Part Twenty Eight

Nigel turned the glass medallion in his fingers, permitting sight and touch to meld its contours into his psyche. Dancing by fire’s embers, wrapped in shadows and promise, eternity waits for the awakening… Maiden Hope rises with Dawn, her heart shattered by her own untimely hand... The lady warrior is fallen in death, where she will remain until saved by the soul that loves her. For some reason, he never gave Sydney the translation of the third message.

Their discovery garnered them a deluge of attention from their colleagues. There was already talk of several prestigious awards. Nigel was too engrossed by the antiquities to care about proposed honors. He knew instinctively that there was yet another layer to this mystery.

He was again at Sydney’s apartment, curled up with a blanket and pillow on her couch.

Much like her office, Sydney’s home was decorated in simple, strong lines. Pale, buttery leather upholstered the sofa and chairs. Throw pillows softened the look, their Greek key borders lending to the room’s classical air. On the textured beige walls, shadow boxes displayed various artifacts from the Mediterranean. There was only one painting, a neoclassical piece from a modern artist. Nigel recognized the signature and knew it didn’t come cheap. It cost far more than a full year of her teaching salary.

Not for the first time, he buried a flash of irrational jealousy. It was none of his business who gave her the painting. He was her teaching assistant, not her boyfriend.

Over his initial misgivings, they’d brought the original scrolls to his boss’s home to work on translation. Thanksgiving meant little to an Englishman in the US, though it was a big holiday locally. It was now nearly midnight on Wednesday night, and Nigel was thinking that maybe he should just leave. Surely his colleague had other things scheduled for the next day. He could gather the scrolls and the medallion and get a cab to his own flat. If he could get a cab this late on the night before Thanksgiving.

"Hey."

He turned at the sound of her voice

She sat down on the arm of the sofa, dropping a hand to his shoulder. "It’s late, Nigel. We can work on this tomorrow. We’ve got four uninterrupted days, remember?"

"Perhaps I should go. You probably have plans for the holiday, and I can handle this."

She smiled. "Actually I do have plans. I plan to cook my first traditional Thanksgiving meal since I moved out of my dad’s house."

He felt his face go hot. "Then it’s probably best I leave. I don’t want to chase away your company with this." He gestured toward the scattered journals, knocking the last scroll onto the floor. They reached for it simultaneously, and when their fingers connected he gasped at the recurring jolt of electricity. This time, though, she caught his hand and squeezed it briefly before releasing it.

"You aren’t getting off that easily. I’m cooking and you’re eating, and you’re going to like it. You are my company. You think I’m eating all that turkey and stuffing by myself?"

In spite of himself, he burst out laughing. Her mock indignation both amused and flattered him. "Is it safe?" he teased, reaching up to flick a strand of hair from her eyes.

"Probably not," she admitted, grinning. "I used to burn the stupid thing every year, but my dad swore it was wonderful. I don’t expect that from you."

Nigel was so sick to death of a diet of fast food, cafeteria food, and questionable cuisine from the far corners of the earth, he’d eat ashes if they were homemade. "I’m sure you’re a wonderful cook."

Go to Part Twenty Nine.


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