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He dipped his free hand into his pocket and pulled out a small device that looked a little like an iPod. Without moving his gaze from Frankie and Lydia, he pressed the screen with his thumb and . . . and nothing. He gave them a wide, eerie smile. That was when something above them rumbled, shook, and roared as it collapsed. Shingles tumbled off the roof, and the cabin shuddered.

Frankie swallowed as her stomach bottomed. “What did you do?”

“Made sure that we wouldn’t be disturbed. That’s just parts of the porch roof collapsing near the front and back doors. Can’t have anyone trying to get inside, now can we?” He returned the little device—which was obviously a remote—to his pocket. “I wired the place when I heard you’d asked Josh for permission to walk through the cabin.”

Frankie gaped at him. Was he high? “The entire place could collapse.”

“I know. That’s why it’s so perfect. My world collapsed when Christopher died. Now yours is going to collapse too.” His grin dimmed as he looked at Lydia. “I’m sorry that you’ll go down with us. I really am.”

“Then let her go,” said Frankie.

“It’s too late for that.”

“Why do this?” Lydia whispered. “Why, Cruz?”

“It’s not my fault,” he insisted, indignant. He jabbed a finger at Frankie. “It’s hers.” He sneered at Frankie. “I knew when I first saw you at Phoenix territory that either you or your wolf remembered something. I just wasn’t sure what or how much. Then you started digging, asking questions, poking around in Iris’s attic. I heard you wanted to walk through here too, and I knew it was only a matter of time before you worked it out. I had to do something.”

A light shudder rocked the cabin walls. Things clattered and rolled along the floor above them, and she wondered if they were the glass bottles they’d found.

“See, I ain’t gonna be executed. No. I control my fate. If I’m going to die, Frankie, it’ll happen when and where I choose. Understand? And I choose to die in the same place my Christopher died. And since it’s your fault that it’s come to this, you’re going to die with me. I’ve been waiting for you to finally come here—you sealed both our fates as soon as you walked through that front door. You know, I think Christopher will probably be happy that I’m sending his daughter to him, don’t you?” He laughed, as if that were hilarious.

Frankie’s gut twisted at the glitter of madness in his eyes. “You’ve been riding the crazy train for a long time, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess I have.” And then he fired.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Trick groaned. The god-awful ringing in his ears just wouldn’t stop.

He tried opening his eyes, but it didn’t happen. The scents only aggravated his pounding headache. Blood, gas, oil, and burned rubber. He could taste blood, and he realized he’d bitten his tongue. Even with adrenaline pumping through him, he started to feel the ache of several injuries. What the hell had—

Images flashed before him, and his eyes snapped open. A black car hitting the passenger side. His neck snapping sideways. The SUV tipping. His head smacking into the window as they rolled and tumbled down, down, down.

Apparently the SUV had righted itself when it finally stopped rolling. Trick glanced out the broken window. They were in a vast, dry pit among high mounds of sand and rubble. As he saw the tall, stairlike sloped walls, he cursed. The fuckers had sent them crashing to the bottom of a goddamn quarry.

Unmanned machinery was nearby, including bulldozers, cranes, tractors, and pumps to remove pooling water. It was no doubt thanks to those pumps that the bed of the quarry was dry.

Trick winced as he tried to move. The seat belt had snapped taut in front of him and fuck his chest hurt. He was pretty sure that at least one rib was fractured, if not broken. Others were badly bruised. “Knew we should have gone for the model with the side airbags,” he muttered.

Clawing open the belt, he took a deep painful breath. His neck hurt like a bitch from the way it had snapped from side to side as they’d rolled. He’d definitely cut his head on the window, because he could feel the burning slice of pain and smell his blood.

He had a concussion for sure, but he couldn’t let that matter. His injuries probably would have been a damn sight worse if he’d been human. Shifters were hard to hurt. Half the bruises would be gone within the hour, but that didn’t mean Morelli wouldn’t pay for every single one of them.

Someone moaned behind him while another cursed.

Trick tried to glance over his shoulder, but pain shot through his neck and he swore. “Any of you dead?”

Beside him, Ryan grunted.

“Feels like it,” rasped Dominic. “What the hell just happened?”

“It was a trap,” said Trey, voice strained with pain. “Morelli lured us out here, and then he or one of his friends crashed into us.”

Eyes narrowed, Ryan peered out the window. “Said ‘friends’ are outside in their wolf forms, pacing on the wide stairs. I count eleven. Don’t know if that includes Morelli—I’ve never seen him in his wolf form.”

“His pack was a lot bigger,” said Dominic. “Either it split after they abandoned their territory or the others are nearby.”

“I think it’s the first,” said Trey. “His pack was made up of lone shifters and people whose Alphas and pack mates he destroyed. I doubt many of them would have felt a burning need to stick by his side—especially when he’s made an enemy of us and, by extension, our allies. These wolves here are likely his only loyal followers.”

“Why haven’t they just pounced on us already?” asked Dominic.

“They’re playing with us,” said Trick, carefully brushing shards of glass from his hair. “They want us to see that we’re no safer outside than we are in here. Doesn’t matter either way. We’ve got to get out.” Smoke hissed out from under the slightly raised hood. That couldn’t be good. “Anyone have their phone handy? I dropped mine somewhere.”

Ryan grunted, unzipped his jacket pocket, dug out his cell, and pressed what Trick knew was the panic button. It would send an alert and their GPS coordinates to each of their pack mates. “The cavalry should arrive soon.”

Carefully twisting in his seat, Trick got a good look at each of his pack mates. Bruised, bleeding, and rumpled, they didn’t look any better than he did. But they were alive, and the need to hurt practically shone from their eyes. “Ready to get out there?”

“Raring to get out there,” Dominic ground out.

As his wolf raked at him, wanting his attention, Trick pressed his fingers to his aching temple. There was something . . . something he needed to do. Someone who—

Frankie. Trick gripped the edge of his seat. “I need to get to Frankie.” He told them about their phone call. “If she’s right and the person in that cabin killed her parents, she’s in danger.”

“We’ll get to her,” Trey assured him in a “Keep the fuck calm” voice, “but we have to get out of this shit first. She has Roni and Marcus; they’ll protect her.”

They’d better, Trick thought. He checked on her through their bond. Fear was a living thing inside her. The drive to get to her pounded through him, but he couldn’t answer it because of that damn bastard out there.

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