Sanctuary Coven Book 2
Two pairs of lovers, and more than twice the danger.
Imprisoned by the coven, Heather and Lucas must come to grips with the legacy of deceit that has brought them together. After being seduced by the Dorays, they must also discover the real purpose of the strange pair’s visit.
But the Dorays are drawing danger to them from all sides. Though their purpose remains hidden, it is clear that the beautiful and solitary young couple are not what they appear.
What Readers Are Saying
I'm impressed with the increasing depth of the characters and the palpable attractions and emotional attachments between them.
If you like shifters then you will love this series. I am so thrilled with the twist on what makes a shifter in this series. Such a unique perspective.
The threads are weaving into an intense pattern of slavery, and cruelty. Astrid and Sander are ancient familiars forced to be human sex slaves. The Sanctuary coven is full of familiar hybrids. A great premise.
I believe this has become my favorite series so far, which is no easy feat by the way. =)
This series just keeps getting better and better. I was unable to put this story down. This story has it all. Secrets, revelations, love, lust, tragedy and hope. The more questions that are answered and revealed the more questions that arise.
“THERE IS NO way to get out of here, Lucas,” Heather Moore said from the chair where she huddled under a tattered quilt. “Believe me, I’ve tried.”
Captain Lucas Carré paced the length of the weathered oak floor as he considered how to overcome the powerful spell that had turned the old cabin in the Colorado mountains into their prison. Outside, an endless winter played artist by adorning the murky windows with feathery scrolls of white frost. Through tiny gaps in the crystals he could see snowflakes waltzing around long daggers of ice forming on the eaves. Most settled in powdery drifts at the base of the panes, log walls, and planked doors. Some of the ice dancers, however, strayed too close to the invisible power encasing the cabin, and flashed bright blue before vanishing in a wisp of steam.
His present peril did not greatly concern Lucas. Protecting Heather Moore, the mortal woman trapped with him, did. Serving as a field officer in the Magus Corps had regularly placed Lucas in considerable danger. While infiltrating strange cities to investigate crimes perpetrated by dangerous Wiccan immortals, he had battled vicious wards, enchantment traps, and countless lethal spells. He had also fended off murderous sirens and dueled with desperate swordsmen. Thanks to his training, and his own elemental ability to control all forms of light, he had always prevailed. He had no doubt he would again. Centuries of experience had made him a wise and resourceful warlock. His ruthless dedication to duty kept him unwavering and focused.
Yet somehow, despite all this, a coven of rogue-harboring Wiccans had trapped him in this cabin along with Heather, the mortal woman he’d romanced, deceived and spellbound specifically to help him carry out his mission.
Heather had also been raised by the coven, who had imprisoned her in this very same cabin when she was a young teenager. Lucas wondered if she knew more about it than she had told him.
“Do you know the spell that was used to ward this place?”
She shook her head, making her long, blonde hair shimmer in the firelight.
“I was never given spell training. Marguerite taught me a little about herbs, runes, and some of the old traditions. That’s all. She wouldn’t even let me in the room when she was spell-casting.”
He crouched down in front of her chair.
“Why? Does she practice black magic?” At her blank look he added, “Did she use blood? Sacrifice small animals?”
“Maggie? Never.” Heather’s tawny eyes widened. “There are Wiccans who do that?”
Exasperated all over again, Lucas stood, but when he turned away Heather caught his hand. The soft warmth of her touch made him go still.
“I am sorry I did not foresee this, cherie,” he said. “I should have guessed they would have something to use against their enemies.”
“Is that what you are now?”
She shrugged off the quilt and rose to stand before him. Petite and lovingly curved, Heather radiated warmth and compassion.
“Did you come here to kill my sister?”
“I am not sent for that.” He lifted his hand to touch her cheek and caught himself. “But we cannot remain imprisoned. If I do not report to my superiors, other Magus Corps officers will be sent. They will find this place, and they will deal harshly with those responsible.”
She took in a sharp breath. “You mean they’ll destroy the coven.”
“It is never our goal to take life, only to protect it,” he said. “But Magus Corps officers are very powerful, and if attacked, they will defend themselves.”
To that Heather had no reply. She only hugged herself around the middle. Lucas longed to take her in his embrace, but forced his arms to stay at his sides. As her gaze dropped to the floor, he saw a small shiver shake her. Without another word Heather left the room. When Lucas followed her, he found her filling a battered tea kettle in the kitchen.
“There’s no coffee, but I can make some tea.” She added wood to the cook stove before she placed the kettle on the top. “I’m sure they’ll bring us some food later.”
He checked the cabinets and the pantry closet, which were empty of everything but some spider webs and a few old dishes. He’d already seen that the other rooms were equally barren. A dull anger rose inside him as he recalled that as a young teenager Heather had spent nearly a year locked in this cabin.
“Did they ever starve you when they kept you in here?”
“No, never.” She took down two cracked, chipped mugs and washed them out in the sink. “They’re not bad people, Lucas.”
“How many other good people do you know who imprison children and strangers?” he countered.
She braced herself against the dusty counter.
