tagRomanceSunset on the Nile

Sunset on the Nile

byD_K_Moon©

Author's note. This story was previously submitted as part of a chain story.

The day had been hectic, so it was an unexpected piece of good luck when Annabelle found a copy of a new book in her favorite series. She got herself comfortable in her bed and picked up the book. She loved the covers, the beautiful women, and the strong handsome men. Annabelle opened the cover and began to read.

The light was fading. The big red ball had almost sunk beneath the horizon. Ian stood up and stretched. His back ached from spending most of the day bent over in the trench, removing layers of dirt a few grains at a time.

As he stretched, he focused in on a slender woman standing in the remnants of the day's sunlight. He could almost see through the light gauzy material of her garment. It seemed like it was loosely wrapped around her. Her eyes locked on his and he felt his pulse race. Ian felt mesmerized by those eyes. Blue as blue could get. Her dark hair hung down to her shoulders and framed that perfect face.

A sudden crash of breaking glass caused Ian to turn his head in the direction of the noise. Someone had dropped one of the large glass mirrors that were used to redirect the sunlight into dark chambers.

He turned his head back to find the girl. She was gone. He scanned the entire area but there was no sign of her. "Bloody hell!" he said to no one in particular. "Where in blazes could she have gone?"

Disappointed, he gathered up his tools and packed them into a battered black leather case. He slung the case over his shoulder and began to walk over to a cluster of white tents. In his mind, he stared at the eyes that he had seen.

---

This was the dream of Ian Grove's life, to actually excavate in Egypt. He had graduated from Oxford in the class of nineteen-fourteen. World War I had interrupted his life when like so many young men of his generation, he volunteered for military service.

He had spent four years witnessing man's inhumanity against their fellow man — four years of hell on earth in the mud and the gore of the trenches of France. He had been wounded once, and had a slight limp now as a result of a shell fragment injuring his left knee.

After the war had ended, he had been lucky enough to obtain a position at the British Museum in the Egyptology department. He had jumped at the chance to go into the field and take part in a dig.

Ian had been in Egypt for three weeks now and the novelty of living and working in a foreign land still hadn't worn off. He loved the sights, sounds, and the smells of Egypt. He especially found the people especially intriguing. He had met Coptic priests, Mohammedans, Jews, and members of the Orthodox Church.

The work wasn't quite what he had expected. Somehow, he had envisioned just walking up to a previously undiscovered tomb and to just begin exploration. The work, for the most part, was slow and methodical. Brushing away the centuries a little at a time with a trowel and a brush was painstaking work. He soon learned to take joy in small discoveries— a shard of pottery, a polished stone—evidence that they just might be on the right track.

---

Ian walked up to one of the tents where a half-dozen chairs set outside around a large round table.

"Ian! Fancy a gin before dinner?"

Ian dropped his bag to the ground. He removed his pith helmet and wiped the sweat from his forehead. "God, yes! I would love one. Thanks, Bertie."

Bertie chuckled. He was the official "unofficial bartender of the camp." "One gin coming right up."

Ian looked around. "Where is everyone else?"

"Dr. Somerset ran into Cairo earlier. Some cock-up with one of the permits I would imagine. Halliday went with him. Samuels was here a minute ago, and Pepper... I haven't seen Pepper all day. Probably off trying to have a snog some local girl."

"He'll have all of the fathers in the town upon us," Ian laughed as he took a drink from the tumbler that Bertie had handed him.

Both men sat in the chairs around the table and looked at the orange glow of the fading light shimmering on the water of the Nile. Ian felt a strong sense of history as he looked at the river. Moses had been here, and all the great Pharaohs. Julius Caesar, and Cleopatra. They all had probably at one time looked at this very scene thousands of years ago.

Bertie interrupted Ian's thoughts. "How did it go for you today? Find anything?"

"No." Ian shook his head. "I haven't seen anything all week long. I'm beginning to wonder if Dr. Somerset has us in the right spot."

Bertie brushed off Ian's comments with a wave of his hand. "Don't despair, old boy. Somerset and Halliday both know what they are up to. This is my second time with the both of them. They play their cards pretty close to the vest and don't give away much. I did hear Halliday say to Somerset that he thinks we are still a good thousand years above the level that they are looking for."

