It may have been twenty years since the Mummy came out, but I discovered upon re-watching it recently that I still love this movie as much as I did when I first saw it as a pre-teen. There's a part of me that's always been super fascinated by Ancient Egypt, and when I saw Evelyn Carnahan going on all of these adventures, the jealousy was real, y'all.
As I was watching the Mummy, a few things I hadn't noticed before got me thinking. First off – how had I never realized how much of a babe Ardeth was? And, second – that key Rick finds in Hamunaptra. If people were so concerned about Imhotep being resurrected, why in the world would they leave the key that's keeping him locked up just laying around in the same place he was buried? Seemed a little counterproductive, you know what I mean?
From these thoughts came the idea for a story, which has refused to leave me alone and has been haunting me day and night. So I finally decided to stop resisting the call, write the dang story, and see what happens. I have no idea if there's much of a following for this genre anymore, but I feel like if I don't do this, it will literally drive me insane. So here goes nothing!
Hope you guys enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything having to do with the Mummy franchise. I only own my OC's.
P.S. When characters are speaking in Arabic, dialogue will be shown bold and italicized. (Example: "I hope this story doesn't turn into a complete disaster.")
P.P.S. The actress who I think most closely resembles the Rose I have in my head is Haley Bennett, just in case anyone is wondering.
When They Met
Rose Grisham woke to the sounds of loud shouting outside her window. Cracking one eye open, she turned a groggy glare to the open window, listening as two men argued back and forth in Arabic. She groaned and pulled her pillow over her head, trying to muffle their loud voices so that she could go back to sleep. When that didn't work, and when the arguing outside only grew more heated, she threw off her pillow, wide awake now and feeling more than a little annoyed.
Scowling with irritation, she stood from bed and stomped to the window, pushing it open wider. Down below, the two men were shouting in one another's faces and gesturing wildly. It looked as though one of the men had driven his car right into the vegetable cart belonging to the other man – the cart was more or less obliterated, and there were vegetables scattered all over the place. The rest of the people on the street seemed to be ignoring them and continuing on with their day, but a few others living nearby had begun to poke their heads out of their windows to see what was going on. Like herself, they all looked equally unhappy about the rude wake-up call.
"Oy!" Rose finally yelled to catch the attention of the angry men. They both stopped mid argument and looked up at her. "Would you imbeciles be quiet? People are trying to sleep!" she then reprimanded in Arabic.
The men looked shocked, though whether it was because she had shouted at them, called them a rude name, or because they hadn't expected her to speak to them in Arabic, she didn't know. They recovered quickly, however, and decided to start shouting and shaking their fists at her instead. Rose started to shout back but was interrupted as her neighbors decided to jump in. Within moments, everybody was shouting at everybody, making the street far louder than it had been before. It didn't take much longer for Rose to decide that she'd heard quite enough shouting for one morning. She rolled her eyes, ducked back inside, and shut her window.
With the commotion outside muffled, she shook her head and went over to vanity, plopping down heavily on the seat. There was a seventeen year old woman staring back at her when she looked into the mirror. Her shoulder length, strawberry blonde curls were wild from sleep and sticking in strange directions. She had brown eyes, which were still slightly narrowed with annoyance, and a youthful face that was dotted with freckles. Her once fair skin was tanned from being in the sun so much, and most of her baby fat had melted away, leaving behind a fairly tall and moderately fit form in the wake of its departure.
Rose rubbed her face to try to get rid of the irritation lingering in her expression, then let out a heavy breath, feeling her annoyance melt away. When the scowl was no longer on her face, she reached for a comb to start getting ready for the day. Brushing through her curls proved to be an impossible feat, so she gave up and fixed it into a messy bun at the nape of her neck. She left the vanity to change clothes, discarding her night dress to pull on undergarments, a light colored, button up blouse, and a long brown skirt. She finished off the look by putting on a pair of dangly, golden earring that had once belonged to her mother, then left the room to see if her father was awake.
He wasn't in his room when she opened the door. In fact, his bed hadn't even been slept in. Rose quirked a brow and glanced around one more time, just to be sure she hadn't missed him somewhere. Turning back into the hall, she made her way toward the office. Since their apartment was only so big and there were only so many places he could be, she had a feeling she would find him there.
Sure enough, he was. Her father, Montgomery Grisham, was fast asleep at his desk, still sitting in his chair but hunched over so that his face rested on top of the papers he had clearly been going over when he had fallen asleep. Rose smiled and shook her head to herself, both out of exasperation and out of fondness, then went to touch his shoulder. A few gentle shakes roused Monty from his sleep, making him wake and blink with confusion, before slowly sitting up and looking at her. His hair was strawberry blonde and curly, like hers, and it was flattened on one side from sleeping on it. His brown eyes were the same as hers, too, and they glanced from her to the desk, before he turned a sheepish look back on her.
"I did it again," he said, his voice still groggy with sleep.
"You did," Rose confirmed.
Monty sighed, then stood from his chair with a wince, his hand going to his back. It seemed to be hurting him, which wasn't a surprise given the way he had slept. He stood to his full height, stretching his arms over his head to try to get himself back in order then let out another sigh as they fell back to his sides. Rose took the opportunity to glance down at the papers he had been reading, which were all concerning the dig they were to be going on in just a few, short weeks.
"Studying?" she asked, looking back to him.
"You can never be too prepared," Monty told her with a nod, sounding a little more awake now.
"Of course not," she agreed with a humored smile. That was her father's favorite saying – You can never be too prepared. It might as well have been his life motto. "I'm going to start on breakfast. Hungry?" she asked, turning and making her way to the door.
"Starved," Monty confirmed. "Thank you, my darling. I'll be along shortly."
Rose nodded, gave him one more smile, then went to the kitchen to get started on breakfast.
While she cooked, Rose sang quietly to herself and glanced toward the window every so often, smiling at the familiar sights that lay beyond the clear glass.
