“I agree,” said Dante. “He knows he won’t win a fight against you, Trey, and he knows that he’ll earn himself plenty of enemies even if he did miraculously win. For that reason, it’s a losing situation for him. He’s smart enough to know that.”
“He won’t drop this, though,” warned Dominic. “He has a plan. We’re part of it. I don’t think he’ll let anything mess with it. No, I think he’ll try and get us on his side.”
“How?” asked Trey.
Dominic shrugged. “I don’t know. And that bugs me.”
The tall gates swung open slowly, and Frankie drove across the border of Phoenix Pack territory. She paused at a security shack just as a male strode out. When she lowered the window, he bent forward. He was kind of cute, especially with the dimpled smile. He was also mated—she could smell it. “Hi, I’m—”
“Frankie Newman,” he finished. “Lydia told me you’d be here at noon.”
She’d called Lydia the previous night and arranged to come, because Trick had been right. The situation was fucked up and she wasn’t sure what to think, feel, or believe, but she would in fact regret not meeting Iris.
“I’m Gabe Farrow. You won’t remember me. You were good friends with my sister, Jaime. She’s inside, looking forward to seeing you again.”
Frankie’s smile was a little nervous. “Great. What route do I take to—” Her head whipped to the side as her passenger door was pulled open. Trick slid into the car. His smile was lazy and languid and made her wolf sit up in interest.
“Hello, Frankie.” Trick tipped his chin at Gabe and said, “See you at dinner, if not before.” He then turned back to her. “You can give me a ride.”
She slowly lifted a brow. “Can I?”
“Sure. Just follow the road.”
Her tires crunched as they started up the rocky trail. She didn’t drive fast, wanting to take in her surroundings. The territory was massive. Full of tall regal trees, lush grass, and steep, craggy mountains. Beautiful.
Feeling the weight of Trick’s gaze on her skin, she threw him a sideways frown. “Stop staring.”
“But you’re such a pretty view.” Trick loved looking at her. Loved absorbing every inch of her, knowing deep down to his soul that she was his.
He’d never in his life felt possessive of a partner, but the emotion roared through him whenever he saw her, thought of her, inhaled her scent. He was doing his best to hide it, tone down his intensity, and come across as easygoing so she didn’t slam up her guard. It was hard; he wasn’t used to subtlety. By nature he was forward and outspoken. But he didn’t want to fuck this up. So far she’d been relatively relaxed around him, though he doubted she knew why.
His wolf was currently feeling rather self-satisfied, content to have his mate on his territory. The animal wanted to bite and claim her, and he was becoming increasingly pissed off at Trick for failing to do so. “Nervous?”
“Not really,” said Frankie. God, she was such a liar. Her muscles were twitchy, her stomach kept rolling, and her mouth was dry as a bone. Yeah, well, it wasn’t every day that a girl went to visit a grandmother and bunch of pack mates she couldn’t remember. Honestly, she was glad Trick was there; he had a way of settling her. “I don’t know what to expect. I don’t like that.”
“Iris and Lydia are more nervous than you are. Once upon a time, you were a little girl who adored them unconditionally. It’s hard for them that you don’t remember them.”
“I can’t help that,” she said defensively.
“No, you can’t. No one’s expecting you to,” Trick assured her. And if anyone made her feel bad about it, he’d give them a ration of shit. “How’s the hellhorse coming along?”
“Good.” She brought the car to an abrupt halt as something caught her attention. “Is that . . . Are there windows and balconies on that mountain?”
Trick grinned, proud of how observant his mate was. “You’ve got a good eye. Very few people notice until we point them out.”
Frankie stared at it openmouthed, taking in the small windows, the pretty arched balconies, and the narrow stairways that had been carved into the face of the mountain. “Now that’s art.”
“Yeah, I guess it is.” Trick hadn’t really thought of it that way before. “My Alpha female, Taryn, calls it Bedrock.”
“So you live inside the mountain?”
“Yeah. The large cave system was once an ancient dwelling. Don’t worry—we have electricity and running water. It’s become increasingly modernized over the years.”
“It’s a big place.” Throwing the car into gear, she continued up the trail. “How many wolves are there in your pack?”
“We don’t just have wolves. We also have a raven, a viper, and a cheetah. In total there are twenty-six of us—that’s twenty adults, one juvenile, and five young ones.”
“Why do you sound freaked by that?”
“Kids scare me.”
Trick felt his brow crease even as he smiled. “How could kids possibly scare you?”
“I don’t know. They just do.” They always acted weird around her. Plus she didn’t have any younger siblings or cousins, so she wasn’t used to being around kids. “How many of you were part of the first generation, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Of course I don’t mind you asking. It’s pack business, but you are pack. Of the original seventeen, thirteen of us are left. Two died, two transferred to another pack.”
“And one of those who died was Iris’s mate, my . . . um, grandfather?”
“No. Alfie and Iris stayed with the Bjorn Pack. I’m guessing you did your research on the pack and you know why it split?” He would have in her position. At her nod, Trick went on. “They didn’t stay behind because they agreed with Rick Coleman’s decision; it was because they were worried that he’d stop them from visiting Christopher’s grave if they left. Rick would have done that. He was an asshole that way. I thought they might move here when another Alpha took Rick’s place, but they didn’t. Iris recently joined the Phoenix Pack to spend what time she has left with Lydia.” Trick spotted the iPhone in the cup holder. “That your cell?”
Frankie blinked at the abrupt change of subject. “Um, yeah. Hey, don’t play with it,” she said as he grabbed it, but it was too late.
She frowned. “What’s done?”
“My number is programmed in your phone.” Trick then called his own cell using hers. “And now I have your number.”
“Don’t you think maybe you should ask before you do shit like that?”
“Would you have told me your number?”
“Sure. It’s 911—but only dial it in an emergency.”
He chuckled. “I do enjoy your sense of humor, Frankie.” It surprised him that she had a playful side, since her maternal family had always seemed so serious. Even her mother, though gentle and kind, had never really been playful, from what he could remember. He pointed to an opening in the base of the mountain. “Go in there.”
She drove through the opening in the cliff and found herself inside a cleverly concealed parking lot. Impressed, she lifted her brows. “Where do I park?”