A young man and woman bump into each other - literally - and form an instant connection. When the man buys her an odd totem as a present, he has no idea how much it's really worth. Before long, the two of them find themselves trapped in the South American jungle, pursued from all angles by people who want the totem. Some are benign; some are very dangerous indeed. Maybe flowers would have been better after all...
Autor: Robyn Gaynor
Illustration: shutterstock/Francisco Amaral Leitão
ca. 212 Seiten
A man and a woman follow the trace of an arcane totem. To solve its mystery they will find their way through the South American Jungle, fend off ruthless occultists and find a new friend.
London, South American Jungle
2 female and 4 male roles
Sam Lucas, office worker living near the Portobello Road; handsome, tall, athletic; university-educated; hates his job; meets Becca whilst jogging, forms an instant connection with her, buys a totem as a present for her; later meets her again as their mutual friend Roger has set them up on a blind date; Eve Simons interrupts their date and takes them to Hector Mannington, from whom they learn the totem is extremely valuable; stranded in South America with Becca when Jack hijacks the plane they are on; constantly pursued by various parties who want the totem; happy ending with Becca and the possibility of more adventures with Jack.
Becca Casey, piano teacher; moved to London from Somerset; resourceful, determined, has a playful side; collects odd things; sees Damien Raines kill a man, is almost herself killed by Raines but manages to escape; left with a paralysing fear of Raines; when Raines attacks her again, overcomes her fear in order to fight back and pushes him over a cliff.
Jack Randolph, adventurous archaeologist; hard-edged, bold, uncompromising, short-tempered but ultimately good-hearted; experienced in combat and survival; wants to return the totem to the South American tribe that created it; to that end, hijacks a plane transporting the totem; Sam and Becca steal the totem from him and force him to act as their guide; eventually invites Sam and Becca to travel with him on future adventures.
Sir Hector Mannington, head of the British Antiquities Inspectorate and Enforcement Service; small, dapper, kindly, courteous; wears spectacles; married; wants to give the totem to the British Museum; forces Sam and Becca to undergo a strip search when they claim not to have the totem; eventually allows Sam to trade the totem away for Beccas safety.
Eve Simons, head of security for the British Antiquities Inspectorate and Enforcement Service; very strict, very serious, aggressive, mistrustful, vindictive, gives off an air of danger.
Roger, Sam and Beccas mutual friend; arranges Sam and Beccas first date; exhibitionist, has been charged with public nudity on multiple occasions; mentioned several times but never appears.
The following characters are not personalised:
Damien Raines, self-styled black magician and occultist; sadistic killer, but always kills for a practical purpose rather than for pleasure; believes the totem will help him achieve immortality; pursues the heroes throughout the story and eventually falls to his death.
Big Boss Man Collector, collector of antiques; never appears, but his hired mercenaries pursue the totem on his behalf.
Jacques Marais, a stallholder in the Portobello Road market; plans to sell the totem to Big Boss Man Collector, but while he is away from the stall his wife sells it to Sam.
Danny Nutt, owner of the restaurant where Sam and Becca meet for their date.
Sam did not believe in love at first sight. He did not believe in fate. He did not believe in destiny. He did not believe that he was single at his age because the universe had someone special in mind for him, or because the stars had decreed it.
That was all clearly nonsense and he was not about to start believing in it just because he had bumped into a girl with startling green eyes, a girl who was certainly the prettiest he had ever seen in his life and might well be the prettiest anyone had ever seen ever in the history of time and space. Just the fact that she was pretty did not mean he would like her; she might easily be arrogant, rude, or just plain stupid. There could be any number of things about her, from her accent to her personal beliefs, that he would find wholly unappealing. On the other hand, those eyes were enough to make him give her the benefit of the doubt.
“I’m sorry,” he backed down, “I had my iPod on so I didn’t…”
“No, it’s my fault.” Though Sam hadn’t noticed—so lost was he in the girl’s green eyes—she had been his mirror image at the moment that they had first really looked at each other and had experienced a similar flood of unexpected emotion. “You’re not hurt, are you?”
“Me? No. You’re not, are you?”
“Not at all.”
“I’m Sam, by the way.”
“What a pretty name.”
“Absolutely. I haven’t seen you around here before, have I? I jog this way every day, you know; try to keep fit.” Oh, what was he saying? That made him sound like such a dick!
“I only moved here recently,” the girl called Becca explained. “This is the first morning I’ve had the chance to go for a run.”
“And I’ve ruined it for you.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” Becca smiled in a way that gave Sam hope that she was as pleased by this chance encounter as he was. He came to a quick decision.
“Look, I don’t really want to keep running now…”
“It’s hard to start again once you’ve…”
“Broken your stride, yeah. So, do you fancy a cup of coffee? I owe you at least that after knocking you over.”
