The Pharaoh's Passion
By Jack Greene
An Egyptian pharaoh is betrayed by a jealous priestess and his soul banished to a precious jewel, forever lost until his tomb is discovered.
Can archaeologist Ryan figure out the mystery of the jewel in order to restore the handsome pharaoh to life?
Leaning his chair back on two legs, Ryan perched the wireless keyboard on his knees as he read his email. This was the last time he went more than a day without checking it. The spam was bad lately. They were supposed to have the latest filters on the museum's email server, but clearly it wasn't working. He deleted yet another email promising him bigger, perkier breasts—why did he get ads for women all the time?—and almost got rid of one from his friend, Rob.
Ryan grinned to himself, biting back the bittersweet feelings that thinking of Rob routinely gave him. Rob had always been the one to get the exciting assignments, and all the recognition. Which was exactly why Rob was off in Egypt making history and he was stuck here in this museum. Not that he wasn't extremely glad to have found a job right out of grad school—he had loans to pay off, after all. He had always envied Rob, but the man was still one of his best friends.
Ryan had had a crush on Rob from the moment they'd met, and that made his feelings with respect to him even more confused. He was straight, damn it; he thought he'd buried those feelings years ago. But once in a while he still thought about men that way, no matter how many girlfriends he had or how he tried to deny it to himself. Not that he'd ever done anything about it.
So now Ryan stared at an unopened email from Rob, and how pathetic was that? As if it contained anything other than the usual gossip and news from the front, as Rob liked to call his digs. Ryan took a deep breath and double-clicked, and the email opened. Ryan started to read, and the chair's legs hit the floor with a thunk as he sat forward to see it better.
Fuck. Rob had done it. He'd made the big find, the fucking Holy Grail of Egyptology: a discovery of an almost-untouched burial room. Almost, because this particular pharaoh's tomb was rumored to have been found in the 1920's, but the archeological party was heard from again. Everyone figured they'd been killed by bandits looking for treasure, and the tomb had never been located.
Until now, of course, with Rob on the case.
Ryan was interrupted from his reverie by a mass of flame-red hair and a call of "Ryan? You still in there?"
"Yes, Nikka, just checking my email," Ryan replied, not looking up.
Nikka sidled into the room. "You spend too much time here, Ryan." She perched herself on the edge of his desk. She was petite and quite pretty in an elfin sort of way, and Ryan was fairly sure she was interested in him. But, he'd decided after hearing many horror stories, he wouldn't get involved with anyone from work. It would invariably go wrong, and he'd still have to see that person every day. It was a good theory, more difficult in actual practice.
He knew of at least two couples who were getting it on in and around the museum on a regular basis, and of one relationship that had exploded spectacularly just before he was hired. It had involved a wife who'd come to visit her husband at work and had walked in on a scene she shouldn't have. Several priceless skeletons had been disrupted and nearly destroyed in the ensuing melee.
So Ryan subscribed to the crude but accurate motto of, "Don't shit where you eat."
Not that he'd had a chance to test that theory until now. Nikka was the secretary to the curator, herself with a degree in anthropology, and she liked to help the scientists when she had time. She was about five years older than Ryan though she didn't look it. She'd been dancing around Ryan since he'd started there almost two years ago, and some of the older hands had given him knowing looks.
He finally saved the email to answer later and looked up at Nikka. "I like it here, it's better than my crappy little apartment." It was the truth. Even though he shared his office with any number of fossils and artifacts, he felt comfortable there. The ceilings were high and the room had good ventilation. And it was almost as big as his whole apartment.
Nikka rolled her eyes. "Well, regardless, you need to get out more. You're pale as a ghost."
Ryan laughed. "It's winter. There's no sun out there anyway!"
"Principle of the thing," Nikka shot back. "Want to get some dinner or something?"
Ryan sighed. Clearly Nikka was not going to take no for answer. Maybe he could put her off. "I'm tired tonight, but maybe another time?" He didn't want her to think he didn't like her; he did, but he thought it better they stay friends.
"Sure," she replied, smiling, "but I'm not giving up on you!" She hopped off the desk, tossed her hair over one shoulder, and walked out waving goodbye. Ryan was obviously meant to watch her ass wiggle away, and he did. It was a nice ass.
Then he turned back to his computer and opened Rob's email again, sighing.
* * * *
Later that day, Ryan sat at his workbench, trying to concentrate on classifying the fossils in front of him. This wasn't his specialty, far from it, but funds were tight and the museum couldn't afford to hire a grad student to do it. This was something any grad student could do; mindless but necessary. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to possess enough mind at the moment to do even that.
