The sun rode high in the sky, nearing its zenith, and the heat made the moist air feel thick. Not even the breeze of the ship running at full sail could disperse the stifling heat. Thakkor shook his head to release drops of sweat clinging to his eyebrows and short brown beard, drinking in the day despite the uncomfortable weather.
Sweat beaded upon the sun-browned skin of his young bride as well, dampening her golden hair, but not her spirits. Alicia felt his gaze and looked over at him, wearing a heart-stopping smile. A moment later, she rolled her eyes when his attention fell upon her blouse clinging to her breasts.
Thakkor chuckled. "Sorry. Can't help it."
Alicia laughed and gave him a playful slap. Though married for nearly three years, the couple had lost nothing of the passion that had brought them together. Neither was especially enamored of the close quarters of the ship that forced them to restrain that passion.
"Sorry we're going to have to spend our anniversary on ship," Thakkor said, running his fingers through his wife's hair.
Alicia shrugged. "It's not your fault. It just took longer to make it from the coast and back than we thought. We could hardly pass on such a price for easy escort duty."
Thakkor nodded in agreement. The job had consisted of little more than safeguarding a young noblewoman's virtue through a sail from Freeland to Agreseus, and a sedate trot next to her carriage inland. "I'll make up for it next year. I promise."
"You know that you don't have to do that."
"And you know that I want to. You deserve it." He leaned in and kissed her forehead.
Alicia let out a contented sigh. "All I want for our anniversary is to be with you."
"Sure you don't miss your old life?" It was a question he'd asked of her more than once over the years. Alicia had grown up the pampered daughter of a wealthy trader - a merchant princess - and the life of a sellsword at his side was a far cry from her upbringing.
"A little - at times - but I'm happier than I ever dreamed of." She reached out and stroked her fingers over the back of his hand. "I admit that I've been dreaming of a little pampering for weeks now, ever since you told me that you'd arranged for us to spend our anniversary at Osterfayre."
"Well, if the wind cooperates and we ride hard, we can still spend a couple of days visiting Gwen."
Alicia smiled, memories of her friend and mentor washing over her. Other than her husband, no other meant more to her. "She will look like a little storm cloud, pouting that we weren't there for our anniversary. I'm sure she had something extravagant planned."
Thakkor nodded toward the horizon. "Speaking of storm clouds. It looks like one is trying to sneak up on us."
"Oh no," Alicia groaned, knowing that her stomach was going to protest the rocking of the ship that the storm was sure to bring.
"At least it will be cooler until we need to get below and out of the way."
"These summer storms blow by quick."
"I hope so."
Thakkor wrapped his arms around her from behind and turned her eyes away from the approaching storm clouds.
Though it lasted only a little longer than an hour, the storm seemed far longer to the two passengers below deck. Only holding on to the bolted down furniture kept the wind and swells rocking the ship from mercilessly hurling the couple about the cabin. The shouts of the sailors were only audible when emerging from directly overhead, and even then, the words were unintelligible.
Finally, the crashes of thunder moved away, and the violent lurching of the ship settled into a more sedate rocking.
Holding Thakkor's hand in her own while clinging to the bed with the other, Alicia asked, "Do you think it's over?"
"Sounds like it." He nodded toward the ceiling above. "Good thing they know what they're doing. That was a pretty bad blow."
"Do you think it's safe to go up on deck?"
"Probably. It is getting pretty stifling in here." Thakkor helped her to her feet and opened the door. "Let's go."
The captain was standing nearby, scanning the horizon with a spyglass, when Thakkor and Alicia emerged from below.
"Quite a ride," Thakkor said, and then chuckled.
The captain started and lowered the spyglass as he turned to face the couple. "Aye. No worse for the wear?"
"We're fine." Noticing that the man looked a little haunted, Thakkor asked, "Everything okay?"
"Blew us off course to the north a fair bit."
Alicia turned her eyes toward the retreating wall of lightning-streaked darkness. "A small price to pay for weathering such a storm."
