Sahara Ch. 01byKarien3474©
Chapter 1: Xanthe - The Beginning
Xanthe had always been brought up as an independent child, which in her world was almost unheard of. Her family's Greek origins left them as socially different to the Bedouin and Arabic people who inhabited their desert home. Her father's only child she had inherited his vast trade empire taking wine and goods across the sea to her family's seat in Athens. Her affairs were dealt with by people who knew about the business and it left her free to pursue whatever she wished with her time. She loved looking out across the whitewashed walls of the town and the windswept dunes that stretched to the sky, their peaked mounds looked like the ripe breasts of a woman as she offered up to the sun, radiating the same warmth as her own darkened skin. The town was stirring and the chants from the various mosques echoed off the walls calling the faithful to prayer and reprimanding the unfaithful for failing to do so. The rays of the morning sun unfurled across the many rooftops and illuminated the women in the courtyard below as they hurried to their work in the household. Her long dark curls were similar to those of most of the local women but she refused to dress to their attire and displayed her face and head openly in public. In their eyes she could see the sadness of being so restricted as well as the resentment for her own open attitudes.
Interrupting her solitary musings her servant girls came in to wash and dress her for the coming day. They rarely said a word to her, though it was not for a lack of understanding as she spoke as much of the Arabic dialect as she did of her natural Greek. She slipped her cotton night shift down her slender shoulders and stepped into the tepid water of the tiled water basin. Raising her arms over her head the women began to sponge Xanthe down with soft cloths, making sure to bathe every inch of her skin in the jasmine scented waters. The golden rays of the sun glinted off the water droplets that remained on her skin and as she regarded herself in the mirror she thought of one of the golden statues in the temple, a living woman of liquid gold almost. The darkness of her hair and eyes betrayed her as warm living flesh however, as well as the gentle movement of her breasts as she breathed in the cooler air of the morning.
She stepped out of the basin and the women bowed to her before retreating out the room. The eldest of them returned with her clothes, she had been Xanthes' nurse as a child and was always gentle in her manner if slightly matronly in her actions. The rough cotton slid over her head and Xanthe tugged at the dress where it had rolled up around her breasts. She wasn't in the habit of wearing anything under her clothes because it was too hot anyway and even if it wasn't they made her feel constricted. She once again looked at the mirror as her companion smoothed out the pleats of the shift and tied the golden sash across her waist. Her full breasts sat high on her chest, and the chilled air made her nipples strain at the rough cotton. The whiteness of the cloth made her skin seem all the much darker and she knew that such things gave her a natural beauty that many women spent so much women trying to create.
She stood on the balcony inhaling the smells of the waking world around her as the servants brought up her breakfast. She could smell the coffee before it even reached her room and it was the first thing she picked up as they set out her food. The bittersweet taste had an awakening effect on her, and made her feel ready to face whatever the day felt it could throw at her. The noise from the streets had begun to pick up as the markets and cafés opened for business. Dark mysterious looking figures hurried in and out the courtyard entrance on their daily business. Though it was only the women in their outside garb they seemed to have some sort of malevolent air about the way they passed in and out of the stone archway. Like dark ghosts with a sinister purpose. She shivered for some unknown reason as she thought what it would be like to be one of them.
Her feet made only a small tapping on the floor as she walked through to the day area of the house. The water in the pools helped to keep the various Atria cool even during the peak of the day. She slipped one of her palm sandals off and touched it gently to the surface of the water. Her slender toes wriggled beneath the surface like giant white worms, and the ripples from the drops as she removed her foot grew 'til they lapped gently at the edge of the tiles. She went out into the garden where the morning sun had begun to warm the air up. The birds and insects made a veritable cacophony as she regarded her sanctuary. The cactus' had begun to open their blooms and the deep reds and purples glistened like strange mouths with the mornings' dew.
