Perse, looked up at his scowling upside down face. She was sure the sun had got to her and madness had set in, her mouth suddenly ran dry, staring up at him wide eyed, still clutching her camera to her chest.
Longish unruly, but well cut black hair framed a face set with hard angles. Warm golden skin tone, sculptured cheekbones, chiselled square jaw, and a lush lower lip which was at this moment set with a frown.
Just on top of his left brow were what looked like recent stitches, his eyes she could not see because of the sunglasses, but she was sure they were angry. There was nothing soft about his face at all, it looked as if it had been carved out of stone and set with a permanent scowl.
In fact there was nothing soft about the rest of him either. He seemed to be all hard, lean and muscle. His arms were still supporting her in a relatively awkward position with no effort at all, she could feel the warm muscle and sinew against her back. She could smell cinnamon, spice and citrus mixed in with his own male scent, it teased her already overloaded senses.
She had been so lost in the heat, the smells, seeing the place as it could have been, that she could almost imagine, as she looked at him that he had appeared from the past but Perse pondered would a Maharajah from her imagination ever scowl? Definitely not she decided.
Her musings came to a halt as a loose rock tumbled and pain shot up her right foot, her body jerked against his involuntarily. Perse bit down on her lip in order to stop herself from screaming out loud. Her eyes closing tightly for a second whilst she got her breath back.
With a muttered oath under his breath, he turned and looked at her trapped feet, shifting her effortlessly, he lifted her gently, leaning her against him whilst he took hold of the calf of her right foot, which was buried the deepest, his large hand closing around it gently. Perse stared at it fascinated by the dark contrast of his golden skin and his long well-manicured fingers to her pale colour. He started to move the rocks and pieces of the wall away from her foot, Perse leaned forward to help him as the pain was getting unbearable.
“Leave it,” he ordered tersely “you will injure yourself even more.” His gentle touch completely at odds with his manner.
“It’s my foot!” Perse muttered, glaring at him, putting the camera safely down beside her and biting down again as he finally reached her foot.
He did not bother to reply, his face set in grim line, he continued trying to free her trapped feet. The left one was relatively easy, but the right foot which she had been leaning her weight on was buried deeper. A gasp of pain escaped her as he freed it finally. No wonder it was throbbing so badly it had been bruised and cut all over.
Now that all the weight was off it throbbed even more. He gently eased away the last pieces of rubble and lifted her clean away placing her down gently on the floor away from danger. The left foot thankfully had only a few minor grazes. He sank down on his knees in front of her.
Blood oozed out of a deep cut near her ankle and the rest of the foot looked badly bruised. He reached up with his other hand and took off his sunglasses to look at the cut closely, a deep frown between his dark brows.
“Ouch!” Perse moaned as he gently probed with his fingers to ascertain if anything was broken.
His eyes flashed up at her, they held no sympathy. “It’s your own fault what the hell were you doing, balancing yourself on a pile of rubble, you could have tumbled over the wall and smashed your head.”
Perse bristled back angrily at him through the pain. “If you had not come along and startled me I would have been absolutely fine. What were you thinking of creeping up on me like that.”
They both glared at each other, eyes clashing furiously. Then he saw the blood drain away from her face as she tried to move her foot.
“Stop moving it” he told her his eyes flashing at her once again, his hand still holding her leg. He lifted it and gently placed it on his thigh, feeling a heel for having shouted at her when she was in pain.
Perse stopped breathing for a moment as a curious sensation which had nothing to do with pain stirred her belly as she felt the warmth of his hard muscle under her foot.
Brown eyes framed by impossibly long sooty lashes looked down at her slender foot against his thigh.
He had not noticed it before but a pretty Indian payal glistened at him from her slender ankle, a deep long forgotten memory stirred in his gut. More to himself than her, he said “I had better take this off in case it starts rubbing against your cut”. With that his long lean fingers found the hook and he deftly removed it from her ankle absent-mindedly tucking it in his jeans.
For some reason that innocuous action seemed to drive Perse's breathing into disarray. She stared at him blankly for a few moments, mesmerised, her eyes arrested by the action of his long fingers. He produced a pristine white handkerchief from his pocket, shaking it out, he made a make shift bandage and tied it neatly over the cut stemming the bleeding efficiently. Then he sat back on his haunches looming over her looking directly into her face, his dark eyes intent.
Suddenly he seemed so very close, heat emanated from him, Perse felt something stir in her, but it was not worry for her safety, she realised with a start that she was not scared of him, in this completely lonely setting. This unsettling sensation, it was a curious, different feeling altogether.
