Atlantis was real and Kat Hamilton is determined to prove it. Atlantis has fascinated Kat for as long as she can remember. Now, at the age of eighteen and part of a familial archaeological team, she has the chance to change history and show that the mythological civilization is no myth at all. She's going to excavate beneath the Sphinx. Under it is claimed to be the Hall of Records, a storehouse of knowledge and treasure from Atlantis.

With the arrival of Eric Danbury, the grandson of the dig's benefactor, Kat's endeavor takes an extraordinary turn. For when she and Eric touch they have visions of a life when they were lovers, some twelve thousand years ago in Atlantis. Kat strives to fight the connection they share. She's in love with her adopted brother Tony, who returns her forbidden affections. Yet the more Kat remembers, the more she's drawn to Eric and the life they once lived – a life cut short because of the Hall and what it contains.

Kat knows the discovery of the Hall can change our history and our future. The knowledge within can eliminate many of the world's problems, like hunger and disease, but it can also damn humanity with its advanced weapons and technology. And when Kat recalls her former life's promise to safeguard mankind, to never allow what happened to Atlantis to happen again, she knows she must decide if the world is ready for the Hall of Records or if it and Atlantis should be kept a myth forever.

Reaching for Atlantis

By: Shannon O'Brien

Chapter One

"Kat, do be careful with that mummified head," says Dad. "I've had it longer than you've been alive."

"Dad, this isn't my first day at the rodeo. I've got this." I walk across his large study cradling the Egyptian skull that's been sitting in a showcase behind his desk for as long as I can remember.

Handling old, severed body parts would probably be weird for most eighteen-year-olds, but for me it's as ordinary as breathing. I suppose that's what happens when your father is the renowned archaeologist, Frank Hamilton, and you're raised traveling the world digging up ancient relics and tombs.

Dad stops fiddling with the paperwork and frowns. "You've been distracted for months. So don't go rolling your eyes when I ask you to be careful. It's as if you're in your own world lately." He huffs and goes back to organizing his cluttered desk.

He isn't wrong. I have been in my own world. The real one sucks. Our last excavation was three weeks ago, and since then I've kept to myself as much as possible. I've been reading, a lot. It's the only thing besides work that occupies my troubled mind.

"Yeah KitKat, pay attention." Tony flashes a playful grin from where he lounges on the leather sofa. "That donation needs to make it to The British Museum in one piece, you know."

I shoot him a poisonous glare. "Your faith in me is astounding."

As much as I love my brother, I envy him.

Ever since Dad found him outside of Athens at the age of eleven, hungry and orphaned, Antonios Christos Hamilton has striven to be nothing but the best he can be. I know he just wants to make Dad proud, yet I can't help but feel his success only serves to heighten my own shortcomings. I've been officially interning with him and Dad for six months and I still have no idea if archaeology is what I want to do. Tony was born for it, but I'm not so sure about me.

I almost have the precious head to its container when my foot catches the edge of the tattered Oriental rug and my entire field of view turns white. Flashing twice through the blinding light that engulfs my sight is the symbol for infinity. The figure is gold and shiny and as clear as the head that's just slipped from my grasp.

"Katarina!"

My vision clears just as Dad jumps up. His arms are outstretched, as if he might somehow catch the head from twenty feet away, but I drop to my knees and snatch it before it hits the floor.

"I've got it." I hold the head out, proving it's still on one piece.

"This is precisely what I'm talking about!" he storms.

My heart's pounding as I try to push aside the bizarre image that's been flashing through my mind the last few days. If it continues, I'll have to say something, but for now I keep my mouth shut and pray I'm not going nuts.

"It's not my fault! You're the one who insists on keeping a rug that's falling apart."

Dad smiles down at the ragged rug and his anger fades. "Your mother picked this up on our honeymoon. I'll never part with it." But the glow disappears when he turns his attention back on me. "Perhaps, if you kept your eyes open and paid attention, you wouldn't have nearly dropped a four-thousand-year-old artifact."

I lower the head into its padded crate and sigh. "There, the black sheep can do something right every once in a blue moon."

Tony rolls his eyes and points a thumb at me. "Dad, can you please tell the drama queen to give it a rest?"

"Dad," I say, thinking, two can play this game. "Can you please tell the prodigy to shut the hell up before the drama queen punches him in his pretty Grecian face?"

I smile and bat my eyelashes at him across our father's richly furnished study, a clear view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty visible through the open window over his shoulder. Tony smiles back even bigger and brighter. My green-eyed Mediterranean brother is almost too good looking to remain mad at for long.

