Book title: Lights Of Aurora, book 2 of The Stone Legacy Series
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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.
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Arwan started the fire like an old pro. They decided it was too risky to catch something and cook it. The smell of rabbit meat would not only tempt the jaguar, but also any other predators in the area.
He tossed his sleeping bag beside Ashley’s and sat, then pulled his legs up, resting one forearm casually on his knee while he used the other hand to poke at the glowing logs with a stick. “As long as we keep the fire going, we should be safe.”
“Should be safe?” She swallowed.
“I’m sleeping beside you just in case. Don’t worry.” He tilted his head up and searched the branches near their camp. “Noises from the other animals will let us know if something is close.”
Ashley unwrapped an energy bar and then took a bite. “Freakin’ monkeys better be on high alert, or we’re screwed.”
Arwan let out a chuckle.
The flame rose and fell in front of them, casting shadows over his face. The atmosphere suited him. He seemed at home. She sat back and spotted millions of tiny white orbs speckled throughout the sky. And the night wasn’t black—rather, a deep shade of royal blue.
She wrapped her arm around his and leaned on his shoulder. He responded with a kiss on her temple. “Look up,” Ashley whispered. He tipped his head toward the sky. A faint smile spread over his lips. But it was a sad smile—the same look that graced his face whenever he spoke about his mom.
Ashley laced her fingers with his. “You okay?”
After a moment of silence, he let out a deep breath. “The cave is only a few miles away.”
She covered her mouth through a deep yawn. Man, she was tired. “Well, that’s good, right?”
He poked at the fire again, causing flames to waver and dance. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?”
She crinkled her eyebrows. “What do you mean am I sure?”
He stared intensely into the embers. “Once we enter the caves, we can’t turn back. We will need to go through the appropriate channels in order to enter. There are no short cuts. No free passes.”
Ashley swallowed. She had to be brave. Not for herself, but for her friend. “Jayden only has two days left. If we don’t get his soul from Houn by then, we won’t get it back. We have to keep going.”
He nodded. “If that’s what you want.”
Maybe he was scared. She didn’t blame him. She was, too. But she couldn’t put her own fear over saving Jay. He wouldn’t turn his back on her, and she couldn’t do that to him.
Arwan lay down and scanned the sky.
But he wasn’t the only one with a weight on his shoulders. That dream on the plane, or whatever it was, brought up something she needed to address. She hadn’t come across the right moment to bring it up, but she doubted any moment would seem right for something like this.
She gathered her hair and pulled it over her shoulder, playing with strands between her fingers. It was all she could do not to seem obviously nervous. “Renato made a comment I can’t stop thinking about.” When he didn’t react, she continued. “He said you aren’t who I think you are.”
She noticed the tick in Arwan’s jaw before he answered her. “He said that?”
A sick weight settled in Ashley’s bones. “What did he mean?”
He stood and paced on the other side of the fire. “I knew eventually it would come to this.”
Ashley pushed herself to her feet. She wrapped her fingers around Zanya’s medallion as anxiety bubbled in her chest. “Come to what?”
He squared his shoulders and faced her. The flames slashed at the air as his piercing gaze bore a hole in her heart. “Are you sure you want to ask me this? Because if you ask, you have to be sure you want to know the answer.”
In reality, she wasn’t so sure. His sudden change in demeanor had jaded her, and she knew that kind of one-eighty could only be caused by something serious. She shifted her weight. “You’re starting to scare me.”
His stance was uneasy and his muscles tensed. Anguish washed over his handsome face, and he narrowed his eyes.
She couldn’t bear seeing him with such a tortured expression for a second longer. She moved beside him and laid her hands on either side of his jaw. He shut his eyes. The despair radiating from his touch was nearly unbearable. She felt his longing, and she would give him the acceptance he longed for.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t worth tearing him apart. “Listen to me. I won’t push you to tell me anything you don’t want to. I don’t know what could possibly be so bad—”
“Will you still want me?” His voice was ragged.
She furrowed her eyebrows. “What?”
“Just…please.” He buried his fingers in her hair and pressed his forehead against hers. “Tell me you will still want me, no matter who I am.”
Her chest tightened. She felt his anger, fear, agony—all radiating through his touch and the desperation in his tone.
“Please believe me,” he said. “I would never do anything to hurt you. No puedo vivir sin tu amor.”
She pushed a strand of hair out of his face and slowly brushed her thumb over his eyebrow. “You know, you’ve got to start translating for me.”
She waited for him to crack a smirk before she kissed him. The fire warmed her back while jungle sounds echoed around them. She never realized how loud the jungle could be at night, but in that moment, the noises were drowned out by his touch.
He slid his arms around her and crushed her against his chest. She squeaked, and then melted into him, twisting her fingers in the fabric of his T-shirt, finding solid muscle underneath. She couldn’t help but push under it to explore.
His skin was warm. Her fingers brushed against a thin line of hair trailing down his stomach. She followed it until it vanished beneath the buckle of his pants. His chest expanded with a sharp inhale. The subtle fluttering in her stomach exploded into a fierce energy radiating through her body.
His lips slid to the corner of her mouth and down her jaw. She tilted her head back toward the night sky while his mouth ran over her neck.
He pulled away, nearly panting. “Ashley—”
“No.” She rose on her tippy-toes and kissed him. She wouldn’t have him try to talk reason into her. Not now, when they were finally alone.
When dawn broke, they would risk their lives, and this could be their last chance to be together before it all fell apart.
She spread her hands across his back and trailed them over his shoulders. His fingers dug into her hips.
He broke their kiss again and turned his head. “Heaven help me,” he whispered in a raspy breath. “Ashley, please.”
Her body was hot and uneasy, but he seemed apprehensive. She shifted her weight. “What’s wrong?”
He shook his head.
“Don’t you…” The thought of saying it aloud made her blush. Maybe he didn’t want to, though the way he kissed her said otherwise. She hung her head. How could she be so wrong?
He hooked his fingers under her chin and tipped her face up. “I can’t.” He paused and glanced at the sleeping bag. “It wouldn’t be fair.”
“Fair? What are you talking about?” She bit her lip, trying not to notice the heat spreading over her skin from his touch. What the heck was wrong with her? She’d never acted like this before—felt like this, for anyone.
He brushed his finger along her cheek. “Please, trust me.”
She paused and realized her hands were resting under the fabric of his shirt. The mental haze began to clear. Being this into him was a little scary.
Ashley slowly pulled her hands out from under his shirt and pressed them against her sides. Maybe it was the fresh jungle air, or maybe just that they were headed into the unknown the next day. Whatever it was, she was pulled toward him.
He was right. Waiting was better. She swore she’d take it slow. He promised he’d wait. Not push. Not pressure her. And he hadn’t. Not even a little. There was nothing wrong with taking it one step at a time.
Except suddenly she found herself wanting to leap.
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.
"Crossing realms of young adult romance"
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