Today, I’d like to welcome Jessica Anderson, author of the Final Prophecy series available through Signet publishing. This is an amazing series about the dooms day prophecy of December 21, 2012. Welcome Jessica!
Hi, and thanks for joining me today as I talk a bit about SKYKEEPERS: A NOVEL OF THE FINAL PROPHECY!
(Mmmm… love that cover. Not much beats a half-nekkid hunk with a big knife … I’m just sayin’.)
From the back cover:
Ancient prophecy holds that 12/21/2012 will bring a global cataclysm. Mankind’s only hope lies with the Nightkeepers, modern magic-wielding warriors who must find their destined mates and fulfill the legends to defeat the rise of terrible Mayan demons.
Michael Stone is a man with a dark secret that has skewed his magical abilities dangerously toward the underworld. Seeking redemption, he sets out on a perilous mission to save the daughter of Ambrose Ledbetter, a renowned Mayanist who died before he could reveal the location of a hidden library. The Nightkeepers must find the library before their enemies gain access to its valuable cache of spells and prophecies.
Sasha Ledbetter grew up hearing heroic tales of an ancient group of powerful magi who were destined to save the world from destruction. She never expected that her bedtime stories would come to life in the form of Nightkeeper Michael Stone, or that she’d hold the key to the warrior’s survival. As Sasha and Michael join forces to prevent the imminent battle, sparks of attraction ignite between them, and they’re forced to confront the unexpected passion that brings them together … and also tears them apart.
Now … I love me some alpha heroes, and the term abso-freaking-lutely describes Michael Stone. But at the same time, I don’t care for fluttering-Miss heroines who are always waiting around for the tough-guy hero to come save them. I like a woman who does her best to save herself, one who makes the hero stronger when they finally connect with each other, creating a united whole that outperforms its parts. Enter Sasha Ledbetter, who doesn’t think of herself as tough or resourceful, but discovers those things about herself as she struggles to escape from her captors and make a new life for herself among the Nightkeepers without losing herself to Michael or the darkness within him.
But rather than blather on about my opinions on gutsy heroines, I though I’d let Sasha show you what I mean. The following is an excerpt from SKYKEEPERS. I hope you enjoy it!
Sasha awoke, blinking up into the light thrown down by an unshielded fluorescent tube. Something’s different, she thought. But a quick look around her said it wasn’t the scenery.
She was still in hell. It wasn’t the Christians’ fire-and-brimstone hell or her father’s nine-layered Mayan underworld of rivers and roads and monsters, though. No, this hell was one of cool, blank walls and a narrow cot in a ten-by-ten cell with gray walls, floor, and ceiling. This hell was being the prisoner of an enormous, green-eyed, chestnut-haired man who called himself Iago, but whom the others called “Master.”
Where is the library? his red-robed, forearm-tattooed interrogators asked her over and over again while drug-spiced smoke oozed from stone braziers carved into the shapes of screaming skulls. Each time, her muscles screamed protest at the crucified position they’d tied her in, roping her to a wooden cross that represented not the son of the Christians’ god, but the world tree of the Maya and Aztec, with its roots delving into hell, its branches reaching to the sky. Where did your father hide it? Sometimes they lashed her with stone-tipped flails that drew bloody, purple-black lines on her body. Other times they didn’t hit her at all, but rather somehow put her in agony without touching her, watching with avid eyes as she writhed and screamed.
She would’ve given anything to make the torture stop, but she couldn’t tell them what she didn’t know. She’d kept insisting that Ambrose had never told her anything about a library. They didn’t believe her, though, which meant that the cycle kept repeating over and over again-days of impotent, drugged fugue interspersed with pain and terror. She thought they might have moved her once or twice, but the details had blurred together, growing ever more distant as her mind insulated her consciousness from the reality her body was suffering. Each time the interrogators had opened the cell door, reality had receded further, her burgeoning fantasies coming clearer.
She knew the waking dreams were nothing more than illusions, constructs that her mind created for her as an escape. But she clung fiercely to the fantasies in her drugged stupor, because if her consciousness was wrapped in the dreams, she wasn’t aware of what was happening in the interrogation chamber. And that was a blessed relief.
Sometimes the fantasies brought her to a strange cave, a circular stone room that should have reminded her of the interrogation room and the horrors within it. But she wasn’t terrified in this chamber, wasn’t hurt. Instead, she was wildly aroused, wrapped around a big, powerful man with long, wavy dark hair and green eyes that reminded her of the pine forests up in Maine. In the dreams, she breathed him in, lost herself in his kiss, and felt, maybe for the first time in her life, like she was exactly where she belonged. Which was how she knew it was a fantasy, because Sasha had done many things in her life, but she’d never truly fit anywhere.
