TITLE:  "In the Hands of A Goddess"

AUTHOR:  Ardeth Saunders [a.k.a., Cruecial or Cruecial411]

RATING:  R [Language, violence, and adult content]

SUMMARY:  Finally happy and carefree after a tremendous struggle, Ardeth and Leven Bay are faced with a jealous goddess.  Will this goddess tear them apart or will Ardeth's love for his wife endure the test?  [Sequel to "True Love Eternal."]

GENRE:  Drama, Suspense, Action, and Romance 

DISCLAIMER:  "Ardeth Bay, " The Mummy, and The Mummy Returns belong to Universal Studios and Stephen Somers.  The author is merely borrowing Mr. Bay to exorcise an unhealthy obsession…HA!  NO infringement intended.  All other original characters belong solely to the sick, twisted, and vivid imagination of the author.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  I want to thank all of those who left very kind reviews for "True Love Eternal."  I was very nervous writing an Ardeth Bay oriented fanfic, because I simply didn't want to 'mess him up.'  Thanks to Shelley and Deana for your encouragement!!!!

*  *  *


He moved quietly, carefully.  He didn't want to awaken her or the two infants resting comfortably in their beds.  Before he crept up to her, he slipped silently into the small room where the babies lay.  He went to the girl first, his hand nearly covering her entire head.  He touched her briefly, softly, and then moved on to the boy.  He smiled a little when he noticed that the boy was awake.  The babies were old enough where the color had come fully to their eyes.  Both of them had very dark brown eyes that shimmered when they were happy and shined when they cried.  Very soon, the boy would cry out to his mother, it was only a matter of time.  Before that could happen, he lifted him into his arms, his body so light and weightless.  No more than two minutes passed before his sister awoke.  He had two arms and didn't mind using them.  An old hat at this now, he lifted the girl up in one fell swoop.  Even together, the babies didn't weigh hardly anything.  The sniffling before the tears began and if he didn't do something soon, they would began crying in unison, waking their mother.  For now, he didn't want her to know he was there.  At his touch, the sniffles dried just a bit, as they lay their trust completely in him.  Considering his condition, he was the last person they should trust.  However, they seemed comfortable enough, and for a moment, he didn't want to put them down.  Perhaps all they needed was a bit of attention.  Of course, it didn't help that he had barged in on them during their nightly slumber.  When they quieted down, and the sniffling stopped, he laid them down.  With one last look over his shoulder, he left them. 

She hadn't heard much of anything since he slipped inside.  She sensed his presence, of course, but she thought she was dreaming.  Instead of opening her eyes to verify it, she turned to her side and sighed deeply in her sleep.  He would like to crawl inside her mind to see her dreams.  By far, he wasn't a stupid man.  He could almost imagine what she was dreaming about, it was probably the same thing he had been dreaming about for days:  the touch of her hand, the softness of her skin, the silky fan of her hair, and her sweet lips.  Before moving further toward her, he stood back and watched her sleep.  He liked watching her in this state.  It wasn't often that he had this opportunity, but once it was given to him, he took full advantage of it.  Kneeling slightly, smiling a little as he did, he leaned a bit closer to her.  He heard her gentle sigh again and she turned again, facing him.  He noticed that she was wearing a white nightgown made up of layers upon layers of lace and breezy material.  White normally washed out a woman so fair of skin, but it had quite the opposite effect on her.  She glowed, she literally glowed.  He leaned over even further, his lips just a breath from hers.  Her dream had begun to feel real to her.  She was tempted to reach out.  She could almost feel his breath, smell his smell.  Impossible.  She missed him and her loneliness was playing tricks on her.  Her eyes came open slowly, if she didn't see his face before her, she thought she might go mad.  Her husband lay before her, leaning over her slightly, stripped to his waist.  She noticed many flesh wounds he had doctored himself and his body was slicked with the warm, musky odor of his sweat. 

"Ardeth," Leven said, her voice tinged with a note of disbelief.  "I'm not dreaming?"

