Archive for Eye Candy
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
Jamil accepted Anubis’ embrace for a few seconds before leaning back to meet Anubis’ gaze. “I can take care of myself,” he pointed out. “I’m not a child.”
“I know.” Anubis leaned down to brush a kiss over his lips. “But you’ve never dealt with men like these. It’s obvious they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want.”
“There have been a lot of robbers at the different sites I’ve worked,” Jamil reminded his lover. “I survived them.”
“You did, but like Anubis said, you’ve never encountered men like these. They aren’t just interested in trinkets they can sell on the black market. They want the artifacts that can give them true power to rule the world.” Thoth held up his hand to stop Jamil from scoffing. “Don’t laugh. You’ve been told items like that are mere legends. That the Holy Grail is just a myth created by poets and authors to get people to read their writing.”
Jamil eyed both men. “Are you saying the Grail is real?”
Anubis nodded. “Of course it is, along with the spear that pierced Christ’s side while he was on the cross. They are real and have powers beyond what any human can imagine. We’ve seen them in use and they’re scary.”
“Where are they?”
Thoth grinned. “If you come visit Anubis in Scotland, you can see them.”
He huffed. “Why do I think you stole them from somewhere?”
“We acquired them so no one would get hurt.” Butter wouldn’t have melted in Anubis’ mouth.
“Where the hell did you steal them from? What organization would be powerful enough to have those objects?” He shook his head. “You know what? I don’t really want to know. I’m sure you probably took them from the Vatican or someplace like that. Since you don’t seem to have any problem sneaking into that sacred place.”
Thoth shrugged. “Sacred is a relative term. What’s sacred to me isn’t nearly as important to someone else. It’s all in what you believe in. So is there anything you want me to get from your place?”
Jamil found a piece of paper and a pen to make a list. When he was done, Thoth disappeared and Jamil managed not to jump. It was going to take some time to get used to the people around him popping in and out of the room.
He dropped to the couch then rested his head back on the cushion, staring up at the ceiling. Anubis sat next to him, but he didn’t move.
“Is it always dangerous like this when you go on your missions?”
Anubis hummed low for a second then said, “Yes, I guess they can be dangerous, but to be honest, when you’re immortal and can shift into another shape, what’s there to worry about?”
“Wait a minute. You can shift shapes?” He tensed and straightened.
“Umm…yes. Did I not mention that earlier?” Anubis looked uncomfortable.
“No, you didn’t. Why would you not mention that?”
“Because you have enough to process after all the other information I gave you. Are you sure you want to absorb the fact I can change into a jackal?” Anubis grimaced.
Jamil jerked. “A jackal? And Thoth is a hawk, right? Was that video of the two of you?”
He started searching for his phone. He wanted to see it again, to see if there was any clue that the animals in it weren’t your typical jackal and hawk. Anubis rested his hand on Jamil’s arm.
“Yes, that was us. We didn’t realize there was anyone near by or we would’ve never done it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been back to this area and my jackal wanted to run over familiar sand.” Anubis sighed.
“Can I see you?” He wasn’t sure how he was going to react, but he did know he wanted to see Anubis’ jackal. “Please.”
Anubis didn’t look happy, but he stood and stripped. Jamil’s cock hardened at the sight of Anubis’ muscular body. He clenched his hands to keep from reaching out to trail his fingers over the ridges and valleys making up Anubis’ abs.
At first, there didn’t seem to be any kind of change, but slowly a bright light began to shine until he couldn’t look at Anubis anymore. He closed his eyes, not sure how long it took before he heard a soft woof. Slowly opening his eyes, he gasped when he saw the large canine standing in front of him.
“Wow. You’re beautiful,” he muttered, reaching out to run his hands over Anubis’ short fur.
The jackal licked his hand.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
As soon as Ahmed rounded the edge of the canyon, he took a deep breath then shifted. His jackal took over, some long remembered memories surfacing to take him across the desert. He didn’t fight the animal part of his soul.
It had hurt so much and been so very hard to walk up those steps, through the entrance. He’d been swamped with memories and emotions that he’d thought he’d gotten rid of.
Then Jamil had taken him back into the anteroom behind the main meeting room. When he saw the writing on the wall, it was like he’d been punched in the gut, though it shouldn’t have shocked him. Ahmed had known their enemies weren’t to be trusted.
