Dear Diary, Egypt is glorious! In fact, there are moments I feel as if I never want to leave.
A few months ago, the team discovered more ancient ruins. While they scurried about to uncover the perimeter, I mainly stayed in the proximity of the huge columns. There was plenty to decipher here, so I spent days on end going over every inch of each one.
It was a lonely job as I rarely saw anyone else. It wouldn’t be until later that I would be needed at the main dig site.
One evening, my eye caught hold of the nearby Temple of Besi. It had been discovered at least a century ago but it was one of those places I’d meant to take a closer look at yet hadn’t. I figured this was as good a time as any.
The polished statues were smooth and cool to the touch, the flames they were holding danced in the sunset.
If I turned completely around, I could gaze at the giant obelisks that framed the temple’s entrance. It was a beautiful sight and I considered myself extremely lucky to be here at this moment.
Hearing Beckett’s voice, I turned to face him. When we first met, I was less than kind but I’d had plenty of time to think about why I’d acted so terribly…
… That night, I hadn’t slept at all, tossing and turning until my sheets were hopelessly tangled around my legs. Finally, giving in and sitting up, the moon was just bright enough that I could make out the sleeping forms around me.
Dr. Tammam was furthest from me, lying on his back and snoring like crazy. I’d gotten used to the noise, so now, unless I concentrated on it, I scarcely heard it.
Some feet from him, Nadia was sound asleep on her cot, snuggled down and silent in her blankets.
There were other cots and other teammates sleeping pretty soundly. It seemed I was the only one awake. As my eyes became more accustomed to the dark, they rested on the sprawled figure of Beckett. He was lying on his back, arms flung out, one leg outside the blankets. For someone who had been so thoroughly roasted by me as soon as he’d set foot on our campsite, he sure was sleeping fine.
Hugging my knees to my chest, I continued to stare at him. It’s not like he knew I was gawking. His profile was so darn perfect. It was a crime that any one guy should look so good. I sat rigidly still as he took a deep breath and turned over, away from me which brought me back to reality and sent me snuggling back into my own blankets, my back to him.
Yes, I’d had lots of time to think about this guy and why I’d been so incredibly rude. The fact was, I couldn’t sleep because of my own behavior. When I first met him, I was struck by how handsome he was. Mr. Babyface was the perfect specimen of man. And weren’t all guys like that completely aware of their amazing looks? Weren’t they all arrogant and full of themselves?
I know, I know, that wasn’t fair to him at all. He hadn’t gotten a word in edgewise, thanks to yours truly, so I could hardly pin all of that on him. It went deeper and I became glaringly aware of my own shortcomings.
Did I dislike him immediately because of the supposed nepotism? Yes, that was a definite factor in my reaction. Did he deserve what I dished out? Hardly.
Pulling my blanket over my head, my eyes burned as I thought of Theo and how much I’d wanted him to notice plain ol’ Marty… and how he never had.
I’d treated Beckett, a man I didn’t even know, the way I had wanted to treat Theo all those years ago after he broke my heart.
Don’t get me wrong. I hadn’t spent the past several years pining over Theo. I suppose seeing Beckett and how handsome he was triggered something really ugly I’d buried. And it was no excuse…….
…. Since then, I’d had plenty of opportunities to apologize to Beckett, yet I hadn’t. It wasn’t that I was afraid to admit I was wrong. It was that when I was in his presence, my emotions were so overpowering, I thought I’d make a fool of myself.
“Hi, Beckett,” I finally said.
“This place is great, isn’t it? I like to come here to think.”
“It is,” I admitted. “This is my first time here.”
Surprise flashed in his beautiful eyes and a smile curled the corners of his mouth very slightly. “Let me show you around then!”
As we walked, he pointed out things of interest and I found myself fascinated as I became more comfortable in his presence.
“That’s lovely,” I said as he pointed to a drawing on the wall.
“Dr. Larochette, I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”
Uh oh. My stomach immediately began to flip-flop and my pulse quickened as I expected the worst. I knew I deserved it at least.
“I feel we got off on the wrong foot and I hoped we could clear some things up.”
I wondered if he could see the discomfort on my face as he spoke. My throat felt constricted, but I managed to squeak out, “Listen, I owe you – ”
Putting his hand up like a stop sign, he said, ” – No one owes anyone anything. Let me finish. When Nadia introduced us, I know what it looked like. And you were right. I would never be in this position if not for my father. And, honestly, I’ve gotten the same reaction before in similar situations. The truth is, my father is very overbearing – a bully really, and I’ve never been able to tell him no to anything. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to care if he’s throwing me into less than savory circumstances and I’m rather a disappointment to him for not living up to his expectations.”
I was stunned. Not just because what he told me rang completely true, but because I barely knew him and he’d told me so much.
“Look, I’m not trying to garner sympathy or anything. I’m sure you have your own problems. I just wanted you to understand so we could work together honestly, without preconceived ideas.”
“That’s very good of you,” I said.
