Sanctuary Coven Book 5
Ancient secrets are the deadliest.
Although Heather and Lucas find the acceptance and love they’ve always craved, their union with Astrid and Sander has unexpected consequences. Even as the foursome struggles with their new reality, the ancient shifters make their own plans. But with Templars at the coven’s doorstep, there are no good choices. Cut off from help and with too few Wiccans to make a stand, the wintry refuge that had once been a sanctuary becomes a trap.
As deadly plans and dangerous blood rituals swirl around the mountain like a storm, Heather realizes she must embrace her Wiccan heritage in order to save her loved ones, even if it means losing herself.
What Readers Are Saying
Wow what an amazing and wild ride. The imagination in this story will blow your mind. It does run on the super wild side and may not be for everyone. But if you want to walk on the wild side this series is for you.
With the expected twists and turns that I have come to expect from Hazel Hunter, this certainly gave me a feeling of satisfaction as I reached the conclusion.
What can I say about the conclusion of the series: BRILLIANT.
All I can say is wow. What an ending to this wonderful series. Just like with all the rest of the stories this one draws you in and I was unable to put it down until I finished it.
Absolutely wonderful finale. I love the journey, the emotion and the passion in the series.
THE SUN REFLECTING from the frozen waterfall sifted through Heather Moore’s hair, scattering tiny diamonds of light through the fiery golden strands. The enormous female cougar beside her rubbed her sleek head against Heather’s thigh, but her tawny eyes remained watchful as she gazed at the forest. On the other side of the trees lay the main house of Sanctuary Coven, which had been invaded and occupied by Templars, the immortal enemies of all Wiccans.
“How did they find us?” Heather murmured.
Her words created small, white breath clouds that hung in the still, frigid air. She couldn’t believe that the fanatics had so easily infiltrated Sanctuary Coven’s remote compound in the Colorado mountains. In just one night they had captured her sister, Marguerite, her brother-in-law Dane, and nearly every member of their coven.
The big cat couldn’t reply, but her thoughts and emotions streamed into Heather’s mind, forming a primitive collage of wariness, determination, and love.
When the cougar shifted back into a human, she would again become Astrid Doray, one of Heather’s three immortal lovers. She remained in her stronger animal form to guard Heather until the males in their quaternity, Lucas Carré and Sander Doray, returned to them.
Heather knew how lucky she and her mates were to escape the Templars—and only because they had spent last night making love at the waterfall. The warding spell Lucas had cast to give them privacy as he and the Dorays initiated Heather into immortality had also prevented them from being seen by their enemies.
The cougar’s muscles bunched as she crouched down, and Heather heard the sound of snow crunching come from the trees. They both relaxed as a big, dark-haired Frenchman and a huge male cougar emerged into view. Heather hurried to Lucas, whose expression was grim. She reached down to the big cat, who licked her fingers before nuzzling the other cougar.
Since her initiation Heather no longer had to use her second sight to read her mates’ auras, which thanks to Lucas and their bond had wrapped the four of them in shimmering, full-spectrum light. Both men’s colors now looked darker, however, and Lucas’s elemental light ability made his corona crackle with seething power.
“The intruders are Templars from Denver,” Lucas told her. “They have occupied the coven house, with sentries at every door and searchers patrolling the woods. They brought at least twenty transport trucks to move their men, so it is likely the entire battalion is here. We also saw their encampment, which blocks the only road off the mountain.”
That, Heather knew, was the worst possible scenario. “Then they’ve come for Sander and Astrid.”
The Frenchman nodded. “Their leader—who Marguerite told us disguises herself as a man—is torturing Dane for information about them. I can use my power to close his wounds, but we must first drive out the Templars.”
With their auras touching Heather could read his thoughts, and they horrified her.
“You can’t burn the coven house. You’ll kill everyone inside.”
“I can use my ability to control light to make the enemy believe that the house is on fire,” he said. “But I will need your help to convince them of that, cherie.”
