Hello everyone! Today I am so thrilled to welcome the fabulous Jordan L. Hawk to the blog. Jordan is here as part of the Rainbow Con blog tour to talk to us more about her latest release, Necropolis, the fourth in her popular Whyborne & Griffin series. She has brought us an exclusive excerpt, as well as the chance to win a copy of the book. So please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Introverted scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has spent the last few months watching his lover, Griffin Flaherty, come to terms with the rejection of his adoptive family. So when an urgent telegram from Christine summons them to Egypt, Whyborne is reluctant to risk the fragile peace they’ve established. Until, that is, a man who seems as much animal as human tries to murder Whyborne in the museum.
Amidst the ancient ruins of the pharaohs, they must join Christine and face betrayal, murder, and a legendary sorceress risen from the dead. In the forge of the desert heat, the trio will either face their fears and stand together—or shatter the bonds between them forever.
The setup: January, 1899. Whyborne & Griffin’s friend, the Egyptologist Dr. Christine Putnam, has sent and urgent telegram summoning them to join her in Egypt. In this scene, our heroes have just via steamer.
Port Said offered as different a scene from the quays of Widdershins as I could have imagined. The heat, the swirl of colorful robes, the shouts in a dozen languages, combined to make my head spin. Scores of men and boys crowded the pier, shouting at the passengers in broken English as we disembarked.
“Donkey, effendi! To the rail station, yes?” one of the impertinent fellows offered, practically in my face. He stood almost as tall as me.
I took a step back. “No, thank you,” I replied in Arabic. “I have arrangements already made.”
He seemed surprised I’d addressed him in something other than English, but it worked to dissuade him, and he began yelling his offer at the passengers behind us.
“I don’t see Christine, do you?” Griffin asked, tilting his hat to better shade his eyes against the glare of the sun.
“No.” Had she encountered some delay? We’d been out of contact since a hastily wired telegram from England more than ten days ago. Anything could have happened since. “Let’s get away from this crowd. I can’t hear myself think.”
It was much easier said than done. Everywhere boys and young men confronted us with offers to act as tour guides, donkeys to rent, or pleas for baksheesh. Our fellow passengers milled about, collecting their luggage and hiring porters from among the swarm of natives.
I glimpsed the Grafin de Wisborg in the crowd, a parasol shading her pale skin from the fierce sun. To my surprise, she snapped her fingers and issued orders in brisk Arabic. A number of strong-looking young men leapt at once to her command, and within moments, she and her luggage had vanished. Would we encounter her again at Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo? According to Christine, practically every foreign tourist lodged there, whether partaking in one of Mr. Cook’s tours or on an excursion of their own, or at least came to enjoy the view from the famous terrace.
“Are you deaf?” yelled a portly man Englishman, his red face covered in a layer of sweat. “I want a coach! Now go get me one, or no baksheesh, understand?”
He berated a tall, slim Arab dressed in a summer weight suit and hat. A striking example of Egyptian manhood, his nose and mouth could have served as the model for one of the ancient statues of the pharaohs. “I understand you quite well, sir,” he replied with an English accent. “But I fear I’m already engaged.”
The portly man turned away in disgust. “It’s true what they say about how lazy the natives are,” he said in a loud voice to his wife.
The man he’d callously dismissed stiffened slightly, mouth tightening in anger. But an instant later, the expression vanished, smoothed away into a neutral mask. As he turned to scan the crowd, his gaze found me, and recognition flashed in his eyes. “Dr. Whyborne?”
“Permit me to introduce myself. I’m Iskander Barnett, an associate of Dr. Putnam’s.”
I recalled his name from Christine’s descriptions of her various adventures. I stuck out my hand; he looked vaguely bemused as he shook it. “Dr. Percival Endicott Whyborne—oh, you already know that, don’t you?—and this is my traveling companion, Mr. Griffin Flaherty.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Barnett,” Griffin said, shaking his hand in turn. “Do you assist Dr. Putnam often?”
“Oh good, Kander, you found them.” Christine’s familiar tones cut through the noise of the crowded dock. I turned to see her striding through the throng toward us. Her costume came as a bit of a shock. Although I knew she always adopted rational dress in the field, and had seen her in bloomers before in the course of our adventures, her working outfit proved even more radical than I’d supposed. The dusty tan trousers were quite mannish, and paired with a plain white shirt, tan vest, and coat. Her hat befit any explorer of the land, of whatever gender.
“Whyborne,” she said crisply, thrusting her hand at me. “Good to see you.”
I shook it more out of reflex than anything else. “Christine,” I said, doing my best to convey I didn’t appreciate her dragging me halfway around the globe without explanation.
“Griffin.” She shook his hand heartily. “Excellent. I assumed Whyborne would bring you.”
“What is this all about?” I asked, feeling I’d waited far too long for enlightenment already.
“I’ll tell you in full later, away from these crowds,” she said. “Now hurry it up, we don’t want to be late for the train to Cairo.”
“Christine!” I set my heels and folded my arms across my chest. “No. I’m not going another step until you offer me some word of explanation.”
“Murder,” she replied. “Murder most foul, as the bard says. Now stop being dramatic and find your luggage.”
Jordan has brought a copy of Necropolis to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, April 18th at 11:59 pm EST.
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