Rick O'Connell planted his feet on a wide, flat stone at the edge of the stream and reached back with his fishing pole. American by nationality or not, he hadn't really been raised with this kind of 'Great Outdoors' in mind; kind of ironic that it had taken marriage and retirement to his wife's father's country to introduce him to the experience. Once he was halfway sure he had the right stance, he jerked the pole forward, keeping it in as straight a line as he could ... and this time was rewarded by the muted sound of the hook plunking into the water, not catching on a tree branch or a rock or his own boot.
He grinned at the minor and frustratingly hard-won success, then cast a glance back over his shoulder at his companion. "Isn't this the life?" he said, dryly.
Ardeth Bay raised an eloquent eyebrow, then cast a long look around at the chilly, mist-shrouded Oxfordshire scenery as if to point out all the ways in which it differed from the environment they both preferred to call home.
"I must confess," the Medjai warrior said after a long moment, "I do not see the appeal."
Rick chuckled as he pulled the pole back to try another cast. Evy had got him into a proper Englishman's outdoor suit for the day, tweed and tie and 'weskit' and all, but Ardeth had drawn the line at abandoning his traditional robes and trousers now that he was free to be himself again. He looked magnificently out of place reclining on a fallen log on the banks of the stream, and perfectly content to be so.
"Yeah, you and me both," he admitted, whipping the line out again. "This temporary retirement thing is for the birds. Uh, no offense to Horus. But I can't wait until Evy is done writing up our cover so we can duck out of the country again and go see what Alex has been up to."
It had been awhile since the whole family had been together. Their stay in Egypt after Ahm Shere had been cut short when everything had started heating up in Europe, and Evy had been contacted by the Foreign Office. The government might not actually believe in the supernatural, but the mundane consequences of their encounters with Imhotep had given her a lot of clout in a lot of unexpected places, and Rick, of course, had been drawn in with her. Jonathan had already taken off for greener pastures by then, though, so they'd had to send Alex off to boarding school to keep him safe – and break off their deepening friendship with the Medjai chieftain as well.
Ardeth hadn't been content to be left behind, though; not after personally experiencing the lengths to which a foe intent on conquering the world would go. He'd arranged for a cousin to take over leadership of the Twelve Tribes to maintain the long watch over the sacred places of Egypt in his stead, then followed, declaring his intent to serve the cause by keeping other mystical relics out of the grasping hands of the Axis powers.
The world hadn't quite ended, though it had come close a couple of times, and now the war was finally over. But they still had a few i's to dot and t's to cross before they could check up on their wayward kid and make sure Jonathan hadn't gambled all his money away again. Letters had been few and far between from both sources even before Alex had dropped out of college this last time to go off exploring with an old friend of theirs, and even scarcer since Alex had finally made it to China.
"Yes," Ardeth sighed. "It concerns me that none of us were able to travel with him. The Great Wall is well out of the Medjai realm of responsibility, but even my people have heard ... rumors."
Rick spent a moment contemplating just what sort of rumors a Medjai might speak of in that dry, ominous tone. He still didn't remember much about his first trip around the block back in Seti's day, just a few brief dreams of a life spent in service to the Pharoah and his daughter, but judging from just what he'd experienced in his current lifetime – reincarnation, resurrected mummies, Biblical plagues, and scorpion-bodied demigods, to name just a few of the weirder events – the sky was pretty much the limit. Maybe even literally, considering all the Chinese legends about dragons.
He shook off the sense of foreboding and pulled the line back to cast again. "No, no, I'm sure he's fine. Besides, aren't two and a half apocalypsi – apocalypses – whatever, enough for one lifetime?"
He whipped the pole forward once more – then yelped, swatting at his neck as the line came up well short of where it was supposed to go. "Damn it!"
Strong, callused fingers caught his before he could do himself more damage trying to yank out the hook, squeezing them briefly before seizing on the offending metal barb. "You should know by now not to say such things, my friend; it only tempts the gods. Now, much as I have enjoyed watching you try – I think it is time to try another approach."
Rick stilled under the touch as Ardeth carefully worked the hook free. It was a little too chilly out for the other man's close proximity to prompt the usual rush of adrenaline – whether battle inspired or a little more bedroom oriented tended to depend on the context – but it distracted him from his frustration regardless, which was probably the point. "Would this approach happen to involve a gun?" he asked, wryly.
