This is the cover for my next release, Scarecrows and Devils, which is part of the 77th Precinct PAX at Amber Allure. All five of the stories will be out on May 24th. I really enjoyed writing this one, so I hope you enjoy reading it.
I’ve been having a lot of problems writing this month. Anubis is pretty much the only story I’ve worked on regularly since the beginning of April. Not sure why, but my muse isn’t talking to me as much as I’d like. So I’m behind on my first Merging Violently book, which is the spin-off series from my Home books. I need to buckle down and get it written, so unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to do any installments for Anubis this week. I’m hoping that once I get into the story, it’ll start flowing and I can get back to my regular routine.
Please bear with me while I work this writing problem out. I promise I’ll get back to posting stuff like I usually do.
Hugs and I hope you have a great week.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
He could feel his lip curl up with disgust and frustration. ::I was thrown into this life we lead without any time to reconcile what I used to be with what I am now.::
::None of us had that chance.:: Isis reminded him.
::Then why are you telling me to harness my anger? Why shouldn’t I be angry?:: He dug his fingers into the seat under him.
Isis sighed. Anubis could hear the sadness and exhaustion that colored the sound. A little hint of guilt touched him, knowing that part of Isis’s exhaustion was because of him. Though he was pretty sure Sekhment had caused the sadness.
::Be as angry as you wish, Anubis, but don’t let it overwhelm you while you’re dealing with the situation. We still don’t know what’s going on there. When this is over, you can go out into the desert and scream all your rage out.::
“Are you sure you’re okay? You seem really tense.”
Jamil’s question caused him to jump again. Shit! He needed to keep his mind on Jamil and not what was going on in his head. Isis was right. Anubis needed to settle down. The situation was far more important than his anger at the moment. Hell, when he got back to Scotland, he could scream and throw as big a temper tantrum as he wanted. None of the others would make fun of him.
“I just need to eat something. Do you have plans for the evening or can I entice you into having dinner with me?” He interjected as much flirtation into his voice as he could.
::I guess that’s one way to take your mind off the problem.:: Thoth sounded amused.
::Shut up and go find your own entertainment for the night.::
The blush staining Jamil’s cheeks intrigued Anubis. He didn’t think the man was innocent or anything like that.
“Umm…dinner sounds great. Do you want to clean up before we go?”
Anubis wanted to chuckle, but he didn’t. “How about I make a reservation for us at the hotel restaurant? The food is pretty good there. You can clean up in my suite if you want.”
Maybe he was pushing it. They had just met the day before and Jamil might not want to move as fast, but Anubis could admit to himself that he didn’t want to be alone that night.
“I always keep a bag in the truck with a change of clothes, so that sounds like a plan to me.” Jamil grinned and reached over to pat Anubis’s knee.
“Great.” Taking a deep breath, Anubis forced himself to relax. He’d push his concerns about the jars to the back of his mind until the morning. That would be soon enough to work on it.
After pulling up to the front of the hotel, Anubis climbed out before grabbing his bag. Jamil walked around the truck to join him. Jamil handed the keys to the valet then they went on inside. Anubis led the way to the elevators.
“Will Hutchinson be joining us? I thought he was staying with you.” Jamil stood next to him in the elevator.
“No. He text me this afternoon and said he got his own room. Plus he found a friend to have dinner with.” Anubis had no doubt that Thoth would be able to do all that.
“Good.” Jamil blushed when Anubis gave him an amused glance. “Not that I don’t like Hutchinson, but…” His voice trailed off.
Anubis wanted to crowd Jamil into the corner then take his mouth in a hard kiss, but he knew he wouldn’t stop there. So he had to wait until they were in his room. He rested his hand at the small of Jamil’s back then leaned down to press his mouth against the man’s ear.
“I know what you mean. I don’t want him around either,” he whispered.
Jamil shivered, his hands opening and clenching on the straps of his bag. Anubis nibbled on Jamil’s earlobe, drawing a whimper from him. The ding of the elevator caused him to back away, but he encouraged Jamil to step out then directed him toward his suite.
“I got a suite while I’m here. I hate traveling and staying in cramped rooms.”
“Nice to have the money to do it,” Jamil muttered.
Shrugging, Anubis unlocked his door, gesturing for Jamil to go in. “That’s true. I’ve been able to make a great deal of money throughout my life and it offers me the opportunities to pamper myself.”
