I'm really, really sorry this chapter took so long. I've just been moved from part time to full time at work and I have a lot less time to write and get online. That and the chronic case of writers block I mentioned last time. Don't worry, I promise to finish this story even if it kills me – hopefully it wont but you never know.
Thank you to all the lovely people who have reviewed and been so supportive – this chapter is for you!
Disclaimer: Do you see that pig over there? It's flying! You don't? Huh. Guess that means I don't own a damn thing…bummer.
Chapter 4: Could we be friends?
It was late afternoon by the time Imhotep and his lady friend forced themselves out of bed, and even then, it had been hunger rather than desire that had driven them to do so. It had been a night of bliss and Imhotep was reluctant to let it end. For even though they still had another five nights together before he was expected back in Hamunaptra, the questions he should have been asking ever since Anck had called him were becoming harder to ignore.
Why, after a year of having nothing to do with him, had she called and begged to see him?
What had happened between her and Jonathan to make her run to Cairo in the first place?
Why had he come so willingly after all she had put him through?
The last question he could answer easily enough. He loved her – always had, always would. The others would have to wait to be answered since Anck had refused to divulge anything until 'after we're properly reacquainted.' At the time Imhotep had found no fault with her plan of action, and now, many hours later, he wasn't entirely convinced he wanted to know what was going on.
An unsettling queasiness had risen in his stomach when she had asked after the welfare of his fiancée before laughing the inquiry off as a joke and leading him from the airport and into her bed, and he had thought no more of it, too content to be back in the arms of his love. He hadn't even bothered to unpack. Now however, Anck was in the shower and he waited for her return. She had promised to explain everything once she did.
Imhotep knew how calculating and focused Anck could be when she had a plan to milk some unsuspecting soul of his hard earned cash – her primary motivation, and as such, puzzle pieces were beginning to fall into place in his mind. If he was right in his suspicions, he only hoped that his devotion to her would be enough to see him through, for one thing was certain.
Evelyn Carnahan was going to get hurt…badly.
"Look I've said I'm sorry okay, do you have to be such a…" Rick paused, searching for just the right term, knowing that saying the wrong thing would set her off all over again. It had taken him most of the afternoon to persuade her that it was in their best interests to stick together, pool their resources, watch each other's backs and so on. The fuss she'd kicked up when he'd pointed out that sharing a room at the tiny motel, the only one in town, would be cheaper had made him fearful for his anatomy, She had long nails and pointy boots and he was fairly certain she knew just how to use them.
Luck, or one big cosmic joke had been on his side when they reached the motel however. Apparently they were not the only ones to have missed the bus, and four of the five rooms had already been let. As such, they found themselves sharing a twin room. Rick was just grateful that there were two beds and he wouldn't have to do the noble thing and sleep on the floor.
Evelyn turned to face him as he followed her into their room, closing the door behind him, his sentence still unfinished.
"Such a?" she prompted, narrowing her eyes dangerously.
"Erm…" Usually so quick with comebacks and one-liners, Rick found himself at a loss to escape the hole had and once more unwittingly dug for himself.
"Madam?" Evelyn offered at his continued silence. "Priss? Bitch?"
"No, no!" Rick shook his head vehemently "Nothing like that. I just meant you were being kinda…hostile."
"I am NOT being hostile!" Evelyn cried indignantly, throwing her bag onto the nearest bed, placing her hands on her hips and glaring at him. "You're just a rude, annoying man!"
Rick smirked, raising an eyebrow as he took in her defiant, confrontational pose. "Not hostile huh?" He crossed his arms over his chest, his 'I so don't believe you' expression firmly in place.
"I am not!"
"Quick tempered maybe, but not hostile."
"Whatever you say."
"Ohh. What do you know!" Evelyn huffed, turning away and using all of her restraint not to comment when she heard him chuckling behind her. Instead, she focused on taking in her surroundings. The room was small, tiny even – she could have fit it inside her bedroom at home three times over and still have room fro an en suite bathroom. She suppressed a sigh, knowing that complaining would make her sound like the spoiled brat that she probably was. Her suspicion was confirmed when out of the corner of her eye; she glimpsed O'Connell looking the room over appreciatively. Though really this wasn't saying much when one considered his last accommodation had been a cell.