“What I meant was, the coven isn’t doing anything wrong. They keep to themselves and don’t harm anyone. And they don’t let strangers or children on the mountain.” She eyed him. “The only reason you got here is because you bespelled me to bring you.”
“Yes.” He would not deny how he had used her. “But my superiors at Magus Corps gave me no other choice.”
Heather didn’t say anything more until she had made the tea and brought the mugs to the old, scarred kitchen table.
“There’s no sugar or honey, but the ginger is crystallized, so it will be a little sweet.”
She sat down and stared at the steam rising from the amber brew. Lucas joined her.
“What is it, cherie?”
“There’s so much I don’t know,” she said slowly. “I never knew the Wiccans had a military. I thought the Templars were the only immortals who waged wars.” Her eyes shimmered as she looked at him. “I know I’m only a mortal who isn’t part of the faith anymore, but will you explain it to me? Please? Who are you, and why have you come here?”
Lucas wanted to tell her that ignorance protected her more than she knew, and as a Magus Corps operative he worked best in secrecy. At the same time he understood her confusion and longing. It had been the same for him when he had left his birth coven to enlist in order to stop his father.
“I must start from the beginning,” he warned her.
“Start anywhere,” she said. “Just tell me.”
“The Magus Corps is a group of powerful warlocks who work together to protect others like them,” Lucas said. “Long ago our kind were often born outside the protection of the covens, and had no idea what they were, or what they might do. Some came into abilities so powerful they were extremely dangerous. The initial group of Corps members searched for these untutored and uninitiated Wiccans, primarily to bring them into the fold, but also to prevent them from harming humanity.”
Once he gave her the brief history of the Corps, he described the dark centuries of persecution, the hostilities that arose between the Wiccans and the Templars, and how the immortal Knights forced covens around the world to go into hiding.
“As destructive as the Templars are, they were not our only enemy.” He hesitated, feeling the usual wave of shame that came with remembering his past. “Some witches and warlocks turned rogue—they left the Wiccan community and struck out on their own—in order to use their powers for evil purposes. Others would force mortals and even other Wiccans to carry out their bidding. After I left Mirror Valley, my birth coven, they fell under the power of our High Priest, Armand. He began raiding other covens to spell-bind others to serve him. Witches and warlocks joined forces to defend themselves against him, which began a series of terrible coven wars.”
“Did the Magus Corps stop this warlock?” Heather asked.
“Several officers were sent to negotiate with him,” Lucas said, remembering his fallen comrades. “They were all murdered by Armand and his followers. The Magus Corps finally sent me back to pretend to rejoin my birth coven in order to get close to the warlock. I did, and I tried to persuade him to end the violence. He refused, and instead he tried to kill me.”
Her eyes grew wide. “What did you do?”
“Armand did not realize that I had come into my elemental powers, and I was able to turn the spell back against him. It killed him.”
He could see it now, the spell-blasted barren lands littered with bodies, and the most powerful warlock in France staring up at him with lifeless eyes.
“And that is why I was sent here. The Magus Corps believes that your sister and her coven are harboring rogue witches and warlocks. That they may even be recruiting them for some dark purpose. Since I have the most experience in such matters, I was dispatched to investigate.”
“I don’t know what Marguerite and Dane are doing,” she admitted. “But if what you say is true, what will you do about it?”
“That will depend on what I can discover, and the actions my superiors direct me to take,” he told her honestly. “But I will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That much I can promise you.”
“But all you did was defend yourself.” Heather reached out to touch his hand. “Lucas, if anyone is to blame for Armand’s death, it’s him.”
“He was not the only casualty.” He stood and went to look out the kitchen window. “My superiors and I never guessed that Armand’s power was not his own. He secretly fed off the abilities of those he’d spell-bound to him. When he died the enslavement spells remained intact, condemning all his victims to share in his fate.”
Behind him Heather made a startled sound. “You mean they all died with him?”
“Every member of my birth coven. Hundreds more from other covens under his control were killed. The Verdon ran red with blood that day.” He saw the reflection of his bleak features, fractured by the frost-crusted window panes. “That is why some among us still call me the Butcher of Castellane.”
• • • • •
Heather didn’t know much about Lucas, but she felt sure of one thing.
“You are not a butcher. What happened was awful, but holding you responsible for what that man did is worse.”
“I alone survived that battle. There was no one left to blame but me.” He glanced back at her. “You must see it as they did. Would you feel so generous toward me if your sister died because of my actions?”
“I’d feel worse if you’d died, and she remained enslaved to some maniac.”
Without thinking she switched to her second sight, which allowed her to see his aura. Now that Lucas had dropped the spell that made him appear mortal she could see the full glory of his corona. Curling around him like some gigantic dragon of light, with shimmering scales of every color in existence, it should have terrified her. It certainly had the first time she’d seen it. But now his light seemed dimmer, veiled by the shadows of sorrow and regret. His suffering echoed in her own heart.
“No one really knows how lonely you are, do they?”
“Why should they care what I feel?” Lucas turned and frowned at her. “You should not try to read me, cherie. It will make you sick.”
