GOODNIGHT POST – I’ve enjoy being here! But this really isn’t even the middle of Atlantis Vortex. I thought I’d leave you with a “warmer” post. Things get hotter and more dangerous from here.
With his back to the entrance of their bedroom, Xerxes turned when she entered the salon. The late edition of the CBS evening news was just signing off and he turned the TV off. He too had bathed and prepared to retire. His apparel gave her pause over what the evening held.
A loose-fitting pair of black silk sleep pants accented his flat abs. His lack of a shirt made her feel self-conscious as did his casual perusal. His sculpted, tanned upper body was perfection and reminded her again of the night of the hurricane and the Aztecs. The memory of the safety his arms holding her against his muscular chest was forever etched in her mind. Her gaze swept over him and her knees weakened. A flood of need swept through her body, devastating her nerves. Forcing her gaze away, heat burned in her face. His stare left her aroused, disturbed, and aching to feel the safety she remembered his embrace produced. But now, he was the source of the threat and she was too proud to show any vulnerability. Xerxes dropped the remote on the couch. Her gaze returned to engage his.
“I hope you didn’t turn it off on my account,” Jessica remarked flippantly.
“You may watch it at your leisure.” Xerxes smiled, overlooking her tone, “They have called off the search for you. For that, I truly apologize, but Jessica, it is for the best.” His voice held sincere apology. She turned away, not wanting him to see the tears she forced back.
Unaware he had come up behind her, Jessica startled when his hands gently touched her arms in a comforting gesture. She stepped away, already distressed by his nearness, his hands felt like branding irons. The memories flaming through her mind and body were compounded by his authority over her.
“Mr. Kallias,” Jessica turned to face him and in doing so, caught sight of the healing, irritated slice across his right bicep. She glanced down at her fingertips, remembering the feeling of the cut and the stickiness of his blood. The stain had remained on her skin until she showered at the hotel. Her gaze joined his.
Why had he taken a personal risk to save her life? What force compelled her to seek the safety of his arms and body?
She realized his power over her went further than the physical. His masculine bearing came close to overpowering her. Jessica swallowed hard. So far, her strength of character and will had proved stronger, she glanced away. She was angry with this mysterious man but other than his abduction, she couldn’t find a reason. Actually, she owed him a significant debt, her life.
“It’s time you used my given name, Jessica. Our relationship will be extremely close.” He informed her in a soft voice. His heated gaze swept over her.
“That, Mr. Kallias, is one of the things you’ll not like my answer to.” Jessica ground out firmly. Her gaze, flaming in anger, met his.
Xerxes smiled tolerantly. “Jessica, it’s already a fact.”
“No, it most certainly is not.” She moved away from him. “You promised answers, or do you propose to put those off further?” Did nothing anger this man?
“Very well, for now, ask.” He consented, extreme patience echoing in his voice.
Jessica considered what she wanted answers to. “Who are you? No! I don’t mean your name. Anyway, Xerxes is Persian, and you don’t look Persian. I mean who are you, more to the point—what are you?”
“I am the direct descendent of the first Emperor of Atlantis,” Xerxes informed her with considerable pride, absent of conceit. His Atlantean accent undisguised. “The name Xerxes is Atlantean, and a great deal older than Persia.”
Jessica looked at him as though he were a lunatic. If it weren’t for the immediate surroundings, she would have laughed. “Now tell me the truth.” Her voice was flat.
“I have,” he returned seriously. She mistook the proud smirk on his handsome face for arrogance.
“Atlantis? You planted that stuff. None of it was real. I don’t believe it. I have been a fool.” Jessica raised her voice, sullen, and shocked, though he confirmed what she and Bruce both believed.
“You believe it. You dated the artifacts yourself. Don’t you trust your own instincts and talents? Could the Egyptians have made such a voyage unless directed? They would never have found their way to Lake Okeechobee, or known about the things of the pictograph.” Xerxes looked at her directly and shrugged. “Why would they have made such a voyage and built what is obviously an entrance without direction?” Jessica tried to deny his words, but she couldn’t. Finally, she sat down—hard.
“Why did you lure me here?” Jessica asked after a moment of contemplation. The question already solved in her mind, she needed confirmation.
“After you found the clues, you would have found us. As you will see in the next few weeks, I couldn’t allow that to happen. It was either lead you here or….” His gaze held hers.
“Or what? Others know!” Suddenly, the or what made sense. “Oh God, you wouldn’t!” She stood and stared at him. “You said Bruce was okay. What has happened to the others? Have you?” She couldn’t say it. “You said I wouldn’t like the answers. Have you—murdered them?” Maybe it was the wine, or the exhaustion or the depth, maybe all three, but she rushed him.
