Not one of the sacrifices chosen over the long history had survived–until now.
On the tip of the Yucatan peninsula, the immortal Castillo family gathers in Tulum. Weary and haunted, they receive the names of fifty-two human sacrifices chosen once every fifty-two years for the Underworld, a tradition thought to have disappeared with the fall of the Aztec and Mayan empires.
Driving home one night, college freshman Zara Moss swerves to avoid hitting a ghastly figure in the road. Lucas Castillo witnesses the car crash, but when it comes time to supervise her abduction from the wreckage, he intervenes. Something is different about Zara: Lucas has been having dreams of her arrival for five hundred years.
As Lucas and Zara come together to put an end to the bloody sacrifices, they discover that the ancient tradition isn’t so easily broken. The gods are angry, and they have until the Winter Solstice to drag Zara to the Underworld.
“LOOK OUT!” she screamed, pointing to the front window.
A black figure stood in the beam of our headlights. I slammed my foot on the brakes, but theylocked and the car began to skid. The smell of burningrubber filled the car as we screeched across the asphalt. The man didn’t move, and as we neared him, I cranked the wheel to the right as fast as possible to avoid him. We screamed as the car spun out of control.
As we skidded closer to the unmoving figure, I thought he was done for. I expected him to bounce up onto the windshield and shatter the window into thousands of tiny pieces. But the briefest second before impact, my door rushing directly at him, I saw —It was not a man.--
Suddenly, looking at Zara made my throat swell,and I started to choke. It was time to take the plunge. I focused on turning onto the hidden road, lowering my speed as the track turned to mud. I felt sick saying this.
“Zara, I didn’t come to Tahoe to save you.”
I let there be silence, but I wished I hadn’t. Even with the small rocks banging against the undercarriage, I could still hear her when she gulped, eyes not budging from my face.
A mortal life was simple. Wake, eat, and dream. Ihad never cared about losing that cycle when I changed, but I did now. Watching Zara made me miss its simplicity. She was a pretty sleeper, and the desire for there to be an us worsened a deep-rooted fear. I could get lost in her, and I would lose sight of the consequence of what I was doing... and I, or she—or both of us—could get killed. I would have to break with tradition first, without any blood; otherwise I feared she would never forgive me for what I’d done to be free of it. War and killing came easy for me because of my past, not so much for her. She was too fragile, too clean to be involved in or even equipped with a way to cope with the ugliness. I had to protect her from that, or I fear the hurt would be unfixable.
Dela is the debut author of THE 52ND saga, a multicultural paranormal for young adults. Before tracing the minds of Aztec gods, Dela worked as a paralegal and could be found snowboarding at Brianhead, Utah. She currently lives in Las Vegas with her husband, three kids, and two exceptionally fat Chihuahuas. Her website is www.delaauthor.com.