6.12 Back Home

Ever since Kiko came home from training in the jungle mountains, she’s been acting very strangely. Ina wants to get to the bottom of it. “What truly happened at the falls, my daughter? I’ve heard rumor that you have been seeing Newlin in a romantic light. You do realize your young adult birthday is suns away. It’s not time to choose a mate.”

At this, Kiko burst out laughing. “Oh, Mother, you do jest! Newlin? I think of him as I would any slave whom I grew up with.”

Blood rushes to Kiko’s cheeks. She hates lying to her mother, especially when only yesterday as everyone had gone into the local village for supplies, Newlin talked her into having a romantic time in the spa.

As Newlin slipped off Kiko’s top in his sexy way, Kiko cried, “Newlin, we cannot be like this at our compound. It’s folly. Someone will catch us.”

Caressing her chin, he tutted, “You do realize there is no one here. All are adventuring at the village market. I personally watched the lot of them, saying I would keep a careful watch of our grounds. Now will you stop worrying, darling?”

He wrapped himself around Kiko, sending flurries through her. “Just worry about me.”

And as usual, Kiko gave into him, hating herself for falling so hard. But she couldn’t help it. He had a way that always made her feel special. She truly loved him with all her heart.

Coming back to the present, Kiko giggles even more trying to squash that memory and says, “You’re being a silly worry wart, Mother. Newlin is my training partner. Nothing more.”

Ina eyes her daughter, not sure if she should believe her, but she hasn’t witnessed anything more than friendship between Kiko and Newlin. Maybe what Eila heard wasn’t true. Her daughter, Lilit, was apt to make up idle stories and create drama. “Very well, if you say so. Come, let’s sit and chat then. Tell me all about your trip.”

As Kiko tries to talk about everything EXCEPT her romantic escapades with Newlin, Horus walks up to them.

“Hello, Kiko! Are you ready to spar with me? I heard from Newlin that you’re almost as good as he is.” He winks.

At this, Kiko jumps up and starts to laugh hysterically. “Oh…hee hee…me? As good as Newlin? Ha ha…he must be joking…ha ha.”

Ina is even more surprised by this reaction. “Kiko, that wasn’t a funny comment. Why are you laughing? And Horus, my love, why are you joining in with her?”

“Because, sweetheart, her laughing is making me laugh.”

Kiko doubles over, laughing even harder, bewildering Ina even more.

*****

On the other side of the compound, Newlin is playing with Hoku. He loves his little niece–she’s so full of spunk. Even more than her sister, Makana, was at her age.

“Would you like some juice, little Hoku? Uncle Newlin can get you some if you’re thirsty.”

“Juice! I want juice!”

“Please?” Newlin reminds her of her manners.

“Pwease?”

“Your wish is my command, princess. Come then and hold my hand.” As Newlin waits for Hoku to get to her feet, his sister, Kalani appears.

“Newlin, you’re so sweet to watch Hoku for me, but Kanui needs you in the slave’s quarters. There’s a toilet that’s exploding right now.”

“Of course there is,” Newlin mutters under his breath. He plasters on a smile and says, “It would be my pleasure. The little princess is all yours.”

Kalani adds, “And could you fetch Lilit for me? She can take over babysitting duties. I have to get ready for a ceremony. Sadly, we must say good-bye to Kandor this afternoon.”

Newlin bows in reverence then trods off in search of the silly Lilit. He knows just where to find her. She is usually either in the kitchen eating, bothering Kanui, or snacking in a lounge chair on the deck.

As he predicts, he spies Lilit wolfing down some grilled cheese near the pond.

“Dearest Lilit, I hate to break you away from all the hard work you seem to be doing, but our Creator wishes for you to do your mother’s job in watching over Hoku. She’s in front of the compound.”

Lilit cannot stand Newlin and his tone makes her want to spit venom, but she knows Creator Kalani would not welcome a fight in the middle of the compound. Instead of lashing out as she wishes, she glares at the impudent slave and says, “Of course,” through gritted teeth. “I’ll come at once.”

The cute girl was playing in the road. Not a good place for any toddler. “My goodness, why are you out here, little one?” Lilit picks up the princess.

“Would you like to play in your playhouse?”

“Yay!” cries Hoku.

Lilit smiles. “That’s what I thought.”

*****

Kiko is not feeling well. Her stomach queasy, she worries something is wrong with her. But what could it be?

