Lights of Aurora by Theresa McClinton
(The Stone Legacy #2)
Publication date: November 1st 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
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.
Ashley descended the spiral staircase in the main wing. It was early, and they needed to find out more about the salvaged pages of the book. Thankfully, Renato was an early riser and had already begun his day in his study.
She paused in the entrance, expecting to see her mother as well. But Renato sat alone at his desk with nobody else in the room.
She sort of hoped her mom would be there so they could talk about the night before. It was unfortunate what she had been through, but Ashley’s life hadn’t been peaches and cream either. Everything she knew about herself and the world changed the night Renato brought her to their home, and she wouldn’t throw that away for anything.
Renato lifted his head as she approached his desk. He studied her, one brow arched, and leaned back in his chair. “May I ask the occasion?”
Ashley glanced down at the leather pants that hugged her curves all the way to her ankles. The boots she found fit her decently enough, but they were heavy, and the shirt was more revealing than she was used to. The clingy material stretched over her arms and hooked around her thumbs, and the scoop neck showed off her cleavage. “No occasion.”
He laced his fingers and rested his hands on his desk. “You look exactly like your mother in her old training gear.”
“It was in my closet.”
“It is good to see the gear in use. It will serve you well.”
“First I have to find Drina, and ask her to look at the pages of the book. We need to know exactly what they say. Exactly.”
Renato tilted his head and narrowed his eyes. “Is there something on your mind?”
She crossed her arms. “I just can’t help but wonder why nobody told me the truth about what’s really going on here.”
“We have been truthful with you, Ashley. As truthful as we could be.”
“Oh, don’t give me that crap. You knew about Arwan all along. You knew, and you didn’t tell me.” She pointed at him. “That is not being truthful.” She turned and walked toward the exit of the study.
“You shouldn’t try to find Drina’s home, Ashley.”
“Why not?” She continued moving toward the door.
“Because you don’t know where she lives, and you may get lost in the jungle.”
“My stone will guide me.” She paused, and glanced over her shoulder. “Or did you forget I’m still the guardian?”
Renato stood and straightened his jacket. “I understand you are angry, but I am trying to reason with Joy. She has been through more than you can imagine, and you can’t blame her for having some trouble adjusting.”
She spun around to face him, anger surging through her. “That’s fine. She can take all the time she needs to adjust. But I have to do what I am meant to do—what you dragged me here for.”
His shoulders dropped, as did his gaze.
She bit her lip. Being pissed at Renato sucked. He didn’t deserve her shitty attitude, but she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and anger was the only other emotion she could grasp onto. But they would have to work together if they wanted to make any progress. She drew in a deep breath and adjusted her tone. “Contessa is up to something with the book, and I need to figure out what it is.”
He nodded. “Agreed. But please take someone with you, just so I know you are safe.”
“Safe?” How could he continue to treat her like a child? After almost being killed by some cave demon, battling incubi, traveling through time, winning back the stone, and then venturing to the depths of the underworld, apparently she still hadn’t proven herself. Maybe it was time to remind him exactly what she was capable of.
Ashley stepped forward and cued the light in her chest. Her muscles tensed as the tips of her fingertips burned while an energy ball formed in her hand. She pushed harder, sending electrical currents over her skin, and causing the energy ball to roll and spark in her palm. Her breathing steadied and she widened her stance, focused on building winds to create a storm in the office. “I’m pretty sure I can take care of myself,” she shouted over the roar of the cyclone. Her hair flew around her face while Renato’s tie danced across his chest. Still, he kept his gaze steady.
She dimmed her light and let the storm die out. Loose papers glided to the floor.
“Was that entirely necessary?” He glanced around his office.
“Yeah, well at least you know now that I can take care of myself.” She lowered her hands and took a normal stance. “And with this solstice thing around the corner, my powers have gotten stronger.”
“Ah.” He smoothed down his hair and tie. “Your mother and I were just speaking about our travel plans.”
“Where are you going?”
“We. Where are we going?” He rounded his desk, stepping over loose papers on the way. A tinge of guilt streaked through her for making such a mess. “The solstice is an important event to our kind, and your mother hasn’t been able to attend a ceremony since before she left. She’s rather looking forward to it.”
“Where is she, anyway?”
“She is staying in a room in my wing. There were no more available rooms in the main wing, and she wasn’t fond of the idea of asking you to move out of her old quarters. Besides.” He averted his gaze. “I believe staying in the room she and your father once shared would be too painful for her.”
“Oh.” Ashley hadn’t thought of that. She relaxed her shoulders and leaned on the wall. “How is she? I mean, is she okay?”
“She is coping.” His deep-brown eyes carried unwavering wisdom and confidence. He rested his hand on her shoulder. “But I cannot begin to imagine how difficult this has been for you.”
She was too torn to confirm his statement.
“I know you are hurting, and not just over your mother.” Renato pulled her toward him and wrapped his arms around her. He hugged her against his chest and whispered in her ear. “I’m sorry I’ve failed you, Ashley. I never intended to keep secrets from you, but some secrets were not mine to disclose.” His tone carried more pain than she was prepared for, and more hurt than he deserved.
“I’m sorry for being mad at you.”
His smile was sad. “No need for apology.” He hugged her tight once more before letting her go.
She cleared her throat and drew in a deep breath. “So, when exactly is the solstice ceremony?”
“It will be on the twenty-first of December—the shortest day of the year.”
“December twenty-first? Isn’t that the day everyone was freaking out over the world ending?”
“In two thousand twelve, yes. But it was an unfounded concern. Our ancestors did not predict the end of the world. It was merely the end of the thirteenth Baktun.”
She rubbed her face, regretting the fact she hadn’t kept up with her reading like she was supposed to. “Okay, I’ll bite. What’s a Baktun?”
He shook his head, and cringed under his stern look. “A Baktun is a cycle of time equaling nearly four hundred years. And unlike the belief of many, the end of the thirteenth Baktun was a time for hope and change.” He gazed at her. “Hence, why I believe we received you directly after its arrival.”
She couldn’t help but smile.
“But it is also a time for bonding and reuniting with long lost friends. It is a family gathering of sorts, with the purpose of creating new spirit bonds.”
“You keep saying bonding.”
Renato turned and walked to a bookshelf. He scanned the titles until one caught his attention, and he pulled it off the shelf. “Bonding is the unity of two souls, much more powerful than traditional marriage.” He opened the book and searched through the pages as he walked toward her. “It is a commitment that cannot be revoked. One made with the utmost surety that their love will never waver, and will never be withdrawn.” He extended the book. “It is a sacred event for all Riyata, and a reminder that true, honest commitment is still valued.”
Ashley took the book and examined the text. “So…” She glanced up at Renato. “Why are we going? I mean, nobody here is bonding.” Her thoughts flashed to Arwan, who hadn’t been back to the house since her mother returned. She missed him, and worse, she was worried about him.
“Because it is a tradition for our people, began by the gods who blessed the stone. It is not strictly for bonding. It is a holiday. A celebration of life.”
“Oh.” She closed the book and held it up. “Can I take this back to my room?”
Renato nodded. “As long as you return it with the others you took last night.”
“Uh, yeah. Sorry about that.”
“And before you leave, kindly clean up this mess.” He gestured to the paper littering the floor.
Ashley looked around the study, and dropped her shoulders. “Right.”
“Perhaps this is your first training lesson. Do not use your abilities unless you can clean up after them.”
About The Author :
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
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