She had lived in Cairo for all of her life. Her father and mother had been young, aspiring archaeologists when they had met back in London and fallen madly in love with one another. When Monty had gotten his first real job right here in Egypt, her mother, Helen, had followed him. They had decided that this was the place where they wanted to make their home and their life together, and they had cemented that plan by buying the apartment she and her father currently lived in and having her. Egypt was her home. She loved the land, the people, the culture, the history…absolutely everything.
Her love for Egypt was so great that she had decided to follow in her parents footsteps. She wanted to be an archaeologist, wanted to explore ancient tombs and discover even more of the history of this great place. It was ambitious for a woman, since female archaeologists were few and far between in this day and age, but she was lucky to have a father who understood her dreams and was happy to help make them come true. He had allowed her to go with him on every single one of his digs for the past ten years, and if he had anything to say about it, she would become an archaeologist, just like him.
Rose finished with breakfast and transferred it onto two plates. While the food cooled off a little, she made quick work of getting some tea going. By the time the tea was ready and the food was on the table, her father rejoined her, looking a little more put together after changing and cleaning himself up a little.
"This looks wonderful," he complimented, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and pressing a kiss to her curls. "Thank you, dumpling," he then said, referring to her by his favorite pet name.
"You're welcome," she said, smiling up at him.
They sat down at the table, falling into easy conversation as they ate their food and drank their tea. They discussed the dig they'd be leaving for, going over all the things that would need to be done in the weeks to come to prepare for their journey. They were often gone for months at a time whenever an excavation was in process, so there would be a lot to take care of before they departed.
When they finished eating, Rose took their plates to the kitchen to wash them while Monty stayed at the table and enjoyed the rest of his tea. Once the dishes had been dried and put away, Rose disappeared into her bedroom to put on her shoes and retrieve the large, old book that she had borrowed from Dr. Bey. It was worn and a bit fragile, and the curator had been very reluctant to let her take it home purely because he was worried something might happen to it. But she had sworn she would take good care of it and that she would bring it back in a timely manner, so he had finally agreed.
"And where are you off to today?" Monty asked when she stepped back into the room.
"To the library," she answered.
Monty smirked. "I cannot say I'm surprised. Terence may as well hire you on as employee, you're there so often," he commented with amusement.
Rose snorted. "First of all, I belong in the desert, not in a museum," she reminded him firmly. "And second, the day Dr. Bey would hire me to work for him is the day that pigs fly. I annoy him far too much for him to keep me around on a permanent basis."
"Then perhaps you should stop bothering him all the time," Monty suggested good-naturedly.
Rose smirked. "And where would the fun be in that?" she retorted.
Monty chuckled, then studied her face with fond eyes. He reached a hand out to her, which had her stepping closer to place a hand in his. Monty pulled her closer still, squeezing her fingers. "Why do you look so grown up today, dumpling?" he asked, studying her intently.
Rose smiled and quirked a brow. "I've been grown up, Papa."
"Yes, but today you look it," Monty countered. He squeezed her fingers again, then sighed and gave her a smile that was both proud and slightly sad. "You have grown to be such a lovely woman, Rose. Just like you mother was."
The mention of her mother made her heart twist violently.
They had lost Helen Grisham seven years previous. The woman had fallen ill quite unexpectedly, and though they had thought she would eventually get better, she hadn't. She had been a wonderful woman, full of happiness and warmth and kindness, incredibly smart and even more incredibly beautiful. Even now, seven years later, there was still this large, gaping hole that had been left in the wake of her mother's death. The house felt different now that Helen wasn't around to sing while she worked and fill it with her warm, loving energy. The digs they went on felt strange without her mother there to keep everyone's spirits up. Life just overall felt…incomplete without her around, and Rose honestly didn't know if the feeling would ever go away.
Rose ignored the pain that always filled her chest whenever she thought about her mother and forced on a smile for Monty. "If I'm even half as pretty as Mama was, then I'll consider myself a lucky girl."
Monty just smiled at that.
"I'm going to go now," she said, squeezing his hand before releasing him. "I'll more than likely be at the library for a while. There's a few books there I've been eager to start reading. I want to get as much reading done as possible before we leave."
Monty raised his brows. The somberness that had just passed momentarily between them felt as if it had left now. "You spend more time in that library than you do here, you know. Surely you'll have read all the books by now?" he asked.
"Not even close," Rose said with a shake of her head. She smiled then, and a placed a hand on his shoulder as she leaned over to kiss the top of his head. "I will return later, Papa. I love you."
"I love you, too," Monty said, patting her hand. "Give Terence my best."
Rose nodded, then left him at the table and headed for the door. She paused just before leaving to look at him over her shoulder one last time. He smiled, looking the tiniest bit sad again, leading her to believe that he was thinking about her mother once more. Rose just smiled back at him, nodded, then finally left.
The Cairo Museum of Antiquities was rather busy, considering it was a Sunday morning. Rose climbed the steps that led up to the front door, smiling at an older couple as she stepped aside for them to exit the building undeterred, before she made her way inside. She smiled at a few of the other workers, whom she knew very well by this point, and went past all of the exhibits that she had seen a hundred times over. Rose went upstairs, navigated a few hallways, the headed straight to Dr. Bey's office, opening the closed door without bothering to knock or be invited in.
Dr. Terence Bey had been intently reading something, so her unexpected arrival made him jump. He seemed alarmed at first, but upon realizing it was only her, he relaxed in his seat again and put a hand to her his chest. He then glared at her with an annoyance she was all too familiar with.
"Do you not know how to knock?" he demanded.
"Why? Doing something you shouldn't be, Dr. Bey?" Rose countered with a smirk.
He gathered up the papers he had been reading and stuffed them into a drawer as she approached his desk. She tried to get a look at them, but he shut the drawer before she could. Rose got the distinct impression he was hiding them from her on purpose. "In case you have forgotten, Miss Grisham, this is my office, in which I can do whatever I like," Dr. Bey said sternly. "And I prefer any visitors I may have to at least knock before barging in, thank you very much."
