Ryan grinned savagely up at his attacker, allowing his fangs to show. “My turn.”

Before Ryan could climb to his feet a loud scream sounded. Someone had seen the fight, and Ryan had no doubts the cops were being called. “Fuck.”

The man took off, knocking people aside in his bid for freedom. But he left an important clue behind, one Ryan would use to catch his ass.

He smelled faintly of Wolf. The same one who’d bitten his mate.

Ryan was going to rip the man limb from limb when he caught him.

Rolling to his side, Ryan barely managed to sit up before a stranger knelt at his side, holding him still. “Are you all right?”

Ryan nodded, trying not to vomit as the pain bit into him with savage teeth. “Yeah. Asshole got away, though.”

“I saw. I’m going to call an ambulance.” The stranger, a well-dressed man who looked, and smelled, vaguely familiar, pulled out a cell phone. He was obviously Puma, but Ryan wasn’t sure if he was part of the local Pride or associated with the college. “Stay calm and try not to move.”

“Good plan.” Because the little bit of movement Ryan had attempted made his vision black out. Ryan tried to focus, to go down the spiral path and heal himself, but the dizzying pain made concentration almost impossible. “I think the shoulder’s broken. Maybe my cheekbone.”

“Shit.” The man paused before dialing. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you’re one of the Bears that moved into town recently.”

“I’m Pride.” He started to hold out his hand and grimaced. “Grayson Howard.”

“Shit. Jamie’s brother?” He didn’t think the man even lived in Halle. Had he moved here because of the death of his brother’s mate?

Jamie Howard, once the local doctor and a respected member of the Puma Pride, had become a severely damaged recluse. Grayson had been one of the people to warn them that they must keep both Julian and Cyn away from Jamie at all times. The doctor blamed both of them for saving his life when his mate died. Now the once happy-go-lucky man was a broken, icy shell who refused even his Alpha’s order to appear before the Pride.

Ryan had heard that Gabe was keeping an eye on the situation. Ryan wondered if maybe he should do the same too. Gray’s eyes were bloodshot, the skin around them sunken and dark. It was obvious he hadn’t gotten much sleep recently. The urge to check on Jamie Howard, see exactly how far the man had fallen, was riding him despite the pain.

“Yeah. Small world, huh?” Gray stared at the phone for a moment before closing his eyes. “Want me to call Julian DuCharme, or an ambulance?”

“Julian. Please.” If Glory found out he’d been attacked, hurt, she’d flip her lid. She might even have another panic attack. He couldn’t risk it. “Please.”

The sound of sirens interrupted them. “Someone else must have called.” Gray stood, then smiled down at Ryan. “It’s not an ambulance. It’s Sheriff Anderson.”

Ryan immediately relaxed. Gabe would understand what was going on. He hoped.

Ryan closed his eyes and whined. He recognized that voice.

“Hell, Barney. Where the fuck where you five minutes ago?” Ryan glared up at the Hunter.

Barney held up something wrapped in paper. “Bagel.” He took a bite, crouching down beside Ryan. He tsk’d, touching Ryan’s cheek with a surprisingly gentle touch. “That looks like it hurts.”

Ryan flipped him off. “The bad guy got away.”

“Goodie for you.” Ryan leaned against the brick wall of the store he’d been attacked in front of and tried to concentrate on not puking.

“Hang in there. Julian’s on his way.” Grayson nodded. Ryan hadn’t even realized he’d called.

“Hmm.” Barney grabbed the back of Ryan’s shirt and tugged him out of the flow of pedestrians. “Is he now? There’s a man I’d like to have little a chat with.”

Ryan groaned as his arm hit the bricks of one of the storefronts. “Damn it, Barney.”

“If you fuck with Julian you’re in for a nasty surprise. And his mate has a hell of a bite.”

Barney actually laughed as he parked Ryan at the mouth of an alley. “She’s tiny. I can take her.”

Ryan just stared at him. “If believing that helps you sleep at night.” He shifted restlessly, groaning as a fresh wave of agony rolled through him. “Where’s Julian again?” Ryan still couldn’t focus long enough to go into the healing spiral or he’d try and take the edge off himself, and Barney had shown no inclination to help him other than to drag him out of traffic.

What a pal. Ryan couldn’t wait to be trained by him. Not.

“He’ll be here shortly.” Gray held out his hand to Barney. “Grayson Howard.”

“James Barnwell.” Barney took Gray’s hand and grinned. “Call me Barney.”

“Okay, Ryan.” Ryan jumped. When the fuck had Gabe gotten there? He must be in worse condition than he thought if he hadn’t noticed the sheriff making his way toward them. Gabe knelt next to him, scowling at something. Possibly Barney. Ryan had the feeling the man inspired a shit ton of scowls. Hell, he’d managed to piss off Heather. That usually took an act of God. “Tell me what happened.”

“Was coming back from getting Glory coffee when I was jumped. Asshole used an aluminum bat, tried to take my head off.” The pain was becoming unbearable. Ryan could barely breathe through it. He filled his lungs in shallow pants. It felt like his head was going to explode, and the thought of moving his shoulder at all made him swallow thickly. “He had on a ski mask, so I didn’t get a good look. He seemed maybe your height, maybe a little thinner in the chest and shoulders, but I was on the ground so it’s difficult to tell for sure. Oh, and I caught sight of blue eyes through the ski mask. And he smelled of Wolf.”

“That’s it? That’s all you got?”

Ryan shot Barney a look that bordered on loathing. “I was too busy trying to keep my head from becoming a piñata to catch his name and address, asshole.” He turned his attention back to Gabe. “It was the same one who bit Glory.”