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“Who are you meeting?”

The rumbled demand surprised her. “Sorry?”

“Who are you meeting?”

“What’s with the tone?” Because she didn’t like it at all. His easygoing charm was gone, and the dark predatory streak that he hid seemed to take over.

“Answer the question, Frankie.”

“And just why would you think it had a damn thing to do with you?”

He growled. “It has everything to do with me.” He went nose to nose with her and whispered, “I don’t share.”

She narrowed her eyes. “I’m not yours to share.”

“You will be.”

Frankie really wished those words pissed her off. Instead the possessive statement made her a little tingly. Her wolf liked it. “Is that a fact?”

“It is.” He cupped her chin. “When I’m sure that you’re ready, I’ll come for you. You should probably know that.” Softening his voice, he coaxed, “Tell me who you’re meeting. I need time to look them up, find their address, and beat the shit out of them so they can’t make it to the meeting. Really, time is of the essence here.”

She wouldn’t smile, Frankie promised herself. She wouldn’t. But she did. “My uncle. I’m meeting my uncle. And I would prefer it if you didn’t beat him up.” Like that, his face went all soft, and the menacing glint receded from his eyes.

“There. Was that so hard?” Trick brushed his mouth over hers. “Don’t worry; your uncle’s safe from me.” Unless the human hurt her in any way, that was. Trick wouldn’t tolerate that. Releasing her, he stepped back. “Come on, time to eat.”

Back inside the caves, Trick escorted her to the kitchen and seated her beside him at the long table. Frankie noticed that he didn’t look happy when Dominic sat opposite her, and he even tossed the blond enforcer a warning look that made him blink innocently.

As she piled food on her plate, she glanced around the table. People were talking, laughing, teasing, and—in the case of Dexter—stuffing food in their pockets. Frankie hadn’t grown up in a house full of laughter. Meal times were stiff, dignified affairs; there would be light conversation, but no funny stories or mirth.

Being around the pack was, well, odd. Not bad odd, but different. The way they all lived together, ate together, held different roles, constantly touched each other . . . Maybe it should have been off-putting, since it was so unfamiliar, but she liked it. At the same time, it was kind of sad. Like being on the outskirts of a secret club, having a peek of what went on inside, but only being an observer. Not that they ignored her or anything. No, they included her in their conversations and told her things about themselves—particularly Jaime, who also shared some funny stories from their childhood.

One such story made Frankie’s head jerk back. “I would never eat a beetle.”

“You didn’t eat it, but you did chew it. So did I. Then we both spat the mashed-up insects at the girl who happened to be Dante’s girlfriend at the time.”

Dante winced. “Yeah, I remember that. She screamed like a banshee.” His eyes dropped to the oversize, odd-looking ginger cat that suddenly sprang onto his mate’s lap. He glared hard at the feline, who glared right back—like they were engaged in some kind of dominance battle. Then the cat hissed, and Dante snapped his teeth.

Jaime cuddled the cat close to her. “Popeye, leave him alone. Frankie, this is Hunk.”

Frankie’s brows lifted. “Really? He’s . . . cute.” Lie.

“So, Frankie . . . ,” began Dominic, leaning forward. “What time do you have to be back in heaven?”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” Lydia burst out. “No, Dominic, you will not do this to my niece.”

He looked the image of innocence. “What?”

“Don’t mind Dominic,” Taryn told Frankie. “He says cheesy lines to just about everyone.”

“I mean it, Dominic,” Lydia said sternly. “Leave her alone.”

He smiled. “Oh, I see, you’re jealous. Ah, Lydia, you know I adore you. I especially love those long legs. What time do they open?”

Taryn sighed, raising a brow at Frankie. “See what I mean?”

As a chuckling Dominic turned back to Frankie, Trick softly but firmly said, “No.”

The enforcer frowned. “But—”

“No,” Trick repeated. “Unless you’re curious about what your balls taste like.”

Dominic exhaled in frustration. “You’re no fun.”

“How do we know you’re telling the truth?” Greta asked Frankie, her mouth tight as she stared at her.

Blinking, Frankie said, “I’m sorry?”

“You say the Newmans lied to you all these years.” Greta lifted her chin in challenge. “But how do we know that’s true?”

Frankie felt her brows lower. “Why would I lie about it?”

“That’s what I’m wondering.”

Trick draped his arm over the back of Frankie’s chair. “Greta, just don’t.”

“It’s a valid question,” Greta insisted.

“It’s you looking for reasons not to like or trust Frankie,” he corrected her.

Makenna leaned into Frankie and said quietly, “Don’t take it personally. Greta doesn’t like unmated females around her precious boys. She’s very possessive of Trey, Dante, Tao, and the male enforcers. Doesn’t like any of their mates, other than Roni. She hates me most of all.” The last was said with pride.

Greta’s focus snapped back to Frankie. “I never liked your grandparents. They’re hoity-toity. Think they’re better than everyone else, especially shifters. Your grandmother has a coldness about her. When I look at you, I see that same coldness.”

Frankie licked her fork. “When I look at you, I see someone so ancient she probably has an autographed Bible.”

Taryn burst out laughing, leaning into Trey, whose shoulders were shaking with silent laughter.

Greta glowered at the Alpha female, griping, “Oh, you would find that amusing.” Greta sneered in disgust and marched out of the kitchen, her head held high.

A little while later, Frankie thanked Grace for the meal and—since it seemed kind of rude that she was immediately leaving—apologized for having to eat and run. She politely refused Lydia’s offer for her to stay the night, but she did go and say goodbye to Iris before leaving.

Trick walked her to the parking lot and over to her Audi. His fingers combed through her hair. “I’m glad you came, Frankie.”

Surprisingly . . . “Yeah, so am I.”

“Good.”

She should have seen it coming. She’d just gotten so used to him touching her without taking it too far that she’d lowered her guard, so she hadn’t been braced for the hand that slid up the back of her neck, gripped a fistful of her hair, and held her head still as he pinned her against the car.

Her heart leaped and her breath left her in a rush. He didn’t slam his mouth on hers as she’d expected. No, he skimmed his nose down her neck and breathed her in. His low growl reverberated up his chest and made her nipples bead.

“Fucking love your scent, Frankie.”

She gripped his arms as his teeth scraped over her pulse just hard enough to make her pussy clench. His tongue swirled over her skin to soothe the sting, and then he was kissing his way up her neck and over to her mouth. His tongue sank inside and lashed hers. He didn’t rush. He lingered. Explored. Savored. Devoured. Left her without any defenses.

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