When archaeologist Matthew Connor’s friend is kidnapped, the ransom comes at the highest price—her life in exchange for finding the Inca’s lost City of Gold. With the clock ticking, Matthew and two of his closest friends have limited time to make the discovery. To make matters worse, Matthew’s arch nemesis insists that two of her hired guns go along for the ride.
Enjoy this excerpt from City of Gold:
REPUBLIC OF INDIA
THE SOUND OF HIS THUMPING heartbeat was only dulled by the screeching monkeys that were performing aerial acrobatics in the tree canopy overhead. Their rhythmic swinging from one vine to the next urged his steps forward but not with the same convincing nature as did the bullets whizzing by his head.
Matthew glanced behind at his friends and was nearly met with a bullet between the eyes. He crouched low, an arm instinctively shooting up as if he’d drop faster with it atop his head. The round of shots hit a nearby tree, and splintering bark rained down on him.
“Hurry!” he called out, as he peered at his companions.
“What do you think we’re—” Cal lost his footing, tripping over an extended root, his arms flailing as he tried to regain his balance.
Robyn, who was a few steps ahead of Cal, held out a hand, her pace slowing as she helped steady him.
“Pick it up, Garcia!” Matthew didn’t miss her glare before he turned back around. He hurdled through the rainforest, leaping over some branches while dipping under others, parting dangling vines as he went, as if they were beaded curtains.
His lungs burned, and his muscles were on fire. One quick glance up, and the monkeys spurred him on again. Not that he needed more than the cries of the men who were chasing him. The voices were getting louder, too—growing closer.
Robyn caught up to Matthew. “What happened to natives with poison darts?”
“The modern-day savage packs an AK-47 and body armor.”
Several reports sounded. Another burst of ammunition splayed around them.
“If we get out of this alive, you owe me a drink.” Her smile oddly contrasted their situation.
“I’ll buy you each two,” Matthew promised.
Cal ran, holding the GPS out in front of him, his arm swaying up and down, and Matthew wasn’t sure how he read it with the motion.
“Where do you expect to take us, Cal? We’re in the middle of a damn jungle,” Robyn said.
“Round here. Go right,” Cal shouted.
Another deafening shot rang out and came close to hitting Matthew.
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” Matthew ramped up his speed, self-preservation at the top of his list while the idol secured in his backpack slipped down in priority.
Most of their pursuers were yelling in Hindi, but one voice came through in English. He was clearly the one giving directions, and from his accent, Matthew guessed he was American, possibly from one of the northern states.
“I have to stop…and…breathe.” Robyn held a hand to her chest.
“We stop and we’re dead. Keep moving.” Cal reached for her arm and yanked.
Matthew slowed his pace slightly. “Robyn, you could always get on Cal’s back.”
“What?” Cal lowered the arm that was holding the GPS.
She angled her head toward Matthew. “If you think I’m going to get up there like some child, you are sorely mistaken.”
Matthew laughed but stopped abruptly, his body following suit and coming to a quick halt. He was teetering on the edge of a cliff that was several stories high, looking straight down into a violent pool of rushing water. He lifted his gaze to an upstream waterfall that fed into the basin.
Cal caught Matthew’s backpack just in time and pulled him back to solid ground.
The rush of adrenaline made Matthew dizzy. He bent over, braced his hands on his knees, and tucked his head between his legs. He’d just come way too close to never reaching his twenty-ninth birthday.
Robyn punched Cal in the shoulder. “Go right, eh? Good directions, wiseass. Maybe next time we’ll just keep going straight.”
“Sure, blame the black guy,” Cal said.
More bullets fired over the empty space of the gorge.
“What do we do now?” Cal asked.
Matthew forced himself to straighten to a stand. He hadn’t brought them all the way here to die. He’d come to retrieve a priceless artifact, and by all means, it was going to get back to Canada. He pulled off his sack, quickly assessed the condition of the zippers, and shrugged it back on. He tightened the straps, looking quickly at Cal and then at Robyn. One stood to each side of him. He had to act before he lost the courage. He put his arms out behind them.
Robyn’s eyes widened. “What are you doing, Matt? You can’t honestly be thinking of—”
Matthew wasn’t a religious man, but he was praying for them on the way down.