Why did you do it, my prince? Why did you trust them to keep their word after they killed me? They killed you, your sister and your son. Is it your organs in that canopic jar? If I were to touch it, would I hear the last screams you made as they killed you?
The jackal shook its head, not liking the foreign thoughts dancing around his head. He only wanted to run and hunt, then sleep under some brush during the hottest part of the day. He inhaled deeply of the arid breeze with sand particles floating in it.
::It is nice to go home once in a while.:: Isis’s voice eased into his head.
::My jackal is happy only because he knows this is where he was born. He doesn’t remember anything that happened to me before our souls merged.::
::Maybe our lives would’ve been easier if the gods had erased our memories when they changed us. That way we wouldn’t judge our new world on what happened to us in the past.::
Anubis gave a mental sigh. ::Yet we probably wouldn’t be as determined to keep the world safe if we didn’t remember the evil done to us. It’s hard to care.::
::That’s true. I’ll talk to you tomorrow about the canopic jars and whatever else this archaeologist has discovered.::
::His name is Jamil Ahlid.::
There was a ripple of surprise through his brain as Isis tried to put the name to the image of the archaeologist he’d seen.
::I know. It’s a little odd, but I’m sure there’s a good story to go along with that name.::
::Maybe you should spend some time learning Jamil’s story.::
::Are you trying to set me up?:: He snorted, then promptly sneezed when dust flew up his nose.
Isis disappeared from his mind and Anubis curled his lip in a jackal grin. The scent of a desert hare filled his nose, signaling that such a creature hid near by. His animal wanted to go for a chase, though he wasn’t hungry. It was just the thrill of the hunt and being able to straight his legs.
Anubis took off, leaping over rocks and dodging around shorts shrubs. He surprised the hare that took off further into the desert. His jackal yipped then dashed off after it.
* * * * *
“Hey Jamil, come here,” Sandy called, excitement tingng her voice.
He shot to his feet, thinking she’d found some new artifact, but when he went to find her, he saw her standing outside. “What are you doing out here? I thought you were digging near the amphitheater.”
“I was, but someone saw something while they were coming in. They videoed it.” She tapped some buttons on a phone then handed it to him. “I think you’ll like this one.”
“I don’t have time to watch a video, Sandy. I have to go into the city to meet Mr. Al Hazzan tomorrow, so I won’t be here to help with the units,” he told her, taking the phone from her anyway.
His eyes were immediately drawn to the life-and-death chase going on in the video. A large jackal hunted a small desert hare. There were spectacular leaps and lunges. The agile hare dodged a last minute attack from the jackal then kicked the animal square in the face before scurrying off.
“Holy shit!” He met Sandy’s gaze with his own awed smile. “I’ve never seen something like before. Hell, I didn’t even know there were jackals in the area.”
“No one else did either.” Sandy took the phone, turning to hand it to some guy standing near her. “Can you send that to me?”
“Sure.” The guy nodded as he took it from her. “I spotted the jackal first and that’s why I stopped. It’s so odd to see them hunting during the day like this, though I got the feeling he wasn’t trying very hard to catch the rabbit. There were plenty of times he could’ve nabbed it.”
Jamil smiled. “Yeah. I got that feeling too. Maybe he just wanted to play with it.”
He encircled Sandy’s shoulders and gave her a quick hug. “Thanks for sharing that with me. Now I’m going to be looking for the jackal every time I’m coming or going from the site.”
“Wasn’t Anubis, one of the Egyptian gods, often portrayed as a jackal-headed human? He was the god of the Underworld or death, right?” Sandy hugged him back.
“Yes.” They wandered back toward the treasury. “Why?”
“Maybe we should take seeing one as a sign,” she said.
“Seeing a jackal as a harbinger of death is a good sign or a bad one?” He asked as they joined the rest of the group gathering around for a lunch break.
She shrugged. “Sure, though maybe he’s a good sign of more discoveries. More canopic jars or maybe even a burial site.”
He motioned toward the back areas of the treasury. “We won’t find them here. We’d need to search the caves for those and I’m pretty sure most of them have been found, or they won’t let us excavate them.”
Sandy shot him a glance and there was something in her eyes he’d never seen before. “You never know what we’ll find the more time we spend here.”
