Drew was squatted down in the hole she'd made her daily home for the past three months. Her brush in hand as she held up another piece of pottery that she'd carefully extracted from the marked off area. She looked up, searching for Azrael her co-worker and site manager. The Italian country side was scorching with the summer sun beating down upon her terra cotta coloured skin. She'd applied more sunscreen two hours ago, regardless the sun added to her melanin.
"Az, I've got another one." She called once she spotted the lanky man.
His hat easily spotted from the side as it was a bright rainbow along the three sixty brim. He needed to protect his bald head after all. He turned towards her a smile on his face. He stood up from his own section and made his way over to her.
"I'd say more a jug," she gestured to the one handle and spout.
The dirty clay would be taken to their lab and cleaned. There it would go through more testing and labelling. They didn't have much of an area they could set up a bigger tent for findings if they wished to keep digging into the hill side. The private job was of a large manor after all that went deep and wide according to the owner's old blue prints of the property. One that had been destroyed three centuries ago.
"If you find some cups maybe we can break for lemonade." He chuckled while he motioned for one of the hands to come over.
Davina a second year student from the University of London. One she'd become close to while there, the girl reminded her, of a younger version of herself. Her dark brown hair was in two braids and her glasses settled close on her face. "Yes boss?"
"Take this back to the lab and place it in Drew's area. We can go over it this afternoon for labelling."
"Yessir," she took it carefully with gloved hands and made her trek back up the hill.
Drew wiped her brow with her arm while she stood stretching herself from her position she'd been in for the past hour. "You know they were hired to help excavate too, not run things back and forth."
"They are younger than us, these young whippersnappers can do that hill a lot faster than we can. Plus, it's good experience, they will learn that we all help around here. Just because you have a PhD does not save you from labor. The college kids can learn it now." He shrugged. "I also do not wish to climb that hill."
The last part was whispered to her. Drew laughed shaking her head. He was only in his late thirties he had not even begun to go grey, just a bit of male pattern baldness. His chin stubble still the dark colour of what his hair had been.
Drew had only just finished her PhD last year at the age of twenty-five. Her twenty seventh birthday would be at the end of the year. She'd finished high school at the age of fifteen with high marks. Her college career she went at a normal pace with a gap year in between her masters and PhD.
"I guess nineteen does look young to thirty-nine." She commented while sipping on her water straw that attached to the backpack she wore.
"I am thirty-seven." He sniffed.
"What is two years?" She laughed.
"Back to work with you," he waved her off returning to his own spot. "If you find any actual treasure let me know."
Drew got back to it clearing her area. Still, many of it was just the stairs leading down the hill with random pottery and such throughout. No one had found the lower levels. Access to the basement had not been found in the few months they had been working. It was a slow tedious process, but they had time. Drew grabbed her shovel beginning to carve out the next step down in the stones.
She pushed into the side of the remaining stone wall at three feet high, the wall that had once been much higher than current levels. She leant forward putting weight on the wall.
She retracted her hand immediately. There, a stone she'd been pushing dirt away from, had disappeared. She grabbed her torch immediately. She dropped to her knees laying flat as she could go. She turned her head to get a better look not caring if her curls got dirty. She cut them short for a reason. The light showed the beginning of an archway, the light faded out to shadows showing it went lower, she was at a ceiling. She grinned.
Drew pushed herself up out of the dirt. She looked up seeing he was already standing behind her concern all over his face.
"Are you alright?"
"Spooked from sudden movement, no injury. I found the stairs!"
She stood handing him the torch. "Look,"
He did as instructed, dropping to lay as best he could in her area that really could only allow her to lay flat down at five foot two.
"Well, there they are! Congratulations, let's get the hands over here with the bigger shovels and help you clear the stone steps and dirt out of the way."
"Is that a good idea? I've been finding pottery within the steps along the way down, is it worth the risk?" Drew questioned as he stood back up to his full height.
Azrael pursed his lips. "The owner of the land wanted to know when we broke down to the basement. He did not seem so concerned for the upper levels as he did the basement. These stares, you are in the east wing of this manor… these stairs did not have connecting ones did they?"
"Not to my knowledge. These ruins are a few centuries old we could be looking at very fragile work."
Azrael rubbed his chin. "No one is to touch this area without consulting Drew,"
He called to the few who had perked up at their conversation. A few of the younger hands nodded. Their team of fifteen wasn't large and no one was inexperienced with such digs. Azrael's dark gaze came back to her, he dug into the left pocket of his khaki shorts.
"Heads I go consult the owner, tails you get to."
Drew crossed her arms. "You're the lead archeologist on this project."
Azrael raised his brow. "We are partners for leads on this, equals. I merely have more years in the field than you. You are the prodigy."
"Sir. Turi scares you so much?"
She'd never met the owner, she came onto the scene after her colleague Dr. Janis Hodgkin the first choice for this dig, had her husband become ill. She was the one Dr. Hodgkin had recommended in her stead. Drew adored her once professor turned colleague at the University, so she had packed up and came across the world to the Tuscany town. The only thing she knew about them was they made Azrael uncomfortable, and they were not really around a lot. They had money, enough to make people stop asking questions.