"She's a sound old girl," the captain said, and then patted the railing in front of him affectionately. He then snapped his gaze to a small group of sailors near the bow of the ship. "If you'll excuse me." He made a beeline for the group without taking his eyes off them.
A sailor shouting, "Look!" drowned Thakkor out and turned his attention to the sea. Something large, scaly, and ominous broke the surface of the water - far too close for comfort.
"Serpent! It's a serpent!"
Other sailors cried out as well, and all eyes scanned the rough surface of the water, seeking another glimpse of the monster. A tense minute later, it made another appearance, even closer to the ship.
"Damn." Thakkor turned to his wife. "Alicia..."
"My staff," Alicia agreed, knowing what he was going to say.
The magical staff had vast power, but each use drained it. Wise men had cautioned the couple to save its might for when it was truly needed. Thakkor nodded.
Now was such a time.
Alicia hurried down the stairs and into the cabin she shared with her husband. There she snatched up her bag and reached inside. Her arm vanished up to the elbow, the magic of the item defying the physical size of the satchel. With the four foot wooden staff in hand, she returned to the upper deck.
The sailors had gathered up whatever weapons they possessed, as well as pressing belaying pins and other common shipboard items into service. All watched the surface of the sea, and the tension was palpable.
"There!" someone shouted, and all eyes focused where the crewman's trembling finger indicated.
The sea serpent was charging toward the ship, its body undulating as it cut through the water with frightening speed.
Alicia aimed her magical weapon, but the monster was too close. Before she could speak the command word that would unleash the power of the staff, the sea serpent hit the ship.
Only Thakkor's quick reaction saved Alicia from falling overboard when the ship lurched from the impact. He grabbed his wife's arm in one hand and latched onto a cleat with the other. Two of the sailors - including the captain - were not so lucky. The first man flew over the rail with a terrified scream. The captain lost his grip on a rope and smashed into the rail before he too slipped over the side.
Thakkor had just enough time to look around for a rope to throw to the men in the water before the serpent struck again. Though powered by less speed, the impact of the scaly monster still caused a few men to lose their footing.
Now unguided, and still under sail, the ship sped away from the men in the water. Alicia could only watch in horror as the captain vanished, the sea foaming red as the monster devoured him. Her face tightened in determination, and she tracked the other sailor, who was swimming for his life away from the pool of blood.
The serpent must have dived and come upon the man from below, because Alicia saw no hint of it until it burst from the water, its teeth clamping down on the sailor. Alicia shouted a command, and a fireball roared from the end of her staff, bursting against the monster's hide.
The serpent barely reacted to the flaming projectile, and splashed back into the water to finish its gruesome feast. A second fireball did little more than attract the creature's attention. As soon as it gobbled up the unfortunate sailor, it turned toward the ship once more.
"Not good. Grab on to something," Thakkor warned.
Alicia's mind raced, and then suddenly latched onto equal parts of her study of magic and tales of fancy she'd read as a young girl. Praying that she had found the solution, she searched her memory for another command word.
The sea serpent shot toward the ship as though fired from a bow. Alicia aimed her staff and took a step forward, ignoring her husband's worried shout of alarm. A whoosh and a crackle accompanied the blue-white ball of electrical fury discharging from the staff. It streaked across the sky, skimming the waves, and burst in a brilliant flash of light as it slammed into the serpent.
The monster reared up from the water, its body contorting and twisting into knots as arcs of electricity danced around it. Its mouth opened wide, giving everyone on the ship a close-up look at its dagger-like teeth. Rather than roaring in pain, the sea serpent let out a loud series of clicks, the sound all the more horrifying because it was so alien.
The yellow eyes of the creature focused on Alicia when its thrashing calmed, as if it knew the source of its pain. Again the nerve-wracking clicks burst from the monster's throat as it bared its fangs.
Alicia's next ball of lightning struck the creature directly in its wide-open mouth.
The serpent reared again, only to crash back down with a great splash. The monster floated on the surface for a few of Alicia's rapid heartbeats, its body twitching, and then sank head first into the depths.
Alicia let out a sigh of relief and lowered her staff.