Xerxes’ reactions were quick as were hers, giving him little time to react. “NO!” He caught her by both wrists before she could strike him and spun her around. The smell of her filled his senses. He crossed her arms in front, holding her restrained back against his chest. Strong as she was, his strength was greater. Holding her subdued for a moment, he spun her back suddenly to face him, leaving her dizzy. “Jessica, NO! STOP fighting me.” He pulled her against his chest abruptly pushing the air from her, this time their faces inches apart.
His closeness was draining. His strength sapped what little she held in reserve. The strange eyes that had haunted her for so long mesmerized her. Demanding lips touched hers. She fought his control, but emotionally she craved his embrace. Jessica closed her eyes, blotting out the reality of her situation. Drug like lips gently moved over her mouth. Finally, he released her.
“Oh,” Jessica sobbed. “What have you done?” He eased her onto the couch, her legs too wobbly to hold her.
“Jessica, hear me.” Xerxes commanded sitting next to her, pulling her close. “No one has been harmed. I promise you, that is why you were the only one given the maps. All the artifacts and the copies are now recovered, safe, here in Atlantis. Your Marine Captain Curtis is an Atlantean. Only the metal maps aren’t here, they have now dissolved as I designed them to. You are the only one who knows. Atlantis’ security is safe, your friend is safe, but here you must stay. What is here is enough to keep you occupied for ten lifetimes,” Jessica heard him say. Her eyes remained closed, her world spinning, her body shaking. Xerxes held her close, trying to comfort her.
She remembered him rescuing her during the hurricane. His arms felt so secure, so easy just to relax and…Sudden anger fired deep inside of her, he had tricked her, used, and frightened her. Concern for her parents came to mind. They would think she was dead. Was there any way to tell them differently? Would he allow her to?
“You are so pale…” Xerxes voice was rich with concern. Again, gently, he covered her lips with his own. She fought herself more than him. He gently held her in his arms, his kiss more urgent. When he released her, a deep breath turned to more of a sob.
“Never will I allow a man to control me!” Jessica declared in a desperate whisper. “And what have you done? You have spied on me, kidnapped me, and now imprisoned me! And you expect me to trust you?”
“Don’t fight me. You are mine now, and safe. You must listen to what I have told you, and what more I must explain.” Xerxes told her, trying to assure her. “Listen and you will understand. What I’ve done I did out of necessity.”
“NO! I belong to no man, never! No man owns me, especially one who would trick me as you have.” Jessica protested and resisted. She pushed him away.
“Yes, Jessica! I claimed you before I came to your camp that night. It was either that or have you killed because you had found the entrance. But, no one else, even Bruce is safe. But you, lovely Jessica, know far too much, and are far too smart to be allowed to go free. I abhor killing. To waste a life such as yours, I will not do. Is your life lived here, and with me, not worth that of the others?”
“I do not want to stay here! I will not stay with you! You do not have the right to make that decision!” Jessica declared despite the virtually overwhelming attraction she felt for him. Here was the man who haunted her dreams since the diving accident, who appeared at her tent that night at the dig and saved her from a horrible death from the Aztecs. He aroused her as no man before. Her complete being desired him from his glance alone. His touch sent molten fire through her breasts to ignite between her legs making them weak. His affect on her frightened her more than she could comprehend,or understand. There were the memories, the ones she could remember, and the ones she knew were there, but were just beginning to recall.
Xerxes pinned her by the shoulders beneath him, against the pillows of the couch. “I did not ask what you wanted Jessica! I am telling you what you will do! Here, in this world, I am the authority. My word is law.” His voice commanded revealing all the power he controlled. “Jessica, I have watched you, I will not see you killed just because you are willful and will not try to adjust to a different life. A life that is just as rich as that of the upper-world. And, yes! I do have that right.” Xerxes’ patience was running thin. His desire for her barely controllable evidenced in the timbre of his voice.
“I have parents and family that are grieving because of this,” Jessica’s voice came out in a hoarse objection struggling to hold back tears of frustration and anger.
“You knew the risks as did they! Would you rather they had a real reason to grieve?” Xerxes’ voice was hard, edging on cruel.
“What risks?” Jessica was flabbergasted.
“Diving has risks,” Xerxes explained coldly. “You should know that.”Exhausted, frightened and overwrought, Jessica managed to pick up on what he alluded to; the diving accident. She now remembered that fateful day, but it was still hazy, veiled in a drug-clouded mist to her tired mind.
“I think I hate you!”
He held her chin and looked into her eyes. She wondered if he saw the pain and fear she tried to hide. “You may want to, but you don’t.” His countenance changed. Tenderly he drew her close and kissed her ardently, his tongue briefly caressing hers. She desperately tried to hide the desire searing through her.
She pushed him away and slapped him, her hand stung. “Bastard!” She rasped, her voice cracking with conviction. She slipped from beneath Xerxes, and gaining her feet ran from the room. Not looking where she ran, she found herself in the bedroom. Xerxes calmly walked in behind her. Jessica spun around to face him, her long hair swirling around her as she turned.