The streets were warmer than she had expected and the rough cotton brushed against her legs as she strode towards the marketplace. The various street vendors greeted her as she passed, inviting her to buy some trinket or attraction they had made or procured. Politely she declined as she passed without stopping, her goal was to make the café in the square without too much hindrance. The warm sand coloured walls of the narrow street fell behind her as she marched into the bustling marketplace. People looked at her with a certain amount of shock and distain dressed as she was, but quickly passed it off to her being a foreigner. They were very accepting and even bordering on indifferent when it came to something out of the ordinary. She sauntered into the cooler air of the café, and took a table to the side. It was perfect for spending hours just watching the various punters in the square and patrons in the café sipping their mint tea. One of the boys came up to her to ask what she desired. He knew her by name and often sneaked her a sweetmeat or two while he was bringing her order. He was about 18, almost her own tender age, but as a boy in such a masculine society he was considered a man already for many years. They had often shared private jokes and more than once she had found herself in a silence that had touched something inside her as she looked into his deep liquid carameline eyes. His hand brushed hers gently for what seemed like hours as he deposited her tea and a small plate of treats.
"Aasabée, there is one who wants to make your company. He sits on the street and stares at you. Many times he asks your name and I do not know how to reply. Do you wish me to tell him or do you prefer he was ignorant? His skin is white as the linen of your dress, and he speaks with other men in a strange tongue I do not understand, surely he is from across the seas as you."
Aasabée had been her baby name as a child and Hassan had used it to further endear himself as they met every day or so. She thought about the question for a moment and replied that she would let him know. Xanthe refrained from looking over with all her mental strength. It wasn't her place to give such an audacious stranger the satisfaction of knowing she cared whether or not he was interested in her. She was too different to be a native and that self evident fact made every foreign man that passed through feel obliged to make their presence known to her. She refused the chaperones that her uncle had tried to foist on her but still felt a little anxiety at any male attention. The small hajj dagger she carried at her hip failed to make her feel thoroughly protected.
She stared out across the bustle of the marketplace. The small boys selling their trinkets, and the brightly coloured water sellers that rattled their way across the square. The few women that intermingled in the crowd kept their heads bowed and hurried their children in tow quickly past. Here and there the beggars and street urchins passed through the crowd begging for alms, though she was almost certain that those who refused felt their purses lighten all the same. She became acutely aware of a presence, there were a pair of eyes that were specifically focused on her and she turned back towards her surroundings to be rudely greeted by a besuited westerner. He regarded her with a half smile as he presented his hand to her.
"Madame, Je suis Jerôme De Bouillard. J'éspere que tu t'es pas derangé par moi. Tu es d'ici?"
She was roughly familiar with the French but was nonchalant in her attitude, she didn't play up for tourists just passing through. His voice was strong and heavy with his very masculine undertone, and she felt it touch a chord within her. Her eyes raised to his as she lifted her tepid tea to her lips. She regarded him over the edge of the glass. He was indeed evidently a foreigner, his paler skin and light sandy coloured hair was more than a noticeable giveaway. His eyes were a deep violet colour, almost the same as the sky that framed his hair with a sort of golden halo. The smile that graced his lips seemed out of place against the strong jaw and well chiselled frame. But she checked herself with the knowledge that whatever it was he wanted nothing would come of it.
"Je suis Greque, mais je prefere de parler dans la langue du sable."
"May I sit with you then Madame Greek?"
He switched effortlessly into almost unaccented Arabic, and before she had to option to object he had folded himself succinctly into the chair opposite her. Unperturbed apparently by disturbing her solitary meditations. She regarded him with an almost icy glare, he was truly unwelcome. He stood as she rose herself to leave. His presence in her personal space made her feel almost uneasy and without excusing herself she walked towards the street outside. She felt his grip on her arm pulling her back, and her indignation flared as she turned towards him with a look that probably could have melted the thin gold chain around his neck into his tender white skin. Needless to say he released his grip, but the look on his face crossed swiftly from surprise to amusement.