He lifted her hand and drew it up to his face.  "No, I would not say you are dreaming unless your dreams are still vivid."

She smiled a little and kissed him.  She couldn't help it.  The kiss deepened, becoming heated and almost unstoppable.  He felt his body gliding toward hers, settling over it, his hands busily working to free her of her nightgown.  He had missed her just as much, if not more.  He was responding to her touch, losing himself in her, but he had forgotten one little thing.  He drew away for a moment and she gazed up at him, her beautiful golden eyes filled with need and desire.  How many hours had he been dreaming of this moment when he would lay with her again?  He wanted her so very badly, loved her so very deeply.

"I will come back to you in a moment.  I need to bathe."

"No, you don't.  I want you as you are, right now."  She leaned up and kissed him again, plunging her hands into his damp hair.  Against his lips, she whispered, "I've missed you so much and I love you so much.  Make love to me, my kwaiyis, kwaiyis jauz [beautiful, beautiful husband].  Ana riRib inta [I want you]."

It was a request that he could not deny.  He drew back and away from her, leaning on his elbow.  He watched as she sat up, bunching the nightgown with her as she did.  It didn't take long for her to rid her body of it.  The moment he laid his eyes on her flesh, he felt the familiar ache take hold, felt his heartbeat go up an octave or three.  He started to make his own move, but she took the initiative, her eyes sparkling, saying allow me.  Swiftly, skillfully, she removed his clothing barriers, taking note of his own wants and needs.  She smiled a little, realizing that he probably had less patience than her.  It had been so long, they had gone far too many days without their heated touches, passionate kisses, and sheer closeness.  It had built up and spilled over like a rapid pot of boiling water.  He sat up and reached for her, immediately enveloping her in his arms.  His embrace was loose enough where she could move within his arms, and her mouth traveled along his throat, tasting his sweat, drinking it in as if it were precious water.  She took note of his injuries.  They were scattered about his chest and arms, the worst on top of his left hand.  Slashes.  She could almost hear him:  It does not hurt.  She kissed each wound lightly before entwining her fingers with those of his left hand.  The slash was bad and would probably become infected if she didn't do something.  She was drawn back to the night his arm had been sliced open when he was defending her against Sharr.

"It…" he began.

She rolled her eyes.  "Don't say it, Ardeth.  It doesn't hurt, right?"  She turned his hand over in hers to see the other side.  Her eyes identified something new.  It was the symbol for infinity with an eagle in one circle and a lion in the other.  How the details were done in a space so tiny, she'd never know.  "This is new.  What is it?"

He smiled a little.  "It is a ritual among men, among those who have taken wives.  Your culture has rings like the one you have, but mine is a little different.  The eagle is the ancient Egyptian symbol for A, and the lion for L.  Although we both are aware that our bond is eternal, this mark adorning my wrist will follow me through my life and beyond."         

She kissed it.  "Each time I think you have touched my heart completely, you surprise me with something else." 

Her lips traveled up his arm until they met his again.  She plunged her hands into his hair and held onto him for dear life.  With each kiss and touch, she felt more and more alive.  She didn't like to think of what would have become of her without the influence of her grandfather.  She had the special ability to get inside her husband's mind if she chose, but she didn't.  It was the same as betraying a trust.  She only touched his mind when she wanted him to know how deeply she loved him.  He felt his body drifting back and as soon as his back hit the pallet, she straddled him.  He watched as she took her hair down from its braid.  It flowed over her shoulders and down her back in a glorious desert sand cascade.  It had grown some since she came to him, and he liked touching it as much as she liked touching his.  She didn't let it down unless she was in his presence, for his eyes only.  She leaned over him, just gazing at him for a moment, and the soft blanket caressed his chest, tickling it almost.  Drawing her hair over one shoulder she leaned down to kiss him again, and the touch of it on his cheek nearly drove him insane.  His hands traveled down her back to her buttocks.  He wanted inside her desperately, ached to be.  He had been dreaming of this for days.  She reached behind her and took hold of his wrists.

