Let's check in with Atria and Akhel in B.C....


Scene 9: Gone

2020 B.C.

She shed tears, in her soul, for the story he'd told. For what his crimes had cost; for the brother he'd lost. It was all so impossibly sad.

Yet these same bitter tears were sweet, shed in relief, because she was so fυcking glad. She didn't have to snip his thread. Atria had feared that he was just a sinful bastard, that the world would be less dark if he were dead. But now she knew that wasn't true.

Maybe he was bad to the bone, in far too many ways, but even so, in spite of all his flaws, and looking past that villainously flawless face — at least whenever she was able to — beneath it all, there beat a heart of virtue.

She wondered for a moment if the same was true of her. But then buried the thought among the shadows of her heart, along with all the other crap that didn't matter.

At any rate, the Fate of death no longer dreaded her next visit to the Cave. Akhel did not deserve to die; his thread was safe.

And now that that had been determined, she could smother all the ridiculous emotions she'd experienced in the process of coming to that conclusion, and get back to her mission. Akhel's thread was just one among millions. Aside from belonging to a sex god, it had no special significance. At all.

By now, of all the realms she'd visited on earth, Atria had spent more time in Nubia than any other place. Granted, she had been... distracted here of late and overstayed — but she had completely valid reasons to remain another day. Reasons unrelated to the pleasure of his company, the beauty of his body or his soul... reasons that did not involve Akhel in any way.

To remind and to convince herself that she was truly staying for these other reasons, she rose from where they lay beside the Nile, disengaging their limbs and trying to ignore how much her skin already missed the feel of him, after a matter of mere freaking seconds.

Akhel rose up onto one elbow, golden-green gaze following her as she searched among the reeds. "What are you looking for?"

"Clothes, of course," Atria answered, picking up the first item she found, which had been tossed to the ground last night some yards away from where they'd laid. "Found yours."

She flung the stupid loincloth in his direction, to which he responded with a cocked brow. "Don't we get along better without?"

Ugh, he just had to state the obvious and make it that much harder to resist. Yet resist she did. Her fateful duty and few scraps of dignity demanded it. "Let's head back to town," she suggested as she finally located her dress, not bothering to address his rhetorical question.

He rubbed his eyes and groaned. "Why the—"

"Shut up and put your clothes on," she commanded, cringing at how unnatural that had sounded. Usually, that was the last thing Atria would ever dream of saying to a scrumptious hunk of man, especially to this one. But it was necessary now. "We're going back to town."

"Since when am I your bitch," he grumbled, even while standing up to do as she had bid. "Pretty sure it's the other way around..."

"Go on thinking that way if you want," she retorted, slipping into her paltry dress and throwing him a sultry smile over her shoulder as she left, "but I know you came harder when I was on top."

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