Surprised, I study him, and I don’t miss the sadness in the depths of his eyes. “Are you sure you want to let them go?”
“Am I sure?” He laughs without humor. “There is the question. No, I’m not sure but it’s what Alex wanted. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it.”
I wrap my arms around him, tilting my chin up to study him. “If I had anything that was my father’s, I don’t know if I could let it go either.”
“Have you visited any of his public displays?”
I shake my head. “I was afraid it would bring attention to me so I didn’t dare, and honestly, I had to try to block the past out. It’s how I got up every day.”
“The blackouts say that came with a price.”
“Isn’t there always a price?”
“Sometimes there’s happiness, Amy, and you deserve to experience that. I’m going to get you something of your father’s.”
“I just want the chance to say goodbye properly.”
“We’ll get you that, too.” He motions to our right. “The only Egyptian display in the room.”
In that moment, when I completely understand his desire to give me any connection to my family he can, I know that I am devastatingly, completely in love with him and while we have not spoken the words, they sweep silently through the air, a current waiting to be charged.
I press to my toes and touch my lips to his, letting them linger a moment, and he flattens his hand on my back, holding me to him, breathing with me. With me. His presence in my life is like the lighthouse in stormy waters to a ship lost at sea.
Dragging my fingers over his goatee, I ease back and our eyes meet, triggering a mutual smile. He leads me to the display he’d indicated. “All but one are replicas, unfortunately,” he warns as we bring the five daggers laying on black silk into view, “but they are all antiques.”
I’m immediately drawn to a dagger carved in ebony with copper trim that is meant to represent the mid-BCE. My hand flattens on the glass, flashes of a memory teasing my mind, transporting me back to a dig site. I’d been fourteen and on the last trip I’d ever take with my family.
“What is it?” I ask eagerly, tossing my braided hair over my shoulder, and dropping to the desert ground next to Chad where he was digging fiercely.
“I don’t know. Some sort of limestone. Maybe a tool. Why aren’t you at lunch with the others?”
“I finished early.”
“Then make yourself useful. Go get help. Dad’s going to want to see this.”
I drop to my knees and start digging. Chad grabs my arm and grimaces, dirt smudging his handsome, tanned face. “You know better. We need a team and proper equipment. Go get help.”
“Father!”I shout at the top of my lungs. “Father!”
“I said go get help, not shout for help. I could have done that myself.”
“But you didn’t, so good thing you have me to think of the obvious, right?”
“Happy memory for once?” Liam asks, snapping me back to the present.
I tilt my head, “What?”
“Oh. Yes. It was a happy memory.” I give him a quick peck on the cheek.
“What’s that for?”
“For helping me honor them with good memories.”
The doorbell rings.
“That’ll be Tellar and Derek with lunch and the files for us to review.”
“Lunch sounds wonderful,” I say, linking my arm with his. “Rest has done my appetite wonders.”
I am in good spirits as I sit down at the table with Liam, Tellar, and Derek, another memory without a blackout expanding my optimism over recovering my past. Eager to get lunch done to learn about their research, I’m about to take a bite of my ham and cheese sandwich as splintering pain slices through my scalp.
I see the same dig site I’d been on with my brother. And I see him.
Oh God. I see him.
Hot. I am so very hot. I lay in the tent, staring at the ceiling, or well, whatever you call it, thinking about how exciting the dig site had been today. My brother snorts out a loud snore that has laughter bubbling from my lips and I turn my head to study him. He blinks awake, eying me through the wayward blond locks of hair, and I’ve earned myself another of his grimaces. I do that often with Chad.
“Why aren’t you asleep?” he grumbles.
“It’s always hot in Egypt in the summer.”
“I’m excited. I want to know what you found today.”
“We’ll know tomorrow.”
I roll to my side. “I wonder if we’ll find more than that one piece of limestone?”
He drops his arm over his face. “Sleep so we can get up early and find out.”
“I have to pee.”
He glances at me under his arm. “Of course you do.”
I open the tent and slip into the darkness and glance at the starless sky, remembering how dark it had been before the sandstorm I’d lived through last year. Terrifying didn’t begin to explain what it had been like. Quietly, I tiptoe past rows of tents and the silence, considering the large team on the site, is kind of creepy.
Finishing up at the portable bathroom, I frown at the rumble of voices and follow the sound, spotting my father standing beside the supply tent. A covered truck that isn’t part of our normal caravan is parked next to it. Curious, I squat down and crawl through a row of tents to come up on the side of one of the four Jeeps, peeking around the side. Darn. The stranger, or I think he is a stranger, now has his back to me but it’s too dark to see anything anyway.