EXCERPT: Luke offers to help Olivia unpack the shipment.
He walked toward the cases, then stopped at the table where she’d set the objects she’d already removed. The box was there. At least, it looked like the right box.
Now that he saw it, he had the feeling he shouldn’t pick it up. He did it anyway, turning it over in his hands. “What’s this?”
“My friend, Beth Lawrence, says it’s from an old religious cult. The Moon Priests.”
Somehow, hearing the name sent a shiver over his skin.
“She says they were supposed to have magic powers.”
“When I touch it, I get this tingling sensation.”
He did too. He should put the damned thing down. But he felt compelled to move his fingers over the sides of the chest. When he pressed the lower right side of the box, a panel sprang back.
“Hey!” He propped his hips against the table as he turned the box, holding it up to the light and looking at the design. Then he pressed a flower on the left side. Again, a panel opened.
“Stop,” Olivia said, her voice uneven.
He shook his head. From the moment he’d seen the box, he’d known he had to get his hands on it.
“I think it’s . . . dangerous,” she said, but now her voice seemed to be coming from a far distance. “You remember that chest in the Raiders of the Lost Ark?”
“What about it?”
“When the Nazis opened it, something bad happened to them.”
“This isn’t the lost ark.”
“It’s from an ancient religion.”
“And . . . it’s giving me the creeps.”
He nodded, but now it seemed impossible to put the box down. Instead, he kept working on the pressure points. More panels opened, and then the top sprang up.
A white mist came blasting out of the box like it had been fired from a cannon and struck him in the face. In the next moment, he fell to the floor unconscious.