Almost.

Dad slaps his desk. "Enough! Danbury's supposed to call at any moment and the last bloody thing I need is the two of you squabbling. You know how important this excavation is."

He takes a deep breath, rubbing his brow as though it aches, and instantly I feel foolish. I don't blame him for being anxious. We all want this excavation to happen, me maybe most of all. If we find what's rumored to sit beneath the Sphinx, we'll change history and prove a myth that's fascinated me since childhood isn't a myth at all.

Atlantis.

Tony gets up and places his large hand on our father's rigid shoulder. "Dad, try and relax. You've got nothing to worry about. How many times has Danbury turned you down?"

Sir Asher Danbury, who's as stuffy as his name sounds, has funded the majority of our digs for the last twenty years. Archaeological discoveries only happen when you excavate, and excavations require money, something Danbury has in abundance.

Dad sighs. "You're right." Grinning, he turns and pats my brother on the back. Then his cell phone rings. Immediately it's out of his pocket and he gushes, "Sir Asher, how nice to hear from you!" as he disappears down the hall.

Tony sprawls back out on the couch, while I close the lid and then remove my latex gloves – wouldn't want the natural oils on my hands to contaminate the head. I'm still shaken from the inexplicable vision, but when I turn and look at my brother, my heart racing and aching all at once, my mind travels elsewhere.

Legally we're siblings, and we've acted like it since Tony was eleven and I was seven; only we haven't.

Not always.

The walls of right and wrong came crashing down while on a dig in a Honduran rainforest one stormy afternoon six months ago. The rain fell in heavy torrents as we confessed what we'd never dared before, and the taste of ozone, earth, and greenery will be seared into my memory until the day I die. I'll never forget the moment KitKat and Tony disappeared and Katarina and Antonios, two people in love, stole their place.

For first time in my life I'd found something I wanted and I couldn't keep it. Knowing Dad and his beliefs, that he'd never accept us as anything other than brother and sister, we resolved that day it couldn't ever happen again.

The past six months have been torture. We've kept up appearances, but agreed it wise to avoid any time alone. I miss my best friend so much it hurts. That is part of the reason I hope we do this excavation. Maybe then I'll have something I can feel driven about, something to take my mind off of how badly I long for the one thing I can't have.

"What's going on in that head of yours? You have that look on your face." Tony puts aside his iPad and smiles.

"Nothing," I lie. "I'm just wondering how Danbury's going to pull this off."

That isn't a lie. The excavation Dad wants to undergo isn't an ordinary one. He wants to dig beneath the Great Sphinx and see if the Hall of Records, a rumored storehouse of relics from Atlantis, is real. The main problem being, the Egyptian government has denied all previous attempts to excavate for this purpose. They claim the Sphinx is in too poor of a condition to withstand such an intrusive undertaking.

"Look, I know Dad and I haven't gone into the details with you – you've seemed preoccupied lately." Tony pauses. I can tell he wants to say more, his eyes glitter with unspoken questions, but he sighs and goes back to the topic of our potential dig instead. "The permission we need shouldn't be a problem. The area around the Sphinx hasn't been surveyed and the Giza Plateau is filled with underground passageways. If we can find a tunnel that leads under the Sphinx, we won't have to excavate from above and risk damaging it. And besides, Danbury knows what he's doing. He takes care of this stuff everywhere we go. If he wants to help us, he'll make it happen."

"Dad's done too many excavations for him. If Danbury turns him down, he's a douche."

At my use of the word douche I get a boyish laugh from him in return, but then he turns serious. "Dad's earned this excavation."

Tony just wants to see our father happy, it's written all over him as he rises from the couch and makes his way to me. We're alone and the nearer he draws the faster my heart races.

"I'm just afraid Danbury's not going to want any part of it," I say, trying to keep my mind focused on the excavation and not the way the green in his form-fitting T-shirt brings out the emerald in his eyes.

He arches one black brow, his signature gesture. "Why, because searching for the Hall of Records is considered as nuts as going on a quest to find the Lost Ark?" He chuckles and my soul warms to the sound.

I scrunch my face, not caring for his analogy. "Ugh. When you put it like, it does sound crazy."

The notion is quite controversial in our field. To concede the Hall of Records is real would mean admitting Atlantis was real, acknowledging the existence of a civilization predating any we know of by thousands of years. If that's so, then history is wrong and would have to be rewritten. There aren't many willing to do that, despite the evidence found all around the world, more and more of which comes to the surface every day.

