Tomb Raider Trouble:
Trouble with Harry
Trouble with Harry
In 1924, Harry, and adventurous archeologist, uncovers his greatest find--the tomb of the daughter of Shah Azhi "the devil king", containing the magical stone of Azhi. Legend tells of the stone's great power to grant wishes. When Harry lays his hands on the prize, he's sucked into a bottle to sleep for over eighty years.
In the twenty-first century, lonely museum worker, Edie Ragsdale, has been tasked with cataloguing the contents of a sarcophagus. Among the mummified remains of a long-dead princess. Edie finds a bottle. When she grushes away the duts of a thousand years, a naked Harry appears out of thin air. Because she was the one to wake Harry from his long sleep, Edie is able to wish for anything her heart desires and Harry has to grant it! Only her wishes don't always turn out as she plans and Harry can't control all the outcomes. Come along for a rollicking rom and learn that wishes don't always come true, and maybe that's a good thing!
Edie trudged through the aisles of crates and cartons carefully stacked on shelves and racks in the warehouse. When she reached the overhead doors at the rear of the museum where delivery trucks deposited new arrivals, she found the box marked “Zagros Dig, Iraq”.
“This must be it.” Pulling a crowbar off the wall, she began the laborious task of stripping the wooden slats from the crate. She’d do as much as she could by herself before she asked for help. She didn’t like to ask anyone for help, because that would mean actually making conversation with someone besides her boss. A shiver ran down her spine and her stomach burbled.
In her imagination, she was strong, fearless and desirable, capable of speaking to huge gatherings of people without a problem.
But reality had a way of showing her for her true self—doormat, Edie Ragsdale. Scared of her shadow, dowdy as a dishrag, Ms. Ragsdale. Destined to be alone.
Edie sighed. She couldn’t change who she was, and why should she? She’d still work in this musty old museum, she’d still live alone. Who could possibly find her interesting?
When the boards were cleared away, the carved stone sarcophagus stood in solitary dignity, out of place in the modern cardboard and foam-peanut world of the warehouse.
Edie wondered who this person was to have such an intricately carved casket. The likeness on top indicated a female. Etched over her head was the shape of a two-headed dragon, its body tangled over the woman’s head as if protecting or imprisoning her.
Was she a great queen of some legendary kingdom? Or had she been the wife of a cruel ruler, who beat her to death for some imagined infraction. Perhaps she was the lover of a man who’d worshiped the ground she walked on.
Whoever she was, Edie suddenly couldn’t wait to get the lid off and see what, if anything, was inside. She ran to find Ernie, the janitor.
“Don’t know why ya gotta open old smelly caskets,” Ernie mumbled. “Some things are best left in the ground where they belong.” Within minutes, Ernie had the lid off and carefully placed to the side of the sarcophagus. As quickly as he’d come, he left, muttering something about cleaning toilets in another part of the vast museum.
The mummified remains of the woman smelled like dust and old bones. Edie had seen her share of mummies, each telling a story of its own. Tucked next to the mummy’s feet was a bottle, coated in the dust of perhaps thousands of years.
Curious, Edie carefully lifted the bottle and rubbed the sides with the soft cloth she kept tucked in her pocket.
The floor shimmied and thunder rumbled outside.
Edie set the bottle back in the sarcophagus and strode to the dingy window. Was it going to rain? She hadn’t brought an umbrella and she’d be walking home soon. Damn.Why didn’t I bring an umbrella?
What little bit of sky she could see between the buildings looked as it had that morning, although the gloom of dusk cast long shadows into the alley. No clouds skittered by, no hint of rain. Then why had she heard thunder? Maybe it was a garbage truck dropping a dumpster onto the pavement. Sometimes they made enough noise she’d mistake it for thunder.
No matter. The skies were clear and, as soon as she cataloged the items, she could go home. With a shrug, she turned back to her work only to stop dead in her tracks.
A tall, naked man stood next to the ancient coffin, stretching as if he’d just woken from a long sleep.
