Sanctuary Coven Book 3
Four hearts create a bond that goes beyond love.
Heather and Lucas experience the most sensual bonding of their lives, when Astrid and Sander Doray join them. In a way that seems destined, the foursome complete each other. But the intimacy comes at a cost, as the painful past of the Dorays is revealed.
But forces within and without the mountain stronghold are laying deadly plans. Even as Heather and Lucas bond tightly with their new lovers, unseen enemies come within reach.
What Readers Are Saying
Totally loving the direction this series is taking. There is just a bit of humor mixed in mystery, wrapped in steamy sexiness, and bundled in fur, teeth and claws.
I can't get enough of this series! There are so many interlinking plots.
The story line continues to be excellent and the plot superb. As I mentioned in my last review the couple attracted to the main couple is amazing. The foursome complete each other and decide to bond.
Just when we think we know where the story is going to take us and everything is calm then the book takes a sudden change. I can not wait until the next installment.
Nothing like starting a new book with the two main characters just moments from death!
WINTERY LIGHT SIFTED through the lazy, lacy snowfall as Heather Moore looked into the unblinking yellow eyes of her death. She’d never imagined seeing it so clearly, but during her twenty-eight years of existence she’d rarely thought of dying, or how her life would end.
This is how. I’m going to be killed right here.
Everything that had brought her back to the mountains of Aspen had led to this moment. Raised here by her older sister Marguerite after their parents had been murdered, yet rejected by the coven of immortal Wiccans who had given them sanctuary, Heather had spent half her life as an unwanted outcast. After years of lonely misery she’d finally left Marguerite and Sanctuary Coven to live a solitary mortal life in Denver. Going to college and then working as a high school guidance counselor there had been fulfilling. Heather had even dared to dream of finding true love someday.
I might have found it, too, with him.
Lucas Carré, the man facing death beside her, should have been her someday. A tall, dark Frenchman with stunning violet eyes, he’d warmed her solitary heart from the moment they had met. She hadn’t known he was a warlock serving in the Magus Corps, or that he would use her to infiltrate her sister’s coven. She might never have forgiven him for that, either, but events since coming to Aspen had drawn them back together. Although she knew it was beyond foolish, Heather had even felt a tiny bit of hope for their future.
A future that would now be extinguished along with them.
Two enormous wolves, one black, one white, snarled and bunched their massive, powerful muscles as they dropped into a low crouch before Heather and Lucas. The blood of two wayward hikers already stained their slavering muzzles, which snorted gore-scented clouds of white breath into the freezing air.
“Heather.” Lucas said, his voice tight. “Run.”
Run, yes, she should. When they sprang the wolves would knock down her and Lucas, tearing at them with teeth and claws until they could rip them apart and gorge themselves again. Although the pair were half-Wiccan shape-shifters, as wolves their minds no longer contained any rational human thought or emotion. To them she and Lucas were simply more easy prey.
But we’re not that easy, Heather thought as an inexplicable calm coalesced inside her. And if we’re going to die, we should do it fighting for our lives—together.
She tore her gaze from the wolves to glance at Lucas. Closing her eyes for a moment, she used her second sight to read his brilliant aura. The enormous dragon of light and color that curled around him glittered with crystalline explosions of white-edged crimson courage. Her lover meant to attack the wolves first and give her a chance to escape. Although he was a powerful warlock, he could not hold off both shifters alone, and he knew it. He meant to sacrifice himself to save her life.
As a mortal Heather had no power, other than her ability to read auras. Yet sometimes she could extend her own life energy to comfort and strengthen others. Would doing the same to Lucas help him?
“Cherie, please,” her lover said. “I can keep them from following you.”
“Or I can help you.” She extended the deep violet corona of her own aura to join with his, channeling through it every ounce of life energy she possessed. “Take what you need from me.”
Power crackled in the air around them as Lucas’s dark eyes took on an iridescent glow. Heather knew as a light elemental the warlock could control all forms of light, and even turn them into weapons.