Rose heaved and rolled her eyes. "Oh, do lighten up, Dr. Bey," she said imploringly. "As it so happens, I have a gift for you." She placed the book she had borrowed on the desk in front of him, gently sliding it toward the cranky curator. "Returned to your possession in one piece, completely unharmed. Just as promised."
Dr. Bey cocked a brow at her, then grabbed the book. He quickly flipped through it as if searching for any damage, before closing it again. "So it would seem," he said. "I will give you this much, Miss Grisham. As little respect as you seem to have for privacy of others, you at least have respect for history."
Rose wasn't sure if he was insulting her or not. "Thank you?" she asked uncertainly.
Dr. Bey just gave her a look as he stood from his desk. He picked up the book and rounded the desk, nodding toward the door. "Walk with me," he said.
They started making their way through the museum, taking the familiar path that would lead to the vast library. She was taller than Dr. Bey by a few inches, despite the fact that she wasn't wearing heels today. Still, even though he wasn't very tall, there was a commanding, intimidating presence to him that had workers scurrying to look busy as they passed by.
"I hear your father will be going on another excavation soon," Dr. Bey eventually said to start conversation.
"Yes, in just a few weeks," Rose confirmed
"And where is he going?" Dr. Bey asked.
"South, to the Valley of the Kings," she answered. "There's clues that there's another unopened tomb somewhere. Papa's been hired to start digging and see what can be found."
Dr. Bey nodded. "I see." He gave her a knowing look. "I think it safe to assume you will be accompanying him?"
"But of course," she answered with a smile. "I wouldn't want to miss all the fun, now would I?"
Dr. Bey raised his brows at her. "In case you are unaware, I believe most girls your age do not consider living in the desert and exploring old, potentially dangerous tombs to be fun."
"Trust me, I am aware," Rose said. "I'm also aware that most other girls my age are quite dull," she added.
As serious of a man as Dr. Bey normally was, he cracked an amused smirk at that. "You are many things, Miss Grisham. But dull is not one of them. I will give you that."
Rose raised her brows in surprise. That was likely one of the nicest things Dr. Bey had ever said to her. "Careful now. Keep complimenting me like that and I might actually begin to think we're friends," she said jokingly.
Any amusement on Dr. Bey's face vanished. He gave her a look that hinted he regretted saying anything nice at all. "Do not get ahead of yourself. I put up with your nosiness and your insolence because I respect and admire your father. If you did not have the last name Grisham, I would have banned you from the museum years ago. In fact, I have half a mind to ban you anyway, just so I can get some work done for a change," he added threateningly.
Rose laughed, because she knew his threats were empty. Dr. Bey and her father had grown to be very good friends over the years. Because her father loved Egypt so much and was determined to preserve as much of its history as possible, he had long since earned the friendship and respect of Dr. Bey. The two saw one another frequently, and their favorite thing to do was discuss the history they both loved so much.
It was her father's friendship with Dr. Bey that had led to her turning the museum into what was essentially her home away from home. She loved being there amongst the history books and recovered artifacts. Her mother had been a big reader as well, and something about being in the library devouring as much information as possible made Rose feel closer to her in a way. Thankfully, Dr. Bey didn't mind her near constant presence in the library whenever they were home between digs, despite his insistence that she was a thorn in his side. He would likely never admit it aloud, but he actually did like her – according to her father, he always spoke of her fondly whenever she wasn't around. Why the curator tried to keep up such an indifferent front, she might never know. As long as he let her keep coming around, that was all that mattered.
They reached the library, and Rose followed him obediently as he led her through a row of tall shelves toward the back.
"I will assume you have come for something new to read?" he said, already eyeing the many books before him. Some were written in English, while others were written in Arabic.
"Of course," Rose confirmed. "I thought I'd get in a bit more reading before we leave town."
"At this rate, you'll finish reading everything in the library before your eighteenth birthday," Dr. Bey said, glancing at her sideways.
He was exaggerating, just as her father had – there were thousands of books in the library, and though she was a fast reader, she wasn't quite that fast. Still, she smiled proudly and crossed her arms over her chest, feeling accomplished for having read as many of the books as she had. "Then you'll just have to keep getting new books, won't you?" she asked in return.
"I suppose so," Dr. Bey agreed.
He finally pulled out a thick book that had been on the shelf just above eye level. He handed it to her. The title, written in Arabic, read – The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt.
"A new arrival. Published just this year," Dr. Bey said. "That should keep you entertained for a day or two," he added with a smirk.
Rose smiled happily. "Thank you, Dr. Bey."
"You are welcome." He started to walk away. "I have work to do now. Stay and read if you like. If you have questions about anything, bother somebody else. I'm too busy to give a history lesson today."
And with those parting words he exited the library, leaving her to her own devices.
She thought about returning home to read, or perhaps going to the nearby park to soak in some sunshine while she delved into her newest reading material. In the end, however, she decided to stay in the museum, since it would be quieter there than anywhere else, and, therefore, would make it easier for her to concentrate. She went to her favorite spot, an exhibit in one of the bigger halls containing a replica of an ancient, horse-drawn carriage. She sat down in the carriage, ignoring the odd looks she received from random patrons who had come to explore the museum, and started in on the book Dr. Bey had given her.
It didn't take long to become completely immersed in her reading. The rest of the world faded away, so that she didn't noticed anything going on around her. She sat comfortably in the carriage, feet propped up on the furniture in a rather unladylike way while she leaned against the mannequin that sat in the carriage with her, her brows knit together with concentration as her eyes flew across the pages. Without Rose even realizing, three hours flew by and she had yet to move from the spot she had claimed. It was just as she was about finish a chapter that a loud voice sounded right next to her, making her jump in surprise.
"How many times have I told you not to sit in the exhibits?" Dr. Bey asked, frowning with disapproval as he stood next to her with his hands on his hips.
Rose grimaced and gave him a sheepish smile. "Too many times to count?" she offered. When Dr. Bey heaved, she bookmarked her place in the book and sat up straighter. "I'm sorry! I just love this carriage. It makes me feel like I'm Egyptian royalty," she said, patting the carriage fondly.
Dr. Bey stepped aside, then pointed for her to get out of the carriage. "Out. Now."
