Interview with Tumaini

The journey to the Other Side hadn't been as difficult as Maria's that first time, but I had still been more nervous than usual. Meeting a man I had specifically created to be absolutely and irrevocably attractive seemed like a daunting task, and frankly I didn't know how to handle it. Upon entering the Ubastic Palace, however, I was filled with a sense of ease. Ornate decorations in rich jewel tones lined the halls and everything was warm and welcoming. Most everyone knew my name as I walked to the meeting room.

A few Ubeasties asked for my autograph jokingly and waved me on. Feeling happy, I got to the door and realized why I had been anxious to begin with. I was meeting with Tumaini; Tumaini who has raw sex appeal, high intelligence, and a killer smile. The last thing I needed was that kind of temptation. Groaning, I pushed open the door before I bolted.

Tumaini was chasing around a few cubs that had changed into their panther form. They were fast in their other skin, but no one was faster than Tumaini. He scooped them up and deposited them in a fenced off area, wiping his hands on his shirt and picking a few toys off the floor.

I couldn't help but notice his sleek frame. Wearing a form fitting v-neck and sinuously tight black pants, the elegant sweep of his body was almost too much. And the way he moved… my mouth went dry and I momentarily lost the power of intelligent thought. Tumaini was a lot to handle upon first meeting.

As he rose and acknowledged me, I melted inside at his smile.

"Hello, Jo. I'm glad that you could make it." His voice was deep and sexy, and as he walked towards me I felt my inhibitions go into the wind. All while feeling the most self-conscious I've ever felt.

"Thank you, Mr. Mubarak." I stuttered and stuck out my hand for him to shake. "I'm so happy you invited me."

Giving me a Cheshire smile, Tumaini came towards me and took my hand. "After all we've been through, you're honestly going to try and call me 'Mr. Mubarak'. That is wrong on so many levels."

Leading me by the hand he had yet to release, Tumaini set us down at a kiddie table near one of the room's windows. "Well, I didn't want to be too forward."

"And I don't want you to feel uncomfortable." He replied. "You are welcome here."

Nodding my thanks I got out my pen and paper, ready to begin the interview. Tumaini watched me the whole time, and I know because there are two holes in the side of my head from the pressure of his gaze.

"So," I said, crossing my legs and leaning against the back on the chair. Realizing too late that the chair was only a foot tall, I teetered towards the side until Tumaini caught me. Embarrassed beyond belief, I quickly started to ask questions.

"Were you born here Tumaini?"

Inclining his head, Tumaini replied, "No, I was born farther east. But this town has been my home for decades."

I nodded as I looked down at my paper. "That's nice. It really is beautiful here."

"I agree." The soft purr of his voice brought my eyes up and I was hindered from speaking for a few moments. Would his gorgeousness wear off any time soon? I could use the relief.

"Ah, I heard a rumor on my way up that you were related to the pack leader who came right before you. Is that true?" Looking at his now somewhat reserved face I added quickly, "If that's a sensitive question feel free to ignore me. I'm still not sure of all of your etiquette."

"No," Tumaini laughed softly. "It's not exactly a sensitive question. Most pride leaders claim to be related to those who came before him. Where most are not, it was my great uncle who was pride leader."

"It must have been nice to be able to confer with him on pack policies." I smiled at my little play on words.

"He was a bit of an outcast growing up, and our inner pack didn't pay him much attention. But when the war came, he was the one who stood as the strongest. I regret not knowing him better."

"Oh," I flushed awkwardly. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Don't worry," a soft purring came from deep within Tumaini's throat and he put his hand over mine. I would have had a seizure if it weren't for the fact his purr is so calming. "You're anxious enough, never mind things you can't change."

"H-how do you know I'm anxious?"

He raised an eyebrow with a smile as he leaned back. I didn't mention how there was no back to his midget chair and he was doing that through sheer poise.

"I can smell it on you. Honestly, I don't know why you are so troubled. It's not as if you don't know me. I would make you more comfortable if I could." Happy sigh. Ah, Tumaini, ever the diplomat.

"I-I, that is to say, I know I can really put my foot in my mouth."

"Why should that bother me, you are the one in control here."

Oh, I don't like that. I don't like how he leans back to say that. Or the way his eyes smile and look predatorial at the same time. If only there was a well placed entrance by Maria right about now; he'd probably focus her attention on her. But the same reason why I'm nervous is the same reason I can't summon Maria here.

"When I'm in one of my stories, I can't control what's happening." A deep blush settled over my skin as Tumaini stared at me. I thought about all the things I'd made him do and I wasn't sure how he, acting on the guidelines I'd given his character, would react. "I become a part of your world, not in control of it."


