Meretneith on the back of Gideon rode until the desert became an undulating sea of black. They still had not detected the scent of her tribe of desert folk, Inanna’s tribe. She thought that they must have journeyed very far from familiar camping places. Then sliding down a tall erg, rider and horse picked the scents from the air of another tribe. It was Khalid’s kin. Meretneith could see the distinct campfires like stars in a black sky. They headed for the deep sparkles of light at a full run. The encampment was close to her parents’ caves.
A group of males rode out to greet her. Meretneith’s heart soared as she recognized many of the faces. Dismounting from Gideon at a run, she stood encircled by warriors. They were chanting her welcome. Here they still called her the Walking Goddess, the Bringer of Death Everlasting. Meretneith bowed in homage to her caregivers. This tribe went back to the days when Assyrians took hold of a weakened Egypt. While families of Ba’al offspring built cities these families became roaming tribes of the deserts near Moab.
She remembered these families well. Mounting Gideon again, she rode to the campfires as warriors flanked her. They entered the encampment where children and young female warriors ran to greet her. The older ones stood near the fires in a groups. Meretneith knew this ritual well. The older female warriors paid homage to her formally and with great pride.
Slowly Meretneith’s sandal feet touched the sand. Desert winds whipped at the abaya that draped her body. She lifted the soft silk organza over her head revealing her body to all. Immediately the older females dropped to the sand awaiting her approach. She stood before them now, her hair lifted by the wind. Meretneith stood with legs apart, hands on hips.
“I come to you because of my love for you and our deserts. Stand and welcome me as your own, for my heart is with you.”
The females stood. The oldest approached and embraced Meretneith. Then all the females cheered removing the dark blue fabric from their bodies. Wrapping the cloth at their middle the music and feasting began, their goddess had returned. When Meretneith tired, they ushered her into a large tent. A bed of silk rugs and pillows was prepared for her. Dozing Meretneith thought of the family she left behind. She would send word for the family to leave for Chicago without her. Time must be spent for training and to center on what lay ahead. She awoke to the strong scent of a young male.
His presence did not alarm her, the scent was tribe, but it surprised her. What male would dare enter her tent alone? This youth was in heat. He had no female for his pleasuring. Then a cold realization took her. This was a caregiver. Meretneith quickly flipped over to view his face.
Busy preparing her bath in a great brass tub his back was to her. Bare from the waist his shoulders and back was enormous, his skin the rich deep coffee of his tribe. The tendrils of glossy black long hair cut blunt to the shoulder blades. He spoke over his shoulder,
“Arsay granted my request to be your new caregiver Meretneith.”
He turned to rise to his full height. Meretneith was impressed. This male was stunning in every way. The long prominent nose was offset by huge almond shaped eyes that dominated his face. The full lips were parted in a smile. Deeply arched brows gathered at the center of his forehead. Meretneith guessed that he was no older than a few hundred years. As an offspring, he had just entered manhood. With most of his youth spent in training and education; this one was cloistered and had foregone marriage or sexual commitment. He was part of Arsay’s select group of male warrior caregivers. Meretneith had met but a few. There were stories of his kind. Nevertheless, Meretneith felt her anger brewing. Arsay gave her no warning of assigning a caregiver warrior. Yet this was Arsay’s way. She knew Meretneith would refuse her request. Meretneith had been too long without a caregiver and the tribal council would have voiced objections long ago. However why should she be given a male?
His deep smooth voice spoke again; this time in ancient speech. It startled Meretneith that the words came with no effort, smooth, true in form, and content.
“Meretneith, do I not please you?”
“You please my eyes beautiful one, not my mind. Why was I not told of your coming? How did you know I would find this tribe and what is your name?”
Meretneith walked closer to him fully prepared to inflict pain.
“My name is Hadid ben Abijah. Arsay told me yesterday you were heading for the caves. She had the Council and her brother’s permission to assign me. You were not told because Arsay said you would refuse me.”
“You are of the house of Abijah? You are Khalid’s brother?”
“Arsay is right I would have refused you. I still refuse you, Council consent or no. Leave me young one before I hurt you.”
Meretneith turned from Hadid looking for a wrap. He approached her from behind, gently wrapping her in soft linen. The scent of him was maddening. Meretneith was not surprise to feel the familiar moisture gathering in her nether, the pain gnawing and wetting. She knew he would detect the scent of her arousal. That angered her more.
“Please leave me young one. I have no time for you. Do not force me to throw you from the tent.”
“I will. First let me bathe you.”
