LIGHTS OF AURORA #2
Lights of Aurora
(The Stone Legacy #2)
Published: November 1st 2013
Genres: YA, Paranormal
After the discovery of her ancient Maya bloodlines, eighteen-year-old Ashley Coreandero is faced with a daunting responsibility. She must protect the stone of Muuk’Ich while Sarian, the underworld general, relentlessly drives her to the brink of insanity.
As the winter solstice approaches, it brings an onslaught of unexpected side effects. Ashley must seize control over her supercharged powers, while dealing with the overwhelming suspicion that her boyfriend, Arwan, is hiding a secret so dark it could destroy them both.
With the arrival of a surprise houseguest, Ashley’s deepest fears about Arwan are confirmed. And when middleworld deities intercede, the group of gifted Maya descendants are confronted with hardships they never saw coming—including an enemy more deadly than they have ever faced.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned—but when that woman has no soul and a taste for revenge, they will need the powers of every surviving ancestor simply to stay alive..
“Rise up and stop cowering on the ground.” Contessa didn’t even seem to notice Sarian’s limp body, lying beside the altar.
Ashley glanced around frantically, searching for the beast.
Contessa’s cold tone brought Ashley’s focus back to the woman—and the corpse. Sarian’s hand twitched. Ashley clenched the wound on her gut. It would be her withering in the unforgiving sun if she didn’t heal soon. The ache in her side grew stronger and morphed into sharp spikes of agony.
Contessa stooped down, grabbed a handful of Ashley’s hair, and yanked her head off the ground. With her lips beside Ashley’s ear, Contessa whispered. “Hear me, child. I will not repeat myself twice.” Ashley swallowed, then nodded. “There is no question you have done me a great justice today, and although it pains me to admit it…” Her lips puckered as if something bitter coated her tongue. “I am in your debt. Even the damned believe in honor.”
Ashley would take what she could get, as long as it meant going home. “I want to get the hell out of here.” The blood from her wound had formed a pool beneath her, but she couldn’t leave without taking back the one thing she came for in the first place. Not after everything that had happened. “But first I need to get Jayden’s soul back.”
“That’s right.” Contessa let go of Ashley’s hair. Her cheek slapped against the ground and she let out a gasp. “And you still desire to obtain it.”
Ashley’s rolled to the side and shifted to a sitting position, leaning against a wall of stone. “Of course. But why do I get the feeling you know something I don’t.”
“I know many things you do not.”
Everything about Contessa’s tone made Ashley uncomfortable. She tried to ignore the pain radiating through her muscles. “Like?”
Contessa examined her face for a moment before she spoke. “I shouldn’t have expected you to understand.” She sighed. “When you came to me for help after your comrade’s passing, I found an opportunity I could not resist. I am not the only enemy Sarian has made over the years.” She extended her hand to the quiet realm. “You see how little regard he has for the souls of the underworld. Many despise him, though none more than I.” Her hand dropped back to her side, and her focus moved to the canary necklace still hanging around Ashley’s neck. “When I approached him with your lock of hair, he was all too eager to agree.”
Ashley clenched her jaw. Of course she would use Ashley’s hair against her. But if Contessa lied about what she knew—or didn’t know—then she could have lied about anything. “What about Jayden’s spirit?”
She delicately cupped Ashley’s chin with her fingers. Ashley wanted to slap her hand away, but figured it better not to. “I knew who that foolish boy was as soon as I laid eyes on him, and I knew very well he would follow you here.”
“Jayden didn’t follow me. I followed him, in case you already forgot.”
“I am not speaking of your fallen friend. I speak of the other—the dark one. I had no doubt he would exact revenge, which is no fault of mine, of course. The king couldn’t possibly hold me responsible for the death of his general by—” She paused in consideration. “Well, the rest isn’t important for now.” Contessa stood and pivoted away.
“Wait.” Ashley reached out for her, and her breath caught in her throat. She swallowed, trying to block out the pain. “Are you talking about Arwan? The one with dark hair?” She hadn’t seen him since they were submerged in the portal, and the reality of what may have happened to him nearly broke her. “He could be dead.”
“You may have thanked me if that were the case.” Contessa trotted down the hundreds of narrow steps.
The roots above them writhed as Contessa continued down the temple toward the miles of blood soaked ground. Ashley knew if she stayed where she was, she’d die. Well, maybe not. But not dying here was worse than dying in the middleworld. She’d have to make nicey-nice with Contessa before she vanished—along with any chance of returning home.
Ashley ground her teeth and pushed to her feet, snatched up the loose pages from the book as she stood, and then shoved them in her pocket. She wobbled down the steps as fast as she could without losing her footing and rolling down the steep slope. It didn’t help that every movement hurt like hell. “Wait.” The temptress didn’t stop walking. “Contessa, please. You didn’t answer my question about Jayden. Where is he? Did you lie about Houn?”
The witch didn’t reply.
“You said you were in my debt, remember? I just want Jayden’s soul, and I want to go home.” Desperation cracked her voice.
Contessa paused on the final step of the temple. “Is that so?”
Panting, Ashley nodded. “Please.” She swallowed. “Just help me get Jayden back and send me to the middleworld. I won’t ask you for anything else.”
Contessa turned to face her. One side of her mouth curled into a grin. “Very well. I will get his soul from Houn and have it returned to his body.”