Rose sighed, resisted the urge to roll her eyes, and did as he said. "How did you even know I was here?" she asked grumpily. "I thought you were busy today," she added with a slightly mocking tone.
"I am. I was on my way out when I thought I would see if you were still here. When I could not find you in the library, I decided to check the next logical place. Lo and behold, here you are, doing exactly what I have always told you not to do. Typical Grisham behavior."
Rose gave him a look. "Come now, Dr. Bey. I wasn't harming anything."
"No, but you are not supposed to be part of this exhibit. People want to see a carriage of old, not a modern-day woman on a siesta."
Rose finally sighed with resignation. "Alright, alright," she said, holding up a hand in defense. "I will find another place to read."
"Good," Dr. Bey said with satisfaction. "I will be out of the museum for a bit. I have a few errands to run. Try not to do anything anger-inducing while I am away," he said, giving her a firm look. He started to walk away, but paused and turned to point a stern finger. "Do not go into my office while I am gone, either, understood?"
Rose frowned, but nodded in agreement. She watched him leave, feeing unsure as to why he had told her stay out of his office – it wasn't as if she had a habit of making herself comfortable in there anyway, considering he always kicked her out anytime she had tried in the past. Once Dr. Bey disappeared from view, she shrugged and told herself he was just being his usual, unsocial self and went to find a new place to read.
She tucked herself away in the library, settling into a chair by the back window and sitting directly under a warm beam of sunlight. She opened her book to pick up where she left off, her brows knitting together again as she read the looping, Arabic writing. But after about half an hour of reading the same paragraph over and over without being able to retain it, she finally let the book fall to her lap, her lips pursing as her eyes turned in the general direction of Dr. Bey's office.
It was strange, him being so adamant about her staying away from the office. So strange, in fact, that it had piqued her curiosity. Why did he want her to stay out? Was it just so that she would not disorganize anything? Or did this have something to do with those papers he had been reading so intently when she had first arrived?
Rose gnawed on her bottom lip, trying to determine the risk level she might be facing in going into his office. Finally, her curiosity won out. She snapped her book closed, tucked it under her arm, then stood and started for Dr. Bey's office.
There was nobody around when she reached the closed door, but she cast a stealthy look to her left and to her right anyway, just to be sure. Reaching for the handle, she gave it a testing turn, surprised when she discovered the door was unlocked. He didn't want her going inside, yet he hadn't thought it necessary to lock the door? Seemed like a foolish move on his part, if one were to ask her.
Rose opened the door and stepped inside, quickly shutting it behind her. She wasted no time going directly to the desk, setting her book down as she started to rifle through the few papers sitting atop the antique furniture. It crossed her mind that this was exceptionally meddlesome behavior, even for someone as nosy as herself, but she couldn't help it – Dr. Bey was behaving very oddly for a man who was already rather odd, and she simply had to know what he was up to.
The papers on the desk were of no interest – just information about the museum that didn't matter to her. She changed tactics and went for the drawer that she had seen him stuff papers into when she had arrived, but frowned when she discovered that it had been locked. So the office hadn't been important enough to lock, but the drawer with his mystery papers had been. Interesting. Very interesting indeed.
Rose pulled on the drawer a few times, hoping in vain that it would just magically open. When it didn't, she huffed and began to look around for a key, hoping that maybe Dr. Bey had been mindless enough to leave it lying around by accident. No such luck. She looked under papers, searched in the drawers, even looked inside a few vases placed near the desk – there was no key in sight.
Suddenly, there were footsteps on the other side of the door. Rose stood alertly, her eyes widening, before she turned in a circle, searching wildly for a place to hide. If she got caught snooping in Dr. Bey's office, no amount of charm in the world would be able to quell the anger he would surely feel because of it. She finally dove under the desk, curling up in the space normally meant for leg room. The door opened a moment later, and somebody walked in. Rose held her breath, even fixed a hand over her mouth so that she would not be heard, listening as the footsteps drew closer to the desk. She could see a pair of feet clad in shiny, black shoes come to a halt on the other side of the desk. There was the sound of something being set down on top of the desk just above her head, and then the feet turned and walked back out.
Rose sighed with relief as the door closed. That had been a close call. Too close.
She climbed out from under the desk, told herself that she was likely making something out of what was obviously nothing, and decided to leave the office before she could get caught. She stepped out into the hall, closed the door behind her as quiet as a mouse, and made it several feet away from the office when she remembered the book that she had left on the desk. Rose cursed – if Dr. Bey found that book, he would know she had gone in there and been snooping around.
Cursing under her breath again, she turned and headed back into the office, hastily walking over to the desk and grabbing the book. She left again, this time not bothering to be stealthy. In her haste to leave, however, she did not realize that someone else had entered the hallway, nor that that person had been making their way to Dr. Bey's office. Just as she shut the door and turned on her heel to make a quick dash to the library, she ran right into a warm, solid chest. She let out a sound of surprise as she stumbled and began to topple over. Before she could fall, however, two strong hands locked around elbows, steadying her on her feet again.
For one fleeting moment she thought she had run into Dr. Bey. But when she looked up at the person she had collided with, she blinked with surprise.
This man was definitely not Dr. Bey.
The first thing she noticed were the tattoos on his cheek bones, the dark ink standing out against his olive toned skin. The next thing she noticed was that he was undeniably handsome. He was tall, standing at least four inches taller than herself, and he was broad, made purely of muscle if the hardness of the chest she'd just run into was anything to judge by. He wore a turban atop his head, but she could see some of his hair peeking out from underneath it – his dark hair was long enough to touch his shoulders, curling slightly at the ends. It was hard to tell how old he was, though. His face held a certain amount of youthfulness to it, which led her to believe that he was not too much older than herself. The way he held himself and the wisdom that was obvious in his eyes made him seem older, however.
His dark eyes studied her for a moment, inspecting every inch of her face from her bright curls to her chin, and everything in between. It was around that time that Rose realized he still had her by the elbows. She cleared her throat, making his eyes lift back to hers, and then gently pulled her arms from his grasp when he slackened his grip.
