Our second book out this week!
On July 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

Amanda's BVS BLOG

I said it had been a busy week and exciting week. Our second release is from Gabriella Hewitt it is the second book in her Shadow Warriors series.  The book is called Shadow Visions, and it is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.  Catch up with her first book Out of the Shadows here

Here is a sample of the new story.

Chapter One

Ixa kicked at the sheets tangling about her legs and snapped her eyes open. Unnatural humidity suffocated her. She gasped for air. Her body trembled and her gut threatened to heave. Years of being plagued by visions didn’t make them any easier to stomach.

She still tasted the desperation of the woman on the cold slab. She shook her head to dispel the nightmare. Useless. Hopeless. She couldn’t control or change the vision. She hated herself for it. Like a fly on the wall, she was a pathetic bystander. Pockets of her vision flashed in her mind. A woman’s upper arm. The tiny wings of a hummingbird fluttering, then faltering. A man in a mask of bones and tattered fur. A knife. Blood, so much blood. She couldn’t get it out of her head, rivulets of it staining everything in its path. And a beating heart held up high as triumphant laughter drowned out the screams in her head.

“No!”

Quickly, she turned on her bedside lamp. The clock read midnight. Beads of sweat trickled down her body, sticking the thin cotton T-shirt to her skin. This vision had been stronger than the last. More detailed. More frightening. She recalled vividly the cold touch of a knife on her flesh. She looked down the length of her body, relieved to see she was in one piece—no knife wounds, no blood. She was fine. The body she had dreamed of had been shorter, smaller, completely naked…and mutilated.

Despite the light in the room, Ixa felt the darkness of her vision creeping along the edge of her mind.

Her door opened and her grandfather stood silhouetted in the doorway.

“I heard you cry out,” he said as he hobbled into the room.

Ixa willed her heart rate under control. “I’m sorry I disturbed you.”

“You are never a bother, mi brisita.” When he’d first started calling her his little breeze as a child, she’d embraced the nickname. Now it only dredged up memories better left buried, but no matter how many times she asked her abuelo to stop, he’d apologize and say he’d forgotten himself. And maybe he had, she thought, as he sat down gingerly on the bed, using his ever-present walking stick to lower himself. At eighty-seven, he seemed frailer than ever and it worried her.

“Did you have another dream?” he asked and ran a tender hand over her head. As a grown woman of thirty, the babying should have seemed odd, but ever since her parents’ deaths when she was a little girl, her abuelo had been the one watching out for her, doting on her like a mother hen over its chick. Now the roles were reversed, though he’d deny it. She worried too much about him to leave him on his own. They had only each other, so instead of getting a place of her own, she chose to stay and watch over him.

“You mean another nightmare?” She sighed and forced down the bitterness she felt. “Yes. I saw another woman sacrificed. This makes two.” Her fingers dug into her sheets as if to tie her to reality. “Why does this keep happening to me?”

Her abuelo covered her hand with his. “Look at me, niña. You have been given the gift of Sight. The gods have chosen you for some purpose.”

“Abuelo, I am not a child. Ancient Aztec gods aren’t real. And even if they were, my visions are not a gift. They are more like a curse. If the gods are as powerful as you say, why didn’t they save Xena and my parents?” Years later and she still couldn’t drown out the screams of her parents or of her little sister. She remembered clearly the night Galante shot her father in cold blood and his laughter as he lit the match that consumed her sister and mother. All the while, she’d prayed for gods that never came.

Ruthlessly, Ixa closed the door on her memories. She’d clawed her way out of the past. She’d made a place for herself in the present.

“It is not our place to question the gods.”

“Abuelo, I called upon them for help. I didn’t abandon them—they abandoned me. Besides, I got Galante using old-fashioned detective work. He can’t hurt me or anyone else anymore.” She’d vowed over the ashes of her family that she’d see Galante pay. He’d been sentenced to life, and as good as it felt to have scum like him put behind bars, it didn’t bring her parents or little sister back.

Abuelo patted her leg. “Your father would be proud. You are a good police officer, just like him. But he believed in the gods and he would want you to believe too.”

Disappointment and sorrow clouded his features. She steeled herself against the need to comfort him, to take back what she’d said. She would not buy into her abuelo’s myths and legends. Doing so would take her down a path she refused to travel. She’d lost everything she held dear because of so-called gifts she’d never asked for, nor wanted. If she didn’t acknowledge them, they couldn’t hurt anyone ever again. She had to keep her abuelo safe. He was all she had left. So now she kept her feet planted firmly in the modern world. As a police detective, she dealt in facts and reality, and despite her abuelo’s attempts and her latest visions, she would not be sucked up into a world of Aztec gods, demons, and warriors. She’d built a life for herself, brick by brick, and it kept her sane and her abuelo alive.