He shut the door behind him then set his bag down. Turning, he reached for Jamil’s duffel and took it. Once he set it on the floor next to his, Anubis slid his arms around Jamil’s waist and tugged him closer.
Jamil rested his hands on Anubis’s chest. “Shouldn’t we clean up? I thought you were hungry.”
“Oh I’m hungry all right, but at this moment, it’s not for food. I want you in my arms and bed,” he informed Jamil, trailing kisses along his jaw then bit his chin gently.
Wrapping his arms around Anubis’s shoulders, Jamil tilted his head back to give Anubis more skin to taste and suck. There was a little hint of dust mingling with sweat as he licked a line to the base of Jamil’s throat. He sucked up a mark there.
Anubis worked his hands to the hem of Jamil’s T-shirt before stepping back a little. He pulled the fabric up and over Jamil’s head, letting it drop before bending to press his tongue to one of Jamil’s nipples. He pinched the nub of flesh between his teeth and tugged on it.
“Oh my,” Jamil gasped, clasping the back of Anubis’s head while holding him in place.
He teased and played with it as he slipped his hands to grab Jamil’s ass, flexing his fingers into the tight muscles. His straightening brought a whine from Jamil, but Anubis smiled as he dragged their groins together. Their moans filled the air when their erections rubbed against each other.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
Anubis’s head pounded as he climbed into Jamil’s truck. All day long, he’d had the feeling there was something he was supposed to be doing or somewhere else he was supposed to look, but he couldn’t get a clear enough image—or thought—of what it was.
::There are times when the gods chose to be ambiguous with what we need to know.:: Thoth’s voice entered his mind, but it soothed the ache in some small way.
::True. Then they become frustrated when we don’t move as fast as they think we should. What are we missing? Isis sent me here. He must have gotten some kind of urging from our creators. Yet all I have found is memories that I never wanted to relive.::
He could feel Thoth’s shrug before his brother spoke. ::I don’t know. Isis was tight lipped when he sent me, even when I tried to badger him into telling me.::
::Isis has developed a thick skin after dealing with us for centuries. Only Sekhmet can shake him now.:: Anubis rubbed his face then pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Are you okay?”
Jamil’s voice in the tight confines of the truck cab made him jump slightly. He’d been concentrating on Thoth, he’d forgotten about the man sitting next to him. He cleared his throat.
“I have a headache. Probably from all the dirt and dust I breathed in today. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out in the field. My lungs aren’t used to it yet.”
::It’s been over a century since you’ve been digging in the dirt. Remember when Tutankhamen was discovered. Thank God you were there.::
That had been a long expedition and dig. He and the others had exhausted themselves steering Howard Carter away from certain items buried with the boy Pharaoh. The warriors hadn’t been able to get to Tutankhamen before his tomb had been sealed to gather the religious artifacts the priests had given to the boy during his reign.
While Amun and Bastet had guided Carter to the main tomb, Anubis and the rest were busy secreting the icons and relics away to be taken to Scotland. Once there, they’d preformed the rituals needed to lock their powers, so no one would be able to use them again—or at least not without permission from the gods.
Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do about the curse a rogue priest had put on the tomb. It settled on the first group of people to have breathed in the stale air. Death followed in the wake of the discovery. It had been the most drained Anubis had felt in thousands of years.
::I hate to think this dig will be as bad as that one.:: He glanced over at Jamil. ::I hope there isn’t a curse on this place.::
::If there had been, it would’ve stuck those who discovered Petra, not Jamil and his crew. What bothers me is that this place wasn’t on our radar until they discovered those jars. Have they done x-rays on them to see if there is anything in there except mummified organs?::
::I don’t know. I forgot to ask. I was too upset yesterday when I figured out who the jars belonged to. Asking wasn’t the first thing on my mind.::
Thoth’s wave of sympathy eased Anubis’s headache even more. As annoying as he could be at times, Thoth did care for his brothers and it helped Anubis to know Thoth understood what he was feeling about this whole mission.
“Yes?” Jamil didn’t take his gaze off the road.
“Have you x-rayed the jars yet? To see if there is anything else in there beside the organs?” He clenched his hands as a sharp pain tore through his head. They had to be on the right track if he was getting shocks like that. Anubis—the god—wasn’t known for being subtle.
Frowning, Jamil shook his head. “Do you think we should? It didn’t sound like there was anything in them. Not that we shook them or anything, but we should’ve been able to hear some kind of movement.”