"I take it that you like to lead Madame. Very well, I have no problem to chase after you. And I am sure I will find you here again sometime. Remember my name, Jerôme"
She decided against storming out into the marketplace in case he followed her home. During those brief seconds she stood debating whether or not to try and lose him in the souk she saw Hassan signalling to her from the door at the back of the café. Pointedly Xanthe walked past her intruder towards him without paying the slightest attention. She knew his eyes followed her but she hoped that Hassan would discourage him from any future outbursts of familiarity. When she reached the doorway she was ushered through into the corridor behind. Hassan let the curtain fall behind them. She had been down here before when she had needed an escape route from various inconvenient situations. He took her hand and led her towards the light from the back alley that filtered through.
Xanthe blinked a few times before her eyes adjusted to the brightness of the alley. The boxes of fruit and other provisions for the café were stacked up on either side and there was a stifling smell of something that had been left too long in the heat. The alley was narrow and she was almost touching Hassan as they paused outside the doorway. He was slightly taller than her and she felt one of those strange silences as she looked up at him. She could feel the air move around as he breathed down on her. Quickly she looked down again, ashamed at her lack of decorum.
"I am sorry Aasabée . I did not know he would be so rude. I do not want you to be cross with me. I am bad for I tell him your name without you asking. But I only tell him you are Xanthe and you are my lady."
The look on his eyes was so remorseful she could not reprimand him for the action. But what he said struck a chord deep within her soul. He had called her "His Lady". On more than one occasion she had heard his voice inside her head say something similar, though it was usually when she was in bed and alone. Such thoughts were too scandalous to be expressed in public even to one's family. His fingers touched her chin and gently brought her face up to his. They were so close as to be able to feel each others' warm breath. She looked deep into his eyes. The caramel swirls within them were almost amber in their fluidity. Xanthe was losing herself in those swirls, like some form of elementary hypnosis, but nevertheless she became aware of his lips touching her own. Something inside her stopped her mind from reacting however, and as she felt his warm tongue slip between her lips and begin to slide against hers she responded with a zest she hadn't expressed to any man before. All the time her eyes were locked to his, refusing to blink in case the spell she was under shattered. She could feel his warm hands resting firmly on her hips through her dress as he pressed against her. But though her instincts had stopped her so far her mind did finally realise to its full extent. What if someone were watching them!
With all her strength, both mental and physical she shoved at Hassan. She was confused. He hadn't hurt her but she was so flushed. She wanted to scream at him. She wanted to push him back into the wall and kiss him again. She wanted to run, to go home, and never come back. She looked at the perplexed expression on his face and responded with her own of horror. Xanthe began to run. Hassan's hand brushed her dress as it billowed behind her but it grasped only air as the thin material slipped through. The streets blurred past her as she ran, people and faces came at her from all sides. She covered her lips with her hands, certain they could see the shame of the kiss she had just experienced. Her mind unwillingly skipped back to it and she slowed her pace. Unintentionally she had almost run back to her house that stood not more than a few yards further on.
She closed the door behind her when she reached her apartments. As she stood there with her back pressed against the door, almost willing someone to try and enter to question her actions, she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror. But she did not see anything of the telltale stain on her face. All she saw was a flushed girl, her breasts heaving beneath her thin dress as she fought to get control of her breathing. Her dark eyes were wide and frantic, like those of some wild creature that had been suddenly discovered by its hunter. She peeled herself off the door and walked to her bed. Without any ceremony or even bothering to take her dress off she flopped down on top of it.
Xanthe did not know how long she lay there. Her mind was glowing as it fought through her emotions and tried to untangle them. When she finally sat up the sky had already darkened to a deep red glow. Surely she would have been missed by now. The servants must have come and checked on her at some point. She thought of Hassan again, he must have misinterpreted her actions somehow. Though she couldn't help thinking that she wasn't complaining about how misinterpreted they were just that someone might have seen them. She decided to walk out in the gardens before dinner, the cooler air of the evening would do a lot for her. She found almost no one about as she walked through the house, and stepped outside into the dusky evening. Barely a breath of wind stirred the palms that bordered the gardens as she made her way round to what she liked to call her "secret" garden. It was under the back wall behind one of the densest areas of shrubs and she had had a long stone bench set there for times just like these. Xanthe closed her eyes as she lay the length of the bench, feeling the coolness of the stone against her skin.
