Lens of Time
Silver Wood Coven Book 16
Betrayal comes from where the team least expects it
Though the last of the Fae crystals have slipped from their grasp, Summer, Michael and Troy cannot give up the quest. Returned to the present day and stunned by what they find, they make one final attempt to save the world from the destruction. But as they close in on the impossible goal, they are not alone.
What Readers Are Saying
This is the last book in this series and was a wonderful conclusion to books that are/were very creative with lush and sensual descriptions. The characters were very strong. The plot was perfectly drawn and executed. The world the author created of magic and fantasy was very absorbing and difficult to put down. I loved all the books and recommend them. If you love magic and Sci-Fy/Fantasy with strong multi-faceted characters and exquisite descriptions you will love it too.
I really liked how the author ended this section of the story. It answered all the questions and provided closure. I am looking forward to seeing what the author does with the characters on their next journey.
This was a wonderful installment to a great series. I've been following their journey book after book, each has been a page-turner. I am so happy with the ending of this book because they got their wish! Personally, I would really love to read more about our main trio and the next guardian. Fingers crossed!
Needless to say, this series has been a thrill ride from beginning to end. No detail has been omitted and every character was perfectly created, defined and executed.
Ah! I can't believe it's over!
ICY WATER CHURNED and then closed over Summer Lautner’s head. As the drowning man shoved her beneath him, she fought his hold, twisting until his fists lost their frantic grip. Kicking her numb legs beneath the heavy skirt of her gown, she finally surfaced. Her gasping breath hung over the water in an opaque cloud. It melded with others born from the screams shattering the night air as hundreds of other passengers thrashed around her.
Beyond them the stern of the Titanic loomed, sheared off from its sunken bow. Two towering funnels had toppled onto the boat deck, smashing through to the level below it. The last of the massive ship’s lights flickered behind the portholes like trapped fireflies. A few passengers remained clinging to the railings, their faces white smears of horror as they watched the sea rising steadily to swallow them.
“Help me,” a woman shrieked in Summer’s ear. She clamped her cold, wet arm around her throat, dragging her back. “I can’t swim.”
Summer choked as she pried at the woman’s arm. A hundred yards away she could see Michael Charbon and Troy Atwater, her sentinel mates, but like her they were fighting off other drowning mortals. Cyrus Shelton, the renegade Templar who had been thrown overboard earlier, was nowhere to be seen.
Finally Summer drove her elbow back into the woman’s diaphragm, dislodging her enough to take in a breath. “Please, let–”
“Come here,” a bearded man said.
Blood streaked down his face as he hurled himself at both of them. He coughed and heaved, his fingernails raking Summer’s neck as he latched onto her, and tried to shove her back down beneath the surface.
They became a magnet for more people, who piled onto Summer and the two mortals until they trapped her in the center. Their writhing, struggling bodies dragged her under again. Their wild kicks pummeled her as they desperately tried to stay above the surface.
The inky darkness of the water blinded Summer as her oxygen-starved lungs burned, and her flesh chilled. For their quest to end like this would not only be her last failure, it might destroy the entire planet and every living thing on it. But a strange lethargy crept through her limbs, and her heartbeat was slowing.
If I give up now, I betray everyone I love.
It took every ounce of will to force herself to stop fighting so that she could sink. She drifted down beneath the cluster of mortals, beyond the reach of the drowning. As she did she focused inward, summoning the entity that had created her bloodline, and that now shared her soul.
Come to me, Emerald Tablet. Come and help me. Together we must save the future.
Behind her eyes an ancient voice said, I am here with you, Daughter. I knew you would not surrender.
Magic sizzled through her, forcing her back up to the surface, as the Emerald Tablet pumped its verdant energy through her icy limbs. Summer cried out as brilliant emerald light flashed through the sea around her. The nearest ship’s passengers were swept away with it.
Tears mixed with the salt water stinging her eyes as she watched the dying and dead being swallowed by a whirling sea vortex around the sinking stern. Titanic’s huge propellers rose, still spinning as they left the water. Then the remains of the ship slid beneath the black waves and disappeared.
Summer knew that every one of the victims had died before she had been born. To preserve her timeline, none of them could be saved now. But still she felt as guilty as if she had helped to drown them. As the Guardian of the Emerald Tablet, she could use all of the ancient grimoire’s magic, but saving a single life might irrevocably alter the future.
A streak of green light shot out toward a pair of dark figures floating in the water.
There are many lives you must save for the future, the Tablet’s voice rasped. For now, attend to your mates.
Summer couldn’t feel the icy grip of the ocean anymore, and swam as quickly as she could to Troy and Michael.
“Thank the Gods,” Troy said as he ran his hand over Summer’s wet mane.
