Lost Calling [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Evelyn Vaughn
eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream
eBook Description: She's About To Discover One Of History's Best-Kept Secrets! The Marian priestesses once protected the Madonna mosaic, key to a legacy of peace and womanly power. They were hunted down by forces who did not understand their calling. Now their descendants are seeking the past--and stirring an enemy who will kill to keep them silent.... Museum curator Catrina Dauvergne knew the earthquakes could not be her fault. But the beheaded bodies and priceless artifacts revealed by the cracks in the earth were her fate to find. To protect them, she must risk her life--and give up the one man whose love and respect she most desires. But when destiny calls and forgotten history waits to be reclaimed or lost forever, this woman will answer....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Silhouette Bombshell
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2006
21 Reader Ratings:
Once, during the terror of the French Revolution, a handful of women fought for starving citizens, rescued innocents marked for death—and watched their dreams drown in a sea of blood. They risked their lives for a collection of ancient Madonna artifacts, in the hopes that someday one of their descendants might use them to save the world.
That first earthquake was not my fault.
Even if God did smite sinners, would He not use the standard thunderbolts? I am no saint. But even I haven't the conceit to claim an entire natural disaster!
My grandmother could. One of her favorite sayings was, "This is your fault, Catrina." Although if anyone could will earthquakes into existence, she…But I digress.
A rush of feathers and coos startled me from self-pity as I strolled from the hospital. Grateful for the distraction, I looked up. Doves burst from the sycamore trees that lined the avenue and scattered into the blue Parisian sky. Hmm.
I glanced over my shoulder to see that, certainement, the slight, gray-haired figure who'd been following me on and off for more than a week had returned as well.
I ignored him to look back to the birds.
"What is wrong now?" I whispered—I am French, by the way, but I will translate for you.
I snorted at my understatement. A great deal was wrong. I had gone months without a lover. My job as curator at the prestigious Musée Cluny dissatisfied me of late. That damned old man really was following me, though I had yet to manage a confrontation—I feared he had something to do with a past mistake of which I am not proud. And the grandmother who had raised me, no matter how poorly, lay dying in the nearby Hôpital Saint-Vincent de Paul.
But did I mention, months without a lover?
Fine. If you must know, my grandmother was of even greater concern than my sex life or the mysterious old man, at the moment. Grand-mère disliked me even more than I disliked her, but in a rare attempt at decency, I had just visited her.
Who would have thought so old and sick a woman could shout so loudly or throw flowers with such vehemence? But today, our mutual disdain had held a terrible undercurrent of finality.
Far easier to worry about birds.
At first, I thought I heard the rumble of a truck's approach. But I saw only automobiles and scooters darting along the Avenue Denfert-Rochereau. A young couple, strolling and cuddling ahead of me, looked about in concern. Springtime in Paris meant music and sunshine and love and flowers and birds—
Fleeing, frightened birds.
My legs trembled, as if the visit with Grand-mère had upset me more than I cared to admit. Unlikely. Finally, I recognized the sensation from my two years in the USA.
In California, to be exact.
Logic denied my unsteady legs. Surely not. In Paris?
Then the sidewalk rolled, buckled. I fell hard against an iron fence circling a sycamore and caught at it, clung to it. Other pedestrians ran or stumbled, their shouts lost beneath the earth's alien growl.
So much for logic. An earthquake. In Paris.
Losing my balance on the pitching pavement, I managed to secure one elbow around an iron bar, trying to take everything in. The old man had caught himself against a lamppost. Even in chaos, his stare unnerved me. The young couple stumbled together. Her hand wrenched from his as she fell to the asphalt.
The bastard ran on without her. Over the woman's screams for him—his name, it seems, was Eduard—the very earth began to shriek in protest, like something huge and maddened.
Clinging beside the sycamore, on my knees to lower my center of balance, I watched a crack open and dart into the road—quick, like the run in a nylon, but not as straight. This was worse than I'd seen in California.
It ran right under Eduard's lover's hips.
Her screams choked into horrified whimpers.
The crack widened beneath her. Jagged chunks of concrete crumbled into the fissure spreading, gaping across the avenue. Dust plumed upward. A smell of tearing cement burned the air. Once-solid ground shifted, sagged. The din crushed my ears.
And that foolish, abandoned girl had to look over at me, wide eyes brimming with terror.
I am no saint, but…merde.
I tried reaching toward her with one hand, hoping the little fence would hold. "Quick! Come here!"
Since she may have been a tourist, I repeated the command in English. Then exasperated German.
Surely the little fool understood something!
All she had to do was crawl toward me. Instead, as one of her knees dropped into the widening crevice beneath her, she began to weep.
Better her than me. Lest it escaped you, I am not a very nice person. And yet…she looked so very helpless.
With a groan of disgust, I loosened my elbow-hold on the fence and attempted to hang on with one hand, tight and sweaty on the iron. I stretched closer toward the girl. "Now!"
She stared at me and trembled. My fingers began to slip on the age-pitted iron. I wanted my elbow hold back.
"Fine," I screamed at her. "Die, then!"
The motivational ploy, were it one, had no effect. Suddenly the ground heaved harder, surging up, then dropping. The crack stretched wider, now gushing dust. Steel reinforcing bars ripped from the buckling concrete they had once supported. The girl's legs dropped into the opening, as if the earth were swallowing her. Her nails tore on the pavement as she tried to hold on.
Copyright © 2006 by Yvonne Jocks.