Home > Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(25)

Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(25)
Author: T.S. Joyce

“Have you how?” she asked, hope blossoming in her chest.

“If you’ll be my mate.”

She couldn’t contain herself. She threw her arms around his neck, stood on her tiptoes, and hugged him as tight as she could. And now she was making polka dots on his skin with her tears. “I never thought that was going to be my story,” she said thickly.

“Me either. I think we just had to wait until we found each other. And we just…fit.”

“You’re the only person I’ve ever been able to understand. I thought I would be confused and lonely my whole life, but you fixed it.”

“Shhhh,” he said, rocking her gently.

“We’re coming in!” Remi called.

The door opened with an awful creaking noise, and then her best friends and their mates lumbered through the hotel room door right to the bathroom and piled in. Rhett was holding a pile of onions in his hand and Kamp was missing a shoe. Remi was listing all the reasons a female should be Second in this Crew, and Juno was complaining about having something in her eye and poking said eyeball in the bathroom mirror. Grim let off a snarl so loud everyone stopped talking. It was gloriously silent for three seconds before he said, “I agree a female should be Second—”

“Yes,” Juno and Remi hissed at the same time as Kamp and Rhett groaned, “Noooo.”

“And by that I mean Ash. Ash will be my Second.”

“Oh, not me,” Ash murmured, her cheeks heating. “I’m not dominant or even very smart about decisions.”

Rhett snorted. “I’ll say. You picked Grim—heeeyeeck!”

Grim’s giant tattooed hand was suddenly around Rhett’s throat, and he was glaring at him with bright gold eyes.

“Ash is a good choice for Second,” Rhett rasped out.

Grim gave him an empty smile and released him.

“Okay, I agree with this decision,” Remi said. “Ash will be a great Second. She’s thoughtful and sweet, and any time Grim needs to calm down, she can just give him a blow job.”

Grim pointed to Remi and deemed her, “Third.” He pointed to Juno. “Fourth.” Kamp. “Fifth.” Rhett. “Last.”

Rhett frowned deeply. “You could’ve said sixth, not last. But it’s fine. You still picked me. I’ve brought you something to mark the occasion I became your first best friend but sixth Crewmate.” He shoved his not onion-riddled hand deep into his pocket and brought out two mismatched paperclips. “I found them on the ground at the gas station.”

“I don’t want your trash, Rhett,” Grim growled, pulling Ash by the hand toward the door.

“Why not?” Rhett called from behind them, following with the rest of the Crew outside and toward a pair of picnic tables across the parking lot. “It’s like a friendship bracelet.”

“I already have your stupid talking pebble in my pocket, Rhett. It’s enough!”

As the boys groused at each other, Remi jogged up beside her and squeezed Ash’s free hand and told her, “Welcome to the Crew, Ash.”

The mushiest smile took over Ash’s entire face.

And now Remi and Juno’s eyes were all teared up, and Ash couldn’t name another time she’d been so emotional or happy. Last night, everything had gone sideways, but today, none of that mattered. All that mattered was that she was here, right in the mix, not invisible or left behind. She’d been chosen by a good man who cared about trying and improving. She’d been chosen by someone she knew down to her bones would be a great Alpha. She was chosen by a man she loved right back. And now she would be in a Crew with Juno and Remi. How many childhood slumber parties had they spent dreaming about being in the same Crew someday? And look where she was now.

The best things were happening to her. To Ash. Oh, she knew it wouldn’t be easy and their future was still uncertain. But she also knew they would be okay because she had her people—the people she’d chosen and become unerringly loyal to.

“Grim,” she whispered, squeezing his hand.

“Yeah, Good Girl?” he asked, turning to her.

“Thank you.”

The worry furrowing his dark eyebrows relaxed, and his face softened. “For what?”

She blinked back tears as she took in the organized chaos around them. The others were chattering on, settling on a picnic table, setting out food.

Thank you for the Crew, for believing in me, for giving me a home, for asking me to be your mate, for protecting me from the fire, for making me safe. There were a dozen thoughts at once, and as usual, her words got all mixed up. “For…for…”

Grim pulled her closer and leaned down, pressed his lips against hers. And then he said three words that filled her heart with joy. “I understand you.”

Love meant something different to everyone.

For some, it was freedom.

For some, it was pain.

For some, it was a distraction.

For some, happiness.

For some, it was home.

But for Ashlynn Kane, love had been utterly…unattainable.

Until now.

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