Trying to cover the erratic state of her breathing, Perse leaned back on her hands increasing the space between them and asked “are you always this rude to your victims.”
Why had he thought her hair was brown, he mused, it had become loose from its tie and now a halo of dark red gold flowed about her bare sun kissed shoulders, it looked like she had a temper to match as he was also rapidly discovering. Something about her stirred his senses, what was it he wondered, it had been a long time since a woman had so intrigued him.
Her face was arresting in itself, its tone pale almond, the unusual eyes, high cheekbones, full pink lips, with a cute up-tilted nose. His eyes ran over her as she leaned back letting her arms support her. The white tank top lovingly hugged her lush breasts and emphasised her slim waist, he had already seen the long golden legs although that did not stop his eyes from wandering down them to the foot that still rested on his thigh. But he was not going to be distracted by her beauty.
Looking back directly into her eyes he said “You should actually be thanking me for saving you from tumbling over the crumbling wall and cracking your head open. Did you not read the sign downstairs saying that the Hawa Mahal is off limits, and even if you had missed the sign, surely common sense should have warned you that a stairwell blocked by rubble and rocks was an indication of its condition?” He continued his voice sounding annoyed, “Another thing, it may not have occurred to you to read the signs but this place is closed to tourists in the afternoon, you did notice that there is no one around at all?” he said in a voice laden with sarcasm.
Perse sat upright and pulled down the hem of her long skirt to cover her exposed legs from his gaze, not that she was in any way showing more than appropriate. Not one to back down in the face of an adversary she retorted “So what are you doing here?”
It nearly slipped out of his mouth that he had every right to be here, he owned the place but managed to stop himself in time as he caught her taking stock of him just as he had done her. Those amazing eyes started at his handmade shoes, up his thigh on which her foot still rested, she stopped there for a moment and looked at her foot, as if wondering what it was still doing there but did not move it, after a moment’s hesitation they travelled up to his waist and its wide tan leather belt bearing a designer symbol which she had only seen featured in magazines like Vogue on its clasp, up the buttons of what was a few moments ago his pristine white shirt now dusty and sprinkled with her blood and stopped on his face looking directly into his eyes. Her forehead creased and her eyes looked puzzled as if she was trying to work something out in her head.
Perse looked into his eyes noticing the golden flecks in the deep chocolate brown for the first time. Her eyes had of their own accord done a thorough study of him and realised that he was not an ordinary tourist at all as she had first thought, he looked like he belonged here, as if in this place, men such as he had ruled, loved and fought wars. His demeanour, arrogance, the clothes and shoes, casual in design as they were, moulding his hard contours still screamed wealth and importance. A Golden God who would have been an absolute ruler.
“If you have finished taking a good look at me, I suggest we get out of here before it gets dark.” He said sarcastically, breaking contact with her eyes and looking around at the setting sun.
Perse blushed at his comment and followed his gaze over the vast expanse of the palace, her breath caught in her throat. The sun's golden rays seem to set alight to the whole place, pink and orange glowed and shimmered in the evening heat. The subtle decorations and delicate inlay on the domes of the roofs caught alight. Broken and neglected as it was, the beauty of the palace was extraordinary.
“The jewel of the Maharajah's eye, it must have been” Perse whispered softly as she gazed in wonder at the scene.
Samir's head whipped around back at her, astounded at her words, he stared. Her blue eyes had darkened and looked wistful as if imagining the place as it once was. His grandfather's words rang in his ears, ‘Samir this was once the jewel of our ancestors pride, do not let it fall into ruin.'
His eyes closed in pain as the memories came back to him with savage force. Anger coursed through him, his fists clenching at the state of neglect his father and his uncle had let it fall into.
Perse stared at him with a frown. She saw his fists clench, his whole body seemed to stiffen, and his face became closed. Great! Mr Scowl was back she thought better get out of here to the taxi. Picking the camera up from next to her she raised herself and balanced on one knee to try and find her sandals.
Distracted by the noise, Samir watched her scrabble about in the rubble, “What are you looking for?” He questioned impatiently. “If it gets too dark we will not be able to get down the stairs safely.”
Perse kept moving the rubble around with her free hand trying to find her buried sandals.
With an impatient growl Samir bent and scooped her up in his arms, camera and all.
“What the!” Perse squealed suddenly finding herself pressed tightly against his hard chest.
“Put me down! I can walk. My Sandals! Put me down!” She shouted angrily at him as he moved towards the stairwell.