Ian watched as one of the Egyptian workers lit the lamps around the camp. He switched his gaze to Bertie. "What do you think Baruti has cooked up for us tonight? Lamb and rice, or kabobs?"

"Bloody hell!" Bertie almost choked on his drink. "I wish that man would learn to cook something else. A nice roast of beef with Yorkshire pudding would be nice. I'd even settle for a good steak and kidney pie right now."

"Or an order of fish and chips," added Ian. "I'm not bloody fussy, I'd take anything right now."

Nigel Pepper strolled into the camp whistling a merry tune. As he approached where Ian and Bertie were seated, he called out, "Hello fellow dirt miners! How goes the battle?" He dropped into one of the vacant chairs and looked at Bertie. "Be a good chap and get me a whiskey."

"Where the blazes were you all day?" Ian directed his question at Nigel.

He grinned as he looked back at Ian. "I was doing a little..." Nigel paused for a moment as his brows furrowed. "Foreign relations."

Bertie handed Nigel his drink. "Were your diplomatic efforts successful?"

Nigel took a healthy swallow of his drink. "Sadly, no. The regent of the house came home before my efforts were to be rewarded."

Ian grinned. "So, you're telling us you had to bail out of another second story window."

"Oh, no!" responded Nigel as he shook his head. "I was out the back door, and over the fence."

"I see, a strategic withdrawal," Bertie joked.

Nigel nodded. "It was strategic all right, but, sadly, there was no withdrawal. The impending invasion had to be called off."

Ian stood up. "Well, I think I will go get cleaned up. Are we dressing for dinner tonight?"

Nigel scoffed, "Come now, man! With Halliday and Somerset both gone, we will take full advantage of the situation." He looked over at Bertie. "What say you, Bertie? Since you are senior, and most likely in charge. Not to mention that you are also the keeper of the keys to the liquor cabinet. Do we declare it a 'Come As You Are Night'?"

Bertie lifted his glass. "Well-put, my carousing compatriot! By the power you have just vested in me, I do declare tonight as 'Come As You Are Night'"

"Right, then!" Ian exclaimed as he handed his empty glass back to Bertie. "I'm off then to get rid of some of this dirt and grime."

---

After dinner the four men sat at the table with a drink and a cigar. The moon glowed over the smooth water of the slow flowing river. The heat of the day had been replaced by the cool of the evening.

"Well, I'm calling it a day," announced Harry Samuels.

"Okay, Harry, we'll see you at breakfast," replied Bertie.

Ian, and Nigel both raised their glasses at Harry, they were engaged in a game of backgammon.

"I saw the most interesting girl today." Ian looked up from the game.

Nigel nodded. "I find all girls interesting."

"This one was different. Her face wasn't covered in the fashion of most of the local women. And her manner of dress was different. Most striking though were her eyes. They were blue," Ian continued.

He had Nigel's attention now. "Where did you see her?"

"Between me and the bank of the river. Some clumsy lout broke a mirror at the same time and distracted me. When I looked back, she was gone. Vanished. She had disappeared completely."

"I shall do my duty to my friends and keep on the lookout for your beauty." Nigel joked.

Ian placed the dice into the cup and shook. "Double sixes! That's game. Let's see, you still have five pieces left on the board, that's five thousand pounds. I shall add that to your ever-growing tab."

Both men laughed at the ludicrous amount of the stakes they wagered on their nightly game of backgammon.

Ian stood up. "Well, I think I will turn in, too."

Nigel lifted his glass to his mouth and emptied it and handed it to Bertie. "Yes, I suppose I should, too."

Bertie collected the glasses and locked up the liquor cabinet. "Good night, all."

---

Ian was awakened by the Muezzin from the local mosque calling the faithful to Morning Prayer. He felt exhausted. He hadn't slept well. It seemed that he had spent the night dreaming of the girl that he had gotten a momentary glance of the day before.

Over and over throughout the night, he had spotted her in dreams and had given chase, but never catching her. She would turn and smile at him and then disappear through a door or into a crowd. Her eyes were burned into his soul and he wanted her, desired her like he had never desired a woman before. Each time he stopped he felt despair, but he would see her again, and the chase would be on once more.

Ian sat of the edge of his bed, trying to fully wake up. He stood and walked over to a washbasin on a small table in the corner of the tent. He poured some water from a pitcher into the basin, and then began to splash the cool water onto his face. He looked at the face in the mirror and laughed. "Looks like you had a rough night of it."

