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By´╝ÜTiffinie Helmer


She had to make sure her inquisitive son didn’t get attached to Aidan. Fox had no way of knowing Aidan was his father, and Raven would make sure he never acquainted himself with that part of his gene pool.

“Okay, that’s done.” Eva placed gauze pads over the packed wounds and then wrapped his leg in an ace bandage. The skin was bruised black and blue from the force of the trap clamping down around it and already swelling. “I’m going to place a soft splint around this in case he did break it. I don’t think so, but he could have a hairline fracture. If he hadn’t been wearing his boots, the bone definitely would have snapped. When the snow stops we’ll take him to Fairbanks for an x-ray.”

Raven and Lynx looked at each other.

Eva stood and placed her hands on her lower back and glared at both of them. “Yes, one of you is going to take him. You can fight it out between the two of you because I’m not doing it.” She pointed to her protruding belly. “I have a good excuse.”

“Fine,” they muttered.

“Okay, I need to give him a couple of shots. An antibiotic in the ass and a tetanus in the arm. Which one of you is going to volunteer to stay with him tonight?” She glared at them. “Don’t give me any flack. He needs to be watched. I don’t want him trying to get out of bed, and we need to keep an eye on his temperature. Plus, I want to ice his leg. We need to keep the swelling down. I don’t want any chance of blood clots forming.”

“What about Mom?” Raven suggested.

“Oh, come on.” Eva looked at her with annoyance. “She’s already got three guests to watch out for. You want her up all night taking care of a patient too?”

Raven felt low being scolded like a kid. She glanced at Lynx, but the jerk wasn’t volunteering. “Fine, I’ll stay.” Aidan would probably sleep the whole night through from all the whiskey he’d drunk. “But Fox will have to bunk down at your place.” She pointed at Lynx. “And you have to drive Aidan into Fairbanks when the roads are clear.”

“Lynx?” Eva prompted when he didn’t quickly agree.

“All right.”

“Wow, you guys are acting like selfish brats,” Eva said. “I know Earl Harte was an asshole, but what did Aidan ever do to you?”

Raven looked down at the sleeping man she used to love and had always thought she’d spend her life with. “Because of Aidan our father is dead.”

Aidan awoke and ran his tongue over his hairy teeth. What had crawled into his mouth and died? And he badly needed to pee.

He looked around the darkened room. A light had been left on in the bathroom leaving a soft amber glow to illuminate the bedroom. Where was he? A timber wolf pelt hung like a trophy on the wall, and a pair of handcrafted fur-trimmed Eskimo masks flanked a mirror over an old dresser where a woven basket with an Inuit design sat on the surface.

The bear trap.

He was at the Chatanika Lodge. And he’d seen Raven. Over the years, he’d wondered many times what she looked like now. How her beauty had matured. Well, now he knew and wished to God he didn’t.

He sat up and looked at his leg propped up on pillows and wrapped in a splint of sorts. The pain was down to a welcoming throb. Getting to the bathroom was going to hurt like hell. His head pounded. He shouldn’t have drunk so much of the whiskey. He never could hold his liquor. There was movement in the corner of the room from the rocking chair.

“You’re awake.” Raven’s voice was low and husky, reminding him of dark nights like this when they’d snuck away to be together.

“You’re here?” Surprise didn’t even begin to explain the jumpstart of his pulse. She’d undone her braid and her thick, blue-black hair hung straight down to her lap. Beautiful hair. Soft and silky and flowing.

“Eva made one of us volunteer.”

“You volunteered to watch over me?”

“It was the lesser chore. Lynx has to take you to the hospital when the roads are cleared.”

“So one night, which I’d probably sleep the most of, instead of hours in a car and then what? Wasting time at the hospital?”


“You always were the smart one.”

“Except you’re now awake.” She frowned. “Go back to sleep so my plan works for me.”

“I…can’t.” He glanced longingly at the bathroom. He really had to pee.

She followed his gaze. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“’Fraid not.” He shook his head. “Too much whiskey.”

“Or not enough,” she grumbled, throwing back the afghan she’d curled up under in the rocking chair. “Let’s get this over with.”