"Not yet.  You're allowing me, remember," she said with a wicked smile.

"Leven, I cannot…"

"Yes you can," she said.  "You'll see."

She switched positions and straddled him the other way, her back facing him.  Regardless of 'allowing her' to do anything, his hands touched her back, and he ran his fingers through her hair.  She leaned over him and he closed his eyes very tightly, anticipating what she had in mind.  Her wet tongue ran slowly up and down the length of him.  His hands reached out and went to her hips, his fingers digging in.  She knew not to do this, especially when it had been so long, but he couldn't tell her to stop, even if he wanted to.  He groaned as her mouth continued its wild up and down dance.  Her hair slapped his legs in time, and the sensation was causing more sweat to pop out of his pores.  Sensing his imminent climax, she withdrew.  He sighed in disappointment and relief.  He was more than ready for her, but she still had other ideas.  She turned back toward him, sliding her body along the length of his, his hardness up against her flat abdomen.  His breaths had taken a ragged and rapid pattern.  She pressed her body into him and he gritted his teeth, aching to move her, aching for her to stay where she was.  She rose up again, her hands caressing his handsome face.  He reached out for her again, wanting to touch her, to bring her as much pleasure as she had brought him, but she took hold of his hands.

"I'm taking care of you," she whispered.

She lifted her body very, very slightly, her hand falling upon him once again.  She drew him inside her as carefully as a surgeon performing a complicated procedure.  It was killing him.  He ached to grab her and thrust up hard and deeply.  He could withstand a massive amount of pain and had, but this particular ritual would always defeat him.  It was more painful than the sharpest knives or the largest bullets.  Once fully inside her, he longed to move within her madly, but she controlled it by lying one hand flat on his abdomen while the other was anchored just inches behind her on his leg.  The gentle pressure kept him immobilized.  Any time he made a move, she used a bit more pressure.  Supernatural forces couldn't kill him.  Ancient warriors couldn't touch him.  Trespassers entering Hamunaptra couldn't intimidate him.  However, one single woman had the power to turn him into a helpless fool.

Leven would only allow him to lay his hands at each side of her waist.  But when he tried to move her along faster, she'd apply that wicked pressure and squeeze a muscle inside her, freezing her movements, imprisoning him.  He growled, the sound rustling from deep within his throat.  He could feel the throbbing and aching inside her, nearly making his stomach ache with the effort to move.  Instinct ruled a man's body, and his didn't want to listen to her stubborn refusal to let it do what it was meant to do.  How could she be so loving and so wicked at the same time?  She released the internal hold and he let out an agonized breath, and before he knew it, her hand came up from behind her to join the other on his abdomen.  At that point, he felt utterly free to do what he wanted without the torture.  However, the internal hold and the passionate agony prior to that had sent him off into frenzy.  Within moments, he had slid her beneath him and began to move within her fast, hard, and furious.  How long did he last after that?  Seconds?  Moments?  Hours?  He heard the soft cries emitting from her and she whispered 'yes yes yes' to him as her nails dug into his back, creating more injuries.  Her heels dug into his buttocks, pressing him against her harder still.  Her cries in his ear, her nails in his back, and her legs wrapped tightly around him worked together to send him over.  He covered her mouth with his to stifle her cries as he rammed into her once, twice, and then three times before his climax over took him, stilling his body with its force.

With her body still connected to his, he rolled to his back, taking her with him.  She collapsed against him as she took hitching breaths.  "I love you," she whispered.

"I love you."  He chuckled.  "Now I really need to bathe."  

*  *  *

It took a while for the water to heat.  While they waited, the babies awoke ready for a feeding.  Ardeth watched, amazed, as Leven took each baby to her breast and nursed it.  Other husbands might not think it proper to watch this, but he couldn't stay away.  He thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  He loved his wife and children, longed to be involved in all facets.  Leven didn't seem to mind, in fact, she liked having him with her, close.  He normally sat behind her while she nursed the babies, stroking their heads, falling in love deeper and deeper by the day.  The babies intrigued him with their soft skin so very flawless, the unconditional love radiating from them. 