Edie gasped, the only sound in an otherwise silent cavern. This man very much resembled the pirate in her daydream. Dark-haired, suntanned. Her heart skittered erratically, her pulse banging against her throat. He was naked. Totally naked. Her gaze skimmed—okay, slowly perused—from the top of his shiny black hair and over his angular face, continuing downward. She panned the wide expanse of his smooth brown chest tapering to narrow hips. Nestled in the dark shadow of curly hair, his penis hung flaccid, but still most impressive.
Ohmigod! Edie’s face heated. She’d been staring at his privates. She’d never stared at a man’s privates before. What would he think? Then again, what was a naked man doing in her warehouse? Perhaps he was crazy. Maybe he was a sexually perverted lunatic out to deflower lonely virgins. Edie sank to the floor and gathered up a loose slat from the crate she’d dismembered.
If he was going to rape her, she wasn’t going down without a fight. She stood, her hand gripping the splintered wood. “Who are you and what do you want?”
The man rubbed his eyes and blinked, before he straightened and looked directly at her. “Who are you? And where the hell am I?”
The woman standing before him brandished a wooden slat in his face. “I asked first.”
Harry stepped back and, for the first time, realized he was completely naked. “Holy Jesus.” He leaned over to grab a board but the sharp corner of a board poked his chest. Reflexively, he crossed his hands over his groin.
“Don’t move, or I’ll scream.” The woman poked him again. “What are you doing here? And more importantly, why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”
“Look, lady. I don’t know what’s going on here, but I do not have designs on your person.” He reached to push the point off his ribs, baring his groin, again. “If you’d quit jabbing me with that stick, I’ll cover myself.”
Edie tried really hard to keep her gaze above his shoulders, but some things were just too noticeable to be ignored from the corner of her eye. “Oh.” Her cheeks burned and she stepped back. “Yes, of course.”
He leaned down again to reach for a board.
“Not with that!” The sharp edge caught him in the throat this time, puncturing the skin. Warm liquid oozed down his neck.
He straightened, his hands rising to rest on his hips. “How am I supposed to cover myself with you trying to stab holes in me?”
“Here, use this.” She struggled with one hand to untie the strap around her neck and waist while maintaining her grip on the board. Then she tossed her canvas apron at him.
Harry deftly caught the apron in a single hand and held it like a fig leaf over the lower half of his torso. Had he drunk himself into a stupor last night? And where was he? Obviously, not in the desert. And why was this woman waving a stick at him. Had his performance in bed been that dismal?
“Go ahead, put it on,” she said, her face flaming, her voice shaking like dry leaves rattling in the wind.
“A lady would look away while a man dressed himself,” he grumbled.
“Look, buster, I’m not turning away for a second, so don’t even think about jumping me.” Her words sounded tough but her hand shook.
She was scared of him.
Come to think of it, a naked man in the presence of a woman would be cause for alarm in anyone’s book—unless, of course, they’d already shared a passionate night together. Although by the look on her face, that probably wasn’t the case. “All right, but could you at least look at my face, instead of staring at my—” He cleared his throat and glanced down. Damned if he wasn’t hardening. Good Lord, and the woman wasn’t his usual long-stemmed blonde beauty.
Will would have a good laugh over his reaction.
Will. A lead weight settled in Harry’s gut. Where was his friend? Had he ended up in as peculiar a situation as he had? Or was he still back at the tomb, possibly buried in the sand?
Feeling downright silly, Harry tied the apron around his waist, creating a distinctive tent in front while cool air continued to brush his naked backside. “Perhaps we could start over. I’m Harrington Taylor from America. I don’t really know what I’m doing here. And you are?”
“Not buying it.”
“Excuse me?” What the hell did she think he was selling? “I’m not selling anything, if that’s what’s got you worried.”
“I may not be very worldly, but I know a con when I see it.” She shook her board at him. “No sane man shows up in the back of a warehouse in New York City naked unless he’s crazy or out to rape some unsuspecting female.”
