The current mystery of the cursed man, the unopened mummy, and language from a strange land or previously unknown ancient culture—which Nisa found more than likely what was going on here—was actually held off for the next several days. Nisa’s team worked tirelessly around the clock to dig out the pyramid and excavate the entrance once again, but even though the progress started off quicker than expected, it slowed down as soon as they dug around the staircase leading into the pyramid.
Even once they opened up the entrance, Nisa would have her workers back down, digging out the hallways to try to discover more chambers. One of the staircases inside the pyramid ran deeper down, which meant there was likely several dozen more chambers they hadn’t even discovered yet.
Until then, Nisa spent hours at her computer researching the language, trying to find a way to access any records of the stories written in the language that had been found. The problem was that information on this language had never been released to the public before, which meant, Nisa had no contacts to try to find them.
That left her with only one option.
Dr. Malford was the English professor who had written a book about the unknown language and released it to the public. It had sold several hundred copies before they had been ripped from the shelves and his career ruined. But Nisa’s father had been given a copy of a book, which was the one she had read after discovering the piece of pottery that she now believed to be a wedding gift between the cursed foreigner and the Egyptian princess.
Dr. Malford had written the book just before World War II but the sad news was that he had passed away several years ago. His son, Edward Malford still lived in England, so she found his contact information and sent him an email. She didn’t tell him about the stone tablet—not yet, anyway. That was the key discovery that would allow them to translate the language and after what Callahan had done to her father, Nisa wasn’t as trustworthy of people as she probably should have been. Then again, it never hurt to be overly cautious.
Dear Edward Malford,
My name is Nisa Acker and I’m a historian and archaeologist working with my team in Egypt. We have recently discovered a previously undiscovered pyramid and inside, I found this piece of pottery. The images and scans I have of it are attached. I believe it is the same strange language your father wrote about in his book, which I am fortunate to have a copy of. Would you be willing to call and speak? I would love to know more about this.
Nisa read it over several times and when she was finally happy with the way it was worded, she sent it off.
Pursing her lips, Nisa continuing scanning through books from other archaeologists and authors connected to Dr. Malford, but came up empty-handed.
With a sigh, she closed her current book and headed outside. Oliver was dealing with the protestors, who had surprisingly gotten more aggressive the last couple days. Some of them believed the sand storm was a sign that this place was meant to be left undisturbed, so their protesting of the archaeologist’s work continued non-stop. They stood in groups outside the camp, holding up signs and shouting words in Arabic and Egyptian, demanding that Nisa Ackers and her team leave Egypt and let the dead rest.
It was bound to happen. Nisa remembered traveling with her father and almost every dig he had gone on had some sort of protestors or people who didn’t agree with it. “No matter what you do, Nisa,” he’d say, “there will always be those who aren’t happy with your work.” It came with the territory, so by now, Nisa paid no mind to it.
She made her way to Susie’s tent. Perhaps helping to clean up some of the other artifacts and strange bottles they found would help clear her mind a little bit and help Nisa over this restlessness she felt at coming to a standstill on the language’s translations and what to do now—especially while she waited for the pyramid to be uncovered again.
Just as she poked her head in through Susie’s tent entrance and opened her mouth to speak, Nisa’s eyes widened.
Susie was wrapped in the arms of a man—one of the other workers—deeply and passionately kissing him. The sight wouldn’t have surprised Nisa—workers on site, so long as they kept to themselves, were allowed to “frolic” if they wanted—except for the fact that Susie and Chris were married.
Slipping out of the entrance, Nisa’s eyes widened. She glanced over to the pyramid where Chris had joined the other workers, using machines and shovels to haul away sand and dirt from the entrance. The tip of the stairs had finally been exposed—now the key was getting the sand out of the way.
Should I tell Chris? Go in and confront Susie about it? Or simply mind my own business? Nisa had no idea what to do. It was so hard to believe Susie would do something to hurt Chris like that, and with Chris so close by. He could have just as easily walked through the tent instead of her. Why would Susie have done something so reckless and emotionally hurtful?
Mind and thoughts reeling, Nisa blinked several times, and almost started toward the pyramid, but somehow ended up back in her tent instead.
Oliver stood inside, drinking from a canteen. “Well, we calmed most of the protestors down, but I don’t think they’re planning to leave anytime soon.”
Nisa stared at the ground, heart drumming in her chest.
“Ni? What’s wrong?” Oliver cocked his head at her.
Nisa pursed her lips. “What if you saw something that could hurt someone? Would you tell them or confront the person doing the hurting?”
Oliver shrugged. “That depends.”
Nisa lifted up an eyebrow.