“You cannot continue to deny your path,” he insisted.

“The only path I have is that of a cop. We’ve been over this, Abuelo. I can’t be what you expect. You have to accept that.”

He shook his head, his expression sad. She hated seeing him that way, but it was the only way she could move forward in life.

“I understand that you are afraid of your gifts. Eventually, you will have to conquer your fears and accept yourself as you are. If I can’t make you believe, the gods will find a way to convince you.”

Again with the gods. She bit back the retort on her lips. “It’s late, Abuelo.

You need to get some sleep.”

“So must you, mi brisita. We will talk of this matter again soon.” His tone brooked no argument.

Ixa sighed and nodded. She watched him leave, wishing she could give him what he wanted, but she didn’t dare. She lay back against her headboard, unwilling to turn off the light and call up another nightmare. The minutes ticked into hours and she tried to go back to sleep, but the images were too fresh in her head.

Dawn had already broken over the horizon when her cell phone rang, setting her heart racing. She eyed it warily, knowing she should pick it up, yet loath to do so. Finally, she reached out and snatched it off the bedstand. “Hello.”

“Ixa, we’ve got another one,” her partner’s voice came over the line. “It’s bad. I swear it looks like a blood sacrifice.”

Blood, so much blood.

***

She squeezed her eyes shut in an effort to erase the image. “I’m on my way, Boyle.” She didn’t know how to deal with myths and legends, but she knew very well how to track a killer.

She’d seen death before. Vile and savage. This one was no different. The young woman lay strapped to a metal slab inside a vacant warehouse, miles from where anyone could have heard her scream. Her lifeless eyes held the horror of her last moments. Blood congealed on her body and smeared over the table and floor. A large, ragged hole in her chest obscenely proclaimed where a madman had ripped out her heart.

It was the Latina from her vision. “Mierda.” Shit was definitely the word.

The shock should have hit Ixa like a punch to the gut, only it didn’t. This vision was her second. The last had come true and now this one had too. Some gift, she thought bitterly. This was a present she wished she could return. What good were visions when she couldn’t stop the violence before it happened?

She shook off the thought and peered closer at the wound. Her badge with her identification, Detective Ixa Reyes, Homicide, hung loosely around her neck. She carefully tucked it back into her jacket. Her partner, Detective Frank Boyle, returned with his notepad in hand.

“Second one in the city and again there are no witnesses. Just another anonymous tip called into the precinct. I swear someone is playing a game with us.” Boyle scrubbed his hand over tired eyes. A veteran of twenty years, he had seen and done it all, yet he treated Ixa as an equal. They made an odd team, but they’d developed a smooth working relationship, and they treated one another with respect. The only differences between them came down to their looks. Frank Boyle stood six feet tall, two hundred and forty pounds with thinning blond hair wisped around his pudgy face, and weary blue-gray eyes masked by thick glasses two sizes too large. She could have been his teenage daughter, petite, with a tan, rounded moon face and full lips accompanied by a mass of straight black hair that hit below her shoulders, currently tied back in a no-nonsense braid.

Sometimes her Mexican-American looks worked in her favor—like the time she had to deal with the locals to track down a powerful drug lord who had been terrorizing the neighborhood. She had caught him and put him behind bars, but it had sealed her as a traitor to her own people. In the eyes of her colleagues, she had earned respect. Even so, every day felt like she had to constantly prove her worth among the boys. She straddled both worlds, yet belonged fully to neither.

Ixa had learned a long time ago to suppress her heritage and assimilate. It was best to play by the rules, follow the book and never deviate from protocol. Anything less only ended up in heartbreak, which was why she pushed aside the fresh image of her nightmare vision and focused back on the case.

“What time did the call come in?”

Boyle checked his notes. “Six in the morning.”

She nodded. “Sunrise. Same as the last victim. So how’d you arrive on the scene so fast?”

For the first time, her partner looked a little sheepish. He sighed. “Dana and the kids are away. Couldn’t sleep, so I figured I’d get in early and go over everything we got on this case. I was on my way when the call came in.” He glanced down at the body and his lips tightened. “Saw right away we had another one on our hands and called you.”

