The Staff of Moses – Chapter 7

Arrival

Two days later they arrived at the Hotel Sofitel in Cairo. Pulling up under the carport of the gold-topped pink tower located in the nook of a curve in the Nile, Diana expressed surprise at the choice of lodging.

Oliver finished paying the driver and stepped up beside her, saying, “I got a large advance on this job. Besides, we might as well be comfortable for the next few nights. Soon enough, we might be camping in the desert for a week or more.”

Diana nodded in agreement and together they pushed through the revolving door into the cool air of the hotel lobby.

The clerk at the desk greeted them in flawless English, checked them in to two adjoining rooms on the nineteenth floor, and informed Oliver that two packages had arrived ahead of him. Oliver requested that they be delivered to his room and gestured for Diana to lead the way to the elevator. Once upstairs, he insisted on checking her room before entering his own.

“I’m not helpless, Oliver,” Diana complained as he pushed past her into the room.

“Obviously, but when were you last in a fist fight?”

“Eighth grade.”

“Well, that puts me in the more experienced category when it comes to dealing with any covert agents or bastard relic dealers hidden in your closet. We’re in-country now, Diana. Things might get dangerous.”

That seemed to upset Diana, so Oliver didn’t make any further comments as he pulled an electronic bug sniffer, disguised as a light meter for his camera, out of his carry-on bag. Once he was certain that the room was clear of both electronic surveillance and hidden attackers, Oliver informed Diana that he was going to get a shower and lay down for a few minutes. She expressed similar plans and they agreed to meet again in an hour.

Oliver locked his door behind him and leaned against it for a moment, taking in the view of the room. It was a perfect mirror of Diana’s room next door. Both rooms were decorated in shades of amber and beige, with thick green carpeting on the floor and a single wide window looking out over the curving banks of the Nile. A heavy door set into the adjoining wall opened to reveal the flat face of a matching door in Diana’s room, allowing easy access between the rooms when both doors were opened. Oliver made a quick check of his room and, convinced he was alone and not under any obvious surveillance, stripped and climbed into a cold shower.

It was probably a mistake bringing Diana along, he thought as the chill water pounded against his skin. Sure, he needed a translator and he was certain that she was the most competent Egyptian linguist he could trust. For that matter, she was perhaps the only one he could trust if the story about the staff turned out to be true. He was also reasonably sure that she could hold her own if things got rough, which was important. Three years ago, he had allowed a girlfriend to travel with him on a simple photo expedition, assuming that anyone who fell for an outdoorsman and expressed interest in traveling to exotic places would be at least as competent as Diana or his cousin Amber. That was been a disaster. The relationship had come to an abrupt end when, two days into the jungles of India, the woman had announced that she was taking one of their guides and returning to the city with or without Oliver.

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