“Stay behind me.”
He lifted his hands as the wolves snarled, and all the sunlight around them funneled into his palms, plunging the clearing into complete darkness.
Heather heard the wolves lunge just before Lucas released his power. A focused stream of blazing, fiery light slashed through the blackness like an enormous laser beam, plowing into the black wolf. It hurled him in mid-lunge into the white wolf before the light vanished again. In the dark, twin, heavy thuds shook the ground, and snow crusts blasted up into Heather’s face, their jagged edges scratching her delicate skin.
Heather heard the wolves scrabble back to their feet, and flinched as they howled and blundered through the darkness. Although they couldn’t see, their other senses would soon lead them straight to her and Lucas.
Strong, hot hands dragged her over to a broad tree trunk, and Lucas’s body pressed her against the icy bark. His cheek touched hers as he bent his head and waited as if listening. She breathed in his scent, letting it warm her and reassure her.
Lucas pressed his palm to her face, brushing his lips against hers in wordless comfort before he went still and lifted his head. Heather knew what it was as soon as low, furious yowls of two cougars tore through the air: Sander and Astrid Doray, the ancient shape shifters that had come here from Asia to find her and Lucas, had arrived in their animal forms.
The wolves answered with snapping snarls that drew closer, and Heather froze as she felt hot breath on her fingers. In the darkness, a rough tongue licked her hand as one of the massive cats glided against her legs. The warm weight of it sank into her, spreading more calm. She didn’t fully understand the connection she and Lucas shared with the Dorays, who were as tragic as they were seductive. But knowing they were there pushed away the last of her terror.
The cougar nearest Heather tensed and uttered a warning hiss, and then sprang away. The sound of two heavy bodies smashing through the frosty brush made her throat tighten and her heart race.
“Stay here,” Lucas said.
He followed the cat, vanishing into the complete blackness as the wrenching sounds of the animals fighting ripped through the icy air.
Heather tried in vain to see what was happening. Roars of rage and pain mingled with the obscene crash of mangling teeth and tearing claws, and then the gruesome crack of bones breaking. She heard Lucas utter a spell in a low, furious voice and sunlight flooded her watery eyes.
She dashed away her tears to see the torn, still bodies of the wolves flung on the ground, their blood silently soaking into the snow. Lucas lay on his side, his arms around one cougar sprawled beside him. The other big cat limped over before it collapsed beside its mate.
Heather rushed over, skirting the bodies of the dead wolves as she knelt down beside the warlock and the wounded cats. She saw the blood on his hands and sleeves and gasped. “Lucas.”
“It’s not mine.” He stroked his hand over the cougar’s torn fur. “They’re hurt, and this one is very bad.”
Heather pulled off her jacket and draped it over the cat Lucas held before turning to its mate. She held out her hand, sighing with relief as the big cat licked it, and then checked the long, powerful body for injuries. A long gash across the flank and several deep neck wounds bled freely.
“I’ll run to the coven house,” she said, “and get some help.”
“Don’t run anywhere,” Lucas told her.
Heather turned her head to see a pair of huge, majestic lions padding toward them.
• • • • •
Lucas silently absorbed more morning sunlight as he watched the lions approach. But he knew whatever energy he soaked up would prove futile in the end. Without the intervention of the cougars, the wolves would have killed him and Heather. He stood no chance against two more powerful shifters.
It didn’t matter that the lions were Sanctuary Coven’s leaders, Dane Jagger and his mate Marguerite, Heather’s sister. In their animal forms they did not think or react as people. He also understood better the reasons why the high priest and priestess had gone to such lengths to conceal Sanctuary Coven from other Wiccans, as well as the outside world. An army of these half-human, half-familiar beings would be almost impossible to defeat.
“Be still,” he said to Heather. “If you make any sudden moves, they will see you as prey.”
The male lion halted to lower his massive head and sniffed at the bodies of the wolves. But their torn, bloodied flesh didn’t seem to interest him. The female joined him but kept her dark eyes fixed on Lucas and Heather.
