Destiny [Rogue Angel Book 1] [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Alex Archer
eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Fantasy
eBook Description: An ancient order tied to the Vatican ... A blood fortune buried in the caves of France ... A conspiracy of power, greed and darkest evil ... Archaeologist and explorer Annja Creed's fascination with the myths and mysteries of the past leads her to a crypt in the caves of France, where the terrifying legend of the Beast of Gevaudan hints at the unimaginable. What she discovers is shattering: an artifact that will seal her destiny; a brotherhood of monks willing to murder to protect their secret; and a powerful black-market occultist desperate to put his own claim to centuries-old blood money. Annja embarks on a high-tension race across Europe and history itself, intent on linking the unholy treachery of the ages with the staggering revelations of the present. But she must survive the shadow figures determined to silence her threat to their existence.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Rogue Angel
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2006
This eBook is part of the following series:
236 Reader Ratings:
History, mystery and metaphysics are at the center of an inspired adventure novel, the first in a series by debut author Archer. This present-day tale brings Annja Creed, archeologist and field reporter for cable TV's Chasing History's Monsters, from Brooklyn to the small town of Lozere, France, to hunt down evidence of La Bete, the Beast of Gevaudan, rumored to have killed close to 100 people between 1764 and 1767. Instead of investigating dusty bookshops and hiking in the Cevennes Mountains, however, Annja finds herself fighting to protect an ancient charm she's uncovered from 500-year-old men, a dangerous occultist anxious for profit and a brotherhood of monks desperate to keep safe the charm's secret. Annja is a deft, well-drawn character, a woman in her mid-20s who is intelligent, alluring and able to fend off multiple attackers twice her size while keeping her cool. Archer keeps pace by building up a cohesive, multilayered plot with attention-grabbing action sequences. Though Archer wraps up Annja's hunt for the truth behind La Bete in this volume, readers should be eager for her next adventure?and fortunately for them, it's scheduled for release this September.-- Publisher's Weekly -- Publisher's Weekly
Lozère, France Present Day
She was being followed.
Annja Creed knew that from experience. She'd been followed before. Stalked, actually. On two occasions—once in Venice and once outside Berlin—the experience had ended in violence.
"Wait," Annja told her young guide.
Avery Moreau, seventeen years old and French, his hair a thick black shock and his demeanor sulky, stopped. Thin and lanky, dressed in his American jeans, red pullover and gray Nike hoodie, he didn't look as if he'd be particularly helpful in a physical encounter.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"I want to look at this." Annja stood in front of the shop window and gazed with interest.
The young man glanced at the window, then back at her. "You're thinking about going fishing?"
For the first time, Annja took her attention from the reflection of the two men following her and really looked at the shop window. Pierre's Rods And Flies was written in French.
It was funnier, Annja supposed, in English. Kind of an unintentional double entendre. But it was a bad cover to stop and check out the guys following her.
"In case I stay up on the mountain," Annja said.
"You're going to stay in the mountains?"
Actually, Annja wasn't planning on that. She had a day hike in mind. But she was getting a later start than she'd have liked. Finding provisions and supplies in Lozère was proving more difficult than she had expected.
"I'm not planning to," Annja replied, "but I've learned to be ready for anything."
The two men following her were in their early twenties, no more than two or three years younger than she was. They looked like hard guys off the street, dressed in leather jackets and jeans. Attitude rolled off them in waves. An old woman carrying a bag of groceries crossed the street to avoid them.
They weren't, Annja decided, the kind of guys who normally hung out in a small tourist town like Lozère. Metropolitan arenas seemed to be their more likely hunting grounds. They looked like the kind of men a single woman in a strange place would do better to avoid.
She wasn't afraid, though. At five feet ten inches, athletic and full-figured, and in shape from running, climbing, and martial arts, she knew she could take care of herself. Her chestnut-colored hair was tied back. Wraparound sunglasses hid her amber-green eyes.
However, she was worried about the young man with her. Avery Moreau didn't look as if he'd had to fight thieves in his short lifetime.
What are you doing here? Annja wondered. Why would anyone be following me?
"What will you do with fishing gear?" Avery asked.
"If I get trapped in the mountains," Annja explained, "by a storm or by bears—" She looked at him. "You did say there were bears, didn't you?"
He shook his head. "Wolves. I said there were wolves."
Annja nodded. "Right. Wolves, then."
The two men weren't going away. They stood across the street and tried to look inconspicuous. It didn't work. They might as well have been standing there with fireworks going off and wearing Scottish kilts in a Marilyn Monroe pose.
Who are you? Annja wondered.
She'd been in France for two days. She was rooming at a bed and breakfast outside of Lozère. So far, no one had bothered her.
But that was before she'd come into town and started asking questions about La Bête. The creature was one of French legend and its mystery had never been solved. She'd come to Lozère in an attempt to solve it.
And to get paid by Chasing History's Monsters, the cable show she did occasional pieces for to subsidize legitimate work in her field. It was strange how archaeologists could get paid more for something that remained mysterious, riddled with myth, and might never have been factual at all than for an honest look at history.
During the past two days, however, the local populace had learned that "the insane American woman"—they didn't know how well she spoke French or how acute her hearing was—was seeking the legendary monster.
"Well?" Avery prompted. He acted surly, as if he had something else he'd rather be doing.
"What?" Annja asked.
"Did you want me to take you to your car?" Avery had arranged to rent a truck that Annja would drive up into the Cévennes Mountains.
"In a moment." Annja nodded toward the shop. "Let's go inside."
She led the way, opening the door and causing the little bell over it to tinkle. Avery followed glumly.
Inside, the shop had a wooden floor and a simple demeanor. Shelves built into the walls held lures, line, reels and other fishing gear. Racks in the center of the room held up waterproof pants, vests and shirts. Farther back, displays of rubber boots, waders, seines and other equipment filled the floor.
"May I help you, miss?" a tiny old man behind the scarred counter asked. He polished his glasses on his shirt, then blinked at her and waited.
"Yes," Annja replied in French. "I'm looking for a tent pole."
"You don't have a tent," Avery said.
The old man pointed to one of the back corners.
Annja spotted a bin containing wooden dowels an inch in diameter and four feet long. They were treated and varnished, improving their strength against wear and the elements.
Retreating to the back of the shop, Annja took one of the rods from the bin. She spun it experimentally for a moment, moving it from one hand to the other, and found the dowel acceptable.
She returned to the counter. "This is great. I'll take it."
The old man rang up the price.
Annja paid and thanked him, then asked, "Is there a back way out of here?"
"Mademoiselle?" The old man's gaze told her he didn't think he'd heard her right.
"A back way." Annja pointed to the rear of the store. "A way out into the alley?"
"Yes, but why would you want to—?"
Copyright © 2006 by Worldwide Library.