Date of Publication: November 1st 2013
Series: The Stone Legacy Series #2
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.
Hunkered down in a window seat, Ashley jumped when her phone buzzed in her pocket. She had forgotten it was even there. She hid her phone from the flight attendant patrolling the aisle as she read the message from Tara.
Renato just got back with Hawa. How could you not tell me you’re leaving?
Ashley suddenly felt sick. She knew Tara would be pissed.
“Excuse me, ma’am.” Ashley’s head popped up at the brunette flight attendant smiling down at her. “All cell phones need to be powered down in preparation for takeoff, please. You’ll be allowed to turn them back on when we land in Guatemala.”
“Oh, sorry.” She’d have to answer Tara once they landed. Plus, she had no idea what to say. “You’re totally right, I’m a jerk?” That somehow didn’t help things. But she had time to think about it, and the good thing about satellite phones was they had service just about anywhere.
The flight attendant moved on when Ashley tucked her phone away. She looped her arm under Arwan’s and rested her head on his shoulder.
She sighed. “Tara’s mad at me. You think she’ll forgive me?”
Arwan kissed the top of her head. “Of course. You’re her best friend. She’ll understand.”
She wanted to believe him. Tara understood most things, but Ashley wouldn’t blame her if her friend never talked to her again. Especially when she took off and insisted Renato kept it a secret until after they left. It was worse than not telling Tara about the foster family in the orphanage.
It was almost a half hour after takeoff before the fasten seat belt sign finally pinged off. Ashley unbuckled, reached under the chair, and pulled out a small leather book from her pack. Renato had borrowed it from Contessa’s shelves, and apparently thought it was important enough to have her read.
The front cover was engraved with a giant tree inside a circle. There were three levels inside the circle. The first danced above the branches, the second lingered in the middle, and the last and most ominous of worlds, sat trapped beneath the tree’s enormous roots—deep underground.
The title was written on the first page of the book, Yaxche and Xibalba.
She had read about them both before in the scribe’s journals from Renato’s house. A smile tugged at her lips. She missed that house. It only took a few weeks for her to feel at home there. It was the first place she had ever felt safe.
Ashley turned her attention back to the book. Yaxche was the tree of life that spanned from the heavens, to the middleworld, and down to the underworld. The Maya long ago understood earth spun on an axis. The ancient, enchanted tree was what secured the planet in place, and connected all three worlds. Yaxche was not only earth’s stabilizer, but also a portal, and she suspected they would have to eventually travel through the massive trunk to find Houn.
Ashley paused. “Hey. Do you know much about Yaxche?” she asked Arwan. When he didn’t respond, she looked up to see him asleep. Ashley lowered the book into her lap. He had to have been exhausted. Some rest would do him good. She yawned. Maybe it would do her some good, too.
She tucked the book under her leg and crossed her arms, then laid her head on Arwan’s shoulder. He drew in a deep, sleepy breath and pressed his cheek on top of her head. As she rested against him, her mind drifted into semiconsciousness.
A voice wove through her exhausted mind.
You will wear this pendant, one way or another.
But this time she could discern the tone, and the familiarity of the voice made her shudder. Somehow, without her consent or knowledge, Sarian had clawed his way into her head.
Her dreamy state deepened, paired with an image of Tara’s bright-hazel eyes.
“How could you leave without telling me?” The broken tone of her friend’s voice tightened Ashley’s chest.
Another image formed behind her lids. The book—the one Ashley first saw in a dream, then again in a vision when Sarian broke the obedience spell. Its pages flipped faster and faster until they stopped. Blood began to seep from its yellowed parchment.
The image of Renato shaking his head as he stood on the patio in Victorian London. Sarian in his beastly form fought against Arwan, who moved with such speed and accuracy it almost seemed inhuman.
“He does not need help.” Renato’s eyes finally met hers, and the depth of sadness in them nearly took her breath away. “Arwan is not who you think he is.”
Ashley’s eyes bolted open. She sat up and rubbed her face. “What the hell was that?” She clutched Zanya’s pendant, running her fingers over the smooth curves until her heart beat at a normal pace.
With her three crutches—her stone, her music, and Zanya’s pendant, she hadn’t had a panic attack in months. But it was now clear Sarian had broken into her mind. Not just while she slept, but now, while she was awake as well. Her night terrors—or should she say Sarian’s blatant intrusion on her dreams—were always isolated to a deep sleep. His hold on her stone had taken its toll, and unless she figured out a way to stop him, they would most undoubtedly become much worse.
A long time enthusiast of things that go bump in the night, Theresa began her writing career as a journalism intern—possibly the least creative writing field out there. After her first semester at a local newspaper, she washed her hands of press releases and feature articles to delve into the whimsical world of fiction.
Since then, Theresa has been married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and has been repeatedly guilt tripped into adopting a menagerie of animals that are now members of the family. But don’t be fooled by her domesticated appearance. Her greatest love is travel. Having traveled to over a dozen countries—not to mention an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. But wherever life brings her, Theresa will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers.
Coming Soon: 13th Street, Novella 2.5 of The Stone Legacy Series.
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