Amunmaruku visits her in her dreams, a long-dead Egyptian prince, whose tomb Anna is excavating. He haunts her in her waking moments, making her question her sanity. Is it her psychometry or something more sinister? When the past, present and future collide, it's up to Anna to close the door connecting them.
CONTENT ADVISORY: This is a re-release title.
Anna swiveled her head around, and she stared at the student, lost in thought for a moment longer. His face was hidden in the shadows thanks to the sun at his back. His name filtered in, and she forced it past her lips. "Adam? You were saying?"
"We're ready, Doctor." He shifted, the outline of his fit body raising her interest and hunger.
Anna mentally shook it away. It was her exhaustion and the dreams working on her perceptions. Adam Valeri was a hot body on her crew at a time when she wanted one...desperately.
True, he was only a few years shy her thirty-two, and he was a doctoral student rather than the graduate variety Evan had provided to the dig. But he was a student and a member of her crew; that was a line Anna had never crossed before. She didn't intend to start now.
She clicked her pen shut, gathering the papers into the leather binder, her hands shaking lightly. "The burial chamber?"
"Precisely where you'd postulated it would be," he confirmed.
Great. Evan is sure to pounce on that. Anna nodded, jumping to her feet. She'd worry about her older brother later. For now, there was a dig to complete. And, the sooner it's over with, the sooner I can get back to something resembling a rational existence.
She turned and led the way without looking up at his face, completely engaged in trying to stop her hands from shaking and her knees from buckling. She paused for a moment as Adam zipped the outer door of her two-room tent shut.
Precisely where you postulated.
Of course, it was. Anna had been dreaming of this day for weeks...any sleeping moment she hadn't been dreaming of him. "Amun," Anna breathed.
She'd been dreaming of Amunmaruku for months, practically since the moment they'd breached the tomb entrance.
As if her voice was a spell summoning him forth, Amun's breath teased at her ear, carrying her name.
Anna...my name. Not hers.
The combination of her simmering arousal and his body heat sent her mind reeling.
Hands pulled her to a broad chest, snapping her back to a fuzzy version of reality--trembling, gasping for breath, sweat beading on her forehead, more than aware of the man behind her.
She winced at her brother's voice, opening her eyes to the sight of Evan loping across the sand toward her. His hand cupped her cheek, and Anna pushed it away.
"I'm okay, Evan. I just left the shade too quickly." Anna straightened, taking several deep breaths that drew Amun's scent into her lungs.
Adam's hands retreated, but he didn't back away, setting off the internal calculator of how long it had been since she'd gotten laid.
Almost a year. At least...by a flesh and blood man, it's been that long.
Evan wrapped an arm around her as if to turn Anna toward her tent. Relieved of her care, Adam headed for the cataloguing tent, where he spent most of his time.
She planted her feet, shaking her head, both in refusal and to knock loose the last of the cobwebs and clear her mind. "I'm fine, and I want to see the burial chamber."
"I'll drink water on the way," she conceded.
His scowl melted with an exasperated sigh and settled on a brittle smile. "Just like Dad."
She nodded, though it was a lie. Anna had never resembled her parents, nor should she have. As a foundling left of their doorstep, it was hardly a surprise dark-haired, amber-eyed Anna was a square peg in the blond, green-eyed round hole of their family, but they'd accepted her, nonetheless.
At least being in Egypt again means Evan's skin is tanned nearly as dark as mine is.
"Okay. Water on the way down." Evan didn't release her, though he did lead her toward the tomb entrance.
Anna took a moment to appreciate the find yet again. They'd never seen anything like it. No one had, which meant it would literally make her career. For that matter, it would make the career of everyone on the dig.
At first glance, they thought they'd found a large mastaba, a simple rectangular tomb super-structure, the precursor to the step pyramid. But this was like no mastaba discovered before, leading the crew to the initial conclusion that it was the tomb of a second dynasty ruler...until they got inside.
Unlike the stark mastabas of the kings, this tomb was heavily decorated. Unlike the tombs of the later nobles, this one was etched and painted with images of the gods and hieroglyphs instead of scenes of daily life.
More surprising, the gods depicted were a combination never seen before, unable to be attributed to a single place and time in dynastic history. Three gods featured prominently and two others less so, some from as late as New Kingdom, though the tomb was much older than that.
It was a wild mix of influences that had scholars breathing down their necks for a determination on the validity of the find. Some were of the opinion that the mastaba must have been faked somehow, but how would someone fake such a super-structure?
Anna glanced at the largest of the murals on the way past. Sebek, Min, and Ma'at were at the forefront, Amun and Anubis secondary. She hesitated, letting the choices wash over her. Sebek...fertility. Min...fertility again...or regeneration, since she couldn't lock this collection to a single time and place in history. Ma'at...justice. Amun...air, wind...or things hidden. Anubis...death. The combination was intriguing.
"Matt has been working on the hieroglyphs," Evan interrupted her thoughts.
Her mouth went dry. "And?" Why am I asking? I know what it's going to say.
"Roughly the same as the others."
"My brothers and sisters favor us. Ma'at, aid us. We shall live again." There were prayers and pleas to the gods, all ending with those three lines, throughout the tomb.
"You've got it."
Anna nodded and headed for the burial chamber, passing chambers that had held crocks of food, wine and beer, some inexplicably emptied. The passageways twisted and turned, until she felt she was going to collapse in dizziness.
One final turn, through an entryway opened in what had appeared to the naked eye to be a solid wall, brought her into the outer chamber. It was filled with weapons and tools, and the stone that blocked the entryway to the burial chamber was flanked by tarnished statues of Min and Sebek.
Her eyes strayed upwards, locking on the painting on the stone. Her knees buckled, and Anna found herself sitting on the stone floor, staring up at the stylized face of the man she knew so well.
"Amunmaruku," she breathed.