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Authors: Kathryn Le Veque

Lady of Heaven

LADY OF HEAVEN

 

By Kathryn Le Veque

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2010 by Kathryn Le Veque
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any
manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief
quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Text copyright 2010 by Kathryn Le Veque
Cover copyright 2010 by Kathryn Le Veque

All Violators will be prosecuted
fully

 

 

Text of the Lady
of Heaven Papyrus

 

 

Oh! Isis, Lady
of Heaven, Favored of The Gods,

may she be given
eternal life by the Gods whom love her.

May she find
peace within the bosom of the Most High,

from the Claw of
the Ape,

ten days as the
sun sets to the Holy City of Ranthor

which lies deep
to the east in the arms of the Syene,

to the Fingers
that Reach to the Sky.

May she know
grace and divine protection,

our Holy
Mistress, foremost Lady of the West,     

as she Rests in
the Shelter of the Sun.

 

 

October 29, 1922

            Cairo
at last!

            Dear
Louis and I have been on the boat for seventeen days from southhampton but
fortunately the weather has co-operated.  My dear husband wants to make sure
our honeymoon is a journey to remember.  We were met at the Cairo docks by our
‘dragoman’, or translator, Mr. Arak.  Louis does not trust him but I think he
is fascinating. We are soon to begin our adventure!

            ~
From the Journal of Lady Frances de Lara Sherburn

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Bolton Museum

Bolton,
Lancashire, U.K.

Present Day

 

It took two knocks on the old
plywood door before he lifted his head to see who was there.   The office door
was open and his assistant, an older woman with curly brown hair and teeth that
were in need of a cleaning stood in the archway, knocking again even when she
saw that he was looking at her. It was an annoying habit she had. 

“Dr. Henredon,” she said in a
strong Manchester accent. “Your one o’clock meeting is here.”

Dr. Fox Henredon gazed at the woman
as if he had no idea what she meant until, a split second later, realization
dawned and he sighed heavily. Eyes the color of obsidian glimmered,
recollecting the meeting while simultaneously reflecting on the workload facing
him.

He didn’t usually deal with the
public; he left that to those better suited. But this meeting had been
different; he’d been virtually forced into it thanks to his assistant who had
been a fixture at the museum for over thirty years. She knew the names, the
people, their backgrounds and their connections.  The subject of this meeting
had all of that and more, and she had set it up without asking him. She simply
told him about it.

Flicking the pen from his fingers
and watching it clatter on the desk, Fox sat back in his chair, listening to it
groan under is weight as he pulled off his reading glasses.

“God,” he groaned softly, rubbing
his weary orbs. He had a hint of the same Manchester accent that his assistant had.
“I’d forgotten. Who is she again?”

The assistant wriggled her
eyebrows. “Her name is Morgan Sherburn. She wants to talk to you about a relic
she found in her great-grandmother’s house. “

He began nodding even before she
finished her sentence, waving her off as he rose to his feet.  The chair popped
up and smacked him in the rear and he shoved it away as he made his way around
the desk.  

As he moved, he tried to stretch
out the kinks in his big body; he’d been sitting in the same position for hours
and had lost track of the time. But maybe it had just been wishful thinking;
maybe if he’d stayed still enough and not utter a sound, Mrs. Moberley the
assistant would take the meeting for him. But he knew that was too much to hope
for.  He could hear his spine cracking as he twisted and stretched.

“All right, all right,” he snapped
softly, pulling off his glasses and tossing them back over on to his desk. “I
really don’t have time for this. Besides, any mention of a private party trying
to sell a relic makes me nervous after what happened a few years ago with that
old man trying to pass off a forged statue.  The museum got into a hell of a
lot of trouble for that.”

The older woman nodded patiently.
“I understand completely, but this woman comes from a very old and very good
family. I would think anything she has would be authentic and worth a
look-see.”

He snorted softly. “Whatever you
say.  Get her in here and let’s get this over with.”

She got a grip on his elbow.
“You’re coming with me to get her.”

He looked confused. “Why?”

“Because you’ve been sitting behind
that desk for six hours.  You’ve got to move around or you’ll get the bends. A
walk out to the lobby won’t hurt you.”

Fox knew better than to argue; he
let her pull him along.  Mrs. Moberley let go of him by the time they hit the
reception area; the hallway leading to the lobby of the museum was dead ahead.

“Doesn’t the name Sherburn mean
anything to you?” she asked as she led him into the corridor.

Fox made a somewhat impatient face
and scratched at his dark head. “No,” he said flatly. “But I know it probably
should.  What about it?”

“Really, Dr. Henredon,” the assistant
sniffed as if he was in need of an education. “Sherburn is an old name in these
parts, one of the oldest in Lancashire. They have a manor house just north of
Bolton called Heaven’s Gate. Surely you’ve heard of it.”

He stopped scratching his head and looked
at her. “I have.”

“Then you’ll also recall that the
Sherburns were very close to the Barlows.”

“The family that founded the
museum?”

“The same.”

He lifted an eyebrow at her. “I
don’t remember that part.”

“I tried to tell you.”

“I guess I forgot.”

The assistant shook her head as if
he was an imbecile; even if the man was the Director of Egyptology Collections
for one of the world’s finest natural history museums, he could be rather
singularly focused.