She frowned. “I don’t understand.”
Lucas took her hands in his.
“I believe your ability to access the minds of others is not limited to only reading their thoughts, cherie. You can use it to make them believe whatever you wish.” He paused, his face clouding with a dark memory. “I have seen other Wiccans with this power.”
Heather knew he was referring to his own father, a warlock who had used that power to manipulate other Wiccans and begin a coven war. Lucas had been the one to kill him. The thought sobered Heather, though she was far from convinced she could do the same.
“Even if you’re right, and I can access more than one mind at a time, I still have to merge my aura with theirs,” she reminded him. “We know my range is limited. To get close enough to do that I’d have to go inside.”
He grimaced as he squeezed her hands. Then he slowly nodded.
“You must make them believe that you are surrendering to them.”
Magic shimmered in the cold air as Sander shifted into human form. His long, white-blonde hair cascaded down the sides of his tall, lean body. A moment later Astrid also shifted from cat to human.
“No, Lucas,” Sander said. The usually thoughtful, optimistic shifter now sounded as if he wanted to attack the Frenchman. “You will not let our Heather anywhere near those butchers.”
“I know you wish only to protect her, beloved,” Astrid said. Naked, like Sander, she trembled slightly in the cold. Even so, she gave Lucas and Sander a sharp look. “But this is a choice she must make.”
Heather thought of the Templars who had tried to abduct her and the Dorays back in Denver. Just two of them had wreaked complete havoc, and had required all four of them to defeat. The prospect of facing a small army of the immortal fanatics terrified her.
“You cannot ask this of her,” Sander insisted. “I can smell her fear.”
“That’s because I’m afraid,” Heather admitted.
Although she had become immortal last night, Heather knew she could still be killed. Yet if she didn’t try to free the coven, their enemies might kill Marguerite, Dane, and all their people.
“I’m not a warrior like Lucas, or as experienced with magic as you and Astrid, but there’s no other way that I can see. I have to try.”
“Then take me in with you,” Sander said. “I can protect you.”
“This time, for once, it’s my turn to do the protecting,” Heather said. She stepped up to him, and placed her hand over his heart. “What I really need is for you to believe in me.”
His arms came up around her as torment filled his bright blue eyes. “Your courage shames me.”
“I love you,” she said. She stood on her tiptoes to kiss him before she turned to their other mates. “Lucas, I have to see if I can access more than one mind at a time. We should do a practice run.” She glanced around them. “Preferably where we can’t be seen.”
“Back to the waterfall,” Lucas said. “The wards there will prevent us from being seen by any patrols the Templars send out.”
After the Dorays reclaimed their clothes and dressed, Heather and Lucas accompanied the shifters to the waterfall. Old Renaud, the sole member of the coven to escape the Templar raid, was waiting. Blind and mute, the elderly shifter sat huddled in a quilt. Lucas went to tell him what was happening.
Heather hated the fact that the plan to free the coven and drive out the Templars hinged entirely on her. Lucas had been serving in the Magus Corps for centuries, and the Dorays had been casting spells and shape-shifting for over a thousand years. She’d been immortal for less than a day, and she hadn’t practiced magic or even lived as a Wiccan since her teens. How could she convince an entire army of Templars that she was a member of the coven, much less bespell their minds?
“Heather.” Astrid said, and put one slim arm around her shoulders. “You are still worried.”
“I’m just a little nervous.” She leaned against the shifter. “I never thought I’d regret giving up my Wiccan heritage to live a mortal life, but now I realize how weak I am. I can count on one hand the number of spells I’ve actually cast.”
“There is more to being Wiccan that spell-casting.” Astrid stroked her hand over Heather’s arm. “You were born to magic. It runs in your veins.”
Sander came to them, his aura still shadowed by worry and anger.
“You will not change your mind, and permit me to go with you?”
“No.” Heather touched his cheek. “But I’ll take you with me in my heart.”