When her eyes landed on the twin beds occupying the majority of the space however, she couldn't remain quiet. "This will never do." She muttered.
"What won't do?" came an exasperated voice from just behind her, making Evelyn jump. She hadn't realised her was that close.
"The beds," she explained gesturing with her hand "there's nothing separating them."
Rick looked at her askance, then back at the beds, then right back at her, confusion and amusement warring for dominance on his face. "Sure there is." He stepped around her to stand between the beds and turned back to face her, spreading his arms to accentuate his point. "Air, five whole feet of it."
"That's not what I meant." Evelyn snapped in return.
"What did you mean then?" Rick asked, dropping his arms to his sides and continuing to peer at her.
"There's no wall, no curtain." Evelyn dropped her eyes to hide the faint blush creeping into her cheeks. "You'll se me."
"You're kidding?" Rick asked incredulously, beginning to laugh again what he saw she was serious. "I've seen women in night clothes before."
"Well you haven't seen me."
"What are you worried about?" Rick continued to laugh "Afraid I'll sully your precious virtue?"
"Oooh." Evelyn grabbed her toiletries bag and marched off to find the motel bathroom, leaving O'Connell in near hysterical laughter collapsed on his bed. "You wouldn't stand a chance!"
Ardeth was by nature, a very patient man. He had been known to follow a man for two weeks strait just to catch him putting one foot wrong – in that situation, spending cash he had stolen from the Carnahan's.
As this was the case, he wasn't particularly upset when several of his early leads dried up rather rapidly.
He had taken Jonathan's advice about finding Imhotep first, as it seemed logical that Evelyn would want to be with him. Unfortunately, upon arriving at Imhotep's place of residence, the security team he had dispatched found the place devoid of any clues as to where he might have been going from the airport. His next act had of course been to call various contacts throughout Egypt, asking them to keep a close watch on their respective local airports and to let him know if they spotted the man himself, or the errant Miss Carnahan. As yet he had heard nothing.
His sxecond lead had come in the form of an off duty Carnahan employee who reported seeing Evelyn at the Hamunaptra bus station. However, early hope quickly fizzled when not a single ticket clerk recalled having sold the young lady a ticket, and Evelyn Carnahan was not someone you easily forgot. Not even offers of cash had refreshed any memories, nor produced and false speculation – people knew better than to lie to the chief of Carnahan security. It never boded well for one's health.
Thus, despite multiple entreaties from Jonathan to 'get off your lazy arse and find my sister!' Ardeth was left with little to do but wait for Evelyn to leave them a clue, however long that may take. He was certain it would happen sooner or later.
Ardeth had in fact been surprised that Evelyn hadn't left them a blindingly obvious trail of breadcrumbs to follow. Despite his private belief that Jonathan was far too protective of her, he knew it was true she had very little experience in taking care of herself, and he doubted very much that the numerous books she devoured daily would be much used during her adventure. Ancient history seemed more her forte than evasion tactics. This has led Ardeth to one simple conclusion – Evelyn had in fact 'found a friend' as he had suggested, or at least someone willing to help her. Someone who knew how to stay hidden. That might prove to be a problem.
Ardeth was pulled form his thoughts by the urgent tapping on the door to his office.
"Come." He called, only raising an eyebrow in question at the young man excitedly hopping from one foot to the other in front of him. Obviously he hadn't been in this job very long – the wide-eyed enthusiasm had yet to wear off.
"Sir, we got a call from the bank!" The sentence was punctuated with a nod of his head and a wide grin. Ardeth sighed, realising that this was likely to be a very irritating conversation. Overly cheerful people tended to grate against his trademark stoicism.
"And?" he asked, already wanting rid of the man.
"Oh right," the man continued, remembering what had him so excited in the first place. "Miss Carnahan's credit card was used at 10:45 this morning."
"Where?" At this news Ardeth had become instantly alert, although alert and bored looked very similar from the perspective of the exited young man in his office.
When Ardeth heard that the card had been used for medical supplies, he instantly decided not to pass on that piece of information to his employer, it would only make him worry. Instead, he chose his best two men – Walter Bay, and Seth Odile, and informed Jonathan that they were borrowing the company helicopter.
His patience was paying off.