Samir was in no mood to listen to her at all. Now all he wanted to do was to get rid of this annoyance, as beautiful and distracting as she was and get back to his work.
Reaching the stairwell he looked down at the narrow stairs and groaned. There was no way he would be able to see and carry her like this in his arms. It was too narrow and full of rubble, it was getting increasingly hard to see down the dark stairwell in the dimming light. He shifted her over his shoulder in a single fluid movement.
She let out an all mighty indignant squeal, at being hauled over his wide shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
“Listen Mr Superman or whoever you think you are, put me down this instant or I am going to scream my head off!” Perse shouted at him from her undignified position as she hung upside down over his shoulder clutching her camera.
“Shut up!” He growled his arm pressing against the back of her thighs as he sought to control her. “And stop wriggling, I can just about see where I am going if you move about too much we are both going to fall and no one will find us until the morning.” He finished in a matter of fact voice, not even a little out of breath.
“And no one is going to hear you scream except the odd tiger or monkey.” he added for good measure.
“Huh! There have been no tigers seen here for years. That idiot Maharajah who owns this beautiful palace has left and gone abroad to live the life of a playboy, leaving his corrupt family to let it all go to pot.” Perse retorted to his hollow threat.
Samir stopped dead for a moment at her words. Had she really called him the idiot Maharajah?And Playboy? A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. She may be an annoying distraction at this moment but she was definitely not boring he thought. So Ms Redhead knew a little about what was going on, maybe she was not just a tourist after all, he wondered where she had gleaned this nugget of information from.
“If we are at the bottom you can put me down now,” Perse said to him as he had stopped.
Spurred into action by her words Samir carefully negotiated the last few steps. Reaching the bottom he strode out onto the terrace.
Dusk had well and truly settled in now.
“I said, you can put me down, the blood is rushing to my head now and it’s making me dizzy.” Perse grumbled from her upside down position.
Samir hid a smile, Ms Redhead was definitely a handful, his hands closed around her waist and he lifted her away from his shoulder slowly setting her down next to him, his dark eyes looking into her flushed annoyed face. With a deliberate action he let go off her. She fell into an undignified heap right next to him looking like a fallen flower as her foot gave way, the folds of her voluminous white skirt framing her. He barely glanced at her, just enough to make sure she was all right and then started to look around.
“Oh!” Perse gasped, clutching her foot and glaring up at him. He seemed to have suddenly become larger than life from her position on the floor, dark and forbidding, she realised he must be close to Six foot. Damn him. He was completely ignoring her. She scrambled up from her position trying not to look intimidated by him, looking towards the main gate but seeing only space where her taxi should have been. Maybe he had moved she thought.
“He is gone.” He stated matter-of-factly.
“Gone?” Perse stared at him horrified. “What do you mean gone?” Then her eyes narrowed and she thrust her face into his “What did you say to him?”
He turned and looked at her with annoyed glittering eyes as if she had gone mad. “I had no reason to say anything to him. I did not send him away if that’s what you are thinking and I certainly had no wish to be landed with a hapless tourist either.” He said barely looking at her.
Hapless tourist? She glowered at him, he was still looking anywhere and everywhere but her. “What are you looking for?” Perse asked him “A magic carpet? How the hell am I going to get back to the hotel?” she said her temper rising.
“Ahh” He suddenly said spying something in the distance. Putting his fingers to his lips he gave a long sharp whistle.
Perse stared into the dusk to try and see what he had seen. She heard it before she saw it appearing from the distance.
A noise like thunder rang out loud in the quiet place and she nearly stopped breathing as a very large black stallion came thundering towards them at breakneck speed, skidding to a thoroughly excited, whinny, breathy halt right beside him, she stood frozen to the spot in terror.
She watched in horror as the man reached out and soothed the dark beast lovingly, 'there there' his said his voice soft and silky as he muttered words of love to the beast.
He turned to her and said “I am afraid I am all out of magic carpets this week but Toofan here will take us to your hotel.”
Perse's eyes widened with fright as his words sank in. The stallion whined and snorted like a fire breathing dragon, prancing impatiently, his eyes wild, his hooves thundering on the stone.
She looked back at the man whose scowl had been replaced by the most fabulous smile she had ever seen on a man, the devil danced in his dark eyes, he seemed to be enjoying her discomfort enormously.
Between the prancing, snorting animal and the golden god, Perse could not decide which was one was more dangerous to her state of health.
© Jane Meme Copyright 27.02.2012