Mahes, page 3
"I thank you.” Taking a big bite of the fresh pizza, Mahes let the silence hang between them. He found he didn't want to leave Dana, and it didn't have to do with her having possession of the book. He wanted to stay and get to know Dana better, in every sense of the word. His sister-in-law, Kendra, would be overjoyed to learn that. She called him a man-whore because he was able to draw any women to him. That he did nothing to discourage their attentions tended to irk Kendra to the extreme, especially when it was the most attractive ones he showed the most interest in. That he was attracted to a woman who was no supermodel would thrill Kendra no end.
While watching television they managed to eat the whole pizza between them, with Mahes eating more than half of it himself. They washed it down with a couple of bottles of beer. Feeling nicely full, Mahes sat back and sipped on his third beer. Dana was valiantly matching him beer for beer, though she was starting to look as if she was feeling its effects. Beer was his drink of choice and he had to consume a large quantity of it to feel it.
Dana sat curled up in the corner of the couch. Her eyes were drooping. He could tell she was soon going to lose the battle to stay awake. It wasn't all that late, only ten-thirty, but he could tell Dana wasn't going to last much longer.
"Would you like to go to bed, Dana?” When she looked at him questioningly, he added, “I mean do you want to go to sleep, alone?"
"Sorry. I had a long day and the beer is making me sleepy. I usually don't drink that much of it. Do you want me to call you a cab?"
Mahes hesitated before he answered. “Would it be all right if I stay the night here on your couch? The hotel where I had originally booked a room messed up my reservation. I was unable to find a room before I met you. You are the only person I know in this city that I could ask, and I promise it'll only be for one night."
He watched Dana's face as she considered his request. He held himself still, not wanting to give her any reason to say no. After a minute, she nodded her head. “Even though I just met you, I feel as if I can trust you. I don't get the feeling you would murder me in my bed at night while I slept. You can stay on the couch for one night only."
He smiled, turning the full force of it on Dana. Her eyes locked onto his mouth. “It's a deal. Why don't you get some sleep? Don't feel as if you have to stay up and keep me entertained."
Dana stood up, looking a little unsteady on her feet. “I think I'll do that. Let me get you a pillow and a blanket first."
Following Dana down the hallway, Mahes waited while she opened the linen closet and pulled out a pillow and blanket for him to use. She shoved those into his arms and showed him where the dryer was so he could get his shirt, which was now dry. They stood at the door to her bedroom. Mahes knew all it would take to have Dana invite him to share her bed would be to kiss her as he had done earlier, but he held himself back. He had her trust now and he wanted to keep it. Forcing his way into her bed when she wasn't ready would be a sure-fire way to lose what ground he had gained with her. So, instead of dragging her into his arms and kissing her the way he wanted to, he settled for a light kiss on her forehead.
"Have a good sleep, Dana, and I'll see you in the morning."
"You as well, Mahes."
Backing into the bedroom, Dana pushed the door closed. With a deep breath, Mahes retrieved his t-shirt and headed back to the living room. It was going to be a long night for him.
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After waiting an hour, just to make sure Dana would be asleep, Mahes picked up the phone and made a collect call to Nefertem. He was glad Kendra had insisted both he and his brother learn how to make calls such as this.
Nefertem answered the phone and accepted the charges. “Where the hell are you, Mahes?"
Slipping into Egyptian, he said sarcastically, “Hello to you as well, Nefertem. I've missed you, too."
"Knock it off, Mahes. When you didn't show up tonight I knew something was wrong. That you're calling me collect proves that I was right in my suspicions. What have you gotten yourself into now?"
"It wasn't anything I did. Ma'at summoned me."
There was a knowing silence on the other end of the line before Nefertem spoke again. “What did she want you to do?"
"I have to pass judgment to reset the balance."
"On a mortal?"
"Of course, on a mortal. A woman to be exact. She opened the Book of Thoth."
Nefertem let out a low whistle. “That isn't good. How did she manage to get a hold of it? I thought the book was hidden."
"It would seem Dana has a friend who is an Egyptologist who also happens to be in Egypt on a dig. She must have found it and then sent it to Dana. Why she sent it to her, I haven't been able to determine yet."
"Dana, is it?” Nefertem chuckled. “Do I detect a bit of interest on your part when you speak her name?"
"If you tell Kendra I'm going to make you regret it."
"Yes, you're definitely interested in this woman."
Mahes ground his teeth together in exasperation. “Let's move on, shall we? I need your help. Ma'at turned me mortal then stuck me in the mortal world with nothing but the clothes on my back. The book needs to be taken back to Egypt and I refuse to travel by plane. It was horrendous enough the first time."
A year ago, Kendra had accidentally summoned Nefertem, using the pendant to which he had been bound, not knowing what would happen once he was in the mortal realm. His coming had meant their mother was soon to follow. She had passed judgment on all mortals and found them in need of punishment. To stop her coming, they had had to go to Egypt and find the spell that released Nefertem from the hold the pendant had over him. The spell had been housed in a hidden library in a chamber buried deep in the earth between the Sphinx's feet.
"Where exactly are you?"
"Kansas City, Missouri."
