to earth. Neither one spoke. The mood still carried the residual effects of their emotional release. They savored their descent to reality in each other’s arms.

“Do you still want to find the temple?” He teased, when he caught his breath.

“Fuck, yeah.” She cupped her mouth, but her laughter bounced off the walls with its echo.

“I’ve created a monster.” David grinned, not an ounce of remorse in sight.

 

Chapter Six

 

Starr adjusted her clothing, as best as she could. Her hair felt like a total mess. It didn’t help that there was no mirror to survey the damage. A good thing—maybe. Her body felt raw, but alive, as if she’d drank several energy drinks. However, her conscience, that had been severely restrained, now filled her mind with recriminations and doubt. She had a job to do.

Her unchecked desire for forbidden fruit muddled everything. Before, she could pretend that making love to David was about lust and curiosity, that her feelings of love were that of a naïve young woman. What would be her excuse now? All she felt was an overwhelming love for this man. She dared not show any signs of her weakness. Nothing could come of it.

“We need to go back before they start searching for us.” His tone sounded back to business.

“Sure.” If she could learn a lesson from his behavior and be unaffected, she’d survive the heartbreak growing inside. Life or death—she had to focus on that. By taking their sex break, she had lost vital time to search for the temple. Too late for regrets, but her sense of failure hammered at her. And what would she tell Madame Voorhees?

“David, could we try to find something … anything?”

“There’s nothing here for you,” he responded sharply. “Look, I don’t mean to sound abrupt. I … I … we don’t have much time.” He looked at his watch. The entire time he hadn’t looked up at her.

She paused. His directness threw her off-balance. It cut deep that what they’d just shared appeared to mean nothing to him. The weight of an empty future rounded her shoulders. She had nothing with David, and a shaky future with a destroyed temple. Either way, she would be
persona non grata
if she didn’t complete her mission. Without waiting for his approval, Starr blindly picked a tunnel and hurried ahead.

“Starr, wait! It’s not safe. That part hasn’t been surveyed.”

She heard every word of his warning. Still, she pushed ahead. But, she was relieved to hear him follow, even if it was laced with colorful curses tossed at her.

Her progress halted when a large chunk of concrete shifted and fell into her path.

“Are you out of your mind?” David pulled her against his chest.

“David.” She tapped his shoulder. “Look. It’s a part of the temple.” Starr dropped to her knees. She struggled to pull away large pieces of masonry. Broken slabs showed the W symbols of the Cassiopeia Sisterhood, the constellation shape of the same name.

“Move aside. I’ll do it.”

She didn’t budge. There was no time for old fashioned civility. Time had run out. Leaving this tunnel would stop any hopes of restoring the Nuuba Dynasty.

They moved the debris together. It was a slow and back-breaking job, and sweat trickled down Starr’s back. No part of her was dry from the hard labor of clearing away parts of the old city. Before long, they found a small path that took them deeper into the ruins.

From the frescoed wall and tiled pavements, Starr knew they were on the palace grounds. Her gaze swept over the area. Any hint would do, no matter how small. Hunched over, she looked for any discerning clues to their exact location.

“There. Over there. The steps to the throne room.” She pointed and climbed over the small dirt piles. Her knees paid the price as she clambered to the top, sliding and falling into place on the other side.

“Slow down.” David followed her. “I have to admit that this stuff is really amazing.”

Ahead lay the queen’s quarters. Starr was sure of it. Carefully she made her way to the area. Only the foundation at the base was left. Remnants of the bright yellow paint guided her to where the doorway would be that accessed the temple under the palace.

“Can you help me move these pieces?”

“I’m a bodyguard not a superhero.” Nevertheless, he walked over to the blockage.

“David, listen to me.”

“Do I have a choice?” He sounded cranky as he tried to move one of the large chunks of a wall.

“You have to help me get to the temple. Once there I can remove the veil that has kept you from knowing the truth.” She’d rather have explained everything under more hospitable conditions. A cozy conversation to be had in his house. But he wasn’t ready, then. She didn’t realize how much he couldn’t remember until reconnecting with him, now three years later.

“What veil?” He looked down at his clothes and casually brushed at his head.

“Before the final end came, Queen Mayala, your mother—”

“My mother? I’m a Royal bodyguard.”

“Let me finish, please. Your mother, the queen, knew about the prophecy that warned of this troubled period. This is why she created the sisterhood. When she knew she was going to die, she ordered the High Priestess Izana to lower a veil to hide who you are … the heir to Nuuba, ruler of Theos. The High Priestess was killed for what she’d done, along with the king and queen. It was left to me to raise the veil. But I can’t do it unless I get into the temple.”

“And you kept this from me all this time? Three fucking years?”

“I had to find you. I had to make sure you were ready.”

“If I was ready? I was born ready. This was mine,” he shouted.

“I didn’t steal it from you.” Starr had tried to prepare for this day. Not that her plans meant they’d share the most intimate and vulnerable side with each other. “Your tattoo is the design on your family’s tribal badge. It will be complete on the day of your ordination.”

He rubbed his chest. Confusion still clouded his expression. A frown settled in place, growing deeper as he stared at her.

