Hollow City Coven Book 3
A lover from the past. A dream remembered. A sensual awakening.
As Gillian approaches her goal, it only becomes more elusive. Near the legendary city of Tenebris, attackers in the remote wilderness of Cappadocia will stop at nothing to see her fail. Though she and Shayne have help, their new companion is a complication.
As different from Shayne as could be, the mercurial Mathias is a breath of fresh air. Though he and Shayne have a history, he makes no excuses about his desire for Gillian. But for her part, Gillian senses more than just attraction. She and Mathias walk in footsteps that they’ve somehow trod before. But the strange déjà vu is not the worst part. Their dim memories mix with vivid dreams, and in those dreams she dies.
What Readers Are Saying
Hazel Hunter is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Stand out characters: Gillian is one gutsy woman; Shayne is swoon worthy and hot man. Now enters Mathias, making it an electric mix.
Another great episode. Finally we have the addition of a third-party in this magical archeological journey.
I'm a HUGE fan of her female's because these girls are not damsels in distress. They are smart, capable and every bit as strong as their male companions. Gillian is all of these things and then some, she is bookish and nerdy, led by her passion and utterly relatable.
I love the action and mystery in this along with being steamy and hot. I couldn't put the book down and I can't wait for the next book. This series is awesome.
Trapped is another fantastic Hazel Hunter tale. The story is beyond intriguing and absolutely sucks you in. You feel for the characters, you laugh, cry, love and lose right along with Gillian Shayne and Mathias.
Gillian woke from a strange dream. Someone had been calling to her. Someone had been trying to tell her something, but she didn’t want to listen. She’d been so angry.
No. It wasn’t anger. It was fear.
Her eyes snapped open as the plane shuddered. She stifled a cry of panic, trying to see in the dim light. If her seat belt hadn’t still been fastened, she might have bounced into the aisle.
Irritated that she had called out for him first thing, she bit her tongue. But he appeared in the aisle of the small plane. He was the only other passenger. In the half-light, he loomed large and momentarily startling.
“The pilot says that it’s just a late, fall storm. We should be able to put down in Istanbul after making another loop over the bay.”
Gillian nodded. A bolt of lightning lit the cabin. In the stark light, despite his calm voice, she could see that Shayne was concerned. Instead of sitting down beside her, he paced in the aisle, keeping his balance despite the plane’s tilts and jolts. When he caught her eye, he grinned a little.
Gillian felt an answering smile on her face, then fought it back.
She was just a researcher. Her coven master had decided she needed protection. Shayne was that protection. It had begun as a mission beneath his rank, but they’d already survived the forests of Iceland, Port Ilya, and the dreaded Midnight Market––and they’d become intimate.
Now, Gillian wondered if they had grown too close. He had broken things off with her. They had been moving too fast, he said. They were too confused about what they were. He couldn’t protect her while he felt like that. Gillian could have screamed. But instead she’d cried herself out, every night since he’d ended it.
If you didn’t want me, why did you sleep with me?
Or maybe that’s all he wanted her for.
Yet again, she forced herself not to think of it.
As soon as their boat had docked in Turkey, Marceline, Gillian’s coven master, had a message waiting for them.
Glad you survived the Midnight Market. I hear strange rumblings in the Wiccan world. I like them less and less. I’ve arranged for a guide to meet you in Istanbul. Be careful. Monitoring.
Marceline had been short and to the point, the way she always was. Gillian would have appreciated some details, but she knew it would have to do. In some ways it was a miracle that Marceline had agreed to the research trip at all. The price tag had to be staggering. But as far as Gillian was concerned, the goal was the same as it had been for the last five years: find Tenebris, and stand in the ruins of the Hollow City.
She glanced at Shayne. It infuriated her that she still wanted him. If he’d but crooked his finger, she’d have run. She’d have given anything to see his eyes––one blue and one brown––look at her with that mix of tenderness and passion that made her melt. She nearly choked up.
The pilot called back for them to take their seats and belt in.
Shayne climbed into the seat next to her, giving her a half-grin.
“Let’s hope this landing’s a bit easier, hmm?”
Gillian shuddered, remembering their parachute landing in the forest.
“To say the least. I hope we never have to do that again.”
“I’d do it again if I had to, Gillian,” Shayne said softly. “I do care about you.”