It was the type of whisper that can be heard by anyone within normal speaking range while still being called a whisper. And the voice was so close that she sat up in surprise. She looked about in the dim light. No one was visible in the trees around or above her, there was no one in the small clearing. She was about ready to dismiss it as her imagination playing tricks on her when she felt the sound of a body slipping down a wall close behind her. She "felt" more than heard because the body itself was being careful to be as silent as possible. As she spun round on the bench she was greeted with the grinning figure of Hassan. He was crouched low next to the bench, his dark hair tousled with a few stray strands falling over his dark eyes. She sighed a relief when she saw him. Both that he was not an intruder and that she could apologize for earlier.
"Hassan, I'm really sor...." He put his fingers to her lips mid sentence and just sat there looking at her. His hands smelled of coffee and almonds. He took her face in his hands and stroked her hair back gently. She wanted to kiss him again. Right there. Even the thought made her feel wicked. But it seemed that he was reading her mind now, as he drew himself up so that his face was level with hers. His hands were still flanking her face and she had the feeling of time stopping around them.
"Do you want this Xanthe? Do you want me?"
Her heart skipped a beat when he said her name. She opened her lips but no sound came out. Though she needn't have tried because Hassan brought his own lips to hers, stifling any sound there might have been. Her lips welcomed his and she felt her tongue meeting his and inviting him inside her. His arms had encircled her and she was surprised at their strength for a boy so young. He was pressing her down onto the bench and she placed her own slender arms on his shoulders. He cradled her head in one hand as the other rested on her hip. His touch was sending shockwaves through her almost as big as those from her brain that told her what she was doing was wrong and she would be caught without doubt. Her dress had ridden up around her thighs and she made a vain attempt at righting it but failed miserably as Hassan took her wrists and pinned them above her head. His kisses moved away from her lips and down her throat. Her skin prickled at the strange touch and she felt herself go weak in his arms. She had dreamed of such things many nights after staring at him for hours in the café.
There was something pushing at her thighs. He must have something in his clothes that was pressing into her. She could feel her own heat between her thighs, her skin felt so wet, as if she were made of ice and was melting in the heat. His lips closed on her nipple through the material of her dress and she gasped at the sensation. It was the most exquisite pain she had ever felt, and it touched her inner core. She could feel her hips rise and press against Hassans' weight as he bore down on her. His kisses were growing in fervour as he slipped one hand under her dress. She felt his fingers gliding up her thigh and she squirmed under him. Surely he would be disgusted by her body making such a statement of abandon and wantonness. But instead she felt his fingers tugging gently at the dark curls she had seen grow over her body as she matured. His fingers were gentle and she shuddered as the stroked gently at the outside of her most private place. No one had ever done anything like this to her, and her body convulsed as he slipped one of those fingers inside her. The sensation was intense and she saw all sorts of colours explode in her brain. He paused in his kisses and leant back to look into her eyes.
"I guess this means yes. No?" He smiled gently before asking "do you want more my Xanthe?"
She could not reply because the waves of pleasure were still washing over her. Xanthe closed her eyes and savoured it, feeling him shifting his own weight on top of her. As his kisses resumed on her neck she felt his fingers pressing at her again, only they had become thicker somehow. He reached the nape of her neck and she felt herself grow weak again. She could not have stopped him even if she had wanted to. A deep moan escaped her lips as she felt herself stretched open to accommodate him. His entire hand must be inside her to create such a feeling! But Xanthe realised both his hands were on her hips. His hands were not what was pushing inside her. She tried to sit up, to resist, but as she felt him slide a little deeper inside her the will she had to resist crumbled before her. He began to withdraw from her and afraid that he had been put off by her resistance she wrapped her legs around his form to try and keep him close to her. But she released her grip and cried out in pain as she felt something inside her. A barrier or some sort that he had hit. Was she too small for him?