"Sorry. I didn't see you there," she said.
"I am not surprised. You seemed in a hurry to leave," the man commented, his English perfect but heavily accented. His dark eyes flickered to the closed door behind her, then turned to her with slight suspicion. "What were you doing?" he asked.
Rose had no idea who this man was, nor how in the world he might have known Dr. Bey. By the looks of his dark attire, he was not a local – his clothes looked worn and had a significant amount of sand on them, as if he had just come riding right out of the desert. Rose swallowed and tried to come up with a good excuse, just in case the man was the tattle-telling sort and decided to rat her out to Dr. Bey.
"I was…borrowing…a book," she said, hoping the lie would be convincing. She went to show him the book Dr. Bey had leant her, only to realize she had dropped it on the ground when she had run into the mystery man before her. "This book," she added, picking it up quickly and cradling it in her arms.
The man's gaze dropped to read the title, his eyebrows lifting in what seemed like surprise. "You can read Arabic?" he asked with no small amount of doubt.
His skepticism made her nervousness at being caught turn into annoyance that he had already written her off as some ignorant foreigner who wouldn't bother to learn the local language. "No, I just like how loopy and swoopy the writing looks," she shot back sarcastically. He blinked, clearly caught off guard by her tone. "Of course I can read Arabic," she added defensively. "I can speak it and write it, as well, just in case you were wondering."
The man quirked a brow. She thought she saw a smirk appear at the corner of his mouth for a moment, but it was gone so fast she couldn't be sure if she had imagined it or not. "Forgive me. I should not have assumed," he told her.
Rose gave him a quick once over, noticing the sword at his hip and the tattoos on top of his hands. Her curiosity flared, and a million questions about who this man was and where he was from flew through her mind. She barely resisted the urge to ask them. "Apology accepted," she said with a short nod.
The man stared down at her for a moment, then looked to the office door again. "Is Dr. Bey available?" he asked.
"No. He isn't in at the moment," she answered.
The man quirked his brow again. "And yet you were in his office?"
Rose's cheeks flushed a bit. "I told you. I was borrowing a book. He left it there for me," she lied.
She couldn't tell if the man believed her or not. "I see," he said in a tone that did not give any clues as to what he might have been thinking. "Do you know when he might return?"
Rose shrugged. "I don't. Sorry."
The man sighed, but nodded regardless. "Very well," he said.
Rose nodded and took a step back. Now that the unavailableness of Dr. Bey had been established, she didn't know what to say to him. There were a few beats of awkward silence, before she decided to just go and leave the handsome stranger to his business. "Well, I should go now," she said, before stepping around him and making to leave. She stopped after a few steps, however, when she realized the man was following her. Rose frowned and turned to face him again. "Do you need something?"
The man shook his head. "I was merely going down to the lobby to await the return of Dr. Bey," he said.
Rose nodded slowly. "Right," she said, not entirely convinced.
She continued on, and after a few seconds, the mystery man fell in step beside her. She cast a look at him from the corner of her eyes, then snapped her gaze forward again when she saw that he was doing the same. In silence, they rounded the hallway and made their way to the stairs that would lead down to the bottom floor.
"Who are you?" he asked to break the silence. "Are you a new employee here? I have never seen you before," he commented next.
So then he must be on familiar terms with Dr. Bey, if he had been here enough times to be able to recognize Dr. Bey's employees. "No. I'm just a friend," she answered.
The man lifted a dark brow. "I was unaware Dr. Bey had friends," he said with a hint of dryness.
Rose couldn't help a laugh at that remark. "Well, speaking frankly, I don't think he has many. There are only so many of us who are able to handle Dr. Bey's charm," she said with a smirk.
Now the man did smirk with amusement, and she found she rather liked the sight of it. It made him look less serious, more boyish. As they reached the bottom floor, he turned to her and tilted his head. "What is your name?" he asked.
Rose hesitated about whether or not she should tell him, then decided there wouldn't be any harm in doing so. She wasn't getting any bad feelings about the mystery man, so why not? "My name is Rosalie, but everyone calls me Rose."
"Rosalie," he echoed, and though she had never thought her birth name was anything overly special, it sounded a lot better coming out of his mouth.
Rose cleared her throat to move past that train of thought. "And what's yours?" she asked. "I told you mine. It's only fair you tell me yours in return."
The man smiled a bit. "I am Ardeth."
Oh, she liked that name. "Ardeth," she repeated. His name felt nice to say. "A pleasure to meet you," she said, holding out a hand to shake his.
He glanced down at her hand for a moment, then grasped it within his own. "Likewise."
His grip was firm and warm, and his hands were a good deal bigger than her own. She could feel callouses on his skin, which she could only assume were from several training sessions with the weapon strapped to his hip. They shook each other's hand for perhaps a second longer than was necessary, their gazes holding, before she finally, gently, pulled her hand from his.
Neither said or did anything for a moment, but they continued to look at one another, as if each were waiting for the other to make the first move. "I was…going to the library," Rose finally said, gesturing in that general direction. "You could join me, if you would like. Or not. Do not feel obligated to say yes," she added in a rush. "You are more than welcome to wait for Dr. Bey here."
Ardeth took a moment to think about it, then nodded. "I will join you."
Rose did her best to hide her pleasant surprise over his acceptance.
They walked together toward the library, and Rose did not miss the way people looked at Ardeth as they passed by. She supposed, when she really thought about it, that he looked rather intimidating. He was a sizeable man, dressed in black from head to toe, and carrying a lethal looking sword – who wouldn't be a little wary? Which, now that she was taking his sword into consideration, a dozen curious questions were swirling through her mind again.
"Why the sword?" she finally asked, the words tumbling past her lips before she could stop them.
Ardeth looked down at her, then turned his eyes forward again. "The roads can be dangerous for travelers. Better to be prepared in case trouble comes along."
"Well, be that as it may, I think you're scaring the locals," she told him as an older, posh looking woman took one look at Ardeth and went scurrying away as if the devil himself had just appeared.
