Authors: Rachel M Raithby
Copyright © Rachel M Raithby, 2013
Cover Art by Indie Designz
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author
’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the copyright owners.
For my Husband.
You are the inspiration behind every word of love.
I love you more than words can ever express
Thank you for always believing in me.
A huge thank you...
To my family and friends for sticking by me through another book, for all your kind words and support when I published the first.
A special thank you to my mum for all your help, for being my biggest fan and getting that first edit done as quickly as possible.
o all my followers on FB and Twitter, and the amazing women who’ve helped me promote my books and cheered me on. We Indies really would be stuck without the blogs you run and I will be forever grateful.
To every reader that took a chance on LEXIA, for all your FB posts and reviews, without you my dream wouldn’t have come true.
Also thank you to Indie Designz for another amazing book cover and to my editor, Raighne, for working on my book with two baby twins in your arms and every comment you write telling me your favourite lines; they really do keep me going throughout that final edit!
And finally, to my husband, Richard, without you I wouldn’t be able to stay at home and look after our beautiful children and write the stories that crowd my head.
Lincoln knew the second his parents died. He may have only been 6 years old but he knew; the blow to his gut, the unmistakable tear to his heart was all the proof he’d needed.
He’d been stalking his friend Caden through the tall long grass that h
ad grown up during summer; it had turned golden with autumn providing great cover for his friend to hide in. His sandy fur, dappled with dark spots couldn’t be seen but Lincoln had always been a predator, he’d been born with the natural instincts of his panther and now he used those instincts, taking in his surroundings: the slightly bent grass, the air currents, and then he pounced.
Caden never spotted his friend
’s dark small body as it sailed through the air. They’d crashed together, rolling around in a mass of fur and sparkling light, an eruption of laughter as two best friends revelled in the joys of their game. That had been the moment he’d felt it.
At first Lincoln
thought he’d been shot; he’d gasped for breath clutching at his chest. Looking down he’d expected to see dark red blood spilling from his body but there had been nothing there. Caden had run for help as he’d watched his friend crying out and gasping, but before anyone reached him the pain subsided and Lincoln knew as a dull empty ache filled his heart that he’d never see his parents again, never listen to his mother’s soothing voice as she read him stories or sit star struck as his father told him about the battles and fights he’d had against the Hunters.
In that moment Lincoln Turner had grown up
. His path had been forever changed and he vowed to never hide from his heritage; he would spend the rest of his life hunting down those who killed the innocent. He’d live only for his revenge, for the kill and the rush from his beast. He’d become a lone predator, his heart closed off from the world.
But what Lincoln didn’t know was that one day in his quest for revenge, he’d meet a girl who should have been his enemy and she’d fill that dull empty ache in his heart
. She’d become his new path, his new destiny...
“Linc!” Caden called as he ran to him, pausing whilst he passed the girl bloodied and unconscious on the ground.
His hands clasped together and pressed down on his chest,
one, two, three, four, five,
he counted with each press. The young blond girl sniffled next to him and he glanced at her quickly, seeing the torn shirt she held was now soaked through with Lincoln’s blood.
“Get my bag, inside there’s thick gauze and bandages, you need to stop that bleeding,” he said.
She looked up at him and glanced around, her eyes wide with fear. “O-okay,” she stuttered, clambering to her feet.
One, two, three, four, five, Come on Linc!
Tilting his head back he breathed air into his lungs and carried on his frantic compressions on Lincoln’s chest.
Caden’s heart boomed in his ears, blood pulsing through his head as the seconds ticked by and still his friend lay dead.
One, two, three, four, five...
“Lincoln, come on Linc, breathe god damn it, breathe!”
Lincoln breathed in a small breath and his heart beat sluggishly beneath Caden’s clasped hands.
The girl’s hand pressed gauze against Lincoln’s side, her other shakily wrapped a bandage around his middle.
“Can you handle that alone? Nice and tight, we really need to stop his bleeding and keep an eye on his breathing, he’s still really unstable. I’ll go help the girl.”
“Lexia,” she whispered so quietly he couldn’t quite catch her.
“Lexia, her name is Lexia,” she said in a firmer tone.
