She pretended to be offended, fighting the urge to flick out her tongue and do all manner of depraved things to his fingers. "Oh, so you think it's only good for kissing? Sucking?"

Akhel smirked his cruelly sexy smirk again. "Among other things. Maybe even for talking, just not first thing in the fυcking morning."

Atria fully intended to continue resisting temptation, but then he shifted again, in such a way as to remind her that men often had... anatomical reasons for wanting to fυck in the morning. In Akhel's case, a very large reason that was extremely hard to disregard. And leaving him all high and dry like that while she insisted on asking him a string of boring questions just seemed downright mean, so she gave in and devoured him completely out of courtesy, honestly. Totally. And once again, part of her placed all of the blame on humanity's retarded physiology.

The sun was higher by a mile in the sky above the Nile when they were done with that; she wished feeling good didn't feel so damn bad.

"So," Atria sighed as they both recovered from the inevitable marathon of orgasms that had occurred. It was difficult to put words together when her mind, after being thoroughly blown so many times, was impossibly blurred. "I wanted... to ask..."

"Don't ask me to do the — uh, that thing again; I'm really spent—"

"No, not that, not yet — maybe in a few minutes — I wanted to ask if you, um... if you have... I don't know, any morals and stuff."

His breathing was still ravishingly ragged and rough. "Morals?"

"Yeah. Given that you're, uh, a criminal. Did you have, like, some secret noble motives or whatever? Or are you just... you know, bad."

"Well, I can be very bad, but I think you already know that..."

She was too exhausted to smile or laugh. And too full of dread at the notion, becoming more real by the second, that she might have to kill him. "So no secret noble motives, then?"

"Nothing secret. Everyone in Egypt knew why I did what I did. As for 'noble', I don't know," he replied impassively. "If you mean to ask why I robbed royal tombs, the answer is that I needed the money."

Oh fυck, she thought, he's just a greedy bastard, isn't he. But her heart was much too terrified and desperate to let him stop at that. "Needed it for what?"

He paused, golden-green gaze piercing beyond the cloudless sky, as if searching for a lost soul in the afterlife. "Someone whose death I'd rather not remember."

Atria's heavy heart sank; she remembered. "Your brother."

For a while, Akhel said nothing more, as silent as the sun tracing its path across the Nile. When he spoke, his gaze did not move from its place, adrift in distant space. "The fυcking merchants charged too much. Just like the government — consumed by greed, corrupt. Ranaan's illness was rare, and the medicine rarer; they knew they could demand any price, knowing that families like ours would be willing to pay. Whether or not we could. I tried my hand at every craft, at every trade — whatever price they charged, I paid — but in the end it did no good. They raised the cost with every passing day, higher than any honest work could pay, and so I got my damn hands on the money in the only way I could. It was the only fυcking way."

Atria watched him as he spoke, and though she never would've thought it possible till now, she knew right then that he was even more beautiful, in his dark and damaged godforsaken soul, than out.

"Maybe I should feel guilty, for stealing from corpses rotting in sarcophagi inlaid with fυcking stones worth plenty to feed the entire country. Corpses of kings who were monsters while alive, scum of the earth who proclaimed themselves gods even when they knew damn well that they would die. And die they did. Maybe I should feel bad for taking gold and jewels from sad, decaying fools, but I don't, and... after seeing my brother's dead body, knowing that even though my crimes were all to save him, still he died because of them, because of me... honestly, I don't feel a damn thing."

In the long, aching silence that followed his words, both of their hearts were crying, feeling nothing and everything, and all the while over the Nile, the sun was still rising.


Any thoughts, feels for Akhel? :/

Next scene, we'll check in with the Campions in modern-day Greece...

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