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By´╝ÜTiffinie Helmer

“Harte this is Eva, my wife. Eva, this sorry excuse for a man, is Aidan Harte.”

“Nice to meet you.” She glanced at Lynx when he snorted again. “Are you going to be helpful?”

Aidan couldn’t help the chuckle.

“What?” Lynx demanded.

“Just interesting to see who wears the pants in your relationship. Really nice to meet you, Eva.” He gave her a full smile.

She smiled back and set the bag on the side of the bed, next to him. “Let’s take a look at you. Fox said you were caught in a trap?”

Aidan nodded.

She opened her bag, yanked on a pair of latex gloves, and pulled out scissors. She started at the hem of his jeans and carefully cut up the sides of one leg and then started on the other. “Your pants aren’t going to survive. Let’s see if we can save the rest of you.” She gave him a twinkling smile. “Lynx bring me over that trash can.” She indicated the one in the corner. Lynx begrudgingly brought it over. Eva stopped and straightened, looking Lynx in the eye. “If you’re going to be like that, send someone else in here to help me.” She discarded the ruined jeans in the trash can.

“Fine.” Lynx made a face, the same one he used to make when they were kids and Fiona would make him do something he didn’t want to.

“Good.” Eva turned back to Aidan, and threw a crocheted blanket over his lower half, covering his batman boxers.

He was going to like this woman. Lynx had grown into a bear of a man. His Athabascan and Tlingit heritage shone through like muscle. His black hair, dark eyes, and tanned skin contrasted with Eva’s short blond, blue-eyed, ivory-skinned, fairy looks.

Eva surveyed Aidan’s leg. “Lucky you were wearing boots.”

Yeah, one thing he had to be grateful for tonight, while so many other things had gone straight to hell.

Fiona entered the room with a bottle of whiskey and no glass. “Better drink up, my boy, before Eva goes any further. She’s cute, but wicked.” Fiona handed him a bottle and stuffed pillows behind his back when he sat up to drink. He took a long swallow, and relished the burn as it flowed down into his gut. His eyes watered, and he did everything he could not to cough. Not in front of Lynx, who was waiting to insult him. He took another swallow and then handed the bottle back to Fiona, who sat it within easy reach on the nightstand.

“All right, what can I do to help?” Fiona asked.

“Get him to drink more,” Eva said, going for the boot laces on his good foot first. “You’re going to need a new pair of boots.”

“Beats a new leg.”

Eva chuckled. “I like a man who can keep a sense of humor at times like this. Unlike someone else I know.”

Lynx folded his arms and rolled his eyes.

“I like a woman who’s capable and pretty to look at.” Aidan flirted back and smiled when Lynx gave him the evil eye. He grabbed the bottle and took another swig. It barely burned at all this time. He swallowed some more, loving how it warmed his blood as it swam through his body.

Eva started on the chewed up boot, cutting through the laces with her sharp scissors. A hush settled over the room, and Lynx and Fiona leaned in. “Step back and give me room to work.” She glanced at Aidan. “Why don’t you take another drink?”

“Sounds like a dandy idear,” he slurred. He wasn’t much of a drinker. Since his mother had been a lush, he’d stayed away from it. The alcohol hit him hard and fast, like a moose during rutting season. He downed another long swallow. It was too much effort to get the bottle back onto the nightstand, so he cradled it in the crook of his arm. He was feeling no pain.

Until Eva—the evil fairy from hell—pulled on his boot.

“Ahhh!” He screamed like a baby. He’d tried to keep it in. Even bit his tongue, but with the booze, the holler had escaped.

“Damn, I hope you didn’t break this,” Eva scolded him like it was his fault he was hurt. “No way we can get you to Fairbanks with that storm out there.” She surveyed the situation. “We need to get that boot off. If he broke it we’d better leave it on until we can get him to a hospital. But then what kind of infection has already taken up residence from the trap?”

Aidan quirked a brow. “Are you expecting an answer from me?”

“She likes to talk out her problems,” Lynx said, scowling. “Leave her alone.”

Aidan took another swig of the whiskey, really getting into the numbing effects.

“How’s he doing?” Fox asked, rushing into the room, his eyes wide as he viewed Aidan’s leg. “Ooh, that doesn’t look good.”

Aidan hadn’t looked. In fact, he’d looked at everyone and everything in the room, avoiding the sight of his mangled leg.