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The Grail Keepers Duo (Bundle) [Secure eReader]
eBook by Evelyn Vaughn

eBook Category: Fantasy/Mainstream
eBook Description: A.K.A. Goddess--Reporting a break-in, avoiding my overprotective ex-lover, dodging dangerous men out to kill me ... not exactly a typical day for a comparative mythology professor. So how did I, Maggi Sanger, get mixed up in all this? It started with a family legend that connects me to a goddess and charges me with recovering the grail she hid away ages ago. Apparently some powerful people heard the story and are bent on destroying the grail at any cost--including my life. Now I have to find it before the enemy closes in.... Her Kind of Trouble--Mysterious strangers, warnings at sword point, threats of bodily harm ... all this effort to make me leave Egypt has made me more determined than ever to find the legendary Isis Cup and keep it out of the wrong hands. After all, I'm Maggi Sanger, full-time college professor, sometime grail hunter and all-around stubborn woman who won't be pushed around. And things are getting even more complicated. The local women want my help, my exasperating ex wants me to marry him and the bad guys want me dead. It'll take some quick thinking and new allies to get me out of Egypt alive....

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Bundles
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2006

45 Reader Ratings:
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Chapter 1

The light over my front door was out again. I noticed it as I carried my damp gym bag up the shadowy outer stairs. I'd have to call the landlord.

Then I climbed high enough to see that my door stood open several inches.

I knew I'd locked it.

Someone was in my apartment.

For a long, dumb moment, I just stared. Then I backed down the steps as quietly as I could. Don't get me wrong. I come from a long line of strong women—WACs, suffragettes, ladies who disguised themselves as boys to fight alongside soldier husbands in ancient wars. And, trust me, that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my family and woman power.

But there's a huge difference between strength and stupidity. Our brains are our best weapon, or so my sifu—instructor—used to say. I reached and unlocked my car, and all but dove inside. I hit the lock button, only then using my cell phone to call 911.

Then I sat there on the phone, fumbling my key into the ignition in case whoever was in my apartment might force me to flee by automobile.

Or maybe to run them over. Who can say with hypotheticals?

The cops got there barely ten minutes later—not a bad response time—and I disconnected from the nice emergency operator. I cracked my window, but the two officers only nodded in my direction before heading upstairs to check matters out. I waited, staring unfocused at my faint reflection in the car window—late twenty-something, long brown hair pulled into a wet ponytail, eyes too serious. What felt like forever later, a second blue-and-white cruised into my parking lot. As its female officer got out, I could hear her radio crackle. A male voice said, "Someone's trashed the place, but it seems empty. We'll look around to make sure."

Trashed the place? My place?

Weirdly, instead of feeling hurt or violated, I simply felt…disbelief. My apartment was safe. How could someone trash it?

The policewoman tapped on my car window. Despite having watched her approach, I still jumped. "Ms. Sanger? Officer Sofie Douglas. Could I ask you some questions?"

I was still tense—so much for the relaxation benefits of swimming thirty laps at the gym. But her being female made her more approachable. She was black, shorter than me and about my age.

As a gesture of confidence, I climbed out of the car.

"Is your name really Margaret Sanger?" Officer Douglas asked. "Like the lady who made birth control legal?"

"No," I said, not for the first time. "Not Margaret."

Her eyebrows arched. "Dispatch said you identified yourself as Maggie."

I saw her writing it down. "No e."

She scratched out the e. Hey, at least I don't dot my i's with hearts or smiley faces.

"Maggi's short for Magdalene," I said.

Officer Douglas blinked at me. "You mean like Mary Magdalene?"

Lights appeared above us, from my apartment's bedroom window, and my head came up to track it. "That's the one."

"So what do you do?" she asked. "For a living, I mean."

"I teach comparative mythology at the college."

She stared. "You can major in that?"

I was rolling on to and off of the balls of my feet, like a Tai Chi form about to escape. "When can I go up there?"

I wanted to see the damage for myself. I had to know if this really was random. I kind of hoped it was.

Static crackled on Officer Douglas's radio. Then a voice: "Nobody's here. It doesn't look like they took anything."

I jogged up the stairs without waiting for Sofie Douglas's permission.

The place was trashed, all right. Sofa cushions slit. Drawers overturned. Plants uprooted in dark spills of potting soil. In some corners, my carpet had even been torn off its pad. Stunned, I headed for the bedroom, which was just as bad. All my clothes…!

"Can you tell if anything's missing, Ms. Sanger?" asked a burly, red-haired officer. "Anything of value?"

"It's all of value," I said, more softly than I would have liked. "It's mine."

"Yes, ma'am. I mean—"

But I held up a hand to cut him off. I knew what he meant. As a test, I checked my jewelry box. There never had been a lot there—even when I was engaged briefly, I used to wear the too-expensive diamond—I had few family heirlooms.

"Nothing's missing." I turned and noticed my bedroom TV. It was portable, but it hadn't been, well, ported. I returned to my living room—the TV and stereo remained there, too, though they'd been upended—and looked into my office. My computer hummed steadily, monitor facedown on the floor. But…

"The CPU's running," I said. "I turned it off before I left home this morning."

Officer Douglas, who'd followed me upstairs, went to look more closely at my computer. The redhead, whose shield identified him as Officer Willis, said, "Does anybody have a key to your home?"

"My parents," I said. "Two—no, three of my friends."

He exchanged an amused glance with the other male officer, a tall, graying guy with a mustache.

"And the lady who cleans up for me once a week," I added. "Oh, and my dog walker."

Willis looked concerned. "You have a dog?"

As if I would've hidden in my car if any dog of mine had been in jeopardy! "Not anymore. She died last fall. I just never bothered to get my key back. I've also given a key to my neighbor, so she can check on things when I'm gone. But she's trustworthy. They all are."

Copyright © 2004 by Yvonne Jocks.

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