Michael swam the short distance to them, his lips blue and his entire body shuddering. Troy stretched out his hand between the three of them. As the water glowed a deep aqua around them, it warmed.
“Better?” Troy asked, and Michael stiffly nodded.
Summer joined Michael’s hand with Troy’s before she wove her fingers through both of theirs. It felt bitter to create a circle of three when they had begun this quest with six, but her men were alive, and she would be grateful for that.
“It’s time for us to leave,” she said, her voice breathy with the effort to stay afloat.
Michael’s eyes shifted to the empty water, where only minutes before the masses of screaming, drowning passengers had been.
“Take us back, Beauty,” he said, his voice tight.
She closed her eyes, linking her mind and her power with her mates as she cast the spell to return them to their own era. “Our journey is finished, and we three remain. To the time of beginning send us, as this quest must end. So may it be.”
As the last words left her lips, a shimmering oval of light spread in the sky directly above them. It showed a large, ruggedly-built house and barn framed by a light blue sky. Beyond them sprawled the tree-covered ridges of the White Mountains.
Home, Summer thought, the word lifting her bruised heart, even as she and her mates were drawn up out of the sea and into the portal.
As they moved through time to their future, Summer remembered how confident she’d felt when she and her team had begun this quest. To stop a murderous rogue warlock named Wickerman from causing the Apocalypse, she and her mates and their three allies had followed members of his cult into the past. They had searched for hidden treasures that concealed the Fae crystals. But Wickerman’s team had always been one step ahead of them, and had nearly collected all four crystals. Until the terrible betrayal on the Titanic, when victory and the deadly gems had been stolen from all of them.
The spell ended, and Summer found herself standing in the kitchen of their house, a puddle of sea water spreading around the saturated hem of her gown. Everything looked exactly as they had left it, including the little pots of cooking herbs she’d left growing on the windowsill over the sink. Troy and Michael released her hands as they looked around them, the same tired relief she felt softening their expressions.
“We should change into something dry,” she said and took in a shaky breath. “No, that can wait. We should call Boston right away, and see if they can contact the Fae, and warn Devalan. And then…”
Her mind blanked as she tried to think of what to do after that.
“I’ll take care of it, once we’ve seen to you,” her dark warlock said gently.
“But the crystals could be anywhere,” she almost yelled. Panic rose in her throat as her heart pummeled the inside of her chest. “We can’t search the whole planet. How are we going to find them now?”
“Summer,” Michael said and took hold of her arms. “We did what we could do. We can let others do their part.”
“You’re about to collapse, love,” Troy told her.
Summer glanced down at her dripping gown, and frowned as she suddenly felt how violently she was shaking. All of the shock and horror and despair she had somehow held in check in order to save them and make the jump through time to their home now burst free. A raw sob spilled from her lips as she lifted her trembling hands to her cold, stiff face.
“Goddess, all those poor people.”
As she wept Michael lifted her off her feet, and carried her as he followed Troy back to the master bedroom. Summer gripped her golden warlock’s shoulders as they undressed her, and stripped out of their own sodden garments before leading her into the big shower in the adjoining bath. There Troy ran the water until it heated, and Michael guided her inside.
“I’m sorry,” Summer sobbed, but she couldn’t stop crying, and her knees wobbled badly. The battle wasn’t over, so why was she falling apart now? “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Michael wrapped one strong arm around her to keep her upright. “You are exhausted, Beauty.” Tenderly he wiped the tears from her cheeks.
“There’s nothing more you can do right now,” Troy said as he joined them, and smoothed her hair back. “Just let us take care of you.”
After so many weeks of bathing in tepid water from tubs and basins, the soft, warm spray pouring over Summer’s chilled body felt like liquid bliss. She choked back the last of her sobs as Troy began working shampoo into her long hair. Michael did the same with her body, soaping every inch of her and then using the hand sprayer to rinse her skin clean. Whenever they were wet and naked together they became aroused, but now the touch of her mates’ hands felt comforting. By the time they dried her off and wrapped her in a soft, thick robe Summer had calmed, and understood why her men had taken such care with her.
What lay ahead was worse than anything they had yet encountered.
They had battled terrifying enemies, survived murderous attacks, and beat insurmountable odds, only to come to this. Now they would have to find Elettra GemSage, the immortal Fae she had released from being buried alive for ten thousand years. The powerful tracker, whose clan had created the crystals, had jumped back in time with them to help them find the treasures and fight their enemies. Immensely strong, open-hearted and almost childlike in her curiosity about the world, Elettra had been the one member of the team that Summer had trusted without question.
Until Elettra had stolen all the crystals, and left them to drown.