“I would guess,” her voice sarcastic, cutting, “this is where you wanted me?”
“We must sleep.” He smiled benignly.
“I’ll take the couch,” Jessica taunted, her voice harsh. “I wouldn’t think of sleeping in your bed.”
“Think again, you will sleep with me.”
“No! I will not!” Jessica glared at him, her stare cerise.
Calmly he walked to the communications device and in English, so she would understand, ordered the couch in their salon removed. “Now if you plan to try for the chairs or carpet on the floor, I can also have those things removed as well.”
“Leave the damned couch,” Jessica told him in a growl, “but don’t think I’ll do more than sleep.”
Xerxes regarded her sympathetically. “For tonight, Jessica, you should sleep after what you have been through today. However, do not count on the same leniency tomorrow.” His sympathy disappeared and their stares joined. She had met the first man she couldn’t move. He was at the end of his tolerance and his mercy. Cold fear seized her, and the trembling returned. She would know her master’s touch.
Jessica could see his appetite and hunger in his eyes. Desire! Her cheeks burned,flushed in innocence. Jessica was forced to face her desire for him too. Xerxes smiled leisurely while Jessica listened to him cancel the removal of the couch.
With great reluctance, Jessica slid beneath the covers. Her body so tired it hummed. Her mind in turmoil, her heart was near breaking. Xerxes stretched his powerful body out next to her in the oversized bed. She could feel energy radiating from him like the strength that radiated from a magnificent wild beast. Her heart raced, and her blood pounded painfully in her temples. Jessica didn’t think she could sleep with him next to her no matter how tired she was. Desperately she needed to cry, an action as foreign as the emotion of desire, but she refused to allow him to see such a weakness.
Innocent of a man, there had been opportunities. Bruce wanted her. But until Xerxes Kallias she hadn’t met a man who sparked such passion. He was different. She had no control or influence over him, or the emotions he elicited from her. He was controlling, with total autonomy in his world. She didn’t hate him as she had alleged, but she refused to admit any possible love. The odd sensation he aroused must be lust, animal attraction, and she refused to acknowledge it.
Staying as far away from Xerxes as the large bed allowed, she turned on her side. Jessica presented her back to the High Lord of Atlantis. She tried to will her exhausted but stimulated body to sleep, but every fiber in her was alert, sensitized. Disgusted with herself, her aroused body traitor to her command, her silk panties were wet with arousal from this man’s nearness and touch, Jessica prayed he would sleep first.
Maybe she’d sneak to the couch if he slept first. Then possibly the quick fire racing through her veins would subside, and she could get the sleep she desperately needed.
His hand gently smoothed over her hip. Jessica gasped and jumped, nearly tumbling off the edge.
“Jessica, you will fall out of bed if you stay that close to the edge. Move toward the center, I swear, upon my honor, tonight I will let you sleep.” Xerxes promised with some humor in his voice.
“How magnanimous of you! On your honor?” Jessica questioned sarcastically. “Leave me alone and I will sleep.” She heard him laugh at her false bravado. Suddenly, before she could protest, both his muscular arms were around her waist, and he pulled her snuggly against his hard body.
“You may as well learn this now. I am accustomed to my directives being obeyed, and my honor and word is unquestioned in the other under-world city-states around Earth and off…” Xerxes whispered firmly in her ear letting his sentence hang. His lips brushed her neck, causing her to shiver. Her physical need for him caused her to gasp.
Jessica tried to move away, she struggled, “I am unaccustomed to taking orders! Now let me go!” She demanded. Less tired, Jessica under less mental strain would have questioned the dropped sentence and demanded what other places he alluded to.
“Sorry, here you stay. Now,” he pulled her even closer, she could feel every inch of his perfect male body against her form, including the hardness of his arousal pressed between her butt cheeks. “Close your eyes and go to sleep. “His voice dropped to a threatening whisper, “Lest I forget my promise that tonight you may sleep and do with you what I wish. Only two thin pieces of fabric and my word of honor stand between what both our bodies want. Do not push either past the point of tolerance. His hand caressed her hip, down between her sodden thighs, and up over her stomach beneath her top. He sent such a strong surge of arousal through her; Jessica fought her body’s compelling urge to turn to him in submission.
Instead, Jessica froze. His desire for her caused her face to flame. A slight shaking possessed her, and she tried, but couldn’t still it. Xerxes breath was on her neck, and his lips caressed her. To herself, she admitted, she wanted him too. She needed to feel the security his arms brought. It would be so easy to give in to the feelings for him.
“Good night.” His throaty voice was rich with passion held in strict control.
Jessica lay still, fearful of arousing him further until his quiet snores became even and strong. Unable to find a way to escape his grasp, or slip away from the confusing emotions he evoked, she succumbed to exhaustion and slept dreamlessly, with Xerxes arm firmly wrapped beneath her breasts.
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