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Authors: Joely Sue Burkhart

The Bloodgate Warrior

BOOK: The Bloodgate Warrior
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The Bloodgate Warrior
By Joely Sue Burkhart

As the Mayan hero Técun lay dying, a sorceress cast a spell tying her bloodline to him, so that one day he could return and avenge their people…

Following a near-death experience, Cassandra Gonzales is haunted by erotic dreams of a mysterious man. As the dreams intensify, she is compelled to travel to Guatemala in search of him. There she learns that her blood has opened a gate—and she is the only one who can bring the great warrior back from the afterlife.

Once faced with Técun in the flesh, Cassie fears the need he stirs within her. She aches to submit to the pleasure he promises, but first she must learn to trust in him, and in her own desires. Their time for sensual exploration is brief—Técun’s killer has escaped, intent on sacrificing Cassie and wreaking havoc on the world. Now, only Cassie’s complete and willing surrender to Técun will give him the power to defeat the demon once and for all…

46,000 words

Dear Reader,

August has a special feel for me. Not only is it my birthday month (and I’m firmly in the camp of celebrating a birthday month—one day just isn’t enough) but since I’m in North America, August is also the last hurrah of summer. It’s the time before my daughter goes back to school and lazy weekends at the beach start drawing to a close. In my professional life, August is also the one month of the year I try to take a break from the crazy travel schedule.

So with all those things combined, you know what that means, right? I become self-indulgent and get in as much reading as possible. That’s why I’m thrilled we’re kicking off the month of August with the first book in the fun and flirty new contemporary romance trilogy, Aisle Bound.
Planning for Love
by Christi Barth releases the first of August, and I hope you love it as much as I do. It’s got all of the elements I adore in a contemporary romance: humor, passion, likable characters and, best of all, a happy ending. Christi is a wonderful, fresh new voice in contemporary romance. This book was so much fun to edit, and if you love contemporary romance, please check it out!

Not only do we have
Planning for Love
releasing in August, we also have quite the lineup of debut, new-to-Carina and returning authors in a variety of genres. This month, I’m excited to introduce debut authors Bronwyn Stuart, Ruth Diaz and Jacqueline M. Battisti, each writing three very different genres, but each bringing us three amazing stories. Bronwyn presents us with a passionate historical romance,
Scandal’s Mistress,
while Jacqueline blazes onto the writing scene with her first romantic urban fantasy,
The Guardian of Bastet.
Ruth’s book,
The Superheroes Union: Dynama,
is exactly what you might imagine it to be from that title: a fast-paced superhero female/female romance.

Also offering up urban-fantasy fare this month in the GLBT category are authors Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane, with their co-authored male/male urban fantasy
The Druid Stone.
And if the male/male genre is what you enjoy, make sure you also check out L.B. Gregg’s August re-release of
Men of Smithfield: Mark and Tony,
a spicy contemporary male/male romance with a lighter edge.

If you’re a fan of romantic suspense, we have two to help you indulge your cravings. Tina Beckett offers up
In His Sights,
while fans of Adrienne Giordano’s Private Protectors series will be pleased to see her back with another action-packed installment in
Relentless Pursuit.
If you’ve never read Adrienne’s books,
Relentless Pursuit
is an excellent place to get attached to her sexy heroes and strong-willed heroines. Or, if you want to start with something shorter, check out Adrienne’s novella,
Negotiating Point
in the
Editor’s Choice Volume I
collection.

New Carina Press author Kaily Hart kicks off her paranormal romance series Fabric of Fate with
Rise of Hope.
Will fate alone determine their future or can they carve out their own destiny?

Rounding out our August releases are three returning Carina Press authors. Joely Sue Burkhart’s
The Bloodgate Warrior
is an erotic fantasy romance sure to knock your socks off! Robert Appleton returns with another science-fiction offering in
Cyber Sparks.
And bestselling author Rebecca York brings us the sequel to
Dark Magic
with the novella
Shattered Magic.

I think you’ll find something in this month’s collection to help you indulge. And, hey, since it’s my birthday month, celebrate with me by indulging in more than one. I won’t tell!

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
. You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com
www.twitter.com/carinapress
www.facebook.com/carinapress

Dedication

For my beloved sister.