His voice had the unmistakable allure of the males of his tribe. They were all males born to the fight. Arsay cultivated this family for over 4,000 years. She and Pidray trained them from birth. The smooth muscled form lifted the scented water filled tub. The aroma of him and the soothing oiled water was intoxicating.
Turning on him suddenly with the speed of a heartbeat the goddess grabbed his arm. He did not resist. Meretneith was suddenly aware of being gently carried across the tent. She was stunned. This was a powerful male, fruit of more than one offspring tree. His powerful movements were swift and easy. Taking the wrap from her body, gently he lowered her into the bath then turned to leave. Meretneith felt her anger grow.
“Young One look at me! Who are you that you handle your Protectress this way?”
“Protectress, you have been the source of my life. Since a babe, I’ve wanted nothing else but to be your caregiver. When word came of how old Inanna was, we knew it was a matter of time before she would go to the light leaving you alone. When Arsay came to my mother asking for me, my mother told her that I was for you alone. I would train to be warrior but caregiver to no one but Meretneith. Can you understand what I am saying?”
He approached Meretneith slowly looking into her eyes.
“I was given to Arsay with the promise that I would be a caregiver to no other. I know you have never had a male caregiver and companion. All know of your love for Ptah. There was no other for you except the god Ptah, until the Chosen One. I can be your pleasure no one else’s until you part for the light. Do you know what this means to me?”
Meretneith was stunned. Hearing his words was difficult. “This means that you have abstained from pleasuring. All of your energies have driven your training in anticipation of becoming my caregiver. How could one like you do such a thing?”
“How can I not? I was born to this. I’ve not wanted anything else, except your love.”
Meretneith whispered, unsure of what to say to this male, “Young One love and pleasuring is not something I give freely. Those who have demanded it of me have not lived long or have endured great pain.”
“I know this. Athtar has shared tales of your punishment of males who have thoughtlessly tried to force your emotions. Pain delivered by your hands doesn’t matter to me. If you prefer I’ll return to Arsay and become one of her warriors.”
Meretneith stared at the male for a time. He was stunning to the senses. His manner wore the unmistakable stamp of Ba’al, which meant he was brother to Saul. The scent of him was magical; Meretneith could feel her body responding to him. She sank into the warm bath inhaling deeply the aroma of spices and herbs. Her senses were being soothed.
“Re…bathe me young one. I’ll make my decision tomorrow.”
Quickly he crossed the tent to kneel beside the tub. His hands were as smooth as silk. He did not join Meretneith in the bath, as the female of his kind often do; rather he kept his position at tub side. His great gentle hands cleansed her body. The feel of his touch on her skin soothed and subdued her irritation. He massaged slowly and deeply her tired muscles. They smoothed the silken oily soap over her skin. She moaned aloud when his fingers found their way to her pleasuring places. His strokes were gentle and urgent. Gently parting her thighs, he massaged the oils deep. Her breathe came in gasps. Meretneith succumbed to the force of it allowing her body to become limp in a smooth release. Sighing she was lifted from the bath and rubbed dry. Hadid whispered.
Meretneith lifted her lips for him. He inhaled the breath of her and shuddered.
Not until she lay in bed wrapped in soft linen did she speak again.
“Young One we go to the caves tomorrow. I promise you nothing until you prove to me that you are worthy to walk at my side. No one will ever replace my Inanna. I have never endured a male caregiver. My solitary road is a hard one. I don’t expect to return from this next fight. Tomorrow the training will be difficult.”
Hadid started to leave the tent then hesitated.
Meretneith allowed her anger to show. “Young One! Do not call me goddess. I tolerate such foolishness from the tribes because it brings then comfort. If you wish to become my caregiver, please call me Meretneith. I need your trust and respect not your adoration. Adulation does not win battles nor does it make me happy. Hasn’t Arsay explained this to you?”
For the first time in their meeting, Meretneith felt his uneasiness, a slight increase in his heartbeat. This angered her more.
“What in hell is wrong with you?”
Hadid approached Meretneith again speaking as he came, “Your anger tells me that you are heart weary as well. You are afraid for your son, Merneptah. I’m also afraid that you will not allow me to become your caregiver. Please understand me when I say that being with you is as close as I will come to heaven on Earth.”
She lay stunned looking into his great eyes. His strong jawbone clinched in the anger, she knew was there. He was unaccustomed to being talked to in this way.
“Hadid, sleep at my side tonight, guard me so that I may truly rest. We’ll train and talk tomorrow. You know my ways.”
“Yes Meretneith. Gideon will be ready before Re awakens. Would you do one thing?”
“Arsay tells me that you lived among my human kind in Sumeria. One day will you tell me some of what you know if them?”