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"Come here, Chaska…." Atok Sopa breathed, reaching for his wife. They lived in a cozy hut, and he could tell by the light leaking around the cracks of the wooden door that dawn was breaking. It was July, and the weather atop Machu Picchu, the winter residence of Emperor Pachacuti, was warm in comparison to the summer palace in Cusco. This beautiful temple site was at six thousand feet and reminded Atok of a warm blanket.
As he sought his young wife, Atok felt his loins hardening with need of her once again. They'd been married by Emperor Pachacuti himself, a very special blessing. As a jaguar warrior, Atok's entire life was devoted to protecting his emperor.
He brushed his wife's arm beneath the alpaca blanket with his fingertips. She had pulled the thickly woven fabric across her naked form. Smiling to himself, Atok heard her whisper his name like a prayer. Such was the love they had for one another. Atok had fallen for his black-haired, brown-eyed wife when she was all of eight years old; now she was twenty. Chaska was from royal blood and a part of Pachacuti's Incan court. Atok had been ten years old and preparing for another brutal test of his clairvoyant powers in order to be accepted into the jaguar warrior-training program. That's when he'd spotted her.
As his hand contacted the smooth, warm flesh of her upper arm and then trailed languidly downward, Atok remembered that first day he'd seen her. Chaska's family was part of Pachacuti's larger family circle. She was nobility. He was from a line of warriors and far below her in rank. On that fateful day, he'd watched her run like a graceful alpaca across the green length of Machu Picchu, her thin, long arms spread upward to touch the ragged wisps of fog that lingered above the magnificent stone city. Her stride, her determination had sealed his destiny. Chaska's black hair was straight and fell to her waist. On that day, it flew behind her proud shoulders like a gleaming ebony banner. Her light-brown eyes, slightly tilted, were ablaze with wonder. A child wrapped in awe, Atok had watched her as thirstily as a llama who had not seen water in days. She was irresistible!
Sighing over the sweet memories, Atok allowed his fingers to gently graze Chaska's long back. Even now, she was like the graceful alpaca, a long, lovely neck, aristocratic features—high cheekbones, a straight nose and full lips. Oh, how he'd pined for her secretly in his heart from that first day.
Only after he'd passed his last life-death initiation had the old priest, Chima, informed him that the emperor was giving him Chaska in marriage as a graduation gift. Atok had nearly passed out from the thrill of that unexpected pronouncement from the aged priest.
He recalled how frightened he'd been shortly after that. What if Chaska's family refused the match? A jaguar warrior was elevated to the status of nobility even if they had commoner's blood. After all, Atok had shown his skills and he'd survived the last test that had killed seventy-five percent of the supplicants.
A bit of a smile pulled at his mouth as he heard Chaska's breathing change. Good, she was awakening. Atok was away six months out of the year during the dry season, fighting at the emperor's side. That was when Pachacuti pushed his thousands of soldiers north to Ecuador and south to Chile, to keep a firm hand on the hundreds of different peoples who comprised his far-flung empire. For now, the emperor was in residence. That gave Atok a well-earned few weeks rest with his wife, who loved him as fiercely as he loved her.
"Oh, Fox. You interrupted my dreams…." Chaska turned onto her back and gazed up into her young husband's deeply shadowed face. The faint light of the dawn showed the strength of his square-jawed face, those dark, slightly slanted obsidian eyes that glinted like a jaguar's, the many scars he'd taken in the name of his emperor over the last few years.
Chaska reached up and lightly dragged her nails against his broad, powerful chest. Even in the dim light, she could see the ripple and hardening of his muscles wherever she stroked his firm flesh. Through her thick lashes, she saw his eyes change, narrow, and her breath hitched with anticipation. He'd been gone for three months and she'd missed him so much that she'd thought her heart would break. Now, he was home. He was here, beside her in their newly created stone home.
"My jaguar likes my touch," she teased throatily, rolling over. As she did, the dark-brown alpaca blanket rode off her shoulders to her hips, exposing her upper body. Chaska hungered for the taste of Atok's lips. His kisses inflamed her, filling her body with a raging fire.
With a growl, Atok brought his arm around his wife's waist and drew her to him on their llama wool pallet.
"My lord," Chaska laughed softly, pressing her small breasts into his chest, "I can feel how hungry you are."
Atok drowned in her eyes and couldn't hold back anymore. "I've missed you." He took her mouth roughly. Her lips gave and took in return. Chaska was no compliant little girl. She had retained her childhood's wild spirit as she had grown into a beautiful and desirable young woman. Atok knew she had had many suitors, even a prince or two among them. And yet the emperor had given her to him. How had he known of his love for Chaska? Atok was sure the emperor was just as clairvoyant as any of his jaguar warriors. Atok had never talked about his love for Chaska—ever. And it had been a special hell keeping his mind focused on his many trials and challenges to sharpen his psychic skills. There was no way he could have allowed his mind to wander or he'd have died during the harsh schooling.