“Not if they were packed with something,” he muttered.
::They could be hiding something. Maybe the princess and prince’s organs aren’t in them. It could’ve been a way to keep people from stealing it—whatever it is.:: Thoth sighed. ::I’ll talk to Isis then get back to you about what we need to do.::
Anubis grunted and Jamil shot him a quick glance.
“Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes, but we need to schedule a time to take the jars to be x-rayed. There’s something about them that’s making me uneasy. Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my instincts.” He tapped his fingers on his thigh while he thought. “I know a professor at the university who would probably be able to get us in to use his machine. I could grease the wheels a little with a donation.”
Jamil chuckled. “What’s the hurry? Those jars have been buried for centuries. A day or two longer won’t hurt anything.”
He wanted to say that every delay was dangerous because they didn’t know what was hidden and who might want what was there. Now that the containers had been discovered, it was only a matter of time before the people who hid them would come for them.
Anubis was worried about that. Until he knew for sure what the objects were, he had no way of preparing to keep Jamil safe and the enemy from getting their hands on what they wanted. There was so much he still didn’t know about what was going on. All he wanted to do at the moment was scream in anger for being put in this position.
::Try to harness your anger, Anubis. It’s something you should’ve dealt with when you were first killed then turned into a warrior for the gods.:: Isis’s voice came through the fog of rage.
::No one ever gave me a chance to do so.::
I swear this week has been overwhelming. I didn’t get the extra installment done like I wanted. I had two sets of edits to do, plus trying to figure out a book that’s due by the end of the month.
But at least it’s the weekend and while I still need to work on the book, I shouldn’t have any more edits to do. for a couple of days anyway…lol
I hope you all have a great weekend and I’ll try to do better next week.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
He gave the man a quick glance and Ahmed shook his head before walking off.
“What’s his problem?” Sandy asked as they watched him leave.
“I believe he feels very possessive of those caves,” Hutchinson said. “It comes from the fact that his tribe considers Petra as part of their territory, even though it’s theirs only in legends.”
“He doesn’t like the idea of us digging there,” Jamil inquired as he set his backpack down near the wall of the room then put his laptop away.
“His tribe sees those as their ancestors. Would you be happy about someone digging around in your grandfather’s grave?” Hutchinson lifted one shoulder.
Jamil frowned. “How are we supposed to learn anything about the past without searching those graves?”
Hutchinson patted his shoulder. “I see both sides of this situation and Ahmed will come around. He just needs time to adjust to the idea. To be honest, he’s never really been happy about digging the tombs in Egypt or anywhere else. He believes the dead deserve our respect.”
“Would he feels better if we made an offering to Anubis before we started digging in there? Not that he’ll still be around when we do,” Eesha suggested.
“It might help him. I think he feels an affinity to the god Anubis. Maybe he feels closer to the god of death and the underworld.” Hutchinson motioned toward the front of the Treasury where dim sunlight shone through. “Living in the desert can make you see spirits—or demons—in the heat waves and dust storms.”
Eesha nodded. “I understand that. My father came from one of the nomadic tribes and I spent some time with my grandparents during school breaks. I’ve seen ghosts dancing out on the dunes under the starlight. When I was young, I made offerings to the gods and goddesses because I never had any doubt they were real.”
Jamil tapped her arm. “You still feel that way.”
“Yes. I do, and every time we uncover something else from ancient times, I feel like they’re trying to talk to us.” She shrugged. “I make offerings to them at sunrise and sunset.”
“I’m sure they appreciate you remembering them,” Ahmed said as he approached them. “No matter where I am in the world, I make offers as well. My grandfather always said our tribe was descended from Anubis. Of course, I’m pretty sure he was lying, but on the off chance that he wasn’t, I don’t want my ancestor angry with me for forgetting him.”
They all laughed, though Jamil caught Ahmed giving Hutchinson a look that seemed to be warning him about something. He shook his head. Whatever was going on between them was none of his business.
“All right, everyone. We need to get started.” He pointed at Hutchinson. “Are you staying?”
Hutchinson gave an exaggerated shudder. “And get messy grubbing in the dirt? I don’t think so. That isn’t one of my many varied talents.”
“Being an ass is really all you’re good for,” Ahmed muttered. “Go back to the city. You’re staying with me then we’ll go to the museum in the morning, so you can look at the jars in person.”