Boyle drew her attention to a knife wound. “This victim has a hummingbird tattoo on her upper arm, similar to the last woman.”

Ixa really didn’t need to look. The dainty painted hummingbird tattoo was seared into the backs of her eyelids. Unconsciously, she stroked her hand over her sleeve. Below the fabric, she could feel her own hummingbird tattoo tingling. The sensation grew hotter, burning her bicep. She didn’t know the woman, yet they all sported the same tattoo.

Ixa bit her bottom lip. Her hummingbird tattoo had always been a part of her. Always. As a child, it had been a strawberry mark. Over time it had shaped and formed into the delicate bird—unusual and eerie, an understatement for sure. She had distanced herself from her Aztec roots, determined to make her way in a modern world, but her tattoo reminded her that she could never sever the connection completely. And this case seemed to be making the same point in a more frightening and horrific way.

“Looks like we may have a serial killer on our hands.” Although, as she said the words, deep down she sensed something far more sinister at work.

Without thought, she squeezed her arm. The tattoo radiated heat. She winced at the pain.

Boyle eyed her with acute perception. “Something wrong?”

“No. Just need some fresh air.” Ixa jammed her hands into the pockets of her slacks and exited the cavernous building.

The warehouse sat in an industrial park located between the San Diego Freeway and the Cesar E. Chavez Parkway. She’d have to check ownership of the property when she got back to the office. Slowly, she turned, taking in the dirty white exterior of the building, worn from years of salt air and erosion. From the description given by the patrolman, she knew three similarly shaped buildings occupied the property. A search of the other buildings had turned up nothing, not even cargo in the warehouse holds. Had the killer known these buildings were empty or had he simply gotten lucky?

The nightmare swam before her. She saw the knife plunge downward and winced, willing the image away.

She inhaled deeply, needing to banish the smell of death that coated her nose, throat, and tongue. A combination of sea and fumes laced the misty morning air…and another odor, an incongruent smell. She inhaled again.

Memories of her abuelo and his Aztec stories came to mind. The scent was familiar. Incense.

She sniffed delicately, intent on tracking it, when an eagle cried overhead. She glanced skyward, searching for the bird, her breath catching in her throat at the sight of the bird of prey. “Aren’t you far from home, big guy?” She spoke softly, mesmerized by the beauty of the eagle.

Shaking off her fascination, she rounded the building and pulled up short. A second warehouse paralleled the first one, and up on the west corner of the building, the eagle came in for a landing. She could have sworn the wings should be brown, but this eagle’s wings seemed spun of gold. The bird cocked its head as if looking directly at her.

The bird screeched again. The magnificent eagle tugged at her, made her want to forget her responsibilities and simply fly up to the heavens. Ixa blew out a breath and dragged her gaze back to the ground, back to reality and to a killer who seemed fixated on women with hummingbird tattoos.

She shivered despite the heat generating from the hummingbird mark she bore.

Chain-link fence surrounded the property, which meant there was only one way in and out unless the killer scaled the fence. But then there was no way to drag a victim over a ten-foot-tall fence with barbed wire at the top. So how did they get in? She followed the pavement that led to the back of the warehouse, aware of the tiny weeds sprouting up in cracks and the numerous tread marks smudging up the cement from trucks bearing heavy loads.

The eagle let out a screech, spread its mighty wings and took flight, leaving her alone in the tight alleyway, with only dumpsters taking up space. She paused, letting her senses attune themselves to the environment. This part of the lot couldn’t be seen from the front entrance. Ixa halted and swept her gaze over the area. Why had the killer chosen this location? What connection did he have to it?

The shadow of the eagle passed over the ground. She spotted rust-colored droplets near her foot. They looked like blood.

Ixa pulled out her cell phone and punched in her partner’s number. Static greeted her. “Come on, I need Boyle and Forensics out here,” she muttered as she swept the area with her eyes, aware of the bird circling above.

Frowning, she cut the connection and tried again. Same result. “Piece-of-shit technology.” She jammed the phone into her pocket.

The whisper of the wind warned her first. The hummingbird on her skin burned fiercely and pulled to get free. Pain stabbed her bicep. She gritted her teeth, determined to stay focused. Her senses heightened and she became aware that she no longer stood alone. She unholstered her weapon and gripped it, comfortable with the familiar weight in her hand.

Ixa spun around, her weapon braced in front of her. “Police. Put your hands up.”

From between the dumpsters, a man slowly emerged, his head covered by the hood of a tattered sweatshirt. He seemed at one with the shadows, and when he faced her, she’d swear serpent eyes glowed from underneath the hood.