He could see the other man's fond smile out of the corner of his eye; at least the fishing expedition had prompted that much, if nothing else. None of them had been sleeping very well since the end of the war, and not even offering to inspire Evy with a round of The Naughty Princess and Her Two Very, Very Attentive Bodyguards had brightened the mood in the house much. Part of that he blamed on the cavernous nature of the place – her ancestral digs were enormous, and they'd spent most of the last decade in far tighter quarters – but part of it, he was pretty sure, was that none of them knew who they were when they weren't right up in the thick of things anymore.
"I may be from a desert culture, but the barbed fishhook was an Egyptian invention," Ardeth clucked his tongue. "If I fail as well, then you can think about trying a gun."
"...And then, maybe, encouraging Evy to hurry it up? Now that I've tempted the gods, and all."
All joking aside, Rick was worried about Alex. At least their kid had always been willing to talk to 'Uncle Ardeth' when he was frustrated with his parents; he didn't want to think about how much more worried Evy'd be if they had no clue where Alex was at all.
"Mmmm." Ardeth finished pulling the hook free, then stroked a work-roughened thumb over the mark it left behind. A shiver followed the motion up Rick's spine, and he turned just enough to face Ardeth directly.
Up close, the other man's eyes were dark and intense, and it was pretty obvious the gods weren't the only thing Rick had been tempting, even given the setting. He lifted a hand of his own to cup Ardeth's bearded cheek, and leaned in to capture his mouth in a brief, grateful kiss. "Mmmm, indeed."
It still wasn't really the time, though; hell if he'd come back empty handed and prove that nose-in-the-air butler of Evy's right about him. "All right, then; your turn. Show me what you've got."
Evelyn Carnahan O'Connell had been glad to send Rick and Ardeth off to distract themselves playing provider for an afternoon – though rather less amused to find a bullet with her teeth in the trout they brought back at supper that evening. Their forced period of rustication was wearing on the two of them more strenuously than it was on Evy, and not only because she was the one who'd been raised to that sort of life, with its servants and smoking jackets and family trees full of eccentrics rather than scoundrels. Beneficial as her family's status had been for their wartime occupation, in peacetime it fit her boys about as well as jewelled satin collars on a pair of battle-scarred lions.
The brightness in Rick's eyes and the thoughtful calculations going on behind Ardeth's after the visit from the Foreign Office the very next day were all the proof she needed that they'd been in England too long, if her own dull sense of writer's block hadn't been enough on its own. The first two books she'd promised the publisher had practically flown from her pen, her only concern how much of her own romantic life would be too scandalous to include. But despite plenty of action-filled adventures spent hunting other exotic artefacts that might easily be substituted with some mummy or another for fictive purposes, she had yet to come up with more than a handful of words in a row that did not sound inane when committed to the typed page.
Perhaps the upcoming visit to Shanghai might produce some inspiration? Evy brought the Eye of Shangri-La into her study and set it on the desk, humming absently to herself while she searched the shelves for any information she might have on the legends surrounding it. Elsewhere in the manor, she knew, Rick and Ardeth had begun the process of scheduling their trip, arranging matters with the staff to keep the property up while they were gone, packing their bags, and other sundry tasks that would need doing before they departed. But while they were busy....
She turned back to the desk to deposit a short stack of books in Mandarin and pulled up short at the sight of her Medjai lover standing next to it, staring down at the Eye with a pensive expression.
"Ardeth? Is something wrong?" she asked, carefully setting the books down next to the sizeable, blue-white gem in its ancient, cunningly wrought metal cage.
"There is something about the timing of this mission that I do not like," he admitted, tapping a finger against the small plaque seated above the gem's heart where the strands of the cage met. "Can you read this inscription?"
He really seemed concerned about it, and Evy had learned the hard way to listen to Ardeth Bay's instincts about legendary artefacts. "Ancient Chinese is not exactly my forte," she cautioned him, then bit her lip and cupped the Eye in her palms, carefully studying the glyphs. "But I believe it says ... 'only a drop of blood from a person of pure heart can open the Eye'."
The frown on Ardeth's face deepened as she set the Eye back down. "If it can be opened, then something of great value must lie inside. I do not think we need wonder why it was taken from China in 1940. But why did we not hear of it at the time, given our role? And why send it back now, in your hands? Particularly directed to the man who is sponsoring your son's dig? The far Eastern countries were never, as you say, your specialty, and it feels like one coincidence too many."