Ardeth and Rose both watched the woman go, before Ardeth lifted a brow at her. There was amusement dancing in his dark eyes again. "I do not seem to be scaring you, Rosalie," he said.
The sound of her name on his lips again made a funny feeling enter her belly. She ignored it, however, and lifted her chin. "I don't scare easily," she told him confidently, which was completely true. After all the digs she had been on and all of the surprises she had found within the old tombs her parents excavated, there wasn't much that could scare her these days.
He smirked, but otherwise said nothing in response to that. They entered the library and began to walk amongst the shelves with no particular destination in mind. She had seen Ahmed, the older Egyptian man who worked as the librarian, early that day, but he appeared to be gone now.
A long silence had stretched between her and Ardeth, which she felt the need to break. "Where are you from then?" Rose asked with curiosity. "Clearly you are not from anywhere near here."
Ardeth glanced down at her, his brows furrowing a bit. "I live far away from Cairo," he answered vaguely.
"How far?" Rose persisted.
Ardeth lifted a brow. "Very," he said.
Rose gave him an appraising look, trying to determine why he was being so secretive. His expression gave nothing away. "Is there a reason you are being vague? Are you not allowed to tell me?" she asked.
Ardeth gave her a look that was somewhere between amused and exasperated. "Are you always so full of questions?"
"I'm a naturally inquisitive person," she said with a shrug.
Ardeth said nothing to that, nor did he answer her previous question about where he lived. Rose, recognizing that she was not going to get the answer out of him, decided to move on.
"If you live so far away, how do you know Dr. Bey?" she asked.
"He is a friend of my father's," Ardeth told her.
Rose smiled. "Then we have that in common," she told him. "He is friends with my father, as well."
"Is that so?" Ardeth said, sounding interested. "And who is your father?"
"His name is Monty. I doubt you would know him," she said with a shrug.
Ardeth shook his head, signaling that he didn't. They rounded another book shelf, slowly making their way toward the back, where her favorite reading chair was.
"What about you? Where are you from?" Ardeth asked after a beat of silence. "Your accent sounds English."
"It is English," she answered with a nod "But I'm from here," she continued, which made his brows lift in surprise once more. "My parents are from London, but I was born in Egypt. I've never lived anywhere else," she explained.
"So that is how you are fluent in Arabic then," he surmised.
Rose snorted. "I'd have had to be rather stupid not to learn it, considering I grew up with it."
"From what I have gathered thus far, stupidity is not a trait you appear to possess," Ardeth commented, which made her smile bashfully and look elsewhere so he wouldn't see it. "Furthermore, lying does not appear to be a trait you possess, either," he added with a quirk of his brow.
Rose looked at him in surprise, saw the knowing look on his face, then sighed loudly. She had been caught. He knew she hadn't told him the truth about why she had been in Dr. Bey's office. "I wasn't doing anything bad. I was just…looking around," she said with innocence.
"To the outside observer it may look as though you were snooping," Ardeth countered.
"Snooping is a rude way of putting it," she said, even though he was speaking the truth.
"And what would you say you were doing?" Ardeth asked.
Rose thought about it for a moment. "I was merely…exploring."
Ardeth chuckled heartily at that, and she instantly liked the sound of it. "Some people explore distant lands. Others explore vast oceans. But you, Rosalie, choose to explore the offices of curators," he said. She was pretty sure he was making fun of her, but she couldn't feel annoyed about it. She was too distracted by the fact that he looked even more handsome when he was laughing. "What exactly did you expect to find?"
Rose shrugged. "I don't know. I just know Dr. Bey was behaving oddly when I arrived and seemed as though he was hiding something. I wanted to know what it was," she said.
Ardeth shook his head at her words. "Did you stop to think that perhaps it was private?" he suggested, using a tone one might use when talking to a small child.
"Of course it's private, otherwise he wouldn't be hiding it," Rose said matter-of-factly.
Ardeth seemed to be fighting back a smile now. "And you still thought you should look anyway?"
Rose shrugged and lifted her chin a little higher. "As I said. I'm a naturally inquisitive person."
Ardeth nodded slowly, then shrugged a broad shoulder. "You should be careful. Too much curiosity can lead to trouble. Dig too deeply and you may not like what you find in the end."
Those were ominous words if she had ever heard them. "What are you? A fortuneteller?" she asked, her brows stitching together.
"No," Ardeth said, shaking his head. "I'm just a man who knows when to pursue something, and when to leave things be."
Rose didn't know how to respond to that, so she didn't.
They walked a little longer, weaving in and out of bookshelves as they went further and further into the library. Ardeth kept pace with her, his hands clasped together behind his back all the while, making sure to keep a respectful amount of distance between them at all times. Rose was surprised by how comfortable she felt in his company, especially so considering they had only just met. Ardeth was easy to talk to, though, and he was certainly easy to look at. She couldn't tell if he thought the same thing about her, since he was good at keeping whatever he was thinking from infiltrating his expression. But he hadn't left yet, so she assumed he didn't mind the company.
"Do you come to Cairo often?" she asked.
"Not very, no," he answered, shaking his head. His answer disappointed her, but she made sure not to show it. "As I said, we live far away. We only come to Cairo when necessity calls for it."
"We?" she asked curiously. "Who is we?" Suddenly she wondered if maybe he had a wife. He was old enough to be married, and handsome enough to undoubtedly have any choice of woman he wanted. It would make sense if he was.
"Sometimes I travel with my younger brother. Other times I travel with my father," he answered. The fact that he didn't mention a woman had her feeling optimistic again. "I made the journey with my father this time. We leave the day after tomorrow, though. Our stays in Cairo are never very long."
There was the disappointment again, though she felt ridiculous for it. She had just met this man. So what if they were having a good, albeit unexpected, conversation, and so what if he was one of the better looking men she had seen in…well…ever. Why should she care if he was going to be gone in a few days?
Rose nodded slowly in understanding. "That is a long way to travel for only a few days. You must be here for something important."
Ardeth nodded. "We are," he said.
