Separated in time. United by forbidden passion...
When an ancient papyrus scroll comes up for auction, gallery curator Cait Lang draws the distasteful task of notifying her boss's favorite client, Grant Pierson. The rare art and antiquities collector's arrogance grates on her nerves, but most of all she resents her own weakness for his athletic body and deep brown eyes.
It's the hieroglyphic scroll that draws Grant to a private, after-hours showing at the gallery. But the lovely Cait's narration of the erotically charged story captures his interest. Determined to hear the rest of the tale--and spend more time in Cait's company--he convinces her to join him for dinner.
The intricate, sensual tale transports Cait's and Grant's imaginations into the past. And the depictions of sexually charged temple rituals inspire them to explore their own hidden passions--in Grant's apartment.
Even as Grant succumbs to Cait's charms, the drive to own the scroll hums in the back of his mind. If he isn't careful, though, he'll not only lose the chance to hear the end of the story, he'll lose something more precious. The missing piece of his own life--Cait.
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October 04, 2010
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Excerpt from The Concubine's Tale by Jennifer Colgan
Khanu's heart clenched at the spectacle that met him when he returned from the courtyard. The sight of Nayari lying limp in the arms of one of the priests nearly sent him to his knees.
"What have you done to her?" He didn't wait for a reply but scooped her fragile body into his arms. The other priest bowed and backed up a step.
"I had to stop her from escaping. I found her scurrying through the back corridor searching for a way out through our chambers."
"You had no right to injure her. You should have called me." Khanu swung Nayari around and headed for her room.
"This way, warrior. We'll take her to a room below where she won't escape so easily."
Khanu hesitated. He looked down at her face, so beautiful in this artificial sleep. Her shallow breathing worried him.
"What did you do to her?"
"A balm to make her sleep."
Khanu growled. She'd be groggy and sick when she awoke. Grudgingly, he followed the priest to a dark flight of stone stairs. He squeezed his broad shoulders through a narrow door and set Nayari on a small cot in a windowless chamber lit only by a torch in a sconce on the wall.
"Bring water." He cradled her head in the crook of his arm. "Then stay out of my sight."
"Of course." The priest bowed out of the room, and Khanu indulged in a curse upon the man's family ten generations to come. Why would she try to escape? Surely the priest was mistaken. As the dutiful concubine of the magistrate, it should have been her pleasure to await the arrival of Ammonptah.
She lay in his arms, her face a portrait of innocence. He brushed her lustrous hair from her brow and pressed the back of his hand to her fevered skin. What would Ammonptah do if he found her thus?
The priest returned with a bowl of water and a cloth, and Khanu glared at him. "Post a guard at the temple gate. Enemies of Ammonptah are everywhere it seems." Even in this room, he added silently.
Once the priest had gone, Khanu tended to Nayari. Drops of cool water squeezed from the cloth onto her head roused her slightly, and she moaned.
"You're safe," he said when her eyes fluttered open. She stared at him for a moment, her eyes blank. Then she surged upward, fear clouding her expression. She screamed once--a short, tortured sound that Khanu cut off by clamping a hand over her mouth. She struggled in his arms, and he hushed her, rocking her against his chest.
"No, I'm not." Her voice trembled as she recounted what the acolyte had told her.
Khanu had heard the name Benak-Ra before. He'd seen tales of the man's cruelty strike fear in the hearts of many seasoned warriors. A fragile creature such as Nayari would wither at his hands.
His loyalty to Ammonptah dissolved as she finished telling him about the plot to unseat Pharaoh. "I will not let them give you to the wizard."
She settled against him finally, and her breathing returned to normal. When he looked down at her, tears spilled over her cheeks. "But Ammonptah is our master."
"Not any longer."
"What?" She trembled in his arms. The sensation of her supple body shuddering against his turned his thoughts to further betrayal of Ammonptah.
"We will escape."
"How? The priests are watching."
"They're watching the front of the temple. They believe I'm loyal to Ammonptah and will do as I say. We will leave here in a few hours, before they rise for their morning prayers."
Her honey-colored eyes searched his and, beneath the fear, he saw trust and admiration. She put her hands on either side of his face and brought her lips close to his. Her breath was sweet. "Tell me your name."
"Khanu," he whispered, so close to her mouth that the word echoed between them. "Servant of Nayari."
She kissed him then, and a sensation that had to be borne of the gods shot through his body. Every muscle went taut, and the ache in his loins exploded into flame as her tongue slipped between his lips.
"Have you ever felt like that?" Cait set her wine glass on the low table next to the couch. She felt an ache herself, low in her belly. The thought of Nayari clinging to her virile warrior, knowing her life was in his hands, made her long for that kind of surrender.
Grant set his glass down also and leaned forward. "I've had a few great first kisses, but it sounds like Khanu got the wind knocked out of him."
"It must have been amazing to have been mentioned in the writing. It makes me think the writer knew them intimately, to include a description of how Khanu felt the first time they kissed."
"It's like someone reaches into your chest and pulls out your heart for you to look at."
Cait giggled. "That sounds more like an Aztec custom. I've always imagined it felt like having your stomach land on your knees."
"Anatomically impossible." He winked.
"Do you want to discuss anatomy or hear the rest of the story?"
"I think I want to kiss you."
Cait's breath caught, and she leaned forward as if an invisible string drew her toward him. He's a client, the damnable voice in her head shouted over the pounding of her heart as he brought one hand up and cupped the back of her head.
I quit, she decided immediately. There. He's not a client anymore. Cait leaned forward just another inch, and Grant took her mouth in a kiss that left them both breathless. He delved into her, drawing her tongue into his mouth, holding her steady while he explored. When he pulled back, he left her weak and wanting more.
"I think I know how Khanu felt," Grant said.
He traced the line of her lips with his thumb, and Cait resisted the urge to take it in her mouth and show him just what she could do with proper motivation. She licked her lips and settled back on the couch. "There's a lot more to the story."
"Good. I was hoping we weren't finished yet."
Nayari huddled beneath a rough blanket and strained to hear any sound from the narrow corridor outside of the cold stone room. The warmth of Khanu's searing kiss had worn off long ago, and now, while she waited for him to return, she began to shiver uncontrollably.
What if the priests found him sneaking through the temple, or caught him spying on them to make sure they were asleep? What if Benak-Ra had arrived and was even now preparing to claim her as payment for his services to Ammonptah?
She froze when she heard the scrape of sandals on the dusty floor and nearly screamed when a large hand peeled back the edge of the blanket.
"We can go now," Khanu said. He held out his hand, and Nayari unfolded her body from the cot. She drew close to him for a moment, reveling in the heat of his skin and his masculine scent. The weight of his arm across her shoulders calmed her. "We need to hurry, but nothing stands in our way. We cannot risk taking the cart and the oxen, but if we stay to the alleyways behind the marketplace, we can be well on the road to Amun by sunrise."
"Will we be safe there?"
"We can lose ourselves for a while, then travel to the sea. From there, we can go anywhere we desire."
Nayari stared at her savior. Fear and hope battled in her heart. "You mean leave Egypt?" She thought about the family she'd left behind so long ago and wondered if perhaps she might find her back to them one day.
"If we must, until Ammonptah forgets about us."
"If he succeeds in becoming pharaoh--"
"Then perhaps the loss of your sacrifice might not matter to him. Come, Nayari. We have to go now."