A shiver ran down his spine as though someone had just walked over his grave.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
“We documented every inch of the wall,” Eesha reassured Ahmed. “Believe me, Mr. Al Hazzan, Mr. Ahlid isn’t interested in fortune or fame. He wants to preserve the past so our children can be told about it and maybe their future will be different.”
“Hmm…” Ahmed was obviously no longer paying attention to them. He’d walked on through the opening in the wall and stood in the middle of the room they’d discovered.
Jamil gestured for Eesha to return to her own unit. She nodded then left while Ahmed turned slowly in a circle. Jamil waited, wanting to see if Ahmed spotted the most important thing in the room.
The man froze when he faced the far corner then slowly edged closer to it. He crouched down in the dirt to study the marks carved into the wall. Ahmed reached out and Jamil was about to say something, but Ahmed stopped a few inches away from the wall.
“Do you know what that says?” Ahmed glanced back over his shoulder at Jamil.
“No. Same language as the jars,” he pointed out.
“A prince was held here,” Ahmed murmured as he studied the lines of writing.
“You can really read it.” Jamil was overjoyed. Now they’d be able to find out who—or what—was in those canopic jars.
Ahmed inclined his head slightly but kept his attention on the writing. “There were three people kept in this room by a great enemy. A prince, his wife and a son. They were here for four days then on the fifth day, they took the son.”
He frowned. “That doesn’t make sense. From what we know about the Nabataeans, they didn’t have that kind of trouble with the other nations around them.”
“They weren’t Nabataean,” Ahmed told him, suddenly standing then moving fast from the room as though he couldn’t take being closed in like that any more.
Jamil had to almost run to keep up with the long legged man. “Wait. What do you mean they weren’t Nabataeans? Who the hell were they then?”
Ahmed skidded to a stop at the top of the stairs leading down to the entrance yard. He inhaled deeply then exhaled as though he was cleansing his lungs. Jamil came up next to him and rested his hand on Ahmed’s arm.
“Are you all right? If you have claustrophobia, why did you go in there?”
Shaking his touch away, Ahmed cleared his throat. “I’m not claustrophobic. Hell, if I was, I wouldn’t have even gotten an inch inside that place.”
“Then what’s wrong?” Jamil shook his head. “Was there something else you aren’t telling me about that writing?”
“There’s nothing wrong.” Ahmed rubbed his chin then checked his watch. “I need to go. May I meet you tomorrow at the museum to look at the canopic jars?”
Jamil hadn’t planned on going into the city for the next couple of days, but since Ahmed asked and it seemed like he needed to see those jars right away, he said, “Yes. I’ll meet you there around ten?”
Ahmed nodded. “That will be fine. I’m sorry to be leaving so quickly, but I forgot about an important meeting I needed to attend.”
“No problem. It was good meeting you and I’ll see you in the morning.” He held out his hand to shake Ahmed’s.
“Certainly.” Ahmed bowed slightly before leaving.
Jamil stood in the entrance of the treasury, watching Ahmed stroll away. He wasn’t sure what had happened in the antechamber, but whatever Ahmed read on the wall had upset him, no matter what he actually said. He was going to have to see if he could the truth out of the man, though he wasn’t exactly sure how to go about that.
“He’s a bit intimidating, isn’t he?” Eesha joined him.
“Definitely, but he knows what he’s talking about. He could read the writing, Eesha. We could have a breakthrough on this dig. He said they weren’t Nabataeans though.” Jamil shot her a confused glance. “I didn’t think any other people lived in this place.”
Eesha shrugged. “There are many things I don’t know about Mr. Al Hazzan, but I do know he’s the best expert on ancient Middle Eastern societies and peoples. I’m not sure how he’s come to have the knowledge he does. Maybe some of it comes from his own people. There are few of his tribe left wandering the desert. Most have moved into the cities and settled down. Yet they have histories we’ve never heard and their ancestors were in contact with people we’ve never encountered before.”
“And ones that we’ll never learn anything about because we can’t read what they wrote, or they didn’t have a written language,” Jamil muttered.
“Right. I’ve told my professors over and over that we need to go and talk to the nomadic tribes. We need to learn their stories and legends before they disappear as their elders die.” Eesha gestured to the canyon around them.
“They won’t listen to you because none of them care about the nomadic tribes. They want the big name discoveries and finds, just like they get in Egypt.” Jamil rubbed his hands over his jeans. “It gets them the money.”
