Home > Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(17)

Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(17)
Author: T.S. Joyce

“Can I sleep here tonight?” he asked.

She set her teeth to his bicep gently, and a purr ripped from his throat as he rolled his eyes closed with how good it felt.

“Only if you sleep in bed with me.”

“I have to leave tomorrow,” he admitted before he could change his mind. He should’ve just left without telling her and let her keep her normal life here, but he was selfish, remember?

“But Rhett said he had two more days of recording,” she said, sitting up straight.

Her eyes were so blue, her cheeks a pretty pink to match the lip gloss on her pout. Beautiful girl. He would give what was left of his soul to keep her.

“Vyr is claiming territory. He has his eyes on the Tarian Pride’s mountains. It’s a big territory, but I don’t trust the Red Dragon. My grandma is there. I need to get her out before he pushes to take over. Before he burns the damn mountains and eats the ashes.” Oh, he’d seen the news footage. He knew exactly how a dragon claimed mountains. The border of the territory would be burned to ash, eaten, and then the stink of dragon’s smoke would cling to the land. It clung to the mountains in Oregon where he lived.

“But…Vyr is good.”

“Is he?”

“Yes,” she said, a frown furrowing her perfectly arched dark eyebrows. “He’s good. I know these things. I can feel them. I grew up with him, and I know how he is now. He’s got a good Crew, a good mate. They’ll keep him steady. He’s okay.”

But Grim couldn’t be sure. Vyr had admitted to compromising with his monster, and Grim knew all about inner monsters. There wasn’t real compromise. They sat inside of a man until they fancied destruction, and then they mauled everything. And Vyr wasn’t some lion that was easily put down. He was a motherfucking dragon. Grim didn’t trust him where his grandma’s safety was concerned. He didn’t trust anyone except Ash.

“Rose is special,” she murmured about his grandma.

She’d remembered his grandma’s name. “Yes. She’s very special to me.”

Ash dropped those pretty blues to her hands clasped tightly in her lap. “Then you should go. Tomorrow. Bring her somewhere safe so your lions can stay calm and settled.”

Smart girl. She was so much more clever than she realized.

“Will you stay with me tonight?” she asked.

He hated that she was looking away, so he gently pulled her face back to him. What he saw in her eyes gutted him. They were rimmed with tears. Sweet bear. “I told you I would hurt you.”

She hugged him tight and buried her face against his chest. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

Fuck, what was this awful feeling in his chest? Guilt? His damn heart hurt. He was gonna miss the hell out of her. Out of this feeling…whatever it was.

So right here and now, he decided he was going to take her mind off of separating and give her a good last night. He was going to force the Reaper to stay in his skin for one night, and he was going to hold Ash while she slept. For one tiny little night, he was going to pretend they were normal, that he was strong and deserved someone as inherently good as Ash.

She’d told him tonight was her favorite of all her nights, and he was going to make sure that stayed true for her.

Tonight, he was damn determined they would be just Grim and Ash.

Even if it meant swallowing the pain of The Reaper.

Because taking care of her felt more important than taking care of himself.

And that, he realized, was the good lion inside of him speaking up again.

The clock changed to 10:10. The blue numbers sat there taunting him, glowing, beckoning him. Juno and Remi did this dumb thing where they wished on the number. Something about an old trailer that was magic in Damon’s Mountains. Wishes weren’t granted for devils like him, but he could feel that small, quiet, green-eyed goodness watching Ash. The Good would keep her safe. He would help Grim fight the Reaper tonight if it made Ash happy.

The Good cared about her smiles.

As the final seconds of the minute ticked by, he pressed his finger to the clock and closed his eyes, gripped Ash tighter against him with his other hand, and for the first time in his life, he made a wish.

I wish The Good would stay.

Chapter Fourteen

Ash had watched him place his fingertip on the number 10:10 and close his eyes. He’d made a wish. A man who didn’t believe in magic had made a wish. A hopeless man had wished for something.

Ash rushed and put her finger on top of his, closed her eyes, and made a wish for him.

I wish The Good would stay.

Then Grim wouldn’t hurt so bad on his insides.

She did believe in magic, and she did have hope, and for the rest of always, no matter where they ended up, she was going to do her best to give Grim hope, too. Because he deserved happiness, peace, and to be steady. Or as steady as a man like him could be.

When she opened her eyes, Grim was watching her with an unreadable expression. His eyes were so bright green.

She loved him. She was a silly girl who had fallen in love with a boy in a day. One day, and her heart had just decided that it belonged to him, her Grim. It had recognized his heart, pointed to him, and said, “That’s mine.” She didn’t have many people, so her bear became very loyal and protective to the ones she did have. She wasn’t anything special. A submissive bear shifter who was easily confused, but no matter what, Grim was safe with her. He would always have someone at his back, even when he left and moved on to live his life. She would always be there if he needed someone. If he needed anything.

The Good. The Bad. It was all hers, and there was nothing he could ever do to change her mind. She told him, “Even if someday you admitted to me all the bad things you had to do as the knife of the Tarian Pride, I’ll listen, and then I’ll hold those memories with you. You can tell me anything, and I won’t think less of you. I won’t make you pay for your past.”

“What are you saying?” he asked softly.

“You’re safe.”

Grim ripped his gaze away from her fast and stared out the window on the other side. He was hiding from her—another line of his book that she could read. Men did that sometimes, the strong ones. They hid when their hearts were touched. He’d probably never heard those words before, so he couldn’t tell if they hurt or if they felt good.

So she wrapped her arms around his bicep again and rubbed her cheek against the goosebumps on his skin. He didn’t feel cold, but he had chills. Poor Grim. She didn’t like when he had chills. She kissed his arm, right over a tattoo. Then suddenly, he leaned forward and yanked the handle under his seat, and the whole thing slid backward. She squeaked in shock as he reached over and pulled her entire body over on top of him. She barely had time to position her legs on either side of his hips before he set her down.

That shouldn’t have been graceful. She should’ve messed that up and got them all tangled, but she hadn’t. She kind of wished someone had caught that on video. She wasn’t very good at stuff like that unless it was rehearsed and she’d had lots of time to mentally prepare—

Ooooh, Grim rolled his hips against hers, and now his eyes were the bright gold of the Reaper. And that smile…the devil lived in that smile.

Ash cupped his cheeks. “Good man, bad man.” She lifted her chin and looked him right in his eerie eyes. “My man. My monster. Mine no matter what.”

His wicked grin faltered.

Take that, Reaper. Eat those nice words and figure out you won’t be able to chase me away.

Ash leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. The snarl in his throat was instant as he gripped the back of her neck and pulled her closer. Harsh, sexy kiss. He pushed his tongue into her mouth, his hands rough on her neck and waist.

Ash loved it. She rolled her hips against him, slid her arms around the back of his neck, and held him tight. Fire trailed up her skin where his fingertips searched under her sweater. She could feel the back of his knuckles now, pushing up, up, until he found the bottom of her bra. His hands on her skin felt like everything she’d been thirsty for. Her breath came in short pants as he pulled his hand back and shoved her jacket off her shoulders. She struggled out of it, not so graceful now, because they were in the front seat of the SUV and he was a very big man. But he didn’t seem to mind. He shoved her sweater up the second she freed herself from her coat.

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