She had all of a second to relax before one of the sailors cried out, "We're taking on water!"
Two men lifted a hatch and looked down to determine how fast the water was rushing in. Thakkor nodded toward the stairs. "Let's see if we can do anything from this end."
Alicia followed her husband below and stopped when he did at a ladder descending into the bilges. One look at the rapidly rising water told her that the ship was doomed.
"Get back up on deck. I'll grab everything from the cabin."
Knowing that they would simply be in each other's way if they both went down, Alicia said, "Hurry," and turned back to the stairs.
The sailors had apparently come to the same conclusion about the damage to the ship, as some were hard at work salvaging what they could from the crew quarters while others prepared the longboats.
Thakkor emerged from below with his pack slung over one arm and Alicia's magical bag over the other. "Got everything. The water hasn't come up out of the bilges yet, but it will soon."
The last of the sailors climbed up from the crew quarters and hastened toward the longboats. Thakkor glanced at each boat, and tugged Alicia toward the one with the fewest men surrounding it.
Two of the seamen turned as Thakkor and Alicia approached, brandishing a marlinspike and belaying pin.
"It's you what brought this on us," one of the men snarled.
The other stabbed his makeshift weapon toward the couple. "Told the cap'n naught but ill would come of havin' a wench on board. Cursed us you have."
Thakkor's eyes narrowed and his hands balled up into fists. "It was Alicia's magic that killed that thing."
"Get back," the first sailor warned. "Maybe the Lady of the Sea will have mercy on us if we send you to her."
Thakkor growled and reached for the sword he'd belted on in the cabin. "You ungrateful..."
A gentle, yet trembling hand stopped him from drawing the weapon. "Thakkor. No."
The rest of the men continued readying the longboat, while the other boat splashed into the sea. "Alicia, this ship is going down."
"But we can't."
"Damn it. You're right."
As Thakkor's battle-ready muscles relaxed, the pulleys holding up the second longboat squealed, the rope running through them as the last hope of escape dropped over the side. The final two sailors turned as one and dived over the railing to join their fellows.
Thakkor turned to his wife. "Is there any magic that can get us off here?"
"I ... I don't think so."
"We've got to figure something out." His eyes darted about the ship, and then focused on something off in the distance. "Land."
Alicia followed his gaze and indeed saw an island in the distance - too far in the distance. "The waves are still too violent from the storm. We'll never be able to swim that far."
"So let's get closer." Thakkor grabbed her hand and started toward the stairs that ascended to the ship's wheel.
"Can you sail it?" Alicia asked as she followed her husband.
"Well enough to point us toward that island. It's the only chance we've got."
The couple rushed up the stairs and Thakkor grabbed the wheel. "Okay old girl, time to show us your captain was right."
Groaning wood and booming sails punctuated the ship's bow swinging toward the trees. Alicia held her breath, her knuckles turning white from gripping the magical staff she still carried. The ship completed its turn, and Thakkor kept it on course.
Second by second, the island loomed larger. Moment by moment, the water rushed in. Alicia could feel the deck beneath her feet slanting to the stern.
The water was winning.
"C'mon," Thakkor growled, his eyes fixed on the palms ahead as if he could rope them with his gaze and tow the ship to salvation. "Dammit. If the wind was directly behind us..."
Alicia's eyes lit up and she lifted her staff. "Thakkor, hold on tight."
He glanced back over his shoulder. "Hmm? The staff?"
A nod answered his question, and Alicia spoke the command word that floated into her memory.
"Whoa!" Thakkor exclaimed as the wind slammed into him. A great boom sounded from the sails as they snapped taut, filled to capacity. The stern lifted, buoyed by the force of the wind pushing against it from just above the surface of the sea.
Alicia had to grab the railing to keep her balance as the ship hurtled forward. Somehow, she maintained her concentration, keeping the wind both supporting the sinking stern of the ship and filling the sails.
"If this doesn't uproot the mast or rip the sails right off, it might just do the trick."