“True. That’s why I go out on my own during the weekends and talk to the elders. I ask them about their legends.” She pointed in the direction Ahmed had taken. “They speak of a group of men who live forever. They are brothers fighting to save the world from the greedy and evil.”
Jamil lifted his eyebrows at her. “And you think Ahmed is one of those men?”
She chuckled. “No, but he is such a man who will do what he must to protect the land he comes from and the people who gave birth to him. Al Hazzan is a vocal opponent of allowing national treasures to leave the countries they are from. He fights to make places historical sites to keep companies from destroying them for monetary reasons instead of cultural.”
“You make him sound like he’s a Robin Hood, only he’s keeping the artifacts for the national identity and people of his country. Yet he strikes me as a rich man.”
“Being rich doesn’t mean he’d steal from national sites. I know he has purchased some artifacts that have come onto the black market. Once he receives the object, he returns it to whichever country it came from.” Eesha wrapped her arms around her waist as they turned to go back inside. “Don’t discount Ahmed Al Hazzan as a rich man who dabbles in ancient societies. He knows far more than many others do. It would do you well to cultivate his interest in the site.”
Jamil wanted to cultivate more than Ahmed’s interest in the site. He wanted the man interested in him as well. That’s not appropriate at all.
Anubis copyright c. 2015 T.A. Chase
Jamil frowned, but didn’t say anything else. “We’ve just started excavating these two rooms.”
“Do you have any idea what they were used for?”
Ahmed sounded interested, which was more then Jamil could say for most of the people who came to visit the site. They tended to be interested only in what Jamil had found. The concrete artifacts instead of the suppositions of what the people used them for. Some people weren’t interested in the past. Jamil had never been one of those.
He’d always found history fascinating, and learning how ordinary people went about their lives in ancient times. It intrigued him to see the similarities and the differences between them and modern people. In many ways, they had the same wants and needs.
While he explained that they thought the rulers of Petra used these rooms as informal meeting rooms, Jamil led Ahmed around the various pits where people were working.
“It looks like you have a rather large crew. Are all of these people from the university where you teach?” Ahmed motioned toward one of the units where two of Jamil’s graduate students were cleaning off a piece of ceramic.
“No. I have about ten grad students who came with me from Georgia. The rest are students from universities all around the world. When the news got out that Jordan was going to allow me to excavate some of the unexplored areas of Petra, there was a rush of people applying to help me.” He chuckled. “I’d never felt so popular in my life.”
Ahmed smiled like Jamil hoped he would. There was a seriousness to the man Jamil had never sensed in another person before. It was as though Ahmed had lost his ability to enjoy life. Jamil shook his head slightly. Foolish thinking. Not everyone in the world needs to find life enjoyable and happy. I need to keep that in mind.
They reached the unit Jamil had been working in. As they approached, Eesha glanced up from where she crouched, studying a feature they’d been trying to clean up a little better. Her eyes widened when she saw Ahmed. She climbed out of the hole then held out her hand.
“Mr. Al Hazzan, it’s good to see you again.”
“Ah, Eesha, I should’ve known you would be in the thick of things, especially when it comes to Petra.” Ahmed took her hand and bowed over it. His smile actually reached his eyes this time, causing Jamil to feel a hint of jealousy.
Back up there, boy. Why am I feeling jealous? It’s not like we’re dating or anything. I just met the man, plus he hasn’t shown any interest in me. His inner voice scolded him.
Eesha laughed. “What can I say? I’m connected to Petra. It feels as though I come home every time I step within its walls.”
Ahmed released her hand then turned his gaze to the wall behind them. “Sometimes coming home isn’t a good thing,” he muttered.
“Sounds like you know what you’re talking about,” Jamil couldn’t help but comment. “Where are you from?”
He wanted to take the question back as soon as it fell out of his mouth. It was none of his business where Ahmed had been born, plus why going home wasn’t a good thing for the man was definitely something he didn’t need to know.
“I’m from Jordan,” Ahmed informed him. “Born not too far from here actually.”
“Really? You’re from one of the nomadic tribes?”
Ahmed nodded, but didn’t give him any more details. “What makes you believe the Nabataeans used these rooms for meetings? Where did you find the canopic jars? They wouldn’t have been here.”
Jamil shook his head. “No. Those were a lucky find further back in the treasury. We haven’t quite decided why they’re here, considering the Nabataeans buried their dead in caves.”
