Warrior Spirit [Rogue Angel Series Book 9] [Secure]
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by Alex Archer
Description: A priceless artifact could restore a family's honor--or destroy everything in its wake. While vacationing in Tokyo, archaeologist Annja Creed is approached by a man who desperately needs her help. Kennichi Ogawa, the last descendant of an ancient warrior family, is trying to locate a stolen artifact. Legend has it that the vajra was mystically endowed by a warrior's spirit to help the Yumegakure-ryu family forever be a source for good. But the vajra could help the forces of evil if it gets into the wrong hands. And now the bloodthirsty Yakuza and a group of hired ninja are after it. As Annja and Kennichi trek through the fog-enshrouded mountains of the Iga province to find the relic, they must also outsmart the vicious Yakuza and ninja who are dangerously close to uncovering the vajra first...and to destroying their competition.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Gold Eagle,
eBookwise Release Date: November 2007
71 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [461 KB]
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The fist shot at her face much faster than she'd expected.
Annja Creed felt certain it would impact somewhere along the bridge of her nose, but at the very last second, her body seemed to take over and jerk her head out of the way. The fist sailed through empty air and as it went past, Annja saw the opening she needed. In the blink of an eye, she fired three punches into the attacker's midsection, scoring solid hits with all three.
"Matte!" The referee's voice barked out above the cacophony of the crowd's cheers. Annja stopped, and sweat poured down her face and into the folds of her karate uniform. The gi was stained with the sweat, dust and exertion of the past three hours.
She turned to the judges and waited. Two white flags went into the air.
Annja beamed but contained her joy over winning the match. Instead she executed a formal bow from her waist to the judges. Then she walked to her opponent, a twenty-something punk rocker with tea-stained reddish-brown hair. He was still bent over, looking for the air Annja had knocked out of his lungs.
As she approached, he looked up and frowned. "How did you do that?"
Annja shrugged. "I thought you had me, Saru. But somehow my reflexes kicked in."
"Good fight. I may never breathe again, though." He tried to grin, but grimaced instead. His friends helped him off the traditional tatami mats.
Annja turned and went the other way toward the side where her gear awaited. One more match and she'd be done. But the last fight of the evening was looking to be nothing short of nearly impossible.
She gulped down water and waited for the next opponent to walk onto the mat.
When he did, Annja felt her stomach twist itself into knots. Nezuma Hidetaki was one of the most feared fighters that the Kyokushinkai had ever produced. A hard stylist, Nezuma liked to practice his punches against brick buildings. He'd split his knuckles so often that doctors had finally removed the remaining cartilage and simply sewn the knuckles together. Nezuma had calluses on top of his calluses and though short at only five feet six inches, his thighs were as big around as tree trunks.
He strode across the mat and stood in front of Annja with his arms folded across his barrel chest. "I will not be as easy as Saru was," he stated.
I didn't think Saru was easy, Annja thought.
She took another sip of water and then mopped her brow. The material of her gi top stuck to her skin. She flapped it, trying to get some air circulating so she'd be able to move without getting caught up in it.
Nezuma did some deep squats across the ring, warming up his body. As the reigning champion, he only had to fight one match—the last one.
Annja was already as warm as she was going to get. All that remained before her in this tournament being held in the Tokyo Budokan, was Nezuma. If she won this match, she'd be the lightweight champion in the Interdiscipline Budo Championship.
The judges looked at Annja and she nodded, then stepped onto the mat. Nezuma turned and bowed to the judges. Annja did the same.
Nezuma turned to Annja and gave her a curt bow. Annja bowed in the same style. If he's going to be rude, so be it, she thought. I can play that game, as well.
The referee stepped in between them and held his hand horizontally. He looked at both of them again, but Annja already had her eyes locked on Nezuma's.
Nezuma immediately stalked Annja, coming at her from the side, almost like a crab. Annja pivoted to her southpaw stance, bringing her guard higher than normal, aware that Nezuma preferred to attack with straight punches aimed at the head, trying to score immediate knockouts. He had successfully knocked out three of his previous opponents on his way to becoming the champion he was—the one Annja hoped to become.
Nezuma shot out a feint with his right leg, a flashing roundhouse kick aimed at her upper thigh. Annja stepped back out of range, letting the kick sail past her. Nezuma's follow-up was a straight blast aimed at her head.
Annja ducked and deflected the blow away to the inside and punched at Nezuma's exposed right chest. He brought his left hand in sharply and punched Annja's arm out of the way. Annja dropped back and away, clutching her arm.
Well, that hurt, she thought. She took a breath and gritted her teeth. Let's see how he likes this.
Against all her normal strategic thinking, Annja jumped and let a bloodcurdling shout erupt from her lungs as she folded her legs up and under her, aiming her left foot at Nezuma's head.
The jumping side kick caught her stocky opponent by surprise, and he barely missed losing his head to Annja's kick. Annja landed, aware that Nezuma was already punching at exactly the spot where she'd be landing. Instead of standing, Annja let the momentum drop her to the ground and then pivoted and swept Nezuma's legs out from under him. He went down hard and the judges scored it one point for Annja.
Just two more to go, she thought as Nezuma hauled himself to a standing position again.
He glared at Annja.
No way is he going to fall for that again, Annja thought with a smile. Still, it was worth it seeing the look of surprise on his face. Especially since she knew that Nezuma was a notorious misogynist who thought women belonged either in bed or in the kitchen, preferably both.
Copyright © 2007 by Worldwide Library.