Taking the key card Ahmed held out to him, Hutchinson grinned. “Yes, sir. I’m going to have some rooms service and charge it to your account.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything else.” Ahmed rolled his eyes.
Jamil watched them interact and he could see the friendship shining between them, even with all the sarcasm and picking. He sighed, wishing he’d have siblings to treat him like that. Yet he was sure that it would probably be annoying at times if he’d grown up with one.
“Get out of here. I’ll call you when we leave here and you can meet us for dinner.” Ahmed motioned toward the front of the Treasury.
“What makes you think I’m sticking around to have dinner with you? I’m going out and seeing what kind of nightlife I can find in the big city.” Hutchinson gave them all a jaunty wave before he left.
“Nice friend you have there,” Jamil said to Ahmed as he walked past him. “Do you want to work with me or one of the girls?”
Ahmed eyed him then turned to smile at Eesha. “I would like to start with Eesha. I thought maybe I’d work with the three of you—one at a time. I want to see how your techniques differ.”
He wasn’t going to think about how disappointed he was. It wasn’t like Ahmed wasn’t going to be working with him at some point during the day. Jamil nodded. “As long as Eesha is fine with it.”
“You are certainly welcome to work with me, Mr. Al Hazzan. We can exchange stories of growing up while wandering the desert.” Eesha grabbed Ahmed’s wrist then started tugging him along with her. “I’ll make sure he returns to you in one piece, Jamil.”
Jamil and Sandy shared a brief smile. Eesha had always come across as reserved around most people. She was a very private person, yet she seemed to have a connection with Ahmed that Jamil hadn’t seen her have with another person.
“Maybe it’s simply because they have lived in the desert,” he muttered. “They grew up on the same stories and legends. She must get lonely, hanging with people like us who don’t really know what it’s like to wander this place and be here at night.”
Sandy just grunted then headed out to her spot in a different area of the Treasury. Jamil dug out his gloves before checking to make sure he had all of his tools. It was going to be another long day, but he had a feeling that Ahmed’s presence would bring them good luck and they’d discover something new.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
It was almost as though Ahmed spoke from experience. Jamil gave himself a mental shake. A lot of the scholars of ancient history spoke of the gods like they were real, but if they ever existed, they lost their power when people stopped believing in them.
“You sound as though you believe in them,” he commented, having an urge to know how Ahmed thought about everything and anything.
Ahmed chuckled. “Late at night, when I can see the stars in the dark sky, I do believe they are looking down on us. They might not have a hand in our day-to-day lives, but they are watching. I guess you can take the boy out of the desert, but you can’t take the desert out of the boy.”
Jamil tilted his head. “I can see that. We’re all shaped by what we experienced during our formative years. You were raised as a nomad and your life was controlled by the whims of nature. There are spirits in the sand and wind. Then we learn new things when we move away, but it doesn’t change our inner beliefs.”
They fell silent as they wandered along the trail through the canyons leading to the city. Jamil let his mind go blank, absorbing the heat and the stillness of the area. Oh there were people all around him, tour groups heading to Petra, but their conversations were hushed as though they felt the weight of time pushing down on them.
As they approached the steps of the Treasury, Ahmed stiffened beside him and Jamil shot him a quick look. He noticed that Ahmed was staring straight ahead, so he turned and spotted a tall slender man standing at the entrance arches. Sandy and Eesha were talking with him.
“I wonder who that is,” Jamil murmured as they continued on.
“It’s Thomas Hutchinson,” Ahmed told him.
“Really? He told me he wouldn’t be here until tomorrow. Guess he got a earlier flight.” Jamil jogged up the steps. “Dr. Hutchinson, I’m Jamil Ahlid. I’m glad you could come.”
Hutchinson shook his hand then gave Ahmed a quick man-hug, thumping his shoulder with a heavy hand. “Ahmed, I appreciate you telling Ahlid here about me. Glad you’re willing to share the fame from finding this stuff.”
Ahmed grimaced, but simply replied, “I didn’t find this stuff, Thomas. Jamil did, so you should be thanking him for pulling you in. You’ll have to share whatever fame there is to come with him.”
“Of course.” Hutchinson flashed him a bright grin. “When do I get to look at the jars?”
“They’re already at the museum, but you can meet us there in the morning if you want.” Jamil set his pack down then pulled out his laptop. “I have pictures of the writing on here. Maybe you can do a quick translation then do a deeper one later.”