Ashley couldn’t allow herself to feel any relief. She didn’t trust Contessa. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t have much of a choice.
Contessa moved off the final step onto the dusty ground. “But I’m afraid for you, child, your worries have just begun.”
With a slight gesture of Contessa’s hand, a root lunged from the earth above them and curled around Ashley’s waist. Barbs stuck into her skin, and it jerked her into the air. The sudden movement made her stomach roll, and she screamed. On instinct, Ashley clenched her eyes shut just as her back slammed into the soil, knocking the air out of her lungs before she was sucked into the earth above.
THE STONE GUARDIAN #1
The Stone Guardian
Published: December 14th 2012
Genres: YA, Paranormal
When myth becomes reality, reality becomes a nightmare.
Like any other teenager in America, Ashley just wants a normal life. But growing up in an orphanage for the insane is anything but normal. After endless therapy and increasing medication, her nightmares have only gotten worse.
Probably because they’re not nightmares.
When Ashley’s mysteriously abducted, she finds a reality even less normal than the orphanage. And she discovers something else—she’s no ordinary orphan. Faced with enemies thought to only exist in fairy tales, Ashley discovers she possesses a powerful Maya bloodline. She’s the daughter of an ancient Maya Guardian, whose duty is to protect the Stone of Muuk’ich, an enchanted relic blessed by the gods. But first she must get it back from Sarian, a power-hungry demigod who slaughtered the last guardian—Ashley’s mother. Without the stone, all will be lost.
When she meets Arwan, a hot Belizean time bender, his delicious olive skin and dark eyes make her feel a little less alone. But his gentle whispers and reassuring touch might not be all they seem. How can she balance love and duty when it’s up to her to prevent the rising of the underworld? Especially when the guy she loves might be its crown prince…
“Where are we going?” Ashley asked, walking a few steps behind. Arwan slowed his pace for her much shorter stride. She wasn’t used to hiking in the jungle, but she didn’t want to show it. He found that a cute addition to the many things he admired about her.Without offering an explanation, he grabbed a stick from the ground. If he told her where he was taking her, it would ruin the surprise. He just hoped the creatures hadn’t taken shelter somewhere else because of the heavy rains.Soon they arrived at a clearing where hundreds of tall, thin bushes with elegant purple blooms covered the ground. Mature trees formed a canopy overhead, while gaps in the branches allowed the sun to speckle the jungle floor with light.
“I thought you would like it here.” He watched for her reaction.
She inspected the space. “It’s neat.”
Of course, she didn’t know why they were really there. He watched her shift her weight. Did she lie when she said he didn’t make her uncomfortable? Itseemed like he did. Every time he smiled at her, her cheeks flushed or her muscles tensed.
Arwan gently took her hand. She allowed him to, without hesitation. It was the first time.
Carefully, he guided her through the maze of shrubs. When they reached the center, he stood in front of her and put his lips close to her ear. “Can I hold you?” She took a small step back. He waited for her to decide and, at the slightest nod, took her hand. “I just want to show you something.”
He slid his hand gently around her waist and drew her close. Her chest jumped when they pressed together. He savored the feeling of her drumming heartbeat. In fact, he could almost hear it.
She rested her hands against his chest, and he wondered if she felt his heart drumming too. “You’re blushing.”
She pressed the backs of her hands on her face. “I am?”
He caressed the silky curve of her cheek. “You’re lovely when you blush.” The stick secure in his hand, he extended it to the side. “Watch.” With a powerful strike, he whacked a nearby bush on its base. Dozens of butterflies launched into the air.
The flight of few caused a chain reaction, and soon they blanketed the sky. Several landed in her hair and on her arms while more flew overhead.
Arwan tilted his head back to the sky. Ashley gasped and stared at the countless array of colors gliding overhead. A butterfly rested on his shoulder,pumping its cobalt blue wings. She gently blew on it, her warm breath caressing his neck.
His chest swelled with longing. He clenched his jaw. Watching her lips form into a soft circle, she continued to blow on its colorful wings. He had never wanted someone so fiercely. She brought something out of him he couldn’t control. Something instinctual, animalistic. He watched her lips, longing to kiss her. To feel her mouth pressed against his. The need surged in his chest and spread throughout his limbs. He tensed and pulled her closer.
He knew he had to be gentle. As much as he tried to conceal the need, it threatened to destroy him if he didn’t at least try. Slowly, he leaned in to kiss her. His lips hovered above hers. Her hot breath broke over his mouth.
Ashley gasped and stepped back. Her teary eyes forced him to look away. He silently cursed himself. He’d pushed her too far.
“I…” The hurt in her voice surprised him. “I can’t. I’m sorry.”
Before he could respond, Ashley ran back toward the house, leaving him alone in the clearing.
He watched her stumble through the trees until she was gone. The jungle was quiet, except for the sound of chirping birds and the rustling of lemurs in the trees.
He turned, balling his fists. What the hell was he thinking? He’d known that if he tried to kiss her, it would push her away. He should have shown more restraint.Each of his steps pounded against the jungle floor. The birds’ chirps ceased, and the lemurs took quiet refuge in the branches. When he escaped the maze of bushes, he charged his fist into the trunk of a mature tree, spitting layers of bark and redwood in every direction.”
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