Six months ago, Cynthia Guerrera's lover and fellow archaeologist Rafael Santiago trekked into the Mexican jungle in search of one of the fabled Cities of Gold--and never emerged. Guilty over their parting, Cynthia won't rest until she knows what happened. When the discovery of a conquistador's journal corroborates Rafe's intended path, Cynthia is determined to finally leave the safety of the museum to rescue him, despite the conquistador's dire warnings, and her own traumatic past.
Arriving at a remote village deep in the jungle, Cynthia is both elated and angered to find Rafe alive. But he is far from well, having watched his team be decimated by a bloodthirsty demon-goddess. When Rafe reveals he has been gifted with supernatural powers--powers he plans to use to kill the beast and save his brother, still held captive in the temple--Cynthia must face her own inner demons to fight alongside the man she loves.
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January 03, 2011
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Excerpt from Aztec Gold by Caridad Pineiro
The feel of old papers called to Cynthia Guerrera the way a lover's skin might.
Even with the gloves she wore to protect the fragile documents from the oils on her fingers, she sensed the raspy texture of the heavy parchment beneath her fingertips. Smelled the mustiness that hinted at the fact that it had been some time since these papers had seen the light of day.
At first she had been skeptical about the provenance of the documents. Missouri cornfields were not the place one expected to find a trunk filled with nearly five-hundred-year-old Spanish artifacts. But a Missouri cornfield was just where the trunk containing the papers, journal and maps had been discovered when a developer had begun excavations for a new strip mall.
Setting aside the missive--a letter from Coronado himself to one of his seconds in command--she turned her attention to the leather bound journal of Juan Domingo Cordero, one of the conquistadors who had accompanied Coronado on his adventures. Gingerly opening the cover, she traced her fingers over the sprawling script. The first entries in the journal had provided her with the identity of the author and the date of the documents thanks to Cordero's meticulous notations.
With that information, she had been able to check a number of other sources to confirm that Cordero had indeed been one of Coronado's lieutenants. When Coronado had left Mexico City in 1540 in search of the fabled Cities of Gold, Cordero had been at his side for the first leg of the journey. Coronado had eventually separated from Cordero and his contingent, ordering them to search in one direction while he went in another.
Cordero's entries in the journal carefully detailed their travels throughout the south central portion of Mexico, before his band had turned northward until they crossed the Rio Grande. Eventually the group had drifted eastward and reached the Mississippi, hugging the fertile banks of the river until it landed them in the area that would become known as Missouri.
Tired of their journeys and with their group decimated by a number of incidents, the Spanish conquistadors had built a small settlement a short distance from the sluggish and fruitful waters of the Mississippi.
The notations in Cordero's journal gradually diminished after the establishment of that settlement, with the conquistador's adventures giving way to the routine of farming and family life. It seemed that Cordero had finally stopped writing at all.
Cynthia supposed that was when the conquistador had tucked the journals detailing his explorations into the small wood and leather trunk together with his other papers. The trunk in turn had been put in a cellar, and over time, the floods that often occurred in the area had covered Cordero's home and the surrounding settlement with mud. Further flooding and natural events had added to the layers over the former community, hiding its existence from sight until the developer's bulldozers had dug up the first hints of the earlier colonization and the trunk.
Cynthia picked up the report that had arrived that morning. The assorted laboratory tests she had requested absolutely confirmed the age of the documents.
With that endorsement came proof of one thing, while serious doubt remained about a series of entries in the journals--unusual and unbelievable tales.