“Marguerite,” Heather said, keeping her voice low and soft. “Look at me. You know me. I’m your sister.”
Lucas saw no recognition in the eyes of the female, but the male lion reared his head. Instead of showing anger or fear the big male cat regarded Heather with curiosity. Marguerite had told Heather that their mother had been a shifter, and while his lover did not inherit the ability to change form, Lucas thought she might share another connection with the coven. Naomi Selkirk, the coven’s moon witch and a daughter of shifters, couldn’t change form, but still had significant power over all the other shifters.
“I think Dane is responding to your voice,” he murmured to Heather. “Can you extend your aura to him, as you did with me, without touching him?”
“I think so.”
She held out her hands in an open, nonaggressive gesture, and kept her gaze on the lion’s face. Lucas had never noticed it before, but Heather and Dane had the exact same color eyes, as tawny as burnished gold. Her gold hair also matched some of the fur pelting his powerful body. That her sister shape shifted into a lion, made it likely that Heather’s mother had shared Dane’s bloodline.
As Dane’s lion took a step toward Heather, the lioness growled in her throat.
“Your sister does not have as much control as her mate,” Lucas said. “Speak to him, Heather. Reassure him.”
She looked into the lion’s eyes. “Dane, the wolves attacked us. We were only defending ourselves. If the cougars hadn’t helped us, we’d be dead. Please, don’t hurt us.”
The lion remained silent and watchful for several minutes before he slowly approached Heather. He delicately sniffed her fingertips before butting his massive furry head against her palm.
“Marguerite.” Heather kept her other hand extended toward the lioness. “You know me and Lucas. We would never do anything to harm you.”
The lioness seemed unconvinced, and then Dane made a chuffing sound at her. Golden fur rippled as the big cat crouched down. She didn’t leap at them, however, but closed her dark eyes and shook as her fur melted into bare pink flesh, and her limbs elongated and reshaped into human arms and legs.
“Heather,” Marguerite Moore-Jagger said as soon as her lioness’s mouth changed to the soft, full lips of a woman. Once she had transformed back into the statuesque blonde beauty she was, her big, dark eyes stared at the wolves. “By the gods. The smell of their blood must have triggered my shift. Did they harm you?”
“We’re all right.”
Heather drew her hand back as the male lion dropped down and shifted, much faster than her sister had. A massively muscular man, Dane had shoulders like roof beams and thighs as big as small tree trunks. Even in his mortal form he retained a proud, leonine look.
Lucas knew Heather felt embarrassed by seeing both her sister and Dane in the nude, and tossed his jacket to the High Priest before stripping off his shirt and offering it to Marguerite.
“Four at once. They were acting like a pack. How did you hold them off by yourselves?” Dane demanded.
“We didn’t,” Lucas told him. “When the wolves attacked, the Dorays came and defended us.”
Marguerite and Dane exchanged a look.
“That’s impossible,” Marguerite said. “They wouldn’t have been able to recognize you.”
“Well, they did,” Heather said, sounding angry, and then caught her breath.
Lucas followed the direction of her gaze and saw the lifeless forms of the wolves slowly changing into their human forms.
“Who are these men, Dane?”
“A couple of newcomers named Hensen and Niely. They arrived last month after roaming Canada for several decades as wolves.” Dane crouched down to study the slack faces. “I thought they might be trouble. They seemed barely human, but I had to give them a chance.”
“A chance to eat hikers, and nearly tear my sister to pieces?” Marguerite tugged him up. “Help Lucas take the cougars up to the recovery cabin. I’ll bury the bodies.”
Dane disappeared for a few minutes, and when he returned he had an ATV fitted with a trailer, onto which he and Lucas carefully loaded the injured cats. Marguerite left them to retrieve some clothes from a nearby cache in the woods.
“We can’t take care of the cats without the smell of their injuries setting off our own shifts,” Marguerite told Lucas as she quickly dressed. “The recovery cabin where Dane is taking you is set up like an infirmary. Use antiseptic to clean their wounds, but don’t try to stitch them closed.”