“True. There must be something special about the people who belonged to those jars,” Ahmed murmured. “Something different about them.”
“That’s what we think,” Jamil agreed then shrugged. “But we have no way of knowing who they belonged to. Unfortunately, we can’t read the writing on them.”
Ahmed shot Eesha a shocked glance. “Even you couldn’t read them?”
Eesha wrinkled her nose in disappointment. “No. Even I couldn’t read them. It’s a language I haven’t seen before. Maybe you can decipher it when you examine them.”
“Do you know ancient languages, Mr. Al Hazzan?” A thrill rushed through Jamil at the thought that Ahmed might be able to translate what they’d found. “This hasn’t been announced to the public yet, but we found a few stone tablets with the same writing on them.”
“Did you find them with the jars?”
Jamil gestured for Ahmed to come with him. “No. We discovered another room behind where we found the jars. It was a smaller one with an altar. We had to break through a wall to get to them.”
Ahmed inhaled sharply. “You destroyed a part of this site?”
“No. Well yes, but we got permission from the government and UNESCO before we did it. A small chunk of rock had fallen out and we could see that there was space beyond it. The barricade was poorly constructed as though whoever built it was in a hurry to hide something.” Jamil continued beyond where the dig units were. “I would never destroy any part of this site. I made sure the proper authorities knew what was going on and I allowed them to make the decision. I would’ve abided by it, if they chose not to allow me to go in there.”
He could sense Ahmed wasn’t completely convinced about his sincerity, and Jamil understood why. There were many unscrupulous people who would’ve gotten overcome with the idea of the huge new discovery that they would’ve done everything in their power to get in the room.
Jamil wasn’t like that. Whether anyone knew his name when he died, didn’t matter to him. He wasn’t in this profession to become famous. He was in it to learn about the past, and maybe learn from it as well.
Anubis copyright c.2015 T.A. Chase
“Jamil,” Sandy yelled from the base of the stairs. “There’s some guy here to see you.”
Grimacing, Jamil bowed slightly to the young Jordanian woman who’d been helping him. “I’ll be back.”
She smiled. “Of course.”
He stood and took a few steps away before he brushed the dirt off his jeans as best he could. When she laughed at him, he shrugged. “I guess I should know better. Nothing is going to get these clean except for being washed a thousand times.”
“Then you’ll still find sand in them,” she pointed out.
“Jamil, did you hear me?” Sandy shouted again and he winced.
“Yes. I’ll be right there,” he called back.
He wound his way past the open pits where different members of his dig team were occupied, clearing away the dirt from different objects buried beneath a layer of sand.
Jamil had been shocked when they came across the first artifacts. When he’d been given permission to dig in a part of the main building that hadn’t been open to any one outside of Jordanian academia, he hadn’t really expected to find anything. He figured most of the important stuff had already been discovered.
Yet the first test shovel brought up some interesting particles that convinced him there might be more here than he thought. When they discovered the two intact canopic jars, he almost burst out in an undignified Cabbage Patch dance. The Jordanian government was very gracious about allowing Jamil access to them after he informed them about it.
“Who is it,” Jamil asked Sandy as he approached her.
She shrugged then pointed to where a tall man stood at the top of the front steps, staring out at the canyon carved out of the rock. There was something in the set of his shoulders that spoke of loss and a deep-seated pain. He shook his head. Now he was just being foolish. There was no way he could even guess what the stranger was feeling.
“Thanks, Sandy. You can get back to whatever you were doing,” he told his assistant.
He turned his attention back to the stranger who now faced him. Jamil inhaled sharply when his gaze met the man’s dark eyes. There was sadness in them, but as he watched, it disappeared behind a bland expression.
“You’re Jamil Ahlid?” The man’s eyebrows shot up when Jamil nodded.
“Not what you were expecting, huh?” He smiled as the guy shrugged and agreed.
“Not really.” The stranger stepped closer, holding out his hand. “I’m Ahmed Al Hazzan. I’m a consultant with UNESCO, dealing with their World Heritage sites.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Al Hazzan. No one informed me you were coming.” Jamil shook Ahmed’s hand, ignoring the jolt of electricity racing through his body.
“It was a spur of the moment kind of thing. I was traveling in Jordan, and when they heard about your discoveries, they asked if I’d come and look them over.”
