Authors: Kate Hill
“Offerings from visitors. The Messengers collect them at the end of the month.”
Nodding, Sun stepped closer to one of the painted warriors and examined the detailed artwork.
After a few moments, they left the shrine to further explore the city. They stopped at an indoor garden open to the public. The many exotic plants and flowers pleased Sun, absorbing her attention. When she stopped to pay particular attention to a flame-colored blossom, Mica stood behind her and her pulse quickened. The warmth of his body was a welcome sensation.
Now or never.
She turned to him and captured his gaze. “It’s quiet. Peaceful.”
“I can’t say I feel very peaceful right now, Dame Sun.”
The lust in his eyes made her tingle from head to toe. Her clit ached with the
sudden need to wrap herself around him and feel his tall, strong body close to hers.
Control yourself, Sun.
are supposed to seduce
not the other way around.
“Is something wrong?” she asked, stepping closer.
His sapphire gaze fixed on her mouth and he moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue. Placing a fingertip to his flat belly, she ran it up his torso. Her palm rested against his chest, feeling the rhythm of his heart. His arousal was almost tangible but so was hers.
Overwhelmed by confusion, Sun nearly turned away. Should she continue? If she enjoyed the experience would she end up hurting herself? Her personal feelings didn’t matter. Vengeance did, yet were her actions only for revenge or did she desire his dark, lean body more than she wanted to admit?
“Dame Sun, if we don’t leave, I might do something we will regret.”
“Like this?” She slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him.
His warm lips teased hers. He wrapped his arms around her, pressing her so close to him that their hearts beat in unison.
Sun closed her eyes and clung to him. Their lips parted and his tongue met hers with hot, wet strokes that weakened her legs and sent ripples of need through her entire body. She moaned softly, searching his mouth, tasting every corner and crevice while her fingers stroked his shoulders and nape.
By the Spirit he tasted and felt wonderful. Sun’s clit tingled and her pussy turned to liquid. His cock pressed against her, hard and thick. She longed to feel its velvet stiffness in her palm. Mica’s kisses deepened. He licked the top of her mouth and gently sucked on her tongue.
Finally he broke the kiss and buried his face in her shoulder. His panting breath warmed her flesh. “Sweet Goddess. I haven’t felt like this in so long, Dame Sun.”
She knew he lied yet his words touched her.
Stop it, Sun. Feeling for him is not allowed.
“Most rules are made to be broken, Mica.” She ran her hands across his broad shoulders then down his spine.
Pausing just above his taut buttocks, she placed a hand on his hip then edged lower. Her fingers fluttered delicately over the enticing bulge beneath his robe.
“But not vows,” he murmured, his lips hovering over hers.
When she met his gaze she saw the struggle inside him.
“Maybe not as easily but emotions can be more powerful than vows.”
“How can a woman with an angel’s face tempt me like this?” He rested a hand on her hip and tugged her nearer. Closing his eyes, he released a deep breath as she thrust her pelvis against his crotch. His hand trailed up her ribs and cupped her breast. Sun’s heart pounded so fast and hard that she was certain he must have felt it against his palm. Tenderly he massaged the firm, warm globe through her vest. Sun’s nipple
tightened and her pussy grew slick and wet. She wanted him to slide one of his long, graceful fingers deep inside her. Somehow she knew without doubt this man would please her. None of her many bed partners had made her come. Only by her own hand did she writhe and throb with sexual gratification but she sensed Mica would be different. Wonderful, orgasmic tightening had already enveloped the lower half of her body.
“Dame Sun, tell me to stop,” he murmured.
“I don’t want you to stop.”
He kissed her so passionately she nearly lost her breath. His lips opened over hers and his tongue thrust into her mouth with long, slow strokes. Sun trapped his tongue and sucked it while grasping his tight bottom. Damn, the man had such a gorgeous body. She squeezed his rock-hard buttocks. The sudden urge to rip off his clothes and cover every inch of his sleek, dark-skinned body with kisses almost overwhelmed her.
Mica’s thumbs massaged her nipples, teasing them to sensitive peaks through her vest.
Again he kissed her, sucking on her lower lip and licking the tender flesh.