And then the words of their Shaman Mist rings in her ears. She gave a speech when Kiko was ten suns old. “It is forbidden for any amazon to couple with a slave until it is the time of her choosing. For with it, you could bear a child and that is taboo until your young adult birthday. Beware, young Kiko. Do not get too close to a man until then.”

Kiko grabs her stomach as she walks down the Hall of the Creators. Each pair of eyes seem to stare at her as she passes them.

“Oh dear Maker! Please don’t let it be so!” she prays.

As she makes her way to the training room, her insides prickle at the sight of her lover. Not wanting to face him, she slips past, hoping he won’t notice her.

“My darling, is it time for training already? I will meet you later, dear. I must wrangle a toilet at the moment.”

At the sound of Newlin’s voice, Kiko breaks down. “Newlin. We must talk.”

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6.11 Surprises

Kanui sighs, thinking about Kiko in the arms of that brat Newlin. The couple made it very apparent their excitement for one another over the past few weeks, and Kanui has no doubt Kiko will ask Newlin to be her mate. The contest for her heart is over.

“Why should Newlin always get what he wants?” Kanui asks the Maker in a little prayer. He never does what he’s supposed to. When chores are to be done, Kanui is constantly needling him to finish. When special ceremonies occur, someone must find Newlin and beg him to come. When Runoi cooks a delicious dessert, Newlin is first in line for his portion. Why do evil people always succeed while someone like Kanui gets the leftovers.

It isn’t fair.

Speaking of leftovers, before Kanui can finish his internal rant, Lilit settles in next to him, giving Kanui a jolt.

“Hello, handsome. Waiting to go to the temple?”

Kanui cocks his head. “The temple? I thought we were doing that tomorrow. It’s a little late at night, my lady. There are jungle creatures that prowl in the evening.” That’s a bit farfetched, Kanui knows, but he doesn’t want to spend most of his night listening to Lilit’s incessant flirting and constant babble.

“Nonsense, slave. It’s barely dusk. We have all night!” She grasps his hand and bounces out the door, chattering about all the treasures they might find.

Kanui tries hard not to roll his eyes. He decides to renew his attitude. Maybe he could have fun. He does like interesting artifacts and myths. And he’d been putting off going to the temple for two weeks when finally he acquiesced that day to do it the following morning. A few hours earlier isn’t going to change anything.

The temple turned out to be the most interesting building Kanui had ever seen. The ancient amazons were a superstitious people, believing in supernatural powers from the darkness, something Kanui had only heard about from campfire stories the slaves would tell each other at night.

“What do you think this does, Kanui?” Lilit asks, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“I wouldn’t touch that, my lady,” Kanui warns.

But Lilit being Lilit, she doesn’t listen to him. “Fibblefobble, Kanui. There’s a perfect hand sized hole here.”

“What’s this?” she cries. “Is it going to give me treasure?”

The obelisk moans, spewing sand at Lilit. “Oh no!”

Kanui laughs, he cannot hold back. The look on her face is priceless.

“Do you not know it’s impolite to laugh at one’s folly, Kanui?” Lilit chides.

Arching an eyebrow, Kanui retorts, “I was not laughing at you, my dearest lady. It’s just…your face was too charming. Try it again!”

“You wish me to fail anew? I think not. But I believe there are more treasures to be had. This one blunder doesn’t have to be my last.”

Kanui laughs again. To his surprise, Lilit could be quite funny.

Bowing, Kanui says, “After you, my lady.”

And she was right. She did fail again.

“Lilit, back away from that thing,” Kanui yells. “Its red face means doom!”

“Oh my Maker!” Lilit cries, shuddering.

Kanui rushes over. “Are you well, my lady?” He didn’t see anything come out of the statue, just red light.

Lilit rubs her face and says, “I think I’m done with these ancient creations, Kanui. They just don’t like me.”

“I don’t think it has anything to do whether the things ‘like’ you, Lilit. They’re probably meant to ward off thieves.”

Waving an arm, she says, “That’s not true. My mother told me of a time my father went to this very spot and was blessed with many treasures. But I am not blessed by the Maker. I’m just an unlucky, ugly girl with no special qualities. I know you’re just here with me because I made you go with me. You’ve made that very clear. But I thank you for putting up with me. In the future, I won’t bother you anymore. Let’s go, Kanui. I’m done with this place.”

Guilt pricks Kanui’s heart. She is right. She did force him to come, but he never gave her a chance in the past. “Lilit, I’m sorry. I’ve been a horse’s ass. I promise I am having a good time, and I’m delighted with your company.”