Jamil wanted to protest, but he knew he couldn’t. The government had approved his papers and dig permit with the caveat that they could send whoever they wanted to inspect the site and anything he found while there. Also UNESCO had even more right to come in and go through anything and everything. He wasn’t about to say no and have his permit pulled.
“They aren’t here,” he informed Ahmed.
Ahmed sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. Jamil tried to ignore how gorgeous Ahmed was. Ahmed wore a pair of jeans and a long sleeved flannel shirt, both of which emphasized the breadth of his shoulders and the narrowness of his waist. At least he showed up dressed for the situation. There had been times at other digs where people had shown up in dress shoes and suits, obviously not thinking about all the dirt and grime that attached itself to clothes and skin.
“I know that, but I was curious about Petra. It’s been a very long time since I last visited. I guess I needed to see how it has changed.” Ahmed glanced around them.
Jamil chuckled. “Petra doesn’t change. It’s been here for centuries and will be for centuries after we’re gone. The only thing left of us in this place will be the memories of our heartache and our joys.”
“All there is in this place is heartache,” Ahmed muttered.
“There is an aura that hangs around here,” Jamil admitted. “Staying here late at night is unnerving to say the least.”
Ahmed nodded. “Yes, it is. It has always been that way.” He shot a look in the direction of the amphitheater. “Will you show me around your site? I don’t want to bother anything you have in progress.”
He gestured for Ahmed to follow him. “Since you’ve been here before, I won’t do the whole tour. We’re digging in an area toward the back of the temple. No one’s been allowed in there to do this extensive a dig. I’m not even sure anyone’s been in there since people left here.”
Silence greeted him and he took a quick look behind him to make sure Ahmed was still there. It was obvious the man wasn’t listening to Jamil, even though his gaze was focused on Jamil’s back as though he didn’t want to see ghosts in the shadows.
“The place isn’t really haunted. No matter what you’ve heard,” he reassured Ahmed.
Snorting, Ahmed gave him a disgusted look. “Of course, it’s haunted. People died in this complex. Hell, they lost their lives in the very room you’re digging in. There are spirits all over and they will make themselves known before you get too much further in your expedition.”
“You don’t strike me as a superstitious man.” Jamil shrugged. “If they’re here, then I welcome the chance to meet them. I’ve always wondered whether there was an afterlife.”
“In Ancient Egypt, they believed in the afterlife. Why do you think they went to the lengths they did when they buried their dead? I wouldn’t doubt there are sites across the Middle East where the dead haunt the living. Across the world in fact.” Ahmed clenched his hands then relaxed them.
Anubis copyright c.2015 T.A. Chase
A scent caught his nose and he sneezed as Sekhmet came closer. His jackal worried the lion would take it, but Anubis knew Sekhmet wasn’t interested in the rabbit, so he continued eating.
::We’ve all run away from the memories we don’t wish to relive. The Gods must have decided it’s time for you to face yours.::
He snorted again. ::As much as I would love to say I’m too busy to go and have you send someone else in my place, I know better. You and Isis would badger me until I gave in. I’d rather avoid all that hassle.::
Sekhmet chuffed softly from where he sat, just beyond the edge of the moonlight. ::We badger you because we care. The people who hurt you are gone from this world, Anubis, and you are not. You have to get beyond the betrayal.::
After licking his fur clean, he snarled as he stood. ::Get beyond it? The man I loved and the people I considered my family turned me over to our enemies. They allowed me to be killed because they thought it would keep them safe.::
He wanted to run away, but knew Sekhmet would follow him. For some reason, the oldest of the Earth Warriors had a point to make that night and he wouldn’t leave Anubis alone until he drove it home.
::Humans are fine tuned to survive and will do what they must to save the lives of the majority.::
Shifting to his human form, Anubis paced around the bushes he’d eaten by. While they’d seemed like trees to his jackal, he could see they weren’t that big. He was glad they didn’t have any neighbors for miles around since he was sure they’d have issue with a naked man wandering around at night. Then again, they might just brush it off. The Scots seemed like a rather blasé group of people for the most part. They’d probably assumed he’d had too much to drink.