Voices outside the garden’s entrance forced them apart. They gazed at each other, their lips kiss-bruised and their breathing ragged.
Two women stepped inside. The visitors nodded at the couple.
Sun forced a smile. Mica greeted them then took Sun’s hand and left the garden.
“Perhaps it was good we were interrupted,” he said. “Forgive me, Dame Sun. I forgot myself.”
She offered him a coquettish smile and squeezed his hand tighter. “Maybe not.
Should we go back to the palace?”
“So soon? There’s still much of the city to see.”
“Don’t you have a ritual dance or something tonight?”
“That’s not until later. Don’t you want to see more of Ademene while you’re here?”
Sun paused, glancing at him. By the Spirit the man was stupid. She wanted to return to the palace, go to her room or his and finish what they started in the shrine.
Unfortunately he seemed bent on being her personal guide to all the sights of Ademene.
Still, looking around a little more couldn’t hurt. It was a beautiful city and she might never have another chance to see it. She had plenty of time for a more intimate tour later.
He brightened. “Good. There’s someplace I know you’ll like to see. It’s not in as nice a section of the city as this, but I think you can handle it.”
Sun winked. “What gave you that idea?”
Before they turned the corner Marta rushed out of the tavern.
“Dame Sun, you come back next time you visit the Kennas.”
“And if you ever come to Travelle you’ll stay with the Dames.”
Marta laughed. “It’s a promise. Imagine me with the Dames of the Opal Order?”
“I believe you’d fit in perfectly,” Mica said.
He and Sun continued down the city streets toward the west side of the city.
“Where is this place you want to take me?” Sun asked, the tingling sensation incited by his touch finally fading. Still her thoughts drifted back to the kisses of moments ago.
By the way Mica looked at her from the corner of his eye she knew he was having similar thoughts. She grinned, noticing the respectable bulge still pressing against the front of his robe.
“The place I’m taking you to is called the Circle. People gather there to practice the fighting arts.”
“A training hall?”
“Of sorts,” he said.
“Sounds like fun.”
“I thought you’d enjoy it.”
The streets grew dimmer and narrower with each turn. Prostitutes, both male and female, lurked in doorways. Gangs congregated in front of abandoned buildings. Some cast taunting looks in Mica and Sun’s direction yet none approached. Sun wondered if their discretion had anything to do with Mica’s presence. She was about to ask when they stopped in front of a gray stone building, shorter and wider than the ones common in Ademene. Two tall men stood outside the double doors. One look at the bulging muscles beneath their leather vests and Sun knew they were formidable warriors. Their black hair was cropped close to their heads and they wore neatly trimmed beards. By the pristine appearance of the double swords dangled at their hips, she knew they took pride in their position.
One of them opened the door, nodding to Mica as he and Sun passed.
“It’s safe to guess they know you here?” Sun asked.
Mica only smiled and guided her down the dark hallway.
At the end of the corridor Mica pushed open a door. Another bearded man dressed in trousers and a knee-length tunic greeted them.
“Mica. It has been a while. Here for a workout?”
“Of course, Sefu. You know I never bet.” Mica winked and Sefu laughed.
“Sure. Whatever you claim. Who’s your lovely friend? I didn’t think you felt the need to woo women with your prowess.”
“I don’t think any man can woo Dame Sun. She’s here to practice.”
Sefu’s dark eyes raked Sun from head to foot. “She looks strong enough. I’m afraid you won’t find many women to compete with here, Sun, but the few we have are tough challenges.”
“I’m sure we’ll appreciate each other then.”
Sefu laughed, clapping Sun on the shoulder. “I like this woman, Mica. Where did you find her?”
“Wandering in the desert.”
“It would only happen to you. All I find in the desert is thirst and stone buzzards.”
Sefu held out his hand to Sun. “The sword must stay here. Only staves are allowed inside.”
Sun made no motion to remove her sword though her gaze swept the collection of blades lining the wall.
“It’s the rule, Sun. One they won’t allow to be broken,” Mica explained. “Only hand-to-hand or staff fighting is accepted. Sefu will take good care of your sword. He’s never lost one yet.”
