Excerpt from the Untitled Archeological WIP
In my last post I mentioned that I had found a novel that was mostly complete that I had written a few years ago. I’m working on it – editing, rewriting a bit, tightening up the story. Here is a sneak peek at my untitled archeological wip.
Alexis sat by the fire listening to Elliott explain his work in Egypt to a group of the students. They had been pestering him with questions since they’d finished dinner. Elliott had been patient with them, giving them background about Tell El-Amarna where he had spent the last few years. He told of the history and the legends of the people who had lived there.
He was mesmerizing – a natural story teller. His deep, smooth voice, combined with his British accent, brought to mind the Shakespearean stage, dramatic, rich, full of intrigue, betrayal and mystery, the common human themes that wove their way through ancient times and modern.
Alexis wanted to stay and listen to him, but she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer. Several of the students were still up, energized by the discussion with Elliott and she didn’t think she could wait for them to settle down so she could talk to him. She didn’t look at him when she left the fire, just said goodnight to the group and left.
She entered her tent and turned on the gas lantern, then checked her bed for bugs. All clear. She undressed, pulled a long t-shirt over her body and laid down on her cot. As tired as she was, sleep wouldn’t come. Her head was full of images from the day, and somehow her dreams kept blending into the pictures in her head.
Elliott was part of it, she knew that now. As soon as he had stepped foot near the camp, she had felt his presence. It frightened her, and yet, she sensed that he would never harm her, would always protect her, crazy thoughts to have about a man she didn’t even know.
Her confusion frustrated her. She was a logical person, someone who could think through a theory, use scientific methods to confirm a hypothesis. Crazy things like this didn’t happen to her – they happened to people like her mother. Superstitious people who believed in gods and angels, spirit helpers and divine intervention.
A touch on her shoulder startled her, and she realized she must have drifted into a light sleep. Turning over, she looked into the face that had turned her inside out that afternoon. Even though it was dark inside the tent, she could see enough of him to know who it was. She could feel his presence, some kind of sixth sense that would have helped her identify him even in pitch darkness.
“Elliott. Is something wrong?” she sat up in bed.
“I’m sorry to wake you up, but we need to talk,” he whispered. He was kneeling by her bed. She should have been afraid to have a man she’d just met come to her tent in the middle of the night. She should have been embarrassed. But it felt as natural as sunlight streaming through an open window.
Alexis pulled her sheet around her as she crossed her legs and sat forward. “About what?” she said. She thought she knew, but she wasn’t giving anything away. She’d feel like a fool if he wanted to talk about the panels and she was thinking there was something between them; a connection of some kind.
He sat back on the ground, his legs bent up in front of him and placed his forearms across his knees, his hands hanging down between them. “I think you know,” he said.
His eyes told her that it wasn’t the panels he was talking about. There was kindness there, and something more – desire.
“I don’t know what is happening, really. It makes no sense to me. I just…” she couldn’t say the words.
“I feel like I’ve known you…before,” she said. She turned her head away from him, picking at the sheet covering her legs. She heard him stir, and then his hand was cupping her chin, gently turning her toward him. The feel of his hand on her face was electrifying, like a tiny current zipping over her skin. He was kneeling beside her cot again.
“I know. I feel the same thing,” he said.
She raised her eyes to him again. “I’ve never believed in…connections. But this feels…oh, I don’t know,” she said.
“It feels right. We’ve been brought together for some reason. This is more than just chemistry.”
She pulled away from him. “Please don’t tell me you believe in some mystical universal intelligence that sets people up and pulls them toward some predetermined destiny,” she said. She fought against what he had said, even though a part of her knew there was something more…but what?
Elliott sat beside her on the cot and took her hand in his. “You’re going to think I’m crazy when I tell you this, but I’ve dreamed of you…” he said.
A rush of adrenaline flooded her system, her breath quickening, heat suffusing her arms and legs, her heart skittering in her chest.
“I…” she couldn’t say the words. She was afraid to think of what this meant. Since her mother had died, she’d rejected every superstition, every new age concept, everything that she couldn’t touch and prove.
“You’ve dreamed of me, too. You know me. I saw it in your eyes when we first met outside the temple. You knew it and you refused to believe it. You still do,” he said.
“It’s just too…”
He smiled, then, and the warmth of his expression calmed her. Everything about him calmed her, comforted her, like a familiar blanket on a cold night.
“It’s just too fantastical to believe, I know,” he said.
He shifted on the cot, making himself more comfortable and then he spoke again.
“I was raised in two cultures. British and Egyptian. My mother was a proper English lady, my father a highly educated Egyptian translator. But my father was born and raised with an understanding and belief in the metaphysical. I traveled the world as a child, and as an adult I’ve spent years in cultures that are different from ours, British and American.
“I’ve seen things and heard things that I sometimes couldn’t believe, didn’t want to believe, but over the years I’ve come to realize that there are many things we don’t understand; mysteries, spiritual realms, perhaps parallel worlds that we cannot even fathom. As an archeologist, you should be used to hearing these things from other cultures. Haven’t they ever made you wonder?”
She shifted uneasily, now. She, too, had been brought up with a parent who believed in the metaphysical. Her mother had followed a tangled set of practices based loosely on the occult overlaid by Catholicism. Her mother alternately prayed to the Virgin Mary and listened to the spirits of her ancestors, consulted with Tarot readers and acted out superstitious rituals, all the while with a rosary tucked in her pocket. Alexis had never been able to reconcile that combination in her mind.
“What are you thinking, Alexis?”
Elliott’s voice was soft in the quiet of the night. It was still dark in the tent with only the light of the moon shining through the canvas. And yet, she could see him, his expression, his eyes filled with curiosity.
“I’m trying to understand this. Yes, you are right, it’s all too much to believe. But you are also right that I feel like I know you,” she said. She turned toward him. “I’ve dreamed of you, too.”
He sat up then and clasped both of her hands. “Tell me. What were the dreams about?”