"Perhaps the other available agents were insufficiently pure of heart?" she suggested, flippantly. But the concern in his expression only intensified, and she sighed, laying a hand on his arm. "Don't worry; I know how you feel about coincidences, and I have no more desire to walk into an ambush or turn a valuable prize over to someone who might misuse it than you do. I would have said I trusted Roger Wilson ... but the man was always more of a tomb robber than an explorer or historian, and given the Eye's association with the Pool of Eternal Life, I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry. We'll be sure to take precautions."
"Good," Ardeth said, some of the tension leaving his face as he gazed down at her. "Insha'Allah, we have fought enough immortal foes for one lifetime."
"Enough mortal ones also, one hopes," she agreed. "If it were up to me, I would gladly spend the rest of our lives grubbing around in the sand and living up to my parents' legacy as the finest patrons of the Cairo Museum; maybe we'll finally get the chance after Shanghai."
"You say that now," Ardeth replied, quirking an amused smile. "But you have always been a guardian, Evelyn; and always will be. And not only of knowledge. If ever a princess needed bodyguards...."
"Yes, yes, all right," she sputtered, fighting a smile as she converted the grip on his arm into a playful swat. "Thank goodness I do have you and Rick, then, because if this last trip to England has taught me nothing else, it's that I don't intend on actually retiring anytime soon. It's a nice place to visit, but I think I'd die of boredom if we stayed here."
"Rick says much the same," he admitted, capturing the hand she'd batted him with and pressing a kiss against its knuckles. A shiver shot up her spine at the gesture; it had been longer than she'd like since she'd last let herself take a break, and they'd be subject to all of the inconveniences of travel soon enough...
"Oh?" she replied, archly. "And what do you think about settling down? Or ... perhaps just setting me down ... someplace perhaps ... a little more comfortable...?"
Her breath came short as the kisses moved upward from her knuckles toward her elbow, and she could feel a blush rising in her cheeks. Blast proper ladies' clothing; she was wearing altogether too many layers.
"How fortunate, then, that there is a rug right here...." Ardeth's eyes danced as he finally reached her mouth, and she gave in, reaching up to link her arms round his neck.
"We aren't that young anymore, you know," Evy said breathlessly as he carried her across the room. "If I end up with rug burns...."
"I'm sure Rick will enjoy soothing them," he challenged her in return, then lay her down and divested himself of his outer robe, the dark cloth pooling on the floor.
He was still just as fit as the day they'd met; he and Rick both. They kept each other sharp, she'd often thought, benefitting as much from their three-way marriage as she did; she'd worried, when those first returning memories of Nefertiri's life had been followed by others suggesting a perfectly scandalous arrangement with two of her bodyguards, that trying to invoke their memories of that time might shatter their friendship or damage their respect for her. But it seemed instead to have given them a new security in each other, to explain and expand on the way they'd fallen in at one another's shoulders almost from the very first moment they'd begun fighting as allies rather than foes, and she certainly had nothing to complain about the reverence they offered her both in private and in public.
"You may be right about that," she admitted, reaching up to stroke the symbol on Ardeth's cheek as he finished disrobing and lowered himself to meet her. He bore the glyph for Ma'at there, the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice who weighed the hearts of the departed on their way to the afterlife; a fitting omen, she'd often thought, for their lives together.
He'd said often enough that there was a fine line between coincidence and fate; their past, and their destinies, shining through into the present. But as he'd also reminded them, only the journey was written, not the destination; they'd chosen that themselves, and so also the joys that came with it.
Ardeth pressed a kiss to her palm, then turned his attention to the buttons of her blouse; she laughed and threaded her fingers through his long, wavy hair, dismissing all thought of omens and fate for another time.
Ardeth Bay arrived at the Shanghai Museum several minutes before his partners, an inner pocket of his clothes weighed down by the true Eye of Shangri-La while a rough decoy rode in a silk bag in Rick's possession. The false Eye would not fool a trained examiner, but it would suffice for a quick glimpse from the museum's contact when they handed it over; that should lull the man into a false sense of security and expose any waiting trap, if there was indeed one to be tripped. The part of the museum they'd arranged to meet in had been shut down in preparation for the new exhibit, but Ardeth had dressed the part of a workman, and faced no challenge as he sought out a place of concealment in a hallway overlooking the room where the sarcophagus of the Dragon Emperor had been placed.
