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By Sherry Derr-Wille

Leonore Hayes, Leo to her friends, only wants to be allowed to work on an archaeological dig, but being a woman the headman at UMBA won’t allow her to use the skills she has to offer. When she makes a find that can change the entire project, she finds not only her reputation but also her life in danger.

David Clark wants nothing to do with archaeology. In an attempt to get away from his family, he has been volunteering at a mission in Kenya. On the eve of his going home, his parents enlist his help to validate a new discovery at a project called UMBA on the other side of Kenya form the mission. Once there, he realizes that Leo has found something that could change the archaeological world, as well as David, forever.

Romance

Sensuality rating: 0

Cover Art by Bev Haynes

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Cover of Umba by Sherry Derr-Wille
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Chapter 1

UMBA DIG - KENYA – 2028

 A cool predawn breeze kissed Leonore’s cheek as she prepared for her morning run. She’d been in Kenya, working on the UMBA archaeological dig, for three weeks now and wondered why she’d come to Africa in the first place.

When she received her acceptance letter on this dig she thought she could make a difference here. Instead, she found herself the only female volunteer. Dr. Conrad Kaufman had been furious when he realized Leo was short for Leonore. Although she signed her letter of applications Leonore P. Hayes, her letters of recommendation all called her Leo.

As punishment for being female, Kaufman kept her busy cleaning up when all she wanted to do was work the dig. Of all the volunteers, she found no one with her knowledge of carbon dating working here.

If it weren’t for the fact she needed this summer on UMBA for her post graduate course at Havelin in the fall, she’d chuck the whole thing and go back to the states. Surely, Dr. Grant-Clark would understand, perhaps even allow her to take this year’s course and do her field work on another dig next summer.

She shook her head to clear her mind, and started her morning run. Putting off the run any longer would make her late for breakfast.

As usual, when she ran, she saw few animals. The drought caused them to migrate to other areas in search of water. At least that’s what she’d been told by a man she met occasionally when she went running.

She enjoyed talking to the man who called himself The Nomad. Although he didn’t look like the other natives of Kenya she met, he told her he’d lived most of his life in the area. She judged him to be in his late forties, but the way he spoke reminded her of an older, wiser man. Maybe it was his golden brown skin, dark eyes and dark hair, which made her think him to be younger.

Without warning, the earth beneath her feet gave way. She grasped at the dry grass. For a moment, it stopped her sudden fall, then it too gave way and she tumbled the last few feet to the bottom.

Leo felt the air expel from her lungs from the force of the landing on the smooth stones. After taking mental inventory of her body parts, she deducted there was nothing broken. Sitting up she reached for the flashlight strapped to her waist.

The beam illuminated the cavern. She gasped in disbelief. Before her stood an altar table, with trappings much like the ones she read about. Searching her memory, the words Round Tree, in West Virginia unfurled. Afraid to touch anything she flashed the light around, allowing it to fall on stone jars and statues.

“My god,” she said aloud. “What is this place?” She heard no answers. She didn’t need answers. She knew them already. Twenty-five years ago, Round Tree had been called the find of the century. If her assumptions were correct, she, Leo Hayes, just made a find that would be every bit as important to Africa as Round Tree was to America

 

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