“Because it’s part of your job,” she said tightly. “I know. You always do your job.”
When Shayne looked like he was going to protest, she held up a gloved hand.
“Please, don’t.” A sudden weariness tugged hard on her, as roiling emotions and sleepless nights took their toll. She took a deep breath and sighed. “Just…don’t.”
Another bolt of lightning flashed in the window, making her grit her teeth. If her journey ended here, Tenebris might still be lost, but at least she’d be spared making a bigger fool of herself.
The small plane descended from the dark sky into a pounding rain. When it bumped down onto the runway, Gillian released a breath that she didn’t know she was holding. As the plane taxied, Shayne unlatched his seat belt and stood. Gillian could barely make out buildings through the downpour. As usual, they were avoiding the international airport. By the looks of it, this was hardly more than an airstrip.
They silently gathered their gear and their familiars. Vlasti, Shayne’s falcon, was already chirping angrily from her cage. Max, Gillian’s rat, only snuffled sleepily, and turned over in her pocket. The pilot, already outside, lowered the steps. Thankfully, he’d managed to park them close. Shayne exited first. Though he turned to help her down, she ignored his hand. But she heard him right behind her as they sprinted for the nearest building.
Inside was a single flight desk manned by a girl who was drowsily reading a tablet. The pilot abandoned them to make his own arrangements. Shayne and Gillian were left alone.
“The guide was supposed to meet us here,” Gillian said with a frown.
Shayne nodded at the pelting rain.
“Might have been delayed.” He checked his phone. “I’m not getting reception in here. I’m going to step outside, see if that helps. I’ll let Vlasti go as well. She can watch us from the air.”
Gillian nodded, watching him walk away.
Her head was scrambled from the non-stop travel. Images of the Midnight Market, their ocean voyages, Sal, Konrad, the raging Templar––it all blurred together. But more than anything, it was images of Shayne she saw. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t stop. His gorgeous body had once writhed beneath hers. His beautiful mouth had moaned her name. She squeezed her eyes shut. It was the most exquisite kind of torture.
“Stop,” she muttered. “Oh god, you fool, just stop.” She slumped down on a nearby chair and buried her face in her gloved hands. “What am I going to do?” she whispered.
“I suggest drinking this coffee. I brought it from Istanbul. It’s pretty good.”
Gillian jerked up to see a man standing in front of her, a steaming paper cup in his hands. He wasn’t terribly tall, but there was an energy about him that seemed to electrify the air. He had black hair with a slight curl to it. His olive skin made her think of the Chicano boys she had grown up with. In this part of the world, he might have been Italian, Turkish, Spanish, Moroccan or any number of things. The stubble on his face gave him a certain rakish air. His smile flashed white.
“Or not. I mean, I like it, but maybe you don’t. In that case, I’ll be happy to drink it. But maybe I’ll think a little less of you.”
Gillian found herself giggling a little hysterically at his quick delivery. His English was American through and through, though she could tell that he wasn’t a West Coast boy. There was something Manhattan about the way he talked, all clipped syllables and drumbeat rhythm. More than that, there was something just a little manic about him. Even so, Gillian had to smile. She’d spent her childhood dodging people with bad intent, and this man had none of that.
“You drink it,” she said finally. “I guess I’ll risk you thinking the worse of me.”
“You know, I was kind of hoping you would say that? I finished mine on the way here.”
He sat down in the seat next to her as companionably as if they had been friends for years.
Now that she could look at him, she saw that he was dressed casually but with a careless fashion. The tight maroon T-shirt did little to hide the fact that he was muscular. The faded jeans clung to his thick legs. Perhaps most incongruously, he wore battered army boots, the only part of his attire that didn’t look like it came from a fashion spread.
“As soon as I finish this, we can take off,” he was saying. “I know this great little inn close to here, and…”
“Whoa, whoa. Look, I appreciate the offer but…”
The man looked startled and then shook his head.
“Nah, you got me all wrong. You’re Gillian, right? Marceline sent me.”
“You’re our guide?”
“Got it in one. I’m told you’re going to be wandering the Near East. And I’m also told no questions asked. Apparently we’re making a run to Göreme in Cappadocia? After that, it’s up to you.”
Gillian nodded hesitantly. “Do you have anything that you can show me to confirm this?”