It had not soothed his suspicious instincts that the handover had been scheduled during the Chinese New Year celebrations; the noise and crush of the Shanghai crowds had made preparatory surveillance difficult. They would have to rely on the fact that this Roger Wilson would not be expecting him; though Rick and Evy's superiors had been aware of his part in their espionage career, it had suited everyone concerned to keep his skills and identity quiet, with the result that most of the people they encountered either wrote him off as some sort of native contact or assistant or failed to plan for his involvement entirely. If all was above-board, they would never even know he was there; but if Wilson planned a double-cross, Ardeth would be ready to intervene.
The latter option was beginning to seem ever more likely. He had caught a glimpse of another dark-clad watcher ghosting through the corridors after he found concealment, and Alex's last letter before their departure from England had mentioned an encounter with a guardian, a young woman who had made every effort to kill him or drive him away from the tomb after he'd bypassed its mechanical defenses. Alex had joked about it being a family tradition; but if the warrior's role in her culture was anything like that of the Medjai, Ardeth did not doubt that the sarcophagus was more dangerous than it seemed. The pieces of the puzzle were drawing together ever more swiftly.
Though one would never know it from observing the O'Connells. Ardeth watched with a fond smile as Rick and Evy loudly congratulated their son on his discovery. Though they had already drunk to his success in private at Jonathan's nightclub, Alex still visibly soaked up every word of praise.
If there had been one thing to regret during their years spent fighting the forces of evil, it was that they'd been forced to leave the boy behind. Though Alex had known himself loved, he'd also suffered from the perception that he'd been sent away because he'd somehow failed them; and as he grew older, had fretted under the shadow of their ever-growing reputation. Ardeth understood that; as the son of a Commander of the Twelve Tribes of the Medjai, he had a much clearer perspective on Alex's frustrations than Rick, and much less of the desire to coddle their son that Evy had been afflicted with after his youthful encounter with Imhotep. Between the war's end and Alex's own discovery, however, it seemed those misunderstandings might finally be on the mend.
After several minutes passed with no sign of their contact, Rick finally sent Alex to retrieve the professor and casually drifted over to the sarcophagus display. The four bronze horses attached to the funerary cart conveniently limited the line of sight of any other potential observers there, and his own body shielded Evelyn; though they'd planned the move in advance, he still made it look natural, as though the notoriously affectionate couple had merely been inspired by the presence of the Emperor's mummified remains to indulge in a romantic tryst. As undoubtedly they had; there was simply nothing 'mere' about it.
Jonathan had asked him once, the sole time he'd brought himself to confront Ardeth about their arrangement, whether he ever felt left out looking on in such moments. But that had never been a concern. Rick and Evelyn had been married for nearly a decade before Evy had turned to him one day and called him Akhom in such a voice that he'd known immediately who he'd once been to Nefertiri; he could hardly begrudge the habits and comforts they'd developed during those years. It pleased him to see them happy; and he preferred more privacy for his own intimate moments. Where only love existed, what room was there for jealousy?
Rick bent to whisper something in Evelyn's ear – and nearly simultaneously, an older white man in a suit finally approached, a smile of greeting on his face and the distinct bulge of a pistol marring the line of his jacket.
"Take a wrong turn in Cairo? Sorry to interrupt!" he greeted the O'Connells cheerfully, as if there were absolutely nothing unusual about the circumstances or the arrangements.
"Professor Roger Wilson!" Rick replied, in much the same falsely hearty tone of voice.
If anything was to happen, now would be the time; Ardeth tuned out much of the smalltalk that followed as he readied his Thompson. The professor had maneuvered the conversation so that the O'Connells were forced to turn their backs to the entrance; whatever threat there might be would undoubtedly come from that direction.
He aimed toward the open doors, and was unsurprised to see a pair of military uniforms appear just as Wilson raised his voice. "And now, I believe, you have something that belongs to us."
Rick cast a covert look toward to Ardeth's hiding place, then handed the false Eye over with a fumble and a joke; Wilson gave it as cursory a look as Rick's behavior seemed to deserve, then smiled past him toward his conspirators – and a great many things happened very quickly.
Wilson made a smug remark, and began to draw his pistol; the uniformed Chinese soldiers began to enter the room; Evelyn pulled a dagger from one of her long gloves and lunged for the professor's moving hand; Rick put a hand on his own pistol and began to turn toward the door; and Ardeth fired a warning burst into the polished floor of the room, splintering a tile just in front of the lead soldier's boots.