It was an hour later when a very frustrated Evelyn walked back into their motel room after fruitlessly searching for washing facilities. She knew they must be around somewhere, but she'd be damned if she could find them. She was so busy muttering to herself about having to make do with the tiny en-suite washroom that it took her several seconds to notice that O'Connell's appearance was somewhat different compared to how she had left him.
He was sitting on the edge of one of the beds, shirtless, attempting to change the dressing on his shoulder. Having noticed the sudden silence of Evelyn's meaningless chatter, he turned to see what was wrong, and was both stunned and amused to see her staring fixedly at his bare chest. While Rick was well aware that he had nothing to be ashamed of physically, even now with a gaping hole in his shoulder, but her reaction was still unexpected. She hadn't seemed the type to be affected by the show of a little muscle.
"Something wrong?" he asked with all the casualness he could muster. He knew exactly what was wrong; he just wanted to see if 'Miss Prim and Proper' would admit to it.
"Y…You…" she stammered, her eyes snapping up to his face as she registered his words. "You're not wearing a shirt!"
Hiding his smirk by looking down as if to check the validity of her statement, he schooled his features into their usual blankness before looking back up. "You're right, I'm not."
"Why aren't you wearing a shirt?" she exclaimed, eyes wider than he had ever seen them.
"Kinda hard to do this with my shirt on." He nodded towards his shoulder and indicated the medical supplies next to him. "Not that it's easy with one hand either."
He had muttered the last under his breath, but Evelyn still heard him. She watched him for several seconds as he struggled with a bandage, biting her bottom lip. Eventually she couldn't help her concern from showing. It was nothing personal, she told herself, she was just a nice person. "Do…Do you want some help?" She asked quietly, nervously, remembering only to well his reaction the last time she offered assistance.
He stopped what he was doing and looked up at her, and from Evelyn's perspective, he seemed to be looking for something. Whatever it was, he obviously didn't find it. Instead he sighed, letting the bandage slip from his fingers and nodded his head. "That would be great…Thanks."
Evelyn bit her tongue to keep in a retort about his wanting help now when it had been so rudely refused before. She had a feeling it was very rare that Rick O'Connell admitted that he needed help, and she felt strangely pleased that he was allowing her to do so.
Taking a seat next to him, Evelyn pulled the supplies she would need from the carrier bag before removing the clumsy dressing he had obviously applied himself that morning. It was already soaked with blood. Part of her wondered how he could still be upright with the amount he seemed to have lost, while the other part was fixedly concentrating on her work in an effort to ignore the eyes watching her and to keep her own from straying too far.
She was applying antiseptic when she decided she couldn't stand the strained silence. They were either arguing or asleep, this odd tension as each of them was concentrated so intently upon the other was not supposed to be part of their relationship.
"You really should get this looked at by a doctor." She commented lightly. It was the first thing that came to mind.
"Nah." Rick shrugged, forcing himself to think about something other than how pleasant he found her carefully gentle touch, and how long it had been since he was in the position to enjoy such attention. "They wouldn't do much more than you're doing now. S'not the kind of thing you can stitch up."
"You sound like you're speaking from experience." Evelyn offered with a raised eyebrow.
"Comes with the job." He tried for indifference, but Evelyn detected the weariness in his tone. She instantly found herself wanting to ask why he did it if the risks were so high, yet she was afraid of how he would react. Instead, she went for the indirect approach, hoping she could get him to reveal more that way. It always seemed to work on Imhotep and Jonathan. She didn't question why she wanted to know, putting it down to curiosity about a life so radically different from her own.
"Why did you rob Seti's?"
"No choice." Was his simple reply.
"There's always a choice." Evelyn retorted, irritated both by his lack of forthcoming information, and the matter of fact nature of his statement.
Rick snorted. "The only people who say that are the people who've never been in a no win situation."
Evelyn wanted to retort that she had been in such a situation at some point, but she couldn't think of a single example. "Fine." She conceded, "Why didn't you have a choice?"
"I owe money to some very nasty people, that's why." He snapped, quickly loosing patience with this line of questioning. He was silent for a whole minute, reigning in his temper before continuing in a calmer voice. "Do you mind if we don't talk about this right now?"
"Of course." Evelyn replied, keeping to herself the observation that 'right now' implied he might be willing to continue the conversation later. "All done."
