Keep Pounding Rhythm (The Beat Goes On) by Maggie

Contrapuntal remix by

He was amazing to look at and smelled like coconuts and sex. The sunshine haloed him; his argent hair twisted and turned, pulling the light in greedy hoards around it. His face was open and curious. I let him see what I was doing, let those curious eyes watch me. They had claimed they could see the honey light from the woman-power twisting over him, leaching the color from him, the light from his eyes. In that light, it was hard to imagine his eyes any brighter, but I could smell her on him.

He responded well to my display of wares, childlike glee in the various fish. I liked the blatant symbolism of the water luring him away from her earthiness. He mimicked my anger at the idiot who tossed the octopus back to sea. I found a sand dollar, flat and perfect. I said a quiet supplication to the sea, and handed the sand dollar to Justin. He took it, the memories of childhood collections freed to wash over him. He didnít seem to realize all that he had forgotten.

I reminded him of family, testing the water to see if he was still thinking of her. He responded he was here with his wife.

She was stronger than most. Simple memory tricks wouldnít work.

The lingering spells twisted and coiled around him. Sex pulsing through his veins and food in his belly. She was in him and around him. I gathered my power, centering myself in the blue of the water and the sky, and pushed at the gold wrappings. I touched his mouth, lower lip full and pouting beneath the pad of my thumb. He closed his eyes, that same sensuality that made him biddable for her, making him amenable to me. I scraped his mouth, just enough to draw blood. He didnít flinch away from it. The water and blood mixed there, and I sucked gently at my thumb, tasting him.

Sheís not the only one with power here.

He stood there, weight forward towards me, blood welling up on his lip. I pushed my thumbnail into my own lip until I could feel my blood slick and then I leaned in to kiss him. Rabbit soft and quick as the flash a scarlet ibis leaves as it fishes, but our blood mingled there. He let me kiss him for a moment, just taking it in, and then his lips were pressing back against mine, the pepper under the honey and the soft touch of his tongue. When I pulled away, his eyes met mine and they were full of shine.

I wrapped a hand gently around his waist, pulling him into the lee of the rocks. I kissed him again, slow and gentle. He tumbled in to it. His breath was heavy and shuddery, but I didnít stop. Slow kisses on his mouth, and down his chinline, across his collar bone. I burrowed under the cloth, finding him heavy and hard in my hand. I was gentle with my touch, and a bit cruel with my mouth, drawing him out. When his hips starting rolling in my hands, I got us on the sand. I crawled between his legs, finding all the sensitive spots with my tongue that werenít usually tended to. When I finally had him in my hand and was poised above him, I met his eyes again. Dawn sky blue under dark ginger lashes watching me.

"You want we should wait?" I couldnít just do this without his permission, no matter what his body was telling me, or what my own was screaming.

"For what?" His genuine confusion almost made me laugh

"I donít know" and really I didnít. I couldnít, with him under me and hot in my hand, think of a reason to not. I hesitated, and he leaned up to kiss me, his hand covering mine, and moving me on him. I tried to control myself, to be gentle and slow, like water wearing the edges off the rocks, but after the first moments of shock, his hands were pulling at me and I broke against him.

She came to find me. Late at night, I could hear her tromping through the forest that hangs so near the water here. Her lovely feline grace discarded among the moving shadows. She was hunting me, and didnít understand I was already winning. I doubt she had ever faced power directly contesting hers. Oh, Iím sure she did well against the occasional threat or demonic whim, but itís different when you face someone who has done this before and someone who has more than a passing interest in what is yours.

She screamed at me one night, the moon finally got hidden and she got trapped in a loop I created. She hollered and screamed at me. "You stupid maga, Iíma gonna find you. Heís mine, you hear, Iím done fed up."

I could hear her screaming from my perch on the rock, but I know better than to give her a sound, a voice to steal. I sat quietly, and she went mad, tearing at the brush and muttering. I could her the blood in her tone. But she doesnít know my name. She doesnít know what sheís fighting. She could see that piece of me invading him, riding in his blood. But she canít do anything about it, because you canít take all the blood out. I can still feel his mouth slick under our blood, and it makes her voice quiet in my ears and my breath silent in the night.

She brought him to the water the next day, taking him beneath the waves. I wanted to tear her up, to break her into a million shards, but earth and gold donít shatter that way. I thought of drowning her, but I knew it would get him before it ever got her. I savored the feeling of him like that, the sight of him as he lay quiet after, still and wet on the sand, feet touching the water. As they slept, I went to their home. I drank of their water and laid hairs in his pillowcase. I took a few of his, wrapping the twining strands around my finger until they made a ring. A bit of wax from a candle sealed it there.

I listened when I could see the three of them. The faint curtains did nothing to block my view. I wanted it to stop, wanted to pull him away, but it was night and it was her home and it all kept me pinned to my hidey place beneath the window. I think she spoke for my benefit, to feel the pain it caused me. All those noises. "Just let him do it. Let him do whatever he wants to you, baby." Her voice, in a stage whisper. The sound of moans and the wet sounds of kisses.

"You want it." A man. "You want it," her voice, gloating and rough with greed. I could hear him making choked, hurt noises, and noises that were pleasure, and both again until they twisted and turned in to each other. I pushed against what was holding me there, but her words were true. He did want it.

"You're the first man to do this to him," and that was all it took. It was a lie. The gold light turned verdigris and I was able to eventually leverage myself from the spot. The thing I most wanted to do was to pull him from there, but that wouldnít be safe for either of us. I went to the fete, and told the drummers what counterpoint I needed. I danced there, the circle twisting and turning, knotting impossibly tight, a maze no gilded earth-bound liar could follow.

I waited in my jungle, watched her prepare. She is terrible and a death woman and one who is strong and fierce, but here at the place where the jungle meets the water, I am blue. I am truth and love and the zephyr that cleanses the evil from a place. That which clears out the stench of death and grave dirt and decay. I am the one who the thuggees fear. She talked then, in our language, and she was screaming at me, warning me of her great power. She thought she had defeated me, had claimed him with the manís body.

I loved him, it was brilliantly clear to me, at that moment. This wasn't just about territory or male against female, or mother against wife, this was something sharper and more painful.

The man stood, shoulders slumped in the near dark of the shadows. He didnít want to be there, knew what she would do. He seemed altered, but I didnít care about him, I wanted him to hurt, wanted him to suffer for what he had attempted. I wanted him to feel pain for his part in her plan.

She had searched Justin, and knew the places that werenít hers. Sheíd tried to claim them with the man as her tool, but she had to have known it wasnít working. She cast aside the glamour of the sensual female, revealing the great and terrible woman beneath. Justin saw, he recognized she was not what he had seen. He acquiesced to her even then, but his eyes were on mine behind her. I slid close, the stained, jumbled bed sheets burning and blackening to ash in my hand. She was so focused on her plan she never even sensed how very close I was. I tossed the smoldering sheets, and they covered her thick hair like thousand fire-bugs. My own words were silent.

"Pick up the cutlass," she said, and I did.