Really, the entire group had a ball. They drank. They danced. They sang. They laughed.
When they were once again at the bar, Trick’s cell phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket and told her, “It’s Trey.” Swiping his thumb over the screen, he answered, “Hello?” Trick knew that if it weren’t for his enhanced shifter senses, he might not have heard his Alpha over the noise.
“We have Drake,” said Trey. “Ryan tracked him. He’s in the hut.”
Trick went rigid as satisfaction and anger trickled through him. “Has Dante taken a shot at him yet?” The Beta was a damn good interrogator.
“No. We figured that you were owed that pleasure.”
Grateful, Trick nodded. “I’ll be there soon.” He ended the call and looked at his mate, feeling like utter shit. She was relaxed, truly relaxed, with the females of his pack, and it was clear that she was even letting her guard halfway down for the Mercury Pack females. Now he was about to spoil her evening. “Baby . . .”
Frowning, she grabbed his arm. “Something’s wrong. What is it?”
“Yeah, what the fuck put that dark look on your face?” asked Marcus, who’d been doing his best to eavesdrop on his conversation with Trey.
Trick scraped a hand over his jaw. “We have Drake in custody.”
Frankie’s brows flew up. “Drake?”
Trick nodded. “Ryan found him and brought him to our territory.”
“You need to go,” she understood.
“I can wait. You’re enjoying yourself—”
“She’ll be okay here with us, Trick,” said Marcus. “Really. This place is safe. We won’t let anything happen to her.”
Trick curved his hand around her neck. It went against his instincts to leave her there, but he wasn’t going to insist on her leaving when he had no intention of allowing her to join him in the hut to deal with Drake. “You can stay here and enjoy the rest of the night with the girls. They’ll keep you safe and bring you home. Or you can come with me now back to our territory, but I can’t let you come with me while I deal with Drake. I’m going to fuck him up, Frankie. I’m going to make him hurt. I don’t want you there for that.”
Frankie wanted to point out yet again that she wasn’t freaking fragile. She also would rather enjoy watching the bastard suffer. But she could feel Trick’s anxiety, and she knew how hard it would be for him to have her there. Despite how badly he’d wanted to get his hands on Drake, he hadn’t left her that day when she was attacked. He’d stayed with her, knowing it was what she needed. In return she could give him what he needed now . . . on one condition.
“You might be better staying here than waiting in our room for me,” Trick added. “I don’t know how long I’ll be in the hut, but I do know I won’t be in the best mood when I’m done with that fucker.”
Frankie rested her hands on his shoulders. “I’ll stay here. But when you’re done, you don’t go running around pack territory to blow off steam. You come back to me. I should be in bed by then, waiting for you. If I’m not there, you wait for me. That’s the deal.”
“Deal.” Trick kissed her hard, gliding his tongue against her own, needing her taste. “I love you. Stay safe.” He turned to Marcus, face hard. “Anything happens to her, you pay for it.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” said Marcus.
As Trick stalked off, Frankie gaped at him. She spluttered, shooting a glare at his retreating back. “You can’t tell someone you love them and then just leave.” But Trick was too far away to hear her.
Marcus chuckled. “It’s just like him to dump a bomb like that, casual as you please, and then walk off.”
“Well, it wasn’t fair.”
“If he’d hung around, you’d have felt that you had to say it back. He probably wants you to say it when you’re ready, not before.”
Figuring Marcus was likely right, she sighed and felt her irritation slip away. “Do you think I did the right thing by staying behind?”
“Yes, I do. He needed the space to get his head ready to deal with Drake. He won’t want you to see him that way.”
Recalling how much he’d hated that she saw him fighting with Drake in the restroom, she nodded. “I just wanted to be sure he wouldn’t feel like I’d left him alone while he was brooding. Why are you grinning?”
“You totally love him.”
“And you’re totally annoying.”
“I can’t argue with that.”
Snorting, she returned to the dance floor. As the night went on, there was more drinking, more laughing, more singing, and more dancing. Later, when she was at the bar ordering herself another bottle of water, an offensive scent hit her nostrils. Her wolf lifted her head, instantly alert. Dammit.
Rio leaned against the bar. “I have to ask . . . how did you do it?”
Frankie gave him a bored, sideways glance. “Do what?”
“Convince a gay guy to imprint on you. How does that even work?”
“Trick isn’t gay. Nor did we imprint on each other. We’re true mates.” Not that she owed the guy any explanations or anything.
“Not possible.” He shook his head, adamant. “Let’s not bullshit each other, okay? Life’s too short for games.”
She frowned. “Life is like the longest thing you will ever do. Once you’re gone, you’re gone.” She had no idea why people said that.
He blinked, surprised, then gave a fast shake of his head. “You know what I’m getting at.” He moved a little closer to her. “Look, I’m guessing you’re not fully imprinted on each other yet. That’s a good thing. It means you still have an out. You need to take it.”
“Is that a fact?”
“Yes, it’s very much a fact. Things might be going good for you and Trick now, but it won’t work in the long run. Neither of you are what the other truly needs. On the sexuality spectrum, Trick is way, way, way more toward the gay end.”
She snickered. “I’m pretty sure he’s straighter than the pole you dance on every Saturday.”
His face went rock hard. “You have a mouth on you. I’m actually trying to help here.”
“No, you’re being an asshole. A jealous, bitter one. I would have thought Trick had better taste. Now if I were you, I’d run along.” She wiggled her fingers in the direction of the exit.
“Why? It’s not like he can hurt me if I don’t. He left you.”
“Yeah, but, see, he left me with a ton of people—all of whom will leap on your skinny ass if you touch me. The fact that you’re breathing my air will be enough to piss them off.”
“I’m not going to hurt you. I don’t rough up women. I do, however, like getting roughed up in bed.” His mouth curled into a wicked, cruel smile. “Trick, well, he does like to play rough. I sure hope you’re into anal. That’s his thing. If you give him that, there’s a chance he’ll stick around awhile. A slight chance, anyway.”
“You’re mumbling. But then, I’ll bet it’s hard to sound coherent when you have a mouth full of bullshit. Just swallow it down. I’m sure you’ve had plenty of practice with swallowing.”
His eyes flared. “Where Trick’s concerned, I sure have. Tastes good, doesn’t he?”