Sea of Love

A fractured team, a lethal foe, but the biggest enemy is time.

As Vesuvius rumbles above the ancient city of Pompeii, Summer and her team hunt for the first Fae artifact. But before they even begin, they are behind. The rogue Wiccans not only have a head start, they’re willing to do anything to win.

As Michael, Troy, the Templars, and the Fae form uneasy alliances, they struggle to avoid deadly traps. The historic city has its charms, but a vein of cruelty runs through it as well. As the team closes in on the powerful Fae artifact, it leads them to the most unlikely of places.

This is the 12th episode of the series that I've read, and I can't believe that each one seems to be better than the one before. Just when you think that the series has run out of places to go, or new plots to explore without getting ridiculous, Hazel Hunter springs a surprise and you think “Wow, didn't see that coming….”Deb Le, Goodreads Reviewer
A trip into the past is not turning into a dream vacation for the gang. Secrets and lies plague the team as they search ancient Pompeii. The tale moves quickly and I read it in one sitting. It should be interesting to see how they escape history that they've changed. I'm looking forward to the next book.Lynda, Goodreads Reviewer
The descriptions in this book paint a vivid sensuous, almost tangible picture for the reader while allowing the characters to flex their skills. I found this book to be quite a masterful blending of real historical fact with myth, magic, folk arts, fantasy and the oh so hot romance.Alana, Amazon Reviewer
I may have missed a few of the other books in between yet none of that matters. Oh my lord what a stunning book to add to this story. I'm so ready to know what's going to happen to them next.Serenity K., Amazon Reviewer
What a ride – I love every word and as usual am BEGGING Hazel to write faster : )JJ, Goodreads Reviewer

In a spell chamber at the headquarters of the Magus Corps, brilliant green light radiated from Summer Lautner. As it did time stopped. The counter on the bomb in her hands likewise halted at two seconds. The stink of the plastic explosives filled her nostrils as if she had been snorting old motor oil. Not a surprising odor for such an engine of death.

A bead of sweat trickled down her face as Summer stared at the device. She could think, but she couldn’t seem to move. The time-freeze enchantment came from the Emerald Tablet, the most ancient and powerful Wiccan grimoire. As its guardian she shared her soul with it, and could use its power. But in times of great danger it often acted of its own accord.

Not long ago Summer had resented that. Now she wanted to sob with gratitude.

But this wasn’t the time to fall apart. She had no idea who had planted the explosives, but she knew why. Someone wanted to stop her and her team before they could begin their journey back in time. If they died, then Wickerman, the murderous rogue warlock would succeed. He would recover four powerful Fae crystal treasures before they were lost to horrible cataclysms. In her dreams she had foreseen how he would use them to bring on the Apocalypse, and destroy the world.

But why couldn’t she move? The time-stopping intervention by the Tablet normally had no effect on her. Though she could move her eyes and was definitely breathing, her hands refused to move. Instead cold terror knotted in her chest and slowly sank into her stomach. But it wasn’t fear for herself. If she died, others would take her place to try and stop Wickerman. There were always enough good souls to stand against evil. But if her life ended in this room, Troy Atwater and Michael Charbon would die with her. As her sentinel mates they would not survive her death––and she would do anything to protect the two men she loved.

A low, deep voice said, “Beauty, I am here.”

Summer shifted her eyes up and looked up into Michael’s brilliant, jade-green eyes. He had dressed as a gladiator for their journey to ancient Pompeii, which perfectly suited his huge, brutally muscular frame.

“You aren’t frozen,” she said and found her mouth could move as well.

“So it seems.”

The big man crouched down beside her and inspected the satchel she was holding. He took in a sharp breath when he saw inside, but kept his voice low and pleasant.

“Be very still now,” he said.

“Not a problem,” she said, the words rasping in her tight throat. She swallowed hard. “Do you know anything about explosives?”

“Enough to know you should not move.” He turned his head. “Pagan?”

“We’ve got this, love,” Troy said, as he knelt down on her other side.

He’d cropped his long black hair in Roman style, and wore the garb of a trader. But his heavenly blue eyes remained as steady and loving as ever.

“Paladin and I will handle the bomb. All you have to do is keep time from restarting. Focus on that.”

Summer immersed herself in the Tablet’s power, adding her will to the entity’s efforts. Her gaze shifted to the other members of their team, who stood suspended in time.

Lemuel Bowers and Cyrus Shelton, the two Templars they had agreed to take with them, stood staring at the bomb. Bowers’s face looked oddly lifeless, while Shelton’s stern features appeared confused. Between them Elettra GemSage, the last surviving member of the renegade Fae clan responsible for creating the crystals, had turned to look at Shelton. Pretending to be a Wiccan and disguised as an ordinary brunette, the Fae woman had an expression of such longing that Summer felt her heart clench. After being buried alive in a diamond crypt for ten thousand years, Elettra had only been freed for a few days. She had already sacrificed everything to protect the world from her clan’s deadly crystals. She didn’t deserve to die like this.

