The Changing of Jazadeem Excerpt
It had been a long day, and a long drive home. Thirty or forty minutes across the golden gate bridge and down into Tiburon. Sasha was exhausted. The opening night of the gallery had run long. People lingering, questions asked and answered, propositions discussed, invitations given, congratulations made that were in order. People stood around sipping wine or coffee, finishing the evening, preparing to go back to the real world.
It had been a long few months while preparing for the opening of the art show. Spurred on by curiosity, many had come to see her creations making her show more than successful. Her father had been a legendary art icon, treasured by his compatriot San Franciscans. She was following in his footsteps, and they were big shoes to fill.
Many had come out of respect for her father, many out of respect for the owners, Katarina and Elsbeth. They each had their own area of expertise in the art world and had known each other for years. They had pooled their respective talents and resources and the new gallery, Le Crème’ was born. The kick off for their very first showing was that of Romanoff Art. Sasha had hoarded most of her art for close to three entire years, working day and night to help her friends launch their new business. Everything that she had ever drawn or painted had been carefully framed and displayed in a progression of work. Sprinkled around in a select few places, her father’s work stood beside hers. Similarities in style and technique could be seen. But in regards to subject matter, they were worlds apart.
As the night wound down, she made one last quick walk through the gallery before slipping out through the back to the loading dock. The crisp chill in the air came with the salty smell of the nearby ocean. The aromas from the adjacent restaurant blended together with the night air and reminded her why she loved San Francisco. She loved the busy-ness, the constant rushing. The sights and smells and the feeling she would get when she walked down streets that hummed with life.
After making her way to her car, she had sat for at least twenty minutes with the motor running, too tired to move. She had slipped her shoes off swollen, achy feet. Pulling pins out of a mountain of tawny hair that had been streaked by the sun she massaged the curls loose and allowed them to fall down across her back. Then aiming her Land Rover north, she made her way across the bridge and down into Tiburon.
Letting go a deep sigh she exited her car to make one last effort for the evening. The stairs winding their way down to the house that snuggled into the hillside seemed an almost impossible task after the schedule she had been keeping. Every muscle in her body ached.
As she stepped inside and tossed her shoes to the floor, the air crackled with a strange electrical charge. The hair on her arms stood up. She paused briefly to listen to the sounds of the old house that she loved. There was nothing, except maybe some static electricity. Choosing to ignore the warning, the sensation of something dangerous, she was just too tired.
Tonight Sasha thought about her father. Her mother had passed away early in life, so he had been father and mother, best friend and comrade. Tonight for some reason her thoughts could not escape him. She was successful and she wished that he had been there to share it with her. He had died suddenly, and unexpectedly. He had left her quite comfortable, inheriting the house, his San Francisco studio and a bank account that would afford her any life that she might choose. Royalties from his limited edition prints and an abundant stash of originals paintings that had never seen the light of day would keep her comfortable for her entire life.
Sasha sank into the big overstuffed chair and stared out at the bay. She reached for the little silver picture frame. Her finger caressed the face that smiled back at her.
“Daddy, you would be so proud of me.” She breathed an exhausted sigh, the one that would finally end the exhilaration of the previous days of preparing for the show. A subtle new aroma wafted around her. She closed her eyes and took a slow deep breath. It smelled masculine, like ambrosia of aphrodesia and…sex. A strange electrical current ran up her spine and made her shiver. For a moment, the hairs on the back of her neck bristled.
She looked around warily and tried to listen for movement over the pounding of her heart, which had jumped at her brains abstract interpretation of the scent. Shaking herself back into the moment, she could not fight the compulsion to get up and check to be sure that all of the doors were locked. Finding her way into the bathroom, tonight it would be just the basics. Brushing her teeth felt like a monumental task. After washing her hands and face, she decided that anything else could wait until morning.
Making her way back to the bedroom she absentmindedly ran her fingers over the deep imprint on her pillow, running its way down the coverlet. She collapsed into it, again breathing in the heady masculine scent. She sat up, suddenly very alert. ‘Imprint…in the bed?’ She didn’t remember lying back down this morning after she had made the bed. She got up and checked the closets while trying to convince herself that it was just fatigue.
Her imagination was in over drive.
She returned to the bed and untied the simple strap that held up her dress, dropping it where she stood. Her panties that were made of French lace had cost a bloody fortune. She had argued with herself about the purchase and decided that it was her reward for all the time and restraint that she had shown over the past three years. She had wanted to feel decadent on this night, her very own perfect night. She pushed them down wiggling herself free, leaving them to lie on top of her dress. Pulling back the covers, she collapsed into the warm spot. Her ears were still ringing from the steady thrumming of the noise that had been the long day and night.
