Jenny looked up and recoiled in fear. Standing above her were three rugged-looking men from straight out of a biker movie. Two of them were dressed in leather and chains, and the other – the man with the gun – looked like a wild animal.
The gunman smiled like a man possessed. “Well, what have we here, boys? Looks like we caught ourselves a lady.” He laughed. “Hey, lady! No women allowed in the fucking kiva. That’s the rule.”
The bigger of the leather boys, an oafish-looking brute over six feet tall and weighing close to three hundred pounds, stared hungrily at Jenny. “Can we keep her, boss?”
The other leather boy, a short, mutant-like devil with a head the size of a beach ball, grinned idiotically at Jenny and literally drooled. “Yeah, whaddaya say, B.T.? We can have her ass for dinner.”
Jenny knew she had really screwed up this time. If she got out of this trap alive, she was going to be damn lucky. She suddenly had a vision of herself being dumped into the grave when the men were finished abusing her. Coming down here alone had been a really bad idea.
The leader had darting green eyes that drilled into Jenny. He had an unnerving habit of smiling all the time, and even if he hadn’t had a loaded 9mm in his hand, Jenny thought he still would have been scary as a nightmare.
“We’re not going to have time for fucking around like that. She’ll just get in the way, and you boys will be fighting over her. And I don’t want to have to deal with that sort of bullshit.”
The two leather boys looked sorely disappointed but did not argue.
“So, what the hell are you doing down there in our hole, lady?” asked the grinning man with the sleek black pistol.
“It’s not your hole,” replied Jenny defiantly. “This kiva, and all the rest of this pueblo are owned by the people of the United States.”
B.T.’s smile widened. He knew redheads were stubbornly fearless, and he immediately admired the woman’s courage.
“So what do you care? What are you, the taxpayers’ watchdog, or something?”
“I’m the district archaeologist for the Kaibab National forest, and it is my job to investigate every case of cultural resource damage that occurs on the forest.”
B.T.’s eyes arched in surprise. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re an archaeologist?”
“That’s right,” barked Jenny as she leveled an accusing finger at the gun man, “and you and your friends are all in big trouble!”
B.T. shook his head and laughed deeply. “Man, do I have some shitty luck lately, or what?”
Jenny’s heart pounded as she struggled to stay in control. This man was going to shoot her so that he could get back to digging the burial, and the power of the federal government wasn’t going to do her much good.
“You’re the fool who destroyed the cliff ruin in Jumpup Canyon!” she blurted. “A witness said you had long red hair and the killing eyes of an eagle.”
B.T. did a double take. Linda Joyce sounded more and more interesting all the time. “I have many things I would like to discuss with Linda,” said B.T. almost sensuously.
Now it was Jenny’s turn to be surprised. How could this man know Linda’s name? Jenny’s mind started to spin off into terror. She had never felt so vulnerable and frightened in her life.
“How could you know about Linda?”
B.T. looked at Jenny with cold eyes gone dull. “I make it my business to know.”
Jenny wanted to kick the egotistical sonofabitch right in the balls; take that smug smile off his face. “Yeah, well you don’t know much about digging a prehistoric site – especially a burial like this. You’re making a bigger mess with this grave than you did with the cliff dwelling in Jumpup.”
B.T. laughed indifferently. “There’s so much loot in this one burial, it doesn’t matter. In the space of an hour, we’ve already hauled about twenty items out of here, each one worth a bundle.”
Jenny looked down into the littered grave. “No doubt. But surely you must know that if you took your time and went at this systematically – you know, figure out where the body is, dig an inch at a time, that sort of thing – you could really make a killing.”
“What the hell do you care, Red? We aint paying taxes on this shit.”
The other two looters burst out laughing and slapped five. The big one kicked the dirt with the heel of his left boot and almost fell backwards into the kiva. His slobbering little friend reached out and caught him at the last second.
“Yo! Billy Ray! Where you going, buddy?” cackled the dwarfish thief as he pulled the bigger man back from the kiva’s edge.
“Thanks, John! That was a close one!” blurted the clumsy giant, throwing his arms around his pint-sized pal.
Jenny had one chance to stay alive. If she could convince the gunman that she could make them a lot more money if allowed to show them how to properly dig the burial, she could at least buy herself some time. To excavate this grave correctly would take at least twenty-four solid hours of hard work. If she could last that long, then maybe Dwayne and Jason would have time to find her.