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.
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 features articles to delve into the whimsical world of young adult paranormal romance. Since then, Theresa has gotten married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and was 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 stepped foot on the soil of over a dozen countries, traveled to sixteen U.S. states—including an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. But wherever life brings her, she will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers
Drina’s house lay just over the hill, and the cramps in Arwan’s stomach had been increasing with every step. His mind reeled with possibilities of what the page would say, most of them filling him with disappointment.
He rounded a twist in the path and stopped when he spotted Drina’s hut in the distance. He slid his hand into his pocket and brushed his fingers against the textured paper. Maybe it would be better not to know, and just live the rest of his life believing his mother was an innocent victim who died still loving him. Destroying the page would give him that option, though he knew it would mean spending forever in regret.
As if he needed another reason to hate himself.
He pressed forward until he reached the hut. “Tia Drina?”
“Si.” The old woman’s voice sounded tired. “Entra, Arwan.”
Of course she knew he was coming. Drina’s link to the magic of the Maya kept her well aware. He pushed through the flap into her modest home.
Drina sat on a woven mat on the floor beside a basin of clear liquid. Flower petals, sand, seashells, and herbs formed a circle around her.
“What are you doing?” Arwan asked.
She threw some herbs in the water. “Preparing,” she mumbled.
He hadn’t seen a traditional Maya practice done in many years. His curiosity must have annoyed her.
The old woman scowled. “You need answers?”
Arwan paused, then nodded.
“T’en we need blood offering.” She sprinkled wild jasmine flowers into the basin, and then dropped in pebbles that instantly sank to the bottom. Drina was always there to help him—even if she seemed bitter and agitated in doing so. Her willingness was confirmation that she wouldn’t let him down. Especially when he needed her most.
He removed the page from his pocket and extended it to her. She snatched it from his grip and unfolded it in her lap. Her wrinkled fingers pinched the page as she examined the markings. A deep sigh, and the drop of her head made worry grow in Arwan’s chest.
“T’is writing is true, but will bring you heartache.” Grief weighted her words.
The space was silent and the air was still. He nodded. “I want to know.”
She examined the etchings as her shoulders rose and fell with each breath. It seemed as if she was stalling, or perhaps she didn’t want to be the person to say it aloud. If that were the case, he would confront it head on.
He sat beside her. “Is it true? Did my mother kill herself because of me?”
The old woman’s head silently nodded, and she swallowed. For the first time since Arwan had known her, Drina’s eyes shimmered with tears. “T’at is what t’e book says.”
He clenched his fists, heat and bile rising from his gut. “What does it say, exactly?”
She drew the paper closer to her face and inspected the symbols one at a time. “Wait, t’is is not right.” She peered at it closer. “It does not say she killed herself, it says she gave her life.” Drina extended the page to him as if offering it as proof, even though he couldn’t read the language. “T’ere is a difference in t’e words. She gave her life—her immortality.”
She flipped over the page. More text was etched on the back. “It is strange for bot’ sides to be written on.”
Arwan did his best to wait patiently while she deciphered the second half of the message.
“T’is cannot be right.”
“What?” He leaned in closer to her. “What does it say?”
“Your mot’er gave her longevity before she was sacrificed.”
“What do you mean, sacrificed?” The word made his body temperature spike.
“Just what I said, boy. Sacrificed, by t’e gods of Tamoanchan.”
“Sacrificed by the heaven gods?”
She stared up at him, her lips parted. “Yes, Arwan. T’e heaven deities, t’e gods of Tamoanchan, chose your mot’er to be given. T’ey chose her, and she agreed.”
At least his previous understanding of what happened to his mother made sense. If she were a victim, he could go on believing it had all been a great injustice, out of their control.
Now he was forced to believe she actually chose to leave him. That she hated what had been created through her union with his father, and couldn’t bear to stay by his side. Couldn’t bear to see what he would soon become.
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