She smiled as she remembered Katarina and Elsbeth, laughing and soulfully happy. They had been planning and saving for years to bring their dream to life and she was so happy for them. She had been there from the start and had even helped them in the renovations of the huge old brick building, plastering and painting walls, the sanding and refinishing of the dark hardwood floors. They had seen an age of traffic and it added to the ambience of the old building. She smiled and laughed out loud as she snuggled deeper into her pillow. Her first show! Life just couldn‘t get any better. Or could it?
There was one thing that was missing, and that was someone with whom she could share it. Despite the fact that she had good friends that cared about her, she wished for someone to snuggle up with in the deep quiet of the night, someone to share her secret plans, hopes and fears. Never having met a man that could stop her in her tracks, or make her heart pound, she wondered if he even existed. If there was someone out there that was made just for her, she hoped that he would show up soon. Having grown up with only her father to guide her, she had always hoped for a big family of her very own to drive her crazy and keep her busy.
At twenty-four years...okay almost twenty-five and counting, if he was going to show up, he had better show up soon. Settling was not an option. It just wasn’t in her. Who knows, maybe she would grow into one of those grand of dames like Katherine Hepburn.
Sasha decided to sleep in just this once. In the morning, she would grab a cold shower, a hot cup of coffee, put on fresh clothes and drive leisurely into the city to the old warehouse district to the studio her father had left her.
It was time to choose a new project and move forward. She was just too tired to think about what the Art and Lifestyle review would say about her show. Reaching across the nightstand to the clock, she turned off the preset alarm and within moments, fell asleep where she lay.
The room began to glow a soft golden color, then a small shock wave of heat. She did not see it or feel it. Dressed in black, he blended into the darkness of the room. Stepping to her dressing table, he sat down on the small-overstuffed seat and watched her for several moments, completely overwhelmed. He could not take his dark eyes off her.
He had searched for her through the reaches of space, traveling endless strand after endless strand, searching. How many attempts had he made at finding her? How long had he been on this quest? His brothers were still alive, he could feel them. He could feel their disorientation, pain and their hunger. But where were they? This little one would soon hold the key.
His hand went automatically to the dark crystal that he wore around his neck. He felt its heat and knew that Jazadeem was restless, raging. His jaw clenched in anger. Soon he would discover where she was holding his brothers prisoner. He would have her memories, and this little one that now lay peacefully sleeping would make that possible. He just wished that there were another way.
He took a deep breath as his eyes caught on the mountain of curly, tawny hair in a half dozen different shades of browns and chestnut that met with streaks of gold from the sun and lay in rivulets over pillow, shoulders and breasts. He thought it had been short, but once released from its bonds it was almost as long as his. Her skin looked like silk, golden in color. Her muscles slender and well defined. She took care of herself. He liked that. His eyes followed the line of her. She was small and lean and totally golden. Well-endowed with full opulent breasts and small rosy colored nipples, he felt his body respond as he drew in a ragged breath. His eyes traced the curve of her waist, the flat of her stomach down to the apex of her legs and found a delicate patch of dark hair.
He found it hard to breathe. Almost involuntarily he swallowed, his throat had constricted. He had to touch her…just one touch. He stood and covered the distance between them in two steps. Kneeling down beside her, he inhaled her sweet scent. A smile crossed his utterly sensual lips as the fabric of his pants became unbearably tight. He wanted so badly to taste her, feel her. Almost without conscious thought, he found himself slowly turning his signet ring into the palm of his hand, and as he leaned forward, he whispered the command to her mind. ‘Sleep’. He could not risk her waking.
Aidan was just a fraction of an inch from her mouth. She breathed out… he breathed in her breath. She breathed in… he breathed out. He continued the bonding breath to the count of eleven, then, cupped her right breast in his hand, signet ring touching her nipple. When he withdrew his hand a tiny -V- marked her. Smiling, he leaned close to her ear and whispered ‘Mine’.
The moment he spoke, the room was rushed by strange waves of energy. His hands balled into fists as he braced himself for its onslaught. It curled and rolled through his belly threatening to drown him. Pressing his eyes closed, he drew a slow deep breath to steady himself. Hui-lu-Shai-eia, the bonding pull, had found him. Never before had he felt power like this. Even when he thought that his mate had been Jazadeem, this force had never come to him. If he had ever doubted the truth of its existence, he would now lay that doubt to rest. He had truly found his other.
He remained kneeling beside her, just watching her face as she slept. With high cheekbones and full, lush lips, her eyelashes lay thick and dark, guarding the color of her eyes. His fingers found their way into the long luxuriant growth of her hair. Amazed at the riot of curls, kinks, ringlets, and colors he crushed it in his hand, brought it to his face, and inhaled.
Sleepy eyes half opened. He found himself gazing into eyes the color of amber molasses. He froze, his heart skipped. An ever so tiny smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. Amber eyes closed. She inhaled deeply, made a sexy little throaty sound and then turned her back to him.
His eyebrows arched in sincere appreciation, and as his eyes followed the line of her body, a smile tugged at hungry lips. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. It was time to set his plan in motion.
He stilled himself, focused his will, and slipped silently into her dreams.