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A Wind of Change(A Shade of Vampire,Book 17)(11) by Bella Forrest

“Her joints are getting a bit stiff, but otherwise she’s in good spirits. She’s very much looking forward to seeing you three again.” He paused, straining his neck to look me in the eye. “Are you really going to go back after just one week? I’m still sore about it.”

“Dafne and Lalia could stay longer… then perhaps Bashira could fly back with them to New York?”

My grandfather turned his attention to my two sisters. “And would you two like to do that? Stay here without River?”

Dafne nodded her head furiously. “Can I stay a whole month?”

“Of course! And what about you, Lalia?”

She tore her eyes away from the window. “Huh?”

“Grandpa’s asking if you want to stay here longer with Dafne,” I said. “I’ll be returning home after a week.”

She paused, looking from me to our grandfather. “Ummm, I’ll stay for just… four more days if River isn’t gonna be there.”

“Just four more days?” my grandfather said, chuckling. “I like how precise you are. Okay, I’ll change the tickets when we get home.”

After half an hour, we pulled up in the dusty street outside my grandfather’s home. It was a five-bedroom house—not including Bashira’s quarters, which were round the back—and beautifully constructed. Its white exterior and sleek stone entryway made it seem like a miniature palace.

We entered through the heavy door and looked around at the entrance hall. The walls were covered with parchment containing hieroglyphics, mounted in gold frames. Ancient relics from his various excursions covered the long mantelpiece. We approached the wide staircase in the center of the room and my grandfather led us up.

“So, where would you like to sleep? You have four bedrooms up here to choose from.”

Dafne chose the room with the best view of the swimming pool in the back garden. Lalia just looked up at me. “Where you gonna sleep, River?” she asked.

“Umm…” I looked around the three remaining rooms and chose the one closest to Dafne’s, also with the view of the backyard and the pool. “Let’s sleep in this one.”

“Well, if you want to make yourselves comfortable… Are you hungry or sleepy?” my grandfather asked.

Since we had slept on the plane, none of us were tired. We’d also eaten quite a lot. After we greeted Bashira, a kind Egyptian woman in her late fifties, she served us iced watermelon juice and fresh dates. Then we spent time with my grandfather in his library.

Although his living room was comfortable, his library also contained a large sofa, and it was by far the most interesting room in the house. Its walls were covered with ceiling-high bookcases filled with hundreds of books about Egypt. Dafne could sit in here for hours and hours flying through pages. I was sure that she would become an Egyptologist when she grew up. My grandfather was certainly hoping for it.

We retired to bed once our eyelids started drooping. Lalia and I awoke the next morning to a delicious smell wafting into our bedroom. We padded into the ensuite bathroom, brushed our teeth and took showers. We both changed into our swimsuits and pulled on light cotton dresses from the cupboard that Bashira had bought especially for us. Then we headed downstairs to find Bashira in the midst of cooking a traditional Egyptian breakfast. We helped her finish preparing the meal and then set up the breakfast table outside in the backyard. Dafne and my grandfather joined us within half an hour. After filling our bellies, we lounged around by the pool. I could hardly remember the last time I’d been swimming. I supposed it was the last time I’d visited here.

“For dinner, I have a suggestion,” my grandfather said, looking down at us in the pool as he sat in a deck chair. “My friend, Yusuf, the organizer of the dig, has invited us to a lovely Lebanese restaurant about twenty minutes away. I might have taken you all there before, actually, the last time you came with your mother and Jamil… They also serve a certain sweet pastry that some people around here are fond of…”

I laughed as Lalia stopped swimming and perked up. “Baklava?” she asked, wide-eyed.

“Yes.” My grandfather grinned. “Yusuf has a son around your age, River—Hassan is his name.”

“Sounds fun,” I said, swimming to the edge of the pool and climbing out. I grabbed my towel and sat down in a chair, watching my sisters as they continued splashing in the water.

We spent the rest of the day in the backyard with my grandfather. Dafne and Lalia stopped swimming only for a light lunch, and soon enough, it was time to get ready for dinner.

I headed with Lalia back to our bedroom. We rummaged through the array of beautiful clothes Bashira had bought for us. Lalia picked out a light pink cotton dress. I helped her change into it, then tied her hair back in a French braid.

“I’m real pretty,” Lalia said, checking herself out in the mirror and swinging her long braid from side to side.

“You are,” I said, smiling. And oh so modest, too.

“Why don’t you wear that purple one?” she asked, pointing to a long flowing gown.

I eyed it. “Meh. Purple isn’t really my color.” I opted for a dark blue dress instead. It was long but sleeveless, and had a cooling feel to it. I brushed out my hair and was about to tie it up in a bun when Lalia reached for my hand. “It looks nice down.”

I paused, looking at myself in the mirror. She was right that it looked better down. It was just so long that it got in the way—I was in the habit of tying it up all the time. Still, this was a special occasion, so I took my little sister’s suggestion.