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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1994-05-01
  • Publisher: Harlequin Books
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To save his people, Navajo medicine man Benjamin Two Eagles pours his soul into an ancient amulet. Lost in time for more than 100 years, Benjamin is set free by beautiful FBI agent Julia Stevens into a world he does not understand. Reissue.

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June 1864

Benjamin Two Eagle crouched low behind the big rock and looked toward the east. The night was dying, and so were the fortunes of the Navajo people. Soon Jóhonaa'éí , Sun, would rise above the canyon, and Green Eye's calvary would come forward once more. For fifteen dawns it had been the same - rifle fire, arrows flying and hoarse screams as warriors and soldiers in turn tumbled to the ground, their lives extinguished like burning twigs cast into the river.

His life meant nothing to him now, except as an instrument to avenge the deaths of those who'd followed him on this futile attempt to escape. The last to die had been the women and children of his tiny band. Bullets had even less conscience than the soldiers who sent them blindly into the scarce cover of the box canyon. He had fought on alone with captured ammunition, arrows and illusion for three days more, but the last cartridge had been spent at dusk yesterday, and magic alone couldn't turn back a heavily armed troop of soldiers.

A week ago, he might have been able to slip away, but he couldn't have abandoned the ones with him. Instead, he'd tried to help some of the others escape, but all attempts had failed, and now he had but one chance left.

Turning his back to the rifles and sabers just a hundred feet away in the darkness, Benjamin took sacred corn pollen from his medicine pouch and spoke a blessing for safety. He touched the pollen to his lips, then released the yellow life-giver to drift away on the breeze.

Clearing his thoughts, he brought out the amulet of their god, known as Slayer. The turquoise amulet representing Child-of-the-Water was no longer in his possession. He'd been forced to relinquish it in payment to the man who'd offered them safe passage - the man who had betrayed them. Now he only had the one, but its magic would still be enough. He stared deeply into the man-shaped agate. Like his father and his grandfather before him, he felt the great powers known only to Navajo hataaliis - medicine men. The amulet took on the subdued glow of a hot coal, and he began the chant that would take him to safety. Later, he would return and extract his revenge.

Benjamin could no longer sense the cold of the desert morning. All his energy was focused on the warmth of the stone lying in his palm. As the heat passed up his arm and into his body, he continued the ritual chant, realizing the magic was happening now. His body was fading, and the stone took on more light as his spiritual Wind Breath, his essence, passed into the tiny figure.

Suddenly, Benjamin sensed a coldness wrapping around his arm. He fought a surge of panic and maintained the chant. Yet the magic was changing somehow, in a way he couldn't explain or control. Benjamin stopped his prayers, gazing down through transparent eyes. It was too late. He couldn't reverse the process he'd already started. His spirit poured into the stone, like a broken pot losing water to the sand.

As Benjamin Two Eagle's body disappeared into the stone in a flash of light, one last anguished thought filled him. He'd sought escape, but what he'd actually found was a trap more powerful than any he'd ever known. Not even death would be able to find and release him. The agate amulet dropped to the sand and faded to darkness once again.

Footsteps approached tentatively, but no living Navajo was there to stand and defend their homeland.

* * *

June 1993

The temperature inside the cinder block trading post was only slightly cooler than the searing heat of the New Mexico desert outside. If it hadn't been for the extremely low humidity, it would have felt like the interior of a pressure cooker. The swamp cooler, a Southwestern-design air conditioner whose effectiveness depended on the evaporative cooling of water, barely seemed to make a difference today. The owner blamed it on a broken-down water pump.

The trace of a breeze that wafted through the screen of the open window smelled of sun-scorched earth and wilted grasses. FBI agent Julia Stevens found herself wishing she were on a shelf inside the walk-in freezer.

