Home > Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(6)

Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(6)
Author: T.S. Joyce

He didn’t even tense up, just sat there staring at her hand on his bare leg. She left it there as she drove with her free hand until she reached the little cabin she rented from her landlord, Mr. Perkins.

“You aren’t scared of me,” he rumbled as she opened her door.

“Well, you feel very big, and part of you is scary, but the other part is nice. Plus, Vyr looked like he wanted to burn you and eat your ashes tonight when the Reaper came out. He’ll probably avenge me if you kill me.”

Grim huffed a surprised-sounding laugh. “Yeah, he burned the Reaper right out of me.”

But she didn’t understand what that meant so she said, “You can get out, and we can go inside and eat. Or eat out here if you like the wild. Sometimes I like eating in the wild.”

“What do you mean in the wild?”

“Outside. A picnic.” She got out and closed the door behind her, then crunched her way through the snow to the little cabin she’d called home for three years.

“That actually sounds nice. I just don’t have any…you know…”

Ash turned around to see what was wrong, and he was standing barefoot in the snow, boots in one hand, and the other hand still covering his man-bits.

“Oh! Clothes! Don’t worry. I have an idea for that.”

Chapter Five

A bull.

Grim cocked an eyebrow at himself in the full-length mirror in the spare bedroom. Ash had handed him a Halloween costume in the form of a thick adult onesie that had hooves on the feet, a fuzzy belly, and a hood with horns.

It barely fit him and was tight in the dick area. The sleeves were too short, and he couldn’t get it zipped up past his belly button, but it was warm. So…there was that.

He would’ve cursed Rhett for begging him to come to Damon’s Mountains except he actually didn’t mind tonight. Ash sure did have his interest.

And…well…bull onesie and all, he was kind of…sort of…having fun.

He made his way out of the bedroom into the living room. God, this place smelled so good. Ash was in the small kitchen heating up the food, and he couldn’t remember a single time in his life anything smelled better.

The best part of it all? When he saw Ash, she was wearing a black and white spotted cow onesie, complete with horns and udders.

She turned around with the brightest, prettiest, most genuine smile he’d ever seen on another person. Like she was really happy to see him.

“Moo.” Ash giggled as she clutched a bowl of mashed potatoes in her hand. Her nose scrunched up with her laugh, and the psychotic part of him wanted to touch it just to feel the cute little wrinkles there.

Biting back a smile, he murmured low, “Moooo.”

Now Ash was cracking up, her blue hair falling out of the cow hood in little wavy wisps as she moved. He wanted to touch that, too.

“I thought if I dressed up, too, you would be happier.”

“It worked. You look…” Beautiful. He cleared his throat. Careful now, Grim. She isn’t yours. “You look like a cow.” Shit. That was rude, and not at all what he meant.

But Ash didn’t seem to mind him calling her a cow. She just stifled her giggles and said, “Me and Remi wore these a long time ago to a Halloween party, and Juno was a bucket of milk.”

Okay, now he was really having to fight a smile because he could just imagine the three of them. “Here, let me help.” He took the potatoes from her and piled spoonful’s onto the two ceramic plates she’d set out. She’d already dished up pot roast and carrots and some type of bread cut in a triangle.

When he pointed to it, she said, “Yorkshire pudding. My mom makes it better.”

Well, then, her momma must’ve been a chef or something because it looked and smelled delicious.

“Do you like to cook?” Grim asked.

“I like to cook when I’m confused.”

“What do you mean?” he asked, searching the cupboard for glasses so he could make them drinks.

“Beer,” she murmured, pointing to the fridge.

Even better.

“I get confused when people are mean, or sometimes when they are nice, and cooking helps me think about it.”

“It’s your therapy.”

Ash shrugged up a shoulder. She hadn’t zipped up her cow costume all the way, and she had a tight little tank top underneath where he could see her cleavage. When she looked up at him, her clear blue eyes looked so bright, and her dark eyelashes touched her cheeks when she blinked. He’d never thought a blink could be sexy before but, holy shit, she was so fuckin’ beautiful. Total showstopper.

If he was the old Grim, the enforcer Grim, the Grim that was in charge of fighting for the Tarian Pride, he would’ve dragged her rank near the top no matter how submissive she was. He would’ve brought her closer to him and burned anyone who said a single thing against it. He would’ve started a war in the Pride for Ash. And that right there was one of the many reasons he wasn’t at the top of the ranks in the Tarian Pride anymore. Dominants bred with dominants, and submissives were treated like shit. But he didn’t think like the others. He didn’t believe only dominants should be important. Good God, he didn’t even like dominants. What had the Reaper ever done for him? Made his entire life a nightmare, that’s what.

Grim reached for the handle to the fridge and winced as the movement tugged on the burn across his neck and shoulder. It was bad. He was healing, but the material of the onesie was rubbing on it and irritating it worse.

“Here,” Ash said, yanking open the freezer. She pulled out a package of frozen peas and slid it through the opening of his costume. He tensed a little at the shock of the cold, but after a few seconds, he sighed in relief as the burning eased.

When her phone dinged on the counter, she frowned at it but ignored the glowing screen and went back to heating up one of the plates. It dinged again.

It was two a.m., so when the third notification lit up her screen, Grim gave into his curiosity. “Is it Juno and Remi?” he asked innocently.

“No, much worse.”

He frowned. Something long buried inside of him didn’t like that. He wanted to snuff out whatever made her pretty, dark eyebrows frown and that full bottom lip pout.

“Are you okay?”

“I am on a match site.”

“A match site,” he repeated.

She shrugged up her shoulders. “To find a mate.”

Nope, did not like that at all. Zero stars, did not fuckin’ recommend. He nearly choked on his snarl. “You deserve better than a blind-date mate.”

“I don’t deserve anything,” she said lightly. “Here.” She handed him a plate and picked up her own. “Wild dinner?”

“Uh, you mean do I want to eat outside?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “That’s what I mean.”

She was changing the subject, but she was about to learn something about him. He was a relentless hunter. “Yes, dinner outside sounds good.” He grabbed a blanket off the back of the couch as he passed because something inside of him wanted to protect her from the wind. And he had a feeling that something had green eyes and didn’t see the light of day much. The Good, as Ash called his steady lion, was pushing the Reaper to the edges. He could feel a little war going on inside of him for headspace. Both lions were watching her, The Good with interest, The Bad as prey. Ash wasn’t safe with half of him.

Grim hated himself.

She led him down the porch stairs to a fire pit out in the yard with a couple of white plastic lounge chairs. Her sexy ass swayed left and right, her little black and white spotted heifer tail pulling another smile from a face that hadn’t smiled in a while. She didn’t even realize how fuckin’ cute she was.

She set her plate down and picked up a lighter off a stump table by her chair, but Grim stopped her. “Go on, sit down. I’ll tuck you in and start the fire. Eat before it gets cold.”

Ash froze like a sexy little moocow popsicle. Her cheeks turned the same pretty pink of the roses his grandma loved. So pretty.

The Reaper growled.

Fuck off, Reaper. Let me have one night with someone who makes me feel okay.

“Th-thank you,” she murmured as she relaxed onto the chair with her food in her lap. She lifted the plate for him to put the blanket over her legs, and then she watched him pull logs off a low pile next to the iron ring fire pit. The peas almost fell out of his costume, so he had to zip it up better before he could light the crackling, dry newspaper underneath the logs.

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