The tone he had used let her know he had no intentions of elaborating, so she didn't even bother trying to pry further. She was a fast learner, and she had learned already that he would not give up any information that he didn't want to.
"Why that book?" Ardeth asked to change the subject, nodding his chin toward the book she still carried.
Rose glanced down at it. "For no other reason other than I love history and I love to read," she told him. "Dr. Bey has been kind enough to let me visit this library to my heart's content. I must have read hundreds of these books by now," she explained, gazing at the books around them with fondness. "It's a family trait, I suppose. We all love history, and we all love Egypt. I feel as though I can never learn enough, and with everything new that I do learn, I just fall more and more in love with this place."
When Ardeth didn't say anything she looked over at him, only to find that he was gazing down at her with a look she couldn't quite decipher. After a moment, he cleared his throat and looked away to break their eye contact. "That is why they moved here? Because they love Egypt?" he asked, keeping his gaze forward.
"More or less," she confirmed with a nod. "My father is an archaeologist, you see," she said. "My mother was, too, before she passed away," she added, frowning momentarily. She shook her head to rid herself of the brief sadness, then continued on. "They came here together before I was born to work on an excavation sight. They loved it so much, they just never left."
Ardeth came to a halt, so she did as well. He was frowning a bit, though she wasn't sure why. "An archaeologist?" he repeated. Rose nodded in confirmation. "What did you say your father's name was again?"
"Monty," she said, frowning a little herself now. "Well, Monty is a nickname," she clarified. "His real name is Montgomery. Montgomery Grisham."
To her surprise, Ardeth's eyes lit with recognition. He knew who her father was after all, which she supposed wasn't too much of a surprise considering that he was one of the most well-known archeologists in Egypt. He had overseen digs all over the country and made quite a name for himself after discovering a previously unknown tomb of a very wealthy Pharaoh, which had produced many, many valuable treasures. The success of that excavation had turned him into a bit of a local celebrity, as far as archeologists and Egyptologists went.
"I know that name," Ardeth said slowly. "I have heard people in my tribe speak of him before. He is..."
But Ardeth did not continue, as if he thought it better not to finish his thought. Rose cocked an eyebrow, curious to know where he had been going with that statement. "He is what?" she asked in a calm tone.
Ardeth hesitated again. "He is…not very well received amongst my people."
Rose's frown was immediate. "Why? What has he ever done to them?"
"There are many who think the tombs of Pharaoh's should be left alone," Ardeth told her seriously. "To them, your father is no better than a tomb raider."
Rose was immediately offended, so much so that she took a step back as if he had physically struck her, her expression one of outrage. And their conversation had been going so well. It was a shame that it seemed now to have taken a very sharp turn for the worse.
"A tomb raider?" she repeated incredulously. "That is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard! My father is helping to preserve the history of Egypt, not steal it away for his own selfish gain!"
"Not everyone sees it that way. And some believe our history would be preserved just fine if left alone in its rightful place," Ardeth countered.
"Where it will just sit and turn to dust? Where it will go unnoticed? Where it will just be left for actual tomb raiders to find and sell on the black market to the highest bidder?" Rose argued. "This is the history of our country, Ardeth. It needs to be seen, it needs to be learned, it needs to be respected. That can't happen if it wastes away in a tomb, buried beneath the sand!"
Ardeth tilted his head a bit. "You said our country," he pointed out.
Rose narrowed her eyes, not liking his response at all. "Yes. Our country," she said heatedly. "I may not have Egyptian blood in my veins, but I was born here. I was raised here. It is the only place I have lived and will ever live, if I have any say in the matter. Egypt is my home, and I have just as much right to call it my country as you do," she said firmly.
Ardeth held his hands up in surrender. "You are right. Forgive me. I meant no offense," he said before she could continue on with her tangent.
Rose just crossed her arms over her chest and looked away, feeling quite angry with the way this conversation had gone. She normally was not someone who was quick to anger, but if there was a surefire way to make her mad, it was talking badly about someone she loved. She did not take kindly to people insulting her family, and not even handsome, mysterious men like Ardeth were an exception to that.
"I can see my words have offended you, Rosalie. Know that was not my intention," Ardeth said, and to his credit, he did sound legitimately regretful.
Rose looked at him from the corner of her eye, took in his apologetic expression, then sighed and uncrossed her arms. "Forgive me for losing my temper. But it is hard not to feel offended when the character of someone I love gets called into question," she said.
"And your defense of him is entirely understandable," Ardeth told her. "I would do the same, if someone spoke badly of anyone in my family."
Rose sighed again as she mulled over the conversation they'd just had, before she shrugged a shoulder. "I suppose everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I must accept that. Even if it is an opinion I do not agree with." Ardeth nodded. "My father is a good man, though," she added firmly. "Trust when I say that he only wants what's best for Egypt."
Ardeth was quiet for a moment, before nodding slowly. "I believe you. And if what you say about your father's love of Egypt is true, then I have no choice but to believe he only has good intentions."
Any anger that might have been lingering within disappeared instantly. She smiled, inexplicably relieved that Ardeth did not seem to share the same beliefs as his people…or, at least, none that he had admitted to aloud. For now, that was good enough for her.
It felt like it would be a good idea to move from the subject of archaeology and alleged tomb raiders. As Rose remembered that he had referred to his people as a tribe, her head was filled with a whole new round of questions. Before she could ask any of them, however, loud shouting out in the main lobby reached her ears. She frowned and glanced toward the door to the library, before looking up at Ardeth questioningly. He had heard the shouting as well and looked equally confused. He glanced down at her, then moved toward the door, his hand already resting on the hilt of his sword. Rose gulped, unsure if his readiness to fight frightened or impressed her, and quickly followed after him.
She expected the cause of all the yelling to be robbers coming in to the loot the place, or perhaps to rob all of the tourists in the museum of their money and valuables. That was not the case, however. As she and Ardeth reached the main lobby, they both skidded to a halt upon discovering that the cause of the commotion was two men arguing fiercely with one another. One of those men, surprisingly, was her father.