Her mouth opened and he tasted honey, felt her smile. He absorbed the rest of her slender form undulating against him like the mighty anaconda that ruled the rivers, lakes and streams of the Incan empire. The pressure of her thighs and rounded belly against his hardness made him groan. The vibration rippled up through him and surrounded them as she eagerly filled his mouth with her searching, darting tongue. He loved her wildness, her sense of freedom.
But then, his spirit guide was a jaguar. It made sense that the woman given to him would be equally wild in other ways to complement his skills. He felt her tongue boldly move against his flat lower lip. Her fingers trailed like droplets of soft, warm rain across his thickly muscled shoulders. Chaska's hand ranged across his hard ribcage to his flat belly. When her fingers dove through the dark hair surrounding his hardness, he clenched his teeth and sucked air between them. Eyes shuttering closed, Atok felt the ministrations of her hand sliding provocatively around his thickness and teasingly exploring him. She laughed into his mouth and broke their kiss.
"Now, mighty jaguar, you can see who rules you." She smiled into his glittering eyes. Indeed, Atok was powerful as few men would ever be. He was virile, commanding and yet a thoughtful lover toward her. Chaska leaned up and brushed her breasts against his chest. Her nipples were hard. How she longed for him to suckle them.
As if reading her mind, he twisted onto his back. His arms were strong, and he lifted her as if she were lighter than wind so that her long legs could straddle him. "If that's true, come, sit on me. Ride me."
The invitation was heated and Chaska laughed breathily as she splayed her fine fingers across his barrel-like chest. She sighed and slowly engulfed his length. Her body, though small, accommodated his masculine power. As he filled her, her eyes closed and she braced herself for the mounting pleasure. Atok sat up and she rocked between his long, hard thighs. His mouth sought and found one of her breasts. Her body shuddered with ecstasy as his lips closed around the bud and he began to suckle her strongly. That sensation sent a bolt of pleasure straight into her loins. Instantly, her body tightened like a fist around him. They groaned together, enjoying the incredible heat swirling through their joined bodies.
Atok felt his wife trembling as her fingers dug into his taut shoulders. He could taste the sweet liquid coaxed from each of her nipples. She rode him with cries of joy and surprise and an immense vortex of energy built in his loins. They had been married three years. They yearned mightily for a child to complete them as a family.
Holding Chaska as she shuddered through one orgasm after another, breathing raggedly, their heads pressed against one another, their arms in mutual embrace, Atok knew his beautiful wife was now pregnant. As she experienced her last orgasm and then fainted against him, Atok gently eased her limp form off and laid her beside him. He quickly drew several alpaca blankets over them and lay down beside her. Sliding his arm beneath Chaska's neck, Atok rolled her toward him so that the furnace-like heat radiating from his body would keep her warm. Sweat trickled between them, melted together and was absorbed by the blankets.
Soon, Chaska revived. She weakly placed her arm around his neck and nuzzled deep beneath his jaw. Atok had never felt such fulfillment as he did in this moment. He burned that memory into his spirit and his soul. This was an event he never wanted to forget. To create a little spirit out of pure love was the ultimate goal to Atok. A child created in love would go on to live a loving life. Chaska had been so created, for her parents were blindly and happily in love with one another to this day. That is what Atok desired. Many never attained such a state. Now, with his lovely wife pressed along the length of him, her body flush against his harder angles, Atok experienced giddiness. His dream of having a child would come true.
Inhaling his musky scent, Chaska whispered, "You always take me to the wings of the condors. I feel as if I am riding up and down the mighty, invisible currents that they float upon far above us."
Chuckling indulgently, Atok breathed in his wife's special perfume. An old woman priestess, Elona, gathered special orchids at certain times of the year and made scents that seemed otherworldly. The one that Chaska loved was spicy. It infused him with a desire to mate with Chaska over and over again. Perhaps she'd worn that fragrance last night in hopes that he would be so inspired. "A jaguar warrior and a condor woman. What do they have in common, I ask you."
She giggled softly and kissed his neck, his jaw and then leaned up to capture his smiling mouth. Sliding her lips against his, she gloried in his strength and his indescribable gentleness. Atok was nearly six feet tall, heavily muscled and one of the emperor's mightiest warriors, yet he held her like a little rescued bird. "Well, you may be a famous jaguar warrior, but your name, Atok, means fox. You are really a fox in the guise of a jaguar, my dear husband. You rule the earth and all four-legged creatures. I rule the air." She raised her brows and gave him a humorous look. "That is why we can get along."
Moving his hand between them, his long, strong fingers following the curve of her belly, he said thickly, "On this dawn we have created a child, beloved. Our child. Finally…"
Chaska gazed into his warm dark eyes. "Yes…I know. I felt it, too."
Atok jolted out of his sleep. The dream hung around him like a call of a siren. His heart pounded with anguish.