I sat there quietly, looking alternately at my paper and Tumaini. His hand held his chin thoughtfully and then without warning he pounced across the table. I flew out of my chair, my back hitting the plush carpet with Tumaini looming over me. His hands were velvet cuffs that held my wrists on either side of my waist. His body curved right and left as if he had a tail and were swishing it.

"So you weren't lying." He purred and rubbed his cheek against me. A soft fur began to appear across his skin and I gasp as his panther form slowly started to emerge. "I always wanted to come out slowly." His teeth started to sharpen and then became too much for his mouth. Claws sprang from his fingertips and soon he had full blown paws.

I was trembling uncontrollably, caught between utter fascination and terror. What was he going to do? Shifting back and forth, Tumaini threw his head back and moaned, shifting fully to his panther form. Slowly he brought his head back down to meet my eyes. And then he grinned.

Bounding off of me, I heard a tremor of his thoughts. We'll finish this after I've had some fun. Stay here.

Rising up to rest on my hands, I sighed in relief with a smile. I knew better than anyone else that Tumaini has a playful side. When he realized no one is standing over his shoulder guiding him into do what they want, understandably, he's going to want to go a little wild. He is a panther shifter after all.

The only problem is, if he's going to get that freedom I have to be here. And if he's not here I can't get the interview. What am I going to do for as long as it takes him to come down from cloud nine?

Fearing impending boredom, I stood up with an unladylike grunt and walked over to the play pin where the little Ubeasties were sleeping. Paws twitched and noses sniffed as they dreamed. Aww, I wonder what it would be like-

"Jo, Tumaini told me to look after you."

Jumping ten feet in the air, I turned around swiftly to see Bes standing behind me. Resting a trembling hand over my heart, I closed my eyes and said a prayer.

"Good Lord Bes, don't sneak up on a girl like that." Opening my eyes I was treated to

Bes' smile. That was rare. "Tumaini told you to look after me?"

"Yes." Bes nodded. "While he has his… fun." There was a peculiar twist to his grin.

Suspiciously, I gave him the once over. "Um, Bes. What exactly did Tumaini tell you about this fun he's having?"

"Come, let's not speak here." Holding out his elbow I hesitated for only a moment before taking his arm and being led out of the playroom. "I'm very glad you decided to accept my offer."

I snorted before I stopped myself. "Because you would have forcibly removed me?"


My head snapped around so quick I got whiplash, but his smile eased my fears and I relaxed as we walked down the hall. "So you can make a joke."

"Usually you don't give me the chance."

Well that shut me up. Guiltily I glanced at the floor and thought about Bes. I had been rather strict with him and his character, but that's because he only opens up around certain people. How am I supposed to know he wants to be The Comedian?

"We're here." Opening the door for me, I began to walk in before I notice the deep reds and lush velvet of his personal chambers. Turning quickly, I begin to walk right back out but Bes blocked me with his whole body.

As I looked up at him, he pulled my hand from the doorjamb and nudged me inside.

"Bes, what's the meaning of this? Surely Tumaini didn't tell you to watch me in your bedroom?" Swallowing, I looked at his strong, silent face and backed up a bit. I thought I knew Bes, I really did, but people can always surprise you.

"Are you scared Jo?" His deep purr made me jump and his tone sparked something inside of me. Must they all play on my weaknesses?

As I shook my head slightly, Bes let out a dark laugh. "Now you know that's not true. I can smell it on you… along with something else a little more exciting."

Flushing as much as my pale skin could, I backed up to the window seat and avoided his eyes. Of course I was aroused. Bes' room is built for foreplay; dim lights, antiques, the smell of lavender and vanilla with a masculine twist- not to mention the man himself. Edging into the corner as Bes began to prowl, I got really worried.

"B-Bes, think about this. Just because you can do anything you want doesn't mean you should." As he approached me, I kind of blanked as his body was displayed. Strong, load bearing shoulders, defined chest, proportioned hips, and thighs to die for- how am I supposed to take this man? My tolerance level for good looks is fragile!

"Jo, I am surprised at you. It's not the fact you can't control us when you are on our side; I knew about that. There's something else I want." He was so close now, bending over my seated position, eyes trained straight on mine.

I don't know if I ever got around to mentioning Bes' eyes in the story, but they are a soul searching blue, full of personality. I have never been gladder to be sitting down; as it was I tried to swallow but couldn't get my body to cooperate. Tumaini may be one sexy shifter, but Bes really takes the cake.

"An-and wh-what is that exactly?"

He pressed his smiling lips to my own and I nearly keeled over. As he pulled back my mind sputtered. Soft… so soft and firm. I really, really wanted to do that again.

"I want my own story."

I paused. Well, didn't expect that one. "Bes, you're going to get your own story, and girl." I smiled a little bit, looking into those eyes again. "I like you too much not to write about you."

"I know." I rolled my eyes. "But I thought I could do something to give you a little incentive."