“We must begin now,” Lucas said as he joined them.
Heather tried to smile a little, but gave up and nodded.
Lucas spread his arms, absorbing the sunlight into his body as he amassed what he needed in order to use his ability. He turned and extended his arms, and a circle of flame appeared around him. It looked so real that Heather almost expected to see his clothes burn. Sander and Astrid left her to step into the circle on either side of the Frenchman.
Heather took a deep breath, channeled her power into her aura, and then extended it. Once it engulfed her mates, she focused on their minds. At first it seemed like trying to hold three conversations at once, and she grimaced.
“You are listening to our thoughts,” Lucas said. “You must send yours to us.”
“I can’t do this,” Heather said, feeling desperate now. “I’m going to get us all killed.”
“Look at me,” Astrid said, and when she did the shifter smiled. “You are trying to protect us, even now. We know you will not harm us.”
That made Heather feel a little steadier, and she tried again. This time she felt herself slip back along the connection between her mind and her mates. She sent her thoughts out, reaching into her wife and her two husbands, until she felt herself inside them.
Feel the fire’s heat and smoke. You’re burning and choking. The blaze is spreading out of control. Run! Run for your life or die!
Astrid cried out and ran out of the flaming light, followed by Sander, who stopped and glanced back at Lucas.
“Something is wrong,” Sander yelled. “You’re burning him. He cannot breathe.”
“No, mon mari.” The flaming light surrounding Lucas vanished. “She only made you believe I was.”
“But I could feel it.” Sander glanced down at his hands before he regarded Heather with pride and awe. “Immortality has bestowed you with a formidable power.”
“I don’t feel very formidable,” she admitted before she turned to Astrid. “Did you feel it?”
The shifter nodded. “Remember, sweet Heather, that we are older than the Templars. We also knew exactly what you meant to do. Still, you made us both believe the fire was real.”
“As did I, and I gave you the light.” Lucas came to Heather, and rested his hands on her shoulders. “I know you are still afraid, mon coeur, but you can do this. Now we must decide on a signal, so I know when to use my light.”
“We will be able to see her,” Astrid said. “The way we watched you and Heather at the hotel in Denver. Heather, when you are ready to cast the spell, touch your left ear.”
Heather nodded. “Is there anything else I should do?”
The Frenchman’s smile faded. “Only remember to think of nothing more than what we want them to believe, and release their minds once they run.”
Her throat tightened. “You mean I could keep controlling them if I don’t?”
The Frenchman nodded slowly. “If you are as powerful as I suspect, I believe you could do anything you wish to them.”
• • • • •
Lucas led his shifter mates to a concealed spot in front of the coven house, where they could observe Heather making her way to the front entry. By the time she reached it, falling snow had frosted her golden hair, and she tucked her bare hands under her arms. He knew the cold wasn’t the reason she was shivering, however, and he felt his gut knot. He had been so caught up by the invasion of the enemy that he hadn’t considered how it would feel to watch Heather do this. He knew other, powerful, well-trained Magus Corps officers who would never walk alone into a nest of Templars. Yet he had demanded this of her, a woman he had used and lied to, and whose life he had virtually destroyed.
In order to enslave the minds of others, his father had been obliged to use powerful, dark magic. Heather had only to use her mind. Had he pushed her to do something that might corrupt her gentle soul?
“This was Heather’s choice, not yours,” Astrid murmured, reminding him that their bond allowed her to access his thoughts now. “You must have faith in her.” She hesitated. “She will never follow in your father’s path.”
He looked into the shifter’s dark sapphire eyes. “Such power can be very dangerous, ma belle.”
“Yes, I know.” She gave him a sadly sweet smile. “So do you and Sander. We have all fought against temptation. Trust in our lady’s heart. It is every bit as remarkable as her ability. Now come. You must prepare to do your part to help her.”
