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Feel-good chemicals swam through her brain and flooded her body. The whole thing was so delicious and intoxicating that her head spun and her pussy grew unbelievably wet.

Sliding a hand under her thigh, Trick hooked her leg over his hip as he crushed her against the car, letting her feel how hard he was for her. Fuck, she tasted as sweet and tangy and perfect as she smelled. Her soft, incredibly responsive body curved into his, fitting against him just right.

He possessively closed his hand over her breast, and her hard nipple brushed his palm. He felt her raspy moan all the way down to his balls. Growling into her mouth, he slanted his head, deepening the kiss, needing more. Knowing he’d never get enough.

He’d never experienced this depth of raw need in his life. Never needed something so badly that he felt like he’d go insane without it. It was getting harder and harder to tone down his urge to claim her. He’d waited so damn long for her, needed her so fucking badly. But he wouldn’t take her right then.

Trick pulled back, panting a little, and rubbed his nose against hers. “I will have you, Frankie. But it won’t be up against a car. Not the first time, anyway. I want to lick and savor every inch of you. Can’t do that here.”

Striving to find some composure after that kiss that had all but destroyed her, Frankie licked her lower lip. The way he was looking at her, the way he spoke—so serious, so determined, so resolved—was unnerving as hell. To lighten the moment, she teased, “What if I don’t like casual sex?”

He pursed his lips. “I suppose I could dress up. Put on my best shirt.”

She chuckled. “You know what I mean.” She liked their back and forth. Everything in her life was so serious right then, and he was like a long, cool glass of water—calming and refreshing. And he kissed like a fucking master.

“Your laugh could stop traffic.” Raspy and gritty, like her voice, it never failed to make Trick’s cock twitch. And since he was currently pressed up against her, there was no way she hadn’t felt it. He kissed her once more. “I needed that.” Stepping back, he opened the car door for her. As she slipped inside, he said, “Stay safe, Frankie.”

“You too.”

He let the door swing shut and watched her drive away. It was hard. Painful, even. Every instinct he had badgered him to keep her close. His wolf lunged after her, but Trick kept a tight hold on him. It had to be this way. For now.

Once his wolf settled, Trick returned to the caves and headed to the living area. Most of the pack were gathered there, and they all looked at him oddly as he entered.

Dante arched a brow. “Something you want to tell us?”

“You’ve already figured it out.” Trick had suspected they would. It wasn’t like he’d be able to hide his possessiveness from them—they knew him too well.

“When did you figure it out?” asked Lydia.

“Day one,” Trick replied.

Marcus rubbed at his nape. “Well, this complicates things, but I’m happy for you.”

The others nodded . . . except for Lydia, who sighed and began, “Trick—”

“You don’t want anything to rock the boat and scare her off,” said Trick. “I know. Neither do I. But don’t ask me to keep my distance from her. I can’t do that. I won’t do that. She’s mine, and I’ve lived without her for long enough. I’ll hold off on telling her we’re mates, though it’s possible she’ll figure it out for herself.” His mate was smart. “She’s in tune with her wolf.”

“In the long run,” began Taryn, “it will work to our advantage that you’re her true mate. It means she’ll move here at some point. But for now, well, if she knew the truth, I think it would make her feel pressured.”

“Like I said, I’ll hold off on telling her. I want her here more than any of you do.”

Lydia gave him a soft smile. “I’m glad you’re her mate, Trick. You’ll be there for her, look out for her. If the Newmans turn on her over this—and I’m pretty sure they will—she’s going to need whatever support she can get.”


The bar wasn’t far from Brad’s workplace, and they’d met there a few times in the past. Despite the dim lighting, Frankie spotted him easily enough—her being half shifter meant she could see well in the dark.

She shouldered her way through the patrons, most of whom seemed to be focused on the football game that was playing on the wide-screen TV. Her wolf released a disgruntled growl at the scents of beer, cigarette smoke, and cologne.

Reaching the long bar, Frankie slid onto the wooden stool beside Brad’s and said, “Hey.”

He smiled. “There she is.” He kissed her cheek. “You look tired.”

“It was a long day.” And she hadn’t slept well the night before, nervous about her trip to Phoenix Pack territory. “How are you?”

“Fine, sweetheart. What are you drinking?”


“No girly neon drinks for you. I like that.” He called to the bartender, who handed her a beer and replaced Brad’s empty one with a fresh bottle. Brad turned back to her. “You’ve been dodging my calls.”

“I’ve genuinely been busy.” She took a swig of her beer before continuing. “Plus, you want to express an opinion that I’ve already heard. I don’t need to hear it again.”

“I stand by what I said, Frankie. The wolves are not good for you, and you’re better off without them in your life. I know it, you know it.” He paused as dismayed shouts burst from a bunch of guys in the corner who were watching the game. “It’s best all around if you forget you ever received that e-mail and forget all about the wolves.”

“I met with Lydia.”

He stilled with his bottle halfway to his mouth. “What?”

“I met with her.”

He took a deep breath. “Okay, you were curious. I can understand that. If I found out I had relatives I’d never met, I’d be interested in meeting them too.”

She was about to point out that she actually had met Lydia before, she just didn’t remember her, but he forged on.

“If you had questions, you could have come to me. I would have told you whatever you wanted to know.”

“And you’d have told me the truth?”

He frowned, affronted by the doubtful note in her voice. “Of course.”

“Like you told me the ‘truth’ about my parents dying in a car crash?”

He looked away. “That was different. You know the full story now. I would have told you the rest.”

“Like how they never wanted or tried to see me? You said I should turn my back on them like they turned their backs on me. But they didn’t do that, did they, Brad? You, Marcia, and Geoffrey blocked them all the way. As shit as it is, I can’t trust any of you to give me the truth. You twist the answers to suit your agenda—which is to keep me away from my paternal family.”

“And they no doubt twist the truth to suit their agenda, which is to steal you away from us.”

“They haven’t tried to do that.”

“Give it time. They will.” Brad chugged down more of his beer. “Shifters are cunning like that.” He grabbed a handful of nuts from the complimentary bowl and shoved them in his mouth. “Deviousness is in their very nature.”

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