He kept catching himself staring out the window but not really seeing anything. He wasn't sure what his problem was, but it was as if he was waiting for something. Something big, which was silly. He hadn't planned anything; in fact, since he'd graduated and found a job, his life had quickly settled down into a disconcertingly even keel. It suited him most of the time, really. His life until then had been anything but quiet.
He never knew his birth parents. They'd been killed in a plane crash when he was just over a year old, and he had no memory whatsoever of them. He'd been adopted quickly, and had almost had a normal life for a while. He did remember the day he'd been told he was adopted. He'd felt a void open inside him that had never quite closed. He loved his adoptive parents, but for a long time he'd wondered why they had to tell him. Why couldn't they have let him go on in blissful ignorance? Later, of course, he realized why they had to tell him. But still that void never went away.
Ryan's life turned over again when he was thirteen, when his adoptive parents died in a car crash. Since he hadn't remembered the first time he'd lost his parents, it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but that hole inside him got a bit bigger.
There was little to no chance that a thirteen-year-old boy would be adopted, so Ryan went from foster home to foster home, and finally ended up at a state-run orphanage. Consequently, he transferred from school to school; he was a bright child and learned fast, but he never had a chance to show it. His records invariably got lost, so he spent a lot of time sitting through things he already knew. He'd already been prone to daydreaming, and boredom just made it worse. He made up his own dream worlds, so intricate in his own head that he could escape into them easily.
Ryan had always been fascinated with ancient history. He loved to imagine himself in ancient Greece or Rome, wandering through the streets. He had vivid pictures in his head of what the places looked like, and he would research on his own time until he had the image fixed firmly in his head. He didn't like to make things up; he liked to have as many facts as he could, to construct as clear an image in his head of the place. By the time he got to high school, he knew more about many things than his history teachers. Especially Egypt. Something about the country and its long history appealed to him more than anything else.
History helped him escape the present.
It wasn't all bad. Ryan escaped much of the horror he could have been subjected to. No one molested him, and he wasn't picked on very much. He was never involved in any real fights. He'd always been quiet, though, and not good at making friends. The transitory nature of his life made that even worse. He quickly learned not to even try to make friends, because invariably he would have to leave them.
At one point, young Ryan had heard the story of Samson and Delilah, and the idea that strength resided in the hair. It was near the time he'd been told of his adoption. Therefore it made more of an impact that it might have otherwise. He was fascinated, and latched onto the idea immediately.
He announced to his mother that he was going to grow his hair long, so he could be very strong. His parents no doubt felt guilty for having to tell Ryan of his background, so they agreed that he didn't have to have a haircut. They figured he'd grow out of it, he imagined. But he hadn't.
The longer his hair, the happier Ryan became. By the time he lost his adoptive parents, his hair was down to his mid-back. A girl at the orphanage taught him to braid it, and as long as he kept it neat and clean, no one bothered him about it. He kept growing it, and now it reached to his ass when braided. It was a part of him, and he would no sooner cut off his hair than his leg. He no longer believed that his strength lay in his hair, but old habits were hard to break.
Ryan tossed his braid over his shoulder and leaned forward over the fossils on his workbench. He made a note and moved on to the next one. He kept glancing out the small window, though he couldn't say why.
His mind drifted again. He remembered the time he and Rob had gotten wasted in their dorm room on cheap wine. Ryan never had much of a chance to get drunk, so after just one plastic cupful he got silly. Everything was funny to him, especially the stories Rob told him about Rob's family.
Rob and Ryan had been roommates in their freshman year, assigned randomly because they had the same major. They got along great, mostly because everyone loved Rob, and Ryan had a serious case of hero worship. Rob was everything Ryan was not. Rob was tall and well-built while Ryan had always been scrawny. Rob could talk to anyone, charm everyone, and Ryan only spoke when necessary. Ryan thought Rob was handsome, but of course he never told anyone that.
Ryan and Rob kept in touch after college, even when they went to different grad schools. They hung out whenever they were in the same city. Rob was still Ryan's best friend and he wasn't about to do anything to jeopardize that.
Ryan came back to his senses, and blushed when he realized he was half-hard. The memory was still incredibly vivid, apparently. He shifted in his seat, trying to alleviate the pressure until his erection went away. He was too old to be getting random hard-ons. All from the memory of a man who never had a clue that Ryan lusted after him. How embarrassing.
He went back to his work, trying to take his mind off his cock. It didn't work.