“Keep your hands where I can see them. Take two steps forward. Do it now!”

He stepped forward and the sunlight hit him full on the face, causing Ixa to gasp in recognition. At one time, the face would have been considered moderately good-looking, but with half the skin peeled back from his brow to his jaw, he was every child’s nightmare come to life.

“Salvatore Galante. There’s no way you can be out. I locked you up for life.” Half man, half skeleton, he looked like the walking dead. What the hell had happened to him?

“So nice to see you again, Ixa.” When he said her name, a chill ran up her spine. Memories from the past blew through her mind in a flurry of images. A man twenty years younger with the same smug expression on his face, wearing the colors of his gang, aiming a gun right at her father’s heart.

Which was exactly where she was pointing her gun, except this time the tables were turned on him.

“You think your bars could hold me?” He laughed. The sinister sound echoed between the two warehouses. “Just like you, I made a pact with a god— one far more powerful than yours.”

She heard his words clearly but refused to accept his meaning. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“Of course you do.” He sneered with half his face. “I know what I saw that night; a child who blew me away. Literally. That was some trick.” He put his hands in front of his face and blew out a gush of air over his fingers. “And poof, an instant hurricane.”

Ixa hated to remember, hated giving credence to his words, even though she knew exactly what he meant. She had been so frightened. She had just wanted the flames to go away, to make the bad man stop hurting her family. It was the first time she had felt her power over the wind rise, and she had no control over it. The wind should have blown out the flames but instead, it had fed the fire and made it grow bigger, hotter and higher. The screams of her sister and mother tore at her soul. She squeezed the gun, never taking her eyes off the killer in front of her.

“You’re not going to play your mind games with me. You’ve been messing with the product. Too much meth turns you into a dumb shit.” To think otherwise would drag her back into a world she wanted no part of. “Hands behind your head, pendejo! Get down on your knees. Do it, Galante.” The man was a vicious drug lord who’d left a trail of bodies behind him. She didn’t know how he’d gotten out of prison, but he was going back.

He laughed hard and harsh. “Nothing can stop me! Metztli will reign supreme and I’m going to rule this town again. But first, I’m going to take you out. Something I should have done a long time ago, when I capped your old man.”

“Don’t you mention my father. You have no right!” Deep inside, something shifted. She actually felt the instant her elemental power released and expanded. The feeling grew, pushing upward, a pressure she knew intimately but hadn’t experienced in years. Her anxiety increased tenfold. All around her the wind kicked up. Debris in the alley smacked up against their bodies.

Galante raised his hands to the wind. “Just like old times. You freaked me out then, but not now. I’ve got my own power.”

Galante rushed at her in a blur of speed before she could even get one round off. He slammed into her hard, knocking her flat on her back. Her gun flew out of her hand and skidded under the dumpster.

Ixa swung for his jaw, but he pinned her arms down, his superior strength immobilizing her. He had to be hopped up on meth. She clutched at the explanation, conveniently ignoring everything else. She twisted and heaved with all her might, trying to knock him off her, and shouted for help at the same time.

Where the hell were the other cops?

Galante stared down at her, a cruel smile on his lips. His eyes appeared flat as if his very soul had been sucked out of his body. His skeletal face pressed closer. He opened his mouth and green goo oozed down the side of his chin.

Anxiety rose and adrenaline kicked in. She couldn’t afford to panic, but she couldn’t fight her growing apprehension. He would kill her. She knew it.

Ixa feared the man on top of her, but she feared her destructive wind power more. It was unpredictable and she had no control over it. The wind swirled in the alley, creating a mini tornado.

From high above, the eagle screeched. Galante’s head whipped up. Beyond him, Ixa saw a large shape diving toward them, riding on the wind she had inadvertently summoned.

Sharp talons aimed right for the two of them.

***

With the precision of an advanced weapon, Manuel tucked his wings in at his sides and bulleted toward the pair on the ground. His eagle spirit eyed the target and let out a sharp cry, anticipating sinking its talons into the demon.

He felt the hunger consuming his spirit, the need to devour the demon. More and more with each hunt and each kill, Manuel watched his humanity slip away, his animal spirit fighting him for control. It was the price he paid for his immortality and service to his god. Manuel knew he had little time left before he succumbed to his beast. As a tribe leader, he had picked and chosen his battles, and as an eternal warrior of Huitzilopochtli, he did the same. He never took on a mission just for the hunt. He chose the ones that posed the most risk.