Becca giggled. A musical sound, Sam thought. “Well, then I probably owe you the same. How about we buy each other a cup?”
“Darren’s” was a pleasantly untouched, family-run coffee shop eking out an existence in a sea of franchises. It survived courtesy of a loyal clientele and by serving coffee that was just “coffee”: it had no Italian soubriquet, you didn’t have to be bilingual to order it, it came with no more options than milk and sugar, and it came in a cup rather than a flimsy cardboard box. Your coffee was also brought to your table.
“Two coffees,” said Darren IV (the family believed in continuity). “Milk and sugar’s there.”
Sam and Becca sorted out the necessary milk and sugar while exchanging the half-nervous, half-optimistic smiles of two people who have fallen into a happy situation but have no idea what to say next and are concerned that their whole future might well hang on that one decision.
“Where did you move here from?” Sam thought this seemed a safe opener.
“Some little village in Somerset you’ve probably never heard of,” Becca replied. “I thought it was time to see the bright lights of the big city.”
“What do you think of them so far?”
Becca shook her head. “Too bright, too big. So far I’ve been too scared to really go out and see them. You grow up in the country and you take it for granted that at night there’s nothing but owls and foxes and the occasional druid whose car’s broken down. Now I go to bed and there’s cars and car alarms and police sirens and loud people and I’m not quite ready to go and see it all face to face. Not yet.”
Sam saw an opportunity. “Well, if you need a guide…”
“I might just take you up on that.” If there was anything about Becca’s face that was as impressive as her eyes then it was her smile; it gave Sam hope.
The conversation continued and they ordered another cup of coffee each, still paying for each other’s, even though it made no difference to the bill. With every passing moment Sam liked this girl more and more. Everything she did was adorable to him; the way she brushed her dark brown hair back from her face to sip at her drink, the way she giggled when he told a joke, the way her eyes widened when she was listening to him talk, as if she were fascinated by everything he said simply because it was him saying it.
She was so much more than a pretty face; she was intelligent, she was funny, she was interesting. Within half an hour of casual conversation he felt as if he had known her for years, that she was a friend of long standing and someone whom he trusted implicitly. Where years of set-ups, the bar scene, dating websites, and even one abortive flirtation with speed dating had failed, blind chance had succeeded and, though it would be easy to get carried away and take things for granted, Sam was becoming increasingly sure that Becca felt the same way.
“Can I ask…” It was always the tricky question but it had to be done. “Can I ask, are you seeing anyone at the moment?” It always sounded so stupid when you said it out loud.
Becca blushed a little. “No. No I’m not. Are…”
“No.” He didn’t even let her get the question out.
“Cool.” She nodded. “Cool.” She sipped her drink as if to say, ball’s in your court.
And Sam wasn’t slow to return it. “So, would you maybe like to have dinner or something? Or a drink or something? See a film? Or something?”
It was by now getting late in the morning and both had places to be, though they were loath to leave the place and the company they were in.
“Which way are you going?” Sam asked.
“Back through the market.”
“I’ll walk with you.” It wasn’t exactly on his way, more in the opposite direction really, but he was unwilling to let Becca go so easily. They strolled through the stalls and shops, just starting to get busy, at a lazy pace which belied the jogging gear both were still wearing.
“This is one of the main reasons I moved to the Portobello road,” Becca confided.
“You like antiques?”
“Doesn’t have to be antique,” Becca admitted. “I like… weird stuff; could be treasure, could be junk, anything that looks a bit different. If I’m honest I’ve got a flat full of knick-knacks, bric-a-brac and assorted crap.” Sam watched as her eyes roamed over the stalls greedily. “I should never have moved here; I’ll spend a fortune on absolute tat.”
“You should keep your voice down,” suggested Sam. “They’ll put the prices up if they hear you saying that.”
A nearby trader gave Sam a horrified look as if to say, We do not do that. Or if we do then it’s only to American tourists and that’s just natural selection.
“Oh, look at that!” Becca had moved on to the next stall with its two tables full to bursting with stuff that ranged between antiquities and high kitsch, the priceless and the worthless, with the name “Jacques Marais” emblazoned above them. She had picked up a carved wooden object of some sort. To Sam it looked like nothing.
“What is it?”
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|The hero's first name is||627 x|
|The hero's last name is||10 x|
|the hero's hair colour is||1 x|
|the colour of the hero's eyes is||1 x|
|The heroine's first name is||576 x|
|The heroine's last name is||6 x|
|The heroine's hair colour is||1 x|
|the colour of the heroine's eyes is||3 x|
|The first name of the adventurous archeologist is||227 x|
|The last name of the adventurous archeologist is||11 x|
|Head of the British Antiquities Inspectorate and Enforcement Service|
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|the first name of the head of security for the British Antiquities Inspectorate and Enforcement Service is||39 x|
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