“What’d you see?”
Nisa shook her head, rubbing her eyes. “Not my secret to tell, Ollie. Sorry.”
Oliver pursed his lips, but then took another drink from the canteen, face bright red as he sighed. “Okay, then. Put yourself in the hurt person’s shoes. Would you want to know or would you want someone to keep it to themselves?”
Nisa frowned, trying to imagine if she and Oliver had been together. If he had cheated, would she want to know?
Yes, despite how badly it would hurt.
Nodding, Nisa shot Oliver a wave. Before she talked to Chris, she would at least confront Susie and give the woman a chance to tell him herself; hopefully, Susie would make the right decision.
Back in front of Susie’s tent, Nisa took a deep breath and prayed the man was gone by now. One more deep breath and she finally stormed through the entrance, trying to be as loud as possible—if the man was still there, at least this would hopefully give him time to leave.
Inside, Susie’s hair was in disarray, which Nisa tried not to think about, and she picked up one of the smaller glass pieces and started brushing it off. “Oh, hey, Nisa. What’s going on?”
Nisa crossed her arms and sucked in a deep breath, trying to get the nerve she needed to do this. “I saw you kissing another man, Susie.”
Susie paled and slowly put the piece of glass down. “I—“
Nisa gnawed on her lower lip for a long moment, giving Susie time to respond or explain.
Susie shook her head with a loud sigh. “Have you told Chris yet?”
Nisa shook her own head. “No, not yet. But if you don’t, I will. Wh—why would you hurt him like that, Susie? You two have been married for what, five, six years now?”
Susie scoffed. “He just doesn’t make me happy anymore, Nisa.”
Nisa rolled her eyes. “That’s just an excuse to not make the relationship work.”
Susie glared at her. “You may be my boss around here, but that’s for work, not my personal life.”
Nisa gasped. Not because she was the boss and not used to being spoken to that way, but because Susie and Bea had both been her friends as well as her co-workers. Did Susie really think of her that way? I thought we were friends, Susie, Nisa thought, but she couldn’t force the words out of her mouth. “Chris deserves to know the truth. Who was that man, anyway?”
Susie sighed, running her fingers through her hair. “Kyle.”
Nisa thought the name sounded familiar, but couldn’t quite place it. “So, are you going to tell him?”
Susie shot Nisa a hard stare, one that almost made Nisa squirm. “I don’t know. Is that an order, boss?” Susie snapped.
Nisa gaped at her, completely taken aback. What had happened to sweet Susie, the woman who had been one of her best friends? Why was she reacting this way? None of it made any sense. “I don’t understand, Susie. Wh—what’s going on? You know you can talk to me, right?”
Susie shook her head and stormed out of the tent.
Nisa stared after her, not entirely sure what had just happened.
After a few minutes of shock and disbelief, Nisa headed out of the tent, just as Susie and Chris stepped inside. Every part of her was too curious and wanted to hear what their conversation would be—she was sometimes too curious for her own good—but thought better of it.
Instead, she walked over to the pyramid and picked up working where Chris had left off. She grabbed a shovel and walked down the tip of the newly exposed stairs and started picking up shovelfuls of sand and piling them over where the excavators would take the piles and put them outside the camp where they would be out of everyone’s way.
The sun slowly started to set along the horizon, but voices drifted to her ear. Nisa turned to where the voices were coming from—inside Susie’s tent.
She couldn’t quite hear what they were saying at this distance, but they were definitely yelling at each other. Guilt welled up inside her, but if she hadn’t said anything, who knew how long Susie would have kept the affair a secret?
If they were regular workers, Nisa would have asked them to put their personal lives aside. A situation like this was taking up both their time—time Susie and Chris both could have spent cleaning, restoring, and studying the newly discovered artifacts.
But her lack of sensitivity stopped when it came to the few close circle of friends Nisa had. Deep inside, she knew she should have been like that for everyone, but it was hard when, in all honestly, she barely remembered the other workers’ names and faces.
Chris stormed out, face bright red, fists clenched as his hand shook. Susie darted after him and placed a hand on his shoulder, but he yanked it off and darted out of camp.
Oliver walked over to Nisa from where he had been talking with a few of his security team. “What’s going on with those two?”
Nisa shot him a look. “Not my secret, remember?”
For a brief moment, Oliver’s eyes widened and then returned to normal as understanding finally flickered in them. “Oh. I’ll go see if I can talk to Chris.”
Nisa nodded and handed the shovel off to another worker as they were starting to put the equipment up for the night. “I would talk to Susie, but…” Her voice trailed off.
They had already said all they needed to say.