"That works out perfectly. Missouri is right next to Tennessee. If you want me to get you to Egypt, I want you to come here to Memphis, then I'll do what you ask."
"You want me to come to you?” Mahes snapped. “I think it would be easier all around if you just popped in here and got me once I get the book away from Dana."
"What do you mean no?"
"How do the mortals say it? Payback's a bitch? I finally can get even with you for all those tests you have put me through. Time for you to squirm a little, Mahes. If you want to get to Egypt, you'll have drive to Memphis. Oh, and bring Dana with you or the deal is off.” With that said, Nefertem hung up the phone.
Mahes pulled the phone away from his ear and stared at it stunned. Nefertem had actually hung up on him. He knew there would be no point in trying to call his brother again. Nefertem would only refuse the charges. He had stated his terms and he would hold Mahes to them.
Placing the phone on its base, Mahes wished he could strangle Nefertem. Yes, maybe he sometimes went a little too far with his tests, but he did it for the other person's benefit. And maybe Nefertem had a right to be a little pissed off with him for testing Kendra to see what her true feelings for Nefertem were. It had all worked out well in the end. Her feelings had been true. No harm, no foul. And Kendra had even managed to put him in his place. But it was obvious Nefertem wasn't going to let this opportunity to get even with him slip through his fingers.
Sitting back, Mahes leaned his head against the back of the couch. He'd had this all planned out. It was going to be so simple. He would get the book from Dana, have Nefertem pick him up and take him to Egypt. Once the book was returned, he would regain his immortality and he could carry on with his life as usual. Now Nefertem had complicated matters. Mahes would have to somehow convince Dana to drive him to Memphis, Tennessee to see his brother.
* * * *
Rolling over to her side, Dana squinted trying to see what time it was. The bright red numbers on her digital clock said it was nine o'clock in the morning. Groaning, she rolled to her back and threw an arm over her eyes. It was Saturday and
She had enjoyed the night they had spent together. She couldn't remember ever feeling as comfortable around a man as she had with Mahes. Not once had he talked down to her, or made her feel like the biggest nerd on the planet. Just that in itself made her want him more than she already did. She had lost count of the number of times she had wanted to push him down on the couch and have her way with him. Her fingers had itched to touch all that bronzed skin that was easily in reach.
The sound of the phone ringing made Dana jump. She quickly picked it up after the second ring hoping it hadn't awakened Mahes in the other room. “Hello?"
"Hi, Dana, it's Ellie. I hope I didn't wake you. I waited as long as I could before calling you."
Doing the mental math, Dana calculated the time in Egypt to be around five o'clock in the evening. “No, I was awake already."
"Good. The reason why I'm calling you so early is to see if you got the package I sent you."
"Yes, I did. It was delivered yesterday to my work."
"Great. Can you do me a favor and just stick it in a corner somewhere at your place? I'll be coming back to the States in a few weeks."
"I don't mind holding onto it for you, but I have to wonder why you sent it to me in the first place. The last time I heard anything from you was a couple of years ago."
"I know. I apologize. It didn't have anything to do with you, honestly. I've been working on a project that has demanded most of my time. It's something really big. But I think all the time and money I've spent working on it has finally paid off."
"Does the scroll have anything to do with it?"
Ellie fell silent for a few seconds before she spoke again. “No. No, of course not. The scroll is something different all together. Did you open the scroll, Dana?"
"No. I just opened the packaging to see what you had sent me."
"Are you telling me the truth?"
"Why would I lie about something like that?” Dana didn't like the way Ellie's voice had grown harsh sounding when she questioned her. It sounded almost like a threat. That if she had opened it Ellie would have been more than displeased with her.
"You have to promise me you won't open the scroll, Dana. It's mine and I don't want you damaging it. It has great meaning to me."
"I give you my word, I won't open it."
"Excellent.” With that assurance, Ellie was back to being cheerful sounding. “I owe you one, Dana. Sorry to cut this short, but I have to run. I promise we'll have more time to catch up once I get back. Bye."
Dana barely had enough time to say bye in return before Ellie broke the connection. Hanging up the phone, Dana shook her head. Ellie was definitely acting strange. With her acting all friendly again, Dana had to wonder if there was more to it than only renewing old acquaintances.
Throwing back the covers, Dana softly walked to the closed bedroom door. Pressing her ear against it, she listened for any movement coming from the other side. When she didn't hear anything, she quietly walked back to the bed and pulled open the drawer in the small table next to her bed. Reaching inside, she pulled out her Egyptian tarot cards. She really wasn't the type of person who was into all things supernatural, but tarot cards, and the Egyptian tarot cards in particular, were her weakness. Her mother had taught her how to read the cards when she was still young, as her mother had taught her. Dana's great, great grandmother had been half Egyptian and supposedly was more ‘gifted’ than Dana was. She had taught her daughter how to use the tarot cards and to believe what they revealed. In Dana's case, she found she couldn't turn her back on that part of her heritage. For her, the cards were usually right on the money when she did a reading for herself.