"Fine, flip the coin." She agreed.
He did just that, flipping it. She watched it rotate over and over, glinting in the high morning sun. In time gravity brought the Canadian quarter down. It was something she'd had in her pockets the first time they flipped coin about decisions a few months ago. He liked the caribou head, so he kept the relatively new coin.
She watched as he revealed it on the top of his left hand.
There the caribou was staring back at her. She rolled her eyes as he gave a small yes under his breath.
"I swear if I end up murdered by these mafia people it's on you." She grumbled wiping herself off. "I'm going to change quickly before I go."
"Best to go now, the sooner the better."
"I won't get past the front reception of the town hall, looking like this." Drew protested.
"Change in the office, do not blame me if they scold you for not making hast." He tutted.
"Then again you are a woman, they may be nicer to you."
"They aren't sexist, are they?" Drew scrunched her nose up, a few times in Rome these past few months had had her encountering a few men too willing to be friendly. It was a big city thing she swore.
"Not that I have seen or heard. They are nothing but civil. I merely find they are a bit unsettling to me. You're a beautiful woman, who could ever be mean to you?" He questioned.
Drew shook her head rolling her eyes at him. "Ridiculous man, stop trying to butter me up. I already lost the stupid coin toss."
She turned and headed back up the hill, she was careful of the other team members working away still. She waved to Davina who was coming down having finished up.
"What's going on?"
"We have found the entrance to the basement. So, I must tell the owner."
"Awesome! Can I help?"
"When I return,"
She hurried back through the wall of the city that surrounded the properties inside the premises of the town she'd been in for the past six months. Volterra a beautiful town in the Tuscany hills. She opened the gate and hurried through the small tunnel, she exited into a cobble stone side alley. The office building and lab was two streets over. In the town centre where the university campus sat.
She entered the side door opening it with the security code. She was practically running down the polished marble tiled floor. She took the steps to the second level where her work office was. She unlocked it with the code and closed the door behind her. She went to her dark oak desk where she kept baby wipes and some emergency makeup. She'd been caught a few times by the team members wanting to go to a pub or café late in the evening for drinks.
She pulled out her emergency clothing consisting of dark orange blouse with short sleeves cuffing at her bicep. She buttoned it to her collar where it did up. She looked to her shorts and sighed. She wiped the dirt away as best she could before she slipped them off and into straight legged black capris. Her shoes she toed into black kitten heels under her desk.
Finally, she turned to the mirror on the side of her many book shelf right next to the window. Her only mirror.
She met her own honey light brown gaze, her nose had dirt smattered across it with dust on her neck. Her cheeks heated. She grabbed a wipe and cleaned herself. She bent at the waist shaking her curls of dust. She grabbed the small spray bottle and misted her curls before she fingers brushed them down and redid some of the curls. All natural thanks to her maternal grandmother being from Nigeria.
"Well, it'll do," She admitted.
She turned once more and grabbed a note pad and clip board, her pens she pocketed. Her blackberry was sitting on her desk she grabbed it and made her way to the front where she could exit and cross to the town hall. Where their current employer was located.
She zipped through the empty halls of the university science department and then main halls. The summer time meant a lot of the students were out for the year. She pushed open the sold wood door with glass and hurried down the steps, across the square, with the fountain in the middle, she caught sight of the bell tower. The few steps up that were imposing under the pillars and stood with the four solid wood doors. Original to the building they seemed.
She passed a few familiar faces she had come to know from her time in the town. It was different than she was used to. The cafes and stores here, existed for many generations, or changed types but stayed relatively family owned. The bakery, to the butcher, to the general store. She always saw three generations in Canada as a long time. These people with eight or more made it obvious she did not know old by true definition.
She pushed open the door to the town hall. There, a full foyer opened into high arched ceilings and marble statues and many art works on display, the museum was connected through the hall way to the left. Her heels clicked on the freshly polished tiles, she approached the round desk where a beautiful woman was sat.
Her light blonde hair in waves around her, while she wore a fitted white blouse and black pencil skirt. Her tan skin kissed from the sun, dark eyes wide and surrounded by large lashes.
"Welcome," she greeted in Italian.
"Ciao," Drew waved. "I have some information for Sir. Turi?"
The blonde paused. "Do you have an appointment with which of the Turi brothers?"
There was more than one? Drew looked down to her notepad. A. Turi, if he is not in request Demetri.
"Sir. A. Turi, if he is not available currently… I know lunch is soon, is Demetri available?"
"May I ask your name?" The blonde asked holding the phone to her neck hand hovering to dial.
"Dr. Drew Danvers, I'm one of the archeologists on the excavation outside of the town? I'm not sure if that clarifies it. He had requested to be notified immediately when we found the basement of the old manor. We have,"
"Oh. I thought Dr. Azrael was the lead on that?" She tilted her head.
"He is, we both are." Drew clenched her clipboard tighter as she was looked over once more by the receptionist.
She'd never really experienced a client who had many people to get through just to talk with. Then again this was her first private excavation.
"One moment," the woman held a well-manicured nail up to Drew.