He joined his fellow archaeologists for breakfast. Ian thought there was one positive thing about Baruti, the cook. He did prepare a good egg. Now, if only he could be persuaded to make a muffin, or some toast. Baruti served his eggs with a type of native flat bread that Ian had slowly become accustomed to.

"Baruti!" Ian called as he sat down. "Two eggs and a cup of that stuff you call coffee."

Like most Britons, Ian was tea drinker, but he had quickly come to enjoy a cup of Baruti's Turkish style coffee. It was served strong and in very small cups. Ian had learned early on that two of these little cups were his limit in the morning.

Ian looked at Bertie. "Any special orders this morning?"

Bertie shook his head. "No, just continue on with what you were doing yesterday. Nigel and Samuels are going to supervise a large excavation to the east of you."

After breakfast was finished, Ian picked up his bag of tools and made his way back to the trench where he had been working the day before.

---

Ian stood for a long time gazing in the direction where he had seen her. He wondered why he couldn't get her out of his mind. He shook his head, climbing down into the trench and began to work. Ian worked methodically, removing layers of sand a little at a time. Occasionally, a worker would show up and scoop up the pile of sand that accumulated in front of Ian.

His heart skipped a beat as his trowel hit something hard. After a half-hour of slow digging and brushing he had unearthed the top of a stone that had obviously been quarried. Ian hopped out of the trench and yelled, "Bertie! I think I've found something."

Bertie set his clipboard down and told his Egyptian helper to take a break. He walked over to where Ian was standing. "Right then. What have you got?"

Ian pointed down in to the trench. "A stone that has obviously been quarried, or shaped at any rate."

"Let's have a look, then." Bertie got down into the trench and examined what Ian had uncovered. "What do make that, about eighteen inches wide?"

"Yes," Ian replied. "I measured, seventeen and seven-eighths."

Bertie climbed back out of the trench. "Let's plot this on the grid first." He surveyed the ground quickly with his eyes. "We'll mark off, oh, say twenty feet in each direction, and five feet wide. I'll get a shaker, and a group of diggers over here. We'll get a better idea of what you've found."

Ian watched as the digging crew toiled throughout the afternoon, digging out the area that he and Bertie had marked off. He was disappointed when the sun began to sink towards the horizon. Ian had been hoping to get back into the trench to see what exactly he had found. It looked like that was going to have to wait until the next day.

The overseers carefully watched the transit of the sun. Work would be stopped when they heard the call of the Muezzin. Ian cursed softly under his breath. Today was Thursday, there would be no work tomorrow for most of these men. They would spend their day in the local mosque in prayer.

Bertie and Ian watched the progress of the work and the sinking sun. "They should have enough cleared away by the time they quit for us to get down in there tomorrow," Bertie commented.

Ian nodded and looked towards the setting sun. There she was again! He felt his heart pound as their eyes locked. A smile grew on her face. He had never seen such radiant beauty in the face of woman like this before. He was about to tap Bertie on the shoulder when a group of diggers walked past and blocked his view of her. After the men had passed, she was gone.

"Be right back," Ian said to Bertie. He strode quickly to the spot where she had been standing. He searched the surrounding area for any sign of her without any luck. He looked down at the ground and was confused. The ground here was soft. There were no footprints save the ones he had made. No sign to prove that she had been there. No physical proof of her existence.

"Am I going mad?" Ian whispered to himself. "I know I saw her again." He stood there and stared at the ground until he heard Bertie calling for him.

"Coming!" Ian responded to Bertie's call.

---

Ian blew the lamp out and crawled into bed. He lay in the darkness. Dr. Somerset and Halliday had returned just before supper. They had immediately taken lanterns and had examined the stone that Ian had uncovered. The looks on their faces betrayed their excitement.

His thoughts turned to that of the girl. Those eyes! The way she had looked at him. Her smile. Ian yearned to see that smile again. He felt a rush of sexual excitement flow through his body as he thought of her. His manhood stiffened the instant he thought of her eyes. Ian closed his eyes, hers clear in his mind as his hand slid into his pajamas.

Sleep came quickly. His orgasm had barely subsided when he drifted off into unconsciousness.

She was standing with her back to the sun. Ian could see the outline of her lithe body through the translucent material of her clothing. She was smiling at him. Tonight she didn't run as he approached.