“Please help me. Together we can do this, for your parents’ sake.” The incentive was the right one.

The information fueled his fire as he picked up one rock, then another. He worked like demons were on his heels, hoisting and throwing large blocks of cement to one side. She worked on the smaller obstacles. Finally, the gaping hole, once the doorway to the temple, appeared.

“I will go first.” He didn’t wait for her objections. “I hope there isn’t any collapse.”

Starr hoped for the same. She didn’t have a Plan B. Simply telling David the truth wasn’t enough. His essence had to be awakened and must participate in the ceremony.

They proceeded slowly. There was no way to test the probability of a cave-in.

“We’re here.” Starr stepped forward to the altar. She bowed and paid homage to the High Priestess and the eternal order.

David stood next to her, staring ahead. Motionless. Calm. She admired the profile of the man she loved.

“Are you, all right?” she asked, but didn’t want to push. This was his time to ponder, celebrate, or curse.

“I don’t remember anything.” His mouth tightened. He looked at her. His forehead creased with deep lines of worry. His gaze returned to the ruins. “Shouldn’t something come back to me?”

“It will. I promise.” She wanted to kiss him, press her lips against his, take away the sorrow that would hit. The pain of awareness that would crash into him. From the blank background as a guard to knowing that he was a son, a prince, who had lost not his king and queen, but his father and mother. His bloodline that set him apart had been broken. In all this time, he hadn’t been able to grieve and absorb the loss. With all the powers that she possessed and skills at survival, she could do nothing for when that time would come.

Starr kneeled next to him. Time to prepare her mind for the monumental task.

“Don’t.” His voice sliced through her concentration.

She waited.

“I don’t know about this. You’re about to make me a prince.” His chest rose and fell. “Then, what? I’m no one up there.” He spun around. “Ruins. Chaos. Nothingness.” He squatted next to her. “That’s the kingdom I will rule? With one snap of your fingers.” He snapped his fingers in her face. “Why did you come into my life?”

Starr braced herself. Even if she could explain, he wouldn’t hear her. How she wished for Madame Voorhees’ calming influence for her and for him. Shutting out his panic, for the moment, closing off herself from the misery that still dwelled among the ruins, she settled her spirit. The prayer extended out from her soul, through her heart, uttered through her mouth. Its old language of clicks and guttural sounds floated out and over them, its power meant to bring a calming blanket over David’s shoulders. She continued the prayer that was usually done with other sisters. On faith, she pressed on, hoping that a cosmic connection would occur, near or far.

The dank air slowly lifted from the floor. The free flow of air swirled around her feet, alerting her that it had worked. Her prayer chain had been cosmically connected. Its power continued to soar pushing up the dread and despair that the battle created and the earthquake and tsunami finished. Up it went into the overhead foundation and beyond, lifting until it could be free of the confines of this place and evaporate into the air above.

David shifted from his squat position to stand. Noticeably relaxed, although he still frowned, his panic had subsided.

“It’s not for me to make you a prince. You have been granted that divine right and power through your dynastic line. No matter where you are, you are the prince of a noble family. It’s time that the king is returned to his people.”

“I am ready.”

His assent signaled to her that it was time to begin. Poetic verses filled her mind. Worries of remembering what to do disappeared. She chanted the rhythmic incantation in the formal ceremonial language of the priestess.

The song switched to a solemn prayer. She stood and slowly stripped him naked, this time for the royal rite.

From her satchel, she retrieved a small covered cup filled with balsam and olive oil. The fierceness of his gaze had the same power as if he had touched her. But she understood his curiosity. Standing so close to him, she didn’t sense any unease.

First the tribal dynasty tattoo. Removing the cover of the small cup, she dipped her finger and traced the elaborate path of the inked design. Once the prayer ended, she reverted to singing the verses again. This time, she tiptoed to reach the top of his head. Thankfully, he bowed slightly to assist. She poured the rest of the oil on his head. It tracked a slow path through his thick hair, down his forehead and over the length of his nose.

With her thumbs, she spread the oil. “I take this precious oil and anoint your eyelids for you to see the world with compassion. I spread the oil over your mouth for you to speak with wisdom. I spread the oil over your heart for you to love your people. I spread the oil over your forehead for the logic and creativity to be a balanced ruler.”

Her prayers grew rapid and incessant. She didn’t need the bright lights from the helmet to see him transform. The sounds of the shift told her the time was on hand. No sudden moves. Nothing to jar the transformation. She retreated with measured steps to give him room, but to also be close on hand, in case he needed her assistance.

David’s head snapped back and then forward.

His body emitted a series of loud pops and cracks that torqued his joints into odd alignments. Each snap roused a mournful roar. The contortions seemed to go on forever.

His breathing grew ragged. Chest rising and falling, with increasing tempo. Skin glistened with a honeyed sheen. From the sharp contractions, his body elongated and shrunk in a preordained sequence of anatomical collapsing and stretching.

Starr knew that searing pain was a part of the process as his human self switched places with the beast. Now his human essence would take residence deep within his soul. It shared only emotions in this play of nature’s will. The physical nature of the alpha lion took dominance.

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