Read One Second (Seven Series Book 7) Online
Authors: Dannika Dark
A Seven Series Novel
All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2016 Dannika Dark
No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database retrieval system without the prior written permission of the author. You must not circulate this book in any format. Thank you for respecting the rights of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Edited by Victory Editing and Red Adept. Cover design by Dannika Dark. All stock purchased.
EXPLOSIVE FINAL INSTALLMENT
Love. Family. Brotherhood.
Lexi has faced personal struggles, but nothing has prepared her for the most perilous battle of her life. Shifters are on the brink of war as Northerners target Colorado in an attempt to infiltrate the borders. Texas winds up on the hit list, and the Weston pack prepares to fight for their land… and for their lives.
Austin’s courage is put to the test when rogues want to seize his land and slaughter his pack. But that’s not all he’s facing as two shocking revelations turn their lives upside down. His love for Lexi is unwavering, but their future is uncertain.
Will the local packs set aside their differences to fight together, or will this be the end of peace among Shifters? Stand witness to the epic conclusion of the Seven series.
Destiny will find you.
Before you begin, did you read
Don’t miss out on this Seven Series stand-alone about Prince.
Also By Dannika Dark:
THE MAGERI SERIES
Risk (Coming soon)
THE SEVEN SERIES
Table Of Contents
Austin blew the steam from his cup of coffee and gazed through the front window of their Colorado cabin.
Lexi’s silver wolf pounced through the snowdrifts until all he could make out were the black tips of her ears atop her snow-white face. It was dusk, and she’d been outside for over three hours. He sipped his black coffee, admiring how magnificent Lexi was in human and in wolf form.
Earlier that year when Denver and Maizy coupled, Lexi had succumbed to a bout of depression. Austin assumed she was yearning to start a family—something he wouldn’t agree to. She had soldiered through life like nobody’s business, conquering every battle that had come her way. But beneath her armor dwelled a sensitive woman, denied the one thing her heart desired.
The guilt he carried was bone-deep, so Austin planned a winter trip to Colorado for them to share some cuddle time in a secluded cabin. It was just the sort of bonding two wolves needed to get back on track. Sometimes there was no better healing magic than a fireplace, snow, heavy blankets, warm bodies, and miles of nothing but land.
A bluish tint illuminated the snow from the polished gleam of the full moon against a dark sky. The luminous orange light from within the cabin spilled onto the porch, and the heavy smell of smoke from the fireplace tainted the clean air.
Austin set his half-empty mug on the wooden table and glanced to his left at the spacious room. A long dining table separated the kitchen on the left from the living room on the right. A series of windows kept the kitchen brightly lit in the morning, while the opposite wall in the living room had no windows—only a stone fireplace that gave off a dark and cozy appeal at night. Long beams led up to the ceiling, and the wood glowed like warm butterscotch when firelight reflected against it.
Ivy’s handiwork was visible throughout the cabin. Austin had hired her to restore the antique furniture, and it had been an ongoing project for the past three years. A beautifully woven rug with a Native American motif covered the floor near the hearth, and most of the tables were ones she’d restored. Austin’s favorite piece of furniture was the brown leather sofa. It was weathered, soft, and perfect for napping. Lexi preferred spreading her oversized pillows across the floor so they could lie down, snack on cookies and chocolate milk, and talk about anything
Anything but work. Anything but money. Anything but pack drama. Lexi would laugh until her sides hurt as they shared memories of growing up, and Austin especially liked telling stories she’d never heard about her big brother—like the time when they’d gone to Austin City Limits to check out the music festival. Wes ended up mud wrestling some girl who got so serious that Wes sprained his ankle trying to get away from her. Austin educated Lexi on Shifter history passed down from his parents, like how Colorado was the first state where Shifters had established territories recognized by Breed law.
Mostly they talked about Wes. It felt damn good to have someone to share memories with, but every so often the silence would press down as a reminder of his absence. Austin had known Wes since grade school, and a part of him had died on the night the state trooper delivered the tragic news. Human or not, Wes had been a best friend, a brother, and an unofficial packmate. Austin loved his blood brothers, but they’d been adults by the time he had come along, which was usually the case among Shifter siblings—especially boys.
The pain was bittersweet since Wes’s little sister was now his life mate. Wes would have wanted her happy and protected, and
could love that woman any harder than Austin did.
A single note hung in the air, penetrating the silence. The baying of his mate glided across his body like silk. Lexi’s wolf was calling for Austin to join her.
“Damn,” he murmured, realizing she might end up attracting Reno’s wolf to the property.
They hadn’t traveled to Colorado alone. Reno and April were staying in a cabin nearby, and Lorenzo and Ivy were farther down the road. No one else in the pack had been up for a trip in knee-deep snow.
He had plans with his woman tonight, and the last thing he needed was Reno’s wolf showing up to coax her out for a run in the woods.
Austin stood up from his chair and cracked the door open. “Lexi, come inside.”
He couldn’t see her, but he heard her snort in protest.
Austin had volunteered to cook dinner, and while Lexi teased him about burning down the cabin, she was excited to try his chili. He intentionally kept small secrets from her because it added spark to their relationship. She also didn’t know that he was an excellent line dancer. Not something an alpha brags about, but he was saving that surprise for their next trip to Albuquerque.
He clapped his hands once, his hot breath visible when it collided with the frosty air. “Come on, Ladybug. Let’s eat.”