Seeing the smile on his face, Alicia couldn't help but match it. She couldn't count how many times they'd shared this moment over the last three years. The rush - the thrill of danger. Despite the dire circumstances, Alicia felt alive as the ship sped toward the safety of land.
Waves broke over the bow of the ship, soaking the deck as the water continued to rush in below. The ship slowed, the weight of the water stealing even the power of the magical wind.
"Do you think we're close enough?"
"We're gonna have to be. Poor old girl has given us about all she's got." Thakkor let go of the wheel and grabbed his wife's hand. "Let's go take a swim."
Alicia coughed and rolled over on her back, breathing hard from the exhausting swim.
Alicia nodded and asked, "You?"
"Other than having sand in my draws."
After several minutes of catching his breath, Thakkor sat up and looked out to sea. The waves were littered with debris from the ship, and the longboats were nowhere in sight.
Alicia sat up and leaned against him, smiling when he slipped an arm behind her. "What do we do now?"
"Well, we don't have to worry about shelter. We've got your tent. That takes care of food and water, too."
Like the staff and bag Alicia carried, the tent was magical. When she spoke the command word, the small sculpture expanded into a large, fully furnished tent, complete with a tub. It even kept the temperature comfortable inside and somehow manifested bread and dried meat each time it was summoned.
"But how do we get home?" She asked, nestling her head against his broad chest.
"We'll figure it out." He stroked her wet hair. "We should probably get it up. After that swim, we should take it easy in this heat."
Alicia looked around and located a spot beyond the beach that looked fairly level. "There?"
"Looks good to me."
A few seconds later, the tent expanded. Alicia stepped inside with a welcome sigh as the magically cooled air washed over her.
"Whew, this feels good," Thakkor remarked as he followed her. He turned to look outside. "Nice view."
Alicia joined him in the doorway of the tent and had to agree. The beach was pure white sand, leading down to beautiful blue water. Palms shaded the tent, rustling in the now sedate breeze. The storm clouds had moved on, replaced by far friendlier, puffy white cousins. Seagulls sailed overhead, calling to each other.
It would be a perfect spot to relax for a few days - if they weren't marooned.
Almost able to feel the salt crusting in her hair as it dried, she said, "I'm going to wash up and change."
"I'll go take a look around. Maybe I can find a good fishing spot or something." Thakkor gave her a quick kiss and headed back outside to explore.
Alicia fought the urge to soak in the tub and just washed away the salt drying on her body. As she reached into her magical bag for clean clothes, something fell into her hand. Though she knew what it was by the feel of the leather cover, she pulled it out anyway.
The spellbook had been her bane ever since she'd purchased it. Though she had learned quite a few useful spells, the more advanced ones within this book had all eluded her so far. She did know the descriptions of the magic and the wonders it could produce by heart, and turned to the page of one that demanded attention.
Farspeak - the ability to send one's voice to another across the miles. With it, she could contact anyone that she knew well. If she could speak to Gwen, she knew that her friend would convince the baron to rouse every resource of his lands to rescue them if necessary.
Alicia left the book open and laid it down on the bedside table so she could finish retrieving her clothing. Once dressed, she sat down on the bed and picked up the book. One of the things that had always hampered her in learning the complex magics of the tome was the limits of time. There was always another job to interrupt her studies - until now.
The current situation provided far more than time - it provided purpose. With that firmly in mind, she focused all her attention on the spidery words, determined that she would conquer her nemesis and find the way home.
Thakkor sat up in the bed the next morning and sighed as he looked at his wife next to him. She was frowning in her sleep, the mirror image of the expression she'd worn most of the day as she battled her spellbook. He'd barely managed to convince her to eat, and had to take the book out of her hands when she passed out from exhaustion in the wee hours of the morning.
He knew that she wouldn't be getting up any time soon. He'd nodded off more than once before she succumbed to slumber, so he had a couple of hours to set things in motion. With her nose down in her magical studies all day, she wouldn't have any idea of what he'd been up to, and it would come as a complete surprise.
If he had anything to say about it, that frown would be vanishing soon enough.