Caden stood with a nod and rushed to Lexia; he’d never seen someone so badly hurt and still living. As he worked on her battered and broken body his mind wandered back to the moment he'd first laid eyes on her. She'd stood there braced to fight holding that blood-stained knife of hers in a death grip, every inch of her body shook with the effort to stand and yet she held the blade perfectly still. He had no doubt in his mind that even in the state she was in, she’d have killed him in a flash. Those eerily gold eyes of hers glowed with power and strength; she would protect Lincoln and the girl to her death and it looked like she already had. Her whole body was spattered in blood, some of it her own; it ran freely from her wounds, pooling on the forest ground. It had felt like an eternity waiting for her to back down but she never did. She'd collapsed to the floor, her knife still clutched in her hand pointing right at him. Caden had run to help her but Lincoln's heart had stopped beating the moment she hit the ground. He’d prayed she used that will of hers to hold on while he saved his friend’s life; he had no idea what this warrior was to Lincoln but he was certain she loved him with all her heart.
He swore under his breath
. "What?" the young girl whispered from Lincoln’s side.
’s lodged in her bone and I really don’t want to dig it out in the middle of a forest." The girl looked across at her friend’s crimson-stained face, tears ran from her eyes onto Lincoln’s mucky skin, leaving trails in the smeared mud and blood. She looked up staring straight at him; he saw now the strength she had, the hell she must have gone through.
"Save her," she ordered
"I'll try my best.”
He set to work hacking into her flesh.
With both Lincoln and Lexia stable, Caden ran to where he’d left his car. Luckily the ground wasn’t very soft and he managed to
his car through the forest. He jumped from the car and left it in park, pulled the back seats down, and with the help of the girl (
Alice she said her name was
) lay Lincoln and Lexia, unconscious, in the back of his car.
“Where are we going?” Alice asked him as she tried to keep Lincoln and Lexia from moving around as the car bumped across the rough forest.
“To my house in Rapid City, I have more equipment there; they both need... work.”
“Will it be safe? I mean, those people... those things… will they be able to find them?”
“You mean the Hunters?”
“I hope not,” he murmured as the car pulled onto the road and sped off at breakneck speed.
Lincoln drifted in and out of consciousness. Every time he came out of the heavy darkness, his mind slipped back in, pulling him under where he couldn't think. He thought he saw the green eyes of his friend Caden and heard a soft crying but he never heard Lexia. He searched desperately in his mind for her, but she wasn’t there in the darkness, she wasn’t there.
He opened his eyes for a second and stared at a white ceiling
. He tried to move his head but his body wasn't working; his eyes drifted shut again.
He could hear
I’ve left the forest?
Breathing deep through his nose, taking in the scents...
... her warm head rested against the side of his bed. She was crying; her body shook sending little tremors across his body.
And there beneath all the sharp disinfectant and the metallic blood...
Lexia, My Wild Cat.
Lincoln called her name, screamed for her but no sound left his dry parched throat and he went under again.
When he opened his eyes again
, what felt like seconds later, he was still looking at the same ceiling but he could no longer feel Alice by his side and when he sat up he saw he was alone. Lincoln sat on the bed a little disoriented. His side ached, the thick bandage was stained pink from blood.
As he sat there his legs hanging from the bed and his head spinning
, an image of Lexia drifted through his mind. He'd shifted on the forest floor, the change had been excruciating, the pain in his side felt like a knife was stabbing at him over and over and then as he'd opened his eyes, he'd seen Lexia standing above him.
She’d been le
aning on the tree to her side, shaking and wobbling on her feet; he'd never seen someone so broken and still standing. He could hear the cries and sobs from Alice as she begged Lexia to help them. As she’d bent to pick him up he'd screamed for her to leave him and save herself, surely she couldn't still carry him, but nothing would come out of his mouth and as a fresh wave of agony had hit his body he’d slipped into unconsciousness.
Lincoln leapt from the bed now, all the pain forgotten
; he had to see her, she had to be alive. As he crashed through the door and pounded across the landing he realized this was Caden’s house. He ran down the stairs knowing where Lexia must be and as he burst through the door to the little room outside Caden’s home office, he saw Alice. She wore Caden’s T-shirt which made her look even smaller than she was and even though she’d clearly had a shower, there was still an unkempt look about her: her hair was tangled and knotted, her face tired, a now-fading bruise marked her cheek. She moved to block his path; his way to Lexia. Lincoln stopped in his tracks at Alice's face. She'd changed in the short time he'd known her; she'd seen too much death and pain and it had strengthened her.
"You’re not going in
, Lincoln!" Each word was forced out to be strong and firm.
"I need to see her
," he whispered, fear closing his throat.
, Lincoln," she sighed. "Look sit down, you shouldn't be out of bed, you nearly died, well, I suppose you did for a while. You two dying on me leaving me with that scary arse doctor…" and so she babbled on sounding more like the Alice he knew. Lincoln listened to her rant, letting her let out her frustration but eventually he couldn’t listen any longer.