Her eyes widen as she fiddles with her fingers. “You…are?”

Nodding, he says, “Come. Let’s leave this foreboding place. I saw a nice quiet area near a beautiful pond in the gardens.” Taking Lilit by the hand, they hike down a few flights of steps and then Kanui stops as the sun sets behind the clouds. “Does this place make you feel better, Lilit?”

Flopping her arms around Kanui’s shoulders, Lilit gives him a sly smile and nods.

“Lilit…” Kanui says, heart pounding. “What are you doing?”

“I’m going to kiss you, silly. Pucker up!”

Kanui chuckles to himself, not believing he is actually falling for Lilit’s charms.

*****

Breathing hard, Kiko has just defeated Newlin in a battle match for the first time in all these weeks of training. Her mastery of mana is growing stronger with each passing day. She feels she is ready to become the Champion of her tribe, and she has her love to thank.

Without a word, Newlin jerks his head for her to come near him by the roaring falls.

Once she meets with him, it’s as if the air is filled with electric fire. The two cannot hold back any longer. His lips are more urgent than Kiko has ever felt before–fierce, pressing like he’s wanting her as much as she wants him.

She feels the smoothness of his neck, smells the rich, musky scent of his skin. He pulls her closer until they are body to body.

Fear creeps into Kiko’s heart because she knows she’s already gone too far.

But she doesn’t care.

There, in the cover of darkness, with the mist of the waterfall raining down on them, Kiko’s heart is filled with her lover. She would not think about the consequences for all she desires is Newlin.

*****

“I did it, Mommy!” Hoku cries, waving her hands in such a cute way. Kalani wouldn’t trade seeing this for all the tribes in the Amazon.

“You sure did, sweetheart! We must tell Daddy.”

“I’m a big girl now.”

“You’re an Amazon princess who can go in the big girl potty. I’m so proud of you.”

“Wee!”

Most Creators would never sully their hands training their children like this. That was the Provider’s job, but Elui was not herself ever since she lost her mate, Ricci, and honestly, the Creator Heiress, Makana, was left to her own devices without much supervision when she was little. Kalani was not going to make that mistake with Hoku. She wanted to find a new Provider but couldn’t do that to Elui. She’d served this tribe for so long. Hopefully, in a few moons, she’d allow Elui’s daughter, Lilit, to step in and “help” all the while Lilit would actually be the “new” Provider and Kalani would find another position for Elui to fulfill.

Placing Hoku with her toys in the living room, the mouth watering scent of blackened fish drifted through the air. “What are you cooking, my love?” Kalani asks.

“Horus went to the stream this morning and caught our supper. Wasn’t that nice of him, my rosy darling?”

“I never knew Horus to be a fisherman. I thought he liked only his plants.”

“Well, I gave him a rod and reel and he couldn’t refuse me now could he? I’m hard to resist when I’m demanding.” Runoi shot her a sultry look which only made Kalani laugh.

“I won’t disagree, my love,” Kalani says, eyeing Runoi with adoration. “You are indeed hard to resist.”

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Chapter 6.8 New Beginning

Newlin is not happy to be saddled with the bubble headed Lilit on this trip as well as Kanui. Kiko made it very clear to Newlin of her preference for the irritating Master Slave. But he would be on his game, making sure they separate for training.

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“Aww…isn’t he cute?” Kiko bends down to pet a stray boonie dog. Newlin hates the pests. The creatures would nose through their food stores, sometimes depleting them if they weren’t watching. But Newlin knows to keep these thoughts to himself. Kiko is an avid animal lover.

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Turning toward Kiko to distract her from the dog, Newlin says, “I do hope you’re ready to venture to the falls tomorrow, my lady. Training should begin immediately in the morning.”

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Beaming, Kiko answers, “Of course I’m ready. Why would you think otherwise?”

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“Maybe because you seem to be obsessed with a flea bitten mongrel instead of currying your mana.” Bloody hell. Newlin curses himself for allowing his disdain for the yelping nuisances come into full view. What will Kiko think of him?

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Pushing him, Kiko says, “Oh, come on, Newlin. Lighten up! I believe the jungle humid air is getting to you.”

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Surprised by her joviality, Newlin answers, “So, you will be ready then?”

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To say Kiko is frustrated would be an understatement. Newlin is already sucking all the fun out of this day. Kiko wants nothing more than to relax by a fire with Kanui, roast hot dogs, and tell scary stories. Why is he all work and no play? “Fine,” she grumbles. “I will be ready, if you must know.”