“New York City? Warehouse?” Harry staggered backward. “What the hell are you talking about? And why would I want to rape you?”
“Don’t play dumb. I’ve heard about your type. Preying on lone females. I have a good set of lungs on me. I’ll scream if you try anything.”
Harry’s head spun, his mind grasping for answers. “Let me get this straight, I’m not in Iraq? I’m back in America?”
The woman rolled her light green eyes. She’d almost be pretty if her hair wasn’t pulled back so severely. And her skin was translucent white sprinkled with a dusting of freckles, complimenting the amber tint of her eyebrows and the thin wisps curling around her ears. “No and yes.”
“How the hell did I get here?”
“That’s my question.”
He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of the fog. “One moment, Will and I were opening the sarcophagus—”
“Who’s Will?” The woman darted a glance around her.
“My assistant on the dig.” Harry looked around too. “And apparently not here.”
“So you’re one of the men from the Iraq dig?” Her hand wavered for a moment, then she shifted the stick to the other. “That still doesn’t explain why you’re here and without clothing.”
“I told you, I don’t know.” His head ached, and the damp of the warehouse seeped through his bare skin into his bones. He shivered. “I don’t suppose you have something more substantial than this apron for me to wear?”
“You’re the one running around without clothes in the middle of a cool snap.”
“Nevertheless, I am a bit cold.” He reached behind him to try to close the edges of the apron to stop the breeze cooling his backside.
She didn’t budge. “So you’re telling me you were at the archeological dig in Iraq, and you don’t know how you got here?”
He scrubbed his hand through his hair and smiled sheepishly. How strange he must look. “All I can remember is touching the stone of Azhi and the rest is a blur.”
“Huh?” Her eyes narrowed. “What’s the stone of Azhi?”
How much should he tell a complete stranger? He’d spent so much time searching. “Does it matter?”
“You really don’t know what happened?”
“And you were at the dig in Iraq?” The stick bobbed and lowered an inch.
“Yes.” How could he make her believe? “I’d been working on that site since nineteen.”
Her head tilted to the side. “Nineteen what?”
“You didn’t answer my question. Nineteen what? Since you were nineteen?”
“No.” What was her problem? Didn’t she understand English? He spoke in slow, deliberate words. “The year nineteen nineteen.”
“You mean nineteen ninety-nine.”
She’d accused him of being a lunatic only now, Harry could swear she was the crazy one. “No, I meant nineteen-nineteen.”
“The next thing you’ll tell me you’re, what…” Her eyes tipped toward the ceiling. “…one hundred years old.”
“No, I just turned thirty.”
The stick leveled off, chest high. “What year were you born?” She shot the question at him, her words brisk and clear.
“1894,” he answered without hesitation.
Her mouth dropped slightly, her eyes widening for a brief moment. Then she glanced around the warehouse. “Oh, I get it, this is a joke.” She laughed out loud, a smile curving her lips, softening the tight lines of her face. When she allowed her features to relax, she could almost be considered pretty.
“What’s so funny?”
“You. This situation. Whoever put you up to this charade? Which one of my colleagues? Who was it?”
“You either have a really bad memory, can’t add or are pulling the hell out of my leg.” She shook the fractured board at him. “Which one is it?”
Feeling more confused by the moment, he snapped, “I’ve always been very good with my numbers, and I have an exceptional memory.”
“That leaves pulling my leg.” She poked his chest. “I’m calling the police.”
“Why, what year were you born?”
“Nineteen seventy-five. Which, I suspect is about when you were born, give or take a few years.”
“Nineteen seventy-five.” Harry snorted. “This game has gone on long enough, woman. When I woke up this morning, it was the year of our lord nineteen hundred and twenty-four. I know I couldn’t have been out for very long. What is today’s date?”
“March fourteenth, two thousand and five. Now, as you so eloquently put it, I’m tired of playing games. Who are you and why are you naked in the warehouse of the New York City Anthropological Museum?”
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