::So it’s okay to kill one to save thousands?::
::It’s an explanation, Anubis. I didn’t say it was right—or wrong for that matter. It’s simply something that happens.::
He could hear the shrug in his friend’s words. Whirling around, he searched for Sekhmet in the shadows, but for being such a large animal, he blended into the darkness quite perfectly. ::Maybe I wouldn’t be so bitter, if they had asked me for my sacrifice—or if any of them had survived after I died. The others broke their oath and killed them anyway.::
And maybe that was the problem he had with the whole thing. If they had asked him to make the decision for himself, he would’ve been more than willing to give himself over to their enemies. But they hadn’t. His lover had gone behind his back and offered him as the scapegoat—or sacrificial lamb—whichever way he wanted to think of it.
He closed his eyes as he began to remember that night, then he jerked himself out of those memories. He refused to relive them while he was awake. Anubis had no control of returning there while asleep.
::Your bravery in the face of such betrayal by love and family is why Anubis chose you as his representative in our group. That and your ability to fight like a demon when you have to.::
::I’m good at ushering souls to the afterlife.:: He admitted, which had made him one of the prince’s best warriors and was why their enemies wanted him to die.
Sekhmet’s chuff was a laugh and Anubis was happy to know that he’d made the man laugh. He didn’t know the last time he’d heard that. He wished Sekhmet would come back to them, but he spent more time alone now then he did with the brothers.
::It’s not your place to worry about me. Now go run. You’ll be leaving for Jordan tomorrow. Try not to allow your unhappiness cloud your judgment when you get there. I have the feeling those artifacts and the archaeologist aren’t what we’re led to believe.::
::Do you think the archaeologist is someone I should be worried about?::
Again he could almost see Sekhmet shrug. ::I’m not sure. My instinct is telling me we must be careful with how we approach this. Danger hangs like a cloud over everything that has to do with this mission.::
Anubis and his brothers had learned not to discount Sekhmet’s premonitions. He would do as Sekhmet said and kept his eyes open to make sure he didn’t miss something. While they had gotten rid of Sterling after the billionaire had tried to torture Kellan for information on the Earth Warriors, there were still a lot of other cults and people who wanted their powers. No matter what the items were, he had to bring them back to Scotland and their vault where they’d been hidden from the world.
::There are things the world should never know, and immortality is one of them.:: Sekhmet agreed. ::Now go.::
Shifting again, Anubis dashed away from the spot, running up and down the hills and splashing through streams. His jackal loved the freedom of the air blowing through his fur. He loved being able to hear the night sounds so clearly and smell all the scents drifting on the breeze.
It was just after midnight when he returned to the castle and shifted before walking inside. There was a pair of sweats, thick socks and a long sleeve shirt where his clothes had been. So one of the guys must have decided to do some laundry and was nice enough to grab his stuff too. It must have been Kellan.
“What makes you think it was Kellan,” Amun asked as Anubis walked into the kitchen to find his brother sitting at the table.
“It seemed like something he’d do. Why? Did you put a load in the washer?” He dug out a spoon and joined Amun, pulling the carton of ice cream Amun’d been eating away from him.
Why I Love Bodyguards copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
He climbed into his SUV then waited for Burke to get ready before he pulled out. When they reached Sunburst, they parted ways. He headed to the high school while Burke went to the grocery store.
Cathal parked in his usual spot then checked his emails on his phone. So far there wasn’t anything he needed to worry about. His assistant seemed to be handling all the issues that had come up. He saw Rebecca’s email address come up and opened it.
“Mr. Burke told me to send you these files. Hope everything is going well for you.”
When he opened the files, he saw it was about Burke’s parents’ deaths. He’d go over them later on that night after the kids went to bed. He really wanted to figure out how two wealthy people could be killed, yet nothing be done about it. Especially if the son of the victims believed without a doubt they were murdered.
He’d sensed someone approaching his vehicle, so when the knock on the window came, he wasn’t surprised. Turning, he studied the man standing outside the SUV. There was something vaguely familiar about him, but Cathal couldn’t place where he’d seen him from.
Rolling down the window, he said, “Yes?”
“Are you Cathal McKinley?”
Cathal wrapped his hand around the grip of the handgun he’d tucked under his thigh once he parked. “Yes, I am.”
“I’m Deputy Sheriff Mitchell. I was wondering if I could talk to you about your sister.” The man flashed a badge.
“I was two years behind you in school, but I played on the varsity football team with you your senior year.”
Cathal let go of the gun and nodded. “Right. I remember now. Yes, did you want to meet up after I drop Randy and Elisa off at home or should I come in tomorrow?”
