Excerpt from chapter 6 of The Secret of the Lost Pharaoh (Matthew Connor Adventure series)

 

“So what is it this time?” Cal asked.

It was probably best they get to the point right away in case the women walked in on them. He had faith that Robyn would do what she could to avoid that from happening, but when Sophie had her mind made up, it didn’t always matter.

“The Emerald Tablets in Egypt,” Matthew said.

Cal took a sip of his wine and looked away from Matthew. “Usually people go to Egypt to uncover pharaoh’s tombs.”

So, Cal remembered the Tablets and Matthew’s obsession with them, but like Robyn, didn’t buy into their existence. “That too,” Matthew said.

Cal’s eyes narrowed marginally, and he drank some more wine. “When are you planning to leave?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

Cal spat out his wine, red mist shooting across his office. “Do you have something against planning ahead these days?”

Matthew pulled his gaze from the splotches of red on the floor to his friend, whose focus was solely on him. “You heard me when I said the Emerald Tablets?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And you know that they’re said to contain great power?”

“I remember a rumor to that effect.”

“A rumor?” Matthew shook his head. “Well, they exist, and I believe their power is real.”

Cal didn’t say anything, just kept looking at Matthew. Matthew had to wonder if the skepticism was a ploy Cal was using to distance himself from this expedition.

“You want to come, don’t you?” Matthew asked.

“I’d follow you to the ends of the Earth right now.” Cal glanced away and rubbed his jaw. “But that’s not an option.”

Matthew leaned forward. “Of course, it is.”

“No.” Cal was shaking his head. “Not after what happened the last time. I can’t do that to Sophie.”

“Sophie has known for a long time that you love going on these expeditions.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”

“It should.” Matthew let that marinate and came to realize that his wording may have been a little harsh. “I didn’t mean that the way it came out. You and Sophie are engaged now. You’ve made a real commitment. And Sophie’s great.”

“That she is.” Cal bobbed his head.

“She’ll understand.” Oh, what was he doing? Somewhere he’d stopped thinking about Cal’s needs and switched his focus to the fact that he wanted Cal to come with him.

“I’m not so sure. After everything she went through, almost dying, almost being raped…” Cal raised his voice with the last statement. “I could never forgive myself if…”

Matthew swallowed the urge to make more assurances he wasn’t qualified to make. “Only you know your relationship, Cal. But I know that Sophie loves you.” He paused and flashed a lopsided grin. “After all, she did agree to marry you despite all that crap you put her through.”

“Ha-ha.” Cal raised his gaze to meet Matthew’s. “You’re right, though. If there was any time she should have hated me…”

Matthew held out his hands. “There you go.”

“Guess it wouldn’t hurt to talk to her about all this.” Cal took another sip of his wine, but his features seemed to weigh heavy with hesitancy. “Tomorrow’s rather quick, though.”

“The Emerald Tablets are powerful. We can’t afford them winding up in the wrong person’s hands.”

“I’m assuming you have a good lead to suspect they’re in Egypt.”

Matthew noticed his friend didn’t even bother to ask for an elaboration on the Tablets’ powers. “An old colleague has invited us to be a part of—”

Us? So she knows about me?”

“You and Robyn.”

Cal sank back into his chair. “How could you even be sure I’d agree?”