Table of Contents
OTHER BOOKS IN THE JADE DEL CAMERON SERIES
Mark of the Lion Stalking Ivory
Published by New American Library, a division of
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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, January 2008
Copyright © Suzanne Arruda, 2008
All rights reserved
OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Arruda, Suzanne Middendorf, 1954-
The serpent’s daughter : a Jade Del Cameron mystery / Suzanne Arruda.
eISBN : 978-0-451-22465-1
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This book is dedicated to the real “Bert boys,”
James and Michael, who soar as eagles.
I love you guys.
MY THANKS TO the Pittsburg State University Axe Library Interlibrary Loan staff for all the books; National Wild Turkey Federation’s Women in the Outdoors program for continuing opportunities to experience aspects of Jade’s adventuresome life; Terry (Tessa) McDermid for her help as my writing buddy; Dr. John Daley and Neil Bryan for information on rifles and sidearms; Sgt. First Class David Brock for advice on handling a knife; Dr. Dan Zurek and Dr. Judy Berry-Bravo for help with the Spanish; Mssr. Arnaud Blanc-Nikolaïtchouk of Les Doyennes de Panhard et Levassor for his help with Jade’s Panhard; my brilliant sons for applying their aerospace engineering knowledge to my understanding of rigging Curtis JN-4 airplanes (Jennies); Mike and Nancy Brewer for original and inspired musical accompaniment to my Web and publicity CDs; my NAL publicists, Tina Anderson and Catherine Milne, for all their hard work; my agent, Susan Gleason, and my editor, Ellen Edwards, for their continued belief in the series; all my family: Cynthia, Dave, Nancy, The Dad, James, and Michael for helping me shamelessly promote the books. I especially wish to thank Joe, the greatest husband and web-master a writer could ever want, for all his help and support.
Any mistakes are my own, despite the best efforts of my excellent instructors.
Morocco is a land of contradictions. Desert and oasis,
palaces and clay huts. It is Africa, yet distinct from Africa. The Moroccans call it
, the ‘land of the western sun.’
“ONE SHOULD NEVER TRUST THE SHOPKEEPERS,” declared a young man seated across from Jade. “They will cheat you.”
Jade stifled a yawn and switched her attention from the busy Tangier streets below to the speaker. Woodard Kennicot’s creamy white linen suit and broad-brimmed boater-style straw hat blended visually with the scenery, but his yammering mouth clashed; his voice nasal, his tone condescending.
And that hair. It’s like staring at an inferno
. The blaze, she noted, continued in a small brush fire above his lips.
Why does Mother always have to hold court?
Jade fidgeted in her chair. Mother had arrived just yesterday from America via London with the intention of wrangling an Andalusian stallion from her cousin to take back for stud on the family’s New Mexico ranch. This time she wanted Jade to join her, a prospect that didn’t thrill Jade. But when her mother had suggested they first meet in Tangier, rather than in Spain on her family’s estate, Jade had jumped at the opportunity. The social atmosphere in Andalusia was stifling at best, and visits home to their New Mexico ranch weren’t much better. Jade and her mother always ended up arguing about Jade’s life, her unladylike style of dress, and her short hair. But Tangier, Morocco, was a “neutral” spot, and Jade had hoped the two of them could come to an understanding. She prayed that her mother had become more accepting of, or at least resigned to, Jade’s chosen profession as photographer and writer for a magazine,
and the life that entailed.
Their meeting last evening when her mother’s boat docked had been cordial enough. They had even managed to share a room last night without killing each other, thanks in part to her mother’s exhaustion. But instead of a quiet mother-and-daughter breakfast, Mrs. del Cameron seemed positively determined to introduce Jade to this hodgepodge of people who’d shared boat passage with her mother from America and England. Jade took a final sip of coffee from her delicate china cup and fidgeted with her crystal water glass.
To Jade’s right, Doña Inez Maria Isabella de Vincente del Cameron reigned over the assembly. In her blue and white, straight-skirted, crepe de chine dress, she was the picture of decorum and style, without a trace of pretension. The band of her mother’s straw hat echoed the dress’ blue satin waistband. Its down-turned brim shaded but didn’t hide her regal face and, at forty-nine, Mrs. del Cameron’s flashing blue eyes and creamy olive complexion took second place to no one. Even her jet-black hair, which she wore pulled back into a tight bun at the base of her neck, bore no trace of gray.
Correction: one strand.
Jade sighed, and her mother noticed. “What is the matter, Jade?” she asked in a hushed aside.
Jade lied. She’d been thinking of her sixteenth birthday party. Jade had hoped for a barbecue and a hoedown. She even went so far as to invite their foreman and the ranch hands. But her mother had other plans: a sit-down banquet and ball. She invited the territorial governor and other, more local, dignitaries along with their stuffy sons, the youngest ten years older than Jade. Jade had pleaded with her father, but he just patted her hands and told her it was probably for the best, as if he were resigned to a boring evening himself.
Her mother had paraded Jade before the assembly until Jade felt like a filly on exhibit at a fair; she expected someone to place a bid on her at any moment. In the end, she told one young man, who spoke of nothing but his money and prospects, that he could bore a grizzly to death, and walked out of the room. After that, her mother forbade her to leave the house for a month.
Why did I think this tour of Tangier would be any different?
“I was merely admiring the view, Mother. Perhaps I should take some photographs down by the beach while you visit? I know my magazine would appreciate it.”
“There will be time for that later, Jade,” pronounced Inez. “We have guests. How many times must I tell you that a hostess must make her guests feel welcome?” Inez nodded to Jade’s plate. “You haven’t finished your breakfast.”
“Yes, Mother.” Jade didn’t want to argue. There was no point to it. The only thing left to do was endure this brief stay in Morocco and the subsequent visit to Andalusia. Once her mother procured her desired Andalusian stud, Jade could go her own way with a clear conscience, knowing she’d done her best to make peace between them. She picked at the fruit basket and chose a small mandarin orange, the type many tourists called tangerines after this port city, which first shipped them to Europe. As she peeled it, she kept half her attention on the others at the table and the rest on that mesmerizing view below.
White-robed men scurried through Tangier’s narrow streets, while white-shrouded women haunted the screened, flat rooftops. Trace minerals in the stucco tinted the city’s older buildings a delicate pink, painting a youthful blush on the aged. Every dwelling butted against the next like plants, sending a new shoot to grow. Early morning shadows stretched from house to house, caressing them with cool blue fingers, often bending where one house rose or fell compared to its conjoined neighbor, but never breaking.
Liquid and light
. Jade inhaled the invigorating scents of ocean air and fish and let her gaze drift from the jumble of cracker box buildings below her high terrace to the turquoise Straits of Magellan, speckled with sunlight and white sails. The only jarring note in this symphony of pure light and water was the steamship anchored offshore; that and Woodard Kennicot’s nasally voice.