After straightening, he turned his computer on and adjusted the screen so that Hutchinson could see it. Ahmed had wandered over to talk with Sandy and Eesha. Jamil saw how the women seemed charmed by the man. A hint of jealousy swelled in him and he tried to tamp it down. After all, he was the one Ahmed had kissed.
I need to get over myself. It’s not like we’re a couple or anything. Jamil gave himself a mental slap upside the head.
“You don’t have to worry,” Hutchinson muttered, nudging him with his knee. “He’s not interested in those women. Hell…he hasn’t been interested in women since he was born, I bet.”
His cheeks heated and he ducked his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Of course you don’t.”
He heard the amusement in Hutchinson’s voice, but he wasn’t going to acknowledge what the man had said. “Here are the up close pictures. You can look at them out here. I’m heading to my unit.”
Hutchinson took the laptop and grinned, but didn’t stop him as he moved into the darkened interior. Ahmed returned to Hutchinson’s side and pointed something out on the screen to him. Eesha and Sandy joined Jamil, escorting him through the outer chambers while chattering on and on about Hutchinson.
“It was like he appeared out of nowhere. I was outside on the steps right before he showed up and I swear to God, he didn’t walk in. Not from where the main groups do.” Sandy shook her head.
Eesha laughed. “Maybe he repelled in from the top of the canyon like Spiderman or something.”
Jamil chuckled. “He does have the look of a superhero, doesn’t he?”
“They both do.”
At Sandy’s statement, they all turned around to look at the two men standing in the arched entryway of the Treasury. Hutchinson and Ahmed were the same height and had the same dark coloring. Jamil wouldn’t doubt that Hutchinson had Arab blood in his genes. Ahmed was slightly more muscular, which made him more attractive to Jamil.
They held themselves like warriors. They were talking about the jars, but Jamil could tell they were keeping an eye on everyone around them. When they finished talking, Hutchinson closed the computer then they strolled in Jamil’s direction.
The loud inhalation from both women shocked him out of staring at the men. He nudged his friends with his elbows before turning around to continue on to his unit. By the time he got there, Ahmed and Hutchinson had joined their group.
“From my brief perusal of the writing, I think Ahmed is right about it being the Princess and the young prince’s canopic jars. I definitely will take a closer look when I can see the real things, but you’ve made an amazing discovery, Dr. Ahlid.” Hutchinson handed Jamil his computer back.
“Thank you. We do think there might be more things to be dug up in that chamber and a few other rooms that we’ve been given access to.” Jamil rubbed his chin. “The government also gave us permission to go into some of the caves in the area. We think there might be some burials there.”
Ahmed hissed, startling Jamil.
Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a few days. I plan on doing three installments for you next week. Got busy with other deadlines.
Have a great weekend.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
“They wanted to adopt more children, but then my mother got sick and my father decided she wasn’t strong enough to deal with more than one.”
Ahmed studied him. “I’m sorry to hear about her illness and that you had no siblings to play with. I also had no siblings, but I do have six other men that I consider my brothers. No matter how much we irritate—or anger—each other, we still care and will defend them against any danger.”
Jamil shot him a quick glance, not wanting to take his eyes off the road for too long. “Do you guys face a lot of danger? I wouldn’t think being a consultant for UNESCO would put your life on the line.” He saw Ahmed screw up his face as though he’d said the wrong thing.
“Some of the World Heritage Sites are in pretty dangerous areas. I’ve had to protect myself against natives and soldiers. I do leave the cities and wander into the wilds of the world. My brothers travel extensively, as do I, to some very troubled areas for humanitarian reasons.” Ahmed rubbed his hands over his jeans. “There have been times when we’ve had to launch rescue missions.”
“You have six brothers and you launched rescue missions? Don’t you mean the government? How well trained are you?” Jamil turned on the signal as he pulled off the highway to the exit ramp for Petra.
Ahmed cleared his throat. “We’re very well trained and we don’t like to involve the governments if at all possible. Most of the time, we don’t need them.”
That gives me an entirely different image of Ahmed than I had before. An image of Ahmed dressed in black holding a rifle popped into his head and his cock stiffened. Settle down, boy. No need to get excited there. I shouldn’t think about getting involved with him anyway. He’s outta of my league.
He chuckled. “At least I’ll know who to come to if I need protection.”
“I’m more than willing to help you out with that as well,” Ahmed said with a slight smile on his face.