Pushing the covers back even more, Dana sat cross-legged on the bed. She shuffled the cards, being careful not to bend or kink them. She cut the deck then drew the top card and placed it face up on the mattress. The Egyptian tarots could easily be considered pieces of art. They were a reproduction made from the deck devised by a famous occultist who had linked the tarots to the Book of Thoth. The scenes depicted ancient Egyptian life, religion and culture. Each card was designed to look as if the images were painted on papyrus, which in turn sat on a black background.
When something in her life bothered her, Dana usually used the tarots for a mini reading. Looking down at the one card sitting on the bed, she saw she had selected one of the Major Arcana cards—the Judgment card. In the Egyptian deck, the Judgment card had two figures on it. The first one was the god Anubis—the god of death. Anubis was the gatekeeper of the underworld and directed the dead either to Osiris, if they were found to be pure, or to Ammit to face a much worse fate if they were not.
The second figure on the card was a person dressed in pure white, with a kilt that fell to the ankles. Anubis seemed to be looking back at the figure as he stood facing forward. The way they stood with their arms outstretched to each other, crossed at the wrist, it looked as if Anubis was leading this person by the hand.
The Judgment card could mean either of two things. It could be interrupted as either good or bad. It could be a reminder that sometimes it was necessary to be judged and to learn from it. It could also mean you have to put past mistakes behind you and that you are ready to start fresh, cleansed of all guilt. Dana wasn't sure if either of those scenarios matched any aspect of her life at the moment, but it was something to remember and watch out for.
Cocking her head toward the door, Dana still couldn't hear any noise coming from the other side. Replacing the Judgment card, she quickly shuffled the deck once again. Placing her right hand on top of the deck, she let the image of Mahes fill her head. Cutting the cards, she pulled the top card and placed it face up on the mattress. Mahes’ card was a Major Arcanum as well. His was The Emperor card. This card depicted a figure of a man sitting on top of a cubical stone with his legs crossed at the knee. In one hand he held up what looked like a scepter. On his head he wore the red crown of Lower Egypt with a gold cobra sitting in the center of his forehead.
The Emperor card represented structure and order. He kept the forces in balance, bringing order out of chaos. In an archetypal role he was a guide, protector and provider. As with her card, Dana wasn't sure how it would apply to Mahes.
Gathering up the cards, she carefully placed them in their box and returned them to the drawer. Even though the tarots hadn't given her a definite answer, she always felt better for having done a reading.
Now that she was up, Dana wanted her morning tea. Opening the bedroom door, she quietly headed for the kitchen. At the end of the hallway, she took a quick look into the living room. It looked as if Mahes was still asleep. She cringed to herself at seeing the uncomfortable position he was sleeping in. He really was too tall for her small couch. He would probably wake up with a stiff neck.
In the kitchen, Dana filled the kettle and plugged it in. She threw out the used tea bag she had forgotten to get rid of the day before from the tea pot and rinsed it. Standing in front of the counter, she waited for the kettle to boil.
"If that's tea you're making, I'll have some as well."
Dana yelped in surprise before she turned to face Mahes. “You almost gave me a heart attack. I thought you were still sleeping."
"Sorry.” Mahes gave her a sheepish grin. “I didn't mean to scare you. I tend to be quiet on my feet. I heard you in the kitchen so I thought I'd see what you were up to. I heard the phone ringing as well."
"I'll have to tie bells to you if you do that too often. I am making tea and there will be enough for the both of us. Sorry about the phone. It was my friend calling."
"The one who sent you the scroll?"
"Yes. She wanted to
"I can tell something is bothering you about the whole situation."
Dana shrugged her shoulders. “I don't know. It's just a feeling I have. Ellie and I haven't been close for a while now. I still can't understand why she picked me to send it to. It seems a little fishy. Even though she told me to just stick it in a corner and forget about it, I think I'm going to do some snooping and see what exactly she sent me."
"I don't know, Dana. If she wants you to leave it alone maybe you should do as she asks."
"Any other time I would, but if the scroll ends up being more than it appears, I would like to know before the police, or someone like that, comes knocking on my door demanding it back. In fact, I think now would be the perfect time to take a look at that scroll again."
"Leave it be, Dana."
When she didn't heed his words and moved to walk passed him, Mahes grabbed her around the waist, pulling her up against his chest. Before Dana could protest, his mouth came down onto hers.
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Mahes hadn't intended to seduce Dana first thing that morning, but he couldn't think of anything else to do that would stop her from going to look at the book. That he was going to seduce her at some point had been a given, but he had thought he would give her some time first. Now that he had her in his arms, he had no intention of holding back. There was something about Dana that called out to him, and he was unable to resist.
Claiming her mouth fully, he wrapped his arms around her waist and held her flush against him. His cock hardened where it was nestled against her belly. No other woman had this kind of effect over him. Only Dana could bring him to full arousal in a matter of seconds.
Continuing to kiss her, Mahes licked her bottom lip until she opened for him. Slipping his tongue inside, he savored the taste of her. He couldn't hold back a moan as Dana sucked his tongue deeper inside her mouth, wrapping her own around his. Crowding her, he pushed her back until her hips hit the counter behind her. Dana had threaded her fingers through his hair and was pulling his head down, increasing the pressure of his lips.
MARISA CHENERY SERIES:
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