Now that the kids were settled in school, Charles and Veronica found that they suddenly had time for their hobbies again. It was hard to remember when Charles had been able to find enough time to go fishing. Now that they lived on a lake, he could just roll out of bed early, grab his fishing rod, and float out in his pajamas.
But as time passed, he got more and more restless. Something was missing. What could it possibly be?
He called and made reservations for a flight to Egypt as a surprise.
“You know,” he said as he brandished a printout of the tickets, “We had kids so fast, we never had a chance to go traveling together. Mom and Fabian can look after the triplets. I think it’s time for a second honeymoon.”
“I knew there was a reason I married you!” Veronica threw herself into her arms, laughing.
“I hope you don’t mind that Ada’s coming too,” Charles said. “We’ve been traveling together since we were kids. She loves to paint in exotic locations, but she’s not going to horn in on our time together.”
Veronica gave him a mock pout. “I suppose I can share all of Al Simhara with your sister.”
When Charles brought out his traveling knapsack to wait for the taxi to the airport, someone unexpected ran up to meet him.
“I’m not late am I?” Alberto asked.
“Um, late for what?” Charles asked, staring at him blankly.
“Ada told me to meet her here,” Alberto said. “She said she was going to take me traveling! I’ve been saving up to take a trip out of Sunset Valley forever!”
“She invited you?” Charles said, raising his eyebrows. “She didn’t tell me.”
“Yeah. I hope we’ll all get along great. Your wife should remember me. I stripped for her at her bachelorette party.”
Charles looked Alberto up and down. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Then he sneezed. “Aaaahtchoo!”
“Bless you,” Charles said.
“Thanks,” Alberto said, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. “Hey, there’s not much dust or mold in Egypt is there? I’m allergic.”
Charles sighed. “You’d better take that up with Ada,” he said.
Alberto couldn’t stop talking all the way to Egypt. Eventually, Charles and Veronica slipped to some empty seats in the back to leave him and Ada alone.
“This is amazing!” Alberto exclaimed when they made it to base camp. “This place just cries out for adventure!”
“And so much to paint!” Ada agreed.
Charles left them to make eyes at each other and slipped away to move their stuff into the tent. When he emerged, he was dressed to get grubby. “Ada, I was thinking you’d like to show Alberto around the area,” he said. “I have a tip for some an unexplored tomb in the area. Veronica and I could check it out.”
Veronica’s eyes glittered. “I’ve never been tomb raiding,” she said eagerly. “I bet there’s a lot of danger.”
“Can’t I come too?” Alberto pleaded. “You can’t imagine how long I’ve been dreaming of this kind of adventure. And you’re an oldtimer who can show me how it’s done!”
“Oldtimer, right,” Charles said levelly. “Well, Veronica and I are here on our first big getaway since we got married. You and Ada should go make your own romance.”
“Oh, it’s fine!” Ada said brightly. “I brought my easel to paint the pyramid. I’m sure Alberto will have a better time with you two.”
“Please?” Alberto said.
Veronica started laughing. “It’s ok,” she said. “Come along. Charles can make it up to me later.”
“This is so incredible,” Alberto gaped as Charles escorted his guests into the ruin. “Everything’s so old!”
“You have to know where to look for hidden switches,” Charles said, beginning to warm up to having an audience. Long ago, Grandad Lancelot had taught him the same things. “See these scrapes on the floor?” He took Veronica’s hand. “I’m going to bet that if we stand here –“
A rattling scraping sound echoed through the room. Charles gestured to the newly opened doorway. “You’ll find the way to the catacombs.”
“Me next!” Alberto chortled. Then he glanced to his side, “Wow, I guess that guy didn’t know about the scrapes on the floor, huh?”
“Treasure!” he dashed through the chamber door to open the chest within.
“Good for you!” Charles said. “We don’t have to look for any more hidden passages here. Job well done! Now, you can get back to Ada, Alberto.” Veronica snorted and put her hand over her mouth, eyes dancing. Charles winked at her as he floated by.
They emerged into the Egyptian sun. The next step was to find an antiquities dealer for the artifacts they’d uncovered. Alberto wasn’t nearly as excited about that prospect, so Charles and Veronica were able to disentangle and wander down to the bazaar together.
The dealer, however, treated Charles in the way to which he had long become accustomed.
He kept his meeting with her as short as possible and finished their dealing with a weary smile. The thing about people finding you repulsive was that you got a little extra bargaining power.
Veronica, however, stared silent daggers as they haggled. When Charles turned back to base camp, she took matters into her own hands.
“If my husband weren’t one of the most gracious men alive,” she hissed. “He would have ripped you a new one you rude little wench. Let me do it for him.”
The result was probably not an advance in ghost-human relations, but it at least made Veronica feel better.
Meanwhile, Ada didn’t set her easel up after all when the trio disappeared to treasure hunt. Instead, she had a long argument with her muse.
“What do you know about love?” she demanded. “The trouble with you is that you think you’re real.”
“I will not be talked to like that by a figment of my own imagination!”
“The trick,” she confided to the leprechaun looking over her shoulder, “is that you have let an uppity muse know who’s boss.”
Once Alberto was safely reunited with his girlfriend at base camp, Charles and Veronica slipped off to the tombs to do some more exploration of their own.
“Now THIS is more like it,” Charles said.
“Come on now,” Veronica said. “It’s time for you to make it up to me.”
And the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut saw a lot more action that night than she had seen in a very, very long time.
Ada and Alberto watched the sun go down together.
“I didn’t know they lit up the Pyramid,” Alberto said. “Ingenious.”
“You’re lit up like the Pyramid in my eyes,” Ada said. “Wait, my muse told me to say that. She’s really pretty stupid about love.”
Alberto chuckled. “I think I know what you mean. Thank you.”
“This part I thought about all on my own!” she said and got down on one knee.
“You’re kidding!” Alberto gasped. “You got me a ring! Hee! Hee! So romantic.”
Then he sobered. “Wait. You mean this is THE ring, don’t you? Are you asking me to marry you?”
“Please promise be my husband and from this day forward, promise to only take your clothes off for me.”
“Ada my love, this seems so totally backward and yet so wonderful. Nothing would make me happier than to take my clothes off just for you.”
Alberto pulled Ada into his arms.
And very quickly made good on his promise.
Whee! Thought I’d never post again, didn’t you? I was starting to wonder myself.
Charles is back to adventuring. And wow, the animations that go with the “Talk to Self” insane interaction are just gold.
I finally came across a good shot of Veronica in her midlife crisis makeover. However, here it seemed more logical for her to change back to her simpler torn jeans look. So instead I put the shot back on the midlife crisis post: Here. Eventually we’ll see Veronica in her Eccentric scientist look in the plot, but it seems to be taking a silly amount of time with all the other plots going on.