“Good.” Jamil navigated along the road to the parking area where all the other vehicles were left. They’d be hiking in from there. If they found anything while digging, they would bring it out on the back of camels or horses. Unless the artifact was really fragile, then he’d cart it out by hand.
Once he parked and they got out, he walked around to the front of the truck where Ahmed waited. When he stopped, he noticed Ahmed was staring at him intently. He started to say something, but froze as Ahmed reached out to cradle his cheek in his hand. He hadn’t been expecting Ahmed to touch him, but his first instinct was to nuzzle into it.
Ahmed stepped closer then bent down while lifting Jamil’s chin enough for their lips to brush. Jamil gasped at the shot of electricity shooting through him.
Lifting the corners of his mouth in a small smile, Ahmed let his hand drop. “Are you going to be upset with me for that?”
Jamil grabbed Ahmed’s hand, trying to tug the bigger man close again. “Umm…hell no. I was surprised is all. Wasn’t really expecting you to kiss me. Why did you?”
Ahmed shrugged. “I’m not sure. Something in the way the sunshine lit up your eyes called to me and I had to find out how you tasted.”
“You certainly know how to talk to a guy,” Jamil whispered before pressing his mouth to Ahmed’s, not letting him reply.
He swept his tongue in and tasted the coffee Ahmed must have had before he showed up at Jamil’s. There was also a hint of some exotic spice mingled in that Jamil had never tasted before. He slid his hands up over Ahmed’s shoulders then threaded his fingers through the curls at the nape of Ahmed’s neck.
Time and the world around him disappeared as Ahmed folded him into his embrace, crushing him against his hard body while taking control of their kiss. Jamil whimpered, grinding his groin against Ahmed’s then pressing back into the tight grip of Ahmed’s hands on his ass.
The loud screech of a bird startled them and Ahmed eased away to glance up at the sky. Jamil followed his gaze, shocked to see a hawk almost hovering over them. It screeched at them again before flying off. Jamil wasn’t sure why but it felt like the mood had been ruined.
Ahmed released him then moved further away. “We should probably get going. You don’t want to be late and I’m eager to do work with you.”
“What about this?” He motioned between them. “Is that going to happen again or was it just sun madness?”
Ahmed shoved his hand through his dark hair and sighed. “I should say it was the sun on your golden skin and how luscious your lips looked, but I’m not going to lie. I’ve wanted to do that from the moment I met you. I do think we need to consider what it would mean if we took it beyond a kiss.”
Jamil pursed his lips. “I guess I can think about it, though I do want you to know that I wouldn’t be upset if we did more than kiss. You’re fucking gorgeous, man. A guy would have to be crazy to turn you down.”
An eerie sound drifted from the canyons leading to Petra and Ahmed grimaced again. “We need to go.”
Picking up his bag where he’d dropped it, Jamil slung it over his shoulder. “Was that a hawk? I haven’t seen one of those around here in a long time.”
Ahmed shrugged. “It seems like a lot of creatures are appearing that haven’t been seen by humans close to the city.”
“Maybe it’s a sign like the jackal,” Jamil murmured as they walked. “Maybe the gods are blessing us and they approve of what we’re doing here.”
“The blessings of the gods aren’t always wonderful things,” Ahmed stated.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
Jamil finished getting ready the next morning, excitement running through him at the thought of seeing Ahmed later that day. Silly boy! He’s not going to be interested in a guy who spends most of his time in the dirt.
Not that Jamil was ashamed of what he did for a living, but from what he’d seen of Ahmed, he doubted the man did anything that got his hands messy. The way Ahmed looked in his suit yesterday popped into Jamil’s head.
Broad shouldered and narrow hipped, Ahmed’s slick body seemed to speak of a man who wasn’t afraid of hard work. Maybe at one point, Ahmed had done some heavy lifting. Hell, if he came from one of the nomadic tribes, he’d done a lot of walking and herding of camels.
I’m letting my own bias cloud my judgment about what kind of man Ahmed is. He might not care if he gets his clothes and hands muddy. I only have experience with men who were totally into the academic research sitting in a lab world. Those would never dream of coming out to a dig site with me.
Shaking his head, Jamil grabbed his keys and wallet before heading out to his truck. He had just settled behind the steering wheel when his phone rang. Yanking it out of his pocket, he checked the screen, but he didn’t recognize the number.
“Hello,” he answered.