“So we can start over?” After I nodded, he held out his hand for me to shake. “Hi, I’m Beckett Quinn.”
Finally able to hold a genuine smile, I placed my hand in his. “I’m Dr. Larochette, but you can call me Marty.”
Relief flooded his face as his large hand lingered on mine for a moment. I could feel the rough callouses brush against my fingertips and I knew this was a hard-working guy.
“Absolutely.” It occurred to me that I’d been let off pretty easily so I would try to make an extra effort to be kind to him.
Just then, Dr. Tammam’s voice crackled across the two-way radio Beckett was carrying to tell him Nadia had made a wondrous discovery. Without delay, we rushed to the digsite, side by side.
Having never gotten a close look at the ruins, I now realized why my comrades were so excited. These ruins almost seemed out of place where they were found. The windows, the carvings on the walls seemed more medieval than they did Egyptian.
“I’m so glad you are here!” Dr. Tammam exclaimed as we approached. “You will have to see this!”
As Beckett and I followed Dr. Tammam through the rooms to where Nadia was working, I had a better chance to look around. Crates had already arrived and were being filled with cataloged items. A team was setting up some lights, getting them ready before the sun went down completely.
My eye was drawn to a ruined staircase and I wondered where it once went and who had used it?
Catching a glance of Nadia, I quickened my step to get to her.
“There’s no sarcophagus!” she exclaimed as we joined her. She had a toothbrush in her hand and I knew she’d been carefully brushing the sand away so as not to disturb anything.
I looked down as I came closer. Sure enough, there was a skeleton without a sarcophagus. “Perhaps he or she was a servant,” I suggested.
“That would be a logical assumption,” she agreed.
“But it is found within the walls,” Dr. Tammam said. “This is very strange.”
As the two doctors chatted about the best way to proceed, I turned back to Beckett.
“Exciting, isn’t it?”
Before he could respond, his face drained of all color and he stumbled a step forward.
“Are you all right?” I asked, reaching out an arm in case he needed to lean on someone.
He brushed my arm away and tried to make light of the episode. “Yeah, it was just strange, but I’m fine.”
He still looked very pale and I wondered if he would pass out. “Let’s get some fresh air.”
I took his arm and he let me steer him toward the way we’d come in when suddenly, a loud noise struck and rocks began to fall from the wall above. Shoving me out of the way, they hit him.
Quickly getting to my feet, I screamed his name, but he didn’t answer. Dr. Tammam and Nadia ran to me from the other room.
“Marty! Are you all right?” Nadia yelled, her eyes full of fright.
“Yes! It’s Beckett! The rocks fell on him!”
Nadia ran for the crate that held our first aid supplies and I heard her yelling at someone to get the medics.
As fast as I could manage, I knelt next to Beckett, who was buried, and I prayed he was still alive. Brushing sand away from his nose and mouth, I carefully touched his neck where his carotid artery was.
“He’s alive!” I yelled, scooping more sand away from his face. I could see blood coming from his mouth and head but it was difficult to reach him.
Dr. Tammam returned with men who began to lift the rocks and debris away and Nadia instructed some other people to carefully examine the wall in case more should fall.
“Beckett, can you hear me?” I yelled desperately. He did not stir in any way.
Beckett was airlifted to the hospital in Cairo but it wasn’t until hours later, I was finally able to see him in the Emergency Department. Some of his coloring had come back but his eyes were closed.
The doctor had spoken to me for a few brief moments yet I hadn’t really grasped everything he’d said. I knew Beckett had a concussion and some broken ribs and that he’d been very lucky.
Awkwardly, I sat in the chair near him. “Beckett?” I said, but he didn’t respond.
Brushing tears from my cheeks, I suddenly began to wish I’d treated him better. If he hadn’t shoved me out of the way, it would be me lying there or dead. He’d saved my life.
I don’t know how long I sat there, waiting. Nurses came in and out to check his vitals, hang new bags on the IV stand and one of them told me they were waiting for a room to open up so they could admit him. Thankfully, they didn’t ask me too many questions about him, because I didnt know the answers. The only name I could provide was his father’s.
After what seemed ages, his eyelids fluttered then opened. At first, he squinted against the bright lights, then he blinked again and was focusing on me.
“Beckett? Thank heavens you’re awake!”
He tried to move as if to get up but grimaced in pain. “What the hell – ”
“Do you remember the accident at the dig site? You shoved me out of the way and one of the walls collapsed on you.”
“Are you okay?”
How he could think of me at a time like this, I didn’t know. “I’m fine, thanks to you. You saved my life.”
“Good.” He coughed, moaning in pain. “I – I need some water.”
“I’m sorry, the nurse told me you can’t have anything by mouth right now. You still might need surgery. Are you in pain? I can ask them to give you something.”
He shook his head slightly as his eyes closed again.
I sat with him from then on, even after they moved him to his room. There was no way I’d leave his side after all he’d done for me.
All I could do was try to make him comfortable and thank my lucky stars he’d been there and had the wherewithal to push me out of the way.