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Edan Romney believes he's on the trail of the most significant archaeological find of his life. He's tracked the legend from Bolivia to Chaco Canyon and beyond. His next stop is Alaska, but a sudden winter storm takes down his plane in the Colorado mountains.
Del Martinez is surprised there is a survivor when a small plane crashes at the end of his mountain meadow. His surprise turns to shock when he discovers it's Edan – the one lover he regrets losing. With a blizzard closing in fast, Del needs to get Edan inside his cabin and warm, and then see how badly he may be injured. It's not a magical reunion as past hurts and indiscretions quickly bring contention.
Edan won't abandon his quest to find if what's written on an ancient scroll is true. Del can't forget seeing another man in Edan's arms – even if it was a setup. With the blizzard freezing outside, passion heats up inside. Both men know they must find a way to bury the past instead of digging it up.
Edan's chin lifted. "I have a scroll. Mackley tested it for me and authenticated it to be a thousand years old."
Del blinked. Was he serious?
"Mackley can't be trusted. You know that. He drinks in his lab. Crap gets messed up."
Edan shook his head. "Nope. I was right there with him. We ran the tests twice. The leather, I repeat, leather, is a thousand years old, give or take a decade or two."
A leather scroll that old? That was an incredible find. Edan's being here meant the scroll was legible…
"Who translated the scroll? Don't say Mackley again."
Edan smiled and lifted the middle finger of the hand holding his soup mug. "I did. You don't think I'd take the entire scroll to him, do you? I'm not an idiot. I snipped two corners."
Del lifted his middle finger off his mug in reply. It was an old familiar gesture between them, and often, like today, meant "don't imply I'm stupid" when questions with obvious answers were asked. "Okay. Point taken. Please tell me this fabulous find didn't get incinerated in the plane."
Edan tapped his middle finger against his mug and grinned. "You've gone batty, old boy. Did my phone survive my landing?"
"As a matter of fact, it did." Del stepped into the kitchen to retrieve it. "It's not on and I didn't mess with it past plugging it in for a charge."
He handed it to Edan and watched as he fiddled with it. After a few minutes, Edan gave it back.
"Take a look at that photo."
Del did as instructed, sliding the photo around until he'd seen every inch of it. The writing looked very similar to Sumerian proto-cuneiform, but with subtle differences. He glanced at Edan.
"And you found this at Tiwanaku? How is any of that site unexplored?" He knew archaeologists had scoured the site for years. "Did you test the ink on this?"
"Of course, we tested the ink. I didn't find that at the site, but a few miles away. I'd had a lousy day. You'd left angry and I was upset, and frankly, I was scared you really meant we were over. Our permit was about to expire. We were due to pack up and move out and I'd found nothing. Nada. So, I went for a walk to figure out how to get you to talk to me again, and, not watching where I put my foot down, I stepped into a hole."
"A hole. For real, Edan? A hole?"
"Yeah. A little sinkhole. Almost wet myself as the dirt fell in around me. Then it got weird."
Del snorted. "Like this conversation."