“Let the girls go, Cruz. They haven’t done anything to hurt you.” She paused. “Let me come in and talk to you.”
With a roar Cruz fired at the ceiling. “No one comes in here!” He fired again and again and again. Debris rained down on them, stinging Frankie’s eyes and pounding at her skin—
A loud crack split the air.
The basement window shattered.
Cruz roared again as his body jerked forward like he’d been shoved.
Frankie could only stare at him, completely stunned. Eyes wide in disbelief, he dropped to his knees. He blinked rapidly, let out an animalistic grunt. And then he slumped forward. That was when she noticed the blood blooming on the back of his T-shirt, and she understood he’d been shot.
Marcus appeared at the window and elbowed the rest of the broken glass away. “Come on, we have to get you out now.”
Frankie hissed as Lydia carefully pulled her to her feet. Wooziness slammed into her head, making her knees buckle.
Lydia bit her lip. “I’m sorry, Frankie, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” she said through gritted teeth. Lie. The room was spinning, and her head felt . . . fuzzy. “Get to the window.” She blinked rapidly, trying to focus on Marcus, trying to fight the darkness heading her way. She would not pass out. Not when they were so close to freedom. Not when the cabin was still creaking, and bits of debris were still falling.
Reaching the window, Lydia made a sound of frustration. “Marcus, there’s nothing for us to stand on. You’ll have to pull us up.” He hung over and reached out with both hands. Lydia gestured for Frankie to go first, but she shook her head.
“Not leaving you,” mumbled Frankie. “We go together. The window’s wide enough for us both to fit through.”
“She’s right,” said Marcus. “Now move.”
Lydia slung Frankie’s arm around her neck, and then they each grabbed one of his hands. At Marcus’s direction they tried to “walk” up the wall with the tips of their shoes. The whole time, darkness beckoned to Frankie. It just hurt so fucking bad.
Finally their heads slid out the damn window. Frankie would have laughed in relief if Marcus hadn’t planted a chaste “Thank fucking God you’re okay and Trick won’t have to kill me” kiss on her mouth. Behind him Roni chuckled.
Cam appeared and literally hauled Lydia out the rest of the way. Marcus moved more carefully, mindful of Frankie’s wound and—
A hand locked on her ankle and yanked hard. She slipped, face grazing the wall, but she didn’t hit the floor. Marcus grabbed at her hands, and she latched on tight. Her fingers heated and stung from how tight his grip was, but she held on to him desperately.
Glancing down, she saw that Cruz had somehow crawled her way, and his long arm had stretched out just enough to reach her. She kicked at the hand seizing her ankle until, with a curse, he let go. Elation filled her—
The cabin again shuddered, creaking louder than before, and the ceiling above her cracked. Marcus’s eyes widened with realization. He tried pulling her up, but it was too late. Just as she let go of his hands and hit the concrete mere inches away from Cruz, someone yanked Marcus out of the way.
Frankie curled into a protective ball on the floor, shielding her head, as the world seemed to fall on top of her. Pain slammed into her arms, shoulders, legs, hands, feet—even the head she tried to protect.
Every part of her seemed to hurt, but that wasn’t what made her want to scream. She couldn’t move. Not even an inch. She was stuck. Trapped. In the dark. Her breath stuttered out of her just as her heart began racing like a wild horse. Panic choked her, squeezing her chest so tight she couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen. Her wolf let loose a primal howl.
Frankie told herself to calm down, but she couldn’t. Her breaths kept coming faster and faster. Her heart kept beating like crazy. Lights flashed before her eyes as her head swam. Then her body flushed and heat rushed to her head. Oh God, oh God, oh God.
Her heart skipped a beat at the sound of Trick’s voice. She clung to it, using it as an anchor to calm herself.
“Frankie, talk to me!”
“Trick?” Her voice was weak and raspy, but she felt his relief down their bond.
More wood groaned and shuddered. That was when she realized that the whole building hadn’t collapsed yet, only the ceiling.
“Get out of the way, Marcus. She’ll be crushed if I don’t get her out!”
“We’ll get her out,” insisted Marcus.
“Baby, I need to hear your voice again so I can work out exactly where you are.”
“You’ll find me under a mound of debris,” she quipped, using humor to keep the panic at bay. “Cruz is only a few inches away, but I can’t see or hear him.”
“Okay, I think she’s directly beneath the window,” Trick said, voice muted. “It’s going to be hard not to stand on her. Be careful and try sliding to the side.”
“Got it,” Marcus agreed.
“Frankie, we’re coming in. Don’t move. Stay still.”
She did as he asked, listening as they slid through the window, hearing the debris rattle as their feet hit the floor. “You were hurt,” she said. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Frankie. Ally healed me. Let’s just worry about you.”
The weight on top of her jangled and shook and cracked. She waited and waited, silently praying that they’d find her. Soon a shaft of light shone through a small gap in the boards, and her heart leaped. Moments later a plank of wood was slid aside, and then Trick’s face was staring down at her.
Relief flashed in his eyes, and he squeezed them shut. “Christ.” He blew out a breath. “Don’t move.”
“Hurry.” Because the wooden walls were creaking and splintering again. He and Marcus swiftly cleared the rest of the weight from her body, and then Trick snatched her up. A sob slipped out of her, and she tucked her face into his chest.
“Shh, baby, I got you. You’re okay.” He kissed her head. “We have to go. Look up and reach for Trey.”
She fisted his shirt. “No, you can’t stay here. You have to come. You’ll get crushed.”
“I’ll be right behind you, baby, I swear it. Now reach for Trey.”
Not wanting to waste time arguing, she did as he asked. The Alpha carefully pulled her the rest of the way out. The fresh air hit her face, and a tremor ran through her body. Lying on the ground, she greedily inhaled, gasping in huge gulps of air. Every gasp made the wound on her stomach throb and burn, but she couldn’t quite stop.
“Breathe slow or you’ll pass out.” With Marcus at his side, Trick scooped her up and moved her far away from the cabin to where the others waited anxiously. “Taryn—”
A roar split the air as wood came crashing down—snapping, splitting, cracking, and thudding. The cabin literally caved in on itself, sending debris and dust everywhere.
“Well, fuck,” muttered Marcus.
“Lay her down, Trick. I’ll heal her.” Taryn smiled at Frankie when he rested her on the grass. “Good to have you back. We were losing our minds out here, thinking we might not get to you in time. Did the bullet go straight through?” she asked Trick.
He nodded, having already checked. Taking Frankie’s hand, Trick slid up her T-shirt enough to see her bullet wound. He needed to watch as it closed, needed to see that she’d be okay. Impatiently he waited as his Alpha female healed her—all the while conscious that if his mate had been human, she might have been dead by now.