Other times the dreams brought her back to Boston, to the pretty, sun-filled studio apartment where she’d lived across the hall from a firefighter’s widow, an elderly ex-concert violinist named Ada, who’d become her friend. Sasha had cooked for her neighbor a few nights a week, gladly trading pumpkinseed dip and spicy barbecued shrimp for snippets of Bach and Mozart, and the knowledge that someone cared whether or not she made it home at night. Only she hadn’t made it home, had she? Instead she’d gone looking for Ambrose and wound up in hell, stuck there as her menstrual clock told her months passed, almost a year, while she lay dazed by drugs and hopelessness.
Except she wasn’t drugged or hopeless now. She felt sharp and energized for the first time in what seemed like forever.
Hardly daring to trust the sudden change, she sat up on her bunk and braced herself for the pain to hit. It didn’t. Instead, nerves and excitement and all sorts of other sharp, hot emotions poked through the numb confusion that had cloaked her for too long.
“What the hell is going on?” she asked, and jerked at the sound of her own voice, the alien clarity of words that weren’t drugged mumbles or throat-tearing screams.
Starting to shake now-with hope, with fear-she took stock. She was wearing the sturdy bush pants she’d had on when she’d been captured, along with a too-big navy sweatshirt she’d had for a while now, though she didn’t know who she’d gotten it from, or when. Her underwear, T-shirt, and socks were long gone to rags, her boots confiscated. All that was the same as it had been. The cuts on her palms, though, were new.
She stared at the shallow, scabbed-over slices as a hazy memory broke through. Had she dreamed of a brown-haired man bending over her with a serrated combat knife, his eyes flickering from hazel to luminous green and back again? If so, it was a new, less pleasant fantasy than the others, her imagination run amok. But no, she was positive he had been there; she had the scabs to prove it. Had he done something to neutralize the tranquilizers they’d been mixing in her food for so long? Or had the red-robes withdrawn the drugs for some reason, wanting her fully aware for whatever they had planned next?
But she wasn’t just awake; she felt damned good. Energy coursed through her, effervescent bubbles running in her veins, making her want to leap up and run, to scream with the mad exuberance of being alive. More, she was warm. Hot, even, and suddenly needy in a way she hadn’t been in a long, long time. Her heart pounded; her skin tingled. She thought of her dark-haired, green-eyed dream man, and ached for him, for the press of his flesh on hers.
Lifting her hands, she cupped her suddenly flushed cheeks, then let her fingertips drift down to skim across her collarbones and along her ribs. Surprise shuddered through her at the feel of smooth, toned flesh. Slowly, almost afraid to look, she lifted the hem of her sweatshirt so her eyes could confirm what her hands had found. Although it seemed impossible, the festering sores on her hips and shoulders had healed overnight, and the crosshatched welts, scabs and scars of the repeated whippings had faded from her skin. Her wasted flesh had been restored; her arms and legs were muscled, her butt and breasts rounded, as they had been before her captivity.
Stunned, she let the sweatshirt drop back down to cover her irrationally taut, toned stomach. Her head spun with disbelief, but not with drugs.
If she’d believed in miracles, she would’ve called it just that. How else could matching slashes on her palm cause her body to heal itself?
“Doesn’t matter,” she told herself as the embers of the strong woman she’d once been kindled to a low, guttering flame of determination. “Don’t waste whatever time you’ve got trying to figure out what’s going on. Just get your ass out of here.”
Rising from the narrow, blanketless cot, she stood for a moment, thrilling to the sense of balance and power that coursed through her, the awareness of her own body. She acutely felt the weight of her sweatshirt and pants, the press of the floor against the soles of her feet. In the back of her head there was a splash of fear that this was nothing more than another sort of torture, that Iago had given her back herself only to take the feeling away again. But on the heels of fear came determination. “If that’s your plan, you bastard, you’re going to regret it,” she said softly. “That’s a promise.”
For more on the Nightkeepers, check out Jessica’s website (which is way cool with it’s clock counting down …) And remember, SKYKEEPERS (which can be read as a stand-alone, although you may want to go back and read the others after) is available in a store near you!
Thanks a TON for visiting, Jessica. I’d just like to say I loved loved LOVED Dawnkeepers and will be heading out to my local Barnes and Nobel this weekend to pick up my copy of Skykeepers. I can’t wait to read the continuing journey!