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By´╝ÜTiffinie Helmer

“Surprise,” he said. “I haven’t liked any of it so far.”

She smiled at him as though she approved and then narrowed a look at Raven. “Hold him down.”

Raven took a deep breath, her eyes slanting. She didn’t want to touch him. But then he didn’t want her touching him either, for different reasons all together.

She sat on the edge of the bed and placed her hands on his shoulders. Her scent drifted to him. In all these years she still smelled the same. Earthy. Berries, ferns, exotic underbrush. He vaguely felt Eva poking at him. The real pain came from having Raven so close and discovering he still had unresolved feelings for her hidden in the depths of his mangled heart.

And she still hated him.

“All right, I hope I got it all,” Eva said. “That trap must have been decades old and reverting back to nature for the amount of rust I washed out of the wounds. When was the last time you had a tetanus? Earl Harte should be shot for leaving things like that around his place.”

Aidan laughed, though the sound was more sardonic than happy. Earl had been shot all right.

“Aidan?” Eva hollered at him. “Tetanus shot? When did you last have one?”

“Can’t remember,” he mumbled.

“Are you allergic to any antibiotics?”


“Are you all right?” Raven asked, looking suddenly concerned.

“Do you care?”

She tightened her lips, released him and scooted off the edge of the bed. “No.”

“Then don’t bother asking.” He shut his eyes. Man, he was tired. It had been a hell of a day. It had been a hell of a few months. Who was he kidding? His life had always been hell. He’d be better off dead then he wouldn’t have to feel. Darkness closed in on him. Not comforting, but numbing.

Whatever. He’d take it.


Raven grabbed the bottle sliding out of Aidan’s grip right before it would have fallen off the edge of the bed. “He’s out.” Thank the lord, she thought.

“Good,” Eva said. “I hate patients who complain.”

“I didn’t hear him complain,” Raven said, wrinkling her brow.

“I know.” Eva reached for packing strips. “I can’t sew him up. The puncture wounds are too deep. They’ll need to heal from the inside out.” She glanced at Raven and then Lynx. “We’ll need to care for him. Change his packing, bandages.”

“The hell we will,” Lynx said, crossing his arms over his chest. “It would have been better for everyone if Fox hadn’t found him.” He glanced at Raven. “You need to have a talk with your son about picking up strays. Some things are better off left to die.”

“Lynx,” Eva scolded. Just the tone of her voice had Lynx standing down.

“Fine,” he grumbled and pointed to Aidan prone on the bed. “But I don’t want him here any longer than he has to be.”

“He’ll have to stay a few days,” Eva said. “I don’t believe his leg is broken, but he isn’t going to be driving out of here on it. He’s going to need his bandages changed, his wounds repacked, and I’m worried about infection. We’ll have to take turns caring for him.”

“Hell no,” Lynx said, arms back across his chest. “You’re asking too much, woman.”

Eva narrowed her eyes. “If that’s the way you’re going to be, it’ll be hard on me, with the pregnancy so close to term and all.” She sighed. “But I’m not going to let the man die.”

She was good, Raven thought. Her brother had married his match and then some.

“Well, shit,” he muttered.

Eva turned to Raven and quirked a brow.

“Fine,” Raven said. “But I don’t want Fox in here.”

“Good luck keeping him out,” Lynx scoffed. “You know the boy. Finders keepers.”

“We’ll have to keep him busy.” Raven stared at both of them. “I don’t want him anywhere around Aidan.”

“We’ll do our best,” Eva agreed, but Raven knew she was going to be hounded with questions later over why. Eva turned back to her patient. “I still need to pack his wounds.” She sighed. “I hope he sleeps through it.”

“He drank enough whiskey to put him into a coma,” Lynx said.

“You would have done the same in his situation,” Eva said. “Make yourself useful and hand me those packing strips.”

Raven watched as Eva doctored the punctured wounds the teeth of the trap had made. There were six in all around Aidan’s calf. She couldn’t imagine how much it had hurt him. A pang of something unwanted and uncomfortable intruded. She stamped it down. She no longer cared for Aidan. That was long over and had been a mistake from the get go. But being with Aidan had resulted in Raven’s greatest joy.