She placed one last pat on the newly applied dressing before rising from her seat. Neither acknowledged how cold they suddenly felt. "Thanks." Rick said quietly, not quite looking at her as he reached for his discarded shirt.
There was another awkward silence just then as each tried to figure out what they were supposed to do now, both seemingly fresh out of witty repartee. "Look," It was Rick's turn to break the tension. "I'll go see if they have a spare sheet or something I can hang up like a curtain between the beds."
"That would be nice." Evelyn smiled, touched by this new thoughtfulness.
"Nice has nothing to do with it." Rick snorted as he began to fasten the buttons on his shirt. "I'm just afraid if I don't you won't be able to resist jumping me in the night!"
"Ohhh! Your ego is absolutely colossal!" Evelyn huffed, though it sounded more amused now than actually annoyed.
"Yeah, yeah. Not bad." Rick smiled, making his way to the door. "How's yours?"
Evelyn Carnahan Missing
The usually reclusive celebrity is hitting headlines for the second time in as many days today having vanished from the Carnahan family estate mere hours after announcing her engagement. It doesn't take a very great leap of logic to find a connection between the two events, and members of the press throughout the city ate speculating on this new turn of events. Among the more popular theories is the belief that Miss Carnahan has eloped – a theory backed up by the sudden 'unavailability' of her betrothed.
Another rumour is that Jonathan Carnahan himself is involved – his own cry for help in locating his "dear sweet baby sister" a mere façade.
Whatever the explanation, one thing is certain; there is likely to be not a single citizen who isn't looking for the young Miss Carnahan. Her brother has offered a generous reward – £50,000 – for any information leading to her location and safe return.
The Hamunaptra Times, the only paper to have an exclusive interview with Jonathan Carnahan regarding his missing sister has this to say – if his worry for her well being is indeed a farce, he's one hell of an actor!
Beni Gabor was a small man with a rat-like face and a bad haircut hidden beneath a red fez that had seen better days. His clothes were rumpled and hung loosely on his thin frame. It was easy to assume that Beni had fallen on some hard times of late, yet those who knew him found it hard to offer any sympathy. It was probably his own fault.
Anyone who thought this would in fact have been right.
Following yet another unsuccessful attempt to win the favour of 'the syndicate', Beni had barely escaped with his freedom and what little dignity he had left intact – something none of his former 'allies' could claim. Burns, Henderson and Daniels were currently rotting in a Hamunaptra prison while the man who had run at the first sign of trouble during the bungled bank job, leaving them to take the brunt of the authorities punishment, was sitting in a buss station in the middle of nowhere reading a stolen newspaper.
At least that's what it would have looked like to the two people sitting on the opposite bench. Not that they were paying attention to the man who may as well have had a sign over his head proclaiming 'Don't trust me'. They were far too busy arguing over who was going to get the window seat.
Beni had the feeling that the man might have noticed his watching them, had his attention not been so fully focused on the woman next to him. Despite the glaringly obvious differences in their appearances, Benin suspected that this man's lifestyle might be rather similar to his own. Something about him told Beni that he was no stranger to a life of crime. It was not however, the man who Beni was particularly interested in at that moment.
Had Beni just come across her in the street, he would most likely have tried to steal her purse (she looked like money after all) and thought no more of it. Having been forced to avoid the police on and off for the last few years, he hadn't had much opportunity to remain up to date on current affairs, and if not for the lovely detailed photograph printed above the article her had finished reading an hour ago, he would have had no idea who she was.
Of course the moment he'd realised that Evelyn Carnahan was about to be on the same bus to Cairo as him, then wheels in his head had begun to spin a mile a minute – the large reward the newspaper had mentioned foremost in his thoughts.
Had miss Carnahan been on her own, Beni would have had no qualms about running to the nearest phone. Unfortunately, her companion was about twice his size, and with his luck, had a very short temper. Beni knew he would have to think very carefully about how to approach this man and convince him to let him in on whatever scam he had going – unless he stood to make less than the reward offered. But he would do something soon he knew. There was money at stake here, and there wasn't a single opportunity to make money that Beni ever let pass him by.
And that's all for this chapter folks. Hope you enjoyed it and I'll have the next one up ASAP. Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a review to let me know what you think – go on, you know you want to, it inspires me to write more quickly. Honest!