“Who are you?” she asked, mesmerized by this stranger’s gaze, “and how do you know my name?”
Still watching her intently, he stretched out his left arm to her. “Come.”
Unable to tear her eyes away from his gaze, she felt herself drawn to him. Placing her hand in his, she let him pull her up to her feet. With his right hand holding her gently around her waist, he drew her closer to him. She could feel the unleashed strength of him as he held her against his warm bare chest, felt his steady heartbeat against her racing heart, and the soft hairs on his chest which seemed to spring to life underneath her palms.
The more she looked into his eyes, the more she felt her strength slowly being sapped away. She half-heartedly tried to struggle loose from his grasp, but he only held her closer to him. No one had ever held her like this before, not in this protective – almost possessive manner. In her dazed state, she tried to focus on what was happening to her, willing her mind to stay alert, but her body seemed to have a mind of its own; heeding to his every wish as her defences seemed to come crashing down around her. She felt that for some inexplicable reason, he had the powers to break through each barrier of resistance she put up against him.
As he placed his chin on the top of her head, Mamuke could feel his warm breath on her. None of this felt real.
“I don’t know who you are, or how you came to know my name … ”
“You’re hurt. Let me take care of you. Come with me.” It was the most seductive voice she had ever heard. A voice laced with rich timbre tones which seemed to resonate from his body to hers. There was something about the way he carried himself that set him aside from ordinary people, something almost royal about him.
“I don’t even know your name,” she countered tiredly, as he lifted her up in his arms and headed for the caves.
“I’m Prince Uwami,” and in a low, almost inaudible tone added quietly, “and you my Mamuke, have been well chosen.”
“But … ”
“Shhhh … With time, all will be revealed to you. For now just come with me my Mamuke, where you’ll be safe,” he interrupted.
Mamuke awoke to the sound of steady heartbeats. For a moment, she could not recall where she was or how she got there. She felt at peace with herself and everything seemed all right. But why wouldn’t it be? Life was getting back to normal now that Sisim was getting better and …
Sisim!!! Remembering her sister jolted her back to reality with a bang. Where was she? How did she get here? Looking about her frantically, she saw that she was lying on a bed covered with the rich thick fur of lion skins. At the foot of the bed were two life-like adult lions, one male and female, that stared back at her. She tried to recall the sequence of events that led to her being here, wherever this place was, but it was still a blur to her.
The frown on her face deepened as she slowly recalled the events of the previous evening and the more she remembered, the more her relaxed body began to tense up. She hazily remembered the handsome and strangely possessive stranger who had made her heart flip over crazily, but yet hadn't said much about himself.
She had to get out of here. Moving to the edge of the bed, away from the unblinking gaze of the stuffed lions, she walked to the edge of the room. It was a sun-filled room but the very edge of it was cast in shadows. As she approached the edge of the room, she spotted two doors, placed side by side - a large black door and a smaller white door. This is odd, she thought to herself. For some inexplicable reason, she found herself drawn to the smaller white door. As she stretched out her hand to push the door open, it quickly swung open before she had even touched it.
Stepping out through the door, she found herself in a wide leafy green garden. There were a lot of beautiful flowers there, and the air was crisp and cool to the skin. At the edge of the garden, a man stood with his back to her, overlooking the edge of the garden and beyond, gazing far out into the horizon. There was something familiar about his stance. As she silently approached him from behind, she heard that familiar deep seductive voice.
“I trust you slept well, Mamuke?” Uwami asked, without turning towards her.
“Yes, I did. It was a very comfortable bed and I am well rested thank you,” she responded. “Thank you for helping me out last night,” she quietly added as she reached his side.
She gasped in awe as she looked over the edge of the garden. They were standing at the very top of the ancient caves, and a few feet below them was a fast moving waterfall cascading down the edge of the great rocks. The water was clear, and mist of water droplets from the waterfall seemed to sparkle with rainbow colours in the morning light. Down below was the Great River and further, as though merging into the horizon were the open grasslands and further still, the dense forests she had travelled through. It was a beautiful sight.
Turning towards him, she found Uwami staring intently at her. Those handsome, yet mysterious eyes seemed to look right into her soul and she felt herself mesmerized in his presence. She felt herself drawing closer to him by some unexplainable force and she was powerless to fight it.
“You have a very beautiful place,” she said, trying to ease the sudden tension in the air between them.
Not taking his gaze off her, he took her hands in his, placing them on his chest and smiled. That slow seductive smile that seemed to make her heart thud loudly in her chest. “You’re welcome. You’ll always be welcome, my Mamuke. You belong here with me.”
There it was again, that strange possessiveness of him towards her. She thought she had imagined it last night, or that her mind had been playing tricks with her after the earlier events of the day.
“Uwami, I am indeed grateful to you for taking me in, but I must be on my way. I need to get to the market today …”
“Sisim can wait.” He interrupted her, with a sudden flash of rage in his eyes. “ I've waited a very long time for this, for you, and I'm not about to let you leave me. You belong to me, my Mamuke.” He added, with a hint of steel in his voice.
Mamuke gasped in shock. “How do you know about Sisim? Who are you? What do you mean I belong to you?”
“MY PRINCE!” a voice called from behind.
Uwami looked up sharply. “What is it, Dongogo?” he asked impatiently. A short stocky man bowed deeply in respect, eyes averted from Uwami’s as he responded.
“All has been prepared, my prince. We await your presence to commence the ceremonies”.
“I’ll be right there. Tell Zokunu I'm on my way. In the meantime, arrange for some breakfast for my guest.”
“As your highness pleases,” Dongogo responded, bowing down again.
“My Mamuke, duty calls. Dongogo will look after you. We shall continue this conversation upon my return,” he said as he quickly walked back into the cave, with Dongogo respectfully following at a distance.