In 1520, a quarter million people were slaughtered, a king was tortured to death, a civilization was annihilated—all over Aztec gold.
Five hundred years later the killing hasn’t stopped.
AFTER MONTHS OF starvation and torture at the hands of terrorists, black ops officer Maria Branson is rescued and returned to the U.S. While her body heals, her mind does not. Plagued with panic and hallucinations, she quits the CIA and takes the job of small-town police chief.
Rest and relaxation are the doctor’s orders. However, Maria gets neither. During her first week on the job the mayor’s truck is found abandoned in the middle of the rugged southwestern mountains.
Was it a hiking trip gone bad or something more sinister?
As Maria uncovers clues that indicate a crime centuries in the making, her hallucinations become more real –and dangerous.
Are the ghosts she sees symptoms of PTSD, or has the paranormal world collided with reality?
With the help of the handsome director of search and rescue, Maria’s search explodes into a hunt for murderers and mythological Aztec treasure, all while keeping her own internal demons at bay.
Can Maria solve the mystery before she becomes the next target?
Check out this quick snippet:
IT WASN’T THE SILENCE that drove Maria Bronson mad. It was the noises. Water dripped from the leak in the ceiling as flies buzzed about. Desperate pleas from other captives echoed in the hall as they were dragged through an outside door adjacent to her cell. It hadn’t taken long to learn the prisoners never returned. Only the guards re-entered, wiping bright red blood off their hands with a rag. It was the only time Maria saw any color besides gray.
The rice was gray.
The meat was gray.
Even her interrogators’ teeth were gray.
Maria had once been the leader of a CIA black ops team. Now, she was a prisoner in a Tehran terrorist camp. When she had first seen her cell, she’d been grateful there was a small window in the door through which she could momentarily glimpse the sun once a day. Its beams burst onto the walls like fireworks on the Fourth of July. But now the light only reminded her that the darkness would come again … soon.
A scraping noise on the floor startled Maria and her eyes flew open. Someone had slid food through the slot that was her only contact with the outside world. She stared at the tiny open space, like she had a thousand times before, and wished she could force her emaciated body through it. But she wasn’t that small.
Her mornings consisted of pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks, stretching, deep breathing, and the recitation of the entire periodic table—in song form. Who knew high school chemistry would be one of her saving graces?
Afternoons followed the same routine, with the addition of running in place, playing Brahms First Concerto entirely from memory on the dirt floor, and, on occasion, sitting through hours of grueling questions from bearded men in gray (of course) fatigues that smelled of urine and rotten beef.
In the evenings the whispers started. Sometimes they were in English, other times in Farsi, and often she didn’t know the language. The first time she heard them she thought the sounds must be coming through the drain in the middle of the floor—the one that led to the sewer. But who could live down there with all of the human waste and filth?
Next, Maria hypothesized there must be an unseen vent in her room, but a thorough investigation of every cement wall disproved that theory. It was then she admitted the voices were inside her head.
The first ghost appeared to her in the middle of a typical sleepless night. He had no head, hence no mouth, so where the whispers came from was puzzling. He stood in the corner of her cell, arms flailing about as if he was trying to take flight. Why she could see him in the dark was a mystery. But there he was, shimmering like moonlight.
Sick, demented, moonlight.
As she watched the headless figure move about, her own stomach lurched back and forth. Her sparse meal ended up as a puddle on the cement floor. Trembling, with her back pressed up against the wall, she hardly noticed the odor of her vomit. Terror, after all, diminished one’s sense of smell.
The other ghosts came later. Night after night. All had body parts missing—a hand, an arm, a leg. Even though they moved as humans might, there was no life in them.
Even more worrisome to Maria, however, were the doubts about her herself—her reasons for living. Her hopes and passions. Was any of it still there? Or had she already been robbed of the very thing she fought to keep alive?
This paranormal thriller brings a modern-day murder and a 500-year-old legend crashing together into a page-turning suspenseful murder mystery with a surprise twist at the end. Grab your copy now on Amazon.