Alicia awakened slowly - reluctantly. Her dreams had proved just as frustrating as her studies. Consciousness crept up on her, and the first thing she noticed was a familiar, pleasant scent.
Opening her eyes revealed candles burning around the tub, filling the interior of the tent with the scent of lavender. The tub was filled, and Thakkor had laid out everything she would need to take advantage of it, including a change of clothes. Now she understood the faint memory of him asking her to open her magical bag at some point during the previous day.
Her nemesis - the spellbook - was conspicuously absent.
Naturally, Alicia knew what he was up to, but she was willing to brush that aside for the moment. The bath called, easily dominating her thoughts after falling asleep in the clothing she'd worn the previous day. Between the candles and bath, her frustration melted away. Thakkor had even thought to lay out her razor, knowing how stubble on her legs and mound irritated her.
Clean and smooth shaven, Alicia picked up the clothing her husband had laid out for her. The blouse was one that she never wore in public, because it exposed most of her shoulders, revealed ample amounts of cleavage, and left her midriff bare. He'd paired it with a spring green sarong that would show off long expanses of leg.
Alicia rolled her eyes and smiled. Despite what she knew was the primary reason for his choices, they were perfectly suited to staying cool in the tropical climate - so long as she didn't get too much sun. Alicia stared at the tent flap after dressing and wondered what else awaited her. She knew her husband well enough to know that he was hardly finished. She steeled herself against the heat and humidity outside, and then pushed back the canvas door.
Much to her surprise, a pleasant breeze greeted her. The weather had turned, taking away the stifling heat in favor of a beautiful summer day. Thakkor sat on a blanket down by the beach, shaded by palm trees. He wore only his breeches, giving her a view equally exciting to the one she provided him. The sight of so much of his muscled body exposed made her shiver.
"Morning. Happy anniversary," he greeted her.
"Happy anniversary," she responded, and started across the sand toward him. Along the way, she pointed toward a pot sitting near an unlit fire and asked, "What's that?"
"That's for later." He then whipped a cloth off something beside him and said, "Breakfast?"
Alicia's eyes and smile both widened when she saw what was under the cloth. Halves of coconut held chopped pineapple, positioned on either side of a bunch of bananas. Alicia immediately reached for a cube of pineapple, a treat that she hadn't had in years. As soon as she dipped her fingers in the makeshift bowl, she noticed that the fruit was chilled.
She popped the cube in her mouth and moaned in delight before asking, "But how?"
"Found a cave a ways inland. The water coming out of there is ice cold." He took a couple of pieces of pineapple for himself. "Eat it before it gets warm, but I've got more stashed up there in the creek."
"You're too sweet. You did all this for me?" She took his advice and dipped her fingers into the pineapple again.
"For us. Trail rations make us both cranky. Eat up."
After a few more bites of pineapple, Alicia asked, "You wouldn't know where my spellbook is, would you?"
"Yep - and I'll give it back to you as soon as you've finished eating." He took an exaggerated bite of his banana. "You barely touched that fish I made last night."
"I'm sorry, Thakkor. It's just so frustrating."
He reached out and stroked his hand over her knee. "That's why you're going to give it a shot once you're well rested and well fed. I know you can do it."
"You have more faith in my ability than I."
"Not faith. Faith is something you need when you don't already know the truth."
Despite remaining reservations, Alicia smiled and brought his hand to her lips to kiss it. She then finished the last of her pineapple and picked up the coconut bowl to drink the juice.
Without being asked, Thakkor brushed aside the sand hiding his wife's towel-wrapped tome and handed it to her. Before she could open to the page of the spell, he slid in behind her, stretching his legs out next to hers, and started to knead her shoulders.
"Mmm, that feels wonderful."
"Good. You just relax and study your spell. I'll do the rest."
Thakkor remained silent, massaging her shoulders, neck, back, and even moving to rub her feet. As Alicia read, she found that the relaxed state he put her in bore fruit. Word by word, line by line, she found the proper pronunciation and rhythm of the arcane words on the page. In only an hour, she made more progress than she had the whole of the previous day.
