After arriving at Cairo, the three of them booked rooms from a hotel and decided to look for Mr. Lyle’s house and make him a surprise by tea time. The heat and the sun caused quite an alarming change in Vanessa: she decided to buy herself very distinct clothes from those she was normally seen wearing, in material but mostly in color. Low-necked white silk dresses, adjusted at the waist, some with embellishments and all of them having long flowy skirts that tangled around her legs with the wind.
Ethan’s always thought Vanessa was beautiful, but this time for him she looked more than ever like a goddess, an angel, a vision from the desert, mainly due to her raven hair worn loose, elegant posture and expressive stare. Perhaps most of all the white color served as symbolism for the peace she seemed to be finding at last.
Getting to the opulence of the door they were sure that belonged to Ferdinand’s mansion, the gentlement allowed Vanessa to ring the bell and kept wondering how the house looked like from the inside and their frend’s expression after seeing them standing there, of all places.
- I’ll do it, Ahmed. I answer the door. Set the table for tea, if you please. - They heard Ferdinand exclaim in his well-known French accent. The trio wouldn’t dare to breathe with the excitement when they noticed his steps along the hall.
When he opened the door, Mr. Lyle randomly said a common Arabic greeting because he couldn’t see well with so much sun in his eyes. Sir Malcolm replied to it as the local habit demands and positioned himself so as to block a bit of the sunlight from the little man’s face. Vanessa had no idea what to do or what to say; she had tears in her eyes and took Ethan’s hand by instinct, who responded to the gesture by getting closer to her and leaving a kiss on her temple. The seconds that followed passed like an eternity.
- But… Sir Malcolm?! Miss Ives?! What… But this is Mr. Chandler! It’s wonderful you took the trouble to come here! I really didn’t think… You cannot imagine how happy I am with the surprise. - they had never seen Lyle wear such a delighted expression; soon all were showed in and the host kissed Vanessa’s hand in his usual manner.
- We are the ones who are glad to be here, Mr. Lyle. There’s much you don’t know, but what matters is that we’ve come to spend a season in Egypt to keep you company. We hope you don’t mind our sudden arrival. - said Ethan when the two of them shook hands.
- Of course I don’t mind, my dear Mr. Chandler! Speaking of, I insist you stay at this house, it’s got many rooms and I’ll love to welcome you here; I’ve missed you all dearly and fortunately we’re going to have plenty of time to talk. - Lyle stood closer to Ethan so as he could look straight at the other’s eyes. - You’ve had your hair cut, Mr. Chandler… It becomes you, it lets your face show.
Ethan just smiled and gently patted the older man at the shoulder. Then Lyle decided to show them his home and introduce them to Ahmed. They could see he got especially excited when he mentioned the name, which made Ethan and Vanessa share a glance. Surely he wasn’t just a mere house staff member.
When they entered the tea room, where a young man close in age to Frankenstein was capriciously setting the table, Lyle hooked an arm around one of his and brought him towards his friends.
- Ahmed, my love, these are friends of mine from London, who came to spend some time with us. Sir Malcolm Murray, the ever so beautiful Miss Vanessa Ives and Mr. Ethan Chandler, who by the way has quite a gunbelt and is also an American, you see. - Ahmed gave each of them a shy but friendly smile nonetheless, bowing slightly.
Ahmed was a tall man of slim constitution, with amber eyes that were a little pulled, firery because of the natural light coming from the big windows with curtains open. His hair was wavy and almost black, coming towards the middle of the back of his neck and that slowly fell over the sides of his head when he moved. His face was plain and dusky. Born and raised in Cairo with proud.
He was the secretary at the museum where Lyle began to work; they had met properly not long after Ferdinand’s arrival in town. What was most attractive to Lyle about him was eactly the fact that most of the time the young man remained almost unnoticed, but trying to make himself useful as much as he could. About two months later, both started going out together and eventually dating. Ahmed acts as Lyle’s translator from and to Arabic and has been learning to read hieroglyphics.
Everyone showed their joy for Lyle being at a place where he was sure he could be whoever he wanted and with someone who apparently made him very happy. Vanessa had the feeling Ahmed was a pure-hearted man and it gave her a sense of relieve.
Lyle asked how were things going for his friends up until that moment and for now they chose to say that Ethan settled a few scores in his homeland before going back to England, Sir Malcolm went hunting in Africa and Vanessa followed Lyle’s advice and asked for the help of dr. Seward, who did her best to help her… After a few seconds of mysterious quiet, Ethan and Vanessa announced they were officially a couple; which made Lyle propose a toast and that after tea they sould send for their luggage so as to settle there.
Ahmed and Lyle took aside the bedrooms from the end of the corridor to their friends, which had balconies and a great view from the street, which got lit like a huge party by evening. Vanessa opened the door to the balcony after putting on her nightgown and brushing her hair.; she wanted to feel the colder wind after a tiring hot afternoon. The sky was cloudless, full of stars…
She felt Ethan’s presence and closed her eyes when Ethan wrapped an arm around her waist. The moon was full, but Ethan whispered her that that night the danger had passed; they could sleep together and no one needed to worry.
- You are as beautiful as the moon to which I am slave, Vanessa… And I think that perhaps one day I might love it as much as I love you. My comfort is that it brought you to me. I don’t know what I would do without you. Grace of my life is what you are.
- Now we are at peace with ourselves, Ethan… We could give it to each other and now I’m most certain God has never left my side, for He has sent His Wolf to be with me at the darkest hours and bring me back to the light.
Then she let herself be taken to bed in Ethan’s lap, nested into his chest. And they whispered a hacking Lord’s Prayer among Vanessa’s sighs and his kisses upon her neck, which smelled of rosemary and sweat from a clean body.