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“We don’t have quickies, Frankie. We try, but it never quite works out.” He always got too carried away in her, always needed to taste and touch as much of her as he could.

“I can’t really deny that.” She’d taken one step into the kitchen when she jumped out of her freaking skin as a bunch of voices shouted, “Surprise!”

The whole pack was gathered there, smiling, raising glasses, and blowing party poppers. Behind them on the wall was a large banner that read “Welcome Home, Frankie!” There was a huge cake on the table in the center of an impressive spread of food. And damn if a lump of emotion didn’t build in her throat.

Trick draped his arm over her shoulders and kissed her temple. “It’s an official welcome to the pack.”

Frankie bit her lip. “I don’t know what to say, except . . . wow.”

Laughing, Taryn came forward, shoved a glass of something bubbly in Frankie’s hand, and said, “Come on, let’s get absolutely hammered and torment Greta.”

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

It was the soft murmurs that tugged Frankie out of sleep. Or maybe it was the mouth pressing light kisses to the palm of her hand. Both of those things would have been fine if she hadn’t woken with the hangover from hell.

Her eyes throbbed, her stomach churned, her body seemed drained of energy, and her head—oh God, her head. Apparently she’d chugged down cosmos like they would grant her the gift of eternal life.

Her mouth was dry as a damn bone. She licked her lower lip. Tasted something. Toothpaste crust. Awesome.

“Time to wake up, baby,” Trick whispered, one hand smoothing the hair from her face.

“Turn the light off,” she slurred. Because it made her feel like someone was stabbing the backs of her eyeballs with toothpicks.

“No lights are on.”

“Then close the curtains.” She tried tugging the covers over her head, but she only managed to flap her hand.

Trick softly chuckled. “You need to get up. It’s past noon.”

She wasn’t moving from the bed. Ever. Nuh-uh. She wasn’t fit to be seen anyway. She’d had enough killer hangovers to know that she probably looked like a reject from The Walking Dead. She felt like a reject.

Another light kiss to her palm. “I’d pegged you for a lightweight, but it took countless drinks before the alcohol seemed to actually hit you.”

Why was he talking? Did she look like she was capable of conversation right then? Her wolf snapped her teeth at him, warning him to go away and leave her to recover. But the bastard didn’t.

“Come on, baby. I’ll help you up.”

She moaned. “Dying. Get. Priest.”

Trick’s body shook, and his amusement buzzed down their bond. “Open your eyes for me, Frankie.”

She tried, but the light stabbed her eyeballs. Rookie mistake. “Just let me die in peace,” she begged. She didn’t want him there, laughing at her. She wanted painkillers. Frankie + Tylenol = BFFs.

Trick kissed her bare shoulder, wondering if he should tell her that not only did she have supremely bad bedhead, but her makeup was smeared all over her face. It could motivate her to get into the shower, but it could just as easily motivate her into hiding under the covers.

He was surprised that she hadn’t spent the night vomiting, given how many cosmos and beers she’d consumed. She’d only thrown up once, just before she tumbled into dreamland. “I almost had to tie you to the bed last night. After you yacked in the bathroom, you declared you wanted to go to Taco Bell. You were adamant about it, so I said that if you rested for ten minutes, I’d take you. Thankfully, you fell asleep.”

Frankie squeezed her eyes shut. No, that hadn’t happened. It hadn’t. It couldn’t have. Fuck, that had actually happened! Oh, she was 100 percent sad. Just. Sad. That much was totally without question.

Trick lifted the glass from the nightstand. “Here. Drink this.”

“Will it help me die quicker?”

“It’s water.”

Water . . . Oh, that sounded good. She couldn’t take the bitter taste in her mouth much longer. Carefully lifting her head, she waited until the urge to gag faded and then slowly sat upright. He put the glass to her lips, and she sipped at the water, almost tearing up with happiness when he placed two Tylenol in her hand.

She swallowed them, studying him through squinty eyes. He’d clearly showered and dressed. The bastard looked fresh and . . . alert. How was that even possible? Her memories were fuzzy, but she did remember him drinking several beers. “Why aren’t you hungover?”

He shrugged. “I don’t really get hangovers.”

“I despise you right now.”

His mouth curved. “You love me. You know it. You just feel awkward saying it.”

Her spine would have snapped straight if her body didn’t badly lack energy. “My, my, my, aren’t we full of ourselves?” Not that he was wrong.

He just chuckled. “You need to get up, showered, and dressed.”

That would require fine motor skills, which meant it was a no-go. “Later,” she mumbled. He pressed his fingertips to her temples and began a light massage. That confirmed it. He was an angel sent directly from heaven. “My eyes are bloodshot, aren’t they?”

“Yep. But they’re still beautiful,” he said gently.

She grunted. “I remember somebody crying. It wasn’t me, was it?”

His mouth twitched into a smile. “No, it wasn’t you. It was Greta. Roni managed to get her smashed, and—for just a few hours—the woman was almost well adjusted. You don’t remember singing ‘Greased Lightning’ with her on the karaoke?”

“Now you’re just lying.”

“It’s true,” he said, chuckling.

“Another lie.” But his words did tug at a memory she never wanted to access, for the sake of her own sanity. “I do remember Taryn and Jaime setting up the karaoke in the living area. And I remember Dominic sang ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ while all the females cheered him on like it was a concert.”

Trick gave her a look filled with sympathy. “Baby, you were one of those females. In fact, you were leading the ‘Dominic Brigade.’” He’d have been jealous if it hadn’t been so damn ridiculous. Even his wolf had been amused.

“I was not. Why was Greta crying?”

“Because she was so happy that her boys had found themselves mates that were worthy of them. Or at least that’s what she said.”

Frankie gaped. “No!”

“Oh yeah. You don’t remember wiping her tears with the bottom of your shirt?”

“No. For which I’m glad.”

“You also took some selfies of you both, pouting like supermodels.”

“Stop lying!”

Trick laughed. “It’s not a lie. Check your cell phone.”

“Later.” Once she was in a state where she could handle the shame.

“Yes, later. Now you need to shower.”

He helped her out of bed, but she still swayed. Bracing her hand on the wall, she said, “I’m okay. I’ve got this.”

She showered and dressed, every movement clunky and lazy and pitiful. Then she was walking alongside him through the tunnels, her footsteps dragging, her arms hanging loose at her sides. Leaving her bed had truly been a mistake. At first she’d felt a little better. Now she was back to wanting to curl up on the floor and die.

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