The Chosen [Rogue Angel Book 4] [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Alex Archer
eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Science Fiction
eBook Description: Archaeologist Annja Creed believes there's more to the apparitions of Santo Nino--the Holy Child--luring thousands of pilgrims to Santa Fe. Other sightings of strange and anomalous creatures in the area indicate a mystery more profane than sacred--with links, perhaps, to Annja's own fate. But she is not alone in her quest to separate reliquaries from unholy minds who dare to harness sinister power. A dangerous yet enigmatic Jesuit, sworn to protect the Vatican at any cost, a brilliant young artist whose genius portrays a truth too potent for words and a famed monster hunter with a terrifying agenda are the keys to the secrets that lie in the heart of Los Alamos--and unlocking the door to the very fabric of time itself....
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Rogue Angel
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2007
This eBook is part of the following series:
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"Hey, Annja," the wiry red-bearded man in the white straw cowboy hat called out. He stood to his faded-denim-clad hips in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot hole scraped out of the scrub-dotted chaparral of the Española Valley, about ten miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. "Come over here a sec."
The sun looked like a big red balloon about to pop itself on the peaks of the Jemez.
Annja Creed swallowed the last of the water from the cooler settled on the lowered tailgate of what Max Leland, professor of archaeology at the University of New Mexico and dig leader, called his "pick-'em-up" truck. She set the speckled blue metal mug marked with her name on the scuffed black bedliner and walked over, drying her hands on the rump of her brown jeans.
She walked along the lip of the dig, trimmed with tough blue grama grass. Like much of New Mexico the soil was a tough clay that turned into concrete on almost any pretext. Annja was not ashamed to admit—to herself—that she was glad to have missed the drudgery of excavating the site in the brutal summer sun of northern New Mexico. It didn't get all that hot up there, and there wasn't any humidity to speak of. But above seven thousand feet there was also a lot less atmosphere to blunt the force of the sun than down at sea level where she'd grown up. Even though the temperature wasn't that far into the sixties, Annja had been able to feel the ultraviolet rays sizzling on her skin.
Max boosted himself to sit on the edge of the hole. "Check this out," he said, holding up a Ziploc bag.
She squatted next to him, squinting at the scalloped chips of pale stone. They had an almost translucent quality in the dying daylight. The dense overcast, like a ceiling set ablaze by the sunset, gave the light a texture she could almost feel, but did little to aid her vision.
"Flint flakes!" she exclaimed after a moment. "Someone's been knapping."
He nodded, beaming. In archaeo circles—where Annja ran, as it happened—Max Leland enjoyed modest renown as a flint knapper and general expert on the subject of making things from flint. He gestured into the flat-bottomed oblong hole at his feet.
"Found 'em right here, not too far from where the front door used to be. Looks like the inhabitants of this house were rolling their own tools up to the middle of the nineteenth century."
They both whipped around. An angry young Latina with long black hair stood right behind them shaking a finger at the sunburned tip of Leland's nose.
The professor blinked. "What?"
"You racist bastard! You can't say that about my people."
"Say what, Yvonne?" Annja asked, trying to understand.
"I didn't mean to offend you," Max said in badly accented but fluent Spanish. "I'm just showing Annja what I found."
"But it must have been left here by Indians long before the house was built," the furious young woman said in English. "And don't try to weasel out by speaking Spanish."
The professor's face was turning even redder beneath his tan. "Now, listen. I thought all this got settled years ago—"
"All right, everybody," a husky female voice called. "Just hold on, here."
Everyone turned. Trish Donnelly and Alyson Simpson, the first a graduate assistant and the second an undergrad on the dig, had been loading gear into a second pickup owned by UNM. They had been drawn to the dispute, which was getting louder as the sunset deepened and the air got chillier.
"He's accusing my people of being savages," Yvonne González said. She was a freshman who hailed from Las Vegas, just over the mountains to the east. "He claims they used stone tools like cavemen."
Trish put herself between the combatants. She held up a stubby finger before Max Leland's nose. "Wait," she said. "Here."
She took hold of Yvonne's upper arm.
Yvonne was slim and wiry, with an oval face that seemed to be all flashing anthracite eyes. She tried to resist, but Trish Donnelly, in her blue coveralls faded to gray, with her stiff, upswept brush of black hair and laughing pale-blue eyes, was built like a harbor tug was and about as easy to resist.
"Come on, Yvonne," Trish said in the same easygoing tone she always used.
Annja had known her for years. Trish had invited her to spend the past two weeks on the dig, and wangled permissions from Leland and the San Esequiel Pueblos, who owned the land. In all that time she had never heard the woman raise her voice. Not even in a bar fight.
"We're gonna talk. Annja, why don't you come, too?"
"How about me, Trish?" Alyson asked. She was a willowy Dartmouth blonde from upstate New York.
"You stay here, honey," Trish said. "Keep Professor Max from spontaneously combusting."
"I am not spontaneously combusting!" Leland shouted.
"She's a sweet child," Trish said sotto voce to Annja, "but far too innocent for archaeology."
"These Tejanos are all alike," Yvonne muttered darkly. She was still trying to hang back. She reminded Annja of a child balking when a nun was trying to take her somewhere. She was having the same success.
She's like me, Annja thought. She'd always had a problem with authority herself. Growing up under the iron regime of the nuns in an orphanage in New Orleans had hardened rather than softened her resistant nature. Still, in their brief but intense association, she'd never found Leland remotely authoritarian.
Or racist, for that matter.
Copyright © 2007 by Worldwide Library.