Restless, she strolled through the small store. Waiting was the worst part of her job, and she hated it. She glanced around, studying the place for the umpteenth time. Shelves stacked high with fabrics, linens and Navajo rugs lined one wall. The back was cluttered with rolls of baling wire, shovels, tools and other hardware. Against the opposite side, beneath the thick glass of the battered oak counter, was a huge selection of squash blossom necklaces, rings and watchbands, crafted from silver and inlaid with turquoise and coral. Tables placed in the middle of the emporium were crowded with sacks of flour and sugar, and with every imaginable variety of canned food. Walking space was at a premium, and she found herself hemmed in by dry goods as she went around the store searching for a cool spot.

Her partner, Bobby Sanchez, a dark-haired man in his late twenties, stood just behind the door of the adjoining stockroom, watching through the door via a one way mirror. Bobby was an excellent agent, but at a glance he looked more like a misplaced accountant. With wire-rimmed glasses, short-cropped hair and the shuffling gait of someone who always appeared to have something else on his mind, he never attracted much attention during field operations.

"Bobby, you're positioned so that the camera will catch everything from the moment he enters, right?" Julia asked, adjusting her loose cotton top over the pancake holster.

"Stop worrying," came a voice from behind the door. "Just don't let him get too close to this mirror, or he might want to take a look inside."

"I'll make sure he doesn't go behind the counter," she said, then glanced over at the proprietor, a man in his sixties. Charlie Miller had been here as long as anyone remembered. "Mr. Miller, you're confident you can identify him?" she asked.

"You bet. I may not know anything about Eddie except his first name, but believe me, he's hard to miss. The guy's shaped like a Coke machine with a head and always follows the same pattern. He comes in alone, flashes a big roll of bills and buys everything that interests him. He's very cunning, too, like a coyote. He knows precisely what he's buying and gets only the best pieces. Someone's taught him well."

"It looks like we're ready for him, but let's go over our strategy just one more time. Once he pays for something, we'll check out the bills. If the serial numbers match, it'll tie him to the bank robberies. Then, after that, I'll let him see the amulet. If you're right, and he's particularly interested in Indian-made antiques, he's going to be very eager to buy this."

"You can count on it," Charlie said.

"Then I'll just wait for him to make an offer and force his hand by insisting on more money than he's got. Hopefully, when he goes for more cash, he'll lead us to the bank loot, as well as to the other members of the gang."

"Got it! But there is a question I've been meaning to ask. Those robberies have taken place all over the Southwest," Charlie said thoughtfully. "You don't really think the gang's robbing banks so they can buy Indian art, do you?"

"No, that's just their way of laundering the money," Julia replied. "By purchasing things that will increase in value as time passes, they're counting on making even more money in the long run."

"They almost pulled it off, too. How'd you figure out what they were doing?"

"Some of the stolen bills were marked. They turned up in one of your competitor's deposits. He told us what was going on, and that's when we checked with you." Julia smiled. "The Bureau really appreciates what you're doing, Charlie."

"I'm glad to help out," Charlie said, rubbing his chin pensively. "But I must admit, I'm surprised you'd risk that beautiful amulet of yours on something like this."

"I figured it would be effective bait, and besides, I have no intention of letting it out of my hands." She fingered the turquoise amulet, a two-inch carving in the shape of a man, hidden for now inside her blouse. The piece had been in her family for generations. There was no way she'd allow anything to happen to it.

Julia stood by the window hoping for another breeze, but none came. Impatient with the curtain of shoulder-length brown hair that framed her face, she fastened it back with a scarf.

A moment later they heard a car pull up. Charlie Miller walked to a counter near the window, then glanced back at her. "This is the man," he said quickly, then returned to his chair and began to whittle on a piece of cottonwood branch.

"Hey, Charlie, how's it going?" A tall, muscular man dressed in blue jeans, a tan cotton shirt and bolo tie entered the room.

"How ya doing, Eddie?" Charlie said, glancing up, then


Excerpted from Timewalker by Aimee Thurlo Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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