Though she didn’t like the idea of stepping into the unknown without being armed, Sun removed her sheath. By the collection of weapons being guarded, it was obviously accepted by the people to enter unarmed.
“Take a look,” Mica opened the adjoining door a crack.
Sun glanced inside. Several rings were roped off in four corners of an enormous room with a polished wooden floor. Torches lit the training hall, the smoke dispersing through a circular opening in the ceiling so as not to impair the warriors’ breathing.
Warriors fought inside the rings surrounded by cheering, shouting onlookers while others practiced sparring or hand fighting in the empty floor space.
Sun handed her sword and sheath to Sefu who motioned for them to join the others.
She and Mica stood against one of the walls, watching for several moments before he slipped off his robe and hung it on a hook next to dozens of others. Beneath he wore
blue cotton trousers and a vest. Sun stared at him from the corner of her eye once again, admiring his physique. She imagined cuddling naked with him later that night. He bound his long, black hair at his nape with a strip of leather and extended his arm toward one of the rings. “Shall we, Dame Sun?”
She tossed him a smile then approached a ring where a tall woman with black hair braided down her back fought with a shorter, thicker man. Sun noted the woman’s skill surpassed her opponent’s. Within seconds she struck him in the abdomen then the face.
He lunged at her, his fist aimed at her nose. The woman dodged the blow and spun to the floor, using her leg to knock the man to the straw mat covering the inside of the ring. Snarling, the man hopped out of the ring while the woman shook her fist above her head to the sound of cheering.
“They fight for points?” Sun asked.
“Yes. That’s usually how it’s done here. Occasionally more dangerous matches are allowed but only in special cases. This is a training hall—where we have a few harmless bets every now and then.”
“Harmless bets, eh?”
“Would you like to practice with staves?” He removed two staves from the wall and tossed one to her. They spent the next few moments stretching their limbs and warming up with some staff exercises, spinning and striking, before they found an empty space to practice.
Sun’s gaze fixed on Mica as they circled each other. She attacked first. He used his staff to block her blows and execute his attacks. Within moments Sun knew he was exceptionally talented with the weapon. They fought until he backed her to the wall, the tip of his staff pressed to the hollow of her throat.
He released her and said, “You’re very skilled.”
“I’m better with a sword.”
“Then I’ll refrain from challenging you.”
“If you’re as talented with a sword as you are with a staff it would be an interesting match—although I can think of other ways I’d rather fight you.” She offered him a seductive smile.
“Dame Sun.” He stepped closer, his lips parted and desire gleaming in his eyes.
Her attention drifted to one of the rings where the same dark-haired woman now fought a tall redhead. Both women seemed equally skilled, their punches and kicks forceful and precise. A crowd had gathered around them.
She turned to Mica. “Do you mind if I get a closer look?”
“Enjoy yourself.” He took her staff and she walked toward the ring.
Mica returned the weapons to the wall before following Sun. He allowed himself a lingering look at her shapely buttocks in the brown cotton trousers. Her body tempted him to beg for favors he’d long intended to give up for religion—favors that for the past
few years he’d been unable to appreciate because of circumstances he refused to think about. Not when he was having the most perfect evening of his life. Still her change of heart confused him. This evening she seemed to enjoy his company. In the shrine he felt sure if the women hadn’t walked in she’d have made love with him right then and there. Sun was a complex woman. Was it reasonable to believe she had finally realized the senselessness of blaming him for his father’s crimes?
Of course not. Mica wasn’t an inexperienced idiot. A few kisses and a pleasant evening couldn’t instantly wipe out her deep hatred but it might be a start. She wouldn’t be in Ademene long, which was a good thing since there was no way Mica could engage in a lasting relationship. Too much stood in the way of his happiness with a woman and not all of it was religious.
Tonight he would not think about it. He was with a woman he liked and who for the most part seemed attracted to him. Pleasure was meant to be enjoyed because it could be taken away like a grain of rice on the wind.
Sun paused outside the ring. Nearby one of the skinny old men who handled bets stood beside the black-haired warrior woman known as Una Rock Fist. A fierce fighter who usually beat her matches both male and female, Una was a regular at the Circle.