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Gringa: The Beast of Mexico By Eve Rabi
Book 1 in the Gringa series

Genre/Category: Crime, Thriller, Mystery
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Gringa: Beast of Mexico By Eve Rabi
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Adult content: advisory reader age 17+

Also by Eve Rabi on obooko:

Payback By Eve RabiBurn's World: A Love Triangle - Eve RabiGringa: Taming the Beast - Eve Rabi

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I wake up in a dimly-lit room. The putrid stench of decaying flesh assaults my senses. I look down at my body – it’s heavily bandaged and I’m lying on some sort of narrow stretcher.

My eyes scan the room. It resembles a large tepee – smoky, warm and crowded with all sorts of weird things – small dead animals in jars, bottled herbs, large leaves piled one on top of the other and various bizarre concoctions. Freaky, like I’m in a witchdoctor’s room. I need to get the hell out of here. I try to move, but the pain in my chest is so intense, I stop. Where the f**k am I? How come I’m hurting so much?

Over the next couple of minutes, the fog in my brain clears and I start to remember. Payton Wagner – that’s my name. Twenty one – University of Los Angeles, on holiday in Mexico with my deadbeat father and bitch of a stepmother. I remember us leaving our five-star holiday resort and visiting my stepsister Paris and her husband Austin in Siempre, a village in remote and mountainous Mexico.

Austin’s an engineer with a year-long contract with the Mexican government – something to do with building bridges in isolated areas of Mexico. At first, I had declined Paris’s invitation to join her, but she badgered us with messages, complaining that she desperately needed company. Since I secretly wanted to see Austin, I went along and a psycho tried to murder me.

The psycho! My breathing is suddenly erratic, there’s roaring in my ears and my mouth gets dry. Am I still in his clutches? Is he here? Why the hell did he shoot me?

I rack my brain. I did nothing wrong – I was just taking holiday photos when I heard a bloodcurdling scream. This swarthy, hairy, giant of a nut job on a black horse, screamed and thundered towards me, his dreadlocks flying all over his angry mug.

I didn’t know what he was saying but it sounded like he was calling me a spy. Like most tourists, my Spanish is limited to vacation words from a traveller’s guide. There were many people around - why me? F**k, I was scared. Especially when some people around me cowered and whispered, ‘Santa María, ¡es Diablo! ¡Es Diablo!’ while others fell over each other, trying to leg it out of there.

Diablo, as they called him, jumped off his horse, stormed up to me, snatched the camera out of my shaking hands and smashed it to the ground. Then, he grabbed me by the scruff of my shirt, lifted me off my trembling feet and slammed me against a wall. I lay dazed while he ranted in Spanish. Suddenly, he grabbed me by the throat and started to strangle me.

I fought back, like I always do when I’m attacked - dug my nails into his calloused hands. That made him angrier - he shoved me away, pointed his gun at me and fired.

But I’m alive. I survived my own murder. Wow!

My recollection is interrupted by the sound of footsteps. I tense up, expecting the hairy sicko. F**k! F**k! F**k!

To my surprise, it’s an old woman.

I exhale. No need to panic just yet.

The woman’s eyes are wide with surprise. She claps her hands. ‘You’re awake,’ she says in English, then yells over her shoulder in Spanish.

Who’s she calling - the crazy dude who tried to kill me? Oh Jesus!

She peers at me. ‘Hola!’ Her smile is friendly and reaches her eyes.

H … hola!’ I reply, my eyes scanning the tent for a back door, window – anything.

‘W…who are …?’

‘Call me Enfermera,’ she says. ‘Everybody does.’

She speaks English. Considering the way she looks – zombie like, bent and bony, large, bulging, jaundiced eyes, greenish-brown teeth, hair sticking up in all directions like misplaced antennae, I’m surprised. Her clothing is tattered and torn and she reminds me of a zombie from Michael Jackson’s Thriller Video.

But when she speaks, her weird looks recede and all you hear is a beautiful, melodious voice. Amazing – as if someone else is speaking inside her. Have I died and gone to hell?

An old Mexican man shuffles into the room, looks at me and frowns. He’s short, wrinkled and bald and gives me a look that tells me I’m intruding. Still, at least it’s him, not the whack job who tried to kill me.

‘Where am I?’ I ask in a timid voice. ‘Who are you guys?’ I’m already tired from the little interaction I’m having with them.

‘Later,’ Enfermera says, placing a cool, bony hand on my forehead. ‘Rest now. When you wake up, we will talk.’

‘No,’ I protest. ‘I wanna … know …where I …’ I drift into back into unconsciousness.

When I wake up, she force-feeds me gruel. It’s revolting - smells like boiled, unseasoned chicken, but I’m not even sure it is as good as that. I gag but she just shoves it down my throat. ‘You’re going to need your strength,’ she says in a sing-song voice.