Authors: Dannika Dark
A Seven Series Novel
All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2014 Dannika Dark
No part of this book may be reproduced, distributed, or 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.
Ivy believes every life must have balance, and during the past year, she’s found harmony living with the Weston pack. When an evil spirit from her past threatens her wolf, it sets off a chain reaction of events that alters the course of her destiny.
Lorenzo Church is a powerful, wealthy Packmaster who rules his pack through intimidation and order. He has vowed to never love a woman because love can destroy an empire. But chaos is fast approaching in the form of a Shifter named Ivy—a Native American, like him, who has invaded his dreams since the moment they met. She is spirited, wise, and unattainable.
In an unexpected turn of events, Ivy must choose whether or not to let go of the one person she has always loved. Lorenzo discovers the root of her courage but will never win her as his mate unless he learns to listen to his heart.
Also By Dannika Dark:
The Mageri Series
The Seven Series
Table Of Contents
A free spirit is like the wind and can never be caught.
But in four days, one man captured my heart.
When a blanket of stars stretched overhead and the luminous moon enveloped the brisk night, Lorenzo’s wolf trotted up the steps of a spacious mansion nestled deep in the woods.
Lorenzo Church led one of the largest wolf packs in Austin, Texas. His home accommodated roughly fifty Shifters, including women and children. Perhaps it was an ambitious size, but Lorenzo believed strength lay in numbers. Only a formidable leader could control a pack with that many wolves, and it required him to be demanding and merciless.
The contemporary home had sleek lines, plenty of windows, and a boxy look on the outside. While it appeared cold and unwelcoming, it gave off the impression that Lorenzo was a man to admire. The interior contradicted its modern, outward appearance. Lorenzo had customized the inside to resemble a rustic cabin of epic proportions. The social rooms were warm and inviting, each with wood floors and Native American décor. Only the kitchen and game rooms were styled with a modern touch to provide the pack a diverse environment. Towering three stories high, the Church house was an impressive estate overlooking five hundred acres of property.
He lifted his snout in the air, smelling the bitter scent of wild weeds. A small vine had tangled around one of his dirty paws, but Lorenzo ignored it and lurched up the steps. Most Shifters had no memory once their animal took over, but alphas had a powerful bond with their spirit wolf, one that made it possible for them to remember the shift and have a degree of control while they were in animal form.
Late October usually meant agreeable weather with a few cold snaps. But over the last few weeks, Lorenzo’s wolf had sensed a hard winter approaching that would bring record temperatures. The wind had shifted that morning and had been gusting all day. His wolf glanced up at the moon; dark clouds raced across the sky.
Lorenzo shifted into human form long enough to open the front door.
He’d spared no expense in building this home, which was nestled high on a hill in the forest. As soon as the air-conditioning raised the hair on his arms, Lorenzo shifted back into his wolf. His ebony toenails clicked on the reddish wood floor, and an amber glow from the light fixtures illuminated the interior.
Most of the men were at the Shifter bar, searching for the kind of gratification that only the company of an unmated woman could bring. There were sixteen bitches in his pack, all mated with the exception of five. Two of those five were teenage girls nearing the age of maturity. Lorenzo protected them, as did their fathers, since young women didn’t date until they went through their first change, which usually happened in their late teens or early twenties. It was considered a rite of passage for a young woman when her wolf emerged for the first time—symbolizing the loss of innocence, and only then did they begin to search for a mate. If they were unlucky finding a suitable Shifter, Lorenzo would relocate them to a pack of their choice, as was also the custom for young men. The remaining three unmated women were untouchable to the rest of the men because Lorenzo shared his bed with them, but only on his terms.
“Hey, Enzo,” one of his men said in greeting. Friends called him Enzo, while business associates addressed him as Church.
His wolf growled, tail high as he trotted past the man and scurried up the staircase. Lorenzo could have walked in the house in human form since Shifters didn’t have inhibitions when it came to nudity, but his men needed contact with his wolf on a regular basis. They were both in charge, and each deserved the same magnitude of respect. He polished his fangs with his tongue, the taste of blood still fresh on his palate from the hunt.
Lorenzo resided in the largest room on the third floor, and he had the entire level to himself. When he reached his door, he shifted into human form again and went inside. The door closed behind him, and he touched one of the tall bedposts on his right. Each had intricate carvings of wolves and other Native American symbols.
The room had a unique and sizeable layout. The bed and fireplace were to his right, and on the left was a dark wall with a low chest of drawers. Various heirlooms passed down from his ancestors decorated the shelf and walls. But midway through the room, the wall stopped and became a long row of floor-to-ceiling windows that extended all the way to his luxurious bathroom. His room branched farther off the left side of the house than the others to give him the scenic view. Because they were on a hill, it placed his room high above the treetops. The view in the morning was exquisite, with soft gold and copper hues spreading across the land like a brilliant tapestry of light.
He poured himself a glass of Scotch and stood in front of the window, his naked body bathed in moonlight. Tomorrow would be a full moon, and call it superstition, but nothing good ever came of a full moon.
