6 months earlier
The Pack bonds tore like a visceral punch to the stomach. I gasped, clutching my abdomen. Embry braced himself on the wall beside me and muttered a curse.
“Who?” His voice was guttural.
I searched the Pack bonds but couldn’t find the source of the break, not that I’d expected too.
I ground my teeth together. “I don’t know. We shouldn’t have—”
We both took a moment to catch our breath. My stomach clenched, and I fought through a wave of nausea, praying that whoever was gone wasn’t someone I was close to. It would hurt none the less, but if it was Amelia or Asa or — I cut off the thought.
I couldn’t afford to panic. This was the third death in as many months, and I’d felt each one with growing magnitude.
Only the Alpha’s connection to his Pack was supposed to be deep enough to sense when someone passed. His strength was expected to shield the Pack from the effects of a loss like this. But my father’s power was deteriorating and as a result, we felt our pack mate’s death like a physical blow.
It was another sign that his time was ending. I hated the realization that sooner rather than later, he would have to step aside or face a challenge he didn’t have a chance in winning. We couldn’t afford a weak link in our leadership. Not with hostilities between the Pack and the people of Lethbridge as they were.
Embry’s amber-colored eyes met mine. “You know what this means.”
I shook my head. “He still has time.” My words were uncertain even to my own ears.
Pushing from the wall, Embry moved beside me. “Lindy, if you accepted my claim your father would step down. There wouldn’t be any—”
I pressed my hand to his chest. “No.”
His jaw clenched, and his eyes filled with flecks of gold. It frustrated him. Made him angry, even. I couldn’t blame him. Things would be easier if I accepted his claim because he was right, my father would step down and relinquish his position as Alpha. He’d make way for new leadership that was sorely needed in these desperate times. And he’d give us his blessing.
I wanted to lead my people. My wolf knew we were born for it. But mating Embry wasn’t a part of the deal we were ready for. And despite knowing deep down in the marrow of my bones that I wanted to be my Pack’s next Alpha, my uncertainty where Embry was concerned made me cognizant of just how not ready I really was.
Because an Alpha made sacrifices for the benefit of their Pack. And this wasn’t a sacrifice I was willing to make. One day, maybe I’d be ready. But not now. Not yet.
“I’m not saying no.” I reminded him.
My wolf hadn’t picked him. There was no guarantee she ever would, but if she did, everything would fall into place. We were still young. I didn’t want to take the risk of choosing him as my mate without some measure of assurance that the bond would snap into place.
I wanted a true mating. Not a marriage of convenience like humans were so often accustomed to.
A tick formed in his jaw. “Right. But you’re not saying yes either.”
I sighed and moved away. “I think we need to take some time. Discover ourselves. Figure out what we want.”
With lightning quick reflexes, he gripped my jaw and stepped closer, invading the space in front of me until we were close, our lips mere inches apart. His warm breath fanned over my skin. “Make no mistake Lindy, I know exactly what I want.”
I swallowed hard, and he released me.
“Come on. We need to find out what happened.” He moved down the hallway with quick, efficient steps, his long stride eating up the space between us. I watched his quickly retreating form before following after him. increasing my pace to catch up and inwardly cursing.
Why can’t you just pick him? I asked my wolf. She didn’t respond. She never did. It was always a one-sided conversation with her, yet she somehow always managed to make her feelings known.
I didn’t want to hurt him. And though I told him I wasn’t saying no, deep down, I didn’t think my answer would ever turn into a yes.
About The Blood & Magic Universe
The world isn’t what it once was. Creatures of the night and all things paranormal are no longer content sitting on the side lines as humans cling to power. They’ve risen up and refuse to go back into hiding.
But humanity is afraid and when humans fear something, they seek to destroy it.
Governments waged wars they could not win in an attempt to beat back the monsters of their nightmares. Battles were fought and lives were lost.
In the end, humans did the only thing they could. They conceded and a thin agreement was formed between the four largest factions — humans, vampires, shifters, and witches — in an attempt to end the bloodshed.
Years later, peace is tenuous at best and humanity continues to quake in the aftermath of the Awakening. The economy crashed. Democracy fell. Big pharma, fire departments, police forces, hospitals, public schools, and all things government funded struggle to find their footing.
In this new age, law and order are a thing of the past. Only the strong survive. Only the strong remain in power.
It’s a volatile and messed up world. Welcome to the aftermath of the Awakening.
“Breakneck pacing, a strong fierce heroine, and a twist at every corner.” —NYT Bestselling Author Cherry Adair
“I love how Danielle Annett writes. Her books are so intriguing, action packed, and unique.”
—The Book Quarry
"I personally am a Kate Daniels fan, and I loved this series."
“Oh my GOODNESS! I completely devoured this book in one sitting it was THAT GOOD!”
—Cocktails and Books Blog
“I have to say, Danielle Annett sucked me into a world of magnificent beings and creatures.”
The Blood & Magic series
Start at the beginning!
When the good guys start to look more like villains, Aria has no choice but to question everything she knows, including the people she thought she could trust.
About the author
Danielle Annett is a USA Today Bestselling Author. She likes to write about kick butt heroines in volatile settings and apologizes in advance for all of the cliffhangers in your future. She can’t help herself. But she promises that they’ll all be worth it in the end.
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