“Captain Banning said there is an anti-violence ward protecting Magus Corps Headquarters,” Michael said to Troy. “Will it prevent the device from exploding?”

“The enchantment renders all weapons useless, so theoretically it should,” the dark warlock said. “Unless the spell chamber was made exempt. Sometimes protective wards interfere with spell casting.” He turned his head, his eyes narrowing as he scanned the chamber. “With all the power in the room, I can’t tell. We have to defuse it.”

“The timer is wired to the detonator,” Michael said. He pointed at a bundle of gray wires leading from the digital display to a small metal box with two lights. “If we cut all the wires, it cannot send the signal to set off the bomb.”

“Unless one of the wires triggers the bomb if it’s cut,” Troy said. “The same thing might happen if we try to remove the battery from the timer. If we could just freeze the timer and detonator instead of–”

He abruptly stopped and rubbed his hand over his perspiring face.

“Beauty, can you transport the bomb from here to the sea?” Michael asked.

“I don’t have the time to do it,” Summer said. “Even with the Tablet’s help, I’d need at least a few seconds to cast the spell.” She saw Troy’s eyes glow with the blue light of his elemental power. “What are you doing?”

“It’s my turn to freeze time,” the dark warlock said. He clamped his hand over the digital counter, which turned frosty white. “My sweat isn’t enough. I need water, as much as you can find.”

Michael got up and went to check the tall urns flanking the door. He seized one and wrenched out the flowers before carrying it back.

But as Summer watched, a new sensation stirred inside. The energy of the Tablet was slipping.

“I can’t hold time any longer,” she said quickly.

“Here, Brother,” Michael said, setting down the urn.

Troy stretched out his free hand, summoning the water inside with a flick of power. The stream formed an undulating mass over the bomb, and rained down in thin streams. It filled the satchel and immersed the device. When he removed his hand, the water froze around the bomb, containing it in a block of ice.

Troy glanced at Michael, who nodded. “We’re good now, love. Let it go.”

Another burst of green light swept through the chamber as the enchantment ended. Time snapped back into motion. Bowers shouted something in Latin, and Shelton shoved Elettra behind his massive body.

“What is a bomb?” the Fae woman asked as she peeked around the Templar. “Is it something bad?”

“Damn me,” Bowers said and strode over to stare down at the device. “Did you defuse it?”

“No,” Summer said.

Although the counter numbers glowed red through the ice, they remained stopped at two seconds. She stood up to cast the transport spell, but saw Kord Westbrook and Allan Banning rush in.

“Someone planted a bomb in our gear,” she told the head of the Magus Corps’s ruling council. To the captain, she said, “Troy has frozen it, but I don’t know how long it will keep it from blowing up. Will your anti-violence wards deactivate it?”

“Yes,” Allan said, his young face suddenly matching his old, shrewd eyes. “But not as long as it remains in this chamber.” He came over and carefully retrieved the satchel, his expression stunned as he looked in at the frozen device. “Gods. There is enough C-4 here to have incinerated the building, and they knew just where to put it.” He regarded Summer. “You have saved us all, my lady.”

“Captain,” Westbrook said, his voice tight. “Take it to the safe room, and have our seer examine it.” As Allan left with it, Westbrook turned to Summer. “Ms. Lautner, I will not rest until I discover who is responsible for this act of madness. I promise you.” He eyed the Templars. “And I know where to start.”

“We brought nothing to this place,” Bowers countered. “There were witnesses. Nor were we ever left alone.” He met Westbrook’s glare with one of his own. “This was none of our doing.”

Which meant a Wiccan had to be responsible, Summer thought, and concealed a shudder. “I think it’s best we go now, Council Member.”

“If there are any other acts of sabotage,” he said, his face grim, “use the spell-joined mirror if you can.”

She nodded as Elettra joined them. “You have a traitor among you,” she said to Westbrook. “It will likely be the one you least suspect, so start with those you think too simple, or too good. Or you may wish to kill everyone, just to be sure.” She leaned close to whisper. “That is what my king did.”

“Thank you, madam,” Westbrook said through white lips and left the chamber.

“I do not think he will take my advice,” Elettra said, frowning. “Perhaps we should go now.”
Summer saw the men had finished searching the satchels. “Yes, I think we should. Everyone, in the circle please, and join hands.”

Michael and Troy flanked her, and laced their fingers through hers. Elettra stepped between the two Templars, and smiled up at Shelton as he took her hand.

“God protect us,” Bowers muttered as he completed the circle.

Summer closed her eyes, and once more summoned the power of the Emerald Tablet.

“From this our time we journey away, take this circle of travelers to Pompeii, the day seventeenth, the month August, the year seventy-nine A.D. So may it be.”