Then an especially complicated word stopped her cold.
After only a minute or so of struggling, she felt Thakkor's lips on her neck.
"I think its time for a break," he whispered in her ear.
Irritated at first by the interruption, Alicia bowed to the wisdom that had brought her so far already. The sun was directly overhead, and she'd barely noticed the time passing. Another kiss prompted a sigh, and she closed the book.
"Come on. I want to show you something." With that, he stood up and dropped his breeches.
"Thakkor," she protested, hardly feeling in the moment for that, though the sight of his manhood did give her a slight push in that direction.
He laughed. "No. We're just going for a swim. I found something yesterday while I was ... Well, I found something."
"Thakkor, I'm not traipsing around naked for all the world to see."
"Who's going to see?" He countered, and laughed again. "If someone was going to happen along, we wouldn't need that spell, would we? Trust me. Relax." He held out his hand to help her rise.
Still a little reluctant, Alicia took the offered hand and stood. Thakkor leaned down to kiss her as soon as she gained her feet, and tugged at the bow she'd tied to hold up her sarong. Lost in his arms and the kiss, she didn't protest in the slightest as it fell to the blanket below.
He popped open the buttons on her blouse while she slid her panties down to step out of them. A few seconds later, more than a little flushed in the cheeks, she followed him down to the shore.
He nodded toward the water, gave her a wink, and then ran out into the waves with a boyish whoop. Alicia covered her mouth and laughed, watching him run until the water was too deep, at which point he dived forward.
He came up and flipped the hair out of his eyes, flinging water behind him in a graceful arc that shone with rainbow colors as the light hit it. "Come on, Alicia. Worst that can happen is someone comes along to see you naked and we get rescued. They're certainly going to see a lot more with you standing there than if you're out here with me. Not that I mind the view."
"You are incorrigible," she playfully scolded, and then waded out into the water.
Once the water reached her waist, Alicia lifted her feet, and with a few pushes of her arms, floated to Thakkor's side.
"It's over this way," he explained, and then spun in the water to swim.
Alicia gasped, and then shivered at the sight of his muscles working, feeling a little of that moment washing over her. Not wanting to be caught staring like a love-struck girl - no matter how accurately it described her feelings - she swam after him.
Thakkor treaded water and waited until she caught up to look around in confusion. "Down there," he explained with a nod of his head toward the water. "Take fast, deep breaths, like this." He demonstrated, sucking in great quantities of air and expelling them in bursts. "Sailor showed it to me. Said it was how pearl divers stayed down so long. You try it."
Alicia followed his example, feeling silly as she puffed like a bellows floating on the surface of the ocean.
"That's it," he encouraged her, and then resumed his rapid breathing as well. He spaced out the final instructions between breaths. "On three. One last. Big breath. Then dive."
Thakkor lifted a hand out of the water and held up one finger, keeping up the rapid breathing. A second finger followed, and finally a third. He sucked in a last gulp of air, and then dived straight down, his feet kicking at the surface as Alicia did the same.
Alicia gazed in wonder upon the fish darting every which way as she and her husband intruded upon their world. She had never seen such vibrant blues, bright yellows, or fiery reds in all of her life as those of the fish streaking away in alarm. The world the fish inhabited was equally beautiful. Brightly colored coral formed intricate, dazzling shapes, creating hiding places for the animals that lived amongst it. Crabs skittered across the ocean floor, sometimes startling fish from their secluded dens in the coral. It was all bathed in the dappled light filtering through the water above.
Though she found that the air gulping did allow her to stay down longer than she would have anticipated, Alicia found her lungs starving long before she was ready to leave the sight. Thakkor kicked toward the surface, and she followed out of pure necessity.
After sucking in several deep breaths, Alicia turned to her husband wearing a smile so wide that her cheeks ached. "Oh Thakkor, it's beautiful."
"Thought you'd like it. Let's go down again over that way a bit."
After an enthusiastic nod and saturating her lungs with air once more, she and Thakkor dived again.
