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                                            by M. Pax
                                      Copyright 2009 M. Pax
                                       Smashwords Edition


                          Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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        "Mr. Allen. Are you still there?" Her fingers scraped against the rough bite of the
heavy stone. Bloodied by attempts to get him out, they ached in synchronous throbs with
her heart. "Hold on, Mr. Allen." Nora Elliott wished he held onto her. She dared not
sleep, dared not rest. Not while Mitchell Allen was sealed on the other side of that
impenetrable slab.
        The expedition went horribly wrong two days ago. Two whole days. Nora had
been stuck outside alone in the drifting bogs of sand. The rest of the team was stuck
inside the tomb with Mr. Allen and the body of his no longer lost brother. He had
triggered the same trap, dooming the quest to the same slow death as the skeletons on the
floor. Only, unlike his brother, Mitchell had Nora and Nora could do more than pour tea.
She could read the engravings on the seal over the tomb. Hatched angles and lines with
purposeful dots, they heralded words and meanings. Their translation was the key.
        The torch hissed. The night grew no cooler. She dabbed at her brow with Mr.
Allen's handkerchief. He had given it to her on the voyage here when the brilliance of the
sun upon the sea made her sneeze. Nora would follow Mitchell Allen to the other end of
the Earth if he asked, and even if he didn't. He moved in a language which held her
transfixed. She spent hours everyday analyzing it ad nauseam, deciphering all its nuance
to savor every syllable.
        From the first she saw him, it had been that way. Mitchell swaggered across the
checkerboard mezzanine leaving more than white tiles prostrating in his wake. His robust
hand lifted her name plate from the worn, oak desk which gave her at least three splinters
everyday. "Miss Elliott." He baritoned in an opus shattering the lilting hush of the library.
"How marvelous to make your acquaintance." He held out that same hand, bringing its
testimonial to man and musk under her nose. Her pulse pattered to the trill of his virulent
tongue, its cadence the sweetest she ever heard. "I am in desperate need of your help,
Miss Elliott."
         Help him? Lord, help me, Nora thought and met his strong grasp with her
weakening one. The contact burned. Deliciously. Entwining their destinies. Beyond the
mere knowing of books and facts, her knack for languages earned her an invitation to join
the expedition to find Mr. Allen's missing brother who had gone off in search of the
secrets of the ancients.
         The romantic accent of their merging fates faded when she boarded the ocean
liner with twenty others and a Miss Parks. It descended into tremors of lisping hope under
the pressures of an arduous voyage then a grueling trek across the scorching sands to the
ruins of a city which the world and time had forgotten. The ruins of Nora's romantic
notions stuttered before men garbed in dresses more modest than her own. Yet she could
not deny Mitchell Allen had become her sun, even when the last thing she needed was
one more ray of it.
         "My brother believes the world began here," Mitchell said.
         Their trunks were taken off the ship and loaded onto camels. The brainless,
always giggling Miss Parks tittered anew. What was the twit making merry about? Just to
be merry? It provoked Nora's last nerve into ire. "What purpose is it that Miss Parks
fulfills on this expedition, Mr. Allen?"
         "She pours a lovely cup of tea, Miss Elliott."
         "Tea." It still jabbed, tempting her to leave Miss Parks buried in the tomb. But to
do so would also doom Mitchell. So Nora bent her full focus back to the symbols'
meanings whispering the stories of a lost people from a lost time. She was certain she had
found the passage which held the key.
         Here a long-forgotten king entombed four priestesses decreeing his undying love
for all eternity. There was something so pure in the gesture of an eternal shrine, pure and
dripping with unabashed romance. It permeated deep into Nora's being quickening the
beat of her heart.
         Not only had the king erected a grand testament, he immortalized the faces of his
beloveds as goddesses throughout his kingdom. Timeless, their likenesses were
sometimes discovered, unearthed to grace the Ages into the present. Nora's fingers traced
the etched outlines of their faded countenances. She longed for just a teensy taste of such
veneration from Mitchell Allen.
         The text before her laid out a ritual to bind heart and soul to the rhythms of the
Eons, to the pulse of forever. 'They bore me kings as witness to our time as we crumble
to dust. Our love endures. Always. For all to see.'
         "Oh." The sentiment hummed through Nora's heart strings. So beautiful, she
wanted to weep.
         'Weave silk of yearning next to the worthy heart to keep.'
         Nora plucked strands of brown from her scalp. With the aid of a penknife, she
wove them through Mitchell's handkerchief. Undoing a button then two, she stuffed the
cloth into her bodice. A warm tingle wafted up.
         'Precious ruby water in channels flow.'
         Nora sliced the palm of her hand, directing her blood to dribble down the lines
engraved beside the passages. She pressed her cheek against the stony grit of the door,
spreading her fingers and palms as if being held against Mitchell's chest.
        'Pray love's name.'
        Nora chanted. "Mitchell. Mitchell. Mitchell."
        The wind shifted. A charitable kiss, it stripped the heat from Nora's skin
summoning shivers from depths untouched. The torch spat, flickering wildly. Day
touched the night. The tomb rumbled. Roared. Shaking the slab upward.
        "Ahhh, Miss Elliott." The freed Mitchell gathered her up in his arms, squeezing
her close, and exhaling his praises of thanks. She could hear his strong heart thudding, its
vibration calling out to hers. His expressive lips pulled boldly at the corner of her mouth.
"I love you, Miss Elliott."
        The king's magic pulsed over the morn, soaring through Nora in a blessed updraft.
She clutched the hard-won treasure against her cheek savoring the runic moment. She
dared not follow Mitchell into the dawning rose of the day. Love so charmed would lose
all meaning in the reckoning light.


       Photo credit on cover: David Nieblack

        About M. Pax -- Inspiring the words I write, I spend my summers as a star guide
at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where I live with the husband
unit and two loving cats. I write science fiction mostly. You can find out more by visiting
my WEBSITE and BLOG. You'll find links at both to connect with me elsewhere on the

     Thanks for reading my short story. To find more stories available by M. Pax, see
my Smashwords PAGE

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