When historian Gwen Hoffman first meets time traveler Mike Garvin, an ex-Special Forces weapons sergeant back from ancient Gaul where he was embedded as a centurion in Julius Caesar's elite 10th Legion, she is more than a little put off. Scarred and dangerous-looking, the man appears more thug than time traveler. Yet he is the person TimeWarp, Inc. is sending back in time to protect Jeshua bar Yosef (Christ) from twenty-first century assassins; the man Gwen was assigned to prepare for life in first-century Galilee. Gwen, of course, has no idea she and Garvin will become lovers. Nor does she realize she herself will end up in Roman Palestine, where she will not only meet Jesus but face danger alongside Mike in the adventure of a lifetime...
“Centurion Cotta,” Caesar greeted Mike as if genuinely glad to see him. “What’s this about you wishing to leave camp?”
Mike came to attention and saluted. “I lost a talisman that belonged to my father….” Another guilt pang. “…and is therefore precious to me. I believe I know where I dropped it. This slaver has agreed to help me search.”
Caesar’s dark eyes went to Harper, who retreated a step. “I know most of the slave dealers who follow my host, but don’t remember seeing you.”
“I recently arrived from Athens, Dominus,” Harper said in passable Latin with a half-bow.
Caesar said something to Harper in Greek that Mike did not understand, having never learned the language. Harper answered in kind. Not bad, Mike thought, hoping it sounded as authentic to Caesar as it did to him.
“One moment,” said Caesar’s clerk/slave in Latin. “This man is not a Greek. His accent is like none I’ve heard. Certainly not in Athens.”
Mike held down the panic that threatened to rise in him. “He’s Macedonian, sir, and only half that, his mother being from Illyricum.”
Vague suspicion danced in Caesar’s eyes, and Mike began to sweat. Few men ever put one over on Gaius Caesar of the Julii clan. “Is that true?” The general directed his query at Harper. “Are you Macedonian?”
“Half-Macedonian, Dominus,” Harper answered. “As the centurion says.”
“Where in Macedon?”
Mike prayed Harper did his homework.
Harper lied very well, Mike acknowledged. A skill common to corporate guys everywhere. Only here, Harper was among men who cut their teeth on intrigue and machinations.
“Dominus,” interrupted the clerk/slave a second time. “I observed this man peering beneath his sleeve outside. There was a flash of metal of some sort in the torchlight. He may have a hidden weapon.”
Caesar’s fleshless face hardened. “What is it you conceal, slaver?”
When Harper hesitated, Caesar’s wolfhound, Crixus, moved menacingly closer, his short, but powerful, body a weapon pointed straight at Harper’s throat.
“Jewelry, great Caesar,” a sweating Harper said obsequiously, no longer the sarcastic fellow who referred to him earlier as the ‘great man.’ “A mere trinket.”
The next words that issued from the Proconsul’s mouth were precise and sharp as razors. “Let us see. Raise your sleeve.”
Mike was sweating profusely now. What the hell did Harper have? The tent’s brazier was throwing out a lot of heat, it seemed.
Harper hesitated again.
“I ordered you to raise your sleeve,” Caesar repeated in a voice that said he would not ask twice.
Crixus’ thick hand went to the hilt of his gladius.
Reluctantly, Harper raised his sleeve as ordered, to reveal a thing that made Mike’s heart sink. The man wore a Rolex wristwatch.