Monty was yelling at a man dressed in similar attire as Ardeth was, while the much shorter Dr. Bey stood between the two tall men, doing his best to try to keep them separated and calm. A task, mind you, he was failing at miserably.
"People like you are a plague in this land!" the man in black shouted in Arabic, shaking his fist at Monty and looking angry enough to spit fire. "You have no respect for the land! No respect for the dead!"
"No respect? No respect?!" Monty argued back heatedly. "I have more respect for this land in my pinky finger than you do in your entire body! I'm the one trying to save its history and its riches! I'm the one making sure its stories get told!"
"You are grave robbers, every last one of you!" the man growled back, not budging an inch in his argument.
While Dr. Bey did his best to be heard above all the arguing and calm them down, Rose and Ardeth stared on with similar expression of shock. "That is my father," she murmured.
"And that is mine," Ardeth said.
She looked at him in surprise, then back to the man who was yelling at her father. Of course he was Ardeth's father. How had she not been able to tell? Their attire was the same, the swords looked the same, even their faces looked the same. The only difference was that where Ardeth was young and handsome, Ardeth's father was older, harsher, and had visible scars on his weather-beaten face. She looked from him to her own father and shook her head, unsure how their paths had even crossed and wondering just what exactly had made them start arguing.
She and Ardeth shared another look, and is if by some unspoken agreement, they both moved forward to intervene. "What is going on here?" Rose said loudly, her eyes bouncing from her father to Dr. Bey, then back again.
"Father, please, be calm," Ardeth said to his own father. "What is the meaning of this?"
The two men finally stopped yelling long enough to look at the two of them. Both of them were still obviously angry, but were now looking back and forth between the two of them as if trying to figure out how they knew one another.
"Rose? Who is this?" Monty asked, glaring untrustingly at Ardeth.
"I think the better question right now is why in the world are you two shouting at each other? You're loud enough to wake the dead!" Rose said with a frown.
The question might have been a mistake, because it made Monty scowl at Ardeth's father again. "I was having a perfectly good conversation with Terence out in the marketplace when this man came out of nowhere and began insulting me right to me face! He had the nerve to say that I'm as lowly as tomb raider."
Well, Ardeth hadn't been lying – his people really didn't view her father in a good light. "Because you are!" Ardeth's father said. "And you!" he continued, glaring down at Dr. Bey in disapproval. "I am surprise you would associate with people such as this! Have you no honor?"
Dr. Bey did not take well to his honor being questioned, if the way he bristled was any indication. "It is my decision whom I associate with, and it is not your place to question me on it," he said defensively.
Ardeth's father gritted his teeth, then looked to his son. In the next second his narrowed eyes turned to her. His gaze flickered between her and her father, took in the very obvious similarities between them, then his eyes narrowed even further as he turned a glare on his son.
"What are you doing with this girl?" he asked, his disapproval so palpable she could practically feel it on her skin. "Certainly you must know who she is."
Ardeth glanced at her briefly. "I do," he confirmed. "We were only talking, father. Nothing more."
"You will not do so again," his father commanded sternly. "These people are trouble, and I will not have you associating with the likes of her. You are banned from associating with her."
Ardeth looked displeased, and Rose couldn't help feeling offended by the fact that he was speaking of her as if she were some sort of leper. Her father seemed to take offense, too. His face had turned a dangerous shade of red, and he was so angry she thought he might explode like a stick of dynamite.
"How dare you speak of my daughter in such a way!" he shouted, looking close to losing control of himself entirely.
Ardeth's father started to say something back, but Dr. Bey had finally had enough.
"STOP!" he shouted, reaching a volume that Rose hadn't thought him possible of achieving. Everyone froze – even those who were not involved in the quarrel – and looked to the heaving man, who seemed fed up with the whole lot of them. "You are behaving like children," he growled, looking back and forth between Monty and Ardeth's father. "This is my museum, and I will not tolerate the two of you squabbling like insolent school children fighting over a toy!"
When nobody said anything, Dr. Bey turned his attention to Ardeth's father. "You and Ardeth will stay, but only because we have a meeting set already," he said. He then turned to Monty, his expression a bit more apologetic, but not by much. "Montgomery, perhaps it is best if you and Rosalie leave."
Monty sniffed at the suggestion, clearly still angry and offended by the whole situation. "You do not have to tell me twice," he said. "Rose. Come."
He started for the door with purposeful strides, leaving her with little choice but to follow him. She looked at Dr. Bey, then at Ardeth's father, then at Ardeth himself. He said nothing, but she could see in his eyes that he was apologetic for the way his father was behaving. She just nodded to silently say that she understood, before finally leaving the trio behind and hurrying to catch up with her father.
Monty was muttering to himself under his breath, no doubt cursing Ardeth's father. When he realized she had caught up with him, he turned a frown on her. "How did you meet that boy? What were you doing with him?" Monty demanded.
"We just bumped into one another," she said with a helpless shrug. "We were only having a conversation. It was harmless, Papa."
"You will never speak to him again," Monty commanded.
"But Papa – "
"Rosalie Alexandria Grisham, you will not speak to that boy again," he interrupted this time with even more authority. "Do you understand me?"
Rose sighed with defeat. "Yes, father."
They continued on toward the door, Rose having to lengthen her strides in order to keep up with her father's quick, angry pace. Before exiting the museum she dared one last look over her shoulder to see that Ardeth, his father, and Dr. Bey had begun to make their way upstairs. Ardeth was the last one up, and as his foot hit the bottom step, he paused to glance back at as well. For one brief moment their gazes held, both filled with apology and regret. Then Ardeth turned to go upstairs and Rose went outside, and then they could see one another no more.
Hope you guys enjoyed the first chapter! I don't know if Ardeth's tribe would really hate archaeologists so much, but I don't think it's too farfetched to believe they wouldn't be very approving. And also, Ardeth might not be completely in character compared to the way he behaves in the movie, but I think younger Ardeth might be a little different from older Ardeth, and I wanted to explore that.
Anyway, please let me know what you think! Thanks for reading!