The tableau froze, a pistol clattering to the floor from Wilson's bleeding hand, and that might have been the end of it ... had the other watcher not chosen that exact moment to make her own move. A slim figure in an embroidered black overrobe swung down to drop on top of the sarcophagus, an unsheathed knife clasped in her hand as if she meant to defend it against all intruders. The second soldier, who appeared to also be a woman, immediately took a step in that direction, and a long wooden weapon, perhaps a javelin or a spear, followed the arc the watcher had taken in her flight to clatter to the floor between the two ladies.
The first soldier – a general if Ardeth was interpreting the insignia correctly – chose that moment to reach for his weapon again, perhaps hoping everyone else had been distracted. Ardeth fired once more into the tiles at his feet, reluctant to cause a political incident, but even less disposed to allow the man to endanger his family.
Wilson flinched at the impact, glancing upward in Ardeth's direction, then backed away swiftly, using his superior knowledge of the museum to disappear from view before anyone could stop him. "Never mind, I have the Eye!" he called loudly. "We can try again later!"
For a moment, it looked as though the general would challenge them anyway; but then he snarled and retreated, covering the other soldier's withdrawal as she too took the prudent path. "The Emperor will rise again!" the man exclaimed as his parting shot.
"Yeah, you better run," Rick snarled, then immediately turned to his wife, trusting Ardeth to maintain the watch while he checked Evy over.
"Not if we have anything to say about it," Evelyn added her own retort, then frowned down at her dagger. "Oh, dear; I knew I forgot something," she said, casting about for something to wipe it clean with.
"Here, honey, use mine," Rick smirked, pulling a handkerchief from a pocket.
Alex, when he clattered down the stairs moments later, seemed extremely nonplused with the entire situation; the girl atop the sarcophagus little less confused, though more evidently pleased with the results. But there, in that moment, it was simply one more mission disaster successfully averted for the O'Connells ... and one more undead threat Ardeth had successfully kept in its grave.
He secured the submachine gun again with a feeling of deep contentment in his chosen path, then joined them on the museum floor to discuss what would happen next.
There were many possible paths events could have taken once General Yang's plot had been exposed. They still held the original Eye of Shangri-La, but they were in a foreign country where their contacts were limited and more than one power they knew little about was in play. Evy reluctantly decided that she could not, in good conscience, approve any course of action that included official recognition that the Eye Wilson had taken was not actually the true one; spreading that news could only invite trouble. That rather limited their options for securing it in any way that would not risk leading a reoccurrence of the problem on some future date.
In truth, it left only one: after an in-depth discussion with Alex's new acquaintance, Lin, she concluded that a gem which both contained water from the Pool of Eternal Life and served as a signpost to the Pool itself would best be left in the hands of a guardian who already seemed suspiciously well-informed about its secrets. In fact, she advised that Lin and her family might best be served by using it to wake the cursed Dragon Emperor on their own schedule, and immediately, in that same moment, putting him down with the knife specially enchanted for that purpose ... though she didn't think they'd take her up on it, any more than the Medjai would have risked waking Imhotep one moment sooner than fate prescribed. But at least the problem would pass out of their hands, now. Let the local experts deal with the situation; she was more than ready to head home at last.
And by that, she did not mean England. Thanks to her father's name, professional reputation, and dominant fair looks, the majority of those she met seemed to quite forget her mother's origins, but Egypt was as deep in Evy's bones as it was in Ardeth's, and it had adopted Rick quite thoroughly as well during his stay in the orphanage in Cairo. It was well past time they all returned to their native soil.
"I just don't understand why Alex doesn't want to come with us," she fretted, sitting down at the vanity table in their hotel suite to pull the pins out of her hair. It had not been that long since she and Rick had dressed the part as carefree, wealthy tourists for their meeting, and they hadn't even managed one paltry car chase. How was it, then, that she felt more frowsy than after a long day of excavation spent up to her elbows in dirt?
"Seriously?" Rick snorted somewhere behind her, warm amusement colouring his voice. From the sounds of things, he was busy disarming and removing his dress shoes; he was out of the line of sight of her mirror, but she was quite familiar with his routines, and she could see a glimpse of Ardeth, likewise packing his favourite gun away and shedding the workman's boots he'd worn to infiltrate the museum.
