Chapter 13:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 12
“Nervous?” Art asked. Art and Camille sat on the stoop outside Camille’s home waiting for her mother to complete a work call before they headed to the airport. It would be Camille’s first overseas flight.
Camille nodded but said nothing, which was out of character.
Art, on the other hand, did not feel the least bit nervous about getting on the plane. He was a seasoned traveler despite having only recently turned thirteen. He had spent countless hours on planes crisscrossing the globe as he tagged along with his father, Arthur Hamilton Sr. Art’s dad—Dr. Hamilton, as he was known to his colleagues—was one of the top art conservation scientists on the planet. He had spent a good portion of his life—and practically all of Art’s life—traveling from museum to museum to supervise, assist, and direct the preservation of some of the most important works of art in the world. That nomadic life had changed this past year when Dr. Hamilton had assumed the position as head of conservation at the Lunder Center at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Their travels for the past several months had been largely confined to the local coffee shop and bookstore, which suited Art just fine. It was nice to go home to the same bedroom each night. He could actually put a print up on his wall for the first time in his life—a replica of the original Star Wars movie poster. He had not been able to do that in any of the hotels and short-term apartments that they had lived in over the previous twelve years.
But now Art found himself once more preparing for a transatlantic flight. And for the first time in his life he was traveling without his father, who was going to remain in Washington, DC. The reason for this particular trip was the person sitting next to him: Camille Sullivan. Camille was his best friend, and she had asked if he would come with her to London. Art knew that Camille had a good reason for being nervous—and not just because this was her first flight over the Atlantic Ocean. Camille was twelve years old. And in those twelve years, she had never met her father. That would change once they landed.
“It will be okay,” Art assured her.
“Mom said that I shouldn’t get too excited about meeting my dad,” Camille replied. “I think she’s afraid I’ll be disappointed.”
Camille pulled a small necklace from beneath her shirt and showed it to Art. Hanging from the thin gold chain was a dark gray rectangular object. Tiny symbols and letters covered the surface of the stone.
“My dad sent me this last week,” she said. “I try to keep it hidden. I know my mom’s not real happy about all of this.”
Art recognized the object instantly. It was a miniature copy of the Rosetta Stone—one of the most important archeological discoveries in history. The inscriptions on the stone, which dated back more than two thousand years, had allowed archeologists to unlock the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs—the lost language of the ancient Egyptians.
“Your mom’s taking you to London to meet your father,” Art replied. “That’s something.”
And it was something. Camille’s father had left her mother before Camille was born, and now he suddenly wanted to be part of Camille’s life. Camille’s mother had every reason not to trust his motives.
“I suppose,” Camille said as she slipped the necklace back under her shirt. “What if he doesn’t like me?”
“Not a chance,” Art said.
Camille did not immediately respond.
“Thanks for coming,” she finally replied.
Art patted Camille on her arm. She was his best friend, and they had been through a lot in the time they’d known each other. They had rescued his father from a group of art forgers and had managed to prevent the largest art theft in history. They had been threatened, chased, and tied up. They had even met the Queen of England. And through it all, Camille had been Camille—brash, smart, and fearless. All of that seemed to have vanished as they were waiting on the stoop. His friend was scared. He needed to be there for her.
“It will be okay,” he repeated.
It was all he could say.