Fox Henredon was something of a
legend in the British Museum circles, a young man who was blindingly brilliant,
acing his A-Level exams and earning his doctorate in a little over six years. 
He’d graduated Eton and even did a stint as a rugby player before transitioning
to civilian life as an assistant museum curator.  Eight years later, following
a scandal involving forged Egyptian artwork that saw the head of the Egyptian
Collections ousted, Fox ended up with the job. 

He’d led an interesting life, no
doubt, and Mrs. Moberley had known him since he had started at the museum,
treating him as somewhat of a wayward son.  She was the only woman in the
museum who could handle him, mostly because all of the other women went to
pieces at the sight of him. 

Not only was the man brilliant, but
he was extraordinarily handsome and he knew it.  At six feet seven inches and
around two hundred seventy pounds with dark hair and nearly black eyes, he was
an enormous man that reeked of comeliness, intelligence and intimidation. The
women around the museum agreed that his birth name also described him; the man
was indeed a fox.

But his handsome features were
darkening by the minute as he made his way out of the administrative offices
and into the main bulk of the museum. It was lunchtime and the museum was busier
than usual with people visiting during their lunch hour. The entire museum was
part of Bolton Civic Centre and housed, among other things, one of the oldest
aquariums in the world.  Busy workers loved to make the museum part of their
lunch break.  It was a popular destination.

Fox ended up dodging a couple of
small children, moving around them with polite impatience as he followed Mrs.
Moberley towards the information desk. It was busier than normal at this time
of day and he could see several people crowding up around the modern
information kiosk.   Mrs. Moberley went directly to a woman seated near the
desk, pulling Fox along with her.

Fox almost didn’t see the woman at
first; she was seated between the information kiosk and the wall. He was
focused on the old ladies bickering with one of the museum docents when Mrs.
Moberley’s voice caught his attention.  

“Miss Sherburn?” she gestured to
the woman rising from the guest services chair. “This is Dr. Henredon.”

Fox’s dark eyes focused on the
woman and, for a moment, he was actually speechless. A strikingly beautiful
blond with exquisite features and wide brown eyes gazed steadily at him.   She
was petite, no more than an inch or two over five feet, dressed in a clinging
gray sweater, slender blue jeans and flat black slippers.  Although she had one
of those curvy figures that made him take a second look, it was her face had
his instant interest. He’d never seen anything so sweet or lovely. Fox suddenly
wasn’t so resistant to the meeting as she extended a slender hand at him.

“Dr. Henredon,” she spoke with an
American accent. “I’m Morgan Sherburn. Thank you for taking the time to meet
with me. I know you’re really busy but I didn’t know who else to go to with
this.”

Her voice struck him first, like
the cascade of sweet, cool water.  He could have listened to that voice all day
and it was a struggle to overcome his initial shock. He took her outstretched
hand, dwarfing it.

“No problem,” he said, feeling her
soft flesh against his. “What can I help you with?”

Mrs. Moberley already had them on
the move. “Let’s get out of this crowd and go someplace where you can talk,”
she began to lead them across the busy museum floor, back in the direction of
the offices. “Can I offer you some coffee, Miss Sherburn?”

Morgan shook her head. “No, thank
you.”

Mrs. Moberley smiled thinly in
reply, her gaze inspecting the beautiful young woman, and continued leading the
charge across the museum’s main lobby and back into the administrative offices
area.  

Morgan followed, walking very
quickly because the older woman seemed to be; carting her heavy purse and an portfolio-like
briefcase, it was becoming an increasing struggle to keep up with the pace. 
Her clear brown eyes moved over the lobby of the Bolton Museum, which very
quickly disappeared to become a hallway leading into the administrative
offices.   The entire place had an old smell to it mixed in with the modern
elements that had been added, just like most historical buildings in Britain.  

But the architecture of the building
and oldness of it had not prepared her for the introduction to Dr. Fox
Henredon; in fact, she had to take a second look at the man to realize he
wasn’t some old relic of an archaeologist buried back in the archives of a
dusty museum.  That’s exactly what she had expected.  But instead, Dr. Henredon
was a very large, very handsome man with a deep voice that bubbled up from his
toes.  He looked like a movie star with his granite jaw and neatly combed black
hair. Rip off his shirt and there would be a big “S” underneath. Now, her trip
to Bolton wasn’t such a boring chore after all.  At least she had some
eye-candy to look at while discussing her business.

The dim hallway opened up into a
reception area and the older woman again turned to her, indicating a small
alcove off to the left and a doorway beyond. Clutching her purse and her
briefcase, Morgan followed the gesture and ended up in a big, cluttered office.

“Have a seat,” Fox came in behind
her, moving to take the chair behind his desk. “Are you sure I can’t get you
some coffee or water?”

Morgan shook her head. “No, thanks
very much,” she said, setting her purse down as she took position atop the fake
leather chair.  She held out the big, flat briefcase. “Do you mind if I put
this on your desk?”

At least she wasn’t going to waste
his time with a lot of idle chatter; the woman was focused on her purpose and
Fox appreciated that. The settled his bulk back in his chair, nodding to her
question.

“Sure.”

She noticed that he didn’t move to
clear away the disorder on the desk top. “Do you want to move your papers
first?” she suggested helpfully.

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