Like the demon below.

At the last moment, he pulled up and reversed. His talons stretched towards the evil abomination pinning the woman to the ground. The demon lifted its arm up to protect its head. Manuel never paused. He plucked the demon off the woman and launched skyward.

The demon hissed and cursed and then spewed a stream of fire.

Manuel dropped the creature, taking satisfaction in the loud thud when the demon hit the asphalt and lay in a stunned heap.

He flew up high before plunging once again towards the ground, his target always in sight.

He thought of the two dead women, each of them bearing a hummingbird tattoo. Each of them a possible spirit mate to a shadow warrior.

Shadow warriors had long given up hope of finding a woman marked with the sign of Huitzilopochtli. But Tomás, another shadow warrior, recently found Carolina, a guardian marked with the tattoo. She nearly died at the hands of a demon trying to kill the water goddess. Together Tomás and Carolina fought off the serpent god bent on destroying the Earth. For their love and bravery, the sun god made them spirit mates for all eternity. With their union, Tomás regained his humanity, never to fear losing himself to his beast.

Either of the dead women could have been a spirit mate, the one woman with the ability to save a shadow warrior from losing his humanity completely.

Manuel had arrived too late to save them. He’d failed.

The eagle didn’t care about spirit mates or Manuel’s battle to hang on to his humanity. It was hungry. The demon was a meal he intended to drag back to the netherworld and devour.

At the last second, Manuel veered to the left and landed close by, shifting to human form. Bones crunched and reshaped until he stood straight on human legs. He clothed himself in traditional Aztec dress, a white cotton loincloth embroidered with gold, as befitted his elite status; a former tribal chief. Feathers adorned his hair and hung like a mantle over his chest and back. In his hand, he carried his atlatl, a tool which enabled him to throw his spear and darts great distances.

Manuel spared a glance for the woman still on the ground. She stared at him wide-eyed, her mouth open. Even disheveled and bruised, he could not deny her beauty. Dark strands of hair whipped around her face. Almond eyes rimmed in dark lashes framed equally dark irises that seemed fathomless and full of secrets. For a moment, he forgot the demon. He stepped toward her, wanting to reach out and brush aside her hair to get a deeper look into her eyes. The eagle inside pressed outward to grab his attention, but he pushed the beast back down. Briefly, they battled for control and Manuel doubled over in pain. The eagle would not be denied its meal. His animal spirit screeched in his head, making its thoughts clear—if it could not have the demon it would satiate its hunger with the flesh of the wounded cihuatl.

Manuel stood up and raged back against his beast. “You will not touch the woman!” His primal scream made the eagle back down. It also made the cihuatl scoot back from him. Fear shone brightly in her eyes.

His angry reaction caught him by surprise. It had been centuries since he had felt human emotions. He looked at the woman on the ground, studying her with greater interest. She stirred emotions when he thought he had none left. He stepped towards her, the need to find out if she was his spirit mate driving him.

Behind him, the demon growled.

His need for the woman would have to wait. The demon was back on his feet.

Manuel let out a warrior’s cry and raced forward to battle.

 

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Our latest releases.

A Woman’s Secret by C.L. Koch is out now!

Love times Infinity by K.L. Ramsey is out now! Click here to read Chapter one.

Her Lover’s Face by Patricia Elliott is out now!  Click here to read the Prologue and Chapter one.

Naval Maneuvers by Dee S. Knight is out now!  Click here to read Chapter one.

Perilous Love by Jan Selbourne. The e-book is out now!  Click here to read the Prologue and Chapter one.  viewbook.at/Perilous-Love-PB

Love’s Patient Journey by K.L. Ramsey is out now!  Click here to read the Prologue and Chapter one.

Patrick by Callie Carmen. Click here to read Chapter one.

Love’s Design by K.L. Ramsey. Click here to read the Prologue and Chapter one.

Shadow Visions by Gabriella Hewitt, Out Now!

Coming soon.

A Bride for a King by L.J. Dare is available to pre-order now! Release date July 19th  Click here to read Chapter one.

The Brute and I by Suzanne Smith. The e-book is available to pre-order now at the sale price of $1.99 until the release date July 30th. Click here to read Chapter one.

Love’s Promise by K.L. Ramsey The e-book is available to pre-order now at the sale price of $1.99 until the release date August 8th.

Home by Keren Hughes, release date to be confirmed.

Love’s Promise by K.L. Ramsey, release date August 8th

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