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He set a brisk pace. She had to break into a run every few steps just to keep up with him.

“So if we follow the clues from Atrapus, it leads us to the incontrovertible conclusion that the treasures of Sen Baemonar must be located somewhere within search grid 4J- are you getting all of this?”

He glanced at her over his shoulder. Breathless, she simply nodded. She was well practiced at taking his notes on the run – could almost do so at a sprint by now – and knew that there was no point wasting her energy on trying to speak.

He carried on dictating as he strode onwards. She trailed afterwards, trying to maintain her usual detached, professional dignity despite the sweat trickling down her back.

It wasn’t easy. This had to be the most miserable job she had ever taken. Aside from the heat, the dust, and the downright odd food this planet offered, her employer was the most aggravating sort – the kind who didn’t seem to realise that employees might need to rest in the shade, eat regularly, sleep a full night through, or any of those things. She had been on call since the moment she signed up, and he seemed to need her assistance constantly.

But the pay was good, so here she was, trekking through the relentless heat of three suns, trying to take notes and keep up with his ridiculous pace. At least from here she had a good view, she thought, glancing away from the pad at his tightly clad rear. He was far from the worst looking man she’d ever worked for.

He stopped so suddenly she nearly ran into the back of him.

“This is it,” he declared. He turned to look at her, an intense, almost feverish look in his eyes.

“Of course, the thing Atrapus was missing was obvious, if you read Markentur. Have you read Markentur?”

She shook her head, baffled.

He smiled. “Markentur is often disregarded by the scholars. His work is cleverly disguised as myth, romantic legend, but I believe he had the key the whole time. The lost treasures have never been found because the seekers have been driven men with eyes for nothing but gold.”

She tried to catch her breath, found it halting in her chest. He put a hand on her shoulder, stepped closer to her.

“The treasures can only be found by a woman driven by love,” he whispered.

Gold began to glint from beneath the mud as he kissed her. Neither of them noticed.

© Kari Fay

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