Home > Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(20)

Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(20)
Author: T.S. Joyce

His growl was constant now. Soft but constant.

“I love Grim,” she murmured. “And that means all of him. You included. I think he needs you and The Good both. It just hurts him when he only has you. When there’s no balance.”

He swallowed audibly in the dark and a rough, calloused hand cupped hers, pressed it against his stomach.

“If you kill me, it’s okay. I still want you to come.”

“Reaper,” she whispered thickly, squeezing her eyes closed against the tears that wanted to come out. A strong man should hear when he’s doing right. “I love you.”

Grim tensed, then his hand went limp against hers and fell back to the mattress. His breathing steadied out once more. When she looked back at his reflection, he was asleep again.

With a sigh, she relaxed back onto her pillow, but she didn’t take her hand away. Grim was on a journey, and she had this instinct that things would change for him.

He was growing, and she was going to miss it.

She was going to miss the best chapters in his book.

Chapter Sixteen

A sick day. Nursing a broken heart counted as a sick day, right? Audrey had let her off the hook so easy, too.

Grim was really gone. He’d had to be the Reaper all morning to prepare for a flight out to Tarian Pride territory, but she couldn’t Change again so soon. So she’d sat on the porch on this frosty morning she would never forget.

She cupped her mug of hot coffee in her hands and shrugged deeper into the blanket. He’d said goodbye a half an hour ago, kissed her lots, but she was still here, stuck in a way, as her bear waited for her lions to come back. She’d done this for weeks when Juno had gone, and the same happened when Remi left.

Ash was careful of the people she chose, but when she picked one, her heart picked them for always.

The sound of a truck engine rumbled through the woods, and she sat up straighter, listening. It wasn’t the SUV engine, though. It was another familiar man coming to see her. Bash Kane. That was the sound of Dad’s new Raptor. She was pretty sure he’d bought it so he could match Clinton. They’d been great friends for years. They fought like a couple of old sisters, but when push came to shove, they always had each other’s backs.

Clinton had a white one, but Dad had gotten one in the same shade of gunmetal gray as the old Dodge sitting in front of her cabin. His favorite color was orange, but for rigs, he liked dark gray.

He came barreling through the clearing like a bat out of hell (she’d never figured out what that saying meant, but Mom said it a lot) like he always did. He did three donuts in his truck, the tires spewing dirt and snow, and then he pulled up to her house and skidded to a stop.

“I don’t know why I waited so long to get me one of these,” Dad said as he hopped out of the jacked-up truck.

“Because they cost more than if you sold all your organs on the black market,” she reminded him, still unable to move from her seat. It was like her butt cheeks were frozen right here until Grim returned.

Dad was a sight for sore eyes, another saying she didn’t understand. Sore eyes sounded like a terrible thing. He was tall and built like a brick house, and his hair was black like her natural color. Mom had always said Ash was the spitting image of him, down to her eye color and everything. Except Dad had a great big black beard and looked like a mountain man, and Ash sure hoped she didn’t look like a mountain man.

Never the quiet person, Dad stomped right on up her stairs and took a seat next to her so hard, for a second she thought the swing would give. She’d reinforced it with double chains, but Dad was a very robust man.

He had a plate in his hands with foil on top, but she could smell what he’d made her.

“I like presents, and your mom said you’re just like me, so I always knew what could make you feel better,” Dad murmured. His eyes were sad.

“I do love presents,” she said, forcing a smile so he wouldn’t worry.

She removed the foil from the plate, but there were only two pizza rolls left and a bunch of grease prints from the ones that were gone.

“I had a snacksident.” Dad looked remorseful, but she knew him. He might say sorry, but that man couldn’t resist this food. He’d done good to make it here with two left.

She gave him one and popped the other in her mouth. “He went away.”

Dad leaned back and stretched his legs, rocking the swing. “Audrey told me you sounded hurt on the phone.”

“Well Audrey shouldn’t worry people.” She looked out to the trees again, her bear ever-hopeful that Grim would be standing there one of these times.

“I asked around about him. Grim. You like him?”

She nodded.

“I mean you like him, like him?”

Another nod, and now she felt like crying.

“He’s a monster.”

Another nod. The heart wanted what it wanted. That was one of the few sayings she actually understood now.

“I felt like I was a monster once,” Dad said, swinging them gently.

“What changed?” she asked.

“Your momma found me. Why are you still here, Baby Bear?”

Ash bit her bottom lip to keep it from shaking. She really hated worrying Dad. He was a simple man and got upset when anyone he loved was hurting. “What do you mean?”

“I changed all the seats on Grim’s flight, and you have one right beside him.”

Ash jerked her attention to her dad. “What?”

“I keep trying to teach you to check your emails, but you never do. You and your sisters never listen about your emails. I’ve sent you six this morning. I found funny memes, and none of y’all even called me to tell me I’m funny.”

“Dad, I have a ticket on his flight?”

Dad checked his watch. “You gotta couple hours to make that flight. Pack light so you don’t have to check a bag. That’s me telling you not to pack six pounds of that eye glitter you keep smearing all over your face. Pretty girl lookin’ like a bug light. You tell Grim I have about a dozen sets of eyes on him, and I will fuck his whole life up if he hurts you.”

Ash jumped up, the blanket falling to the porch. “Dad, are you serious?”

“I’m very serious. I will kill him.”

“No, about the flight!”

“Well, now you have one hour and fifty-nine minutes to get there. I’m not sitting here waiting with you while your bear watches people leave again. Just go with him and call me every day. And check your email.”

Ash leaned down and kissed him quick on the cheek.

And as she ran into the house to pack, she could still hear dad talking. “I’m getting really good at meme-ing. And I’ve learned to make gifs. Honestly, I’m ready for one of your sisters, or maybe all of you, to start poopin’ out cubs for me to play with. But your momma said I shouldn’t say it like that because you aren’t actually poopin’ out cubs. But I saw you being born, and it sure looked like she pooped you out. I’m hungry again, so I’m leavin’. Vyr was asking questions about you and Grim, but I didn’t know anything, so I told him to eat a dick and ask you himself. Clinton says I need to stop using his comebacks when I don’t know what they mean, but he nodded like he was proud when I told Vyr to eat a dick. Your momma had her face all scrunched up, though. I’m probably in trouble. Okay, Baby Bear, I’m gonna go feed my belly. Message me when you land. Via email so I know you saw my memes. I love you!”

“I love you too, Dad! So much! You are the best dad!”

“I know! See you soon.”

And then the sound of Dad’s engine roared through the house as she was tossing about six pounds of eye glitter into her make-up bag, and Dad was off again.

No more waiting around for her.

She was going to do exactly what the Reaper had asked of her and go with Grim. For better or worse, she was going to march straight into Tarian Pride territory beside her man.

Bye, bye, boring life.

Helloooo terrifying, uncertain, questionable, adventuresome one.

Chapter Seventeen

Grim sat in the back of the plane, looking at all the empty seats around him suspiciously. The attendant had announced it was a full flight, yet here he was, the only one sitting in the last two rows.

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