Three journeys to the bottom and multiple wonders later, Alicia was feeling the strain of treading water.
Alicia nodded, her expression a little sad, and then she turned back toward the beach. She reached the shore first, and strode through the knee-deep water, smoothing out her hair as she walked.
Thakkor's voice, barely above a whisper caught her attention. "Gods, you're beautiful, Alicia."
She turned to see him admiring her, and said, "So are you," her eyes drinking in his muscled form shedding rivulets of water as he stood up. The perfect setting and the sight of him sent her passions soaring. The slight edge of fear that someone would happen upon them - no matter how unlikely - added a tolerable level of danger to her feelings, which only excited her all the more.
A twitch of his manhood told her that Thakkor's mind raced along the same path as hers.
Alicia sat down on the sand where the water just lapped at her bare bottom, her head bowed slightly in a demure pose that directly contradicted the heat smoldering in her eyes. She crossed her hands in front of her sex, again sending conflicting signals as the posture served to lift and press her breasts together.
Thakkor's dangling organ stiffened and rose as he approached to sit down next to her. They shared a brief kiss, and he asked, "Feeling relaxed again?"
"Oh, a little, I suppose," she answered, and then added a dramatic sigh.
Knowing the game, he played along and asked, "Anything I can do for you?"
The game ended the moment he leaned in to kiss her. His left hand scrunched in the sand as he reclined, guiding her with his lips to do the same. Alicia's back settled to the warm, white sand, and she let her head loll back with a sigh. Her husband's right hand glided down her tummy, and then wormed beneath her still crossed hands. Alicia let them fall to her side, gasping and arching her back as his fingers caressed her inner thighs.
His next kiss fell on her bared throat, prompting a sharp moan. The tickle of his beard contrasted with the soft touch of his lips as the kisses continued on her neck and chest. All the while, his fingers slipped over her wet skin, so close to her building need.
A low, hungry growl accompanied Thakkor's lips closing around her nipple. She barely had time to revel in the perfect bliss of that sensation before a finger wriggled between her nether lips as well. "Oh yes," she whimpered, her arms wrapping around him.
Thakkor's lips tantalized her nipple; the touch equal parts kiss and suckle. His tongue curled around the stiff pink points, the sensation making her writhe on the sand. Her back arched once more, pressing her breast against his mouth when his probing finger slipped into her depths.
When he leaned over her to reach her other nipple, Alicia let one hand slip from his back to find his manhood. She gasped as her palm found his hardness, making the stiff organ twitch away from her. Another finger joined the first in her needy depths, both digits curling.
A long, quavering wail burst from her lips as Thakkor's fingers pressed against the sensitive spot behind her mound. He'd discovered this trick on their honeymoon, a way to overcome the one caveat of the perfection they shared when coupling. His beard tickled when he slipped between her legs to taste her, and the distraction was just enough to make it difficult for her to reach climax.
She had no such difficulty now, already feeling the warmth and pressure building in her depths.
His lips sucked harder, sending pulses of energy shooting through her body. His fingers moved faster, her hips rocking in perfect concert. Alicia's eyes pinched closed and her mouth drifted open as her pleasure mounted. Whimpers, moans, and yelps bubbled from her lips, growing ever louder and higher pitched.
An especially hard suck of her nipple made Alicia cry out, and her eyes popped open. Her husband let the stiff bud slip from his lips and levered back up to a sitting position, his fingers buried inside her never slowing. He moved toward her hips, and his hand splashed in the water for a few seconds, rinsing away the sand.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" Alicia cried out as he pressed her near leg down and reached for her hood.
Alicia watched in strange detachment as his sea-damp fingers lifted the protective sheath, exposing the swollen pink pearl beneath. The pressure of her impending peak had swelled to almost uncomfortable levels - so close, yet still unreachable. "Please," she wailed, equally to her husband and her own body.
Thakkor leaned over her, his tongue snaking out to its full length. The tip reached her clit, flicking rapidly, and she tumbled over the edge.