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His features relax and he says, “Good. I expect nothing less than obedience from you in the future. You are, after all, my pupil.”

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Kiko glares, even more infuriating feelings burn within her. “You do realize I’m the Amazon and you’re the slave. Correct?”

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Newlin’s eyes pierce Kiko making her stomach flutter. “I am always at your mercy, my lady.”

She nods with satisfaction at this answer.

“Except during training. Then you will be at mine.”

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*****

“Hee hee hee!” Lilit laughs incessantly. “You always say the funniest things, Kanui.”

For the love of the Maker, Kanui wonders what possessed Creator Kalani to entrap him in the jungle with this giggle factory. Lilit has made it clear from the time she could talk of her crush on him. He worries she will ask to be bonded with him or at least mate once she comes of age. And he also wonders if the Creator has had these thoughts as well.

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Arching his eyebrow, he states, “Um…I merely said what a nice night it was…?”

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“Yes, but you say it with such inflection, I can’t help but laugh. I’m soooo looking forward to our time together, if you know what I mean, Kanui.”

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He nods as a stone sinks within him. “Ah, quite.” Hoping to speak with Kiko and rid himself of Lilit for a little while, he spies Newlin chatting with her. He makes plans to sit next to her when they create a fire later.

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Unfortunately for Kanui, Newlin made a fuss about Kiko needing rest, so they all retreated into their rooms for the night. Fire absconded along with any mischievous thoughts of a romantic time alone.

The following morning as Kanui was about to ask Kiko to go on a hike, Newlin thrust his body in between Kanui and Kiko, saying, “It is time, my lady. It will take us all day to venure up the mountain to the falls. We must make haste at once.”

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“We will go with you then, Newlin,” Kanui says.

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“Sorry, dear friend, but the trails are haunted by a mean spirit that will only allow two through at once. Unless you want to try vexing the spirit, be my guest.”

Lilit smiles at Newlin.

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Turning to Kanui, Lilit says, “Newlin’s quite right about that. Oh drat. I did want to see the falls. Maybe when they get back you and I can venture forth?”

Defeated by an age-old legend, Kanui sighs. “Lovely.”

*****

Newlin wasn’t kidding when he said it would take all day to hike to the falls. Sweat pours down his face as he rips jungle vines from the old, creaky fences enshrouding the tribal trails.

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Kiko has to admit, the exercise enhances Newlin’s looks–brawny and strong, it is as if she’s just noticing Newlin for the first time.

The sun sets in the distance, displaying the beautiful violet and pink tones in the sky. “What is it, my lady?” Newlin asks.

Kiko’s cheeks color. He caught her gazing at him before she could look away in time.

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Stammering, Kiko recovers, “I-It is noth…I mean…isn’t this a beautiful sunset, Newlin?” Her eyes lock onto his and her insides dance as though to the tune of a new favorite melody.

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Newlin gazes upon the girl he so wishes to bond. Could his luck have changed? Does Kiko have eyes for him after all? “The sunset is lovely, dear lady, but not as beautiful as the light in your eyes.” Newlin stifles an urge to kiss at least her hand, but he knows it is not time.

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She smiles hoping to change the subject. She does not know what has come over her. One minute she delights in Kanui and the next, Newlin. She doesn’t like her fickle heart. “Oh w-well, it seems we are here at the falls, are we not, Newlin? And right on time, too.”

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The sound of rushing water roars in the mist. “Breathe in deeply, my lady, for your mana must strengthen before we begin.”

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But instead of moving to position or even breathing deeply as he commands, Kiko merely watches the horizon.

She thinks about Newlin in a whole new way. How he only has a desire to make her a better warrior. And he was the one to lead her to such a place as this. Plus, he’s a prince with royal blood in his veins–not from an accursed line as Kanui. Why did she not think of Newlin in a better light before?

“What is wrong, my lady? Are you well?” Newlin asks, perplexed.

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“I am blown away by the majesty of this place, Newlin. Can you feel it? The power? You were right in taking me here.”

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And before Kiko knows what is happening, her hands are caressing Newlin’s warm chest as his soft lips sweetly kiss hers.

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His kiss deepens as Kiko longs to tell him all the thoughts buzzing through her mind. All desires of Kanui are lost in the wake of Newlin’s touch.

This is the man she’s been longing for all this time.

It is Newlin she will choose for her mate.

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