Welcome back to a new edition of Tuesday Tales. This is a blog hop where a group of authors from different genres get together and write to the same prompt. This week's prompt is "Love". I've featured a snippet of my current wip, From Lust To Ashes, my paranormal Phoenix story. The previous post to this story can be found in the archives here on my blog. Just look for Tuesday Tales~
Unedited~PG~by Kathleen Grieve
Freshly showered and changed, Tatum sat absorbing the Sun’s healing rays streaming through a coffee shop window just down the street from the hotel. Teleporting them away from last night’s attack had left her weak and in pain. Every time she moved sensitive nerve endings screamed. The numerous bruises and aches she’d sustained in the blast clearly evident in the lines etched on her face and marks on her body when she’d glimpsed her reflection in the hotel’s bathroom mirror earlier. Releasing built up tension, she sighed, relishing the heat and closed her lids. This was her kind of heaven.
“I bet you taste better than the coffee in this joint,” a familiar sexy drawl rumbled.”
Tatum smiled and opened her eyes. Ignoring the pain, she propped her elbow on the table before her and rested her chin in her hand. “Well, well, well…” Her gaze trailed lazily from the well-worn scuffed cowboy boots admiring how the faded denim of well worn jeans slung low on tapered hips. A Motorhead t-shirt constructed from thick white cotton stretched and sculpted well-muscled pecs and bulging biceps. As his name meant in Egyptian, his very demeanor screamed warrior, even in his relaxed stance.
“Welcome, Jabari.” She nodded in the direction of the seat opposite her. “Sit, my old friend. We have a lot to discuss and little time.”
He arched an auburn brow. “What? No foreplay, my sweet?” His voice held a hint of disappointment, but he did as she bade. The red hair a Phoenix was known for with the golden rays of the sun streaking through the strands usually fell past his waist. Today, it was pulled away from his strong, chiseled features and secured at the nape of his neck. His tawny striated gaze a similar shade to her own eyes stared at her with amusement.
Memories of their last pleasure-filled encounter of soft moans, urgent need, and tangled sheets leapt to the forefront of her mind. Usually, just the thought of a naked Jabari dampened her panties and made her thighs quiver with anticipation. Tatum looked forward to each meeting of inspired lust--—basked in the glory of slickened skin and the smell of sex.
But not today. Today, they were just…simple recollections. She frowned. Damn Akthuá! Now she couldn’t even relish delicious memories? What would be next? It seemed the older she became, the more the Akthuá miserable her existence. A deep sorrow seized her gut wrenching the muscle into knots causing spasms of pain worse than any injury she’d ever sustained. She gasped, sitting up straight and rubbing her abdomen.
“What is it, Cara?” Jarbari asked, all teasing vanished. A muscle ticked in his cheek and he tensed.
An age old weariness settled on her shoulders. Tatum felt every bit of her five hundred and seventy-one years. “I’m close to Akthuá. I’m sorry. I thought I had more time, Jabari.” She expelled a long slow breath and tucked her hair behind her ear and explained her current situation. “It should’ve been a quickie, but my powers didn’t work on my male target and then the Shades attacked…”
Jabari paled beneath his already porcelain complexion. His tawny gaze narrowed on her face. “Did you say your powers didn’t work on this human?”
“Well, yes, but that is only because I’m weakening faster than I thought. The Akthuá has never hit me this hard so fast before. Next to Magda, you’re the oldest Phoenix I know. Does the Akthuá continue to get worse as we age?” Fear crept into her voice as she spoke.
Jabari reached across the table and grasped Tatum’s hands, his thumbs gently circled the bruises on her wrists that she’d received from Captain Murphy’s angry grasp the night before. Concern shadowed his features as he slowly closed his eyes. He muttered in Egyptian low under his breath. Warmth infused her from his touch as a slight breeze whipped the still air around them. The lights flickered inside the sparsely filled coffee shop and electricity crackled. A strong tingling sensation steeped straight into every cell in her body, mending her bruised and battered flesh.
Her earlier depression lifted. Ecstasy filled Tatum and a soft lover’s moan sprang from her lips. Endorphins flowed freely throughout her limbs, she leaned back in the booth, relief flooded her. She squeezed Jabari’s hands gently as he released her and opened his eyes. “Thank you, my friend,” she said. “I feel tons better.”
Jabari frowned, tension still visible in the cords of his neck. “Don’t thank me, Cara. You have a serious problem on your hands,” he said.
Defiance wound her core tight and she crossed her arms over her chest. “I can handle one human, Jabari. After the encounter with the Shades, I think he can be persuaded to do the job the Council commands without the usual…ummm…persuasion.”
He searched her face, frown deepening. “Tatum,” he said voice sincere. “Have you ever heard of a Phoenix’s power not working on a human?”
Tatum opened her mouth to reply, but then promptly closed it. No. She hadn’t. Uneasiness filled her. Something was deeply wrong here. She twisted her hands in her lap and shook her head, unable to speak.
Jabari cast a quick look around before he returned his gaze to her face, leaning in. “There are very ancient legends,” he began. “That speak of the death of a Phoenix. A death that has nothing to do with Osiris.”
“What?” she shouted. Several patrons glanced their way and she lowered her voice. “How is that possible? We are immortal.”
“I do not know. But what I’ve heard is that it begins with loss of powers over a human.” He shrugged his rugged shoulders. “Some even whisper that love has something to do with it.”
“Love?” Tatum scoffed. “That’s a human emotion.”
Jabari laughed without humor. “And look what kind of trouble humans get into because of it.”
She searched his face. “What’s the connection?”
“These are only half-truths and rumors, Tatum. All told well over millennia. No one really knows for sure, and I’ve never seen any evidence of our powers not working-—except in the presence of Osiris.”
Dread curled in the pit of her stomach. Fists clenched, determination lifted her chin. “It has to be the Akthuá, Jabari. There’s no other reasonable explanation. I need to concentrate on my mission. I need to get Captain Murphy to a safe place where he can complete his research. I’m too weak to teleport us somewhere, so we will have to travel as humans do, undetected. Do you know of a safe place?”
“Tatum,” Jabari began. “I think you are making too light of this. You need to tell—-”
“No. I can handle this,” she assured him. “Captain Murphy is only about a week away from completing his research. More than enough time to complete my mission and check into Sanctuary. I just need a hideaway with a laboratory and a means of getting us there.”
“Damn, stubborn…” Jabari dug into the front pocket of his jeans and pulled out a set of keys. “Take my motorcycle. As for the location where your target can work, I will call your cell in a bit.”
Tatum smiled and grasped his outstretched palm and gave a gentle squeeze. “Thank you, my friend. I will make it up to you,” she said with a wink.
Heat sizzled and crackled between their clasped fingertips. Unmasked desire burned in the depths of his eyes. He raised her hand to his lips and kissed her palm. A gesture meant that Tatum had responded to a thousand times before with a need that had surpassed his between the sheets. Only this time, she felt…nothing.
He bade her goodbye and exited the coffee shop. As she watched his retreating figure, fresh anxiety and a terror she hadn’t been privy to since she’d existed as a human five hundred and seventy-one years ago gripped her.
What was happening to her?
That's all for now! I hope you enjoyed my snippet! Please stop by http://www.tuesdaytales1.blogspot.com/ to see how the other authors used this week's prompt! You won't be disappointed, I promise!
Enjoy your Tuesday!