Curse of the Condor
School teacher, Jetta Fitzgerald comes to Peru in search of her missing missionary brother. She stumbles upon Conrado Nievez a friend of her brother’s who had been raised by a jungle tribe after the death of his parents. She hires him to take her on her search into the jungle. Little does she know her brother is dead, and the dart from the blowgun that killed him came from Conrado’s blowgun and she could be in more danger than she ever imagined.
Danger and passion are on the prowl in the jungles of Peru as hidden treasures are about to be discovered, as well as feelings between two people as opposite as night and day.
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Excerpt from Curse of the Condor:
Jetta looked around at her surroundings, the dense foliage of the jungle swallowing them up as they moved down the river. She felt like a mere speck of sand on a vast desert floor. Never did the world seem so large or foreign, and she so out of place.
The canopy of trees towered above her, reaching so high she couldn’t see the tops. Vines hung down, plants shot up, and she sat in the midst of it all feeling like she was being devoured by the elements of nature. This was more wilderness than she’d ever seen. The rain forest took her breath away.
A slight breeze drifted over the water, filling her nostrils with the musty dampness that soaked the spongy shores and made its home among the moss-laden trees. The breeze stung her sunburned cheeks and nose, like an adder lashing out its tongue in a wicked kiss of welcoming her to the jungle. She curiously looked down and surveyed the tan water, unable to see the bottom. She wondered just what kinds of things lived in there, then decided she’d rather not know.
She closed her eyes for a brief second, hoping and praying this was all just a bad dream. She couldn’t really be sitting in a dugout canoe with a jungle man floating down the Amazon to the middle of God knows where. Gee, she’d have one enormous tale to tell when she swapped ‘what I did over the summer’ stories with her students.
Her eyes shot open at the sound of screeching, or was it squawking from the trees above her. The flicker of red and green flashed in a streak of sunlight, and she saw a flock of huge parrot-like birds hanging onto vines, eating fruit off a tree. Then in one startled motion, commotion in their squawks, they took off in flight. She’d never seen or heard anything like it.
“Macaws,” he told her.
“I suppose we startled them,” she said.
“Not us. There’s a predator somewhere nearby.”
“A p-predator?” Her eyes scanned the shore, much the same as his eyes scanned their surroundings earlier. “What kind of predator?”
“Probably just an ocelot. Hiding out till nightfall in the trees somewhere.”
“An ocelot.” She’d shown a photo of one to her students just last week. “A small wildcat of the Amazon region.”
“That’s right. Kind of like a small jaguar in a way.”
“Jaguar,” she repeated, suddenly the image of a cute, small furry animal growing in size – its teeth lengthening and sharpening in the process. She hadn’t compared the ocelot to a jaguar before. But now that he mentioned it, she was sure it was just as deadly. She could only hope they weren’t going to be running into either of these on the trip.
He stopped rowing and put the oar in the boat, letting them drift instead. He took off his hat and handed it to her. Instinctively she grabbed it. Next, he put his arms behind his neck, and in one swift motion brought the poncho up and over his head, exposing his bare, bronzed chest. She gasped when he handed her the poncho. Now she sat with a half-naked man, trapped in an overcrowded canoe with her knees rubbing up against his.
“Put it on,” he told her. “It may be thick and warm but at least it’ll protect you from the sun. With skin as white as yours, you’ll be roasted in no time.”
She couldn’t help but stare at his sturdy chest as he paddled, her back to where they were headed. She didn’t doubt he could maneuver without an oar if need be. Backward, forward, nothing was impossible for this man, and he made it all look so easy. His muscles worked with each dip of the oar, displaying corded sinew in perfect proportions under his golden skin. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him. The only time she’d ever seen someone with a body like this was in her dreams, or perhaps a magazine. But this was real. And he was so close he could probably hear her sweating.
She only hoped he couldn’t hear her thoughts. His arms and chest were covered with tattoos. Most were some kind of designs that wrapped around his limbs. Some were in black, others in vibrant colors of orange, green and red. She couldn’t help but notice the head and body of a snake that spiraled down his chest and disappeared into the waistband of his pants. She caught a slight smirk from him and darted her eyes in the opposite direction.
That’s when she noticed the big bird on his left upper arm.
“That’s an interesting vulture,” she said, subconsciously putting her hand to her chest where her own lie beneath.
“Condor,” he answered and kept rowing, not bothering to explain anything further.