* * *
After the shower Summer’s mates insisted she rest for a few hours, and lay with her until she fell asleep. Being held by her men, and basking in the delicious heat of their tough bodies, allowed Summer’s thoughts to unsnarl. Once she relaxed she drifted off into the safe, dreamless dark.
How long she’d slept, she didn’t know. But when she opened her eyes Michael sat by their bed, a book he wasn’t reading open on his lap.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“Nearly midnight,” he said, as he set the book aside and came onto the bed to stretch out beside her. “Are you hungry?”
“I don’t know what I am, other than a mess. And you.” She touched his strong jaw with her fingertips. “You almost drowned.”
He shook his head a little. “It was the cold, not the water. It slowed my heart so much I almost blacked out.” He covered her hand with his. “You should go back to sleep.”
Summer leaned in to press her mouth to his, kissing him until his sigh parted their lips. While they might have made love, being together without Troy only provided simple physical pleasure. They were a triad. To experience the intense emotional pleasure that came from their mating bond, they needed their dark warlock.
Michael’s fingertips massaged the back of her scalp. “I can summon Troy.”
“Or we could go find him,” she suggested. She looked into his gilded green eyes, and felt her love for her men ease away some of her despair. “Where is he?”
“In the kitchen,” Michael said and raised his head to look in that direction before his mouth twisted. “Cooking.”
Summer pulled on her robe and went out with her golden lover to find Troy pouring three cups of a fragrant amber brew. A pot with a large chunk of frozen soup sat slowly melting on the stove.
“Lavender, rose petals, saffron and malva flowers, with a dash of chamomile,” Troy said as he brought the mugs over to the kitchen table. “My mother called it serenity tea. I also found some of the vegetable stew you saved in the freezer. That’ll take a while yet to defrost.”
“That’s good,” Summer said and glanced at Michael, who stood watching them both intently. “Did you speak to Artephius?”
“Twice. Magus Corps wants us in Boston tomorrow,” Troy said. Although he sounded casual, anger glittered in his vivid blue eyes. “The council was none too happy to hear we came back empty-handed. They’re asking for a full report.”
They had undertaken this quest for the Magus Corps, and Summer had no doubt their failure to retrieve any of the four crystals had seriously upset the Corps’s ruling council. As she sat at the table she thought of the Fae clan leader, Devalan Cloudstar, who had manipulated Summer into awakening Elettra from her ten-thousand-year entombment. He wouldn’t be too happy to know they’d lost the last of the GemSage, either.
“Was Artephius able to contact the Fae?” she asked.
Troy nodded, and sat down beside her. “That was the second call. When he told Devalan about Elettra, the Fae didn’t believe him at first. He was that shocked. Then he demanded to see us.”
“He did not guess that Elettra intended to betray the Fae, as well as the Magus Corps and us,” Michael said.
“I don’t think this was anything that she had planned,” Summer said. She warmed her hands on the sides of her mug as she watched the wisps of steam dance along the rim. “Something happened to her while she was on the Titanic. Something we don’t know. I don’t think she trusts us anymore.”
“To get information out of her, Bowers nearly whipped her to death with a diamond necklace,” Troy reminded her as he went to stir the soup. “After all Elettra has been through, the torture could have pushed her over the edge.”
They could talk all night about the Fae, Summer thought, and make no difference in what had happened. They had survived the sinking of the Titanic, and before that three other cataclysms. Tomorrow they would have to join the search for the Fae. She would not spend the first night of real privacy they’d had in weeks rehashing the mission.
“Troy,” Summer said, as she went to him. She reached to lower the burner’s heat before she encircled his waist with her arms. “The soup will be better if it defrosts slowly.”
“You and Michael can go back to bed,” he said. “I’ll bring it in when it’s…” Troy glanced down as she began unbuckling his belt. “…ah, ready.”
“We tried that,” she said and opened the front of his jeans. She slipped her hand inside to caress the long, thick ridge of his erection. “But we were lonely without you.”
The dark warlock hissed in a breath as she curled her fingers around his shaft. “Keep that up, and you won’t make it back to the bed.”
Michael came up behind Summer and unbelted her robe, his big hands splaying over her thighs as he put his mouth by her ear. “Tell us what you want, Beauty.”
“I want my men inside me.” A hard, hot flush suffused her as she removed her hand from Troy, and shrugged out of her robe. “Right now.”
- Book 1: Rescued
- Book 2: Stolen
- Book 3: United
- Book 4: Betrayed
- Book 5: Revealed
- Book 6: Lost
- Book 7: Divided
- Book 8: Gone
- Book 9: Burned
- Book 10: Reclaimed
- Book 11: Call of Fate
- Book 12: Sea of Love
- Book 13: Palace of Pleasure
- Book 14: House of Desire
- Book 15: Ship of Dreams
- Book 16: Lens of Time
- Silver Wood Coven Box Set