An icy breeze drifted in as he left the door ajar. Eventually the heavy smell of meat would lure her wolf in, and he could sense by her restless demeanor that Lexi’s energy was growing stronger and she was ready to take over.
He lifted a shopping bag from the dining chair and hefted it, eyeing the loft upstairs when he felt how light the contents were. He wondered if she’d bought some “bad girl” clothes. Austin wasn’t into lingerie, but earlier that day he’d been admiring the scantily clad mannequins in a lingerie store long enough that Lexi had punched him in the arm. Not long after, Lexi and April had split off to do some girl shopping.
Austin set the bag on the table and reached inside, pulling away the red tissue paper. He lifted a thin, rectangular strip of fabric between his fingers—black lace with a violet trim woven around the edges. He wasn’t sure if it was a pair of panties or a blindfold, but there was no way in hell it was going to hold her ass. Those beautiful rounds were going to peek out of the bottom, and just thinking about it made his mouth water.
Most alphas could scent a female’s oncoming heat cycle. Sometimes Lexi’s would come on gradually and she’d complain about “tingles,” while other times it would slam into her like a hurricane. Her scent had changed two weeks ago, and he was certain she didn’t have a clue or else she would have canceled the trip. Judging by the lingerie, this promised to be a hell of a night.
Austin had been avoiding Lexi during her heat spells for years. Well, except for earlier that year. He’d succumbed to the blissful sensation of taking his mate the way nature intended, but he’d cut short their interlude before risking an unplanned pregnancy.
Lexi had endured multiple miscarriages, and it was uncertain if she could carry to full term. Even if she could, what if he lost her? A Shifter’s animal hibernated during pregnancy because shifting could endanger the fetus, and without the ability to heal, it left the mother vulnerable.
Fatherhood was a joy he could only envy as he watched Jericho kiss his sons and daughter, or when Lorenzo would periodically call home to check on Hope, reassured by the sound of her voice.
Austin wondered if his fears were the reason the pregnancies had never taken hold. Who knew what kind of power existed in their genes?
So when he sensed her coming cycle weeks before their trip, he decided it was fate. This time he wouldn’t turn his life mate away. Austin vowed to love her the way a man should love his woman: completely and unconditionally.
Whatever challenges awaited them, they would face them together.
Thoughts of children evaporated when the sound of toenails clicked on the wood floor behind him. Austin quickly shoved the panties back into the bag and wadded up the tissue paper.
He swaggered past her wolf and patted her side, large flecks of snow sliding off her silver fur and smacking onto the floor.
“Feel better?” he asked with a playful laugh, closing the open door.
In a swirl of magic, Lexi’s wolf transformed into an exquisite woman with straight brown hair, bourbon-colored eyes, faded freckles on the bridge of her nose, and one hell of a scowl on her face.
She shivered in a puddle of ice water. “It’s twenty degrees outside. A warm blanket would have been a nice greeting.”
Austin worshipped the ground she walked on, but he wasn’t about to let a blanket do the job of a man. He grinned, and as soon as he planted his hands on her naked hips, she sighed and melted against him.
Damn, he loved it when she did that.
Austin ran hot, and Lexi had learned to appreciate his body temperature on cold winter nights.
Lexi slid her icy fingers beneath his shirt, and he grew hard. She gave him a mischievous smile when she looked up at him with those soft brown eyes. “
what you get for snooping in my bag.”
His brows popped up in surprise.
Lexi lifted his shirt and pressed her nude, wet body against him. “You put it back on the wrong chair.”
“If you keep this up, I won’t get a chance to see you put them on.”
“Not now,” she said, pushing him away.
He kissed the curve of her neck. “If not now, when?”
“We’ll be late for dinner.”
He smiled against her skin, breathing in her scent. “The chili can wait.”
“Maybe so, but Reno’s appetite can’t.”
Austin narrowed his eyes and stepped back. “Say again?”
Nothing about the look Lexi gave him was innocuous. “Well… it seemed like a waste for you to cook
that chili for just us.”
“Alexia Talulah Cole…”
She folded her arms and jutted her hip to the side. “What have I said about using my middle name? Look, we didn’t drag our friends all the way out here to isolate them in some godforsaken cabin in the middle of nowhere while we’re busy having primal sex.”
Austin had no doubt the other couples were engaging in their own mating rituals—perfectly happy to spend time alone for the rest of the trip. He sensed Lexi was creating a diversion. She’d been doing it since they arrived two days ago, always finding something to do whenever he got aroused.
“If that’s the way you want it,” he said gruffly, folding his arms and turning away. “Guess I don’t care to see what’s in your bag, either.”
She laughed brightly and snatched the handle, swinging the bag around as she strutted toward the ladder to the loft. “You obviously didn’t see
“What makes you say that?” Images of Lexi in those lacy panties flitted through his mind, and he gripped the chair, caging his growl when he swung his gaze up and saw her naked at the top of their loft.
“Because, Mr. Cole, if you had seen
in this bag, you’d already be up here having your way with me. But since you’re not interested,” she sang, moving out of sight.
The next thing he knew, his blue flannel shirt came flying over the edge and landed on a lampshade, followed by his dark-wash jeans.
“All right, smartass,” he shouted, changing clothes in the middle of the cabin. “We’ll do your formal chili dinner with everyone, make Vampire jokes, and then we’ll have drinks. But once they’re gone, you have a date with everything in that bag, and I’m the chaperone.”
“Dream on,” she replied.
He zipped up his jeans. “And
be the song we make love to.”