I was excited that Astrid had returned from an archeological dig in the Sinai.
I had visions of a leisurely month spent with her in my penthouse apartment lying out beneath the stars on my rooftop terrace.
But I hadn’t anticipated Jarrod Mason of the Smithsonian contacting her en route from the airport with a new assignment.
I liked Jarrod but sometimes his spontaneous decisions upended our lives.
It was challenging enough romancing a goddess, but it was impossible when he sent Astrid on missions causing us to be separated by thousands of miles.
What does he want now?” I asked, half-afraid I’d give in.
Her eyes went sad—not the reaction I was expecting.
“He told me a tragic tale of loss, Paul—it was so touching I cried, because I suppose I saw us.”
“Us?” I asked alarmed, “What do you mean?”
She put down her glass of Shiraz, propped herself up on one elbow, and looked soberly into my eyes. “Have you heard of Perry Landers?”
Of course I had—it was a rhetorical question—everyone knew the story.
Landers was a world-renowned devotee of archeology, who like Lord Carnivore before him, had financed many an archeological dig. His wife, Susi, always accompanied him as they joined the expeditions.
Unfortunately, on one expedition to Indonesia, a Blue Krait snake bit Susi.
Despite being administered antivenin, she died.
Landers was inconsolable and spent several years squandering huge sums of his fortune trying to contact Susi’s departed spirit.
I looked back at Astrid’s earnest face staring at me in starlight. It was hard not to be distracted, but I answered her.
“Yes, I know about Perry Landers but what does he have to do with Jarrod Mason?”
“He’s financing Jarrod’s expedition to find the Necromanteion of Phyra.”
I whistled softly. “But that’s a fool’s errand. I can understand why Landers would be eager to find the sanctuary. It was the legendary door to Hades and the realm of the dead—but the Romans destroyed it in 167 BC.”
“That’s what the historians said, but many archeologists disputed it. C’mon Paul, you know there were three attempts to uncover the site starting in 1958 and ending in 1977.”
“I know, Love—but that’s my point. They were attempts—failed attempts. The sanctuary has never been found.”
Her face brightened. “Until now, Paul—Landers has uncovered a manuscript that details the exact location of the Necromanteion. Jarrod only trusts you and me to excavate it.”
“Can’t it wait? —You’ve just gotten back from Egypt, and this would mean we’d have to turn around and board a plane for Greece. Can’t we enjoy a vacation?”
“We will, Love, I promise. We’ll stay on in Greece and spend two luxurious weeks on a beach in the Aegean—I promise.”
My dreams of semi-retirement from the rigors of exploring dusty ruins evaporated in an instant.
Gazing into her lovely face always completely disarmed me.
Besides, how could I resist the prospect of an Aegean vacation with a goddess returning to her former haunts?