“Actually, I think I’m getting used to it.”
Now she had to find out one more truth. One question burned, and yet she could hardly bring herself to ask it. She got up from the table, took her mug to the sink, and set it down. Before she could change her mind, she turned to him.
“Do you hate me for having sex with Sander?”
Being reminded of how she had been seduced by the strange warlock from Asia caused flares of crimson anger in his aura, but deep blue pools of shame soon engulfed them.
“I am angry that he used his power to coerce you against your will, but hate you? No, Heather. That is not possible.”
“But you despise yourself for falling under Astrid’s power, when you know that she did the exact same thing to you.”
She saw the confirmation of that as the aural veil of humiliation darkened. Suddenly she couldn’t bear it another moment, and flung herself at him.
“Please don’t. Neither of us knew what they meant to do, or we would have stopped it.”
Lucas gathered her close, his long arms wrapping around her as he rested his cheek against the top of her head.
“All that I have done to you, and you still care for me.”
She looked up at him. “Oh, don’t worry. I could still punch you in the head for some of the other things.” The joke sounded pathetic even to her ears, so she added, “Where would we be, if not for all these other people and forces working against us?”
“In Madrid,” he said softly. “Drinking wine, and dancing in the moonlight.”
A sharp hammering on the cabin’s door made Heather stiffen, and Lucas set her aside to stride into the front room. The door opened to reveal Naomi Selkirk with a large basket in her arm. Heather smelled Marguerite’s herb bread and vegetable soup, and felt her heart sink. If her sister was sending food, that meant she wasn’t going to be helping them get out.
“Don’t you two look cozy,” Naomi said, flicking some snow from her long black hair. “Move back from the door, Frenchie, or you don’t get the basket of goodies.”
Lucas didn’t twitch a muscle. “I wish to speak to the High Priest.”
“You can wish for anything you want, and starve in the process.” The moon witch’s sly green eyes shifted to Heather. “Didn’t you explain to him what time out means? How everyone shuns you? Which, in this case, will be forever?”
“Just leave the food, Naomi,” Heather said. She tried to pull Lucas back. “Lucas, please. She won’t come back until tomorrow, and we need something to eat.”
Reluctantly he moved back from the door, but never took his eyes off the smirking witch. She lowered the wards, dropped the basket inside the threshold, and raised the wards again.
“Good boy,” Naomi said to him. “Not at all like your Dad, are you? That’s a shame. From the way Dane described old Armand, he could have busted out of this place in a heartbeat. Oops.” She coyly pressed her fingertips to her mouth. “I guess you didn’t want Little Miss Useless to know that. So sorry.”
Heather felt Lucas’s muscles knot under her hand as her own shock set in. Armand had been his father? Naomi’s sneer faded as she regarded Heather.
“I heard how you got busy with Sander, too. I wonder how Maggie’s going to feel when Dane tells her that her precious little sister is nothing but a warlock slut.”
Considering how sexually active Naomi was whenever she left the mountain, Heather felt a little like laughing. But with her second sight she could see the ochre-brown of fearful confusion diluting Naomi’s normally strong red aura. The moon witch was taunting her to escape her own pain.
“I’d be happy to discuss it myself with Marguerite,” Heather told her in a neutral tone. “Please, ask her to come and see me.”
“Like that’s going to happen.”
Deprived of her victory, Naomi flounced off.
Lucas went directly to the door the moon witch had left open, which promptly slammed in his face. He lifted a hand and moved it parallel to the ward’s invisible barrier.
“This cannot be her magic. It is too old and permanent.”
“Dane built all these cabins, so it’s probably his spell.” She knew he didn’t want to acknowledge what Naomi had said about him, but she needed to know. “Was Armand your father?”
When he didn’t answer her or even turn, she took him by the arm. Only then did she see he’d thrust his other arm into the ward itself.
“Lucas,” she said, “you’re burned.”
“Only a little,” he said. He turned his reddening hand over to examine it. “And yes, I am Armand’s son. That was how I was able to get close to him. He never feared me. He thought I was weak and cowardly.”
Heather remembered the terrible scars she’d seen on Lucas’s back.
“How could they make you do that? How could they send you to fight your own father?”
“They didn’t. I volunteered.” He glanced down at the basket. “Are you hungry? That bread smells good.”
She didn’t have to look at the dragon of his aura to know he was hurting, and not just from testing the ward. His pain went much deeper, and he had carried it for centuries. She saw now why she had been drawn to him—how she had always sensed his loneliness even when he was enjoying himself. Lucas had been made an outcast, just like her. Taking his scalded hand gently, Heather brought his palm to her lips.
He stared down at her. “What are you doing?”
“Understanding you a little better.” She met his gaze. “You don’t have to punish yourself for the wrongs done by others—even by family. Those were not your decisions. You did the best you could under terrible circumstances that you never should have been made to endure. You don’t have to feel guilty for surviving, or deny yourself happiness. You are a good man.”
“If you truly believe that,” he said finally, “then perhaps there is hope that someday I will be.”