"The idea of a lost ancient civilization isn't crazy," I challenge. "Take the Sphinx. How do you explain the weathering on it?"

The Sphinx and its surrounding enclosure show unmistakable signs of water weathering, which could only have occurred from many years of heavy rain. The Sahara hasn't seen that kind of precipitation since the end of the last ice age, some eleven to twelve thousand years ago. Meaning the Sphinx was already carved and standing in place since at least 9000 BC, not 2500 BC as history claims.

Tony holds up his hands. "Hey, you don't have to plead your case to me. The only thing I don't buy into is all the Edgar Cayce nonsense." I know he says this to bait me, his eyes glitter with a mischievous glee, but I gladly take the hook.

"What nonsense? In 1933 Cayce said there was a Hall of Records under the left front paw of the Sphinx. In 1992 surveys showed a thirty by forty foot anomaly exactly where he said. That's more than a coincidence."

He laughs. "I'm not saying there isn't something there. I'm just saying, until we know what it is, we shouldn't speculate or listen to some psychic who's been dead over seventy years."

"That psychic gave over fourteen thousand readings in his life, eighty-seven percent of which have proved accurate so far. So I'm sorry, but I'm going to hold a little credence to what he said."

I put my hands on my hips, ready to debate further, but Tony only laughs.

"What?"

He shakes his head and grins. "Nothing. It's just nice to see you passionate about something for a change. You've seemed so sad ever since. . ." His words die and I know he's thinking about our stolen afternoon in Honduras.

His smile disappears and my breath catches when he steps closer. His broad frame dwarfs mine as he takes my much smaller, paler hand in his. My heart accelerates. I beg it to slow, but it's no use. His breath quickens too, soon matching the same hurried rhythm as mine. I should tell him to let go, but I can't. His eyes smolder with emotions neither of us can express aloud and they root me in place.

Somehow he finds the strength I lack and releases me. My skin tingles, my blood races, and even though I know it's wrong, there is nothing I want more than to feel his touch again.

He rubs his hand, massaging it as though it stings. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that."

I take him in and want to cry. The pain, so blatant in his eyes, is a reflection of my own and it robs me of breath. It takes all the control I have to keep my arms at my sides. They ache to reach out and hold him. I miss him so much.

As if reading my thoughts, an ability he's always seemed to possess, I hear, "I miss you." It's such a feathery sound. For a moment I think I must have imagined it, but he speaks again and the agony in his voice is palpable. "I can still taste the rain on your lips."

I should keep my stupid mouth shut, but I can't. He needs to know that even though I've been acting like it, I'm not made of stone.

"I miss you too." The second I say it, I regret it. While my admission works to ease his suffering, it instills false hope. The spark of it grows brighter every moment his eyes hold mine.

Before I can speak again he has me in his arms. His breath is warm and sweet. My willpower wanes as my traitorous hands find their way into his thick black hair.

"Katarina."

He closes his eyes and rests his forehead against mine, his fingers coiling a few long strands of my platinum hair that's fallen between us. I'm intoxicated by the proximity of him, the sensation of his body against mine. I want nothing else more than to lose myself in him, but I can't. We can't.

"Antonios–"

His lips silence me. KitKat and Tony are gone. We're just Katarina and Antonios, lost in a remembered jungle world where only we exist.

"Fantastic news!" Dad's hurried steps echo our way.

I pull back. My lips throbbing, angry for being parted from his. I curse inwardly when I look into his eyes. The hope from earlier has returned. What was only a spark has become a living flame.

"Danbury's done it!" Dad goes on, his exuberant voice still reaching us before he does. "I have no idea how, but he's gotten the blasted permission and he's funding us. Bugger me, can you believe it?"

He runs into the study like a man half his years, vibrant and alive. I'm not only grateful because he fails to notice the flush in my cheeks, but because he seems like the younger and happier man he was twelve years ago, before Mom died.

"Dad, this is so fantastic!" Tony says. The burgeoning archaeologist within him is aglow.

"Tony's right. This is amazing." For the first time since I've been a little girl, I'm seriously excited about an excavation.

"I can't believe it!" Dad cries. Then his brown eyes grow wide and he taps his forehead as if just remembering something. "You two should start packing. We leave in two hours." He doesn't see our stunned faces. He's gone and whistling his way down the hall before he can notice.

Tony and I stare at each other, flabbergasted. Any thoughts of the bizarre infinity flashes I've been experiencing or the issues between us, all are gone.

We're about to find out if the Hall of Records is real, if Atlantis was real.

If you enjoy, please leave a comment/review! Thank you, Shannon :-)