Acknowledgements

A special thank-you to my tireless beta readers, Sherri Meyer, Shannon Collins, and Stephanie Christine, and especially Diane for meeting me “Dark & Early” each day.

As always, fantastic insights from Alissa Davis made this book all the better.

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

About the Author

Copyright

Chapter One

Entry added August 2012 to the Guzmán-Gonzales family journal
by Cassandra Luisa Gonzales.

When I finally broke down last week and told Nana about the dream I’ve been having since the accident, she didn’t say a word. All she did was hand me this journal. I’ve read it a hundred times and most of it still doesn’t make sense. It can’t. I’d rather be crazy than believe that the gorgeous stranger starring in my increasingly dirty dreams is some reincarnated Mayan hero.

What started as a passionate romp in my sleep with a hunky stranger has become something much more terrifying. Don’t get me wrong—they’re wonderful, erotic dreams. I’ve never found so much pleasure and passion in any man’s arms before. But each dream is stronger and more detailed than the last. He claims the magic is mine, that each time I dream him I’m binding him more fully to my world.

To me.

He’s not real.

So I kept telling myself. Until this morning when I woke up with a few token bruises and scuff marks from his enthusiastic lovemaking. Either I really am losing my mind and have started to hurt myself in my sleep—including bite marks on my neck—or Nana’s journal isn’t a bunch of myths. Myths I started to dream
before
I ever read them in these ancient pages so painstakingly copied generation after generation.

Now I find myself continuing the family tradition by adding pages to this journal, both to keep my sanity and as a warning. This is what happens when you lose your grip on reality. When you begin to fall in love with a man you’ve only known in dreams. When you become so desperate for the truth that you’re willing to leave behind everything to find him.

There’s only one way to find out if I’m as crazy as I fear, or if there’s a kernel of truth to these legends. I’ve decided to go to Guatemala and find out. I’m going to find Nana’s family. I’m going to talk to some of the people who were raised on the legends in her journal.

Even more importantly, I’m going to walk the ground where Técun Úman, the legend himself, supposedly lived and breathed.

And died.

Then maybe he’ll leave me the fuck alone.

Oh, don’t worry about me too much. I’m taking my best friend Natalie along for the ride. She’s ordered me to enjoy this desperate crusade as a
vacation
. Even if she has to commit me to an insane asylum before we fly home, we’ll start out by having a good time.

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
August 2012

I heard a quetzal calling outside my window again last night.

A few months ago—before I nearly drowned—I’d never even heard of the strange bird. Now it seemed to roost outside my window every damned night.

Glaring up at the invisible watcher hidden in the tree limbs, I muttered beneath my breath, “I thought quetzals were extinct.”

“Some say they are, because the bird we know today surely isn’t the magnificent bird of legend,” our guide said in an agreeable voice.

I don’t think anything would rattle José’s calm, leathery exterior. Until last week, I’d had no idea that I had quite so many relatives in Guatemala, yet they’d welcomed me with open arms.

“We still revere them,” José continued. “They are as important to the Maya as our ancient pyramids and stories about the old days.”

My best friend Natalie peered up into the shadowed growth like Sherlock Holmes. “I think that one has a red breast.”

She was determined to prove this mumbo-jumbo shit was all in my head. I couldn’t fault her for trying. In fact, I wished she could. I didn’t want some strange holy bird howling outside my window every night. Although that was a small price to pay if it meant I was going to have another sweaty, luscious night with my dream warrior.

Despite the sauna-like air filling my lungs and frizzing my hair, I shivered.

“Oh, very lucky, then,” José replied. “Let me tell you our legend of how the quetzal came to bear its red breast. When the great Técun Úman went to fight Pedro de Alvarado not far from here, his quetzal
nahual
, or spirit guide, went with him. Some say Técun even transformed into the mighty bird during the battle, his massive wings buffeting the Spaniards and shielding his people from their terrible weapons.”

José paused his tale as we reached the end of a long avenue of overgrown trees. Ahead, a sprawling house stretched across the countryside, beautiful despite the jungle trying to overtake it. Perched on the knees of a verdant volcano, the house commanded an incredible view of Lake Atitlán below.

BOOK: The Bloodgate Warrior
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