Copyright 2011 Caridad Pineiro

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THE FIFTH KINGDOM Romantic Suspense from Caridad Pineiro Available from Carina Press July 2011


The force of the blow rattled her teeth and snapped

her head back.

Dr. Miranda Adams reluctantly brought her head forward

once more, tonguing the inside of her cheek to gauge the

damage as the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth.

She had been stupid to think she could lose her

pursuers in the Sunday crowds in Chapultepec Park. Even

more brainless to think that a floppy straw sombrero and

big sunglasses would let her blend into the throng of


Her disguise had only screamed turista even louder.

For the last two days she had been paying the price

for that stupidity, she thought, her brain slightly muzzy

from the last blow. Her body aching from the combination

of physical beatings and confinement to the hard wooden



Copyright 2011 Caridad Pineiro

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"Where is the tomb and what is in it?" her inquisitor

asked in Spanish, fists clenched at his sides, but ready to

lash out at her if she should fail to answer yet again.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said,

just as she had been saying for the last forty-eight hours,

not that he believed her.

Not that he should.

She knew full well what he was talking about-the tomb

of Montezuma, one of the last emperors of the Aztecs.

She knew full well where it was and the secrets it

hid, not that she would tell him.

She had discovered only

days earlier that he was the head of the local Primera

Mexica cell and with a group that dangerous, she could not

trust him. As long as she kept the secret, she would live.

The moment she told them ...

"You leave me little choice," Javier Ramirez replied.

He inclined his head in the direction of the far side of

the basement where they were holding her captive. A plain

wooden table sat close to the cinder block wall and beside

it was a small cart where she could discern a car battery,

jumper cables and a bucket.

Fear crawled along her nerve endings as one of the men

approached, untied her from the chair and then dragged her

to the table.

She fought him, digging her heels into the soft dirt

of the basement floor, using her greater height to try and


Copyright 2011 Caridad Pineiro

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escape from his grasp by jerking her body to and fro, but

he was short, thickly muscled and stable on his feet. He

didn't even wobble as she struggled in vain against the

hold he had on her.

Apparently tired of her resistance, he enveloped her

in his stocky arms, nearly stealing her breath with the

pressure of his grip. He hauled her the last few feet to

the table and unceremoniously tossed her onto the top of

the rough wooden surface~ A moment later he was tying her

arms and legs to the four table legs.

Her inquisitor approached, but as he did so, Javier

gestured to her with his hand and another assistant quickly

removed her boots and socks and pulled out a large knife~

She bit back any show of fear, but jumped a little

when the man slipped the knife beneath the front hem of her

cotton blouse. The metal was cold beside her skin. With

one quick swipe he sliced open the front of her shirt. She

had no doubt what they planned for her, but she once again

reminded herself that they needed her alive in order to

find the tomb.

Her captor must have seen the determination in her


Javier picked up the ends of the jumper cables and

inched closer until she could smell the cheap cologne that

failed to hide the rank odor of his body.

"Do not fool yourself, Dr. Adams.

Sometimes life is


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severely overrated as you'll soon discover."

When he pulled away, someone tossed the water that had

been in the bucket over her body.

The welcome respite that

the chill wetness brought from the Mexican summer heat was

short-lived. Her assailant touched both ends of the jumper

cables together and sparks flew into the air.

She sucked in a breath, girding herself for the first

sharp blast, but nothing could have prepared her for the

jolt. Her body jerked spasmodically, every nerve ending

springing to painful life.

After Javier broke the contact of the jumper cables

against her body, she sagged onto the tabletop, her muscles

twitching while she sought to recover.

"Where is the tomb, Dr. Adams?" Javier asked once more

and brought the jumper cables near, touching them together

to send another shower of sparks through the air.

Miranda thought of the tomb and of the sun stone

within it. Thought of how long she had searched for the

burial place of Montezuma and what she had sacrificed for

its discovery.

Her career.

Her husband and daughter.

The happy life she had once had.

Because of that she was certain of one thing-it would

take a lot more than this to make her reveal the secret for

which she had already paid so dearly.


Copyright 2011 Caridad Pineiro

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"Sorry, am~go.

I seem to be having a little problem

with my memory lately."

The shock this time was not as unexpected, but he kept

the cables against her wet skin longer.

Much longer.

Javier kept her jumping and dancing at the end of the

cables like some grotesque marionette until her body and

brain overloaded, shutting down her senses in self-defense.

She sagged against the table, no longer feeling any

pain. No longer aware of what was being done to her. The

only thought remaining in her brain ...

You cannot tell them the secret of the tomb.

The sun

stone within was priceless historically and politically and

could not fall into the wrong hands, especially since it

was the only thing of value she had left in her life.