Nisa stared open mouthed at the man who had once been her mentor, the same man who had betrayed her father and ruined her career.
Callahan had aged since the last time she had seen him. Gray hair now covered his entire head, except for his widow’s peak, but his beady, brown eyes were still the same. “Are you going to invite me in, then, or keep staring at me like I’m a mummy come to life?”
Nisa swallowed deeply and gestured to one of the chairs inside her tent. “Callahan. I wasn’t expecting you. Uh, come in.” She crossed her arms but stayed standing.
Callahan seemed insistent on doing the same, but he did walk in and closed the flap of her tent behind him.
Oliver obviously didn’t trust him, so he walked in and stayed in the back but his eyes not once leave Callahan. Nisa was silently grateful for his presence, which kept her a bit more relaxed than she would have been.
Callahan shot Oliver a look. “If you want answers, I suggest you have your security team leave.”
Nisa frowned. “Oliver, my head of security, stays. What do you have that you came all the way out here in the middle of Egypt to tell me?”
Callahan pulled the bag off his back and slipped out several piles of papers. He plopped them all down on the edge of her desk on top of the numerous papers she had there. His were all kept in neat folders, of course. “You know of the secret stories found on some Egyptian sights, don’t you?”
Nisa nodded and slid over a paper to cover the book she had been reading about it. “I’ve been doing some research into it but no one knows anything about them for certain.”
Callahan leaned his hip on the edge of her desk. “You know I have connections in museums all around the world, but even I don’t have access to much information on it. All I know is that the language has never been fully translated or deciphered.”
He wasn’t telling her anything she didn’t already know. Whatever he told her, it was just as she suspected; he would tell her only what she needed to hear and not anything of great importance. That, he would keep to himself.
But, then, why bother to come all the way out there?
She exchanged a brief glance with Oliver as the wind stirred her black hair from its bun. Then, it struck her. Callahan had obviously come here to get anything and everything he could about what she knew. And that, she couldn’t let happen.
“And?” Nisa pressed, figuring it was safer if she let him do most of the talking.
Callahan opened up the files and pulled out a handful of papers. “Nisa, that unknown language is what you have on the piece of pottery! I have other information here—stories written in that language from other places. If I saw the piece of pottery, I might be able to compare it to these other stories and, perhaps, we can get a translation of it.”
Nisa couldn’t hold herself back. She scoffed. “You really think I’d fall for that? Just hand over the piece of pottery to you, so that you could steal it, translate it yourself, and take all the credit? Not happening, Callahan. Now, unless you’re going to tell me something I don’t already know, or share those images with me, then I suggest you get out.”
Callahan opened his mouth to speak but Oliver shot him a look that immediately shut him up. He held up his hands. “If you want to be the reason why your dig here never goes anywhere, then fine. That’s your mistake to make, Nisa, but trust me when I say you don’t have the resources, manpower, or knowledge to properly excavate this place.”
Nisa pounded her hands on her desk, blood fuming. “Get out, Callahan!”
He shot her a glare before he piled all his papers into the file and stormed out.
Nisa gnawed on her lower lip. “We have to find a way to get a hold of the information he has. I don’t know if I can translate it just by looking at the other stories, but it will help.”
Oliver tapped the side of his arm with his finger thoughtfully. “You know he’s probably withholding information. For all we know, he could have access to a translation of the language and just be looking for the pottery to find out what you actually found. You sent him image of it already didn’t you?”
Nisa nodded. “Yeah, but not the whole thing. Which is what he wants. Place some extra guards on it.”
Oliver nodded and stepped out of the tent with his walkie in hand. Until he returned, Nisa tapped the side of her leg impatiently and paced back and forth.
When he stepped back into the tent, she looked up at him, heart racing.
“I know that look.” Oliver side and shook his head. “Whatever you’re thinking, it’s a bad idea, and you shouldn’t do it.”
Nisa grasped the edge of shirt firmly in her hands. “Callahan has to know something and I have to find out what it is!”
Oliver placed his hands on her shoulders. “Nisa, even if you stole whatever info he’s got, or took a picture of it, how are you going to officially get credit for this?”
Nisa shook her head, trying not to let the tears she felt burning in her eyes spill over. “My father’s life work was to discover something else… something more. He always believed there were more to the Ancients than we know of and now I actually have real proof in my hands, Ollie. Real proof that he was right and that his life wasn’t a waste.”
Oliver gently pulled her into his chest and for a moment, she tightened her grip around his back and breathed in his scent of sand and cologne. “I know, Ni. I know. But stealing whatever he has isn’t the way to go. Whatever we do, you have to do it the right way.”
Nisa glanced up at him with a smile playing on the edges of her lips. “We?”
Oliver smirked at her and tapped her nose. “You’re stuck with me no matter what, Ni. You better get used to it.”
Nisa nodded. “Let’s gather the others and try to figure out a game plan.”
Oliver gestured to her tent flap. “Guards are already posted, so lead the way.”