Donovan, Dahlia: Ivy, A Blackbird Series Novel
by Dahlia Donovan
Widowed photographer Ivy Langdon avoids people in general after her husband’s death. She ventures out days before Christmas for last minute gifts and stumbles into the middle of a terrorist attack in London. Will her luck ever change?
Steven Samuels and his partner Gareth Richardson are called in with their company, Blackbird Security Firm, to rescue the hostages. They never expected to find their perfect mate while saving the world. The more the two wolves learn about Ivy, the more that they want to make her theirs.
Love is never simple or straight-forward and life is often stranger than fiction.
Ivy finds herself drawn into a strange world of shifters and human traffickers.
Can love’s true bite find her before trouble does?
With Christmas right around the corner, Ivy reluctantly ventured out to pick up presents for her family and friends. She would have preferred to stay in her flat to watch re-runs of the Vicar of Dibley. She had been half-way through the holiday’s specials.
Squeezing between a group gathered outside Harvey Nichols, Ivy made her way into the store and rode the escalator to the second floor. She tuned out the couple in front of her who were arguing about what to purchase for their son. She tried to map out her shopping plans in her mind, hoping to save time and get her away from the happy shoppers as quickly as bloody possible.
As she stepped off the escalator, an explosion on the first floor rocked the entire building to its foundation. The lights overhead flickered several times as ceiling tiles fell and shattered on the ground in front of her. Ivy ducked her head quickly to avoid the dust and debris in the air.
Gunfire followed the explosion and sent everyone into a mass of swirling panic. A passing stranger in the fray knocked Ivy to the floor. Crawling through the swarming chaos to hide behind a nearby perfume counter, she noticed a cabinet large enough for her to squeeze her petite frame inside. She dove in and slid the door shut.
The shouts and screams seemed to continue forever, though her watch told her it had been ten minutes at most. Ivy turned her phone on silent and sent a quick text to a friend who had been in Alec’s unit. She didn’t dare place a call, but someone had to let the authorities know there were survivors in the store.
After several tense moments of waiting, Ivy pulled her phone back out to frantically check the news. It was impossible to know how long the cabinet would remain safe though moving didn’t seem like that good of an idea either. Her friend texted a response to say the police were on their way, and she should do her best to avoid detection.
Very bloody helpful.
She already knew that much. Alec had been a military man. They’d known each other long before University. He proposed during their second year there. Over four happy years of marriage. He had made sure to teach her the basics of self-defence and security awareness. Not for the first time in two years, Ivy missed him so much her heart ached.
Ivy sat in the cramped cupboard for close to an hour when she realised that she desperately needed the loo. Bugger. She couldn’t risk it, could she? The restrooms were directly across from where she was hiding.
Another ten minutes passed.
It was time to try to either run for the loo or piss herself. Deciding she didn’t relish sitting in her own urine (not very pleasant), she cautiously eased the door open and waited for any signs of the armed men. She didn’t know if the silence was comforting or terrifying.
Keeping low to the ground, Ivy crawled along the floor. It brought back memories of watching her husband when he had been training young recruits. She could hear his deep voice in her head describing the best and quietest way to low-crawl. She made it into the loo without being seen.
She finished her business as her mother liked to call it. The difficult decision now was whether to stay in the toilets or make her way back to the little cubbyhole. She glanced around the room with an assessing eye. If the terrorist bastards decided to come inside, there was nowhere to hide effectively from them.
Back to the cupboard.
Retracing her route across the floor seemed somehow more daunting as Ivy started to make her move. She was halfway to her cupboard when a strong hand grabbed the back of her coat and lifted her off the ground. His other hand clamped around her mouth to muffle the scream she’d been about to utter. He dragged her backwards into what appeared to be a staff locker room.
Oh, bloody hell.
The second he had her backed into the staff room, Ivy went from passive captive to violently struggling to escape. She had no intention of going without some sort of a fight. His hands pinned her arms to her side and crushed her back against his body.
She closed her eyes and waited for the knife or gunshot she knew was bound to come; the irony of dying two days before Christmas was not lost on her. She tried desperately not to fidget. She realized after a moment that she hadn’t actually felt a weapon at any point. In fact, the hands holding her while firm were also very gentle.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Ivy was surprised at how good the man smelled; he reminded her of dark chocolate and something exotically spicy. She told her mind and body to behave themselves. She would not lust over a perfect stranger who was probably about to murder her.
Why the hell hasn’t he done something yet?
If insomnia intended to plague her, Ivy might as well get something useful out of it. She grabbed her camera bag and tripod. There was enough moonlight to allow her to easily walk one of the well-trodden paths from the cottage down to one of the nearby lakes.
Setting her tripod up in a clearing, Ivy started to play around with angles and lighting. The water shimmered perfectly under the moon. She thought if she did give into Dane’s pressure to have an exhibition, it would be filled with images of Wales. She made another adjustment and took a few more shots.
Her mum had been right about needing to get out of her flat. Not just out of the flat, she had to take more trips out of London. Her photography blossomed when it involved less concrete civilisation and more wild nature. Before Alec had died, she travelled at least one week out of a month. She hadn’t been anywhere since he passed away.
Ivy somehow didn’t find herself all that surprised when a cranky white wolf ran up to her after thirty minutes or so. He growled at her and nudged the back of her knee with his nose. He became more insistent when she ignored him.
“Stop that.” Ivy flicked him on the top of the head. “It’s the middle of Wales, not a war zone. The greatest danger I have at the moment is being knocked over by you or possibly being run over by a rampaging sheep.”
Gareth snarled at her. She had a feeling it might be the wolf version of a sarcastic snort. She raised an eyebrow at him and went back to her camera. He growled at her again, but she refused to pay any attention to him.
“I’m not arguing with…” Ivy lunged forward to grab her tripod when his tail bumped against it. “Oh, go lick yourself, and stop being so bloody growly.”
Ivy glanced over her shoulder to find her other suitor in his two-legged form. “If you’re going to growl at me too, you can bugger off and take your furry friend with you.”
About the Author
Dahlia is a bit of a hermit. She’s happiest with a large mug of coffee or tea (two sugars and drop or two of milk) and a good book. She lives for comfortable jeans and over-sized sweaters. Ivy is her first novel and it started life as an attempt to complete National Novel Writing Month.
Find Dahlia online at: http://dahliadonovan.wordpress.com/