"You do remember what you were like at the same age, don't you?" Rick continued dryly. "Determined to stand on your own two feet, defend your chosen occupation, and show up all the folks who'd made their names in the field before you...."
"That was different, and you know it," Evy replied archly, throwing an admonishing look over her shoulder as she shook her hair free of the last of its fastenings. "Any woman in my position would have felt the same about the Bembridge Scholars, and they were most definitely wrong about the locations of the Black Book, and the Book of Amun Ra. But I'm Alex's mother, not his competition. I always thought he enjoyed exploring tombs with us as a child!"
"When he was a kid, yeah," Rick shrugged. "Also, you're forgetting he still has his own tomb to explore. Even with the Emperor suddenly and, let's say, inexplicably missing, there's the artefacts he's already recovered to study, plus whatever's left behind now that there's nothing left for Lin and her family to guard. If you think he'll be willing to turn it all over to someone else to take the credit at this late stage of the game, I think you're underestimating just how much he takes after you."
Evy hated it when he combined that reasonable tone of voice with a leavening of flattery over a sensible argument; particularly when she'd been looking for comfort and support, not ... not practicality. "You're certain they won't blame him for Roger's actions?" she asked, more seriously. "You know they'll pin the theft of the sarcophagus and its accompanying statuary on the man, in addition to all that nonsense with the Eye, and he was officially the senior partner on Alex's expedition."
Rick paused in the middle of unbuttoning his dress shirt to cross the room to her side, tipping up her chin with strong, sure fingers. His words might have been dismissive, but his expression was decidedly otherwise; she felt the reassurance in his eyes like a blanket snugged round her soul. "Like I said," he repeated with a wry smile, "I think you're underestimating just how much he takes after you."
"After both of you," Ardeth agreed. Evy glanced up to see their partner standing at Rick's shoulder, already stripped to the waist, lines of hieroglyphics proclaiming his dedication to the gods and the protection of their people trailing down his torso. "You are two of the most troublesome people I have ever met – but you have also never failed to land on your feet. Or if not precisely your own – you have always found just the right person to smooth the way."
Evy smiled despite herself at the challenging lift of his eyebrow. "Even at the other end of a weapon, is that what you're so delicately trying to remind me of? Well, that's all well and good," she acquiesced, standing and turning to offer him the zipper of her dress. "But considering that in this case – unless I miss my guess, and you know I seldom do – the someone else in question is likely as old as the Great Wall itself, how can I be certain she'll have his best interests at heart?"
"Ah, so that's what this is about," Rick replied knowingly. She heard more sounds of cloth moving over bared skin as Ardeth helped her slip out of the dress; when she turned back, he was stripped to the waist as well, a bruise gained at some point that evening standing out lividly against his paler skin. "He has to grow up sometime, Evy. And you have to admit, there are worse family traditions he could have followed."
He turned his attention to Ardeth, then; Evy shivered in her foundation garments as she watched her lovers embrace, vividly illustrating the point. Rick stroked a thumb over one line of tattoos as he fitted his mouth against Ardeth's; Evy saw a shudder ripple through Ardeth's strong, well-muscled frame, and the obelisk shape currently rising within his trousers would compare favourably, in her opinion, with any of the desert's other great works.
Very well, she would admit it; if only she could be sure Alex would be as happy with his choices as they had been, she would count herself well satisfied.
Or, she corrected herself, as their kiss deepened and her breath began to grow short – perhaps satisfied was not the best word to use in that context? Gratified? Or ... perhaps accomplished?
Oh, dash it all; she could worry about her vocabulary later. Evy reached out to brush her fingertips over Rick's bruised ribs, and he hissed slightly under the touch, breaking away from Ardeth's mouth to pull her in as well. Warm hands framed her hips as Rick's mouth caressed hers, then skimmed upward, sending electric tingles up her spine before working at the fastenings of her brassiere; she could feel the aforementioned obelisk pressing through the thin layers still separating her from the man behind her.
"Hail, Phallus of Ra, which advanceth and beateth down opposition...." she murmured against Rick's mouth, quoting irreverently from the Papyrus of Ani.
"The Phallus of Ra, huh? How about 'he whose mouth shineth and whose head moveth', then?" Rick chuckled, dropping down to his knees to peel away her half-slip and stockings.
Evy cast her head back against Ardeth's shoulder, and abandoned thought entirely in favour of far more pleasurable occupation.