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Maybe it was the adrenaline crash or maybe it was the relief at seeing him, but both her legs gave out, and her ass hit the floor. Trick crouched in front of her and cupped her face. Even though his eyes were hard and his face was set into a mask of fury, she’d never felt safer.

Trick’s heart slammed against his ribs as he got a good look at her. Her jaw was bruised, pain was etched into every line of her worryingly pale face, there was blood spatter on her clothes, and . . . “Fuck, why is blood dripping down your neck?”

She lifted her chin slightly so he could better see the puncture wounds. “His claws pricked my throat; the cuts aren’t deep.”

Trick saw that she was right, but it didn’t calm him whatsofuckingever. His wolf predictably lost his shit and charged at Trick, demanding the freedom to stalk his mate’s attacker. Trick fought him, focusing on Frankie. Vengeance could come later. “Where else are you hurt?”

“Leg. Ribs. Back of my head. I don’t think I’m bleeding anywhere other than my neck.”

“You’re wrong,” he growled as his hand gently probed the back of her skull and he felt a sticky warmth and one hell of a lump.

She winced. “Fucking ow.”

Hating that he’d hurt her, he kissed her forehead. “I need to get a look at your stomach.” He gently peeled up her T-shirt and spit a curse at the black-and-purple bruise that was starting to form. A growl vibrated his chest. “I’ll kill him. I’ll fucking kill him.”

“It was Drake.”

“I know. I can smell him.” The scent of the bastard was driving his wolf almost as crazy as the scent of her blood. “Marcus is chasing his ass.”

“He wanted to take me with him.”

It struck Trick that if he’d been even a minute later, Drake would probably have had her in his grasp right then. That thought was enough to make his breath catch in his throat. “You said your leg was hurt. Which one?”

She gently touched her calf. “I don’t know what’s wrong with it. He clipped it with the car.” She almost jerked in surprise as his claw sliced open the leg of her jeans without even grazing her skin. Damn, her calf was swollen and bruised, and she thought it was possible that the hit had fractured something. “Shit. Well, at least the sculptures are okay.”

Trick did a slow blink. “What did you just say?”

“He drove his car in here—he came close to knocking over the hellhorse. That would have been bad.”

He glared at her in pure disbelief. “Your wounds are bad.” She was more important than any damn sculpture.

“Don’t growl at me.”

Closing his eyes, Trick inhaled through his nose. “Woman, you drive me insane.” He straightened, and her hand shot out and grabbed his wrist. He cupped her chin. “Hey, I’m not going anywhere.”

Frankie swallowed and let him go. “I know. I’m sorry. I don’t know why I did that.”

“You did it because some asshole just scared you out of your mind.” Standing, he carefully scooped her up. “We’re getting the fuck out of here. Taryn’s a healer. She can help with your wounds.”

“I need to lock up.”

“I’ll do that; let’s just get you in the car first.”

Frankie sighed. “Okay.” She melted against him, shaking as the adrenaline drained from her system. As he cradled her close to his chest, he buried his face in her hair and inhaled her scent as they headed to her Audi. She felt light-headed and dizzy. Dammit, she would not faint. Newmans didn’t faint. “You must have broken all kinds of laws to get here so fast.”

“I didn’t know what was happening; I just knew someone had come for you. I swear my fucking heart stopped—then it was pounding like crazy.” It still hadn’t calmed. “I heard you shout, I heard the car engine getting closer, and then the line went dead.”

“That guy’s not altogether sane, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. He won’t hurt you again. Never again.” Trick settled her in the passenger seat of her Audi and, careful of her wounds, clicked on her seat belt. “Wait here.” He quickly locked up the studio, found her phone, and secured the house. He was just adjusting the driver’s seat to give himself more legroom when his cell rang. “That’ll be Marcus.” Trick dug out his phone and answered, “Tell me you have him.”

A sigh. “I wish I could,” said Marcus. “I lost him.”

Trick growled, and his wolf lashed out in anger, raking Trick’s insides with his claws. “How could you possibly have lost him?”

“He pulled up outside a big fucking building and ran inside,” said Marcus. “I followed him in there and searched for him, but he’d just disappeared in the crowd. There were too many scents for me to find him.”

“Smart,” said Frankie, her shifter hearing picking up Marcus’s words.

“I’ll search his car before it gets towed and see if I can find anything that will tell us where he’s staying—if Morelli’s telling the truth that Drake split, that is.”

Trick closed his eyes, seeking calm. “I have to go, Marcus, I’ll talk to you later.” Ending the call, he slipped his cell back into his pocket.

Hearing his teeth grinding, she patted his thigh with a shaky hand. “I’m okay.” She couldn’t quite stop trembling. “Really, I’m okay.”

“No, you’re not. But you will be.” He switched on the ignition. “We’re going home. Taryn will heal you.”

Frankie sure hoped his Alpha female was good at what she did, because now that the adrenaline had faded from her system, the pain was starting to kick in. Her head throbbed like a bitch, her leg pulsed with pain, and the puncture marks on her neck stung like hell. Worse, every single breath hurt, thanks to what she suspected was a cracked rib. “Stop growling.”

Trick couldn’t. When they hit a road bump and she gasped in pain, he swore viciously. “Sorry, baby.” As he drove, fury pulsed through his veins, threatening to steal the rationality that he was holding on to by a very thin thread.

He forced himself not to think of what had happened, to simply concentrate on the road so they didn’t end up in a fucking car accident. But it was damn hard while the scent of her blood filled the small space.

Finally back on their territory, he carried her up the face of the cliff, hating every step he took because he knew each jostle hurt her. She didn’t make a sound, though. She squeezed her eyes shut and shoved her face in his chest as one hand bunched up his T-shirt.

When he barged into the living area, everyone jumped to their feet like they’d been given a fucking electric shock.

“Shit, what happened?” demanded Jaime, her eyes wide.

“I’ll explain everything once Frankie’s healed,” said Trick. “Her leg is fucked up, she has a cracked rib, and there’s a goose egg on the back of her head with a slash that only just stopped bleeding. The puncture wounds on her neck have stopped bleeding as well. The bruise on her jaw has faded, but it’s still a little swollen.”

Lydia knotted her hand in her hair, eyes wide. “Oh my God.”

“Trick, lay her on the floor,” said Taryn, all business. “Ryan, open the window.”

Trick carefully set Frankie down. “Just stay still, baby.”

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