Sated for the time being, the babies were ready to go back to bed.  By the time they were asleep, the water was almost hot enough.  Together, they rolled in the tinned copper slipper tub and filled it with two pails of cold water, and two of hot.  Leven directed her husband to get in.  The water was barely tepid, and she added more hot.  It was getting better, relaxing him a little, but he thought she was working too hard.  However, she kept filling and filling until the water was perfect and there was enough inside to get the job done.  She took a cake of soap and worked up a nice lather.  She attacked his shoulders first, scrubbing and washing away the sweat and dried blood from his injuries.  He had to admit that the feel of her hands was heavenly.  He was very tempted to lean back and go to sleep.  He was so very tired.  Her hands worked down his chest and he listened to her vague command:  sit up.  He sat up and she worked the soap into his back, touching him, working the tension out of his body.  Incredible.  He loved feeling her hands all over him.  Before she proceeded any further, she brought more water and poured it over his head, effectively wetting his hair.  Her soapy hands were in his hair, massaging his scalp.  Her fingers worked together, making her touch gentle and comforting.  He leaned back and sighed.  Oh.  He would have to ask her to do this again some time in the near future.  He didn't ever want her to stop.  As she poured the rinsing water over his hair, he worked his hands through it, ridding it of all traces of soap.  She continued to work on his body.  Her other command:  stand up.  He did exactly as she said.  She worked upward from his legs and then to his knees.  Her wonderful hands settled on his thighs, moved to the space between them, and then snaked around to his buttocks.  By then, her touch had begun to arouse as well as sooth.  Her next command:  sit down.  He followed her command again as she poured yet more water into the tub to rinse the soap from his body.  As he sank into the comforting warmth of the water, Leven came behind him and touched his scruffy cheek. 

"Would you like a shave," she asked.

"Yes," he sighed, "I would."

She brought the straight razor over and neatly trimmed away the extra growth that had accumulated on his cheeks and neck.  She was so good, so skillful, and she would never understand how much he appreciated this.  She was a new mother, had not one, but two babies to care for, yet she found time to treat him like royalty.  Where did she find the energy?  The strength?  Her next command:  get out.  Reluctantly, he stood and got out of the tub.  She dried the water from his body as slowly as she bathed him.  She smiled a little, noticing that he was nearly nodding on his feet.  He had been in the same condition when she first met him.  She would let him sleep before she saw to his wounds.  She led him to the pallet and he lay down, closing his eyes immediately.  When she had everything put away, she came back to her husband, so very grateful that he had returned to the fold.  Exhausted herself now, she climbed in beside him.  Expecting to find him asleep, she was startled to see his eyes open. 

"You are so good to me," he said.

She ran her fingers along his cheek.  "You make it so easy, my love."

He reached out and ran his hand through her hair.  "Do you ever miss your world?  Your time?  Your life here is much different than what you would have there, much more difficult."  He was thinking about the primitive facilities.  There was nothing here like she had there.

"Ardeth?  Are you crazy?  I miss nothing.  I would rather have a difficult life with you than have an easy one without.  I can't imagine what would have become of me if I hadn't come to you."     

He gazed at her almost helplessly.  "Your family?  Do you miss them?"

She kissed his full lips, grazing hers over his cheeks and forehead.  "You, Azizah, and Adnan are my family."

Still unconvinced.  "Your mother?  Your father?"

"I've communicated with my mother through dreams.  She is well aware of my life with you," she said.  "They miss me, but they know I'm happy.  You have no worries, my love.  I had no life without you."

He kissed her gently and gathered her in his arms.  "I love you very much, malak [angel]."

She snuggled against him, laying her head on his chest.  He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly through the night.  They had faced many challenges to get to this point.  They hoped their challenges were few and far between.  Long after Ardeth fell asleep, Leven gazed down at the marking on his left wrist, fascinated by it, drawn in.  She had no idea his mark would cause so much heartache and grief.