Alicia loosed a primal scream of ecstasy as she came, the shockwave of her orgasm ripping through her and making her whole body lurch. Her bottom lifted from the sand, and Thakkor's lips closed over her throbbing clit. She screamed again, her lips forming the word, "Yes," as she writhed uncontrollably.
The intensity of her climax stole her senses, and she kept coming long after she had bucked away from her husband's lips and fingers. She returned to reality after long, beautifully agonizing moments, dripping with sweat, and still caught up in the aftershocks of orgasm.
Thakkor sat next to her, caressing her leg and wearing a wide smile. When her eyes focused and she swallowed, trying to moisten her throat, sore from screaming in ecstasy, he said, "I'll get you some water, love."
Alicia tried to nod her thanks, but another wave of pleasure rippled through her, causing her to half sit up, and then dropping her head back to the sand.
The previously cold cave water had warmed while they swam, but it still felt like liquid heaven as Thakkor helped her drink. The sight of his cock, still rock-hard and throbbing between his legs, brought on a final shudder. She lay down with a languid moan, finally slipping into the afterglow.
The part of her long trained in propriety tried to warn her that she was lying exposed, naked and vulnerable, but it couldn't overcome the beauty of the setting and her husband stroking her hair. Her mind drifted in a dream-like state, the sun warming her and the waves lapping against her body.
After long, wonderful minutes, something else drifted through the fog in her mind. It arose slowly into her consciousness, until she at last grasped it. Her eyes opened wide, she smiled, and pronounced the word of the spell that had last left her vexed.
Alicia laughed and sat up. "I wasn't sneezing. That's the word I couldn't master before we went swimming."
"Guess you did relax, huh?" He twitched his eyebrows at her.
Alicia laughed again and kissed him. "I can almost see the rest of the line in my head. I..." Realization dawned on her, and she let her eyes drop down to his manhood, still half hard.
"Go on. Making you come like that was more than enough for me."
"No buts. Back to your spell, young lady."
Alicia gathered her feet under her. "I love you."
"Love you too."
Excited by the flash of inspiration, Alicia returned to the blanket, mindless of the state she was in. Sweaty, covered in sand, and sticky with her own juices, she sat down with her book, still naked, and fell into her studies.
The sun tracked overhead, the words and gestures of the spell slowly falling into place in Alicia's mind. Twice, she had to move so Thakkor could reposition the blanket in the shade, but otherwise, the magic enthralled her. Cool water from the cave and bits of chilled pineapple were always within reach, placed there by her husband as he busied himself with tasks that he skirted explanation about.
She was tantalizingly close to mastering the spell when she arrived at another word that eluded her ability to pronounce. Still within the rhythm of the spell, she felt close, but the break in momentum opened her thoughts to other things.
The grains of sand clinging to her body - most notably those in the cleft of her buttocks - began to make her squirm. That in turn reminded her of the sticky juices between her legs. The final straw was a loud grumble of her tummy - so loud that she heard Thakkor snort in amusement behind her.
Alicia turned on him with a half hearted scowl, and he raised his hands in a defensive posture.
"Almost have everything ready for dinner. Got you a bath ready, too."
Alicia hesitated for a second before closing the book, but the evidence that this day had provided regarding the value of stepping away from her studies won out. "Are you reading my mind?"
"No, just your squiggling," he answered, wearing a wide smile.
Alicia stood up and stretched, grinning back at her husband when the display made his smile even wider. "I won't be long."
"Take a few minutes, because I need it to finish the main course, my lady." He offered a courtly bow.
Of course, the fact that he was stark naked made the display more than a little humorous.
Memories of her orgasm on the beach washed back over her, and Alicia couldn't resist reaching out to stroke her fingers over his cock as she passed by on her way to the tent. She gave a surprised yelp when he playfully swatted her bottom, and then stepped into the tent.
The warm water and cool environs kept her in the bath a little longer than she'd originally planned, but the rumbling of her tummy finally encouraged her to reach for the towel. Once dry, she looked at the clothing Thakkor had laid out for her, bit her lower lip in mischievous thought, and left the clothes behind.