|Tom laughed, then left her alone. As soon as his footsteps died away, she flipped open her sketch pad to a clean page and set it on the table next to the necklace. Before she tried again to imagine Hatshepsut’s features, she wanted to make a detailed drawing of the collar.
Within half an hour, she had the broad outlines of the necklace faithfully reproduced on the paper. Yawning, she laid her pencil beside the tablet. Even the beauty of the necklace couldn’t keep her awake forever. Maybe it was time to call it a day. She could duplicate the intricate hieroglyphs tomorrow.
No sooner had she decided to quit than the back of her neck prickled, and a warm breeze stroked her cheek. Not again! She whipped around, determined to catch the furtive watcher this time. Her left arm hit the partially open door, which promptly slammed shut.
Hattie reached for the doorknob and turned it, giving the door a jerk. It remained firmly closed. She jiggled the knob and pulled on it, but it was quite obviously locked. “Great!” she muttered. “Just what I need. I wonder how long that meeting of Tom’s will last?”
Her mouth dropped open as a horrible thought occurred to her. What if Tom didn’t return after the meeting? What if he went straight home? “Tomorrow’s Sunday,” she reminded herself grimly. “I might be stuck here in this…this broom closet for two days!” There was no one at her apartment to miss her or report her absence—not even a dog to bark and alert the neighbors.
Hattie banged on the door. “Is anyone there? Let me out!” She shouted and beat on the door with her palms, but all was ominously silent. If someone had been watching her, they had no intention of helping her out of her dilemma.
At last, resigned to her fate, she returned to her sketchpad. “If I’m going to be stuck in here, I might as well finish my work,” she murmured. “Tom’s bound to come back—I’m sure he will.” Her voice echoed unconvincingly in the dusty, claustrophobic room.
Picking up her pencil, she focused deliberately on copying the tiny hieroglyphics with extreme precision. Gradually, she became absorbed in her work and forgot her predicament. Minutes flowed by with the only sound in the room the scratching of her pencil on the paper.
At last, she completed the final symbol on her detailed drawing and set down her pencil with a twinge of disappointment. She was curiously drawn to the glittering possession of the ancient, yet strangely modern woman. Hatshepsut had ruled Egypt fifteen hundred years before Christ, at a time when women were considered no more important than servants or dogs. How had she managed it?
The vagrant breeze whispered past her face again, leaving a whiff of exquisite perfume in its wake. A rustle, like the caress of costly linen against bare skin, drew her attention. She felt a strong presence, though she knew she was alone in the tiny room.
The words were so faint, Hattie wasn’t sure she’d actually heard them.
“Who’s there?” she asked, though she didn’t expect to get a response. The room was too small to hide anyone.
“Touch the necklace.”
Hattie spun around, searching for the source of the barely audible words. “Tom, is that you? If it’s you, I don’t think this is funny! Open the door right now.” She thumped it with her fist for emphasis.
There was no response.
Hattie turned back to the exquisitely fashioned falcon. Maybe it was her overworked imagination playing a trick on her, but the advice seemed sound. Perhaps if she touched the necklace, she could make a connection—psychic, empathic?—with the long-dead monarch. The necklace was strangely compelling, like a long forgotten yet treasured memory.
She reached out slowly, cautiously. As her fingertips gently grazed the golden bird, an electric shock pulsed through her and a sudden wave of dizziness sapped her strength.
“Come to me,” the ghostly voice whispered, stronger now. “Come to me. I have need of you.”
The sweet, cloying scent of incense filled Hattie’s nostrils, and flashes of light exploded behind her eyes. Her vision blurred; she felt as if she were reeling, falling down a long, dark tunnel. Gasping, she reached out blindly for something, anything, to steady herself. Her fingers skimmed across the surface of the table and fastened around the necklace. Clutching it, she fell heavily to the floor as everything went black.