Remember, the Promo Whore and Queen of the Kitchen contests continue!
See details in Tuesday’s post!
So I know that no one’s gonna be checking out this blog today—not with all the hoopla going on the TV. I taped THE WEDDING to watch when I go to bed tonight. So don’t tell me what I missed!
She blew out a breath. “Dinner’s over. Most everyone’s settling in for the night. We might take a look around.”
“And if we’re caught?”
“I’ll think of something.”
“Do you know where the queen’s chambers are?”
Fari nodded in crisp assent. “She’s above stairs. Only those closest to her are allowed up there.”
“Hippolyta has guards inside her chamber with her and Theseus. She may be besotted with the man, but she doesn’t trust him.”
“That’s where you think the belt is?”
Fari nodded again. “It’s that or the temple, but she doesn’t seem like the kind to hand power over to anyone. She’d want to keep it close.”
“Did you hear any mention of it at dinner?”
“No, and I didn’t ask. First night here and I didn’t want anyone suspecting I was after anything other than to serve my queen.”
Caleb leaned back on his hands and studied Fari’s expression. “You’re enjoying this.”
She seemed caught off guard by the comment, but shrugged. “And why wouldn’t I? I’m going to train with the Amazons. The only militaristic culture in history to prize female warriors above their men.”
“Just don’t lose sight of the mission,” Caleb said quietly. “Or lose that cuff and decide to go native.”
One elegantly shaped eyebrow arched. “Babe, I’m all about the mission.”
He chuckled. “So, shall we do some scouting?” He pushed himself off the bed and opened the door. Together they slipped into the hallway.
The palace, so far as he could see, wasn’t much of a castle as he’d always pictured them. Certainly nothing like Sadam’s gold-and-marble palaces in Iraq, which Caleb had visited while assigned in the region.
The wood-framed building had plastered, whitewashed walls. Murals covered the larger ones, and built-in niches displayed small sculptures of gods. Mini shrines, as far as he could tell.
They backtracked through the hall, which servants, male and female, were currently putting to rights. A Greek man brushed past them, weaving on his feet.
“So how’d you manage it?” Caleb asked softly.
Fari raised her chin, pride glowing in her eyes. “I showed my stuff.”
“A little kung fu.”
“Not exactly true to the era,” he murmured.
She lifted one shoulder. “But effective. Told the queen that Mongols from the East taught me the moves. She’s impressed. Wants me to instruct her guards in hand-to-hand.”
“Is that wise?”
“I won’t teach them anything too identifiable. Can’t have embroidered cloths showing up in the kurgans with Amazons in kung fu stances. Let’s head to the second floor.”
At the bottom of the stairs, he paused. “So what’s your plan if we’re seen?”
She climbed up the first step and tilted her head. “Who says anyone will see us?”
Caleb narrowed his glance. “What exactly is your talent? General Ashton mentioned that you flare? What’s that?”
“It’s best to show you what I can do, Caleb. Somehow I don’t think you believe anything unless you experience it for yourself. Am I right?”
He gave a grunt, figuring that his psychological profile must have been among the documents she’d reviewed. He ignored an inward wince at what else she might have learned about him. While he’d found many high value targets, his commanders weren’t always happy about the personal risks he took. Still, results trumped caution. Or they had until he’d walked into an ambush and gotten the soldier on point killed and himself seriously wounded.
Following her up the steps, he said, “You wondering why I refused the cure, too?”
At the top, she turned to face him. “Unless you’re into pain, I don’t get why you wouldn’t take advantage of Professor Carswell’s offer.”
Caleb’s face tightened. It wasn’t something he liked talking about. “Seemed like cheating. Taking the easy way out.”
“Because someone else died during that mission?” she asked, her expression softening.
Caleb shook his head. “Didn’t feel right,” he said, keeping his tone dead even, “erasing the injury from my body when someone else didn’t walk away.”
Fari touched his arm. “I get that,” she whispered. “I do . Soldier long enough, we all lose friends.”
Standing so close, breathing in her fresh scent, he felt the urge to bend toward her. “Yeah?” Before he could follow through on the inappropriate urge, footsteps approached, the steady stomp of someone marching. “Quick, we need to hide.”
Fari’s mouth curved. “I’ve got it handled, cowboy.”
She pressed him back against the wall, then flattened herself beside him. Suddenly, the corridor in front of them was blocked by a barrier. Although light from the torches on the opposite side shone through, he and Fari seemed to be wedged between the new wall and the old.
The female guard strode past, within inches of them, without slowing.
“What the…?” He reached up, to find his hand passing through the wall. “That’s flaring?” he whispered.
“Yeah. I can hide you from sight, create a vision of something that isn’t there. But if you make any noises, that wall doesn’t do a bit of good.”
“Could have warned me,” he growled.
Her lips stretched into a grin. “And miss your expression?”