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By Merline Lovelace
Harlequin EnterprisesCopyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Thank God for air-conditioning!"
Swiping a forearm across his dirt-streaked forehead, the tall, flame-haired grad student followed his team leader into the welcoming coolness of San Antonio's Menger Hotel.
"If I'd had any idea how muggy it gets down here in July," he grumbled, "I wouldn't have let you talk me into assisting you on this project."
"Funny," the woman beside him responded with a smile, "I seem to recall a certain Ph.D. candidate begging me to let him in on the dig."
"Yeah, well, that was before I realized I'd be branded as a defiler of history and practically run out of Texas on a rail."
Elena Maria Alazar's smile faded. Frowning, she shifted the strap of her heavy field case from one aching shoulder to the other and stabbed at the elevator buttons. Eric's complaints weren't all that exaggerated. He and everyone else working the project had come under increasingly vitriolic fire in recent days.
Dammit, she shouldn't have allowed the media to poke around the archeological site, much less elicit a hypothesis as to the identity of the remains found in the creek bed. She was an expert in her field, a respected member of the American Society of Forensic Historians, for pity's sake! She headed a highly skilled team of anthropologists and archeologists. She knewbetter than to let her people discuss their initial findings with reporters. Particularly when those findings held such potentially explosive local significance.
She couldn't blame anyone but herself for the howls of outrage that rose when the San Antonio Express-News reported that Dr. Elena Alazar, niece of Mexico's President Alazar and professor of history at the University of Mexico, was rewriting Texas history. According to the story, Ellie had found proof that legendary William Barrett Travis, commander of the Texans at the Alamo, hadn't died heroically with his men as always believed. Instead, he'd run away from the battle, was hunted down by Santa Anna's troops and was shot in back like a yellow, craven coward.
Ellie and her team were a long way yet from proving anything, but try telling that to the media! The Express-News wasn't any more interested in running a disclaimer than a correction to identify her as a professor of history at the University of New Mexico. Never mind that Ellie had been born and raised in the States. To the reporter's mind - and to the minds of his readers - she was an outsider attempting to mess with Texas history.
Thoroughly disgruntled, she made another stab at the brass-caged elevator. It was an antique, like everything else in the hundred-year-old hotel located just steps from the Alamo. Until the story broke, Ellie had thoroughly enjoyed her stay at the luxuriously appointed establishment. Now, she felt the weight of disapproval from every employee at the hotel, from desk clerks to the maid who cleaned her room.
She didn't realize just how much she'd earned the locals' displeasure, however, until she unlocked the door to her suite. Startled, she stopped dead. Behind her, Eric let out a long, low whistle.
"Folks around here sure let you know when they're not happy. I haven't seen a room trashed this bad since pledge week at the frat house. Come to think of it, I've never seen a room trashed this bad."
The two-room suite hadn't been just trashed, Ellie soon discovered. It had been ransacked. Her laptop computer was gone, as was the external drive that stored the data and thousands of digital images her team had collected to date.
The loss of her equipment was bad enough, but the message scrawled across the mirror above the dresser made her skin crawl.
Mexican bitch. I've got you in my crosshairs.
Get the hell out of Texas!
Excerpted from Texas Hero by Merline Lovelace Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.