“Oh right. Marceline said to access the Baltus Institute’s cloud storage on your phone. My dossier’s in your account.”
Still keeping a cautious eye on the man, she pulled out her phone. There was indeed a dossier in her file, and when she opened it, the pictures enclosed were definitely of the man sitting next to her. They were a strange mix of what looked like actors’ head shots and candid shots from places that could have been war zones. One picture featured him dressed in combat fatigues with a large rifle slung carelessly over his shoulders. But the next was a shockingly sensual shot of him lounging on a window seat, staring at the camera and wearing nothing more than a dyed piece of fabric draped over his hips.
“That’s a good one,” he murmured. He’d leaned close.
Gillian yelped, pulling the phone close to her chest and lurching back.
“That is my dossier,” he pointed out. “And I should mention that my resume is in there as well. Maybe less interesting than the pictures, but maybe something you want to take a look at too?” Gillian blushed, and it made the man laugh. “Go on. We don’t have to go anywhere until you’re completely certain that I’m the guy for you.”
Gillian opened the text file, reading the scanty description. His name was Mathias St. Martin. He was Wiccan with powers over electricity. He had been in the area for some 150 years. Gillian sighed, closing her phone.
“I guess you’re our man,” she said, standing up.
“Can I make a joke about wanting to be your man whenever you like?”
“Gotcha. Okay, Miss Gillian, as soon as your escort makes an appearance, I can get you some place warm, dry and…”
“What the hell are you doing here?”
Gillian spun in shock. Shayne, wet from being outside, was striding toward them, a look on his face that was a strange mix of outrage and shock.
“Shayne?” Gillian said, suddenly alarmed.
“Oh god, Shayne,” Mathias said, sounding equal parts irritated and amused.
“I think I asked you a question,” Shayne snapped, coming to stand between them. “The last I heard, you were drunk in Morocco.”
“The last you heard was almost a hundred years ago,” Mathias said derisively. “Imagine, if you can, a world where people actually grow and change over the course of a century.”
“I don’t want to hear it–” Shayne started, but Gillian cut him off.
“Shayne, Mathias is the guide that Marceline arranged for us. He’s going to get us to Cappadocia.”
Shayne stared at her. If she hadn’t been so irritated with him, and dead on her feet, the expression on his face would have been priceless.
“Gillian, you can’t be serious.”
“I am. And I’m also exhausted. Mathias, you mentioned an inn?”
Mathias grinned at her. “I did. I have the car waiting. Can I take your bag?”
“Absolutely not,” said Gillian. Even if she liked him, all her papers were in the pack. “But lead the way.”
Mathias’s car was a sleek black SUV with plenty of room in the back seat––except for the lounging cat. A little smaller than a normal cat, it had rings around its fluffy tail and legs. In Gillian’s pocket, Max was instantly alert.
“A new familiar?” Shayne asked, sliding in first. The enormous orange feline jumped down to the floor, but Shayne reached down and stroked its furry head.
“Meet Kabarik,” Mathias said from the front seat. “He’s all purr and no bite.” He started the engine. “Strap in. It’ll be an hour, maybe less.”
Kabarik leapt lightly to the console between the two front seats, then disappeared on the passenger side. Though Max couldn’t have seen, he relaxed fractionally, curling up under Gillian’s hand. Slouched in the back seat with Shayne, she resisted the urge to lean against him. The bench seat was made of luxuriously soft leather. She settled into it gratefully, watching Shayne.
When Mathias turned on the radio to something soft, she leaned toward her escort.
“Are you all right?” she whispered.
“I will be,” he muttered.
“Did I get us into a car with a serial killer?”
“No.” Shayne paused. He looked as if he wanted to say something, but then he shook his head. “It’s fine. We’ll talk about it later.”
If she was more alert, she might have wondered about the odd tension in Shayne’s voice. As it was, she started to nod and, after that, she couldn’t remember anything at all.
She awakened briefly to find that she had landed with her head in Shayne’s lap. He was shaking her shoulder.
“Gillian, sweetheart, get up. Come on, just a little farther.”
Groggy, she tried to get up, but her gloved hand slipped on the back seat’s slick leather. Then she was being lifted as if she weighed no more than a feather.
“My bag,” she mumbled.
“It’s all right, I have it right here.”
In another second she was in a feather-soft bed. She could smell lilac and lavender, and then there was only blackness.