"Alice! How long was I out and what is Caden doing to Lex?"
"Oh, erm, four days and Lexia’s leg’s infected. Caden had to dig out the bullet in front of your tree house thing."
Four days! What injuries does she have?"
"She had the bullet
in her leg when she got to me in the bedroom, then she was shot again protecting us, don't you remember? And then she has cuts and bruises all over her... She’s a mess, Lincoln."
verything’s a bit fuzzy; I only remember bits and pieces really."
"Wait how did we get to my place?"
"She carried you."
, even though she'd been shot twice?"
, Lexia's shit scary when she goes all crazy Hunter on us. I’ll be happy if I never see her turn again."
"Alice!" Lincoln growled. How dare she say that when all Lexia's ever done is protect her?
"Oh you can growl at me all you want Lincoln but when she attacked all those men, she wasn't Lex, she was the monster her mum wanted her to be. What will happen when she goes all Hulk on us again and it's just us around?"
Lincoln sat in stunned silence
. Was Lexia's best friend really calling her a monster, was she really frightened of her?
"After all Lexia risked for you and you say that! She is powerful
, yes, but she would never hurt you."
, Lincoln, I love her, sure, but I’m in this mess because of her and so are you. I know she'd never hurt me on purpose, but that thing wasn't Lexia."
Lincoln lost it, he growled low and deadly
. His eyes flashed to panther, the beast wanted to rip out her throat for saying such cruel things. He stalked towards her and Alice jumped to her feet pressing herself against the wall. "L- Lincoln ?" she whispered.
He growled again
, the panther taking over. How dare she call his mate ‘a thing’, could she not see how beautiful and strong she was? A woman who fought with everything she had for those she loved. He was a meter away, Alice was crying now begging him to stop. She was sorry she'd said those things, the past week had been hard and crazy, her whole life turned upside down, of course she loved Lexia and it wasn't her fault her mum was a crazy bitch but the panther didn't listen.
Caden walked through the door from his office
/surgery room (as it was been used for now) to find Lincoln had gone panther in every way but form; he stalked towards Alice. He had no idea what she'd said to set him off but Lincoln looked mad, he'd lost control of his beast and any minute he would regret his actions for the rest of his life. Caden jumped between them, "Linc, stop!"
But he just growled in response
. "Linc, mate stop, she's just a human, just a girl."
Lincoln looked at his friend
. Yes, she was just a girl but the things she said…
"Linc, you can see Lexia
"Lexia," he whispered, turning towards the door.
Caden turned to Alice
. "Go," before following Lincoln back into his office.
Lincoln sat by Lexia’s bed
. She was so still, her beautiful skin looked deathly pale. Machines beeped around her and the whole place smelt sterile. She was black and blue, cuts and slashes marked every bit of her skin and then there were the major bullet wounds on her thigh and shoulder.
," he said to Caden. Holding Lexia’s hand, his brain whirled with disbelief. She was always so strong; this couldn't be his Lexia, laying here broken and half-dead.
, she has survived this long, Linc. God she was a mess, I have no idea how she was still standing when I found you, and mate, she still wouldn't drop her guard. That's some hunter you have found yourself and I must admit, I’m a bit shocked in your choice of girlfriend... I mean, I thought you’d decided to spend your life seeking revenge on the Hunters, if they ever showed up again."
"She’s my mate
, Caden," he growled.
, mate, come on leash it, will you? Go on then tell me, I've never seen one before, just heard the stories. And shit, if they were all like her, I’m pretty pleased the government had 'em killed off. She's a warrior alright."
"She's more than a fighter
, Caden, she's a person, too, and she's like a hybrid but she's not evil. She never even knew what she was until a few weeks ago. Her dad was killed and her mother Cade... she created her... to ... to rule." Lincoln sighed, pressing a kiss on Lexia’s forehead. "God baby, you need to fight this, come back to me."
"Linc, she'll be out for a while
. Come on, let’s get you back in and you can explain everything to me." Lincoln looked at his friend then back at Lexia. He couldn't leave her, not when he'd been so close to losing her forever, not when he could still lose her.
“I’m not leaving her!”
“Linc, mate, you haven’t had near enough rest.”
“Well, set up a bed by her then, I’m not moving.”
"God, mate, you got it bad. Hang on, I’ll sort something out and grab you some food, not that you should be eating in a sterile environment." Caden turned and left Lincoln whispering to his mate. He was glad he'd not found his; if that's how you felt when they were hurt, he'd never seen Lincoln look so defeated, so lost.
God, I hope she makes it.