Chapter Nine

Leaving Bea to her work, Nisa trailed along to her own tent, mind reeling. Other worlds weren’t real and neither were aliens—at least, that they knew of. Nisa didn’t believe in them at all because of her strong Christian faith and belief in God. The Egyptians had been misguided, often not understanding the truth of the things they saw, which meant they attributed almost everything to their idols and gods. Perhaps this cursed man and his strange land, even the creature they thought they saw, was the same. Just because the statue had been made with three legs didn’t mean whatever creature inspired it couldn’t have been just born amputated or deformed, right?

Putting the thoughts from her mind, Nisa filled her larger tub with water that one of her assistants had drawn from the well and slipped in. She loved her work and the digs and even being out in the middle of nowhere, learning the history of the people who had lived and breathed here, was one of the things she loved most in this life, but sometimes, she just missed having a hot shower.

When she finished and dressed, she tangled her hair up in a loose, messy bun and made her way outside. Night had fallen, so fortunately, the desert cooled down, which Nisa was extremely thankful for.

Out here, stars shone brightly—hundreds, if not thousands of them gleaming brightly overhead. The full moon added even more glistening light and Nisa stared at them, in awe of God’s creation.

Her eyes glanced at the buried pyramid, where its tip stuck out of the sand once more. In a few days or weeks, they would likely have the entrance exposed and then, Nisa could finally get back to work inside, trying to figure out the mystery of this place.

“Seems to be a lot of celebration, considering the setbacks your team is now facing,” a familiar voice said from behind her.

Nisa gritted her teeth and whirled around, trying to keep her expression impassive. Callahan stood behind her in a formal business suit, hands in his pockets as he stared at her with an amused expression. Whatever happened, she could not let him know any details; he couldn’t find out anything about what they had discovered. “We managed to dig the tip of it back open. We thought the sand storm would set us back for months, so my team is just celebrating the fact that it won’t take as long to dig it up again. That’s all,” she said.

Callahan pursed his lips with a quick nod. “Look, I know you don’t trust me after the fallout I had with your father—“

“You mean after you betrayed him, stole his credit, and destroyed his career? No, of course I don’t trust you.” Nisa frowned, crossing her arms across her chest.

Callahan sighed. “Maybe you don’t know the full story.”

Nisa laughed mirthlessly, shaking her head. “You’re amazing, Callahan, really. I piece together stories of the past that happened thousands of years ago and you think I can’t or didn’t find out the truth of what went down between you and my dad? That’s rich, even from you.”

Callahan ran his fingers through his shortly cropped hair. “Don’t be stubborn and let your pride get in the way like your father did. If we work on this project together, you have the chance to become greater than he ever could.”

“I’m done with you, Callahan,” Nisa snapped. “Stay away from me, and get off my dig.” With that, she whirled around, hands shaking. She sucked in a deep breath, trying to calm herself down before the other workers found her. Part of her wanted to go back and give Callahan a piece of her mind, or better yet, have Oliver and his security team escort him off the premises.

For now, however, she made her way to the center of the camp. A bonfire had already been started, with the flames dancing in the night. Smoke rose from it, blocking out part of the sky. Dozens of workers crowded around it, drinking water and soda that a truck had obviously driven in. None of them had alcohol and Nisa was glad they respected her authority. Not only was she a Christian so she didn’t drink, but they worked too hard here to impair their thinking with alcohol.

Two men and three women sat on a stone together. One had a guitar and the other pounded his hands against his knees and the stones to form a beat while the woman sang.

“I was wondering where you were,” Oliver said. His blonde curls looked silver on the left side—lit by the moon—and orange on the right side—lit by the flames of the bonfire. His tan shirt was a lower cut V-neck, and his khaki shorts complimented his tan skin.

Nisa gestured to herself. “I was disgusting after working in the hot desert sun all day, so I had to clean up.”

Oliver nodded and held out his hand. “Wanna dance?”

The song had slowed down and even though Nisa didn’t personally know it, it sounded sweet and warmed her heart. With a nod, she placed her hand in his and his fingers interlaced with hers. He drew her closer to his chest, wrapping his other arm behind her, resting it at the small of her back.

Their footsteps gently squelched the sand beneath them as Nisa and Oliver swayed back and forth. Every part of her enjoyed moments like this with him, but the archaeologist in her mentally reprimanded her for even allowing it. They worked together, which would complicate things in the field, and worse, the part of her that deeply cared for him refused to let it get any further. Trying to complicate their friendship by turning it into a relationship would only ruin things if it made him awkward or wasn’t what he wanted to have.

So, instead of saying anything and ruining what precious friendship they had, Nisa rested her head against his chest and just enjoyed dancing with him.

“Are you happy doing this?” Oliver asked.

Nisa chuckled. “Of course. I’m doing what I love and what I’m passionate about. Why?”

Oliver shook his head, but his fingers gently massaged her back. “So, you never think about getting married or having kids?”

Nisa pursed her lips, deep in thought for a moment. “I mean, someday. I loved traveling with my father, but I also saw how it tore my parents apart. I can’t imagine getting married and feeling like that might hold me back from doing what I love.”

Oliver didn’t answer, so she pulled up and met his gaze.

She furrowed her eyebrows at him. “Why are you asking me this all of the sudden?”

“Just curious.” He smirked at her. “Wanted to know if you had any life goals for yourself or if you’re too stuck in the past to care.”

When he chuckled, Nisa joined in. “Nope. I’m too stuck in the past to care,” she said.

The song had changed twice, picking up the pace as the workers piled in around the bonfire and started dancing quicker all around them, but Nisa and Oliver continued their own private dance in their own private world.

For once, her thoughts left the past and stayed right there in the present, with the man she loved most.

Joanna White

I'm a Christian author with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing for Entertainment. I love God and my family and am passionate about writing Christian Fantasy. I'm a total nerd; I love Star Wars and video games and many other TV Shows.

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