“Mr. Ahlid, this is Ahmed Al Hazzan.”
Jamil’s heart skipped a beat, but he managed to keep his voice calm. “Hello, Mr. Al Hazzan. What can I do for you?”
“I was wondering if I could catch a ride out to the site with you? I thought it might be educational for me to watch and help you…and your assistants.” Ahmed cleared his throat. “I also might have an idea of where else we might look for artifacts…if you have permission to be there.”
“Sure. You can ride with me. What hotel are you staying at? I can pick you up.” The thought of riding all the way to Petra with Ahmed in close proximity with him caused his cock to get hard.
Ahmed chuckled. “Actually I’m standing on the sidewalk across from your place.”
Jamil looked up then glanced around. He spotted Ahmed standing right where he said he was. The man waved and Jamil laughed. “Come on over.”
Ahmed jogged across the street before opening the passenger door. He tossed his duffle bag into the backseat and climbed in. “Thank you.”
After setting his phone in the center console, Jamil shrugged. “You’re welcome. It doesn’t make sense for both of us to drive out there.”
“True.” Ahmed grimaced. “Though the truth is I don’t like driving. Never really got the hang of it.”
Eyeing him, Jamil wasn’t sure he was joking or telling the truth. He guessed it sounded plausible, considering where Ahmed grew up. There wasn’t a lot of use for vehicles in the desert. Certainly not in the areas where the nomads roamed.
“I don’t mind playing chauffeur, Mr. Al Hazzan.” He turned the engine over and put the truck in gear.
“Please, call me Ahmed. I have a feeling we’ll be working closely together for the foreseeable future.” Ahmed rubbed his hands on his jeans. “It’s been years since I worked a site, so I hope you won’t mind me asking stupid questions.”
Jamil pursed his lips then nodded. “As long as you call me Jamil, and I don’t have a problem with stupid questions as long as you’re truly interested.”
Ahmed touched Jamil’s arm then retreated quickly. “I’m very interested in what you do, Jamil. It’s not just this site, though Petra has always fascinated me. It might be because I’ve lived close to it for half my life and heard so many legends that I feel like I’ve spent time there when it was inhabited.”
“I’ve had digs where I’ve felt like that. Almost like you’re coming home and you didn’t even know you’d left.” He pulled out of his driveway then headed out.
“Our ancestors come from around the world. Genes mingling until there are distant memories stored in our primitive brain. Then we arrive somewhere and a memory is triggered.” Ahmed stared out the windshield, his gaze distant as though he were thinking about such a place.
Jamil agreed. “That actually makes sense. For you especially because you’re from around here.”
Grunting softly, Ahmed acknowledged Jamil, but didn’t say anything for a while. It was as though he was caught up in memories of his own. Finally when they were closer to Petra, Ahmed twisted in his seat to look at Jamil.
“Were you able to get a hold of the gentleman I suggested you talk to?”
There was a tone in Ahmed’s voice that made Jamil think he didn’t really want Jamil to get a hold of the guy.
“I sent him an email last night and he responded this morning. He said he could be here by tomorrow. He was already traveling to Israel for another job, so he could take a few days to help us.” Jamil almost bounced in his seat. It was important to get a second translation on the canopic jars. Not that he didn’t believe Ahmed’s, but other museums and authorities would want reassurance that those names were what were on the jars.
“Wonderful. I haven’t talked to Thomas in a few months. It’ll be great to catch up.”
Jamil snorted. “Something’s telling me you and Thomas aren’t close friends.”
Ahmed rolled his eyes. “We’ve had our differences over the years, but in the end, if he needed me, I’d be there for him.”
“It’s nice to have friends you can count on like that.” Jamil sighed. “My parents are gone now, and I was an only child. They adopted me when I was five.”
“Which explains the dichotomy of the name and your looks,” Ahmed commented.
“Right.” He’d learned to deal with the strange looks he’d get from people.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
::Sekhmet is the only one who ignores my attempts at manipulation.::
Anubis couldn’t help but smile at the annoyance evident in Isis’s words.
Jamil shifted in his chair and Anubis brought his attention back to him. “I might know someone you can ask. He’s merely an acquaintance of mine and we’ve never talked about the ancient languages he can speak or read, but he is quite knowledgeable.”
He tried not to think how gorgeous Jamil looked when his eyes lit up with happiness. The strangest urge to try and keep that expression on the man’s face hit Anubis. He hadn’t felt that emotion in centuries. Well…at least not since the day his lover turned him over to their enemies. He’d never let anyone get close enough to hurt him like that again.