"Oh, um, Bes, you don't have to do that." As he rubbed his face against me, I tried to push his head away. And I'm sure I was a sight, some human author cornered and being felt up by a white panther. "You-you have no obligation to me. I'll make your story good."

"I know." He breathed across my neck and then stuck his tongue out. As he ran it across my skin I shivered. "But I've decided that I want her to be like you, and I want you to understand exactly what I mean."

"Me?" My voice got high. "You don't know me. I don't exist in your world. Well, present situation excluded."

Bes met my eyes and gave me a sober stare. "You underestimate a lot of things about our world, but that's all right." He returned to rubbing his slightly furred cheek against my own.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Hysteria was creeping in, as well as a bit of suffocation. Did Bes really have outside knowledge of my world? He's only supposed to be a figment of my imagination.

"Hmm," a lush purr settled out of him that vibrated my own chest and I literally could not stop from feeling comforted. That however did not stop the questions from spinning. "All in good time," he assured me.

Reaching behind my knees, I was suddenly lifted off of the window seat. Squealing and grabbing for his neck, I heard him chuckle. And isn't that annoying? Here I am being toted off by some panther shape shifter with no idea of what's coming next. It made me so mad I leaned forward and bit Bes' ear.

"Ouch! Jo, if you want to get kinky, wait until I reach the bed."

"The bed!" He let go of my knees and I bounced lightly on his velvet covers. "Bes, you know this is going too far. If you want me to write a story for you fine, I'll get started as soon as I get home, but there are lines. And you're crossing them!"

As he stood there watching me he began to smile slightly. "You are so cute."

Rolling my eyes, exasperated beyond belief, I began to climb off the bed. That is of course until I felt two arms around my stomach and Bes' chest hover above my back. I froze, but not because I was afraid. If he wanted to play this game, fine. I'll show him what a measly human can do, and when I get back on the other side, beware!

I slid up against his body lightly. "Bes," my voice was low, but not too soft. "What are you doing?"

A purring erupted from him. "Playing," he replied in a whisper right over my ear. As he began to lick down my neck I shivered, pushing the base of my back against him.

Leaning forward, I let him continue. As his hands loosened and migrated towards my waist, I made sure I kept my body nice and relaxed. Leisurely, I slipped my torso forward to rest on the bed with my arms reaching for the door. Bes liked this new position and scooted back on his knees with his hands on my hips. I saw this as my chance and as quickly as I could tried to bolt off the side of the bed.

I only went a few inches. Growling at him, I trashed back at him as he tightened his hold and pressed me further into the mattress.

He tutted at me. "Now Jo, I expected a little more cooperation than that. I hadn't realized you were this feisty."

His hair had come out of its hold and fluttered by my face as he leaned down to look me in the eyes. I glared back, very displeased with the situation. Here I was, in my own creation, and it was attacking me. Truthfully, I didn't know how far Bes would go, and that was very scary.

Bes grinned and kissed me, allowing himself entrance to my entire mouth. "I understand now. You're a prude." He kissed me again. "Which is all right, but make my woman more passionate."

"I am not falling for that, Bes." Rolling my eyes as he released me, I sat up and scooted towards the end of the bed.

Now that I was out of his hold, I felt a heavy dread in the bottom of my stomach. What just happened? And where could I got to get away from the situation?

Bes came up behind me and started to rub my back, but I got up and crossed the room, preparing to leave. Effortlessly, Bes was in front of me closing the door. Giving a sigh, I looked at him with a bored expression.

"I didn't mean to upset you, Jo. Tumaini's not the only one who should have a little fun around here." Trying to lighten the mood, he gave me a small grin.

"Bes," I don't like sounding like a Mom, but what am I supposed to do? "You don't jump somebody and expect them to be okay with it. Let me out right now, or you are going to regret it."

"Treats don't come easy from you, but I still don't appreciate them. You have a right to being unhappy, but I have a responsibility to keeping you here."

Giving him a dry, disbelieving look, I tried to edge past him, reaching for the door and being blocked by his body. "By 'keeping me here' do you mean I have to be here in your bedroom where you tried to rape me!"

Inwardly, I was glad to be angry and not hysterical. It could have easily gone either way. Bes relented and opened the door. Stomping out as the door opened, I ran right into Andre's chest.

"Jo! There you are." His bright eyes were laughing as they looked at Bes. "Didn't expect to find you here."

Glaring at Bes, I replied, "I was just leaving."

Laughing a bit, Andre held his arm out. "May I lead you to the dining hall then?"

"Sure," was my curt response. "As long as there's no funny business. I want to get that upfront, and in writing."

Andre laughed so loudly it filled the halls. "Good Lord Bes, what did you do to her?"

Bes' voice was somber, "Nothing," But I think he was joking.