Serpent's Kiss [Rogue Angel Book 10] [Secure]
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by Alex Archer
Description: Some say they are a cursed people. But those who try to find them will be just as unlucky.... Working on a dig on the southern coast of India, the last thing Annja Creed expects is to be hit by a tsunami. Or to strike archaeological gold. But that's exactly what happens when several objects wash ashore in the storm. The relics carry unfamiliar markings that hint at a legendary city. Excited by the prospect of discovering a culture believed lost to civilization, Annja embarks on a perilous journey deep into the heart of danger. She learns of a mysterious artifact that could provide clues to the whereabouts of the lost city, which means trekking through an inhospitable jungle and forbidding terrain. But nature's denizens and death traps are not the only threats: someone else is also pursuing the prize. Just as Annja's grail comes into view, she must ward off an even greater evil. Because deep in the Nilgiris mountains is a race of people that the world forgot. And they don't like strangers.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Rogue Angel,
eBookwise Release Date: January 2008
66 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [Secure - What's this?]: OEBFF Format (IMP) [467 KB]
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Annja Creed stood in a twelve-foot-deep sacrificial pit beneath a gathering storm. The storm, according to the weather reports, was hours away but promised to be severe. From the look of the skeletons on the floor of the pit and embedded in the walls, hundreds of years had passed since the last sacrifice.
The passage of time hadn't made the discovery any less chilling. Even with her experience as an archeologist—and the recent exposures to sudden death that she thought were incited by the mystic sword she'd inherited—she still had to make the conscious mental shift from personal empathy to scientific detachment.
"Are those human bones?"
Annja glanced up and saw Jason Kim standing near the edge of the pit above her. Jason was a UCLA graduate student who'd won a place on Professor Rai's dig along the southern coast of India.
Jason was barely over five and a half feet tall and slender as a reed. His long black hair blew in the strong wind summoned by the storm gathering somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Thick glasses covered his eyes, which were bloodshot from staying up too late playing PSP games in his tent. He came from a traditional Chinese family that hated the way he'd so easily acquired American ways. He wore a concert T-shirt and jean shorts. A tuft of whiskers barely smudged his pointed chin.
"They're human bones," Annja answered.
"You think they're sacrifice victims?" Jason's immediate interest sounded bloodthirsty, but Annja knew it was only curiosity.
"I do." Annja knelt and scooped one of the skulls from the loose soil at the bottom of the pit. She indicated the uneven cut through the spine at the base of the skull. "Followers of Shakti favored decapitation."
"Cool. Can I see that?" Jason held his hands out.
Annja only thought for a moment that the skull had once housed a human being. The truth was, in her work, the body left behind was as much a temporary shelter as the homes she unearthed and studied.
Jason's field of study was forensic anthropology. His work primarily included what was left of a body. If anyone at the dig could identify the tool marks on the skeleton, it was Jason.
Annja tossed the skull up to him.
Jason caught the skull in both hands. It didn't bother him that it was so fresh from the grave. His smile went from ear to ear. He rotated the skull in his fingers. "This is the bomb, Annja."
"Glad you like it."
"Think they'll let me keep one?" he asked.
Part of Annja couldn't believe he'd asked the question. The other part of her couldn't believe she hadn't expected it.
"Definitely not," she answered.
"Too bad. Put a small, battery-operated red light inside and this thing would be totally rad. I could even have a friend of mine majoring in dentistry whip up some caps for the incisors. I'd be the first guy to have a genuine vampire skull."
"Except for the genuine part. And you'd have to explain why the skull doesn't turn to dust in sunlight," Annja said.
"Not all vampires turn to dust. You should know that," he replied.
"Vampires aren't a big part of archaeology." Annja turned her attention back to the other bones. She didn't think she was going to learn a lot from the pit, but there were always surprises.
"I didn't mean from archaeology," Jason persisted. "I mean from your show."
Annja sighed. No matter where she went, except for highly academic circles, she invariably ended up being known more for her work on Chasing History's Monsters than anything else. The syndicated television show had gone international almost overnight, and was continuing to do well in the ratings.
Scenes from stories she'd done for the show had ended up on magazine covers, on YouTube and other television shows. Her producer, Doug Morrell, never missed an opportunity to promote the show.
"You ever watch the show?" Annja looked up at Jason and couldn't believe she was having the conversation with him.
"Sure. The frat guys go nuts for it. So do the sororities. I mean, DVR means never having to miss a television show again."
Terrific, Annja thought.
"Kind of divided loyalties, though," Jason said. "The sororities watch you." He shrugged. "Well, most of them do. The frat guys like to watch the show for Kristie."
Okay, I really didn't need to hear that, Annja thought.
Kristie Chatham, the other hostess of Chasing History's Monsters, wasn't a rival. At least, Annja didn't see Kristie as such. Kristie wasn't an archaeologist and didn't care about history. Or even about getting the facts straight.
When Kristie put her stories together, they were strictly for shock value. As a result, Kristie's stories tended to center on werewolves, vampires, serial killers and escaped lab experiments.
"You can't go into a frat house without finding her new poster," Jason went on.
"That's good to know," Annja said, then realized that maybe she'd responded a little more coldly than she'd intended.
"Hey." Jason held his hands up in defense and almost dropped his newly acquired skull. He bobbled it and managed to hang on to it. "I didn't mean anything by that."
"No problem," Annja said.
"I don't know why you don't do a poster," Jason said. "You're beautiful."
Maybe if the comment hadn't come from a geeky male in his early twenties who was five years her junior and had a skull under his arm, if she hadn't been covered in dirt from the sacrificial pit and perspiring heavily from the gathering storm's humidity, Annja might have taken solace in that compliment.
Copyright © 2008 by Worldwide Library.