He grimaced as the drink scorched its way down his throat. He swirled the Scotch in his glass and thought of another moonlit night decades ago when his aunt had been found slain. Lorenzo was just a boy then, but the murder marked a transition for his pack… and his family. A pool of blood had surrounded her open arms, empty of the infant she’d once clutched to her bosom. His uncle had blamed a neighboring pack, suggesting they had motive because of a land dispute. They’d laid Lorenzo’s aunt to rest on sacred land. Alone. His uncle had initially told the pack he’d found the dead baby and buried it somewhere on his land—the property in dispute—but suspicion rose among his men when their wolves were never able to sniff out the unmarked grave. It was only last year that Lorenzo discovered the infant had survived.
That baby was Alexia Knight, who also went by Lexi. After years of uncertainty, the truth had finally emerged. Lorenzo’s uncle, in a jealous rage, had hired a hitman to murder his wife and child. Not
child. The baby’s biological father was a drifter from up north. Had the facts gone public, the infidelity would have shamed his uncle and he would have lost the respect of his pack. Because no evidence led to the murderer, the incident became a topic of discussion behind closed doors. Lorenzo’s father had known about the affair, and rumors had cast a negative light on the immediate family—guilt by association. Even now, Lorenzo felt branded by the shame of secrets, betrayal, murder, and lies.
The hitman hadn’t been able to bring himself to kill the infant, so in a panic he’d kidnapped the baby and given it to his wife. Alexia had been raised by the human who’d shot her mother in cold blood.
Her father, Nelson Knight, had paid for the life he’d taken. Lorenzo had made sure of that. After taking him into custody, he’d released Nelson on the property and given him a running start before Lorenzo shifted and hunted him like prey. He gave Nelson the same thing his aunt had been given: no mercy.
Lorenzo set down his glass and folded his arms, cords of muscle tightening as he admired his land. His dark hair fell past his broad shoulders like a mane, and the moonlight accentuated the dark tattoo inked on his left arm.
A few wolves sprinted on the grounds below, and he squinted, making sure they were members of his pack. Packmasters established territories, and those who broke the rules and trespassed were subject to punishment from the pack. Rogues wandered in now and again, but Lorenzo made sure his wolves marked the property regularly to keep outsiders away. Shifters were protective of their land, women, and children. Not so long ago, they hadn’t been afforded such luxuries. The immortals saw Shifters as nothing but laborers; men had been chained, women violated. So modern comforts and organized law didn’t put Lorenzo at ease. The social order could turn on a dime, even among their own kind.
Wolves had worked hard over the years to secure land, and some of the other animals who hadn’t grew envious. A few years ago up in Oklahoma, a pack of twenty had been slaughtered and their territory claimed by a small family of panthers—a mated couple and their two grown sons. Without proof of what had occurred, the local Council assumed a personal dispute had led to war, so the panthers were permitted to keep their prize. Humans might consider it savage behavior, but they weren’t human. Their laws were stripped down to the basics.
Every so often, one of Lorenzo’s men broke the rules, and Lorenzo’s job as a Packmaster was to oversee punishment. Sometimes that meant trading him off.
Other times it meant death.
A light knock sounded at the door, the kind that came from the delicate knuckles of a woman’s hand. “Enzo, do you want some company?”
“Go away,” he said impassively.
“If you change your mind…” It was Rebecca, an alpha female with intentions of becoming the Packmaster’s mate. He’d rather trade her off, but she had taken a dominant role in the house. Men who didn’t fit in with a pack were much easier to trade off than strong women were.
The unmated women had their sights on Lorenzo. A position at his side would mean power, wealth, and security. But he didn’t trust a woman not to bed another man. It had taken him years to amass this fortune and empire, and he’d witnessed firsthand how a man’s love for a woman could destroy everything he’d built. Only a foolish man believed there could be one woman deserving of all his devotion. As far as Lorenzo was concerned, love was inconsequential.
His vision blurred as his mind drifted back to a night like this, one year ago. Austin Cole, a neighboring Packmaster, had held a peace party at his house that went awry when one of his brothers drugged the snacks as a joke. That’s when Lorenzo had first laid eyes on a beautiful woman standing on a tree swing and speaking lyrically. She carried herself like an enchanted being from a distant time. Twinkle lights and ivy encircled the rope, and her long, mahogany braid loosened in the wind.
Lorenzo had everything a Packmaster could desire: power, land, wealth, and a respected pack. Nothing was unattainable, and he acquired anything that intrigued him. Had Alexia not already been seduced by another alpha, Lorenzo would have brought her into his bed, but no woman was worth all that trouble. He hadn’t coveted her for long; envy was not a palatable trait and left a bitter taste in his mouth. The young beauty on the swing was one of Austin’s packmates; therefore, he tried to put her out of his mind.
So why did seeing an acorn remind him of this woman? Or the harvest moon on an autumn’s night? Or a child’s swing? Earlier that year, he had run into her again at an outdoor festival. When a drunk had put his brute hands on her, it incited a riotous anger within Lorenzo. It should have irritated him that the woman had fought back with her words and not her fists. What good were words against a sharp arrow or a cutting blade? And yet this demure woman from his memories enchanted him.
Perhaps the only fascination was her purity. Shifter women often protected their virginity until they began entering relationships in their early twenties. But once a flower is plucked from the garden, it withers.
Lorenzo turned away from the window and headed toward the shower. The last thing he needed to set his mind on was a woman.