Mitchell pursed his lips as he thought. “I think we should talk as soon as possible if it’s all right with you.”
“No problem. My friend is at the house, so I can drop the kids off then meet you at the diner,” Cathal suggested.
“That will be fine. Your friend the guy who stopped by the hardware store and bought some new locks?”
He’d forgotten how news traveled in a small town. “Yes. That’s Hilton Burke. He’s my friend and boss.”
“Okay. I’m glad you’re taking steps to keep her from getting into the house.” Mitchell glanced over towards the high school where kids were starting to pour out. “I’ll see you in a few at the diner.”
Randy and Elisa climbed into the SUV, greeting him with smiles. He turned the vehicle on, but didn’t put it in drive. He looked over at Randy.
“Could you pick up the twins for me and watch them? I need to meet with a sheriff deputy about your mother and I’d like Hilton to come with me.”
Rolling his eyes, Randy said, “Yeah. I can do that. They’re used to me getting the twins on the days Poppa was sick.”
“What has she done now?” Elisa asked as she put on her seat belt.
“I don’t know. The deputy just came over to ask me to meet him.” Cathal moved the gun from under his thigh to the console. “You’ll take the truck.”
“There isn’t a gun in there,” Randy commented.
“Right.” Cathal paused then continued after a moment. “There shouldn’t be. I’ll ask Hilton about that. I’ve never seen him with a gun, but more than likely he knows how to shoot.”
Randy snorted. “I wouldn’t be surprised. He seems to be more than just a rich business man.”
Cathal chuckled. “You’re right about that, Randy. He’s constantly surprised me this entire week.”
“Do you think he meant it when he said he’d come in and talk to my class?” Elisa fidgeted.
“Yes. Let him know when you want him to come and he will. One thing you can count on with Hilton is he keeps his word.”
“Unlike a lot of people,” Randy muttered and Cathal knew his nephew was thinking about his mother.
Cathal put the vehicle in drive then drove to the house. Randy and Elisa went to take their things to their bedrooms while he wandered into the kitchen where Burke was busy putting dinner in the oven.
When Burke straightened, Cathal encircled his waist and pulled him close to him. He brushed his lips over Burke’s neck. Sighing, Burke rested back against Cathal.
“I’m glad you’re home,” Burke murmured. “Dinner’s in the oven. It should be done shortly after the twins get home.”
“About that. Randy’s going to pick the boys up while we meet a sheriff’s deputy. Something’s come up about Margaret.”
Burke turned to look at him. “When did you run into a deputy? Should we call the lawyer and have him come with us?”
“He came up to me while I waited for Randy and Elisa. He told me he needed to talk to me.” Cathal sighed as he rested his forehead against Burke’s. “I’m afraid to guess what she’s done now.”
Not letting go of him, Burke managed to get his phone out. “What was this deputy’s name?”
“Mitchell,” Cathal told him.
He listened as Burke called Chuck and asked him to check on a Deputy Mitchell in Montana. Something in his voice must have told Chuck it was important because Davidson didn’t argue or anything.
A smile crossed his face. Davidson might have been an Alpha male and an experienced homicide detective, but Burke was the ultimate male. He was the one all other men wanted to become.
“All right. Thanks. Try to keep Herb from freaking out over Jessie’s wedding arrangements.” Burke ended the call. “Chuck says that Mitchell is on the level. He really is a deputy, but he couldn’t find out anything about Margaret.”
“Thanks for checking.”
He trusted his instincts and they had told him Mitchell was who he said he was, but it was nice to know he was right.
Watching the US Men’s Hockey Team playing against the Canadian team. 🙂 Thought I’d share a pic of the US Captain Zach Parise. Keeping my fingers crossed for a chance at the gold medal.
Started working on a short story on Monday and will be subbing it today. As soon as I get the go-ahead, I’ll let you all know what it’s about. Once it’s turned in, I’ll be working on A Grand Prix Romance, which is Book 7 of our International Sports series. This one is set in Monaco during the Formula One race. One hero is a Formula One driver and the other is Paolo Lancaster, the goalie from At First Touch.
I’ll also be working on Losing Sight of the Target, my biathlon story. Hopefully I’ll get that done asap, because I have a never-ending line of books to write after that…lol
I hope you all have a great weekend. 🙂