He nodded. “How do we care for them?”
“Just keep them warm and give them water if they start panting,” Dane said. “Once they’re strong enough to shift back into human form, their wounds should disappear.”
Heather glanced at the cougars. “Should? You mean, they might not?”
“We don’t know,” her sister admitted. “Sander and Astrid have proven again that they are not like us. The magic they use is older than Wicca, and it’s clear that they have none of our weaknesses. They may even be a type of shifter that we’ve never before encountered.”
“They are much older, and their lives have been spent in complete seclusion,” Lucas said. He told her how the Dorays had been locked up and forced by their Wiccan master to serve as pleasure slaves for a thousand years. “From what Sander told Heather, this is the first time they’ve been in the outside world since they were made slaves.”
Marguerite’s mouth tightened as she glanced down at the two dead shifters.
“I wonder if any of us can ever really be free.”
To keep the Dorays from rolling off the cart Lucas and Heather walked on either side of it, and held one hand on each cougar. Dane kept the ATV to a slow crawl as he navigated the path to the top of the ridge.
“I never noticed it until now, but they’re identical,” Heather said, nodding at the cats. “Shouldn’t they be a little different in size and color, like Dane and Marguerite?”
“I cannot say. You will have to ask Sander when he changes back.” He watched as the cat beneath Heather’s hand rolled over to spoon with its badly-wounded mate, exposing his testicles in the process. “And that one would be Sander.”
“I think Astrid came to us in the dark while he held off the wolves, but when they attacked him she jumped in to defend him.” Heather’s hair shimmered as she shook her head. “I’m just guessing, of course. I want to see them as human, but they’re not. Not like this. To them, you and I might only look like walking cheeseburgers.”
The male cougar turned his head to look at Heather and made a purring sound.
Lucas felt almost amused now. “He may be hungry for you, cherie, but not as his dinner.”
Dane stopped directly in front of an old cabin and shut off the ATV’s motor.
“The smell of a wounded shifter can make any of us change, so we keep them quarantined here until they heal. Sander and Astrid will have to stay inside until they can shift back.”
Dane lifted Astrid carefully in his arms as Lucas did the same with Sander, and followed him inside. The interior of the cabin had been set up like an infirmary, with a treatment table, and cabinets filled with poultices, salves, and even a cooler with a blood supply. The High Priest carried his cougar over to one of the low, thickly-padded animal beds scattered on the floor of the front room. When he reached for the chains that had been fastened to the wall, however, Heather made a hurt sound.
“Please don’t restrain them,” she told Dane. “If they were going to hurt us, they would have done so already.”
“They’re not people, little sister,” Dane said. “Animals are most dangerous when they’re wounded, but shifters injured in their animal form can go mad and kill any living thing in their path. This is safer for you and Lucas.”
The male cougar rose to his feet, and came over to rub his head against Dane’s thigh while he purred loudly.
“I think he is disagreeing with you, mon ami,” Lucas said.
“By the gods, so he is.” Dane crouched down to look into the cougar’s eyes, and chuckled. “They are a strange pair.”
“We’ll be fine,” Heather assured him.
The High Priest glanced up at her. “All right. The kitchen should be stocked, and there’s always firewood on the back porch. Once I leave I’ll ward the cabin to make it invisible to human eyes. If you need help, ring the big bell hanging outside the front door. We’ll hear it down at the coven house.”
“Why ward the cabin?” Lucas asked.
“The police are sending some detectives up here today to talk to us about the hikers Hensen and Niely killed,” the High Priest said. “If they bring a search warrant the last thing we want is them coming in here and seeing two injured cougars. Heather, I’ll need you to help me deal with the police when they arrive.”
She frowned. “Of course, but what can I tell them?”
“I need you to pretend to be Marguerite,” Dane told her. “She’s too unstable right now to be around mortals. You know what happened, and if the police test your patience, you won’t eat them.”