Chapter 31.

Joanna.

After leaving the head guardian Joanna took her car and left Cusco, not knowing where to go or what to do. She was still sobbing and clutching the wheel for dear life afraid of what would happen now. Going to the police was out of the question as she was an accomplice, just as Gwen had said. She drove on towards Machu Pichu and decided that yes, she would go there and find Pierce and Maria. Her only hope of a lenient sentence in case of arrest was if the whole system collapsed. Only then would she be safe from retribution from the others.

The more she thought about it the better it sounded. Contact Pierce and Maria, explain that there was a substitution of the maps at the Temple of the Sun, and give them the real map with all the information about the gold and the secret stream. By exposing everything she could get protection. But there was one problem; she did not have the real map. It was Sara that had ordered the substitution and only she knew where it was now. She stopped the car on the side of the road to reflect on the situation. It was quite possible that the map was still at the hotel in the safe as Sara must have brought the map with her.

She swerved the car in the other direction towards Cusco. She was not that far anyways and if she was right it could save her. All she had to do at the hotel is check for a map in the safe in the name of Sara or Gwen. But would the hotel clerk accept to open the safe? If he refused she would offer him a bribe. It was risky but she could not go empty handed to see Maria and Pierce. She arrived at the hotel at the same moment that Gwen was leaving. After a moment of surprise on her part Joanna said the right things but only after some questioning by Gwen.

“I thought you had left for Lima?”

“Well I was about to but then I remembered that Sara had a map with her and I did not know what had happened to it or if you knew about this.”

“No need to worry, I have the map here safely with me.” As she talked Gwen pointed at a leather pouch to Joanna.

Suddenly the thought of snatching the pouch and making a run for it appealed to Joanna. She stepped forward and gave a sharp elbow to the head of Gwen who promptly fell back on her behind, stunned. The pouch was lying on the sidewalk. Joanna pounced on it and ran towards her car, started the engine and made off, leaving the head guardian still bewildered by what had happened. By the time Gwen was able to move again Joanna was gone. She now had what she needed to help her out of the mess that she was in. She promptly took the road to Cusco in the hope of finding Maria and Jake Pierce. There was one problem; as she looked in her rear-view mirror she saw that she was being followed by Gwen from afar.

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