Drew looked over her own hands, her nails were short and had dirt staining the tops of what should've been white. Her cheeks warmed. Damn job. She loved archeology and had since she was a young girl. She'd always loved playing in the dirt and discovering history and things from the past. She couldn't help the uneasy feeling she got when she didn't look presentable. The nagging that she wasn't good enough, forever digging at her head. The foster kid, who tragically lost her parents at birth. Lived with her grandmother until eleven when she passed. She had put her nose in books and her studies just to ignore the reality.
"Sir. Turi, will see you now, Dr. Danvers." The receptionist broke through her thoughts.
She nodded her head. "Thanks,"
"Down the right hall, his assistant will take you," she gestured to a man in a pair of slacks and button up with a black vest. He appeared out of nowhere.
Drew craned her neck to get a good look at his face. Dark eyes bore down upon her, he was at least two feet taller than her. She gulped offering a smile. He turned on his heel and motioned for her to follow. Drew had to jog to keep up with the big man. His wide shoulders and the shirt left little to question he was a brick wall of muscle. Azrael had said these people weren't mafia. Did he lie?
She would haunt him from the grave if she walked so unknowingly into the home of the Italian mafia. She'd made it through years of Foster care keeping herself clean only to wind up in shit internationally.
Ms. Cabot, her last and longest foster parent, would have her head if she ever found out one of her previous wards was wanted internationally.
"Sir. Turi," a bit too much emphasis on the last name? She mentally questioned. "Will see you now."
He pushed open the door they had stopped in front of. Drew's gaze went to the many shelves upon shelves of books. A small circular library, or giant office greeted her. No windows but a lot of lighting and large tapestries brought colour to the room. Her jaw went slack as she saw a few pieces under glass with small plaques. She clenched the clipboard tighter, she wanted to go look over each book.
A throat cleared, grabbing her attention. There behind a dark oak stained desk a man was lazily say back in a high leather back chair. He held a book in hand as he looked up. Dark eyes zeroed in on her, a toothy smile greeting her.
Drew gulped pausing only a few feet from him. Her cheeks warmed as she realized she'd all but ignored him.
He who was perched like a predator who had just been introduced to its newest prey. He was a pale man with olive toned skin. His straight Grecian nose and angular face. Onyx waves over his shoulder that was clipped back away from his face. He was a beautiful man in a beautifully expensive suit of pure obsidian and a red tie. He was hardly older than she was.
"What do we have here? Felix, who is this?" He questioned not moving his gaze from her.
"Dr. Danvers, sir." A deep baritone replied.
"Yes, Dr. Drew Danvers… you were the replacement for Dr. Hodgkin, yes?"
"Yes sir," she replied. "I am, Dr. Hodgkin trained me and is my mentor back home. She had some family matters that came up."
"Her husband, yes. We spoke, the ways of illness are quite harrowing." He mused.
She watched him stand unfolding his surprisingly larger form. She didn't expect him to be so tall. Her barely over five two made it easy for most to tower over her. She usually could tell when someone was taller though. He rounded the desk offering his hand.
Drew's heart best picked up, cheeks burning as she lifted hers away from her clip board. He took it ever so softly. He was cold to the touch. She tensed pressing down the urge to shudder. After a morning in the hot Italian sun she was more than willing to hold something cold.
Not like that. She mentally cringed. No, no, no. She was not about to imagine this man, her boss mind you, in such ways. She retracted her hand clinging for dear life to the clipboard.
She took a deep breath to steady her increasing heart rate. A mistake. Citrus and books washed over her. A combination she did not think would compliment each other but it did. He smelt of books as if he'd been in the office for sometime.
"What brings you all the way here, Dr. Danvers?" He asked taking a step back.
She blinked a few times. Why was she here? She looked to her clipboard seeing stairs underlined.
"We found the stairs. We broke ground and Azrael wished for us to inform you. Your request that we notify you immediately."
"You have excellent listening skills Dr. Danvers," he complimented, a spark in his gaze that held her captive.
Were her knees made of jelly? She questioned herself as the ground seem to pull her closer.
"If anyone had gone too far, the basement would've made you apart or it. It is well fortified after all. Trip wires and traps are throughout the place. It is best your team not get hurt upon our property," his tone so light for the warning he voiced.
Drew'a mouth went dry. There were boobytraps? "I wasn't aware… though should've been obvious…"
"You are a smart young woman, common sense keeps you alive." He commented a small curl to his lips.
Was he telling her to trust her gut? She pondered. The way he walked around the room like he owned everything in this town. A confidence radiated off of him, that he was in charge. To not listen or heed his warnings would mean death. Her eyes fell to his behind that where well tailored trousers hugged his butt. Was he so confident in the bedroom?
"Right you are sir, injuries are highly damaging to an archeologists career. Best not to be hurt or die in such a beautiful property."
A soft chuckle escaped him. He shook his head returning back around to his chair. He motioned to the chairs across from his desk.
"It is such an inconvenience when people die on our properties." He teased, a flash of something crossing his expression. She sat down leaning in. "Let us go over these shall we? Best to protect your team?"