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By´╝ÜTiffinie Helmer

“Fox, you shouldn’t be in here,” Lynx said, walking over to him and laying a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t you have dogs to feed?”

“That’s what I was doing. They’re all bedded down for the night.” He looked at Aidan, worry shining in his eyes. “Is he going to be all right?”

“He’s going to be just fine.” Fiona walked around the bed and reached for Fox. “Come with me. I need your help getting him something to eat.” Fiona steered him out of the room, giving Aidan a backward glance with a wink.

“Let’s get the boot off,” Eva announced, tightening her lips. “I think that’s the best course of action.” She went right to work. Before Aidan could down any more of the bottle, she had his boot off in one quick excruciating yank.

“Shit. Fuck. Son of a bitch!” He gasped—had trouble getting his breath back—and started to shake.

“Sorry about that,” the demon nurse from hell said. “Guess I could have warned you, but I prefer the rip-off-the-bandage method. Why prolong the pain? Now let’s take a look.”

The edge of his vision started to blur. God, he hoped he passed out.

Then she walked in.


The woman who had haunted him all his life. From his dreams to his fantasies. The woman who had broken his heart.

“So it’s true,” she said, glaring at him from the doorway, her hands planted on her hips. Her voice was deeper, huskier. It vibrated through him like a stone thrown into a pool of water. She slowly stalked toward the bed. “I can’t believe you had the nerve to come back here.”

He gazed up into her dark, bewitching eyes. How he had loved to gaze into her eyes for hours as he stroked her soft, honeyed skin. “Why aren’t you in the Midwest?” he asked. And he thought dying was the worst thing that could happen to him tonight.

“Midwest?” She frowned and glanced at Eva and Lynx. “Did he hit his head too?”

“Nope,” Lynx answered. “But he’s had a lot to drink.” He indicated the half empty bottle of whiskey snuggled in the crook of Aidan’s arm.

He took another swig. Man, that went down nice.

“Where’s Fox?” Raven asked.

“In the kitchen with Mom,” Lynx said. “He found Aidan, saved his sorry ass. He also knew how to navigate Earl’s booby-traps. It would be interesting to know how he knew that.”

“Yes, it would. In the meantime, what are we going to do with him?” She pointed at Aidan as though he was something rotten that needed to be disposed of.

He wasn’t worried. Hell, he was feeling fine. Aidan took another drink and some of the liquid dribbled down his chin. If they were going to kill him, they would have left him to die in the trap. With the temperature dropping to well below zero, he wouldn’t have made it through the night.

Eva wiped the blood, rust, and dirt from his leg, while Aidan lost himself in gazing at Raven.

She’d changed since he’d last seen her. At eighteen she’d been a skinny thing, all limbs and sharp angles. She’d gained weight and it had settled in all the right places. She was curvy. The kind of curvy a man could spend hours navigating, losing himself. He remembered the night they’d given each other their virginity. How they’d fumbled, laughed, and spoke of forever. How would it be to lie with her now?

“Ouch.” He jerked as Eva poked him. “That hurts.”

“Well, yeah.” Eva snorted. “You got your leg caught in a trap.”

Weren’t nurses supposed to be compassionate?

“Lynx, hand me that syringe.” She held her hand out. “Yes, that one.” She glanced at Aidan. “You’ve got a lot of crap in these wounds.” She glared at him like it was his fault. “I’m going to flush them out with saline and hope we wash out all the debris.”

Aidan dropped his head back on the pillow as Eva went to work on him, snapping orders at Lynx for more towels.

“What are you doing back here, Aidan?” Raven asked, her lips flattened into a line. She had such nice full lips that could stretch into a wide, welcoming smile. Why couldn’t she have smiled at him when she saw him instead of the scowl that wrinkled her forehead and made him feel like scum? Didn’t she have any fond memories of him that she revisited?

“Earl’s dead,” Lynx answered for him.

“Well.” Raven folded her arms under her breasts—breasts that were considerably larger than they had been at eighteen. “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.”

“I need those tweezers.” Eva pointed to a sterile package in her bag, snapping her fingers for Lynx to speed it up. For such a little thing, she had a Napoleon attitude. She tore into the packaging and pulled out wickedly sharp, stainless steel tweezers. “I didn’t get all the debris with the wash. I’m going to have to dig some of it out with the tweezers. Raven, hold his shoulders down. Lynx, you hold his leg immobile. And I mean don’t even let it twitch.” She flicked a glance at Aidan. “You aren’t going to like this.”