After hearing my name from Todd, he stood up and faced me. There was no more hiding from him and to be honest, I was relieved somewhat. “H-How could you know?”
He explained, “I wasn’t sure, not really, until you punched me. Sorry about that but I was testing my theory with trying to kiss you and it worked. I did my masters thesis on unexplained archaeological mysteries. The curse you’re under was in some of my research.”
My heart sped up. “So is there a way to break it?”
He sighed and said, “I’m not sure.
“There was only one couple who were interviewed in a report I read. They’d lost their jobs because people thought they were crazy. And Liam, the curse was never broken for them.”
This news punched me in the gut. “So am I doomed to be in Charlie’s body forever?” Now more than ever I was determined to get back to the genie somehow and make him remove this curse.
We both walked in silence down toward the lab room.
Then Todd said, “You know, there’s just not enough evidence out there that this situation is permanent. I wouldn’t give up. That was just one couple’s experience.”
“So you call them a couple. Are they together like married or something?”
“No…but they were a man and woman pair like you and Charlie. They actually moved to different parts of the country. They couldn’t bear to see their original bodies anymore and got on with their lives.”
Todd stopped in front of the Llama Sun God and sighed.
“Why’d you do it, Liam? The Archway of Spiritual Transformation is filled with all kinds of curses. You’re lucky you got out of there alive.”
I shrugged. “It was purely an accident. Charlie ran into it and I was worried for her safety. Honestly, I’d never heard of the archway until Charlie told me about it. I’d never studied it in college.”
Pursing his lips, Todd said, “I’ll do some more digging for you to see if there’s a way out, but in the meantime, I need your expertise. There’s a ton of work piling up and just gotta say, I’m glad I found the real you. Charlie wasn’t helpful.”
When we got to the lab room, Todd showed me a new artifact we just got in.
“I was hoping you could identify this. It’s from Selvadorada, but its markings are new.”
I scratched my chin. This was rare and worth a lot of money as the Selvadoradan people used jade sometimes in their work. “It’s an arballos. The ancients would often use this for ceremonial oils.”
Doing work kept my mind off of what Todd had revealed. I decided not to tell Charlie we might be doomed to inhabit each other’s bodies forever. I refused to accept the fact the curse lasts forever. Somehow, I was going to figure out how to break it.
I had such a good time with Dr. D, I couldn’t believe it. He was actually thawing out which surprised the heck out of me. Add that to coming home to Mr. McDreamy and I was going to write this day down in my diary as SPECIAL (if I had a diary–note to self: buy a diary ASAP).
“Welcome home, Liam. Did I ever tell you that I really like your new look? That hat is especially sexy.”
“Thanks, Reed. It’s the same kind as Simdiana Sones used. Kinda makes me feel the part of an archaeologist, you know?”
Reed smiled. “According to Zack, you’re one of the best in the field. You should explore in my homeland with me this summer. You’d love it.”
Even though I knew I wouldn’t be Dr. Day by the summer, I was curious. “I’d love to. Where are you from, Reed?”
“Sulani. It is a tropical paradise that I know you’ll enjoy. With me as your guide, how could you go wrong?” He winked. “And we’re well known for our mermaids, if you believe in that kind of thing.”
My stomach fluttered as we chatted. I couldn’t help but be attracted to this beautiful man.
It was like saying no to eating a luscious chocolate cream pie. It wasn’t good for me, would make me gain a ton of weight, but…like, I gotta have me some of that!
I offered, “Why don’t we go on winter break? I’ve got time off then.” Heck, what was I saying? Dr. D was going to kill me if I went off on a fling with Reed. But I just couldn’t help myself!
“Are you serious, Liam? I would love to go with you.” His eyes made my knees quiver and something else happened that honestly felt totally hot but would be embarrassing if Reed saw.
“Then it’s a date.” OMG! What was I doing?
“Winter break is a few weeks away, Liam. Would you like to go to dinner with me tomorrow night? I’d like to get to know you better.”
My heart beat a mile a minute as I felt all kinds of guilty pleasures at making this date with Reed. I hadn’t had a date in like two years and the last guy I went out with was a serious frog. Soooo not attractive. I could never get someone as beautiful as Reed to even glance my way. Yeah, sure he was gay, but since this curse wasn’t forever, why not have a little fun? What harm would it do?
I heard myself answer, “Okay…just name the time and the place.”