"Who are you?" Ian asked.

"Khepri," she replied. Her voice was soft, as was her smile.

"Khepri," he repeated. "I thought that was a god."

"Yes, Khepri is a god. It is also a female's name. It means 'morning sun,'" she replied, amusement in her voice.

"Why are you here?"

"Because you called me to you." Her reply came quickly.

Ian was confused. "I've never called for you. I don't understand."

She took a step forward and placed her hand to his cheek. "Yes, you did. You called for me tonight. Just before you fell asleep."

Ian felt his cheeks flush. Yes, he did call for her. Just before his orgasm he had called out for her in his mind.

"What did you want with me?" Khepri's voice seemed to be teasing him.

He was mesmerized by her eyes, as blue of the sky. They sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight. Her skin had a golden hue to it. When his eyes traveled down, he was surprised that he could see through the material. Her breasts were perfectly rounded and topped with dark nipples.

"I, uh, don't know." Ian was surprised by the question and had no answer.

Khepri's smile turned to a gentle smirk. "Was it for your pleasure that you called for me?"

"I'm not sure."

It was at this point that Ian realized that he was standing naked before her with his erection fully engorged and pointing skywards. He felt the blood rush to his face in embarrassment.

"Would you like me to pleasure you?" Khepri's seductive voice slowly changed to the sound of the Muezzin announcing the time for the first prayer of the new day.

Ian groaned as he awoke. He closed his eyes, desperately wanting to return to the dream, wanting to return to Khepri.

---

By noon, they had uncovered an area about fifteen-by-fifteen feet. Dr. Somerset stood at the edge with his chin in his hand. Halliday stood beside him and watched the archaeologists carefully uncovering the stones.

"What do you make of it?" Halliday asked Dr. Somerset.

Dr. Somerset shook his head. "I'm really not sure yet. There's no sign of any inscriptions anywhere." He looked at Halliday. "If I was going to wager, I would say we are on the top of something."

Ian stood up and stretched, his back aching from bending over. He looked at what they had accomplished through the morning and was surprised once he took a good look at it.

"Ian, Bertie, come up here," Dr. Somerset called.

The two men scrambled up out of the enlarged trench and faced Dr. Somerset.

"Bertie, set up your transit on the benchmark. I want to determine the alignment of the edge that you have uncovered."

Ian helped Bertie set up the transit. In a matter of minutes, they had the instrument positioned. Ian took the end of the measuring tape and the tall straight surveyors rod and headed back to the trench, carefully positioning the rod at the corner of the stone. He watched the two levels on the rod and made sure that both bubbles were centered.

"Mark!" Ian called out to Bertie.

Bertie focused the transit on the rod and centered it in the crosshairs of the instrument. He wrote down the angle in a note book, and then pulled the measuring tape to take out the slack, and making a note of the distance.

"Next!" Bertie yelled back to Ian.

Ian moved to the other corner and made sure the stick was vertical before yelling, "Mark!"

Bertie marked down the measurements down and then began his calculations. Once he was finished, he walked over to where Dr. Somerset, Halliday, and Ian were standing.

Bertie pointed at the edge of the stones with his finger. "That line lies in a perfect east west direction."

"Mr. Halliday, your impression, if you please?" Dr. Somerset stood staring down at the stones.

Halliday nodded and collected his thoughts. "I don't know. I think it is the top of a structure. Fifteen feet long, foot and a half wide, and about five inches thick. I think we are too close to the river for it to be a funerary structure. It could be part of a temple, or a government building, or even a dwelling. It's really too soon to tell."

Dr. Somerset nodded without taking his gaze off the trench. "I concur Mr. Halliday." He looked at Ian and Bertie. "Do you gentlemen have any thoughts?"

Ian shook his head. "No, sir. I think we need to excavate further before we can make any firm conclusions."

After a brief discussion, it was agreed by all to begin excavating on the east side of exposed stones. Without the local Egyptian laborers to help, the progress was slow and the work laborious. Basket after basket of sand was hauled out the trench and dumped.

As the sand slowly was removed, the archaeologists were impressed with the stonework that had been uncovered. The edge was very straight and careful measurements revealed that the transition from the top to the side was a perfect ninety degrees. A string line was pulled along the edge and it revealed that the edge was true. There was no deviation along the fifteen feet of the exposed stone.

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