Desire hot enough to reach through the ages and melt the sands of time.
Jasmine Devi is eager to start digging up artifacts on a field expedition to Giza. But finding a hidden chamber and an ancient bracelet could change this Egyptologist's life forever.
King Okpara is called through time to stop what he believes is someone stealing his former queen's sacred jewel. When he finds the bracelet firmly attached to the wrist of a woman of impeccable beauty, his plans change. Believing Jasmine is destined to be his new queen, Okpara needs to use all of his skill to convince her to step back in time with him.
In the face of Okpara's campaign to gain her trust and cater to her innermost desires, how can Jasmine refuse?
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October 13, 2008
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Excerpt from Uncovering Egypt by Ann Cory
All her years of study hadn't prepared her for how remarkable it felt to be standing in an actual piece of the past. For sanity's sake, she pinched herself again and delighted in the brief jolt of pain. With or without a hunky pharaoh, she planned to enjoy her time in Egypt. So long as Mason left her alone, she thought it a real possibility.
As she went to set the lantern down, a crack on the far wall caught her attention. She squinted and took a tentative step forward.
With the pads of her fingertips she traced the faint spider-like lines, admiring the texture, when a piece of stone fell away exposing a small hole. She raised the lantern and a hue of dazzling bright green caught her eye. A soothing calm warmed her from the inside. Curious, she went to reach for the object when a noise caught her attention from behind. She gasped and turned.
Mason stood like a giant in the shadow of the lantern light, his hands planted firmly on his hips.
She put a hand to her mouth. "Oh my gosh, you scared me."
"What are you doing all the way over here," he scolded in a rough-edged voice.
"I could ask the same thing," she retorted. Thanks to him, her heart nearly beat right out of her chest.
His eyes widened. "I came looking for you. Hell, you had me worried sick. I wish you wouldn't take off into all these hideaways, especially ones off the grid. It's unsafe."
Jasmine fumed silently. She didn't feel the need to explain herself to the likes of him. Who did he think he was? "First off, I don't need your permission, and second, I'm a big enough girl that I can handle myself."
He rubbed at the back of his neck. "Maybe so, but what if something happened to you? Who would know? Why didn't you just say you were going to look around?"
Her blood boiled. Why couldn't he find some other woman to chase? If only he'd get the hint. "I don't have to tell you where I'm going. We aren't joined at the hip."
When he didn't say anything back she figured his feelings had been hurt and he was expecting some sort of an apology. Even if she did apologize she wouldn't mean it. But she didn't want him all upset either or he'd make the whole trip a hellish experience.
She offered a half-smile and lightened her tone. "Sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you. Must be jet lag. Gotta love time zones. If you'd give me a little time to myself in here, I'll meet back up with you. I promise to not be too long." Jasmine desperately wished he'd leave her alone so she could get back to inspecting the green object. Right now, she didn't want to share her discovery with anyone, especially him. He'd ruin it for her.
His dark brows furrowed like thick caterpillars. "So, you're saying that you don't want my company?"
Jasmine clenched her jaw. Leave it to him to take it personally. "We've been over this before. You know I prefer to work alone."
He sighed so loudly it reverberated all around her. "So stubborn."
She jutted out her chin. "No, I'm independent."
"It would be more fun if we worked together. We'd get more done."
She couldn't stand it. The man was driving her insane. Being nice didn't seem to cut it. Without a care of hurting his feelings, she let it out. "You're starting to piss me off. I know it's difficult for you to grasp in that thick head of yours, but this isn't about you. It's about me. When I work, I like to think that nothing else exists. I like to picture in my mind how the people dressed and how they spoke. What I don't like is being distracted."
An unflattering smirk crossed his lips. The kind of smirk she wanted to slap right off and stomp flat. "Ah, so you admit I'm a distraction? I could take that as a compliment."
She frowned and tried to ignore the taste of the airline peanuts making a second trip. He was clueless. What she wouldn't give to find a way to make him leave her alone. "Please don't. It wasn't meant as one."
His smirk faded and he straightened, sweeping a stray hair from his eye. "No need to be rude. I just want to protect you. Nothing more. Women--"
Jasmine put her hand up to keep him from further making an ass of himself. "Well, it feels more like smothering and it puts me in a foul mood. Besides, I don't need protection."
"Yes you do," he countered. "It's dangerous. Remember the time when you set off that booby trap in Mexico? Had I not been there, you could've been hurt. And who knows to what extent."
She couldn't believe he gave himself credit for that one. Because of him, she'd suffered a fractured wrist when his big, boulder-like body fell on her. "Correction, I didn't set off the trap, that idiot Raymond, who later admitted to being drunk on the job, did. I know how to look for booby traps, and I know what I'm doing."
He shrugged. "I can't fault you on your love for this job. I admire it, but I worry it has become a dangerous attraction for you."
Jasmine bit her tongue to keep from laughing. "I don't fear danger. I welcome it. Now please, I beg you, let me work in peace."
Mason gave her a look of utter rejection and then jutted out his chin. "Fine, have it your way. I'll be by later to check on you, though. Like it or not."
She sighed. "I won't like it, but whatever floats your boat."
"If you need me, just holler."
Jasmine waved her hand at him. "Yep, got it. Bye."
He gave her a lingering look before turning and sprinting up the steps. She waited for a few moments to make certain she wouldn't be interrupted, and then turned her attention back to the brilliant green object. Her palms were sweaty and her fingers shook. The thought of holding something so intricate and valuable was almost too much for her to take.
From her pocket, she took out a small pen flashlight and shone it inside the open space. The object sparkled like a beautiful jewel. Unable to control herself, she reached inside and felt around until she grasped it. Fist tight, she made sure the object didn't get scratched as she pulled it out. Breath held, she uncurled her fingers. In her hands lay a beautiful bracelet made entirely of peridots. She'd read about the precious gemstones in Egyptian art books. They were also called chrysolites, and were considered the gems of the sun. Legend claimed they held the ability to clean and heal the heart.
Jasmine turned the bracelet with a delicate hand, in awe of its divine beauty. Against the paleness of her skin, she could fully appreciate its velvety appearance. It looked like something fit for a princess, or maybe even a queen. On her menial paychecks, she'd never be able to afford anything as extravagant.
With an envious sigh, she shone the flashlight back inside the wall for a final check, when the bracelet slid from her fingers and wrapped around her wrist.
What the? She blinked and brought her wrist up to her face. How in the hell did it fasten by itself? This wouldn't look good at all if she couldn't remove it. She didn't even know how it affixed itself on her in the first place, but who would believe that as an excuse? Sweat beaded on her brow and upper lip. In the soft light of the lantern, she tried to locate a catch of some sort.
Unable to find one, Jasmine gave the bracelet a cautious tug. Any harder and she risked damaging it. A whimper escaped her lips. Gods, she was in big trouble.
Footsteps shuffled behind her and she groaned inward, knowing it was Mason at the ready with one of his "I told you so" speeches. Yeah, he'd really get a kick out of this.
She turned with her wrist concealed behind her back, when all the breath left her lungs.