Lucas pushed aside his dismal thoughts and lifted his face up to the bright morning sky. With his elemental magic he soaked up as much sunlight as he could contain. His skin glowed with shimmering power.
“Sander, watch for Templar patrols while Astrid and I use the watching spell,” he said as he focused on the windows of the coven house. “Heather will be unable to enter the mind of anyone outside the range of her aura. Do not try to read her thoughts yourself while she’s in there.”
“I have no desire to believe I’m burning alive again,” Sander told him, and then flinched as he saw Heather being taken into the house by two Templar guards.
Astrid placed her hand on Lucas’s chest and murmured a spell in Japanese.
A heartbeat later the two of them stood inside the great room of the coven house, where Heather had been brought by the guards. The short, dark, intense-looking man who faced her had blood on his hands and clothing, and smiled at her with visible satisfaction.
“I am Aldric Archer, Temple Master of Denver,” the bloodied man said as he inspected Heather. “Judging by your resemblance to the murderous, blonde whore who killed my men, you are Heather Moore.” He nodded to himself. “How kind of you to give yourself up. Tell me, did you plan to turn into an animal and attack us once you were inside? Or have you come to beg for the lives of the other heathens? In either case, it is quite hopeless.”
“I don’t attack or beg,” Heather said, her voice as bland as her expression. “And I never give up hope. I came to warn you, Mr. Archer. You have one minute to take your men and leave this house, or you will all die.”
Aldric laughed. “A witch with a sense of humor. How entertaining. But really, Miss Moore, if you mean to frighten us, you shouldn’t use death threats. Like you heathens, we Templars are immortal, but much harder to kill.”
“You weren’t that tough in the fourteenth century,” she countered, smiling a little. “Thirty seconds.”
Lucas saw the temple master’s face flush and his hands fist as he took a step closer to Heather.
“If he hurts her,” Lucas muttered. “I will burn off his hands.”
“I will toss his arms to you,” the male shifter behind him said, “after I tear them off his body.”
“Your insults are as meaningless to me as your life.” Aldric snapped two fingers, and more Templars poured into the front room to surround him and Heather. “I want the two shifters from Japan. Tell me where they are, or my men will have you begging to die.”
A strange sadness flickered over Heather’s delicate features.
“Good-bye, Temple Master.”
She raised her hand and touched her left ear.
Lucas released the light energy inside him, pouring it into the coven house through the windows. From within he watched his power flood the front room and blaze up the walls like wildfire.
Aldric’s men began cursing and choking as they shrank back from the light, while the temple master lunged forward to grab Heather by the arms. Lucas quickly diverted a shaft of flaming light between them. The power knocked Aldric off his feet and slammed him into the opposite wall, where he slid down and slumped on the floor.
“Get out, now,” one of the Templars shouted as he snatched up the temple master and tossed him over his shoulder. He coughed heavily as he carried Aldric out behind the men rushing from the room.
Lucas continued streaming power into the house to maintain the illusion until he saw the last Templar flee from the front entry. He then kept the windows alight while removing the flaming illusion from the rest of the rooms. Heather turned toward him and Astrid, and Lucas saw hundreds of tiny white lights glittering in her eyes.
“Come inside now,” she said. “I need your help with Dane.”
Astrid ended the watcher spell, and Lucas found himself back in his body. The three of them sprinted to the coven house. Inside, they found Heather in her sister’s meditation chamber, where she was using a ceremonial blade to cut through the noose around Dane’s throat. Lucas saw how pale and still the High Priest was, and glanced down at the pool of blood that had spread beneath his body.
“Dane,” Lucas muttered.
“He’s still alive,” Heather said. She bit her lip as she sawed the blade faster. “Sander, catch him.”
As the rope snapped, the male shifter stepped forward and caught the big man. As he gently lowered him to the floor, Dane made a low sound and tried to open his eyes.
“Astrid,” Heather said, “please go and release the others.” She knelt down beside her brother-in-law. “Lucas, I need Marguerite and Naomi. Now.”