Anubis wasn’t happy about feeling like that again. H shook his head to dispel the thoughts as he stared at the jars. “I wonder what happened to the prince,” he muttered.
“What do you mean? More than likely his jar is somewhere in the room. We’ll just have to do a more thorough search.” Jamil paused for a second then continued, “Unless they buried him in the caves like usual.”
Inhaling slowly, Anubis pursed his lips. “I’m not sure they’d separate them like that. I guess it would depend on who buried them.”
Jamil frowned. “Who buried them? Wouldn’t his own people do that?”
Anubis shrugged. “We’d have to figure out when they died. From the legends I’ve been told, an invading army defeated Prince Okilma around the tenth year of his reign. After that, the information on him gets sketchy. There never was mention of his death or that of his family.”
He was fudging the truth a little on that. Anubis had searched for Okilma and his family once he’d been changed by Anubis, yet he hadn’t been able to find them or any record either. It was as though they’d been wiped from the histories. He’d hoped that the gods had smiled on them and allowed them to live. He should’ve known his wishes wouldn’t have been answered.
“I’ll have some of my students start digging through the ancient histories. Maybe there’ll be some kind of mention of him.” Jamil grabbed the pencil from Anubis then jerked the paper over so he could make some notes for himself. “Can you tell me the names of the Princess and the son?”
Anubis recited them for Jamil to jot down. He couldn’t resist reaching out and tracing the writing on the jars. He remembered the young prince’s bright hazel eyes and shy smile. Okilma had never hidden their relationship from his wife, and she had been fine with him spending time with the family. So he’d come to be a favorite of the young boy. Maybe it was simply because he’d been the only one to really pay the child any attention.
“Hakim,” he whispered.
“What?” Jamil glanced up at him. “Did you say Hakim?”
“Yes. That was the son’s name,” he told Jamil. “The princess’s name was Eesha.” He blinked at the weird coincidence of the young woman working on the site having the same name as Okilma’s wife.
Jamil chuckled. “I’ll have to tell Eesha she shares her name with a princess. She’ll love that.”
Anubis hummed in agreement. An image of the young princess flashed through his head and he realized both women looked remarkable alike, but he couldn’t say that because there would’ve been no pictures or carvings of her. Unless he said he once saw something that had been lost to the desert when he was young. It wasn’t worth the effort of lying. He would just keep it simple and try not to trip himself up over things.
“I’m sure she’ll be happy to know that.” After standing, he took off his gloves then set them on the table. “I’m afraid I have a meeting to get to. Would it be all right if I join you at the site tomorrow?”
Jamil looked a little surprised at his sudden wish to leave, but he nodded. “Sure. Can you give me the contact information for that guy you mentioned? I’ll send him an email while I’m here at the museum.”
Anubis gave him Thoth’s information, not happy about having his brother join him, but knowing Isis was probably right about having someone else there to watch his back.
“Great. Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Jamil shook his hand. “Do you need me to escort you out of the basement?”
He laughed and shook his head. “No. I’ve been here before and know the way. I hope you’re able to discover more about Princess Eesha and the young prince.”
Anubis could say that because while he did wish Jamil success, he knew there wouldn’t be anything else for him to find. Before he could leave the room, Jamil spoke up.
“Oh wait. I wanted to show you a video one of my assistants shot yesterday after you left.” Jamil dug out his phone and fiddled with it.
Returning to his side, Anubis couldn’t think of anything that would interest him, but he wanted to be polite. His heart skipped a beat when he saw a jackal chasing a rabbit on the screen. Holy fuck!
“He saw this jackal and rabbit racing around and had to get a video of it. We’ve never seen a jackal out like that. It’s so cool.” Jamil seemed fascinated by the animals.
“It is rare to see one so close to any kind of civilization,” Anubis admitted. Shit! I thought I was far enough away that no one would see me.
::You need to be more careful.:: Isis admonished him.
::I know that now. I’m not an idiot.::
“Sandy seems to think it’s a good sign. That maybe the god Anubis has blessed our dig and will help us find more artifacts.” Jamil grinned.
“Anubis is the god of the underworld. I’m not sure he’s willing to give up his secrets to mere mortals like you and I.” Anubis patted Jamil’s shoulder. “Time will tell if she’s right or not.”