Nefertari had left nothing to chance. Her plan was infallible. The house was strategically deserted, incense filled the air with intoxicating aromas, and she knew her timing was perfect. Emerging from her private baths, she wrapped an almost sheer robe around herself and walked down the hall. She knew he would be there any moment, unfailingly punctual. He had put up a fight thus far, a refreshing variation from the others. But that was about to change. He would finally admit his desire for her, and all of his authority would once again be in Nefertari’s hands. Men were so easy to manipulate once they were entrenched in lust, guilt and fear.
The soft click of the front doors gave her a tingle of anticipation and her breath quickened. She was anxious to feast her eyes on him, but she forced herself to wait out of sight. His footsteps echoed through the great-room as he advanced towards the back of the house. He was almost at the garden doors when his steps slowed, then stopped. Had he noticed the silence of the house? Was he tantalized by the jasmine and lavender assailing his senses? Maybe he felt her presence and knew that their time had finally come.
Nefertari stepped out of her hiding place, fiddling with her robe as though she wasn’t expecting to be seen by anyone. She carefully timed her gasp of surprise to coincide with his own and, pulling her long hair over her shoulder to partially conceal her body, she coyly took her turn in the modesty game that he’d been playing all along. He quickly turned away, but not before she noticed the colour creeping into his face.
Nefertari waited for a long moment, letting the tension build before breaking the silence. “Yosef,” she whispered, “There’s no need for embarrassment. No one else is here.”
He didn’t answer her, but his shoulders stiffened, his posture becoming even straighter. Nefertari didn’t mind. She’d become accustomed to his silly pretensions of reticence and she rather enjoyed the pursuit. It would make the physical conquest sweeter, and the political victory even more satisfying.
She silently stepped closer to the overseer and trailed her finger across the back of his shoulders. His thin cloak did little to conceal the muscles rippling beneath her fingertips. “You’re an important man around here, Yosef. You and I would make a good team.” She breathed closer to his ear, “Come upstairs with me.”
“Your husband has made me an important man,” he answered, keeping his eyes directed towards the door. “He has entrusted everything in this house to my care. Everything except you.” He started to step away from her, but Nefertari entwined her fingers in his cloak and pressed her body even closer.
“I don’t need him to make that decision for me,” she said. “I’m quite capable of choosing my own company. You, I’m sure, would make marvellous company.”
Yosef’s fists clenched. “I will not do this. I will not sin against God.”
Nefertari knew it was time for action. Talking would get her nowhere, especially if he insisted on bringing his God into the conversation. She tugged his cloak off his shoulders and pressed herself against his back. But he jumped away from her as if from a crackling fire. Pulling his arms from his cloak, he put several steps between them before she even had time to react. At long last, he turned and looked her directly in the eyes.
“I will not do this,” he growled again.
It sounded like a dare to Nefertari. She held up his cloak in one hand, then slowly pulled her own robe down off her shoulder. “My turn?” But it was too late. He turned away again, opened his mouth as if to say something more, and then strode evenly towards the doors.
“Yosef, stop!” she screamed. And in that moment, a new plan formed in her mind.
The slam of the door echoed around her as she fingered the cloak in her hands. Walking away from her was a mistake that Yosef would regret for the rest of his days, but Nefertari would use it to her fullest advantage. By the end of the day, he would be begging for his life, and every shred of authority he’d ever had would revert quietly back to her.
Ever so calmly, Nefertari tore a gaping hole in her robe, then screamed as loudly as she could. “Help! Guards!”
Her plan was infallible.
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