The outline of her body shadowing underneath, the diaphanous caftan dangerously hinted at naked allure. She never wore undergarments and its effect upon Saul would greatly enhance her powers of persuasion. She and Ptah must prepare him for what was to come. Despite the strong attraction between them, she wondered what to say to put him at ease. Nibbling bits of savory meats from the dinner platter, she lost track of the time. Sounds of the elevator doors sliding open startled her. Scurrying down the corridor, she found a smiling Saul striding into the great room. He paused a moment as if waiting for an invitation, his eyes travelled over her body before settling on her eyes. “Saul, you’re right on time.” Meretneith hoped her face didn’t show her pleasure in wanting to see him again. His deep raspy voice came like music to her ears. “I was looking forward to this. This room is magnificent. These old buildings have such grandeur. They are like grand old ladies.” Hands in his jean pockets, he strode into the middle of the room appraising vaulted ceilings trimmed in elaborate crown mouldings. It was easily as large as the anteroom. Grand French doors allowed impressive views of Chicago cityscapes and horizons of Lake Michigan. Saul watched thick, dense grey clouds gather over the lake heralding the approach of an evening summer storm. He watched lightening playfully dance over the surface of water. Open doors allowed the cooling breezes that preceded it, and Meretneith watched the powerful body saunter out onto the balcony. The flapping white shirt merely draped the exquisite musculature. He stood briefly watching the approaching tempest. She joined him; the long lean curves of her body drawn to his warmth. He wanted to hold her, to touch the smooth deep copper skin. Judging by her returning gaze, Meretneith was aware of his need. Their return to the great room was greeted by a feast sitting in the center of an enormous low alabaster table. Inanna presented two huge white china trays filled with fruit, cheeses and aromatic breads on one and spiced meats on the other. Sinking into the cushions next to her, his senses were filled to bursting from the aromas of incense and her. The chatter between them was warm and friendly. Meretneith talked about her son’s newest hobby, the London club. Saul talked about his father, mother, Jesse and the firm while carefully avoiding any conversation about Sarah. He ate his fill and welcomed a tumbler of single malt scotch offered by Inanna. “Saul this is Inanna. She takes care of me, when I allow it.” Meretneith was suddenly aware that for the first time in a long time she felt alive. The need to touch him was almost overwhelming. Slowly he sipped his glass then looking up with a broad smile. “How did you know this is my favorite?” Meretneith rose from the cushions indicating that he should follow her to the balcony. The force of the rapidly approaching rainstorm was keeping pace with Saul’s rapidly beating heart. The cooling air beckoned from the open balcony doors. Then there was her voice, “I know a lot about you Saul.” Saul paused to speak to Inanna, “The dinner was superb, my sincere thanks.” Inanna smiled and bowed in appreciation. Before leaving, she spoke in a low mellow tone, “Saul I am very happy to meet you. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon. Good night….” Saul looked into Meretneith’s eyes as she extended her hand to him. The touch of her skin shook him to the core. Standing close to her on the balcony Saul pulled her closer. He dared to press his lips to her ear to murmur, “I need to touch you.” She wound an arm around his waist tightening its grip. The pain of it surprised and stimulated him. He felt the need between his thighs grow and felt powerless to control it. “You are the most incredible woman I have ever done business with.” It was more than the well-formed features of her face or the way her eyes stared into his. Meretneith was aware of his arousal. The aroma of it was heavy. Moisture was gathering in droplets between her thighs as she pressed closer. “You needed to talk more about the proposal tonight?” he asked simply trying to keep his emotions in check. “Yes. Actually I wanted to talk to you about introducing your plans for the first phase to our London board and my brother.” She watched Saul’s expressions carefully, gauging his reactions. Shifting his position a little, a smile parted his full lips. Meretneith watched with pleasure as his dimples deepen. His scent affirmed a feeling of ease. They were beginning to like each other more. She pushed the subject further, “I am flying to London tonight and I would like you to join me. Please forgive the rush, but I have no choice. Many generations ago, your family made a promise to my tribe to help in our plans when the moment came. We have protected your family for many years for this moment. This is the stage in our plan when we need your help. There is not enough time tonight for me to explain all. My brother Ptah can explain far better. He and my children are waiting for us in London. Tomorrow morning at eight, we meet with his board members.” “Then what my parents have told me about your family and mine is true?” She could tell Saul was struggling to make some sense of her and the emotions rising between them. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know what they’ve told you.” Meretneith felt the need in him to gain control. His voice came soft. “Only that your family saved ours in Europe before the war, that we’ve owed some damn debt for generations. Is this what all this is about, that I may be called upon to honor and repay that debt? Was this entire board meeting and open invitations stuff just a ruse to get me here?” His voice was deep and smooth, but Meretneith could feel and hear the excitement just beneath the calm exterior. He’d been bred well and she was responding to it. “Yes and no Saul. Board members come from many facets of our businesses. My family chose you for this a very long time ago. We didn’t have to convince our boards to accept your proposals. Don’t sell yourself short Saul. You are an impressive man. We knew that you would be the most likely candidate. Your father and his father unknowingly helped pave the path for you.” Meretneith lowered her voice, “There is more to it than the project. The coming days will give us time for the telling of our histories. You were bred for this moment. The need to formulate this plan began many generations ago. In each generation, the Ben Izraels have been reminded not of a debt owed, but the leadership required when the moment came for the plan to be put into action. The legacy is your abilities and the accumulated knowledge that has come down to you from thousands of years.” She melted into him arms, pressing him close. “Listen to those feelings between us. There is a need for you inside me in this moment that has nothing to do with the plan. I came to this city to see what and who you are. This is one of my son’s homes. I spend most of my time in the deserts near my family home. I do not have the love of the cities like my family. My brother and son have kept track of your life, insuring that from birth your needs were met. I am far too busy in my roles. As leader of my tribe, the tasks are global. Today I came here for you and the beauty that I see fills me with desire. I have never felt this kind of need before.” Inwardly struggling, he pulled away. He returned quickly to the great room with Meretneith at his heels. He turned on her. “Look… I’m falling in love with you and that alone makes no sense to me. I want you in my bed with a need that I’ve never experienced before. The story that you tell leaves me with many unanswered questions. Your narrative sounds crazy but I’m in this thing. I have vested too much work to bail out now. I will come to London with you. Don’t play this like a fool and lie to me. I’ll pull out leaving you to do with me what you will. When we settle our business in London do me a favour and tell me the whole fuckin’ story about you and our families.” His voice was calm and reassuring not threatening. She approached him with the summer storm. It sent a strong wind whirling through the rooms, ruffling his shirt and hair. Candles flickered as thunder and lightning played over darkened Chicago skies. The veil thin caftan was tormented by the sudden breeze; her erect nipples became dangerously apparent. Saul held his arms out to her. She welcomed the embrace while allowing his lips on hers. His breath was hot and strong hands searched her body seeking more. Meretneith touched gently the growing need between his thighs before pulling away and murmuring… “We leave soon. There will be time later to explore our pleasures. I promise. And, I promise to tell you all.” Then starting for the bedroom, “Aisha has asked your assistant Sarah to pack a few personal things and has notified your father and Jesse. Jesse and Sarah have been invited as well. Whatever additional clothing you may need my brother will supply.” Saul watched her disappear as he sank to the sofa. He wanted to respond. He wanted to call Jesse to verify the arrangements, but he knew that was useless. His only desire in the moment was to be alone to think, to allow all that had happened in the last few hours to sink in. To prepare for what lay ahead. His solitude didn’t last very long. Meretneith suddenly reappeared in black trousers and t-shirt, just in time to see the elevator doors slide open. A tall big red haired male dressed in casual black strode into the great room then proceeded to the bedroom, “Saul this is Guy…my driver. He has arranged for your car to be delivered to your home.” Saul tossed Guy his keys before the driver disappeared then reappeared with luggage and then continued to pack the elevator. They were in her dark blue Lincoln headed down the Kennedy to O’Hare before Saul began to relax.