Talk remained light over dinner, everyone by mutual consent enjoying the delicious meal. Once Zora looked up to see Ziyad watching her again, he raised his glass to her before turning his head to reply to something Axel said. Powers growled, Zora frowned at him and the moment passed.
Dinner over, their party moved to the more informal bar area, where there were comfortable lounging chairs and small round tables. The helpful staff rearranged the seating so that their large group could sit together. The fairy guard, as was their habit, chose seats at intervals around the group so they could keep watch. Even in this setting they remained on duty.
Powers sat next to Zora, putting himself between her and Ziyad. She compressed her lips at his possessive behaviour, making no attempt to hide her irritation from her mind. That he caught her thoughts showed in the heavy frown darkening his face, but he stayed seated. Axel grinned in amusement and winked at Zora, a reaction that lightened her feelings of irritation. She smiled back at him and half shrugged, rolling her eyes in Powers direction, which made Axel laugh out loud.
“You have a delightful laugh Lord Axel.” Basma smiled her gentle smile before continuing, “I would wish that these difficult times will soon be ended so that we can all laugh more often.”
Her words seemed to be the cue to take the conversation to the reason they were all there - the rogue werewolf.
“As you now know Basma and Ziyad, we believe the rogue may be part of the entourage for Daciana, who will be giving a concert at the pyramids in a couple of nights. Do you know where they will be staying, and when they will arrive?” Axel’s expression had turned serious.
Ziyad leaned forward, all casual indolence gone. “They arrive tomorrow morning, and will be staying at the Le Meridien which is not far from here. It is a pity they do not stay here, it would be much easier for you to mingle with the crew.”
Basma nodded. “However they will almost certainly do some sightseeing at the pyramids and in Cairo – everyone does. There are still two days to the concert, they will want to relax beforehand. We have friends who work at the hotel, they will get more information for us.”
“Are your friends shifters or something else?” Powers voice showed none of his earlier irritation, all focus now on the mission.
Ziyad inclined his head. “They are shifters. We have a large shifter population in Cairo.”
“There are many witches also, and they are currently combing the city in search of anything that looks wrong. Of course they are working with Axel and the fairies.” Shax was sitting next to Marcus, with Sunny on her other side.
“The vampires and werewolves are also searching. It is possible that there are more rogues, and it is also possible that the one we seek is not among Daciana’s people so we must look in all places.” Axel accepted a small cup of Turkish coffee from a waiter, which made Zora wonder.
“Axel, should we be discussing such a sensitive topic here?”
The fairy prince raised an eyebrow at her. “You believe I am affected by jetlag perhaps little Zora?”
At her chagrined expression he smiled gently. “Do not worry, I merely tease you. I have altered the perception of the staff here and the other guests. To them, we are speaking Fairy, and as such they have no inkling of that which we speak. Not that they know it is Fairy of course. It is simply a foreign language to them.”
Zora could feel herself blushing and cursed again the pale complexion that came as a package deal with her red hair. Ziyad took a Turkish coffee from the waiter, and with the tongs provided, added something to the saucer from the tray on the table in front of him. He passed it to Zora.
“Here Zora, try this Turkish coffee, it is superb. Try also the kunafa, it is an Egyptian sweet that I believe you will love.” As she took the cup and saucer from him he added softly, “Do not be embarrassed because you blush, the pink under your skin merely highlights your beauty.”
Zora almost dropped her coffee at the compliment coupled with the wicked gleam in his soft dark eyes. “Th-thank you Ziyad, it is most kind of you.”
She sat back in her seat, wishing she could fan her face which had turned an even brighter hue at his words. She could feel Powers anger, and Axel’s amusement. Looking up she saw Shax grinning and Sunny openly ogling Ziyad. Without missing a beat Ziyad signaled a waiter and said something in Arabic.
The waiter hurried off and came back with a tray holding several cups of the delicious Turkish coffee. Ziyad added a piece of kunafa to each saucer and handed the cups to Shax, Sunny, Sara, Clare, Samantha and lastly Basma.
“We are honoured to have such beauty in our group to take our minds off the gravity of our task.”
Each of the women, except Basma who gave a wry smile, blushed at being on the receiving end of Ziyad’s charm. The men, apart from Axel, were frowning heavily. The waiter came back again with coffee for the rest of their group, which Ziyad offered with the same courtesy but without the mild flirtatious charm.
Zora tried the kunafa, curious to know what it tasted like, and almost moaned at the delicious flavour bursting in her mouth. It was like a vanilla slice, only much nicer than any vanilla slice she had ever had. She looked up to see Ziyad smiling at her, his dark eyes warm with approval at her obvious enjoyment of the sweet treat. Disapproval was rolling off Powers, which sparked an imp of mischief in her. Leaning forward she eyed his piece of kunafa.
“Are you going to eat that?” she asked innocently.
Powers glared at her and popped the treat into his mouth, chewing angrily. She grinned, and her eyes locked with Ziyad’s in a moment of shared amusement.
Putting his coffee cup onto the table in front of him Axel said, “Daciana and her entourage will need to sleep when they arrive. They are human – apart from the rogue – and they will be exhausted. I do not believe they will do anything until the afternoon at the earliest, so I propose that tomorrow morning we go into Cairo, and meet up with some representatives. Where do you suggest we meet Basma?”
Basma leaned back in her seat and steepled her fingers under her chin in a gesture reminiscent of Marcus. “I think we should meet at Kahn El-Khalili souk. It is full of tourists and with a group of our size it will be a good way for us to pass unnoticed.”
Shax grinned. “I love that place! You will love it too guys, I know this is a serious quest, but still wait until you see it!”
Basma smiled at her enthusiasm, while Ziyad added, “Miss Shax, it will be an honour to accompany you, I too love this place.”
Shax batted her eyes at him. “You must show me your favourite shops Ziyad.”
Inclining his head, he said, “It will be my pleasure.”
Zora glanced at Jake, surprised to see him looking furious. Hmmm, maybe there was another reason why he and Shax clashed. Looking at Shax she saw nothing to show she had noticed Jake’s reaction, but Shax seemed pretty good at hiding her thoughts when she wanted to. Shrugging mentally Zora decided she had more than enough to think about already without adding something else to the mix.