Home > Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(9)

Ash Bear (Daughters of Beasts #3)(9)
Author: T.S. Joyce

“My real name is Joshua.” He didn’t know why he’d told her that. He hadn’t uttered his given name since the Reaper had been born. It felt strange just to form the word. “I guess I just wanted you to know.”

She looked at him, looked at his bare chest, at him, at his bare chest. Submissive, pretty girl, he couldn’t blame her. Most people had trouble holding his gaze.

“You’re not bad, you know,” she whispered. “You’re different, but different doesn’t mean bad.”

Why was his heart pounding so hard right now?

Her hands on his face felt like heaven in a bottle. Like four shots of whiskey after a hard day. Like before the Reaper, before his life got so fucked up, before the Tarian Pride made him what he was. Maybe it was Ash who was The Good.

He leaned forward and kissed her. He didn’t know what possessed him to do that; she was better off living her whole life without a touch from him. He couldn’t even blame it on the Reaper taking his body. This was all him. A growl rattled up his throat, but he ignored it and so did Ash. She tasted good. He wanted more, but he also didn’t want to fuck this up, so he eased back. She just sat there, her little chin lifted high, her lips puckered, her eyes closed, her cheeks turning redder and redder. And then there was this tiny smile on her lips that did something to his insides…something good. The snarl died in his throat.

Pretty girl.

Sweet girl.

Smart girl.

Sensitive girl.

Understanding girl.

A man searched his whole life for a ride or die, but it was impossible to know what that looked like until you saw it in a woman’s essence, her personality, her reactions. Ash was special. More special than she realized.

She opened her eyes slowly, and they were glowing an icy blue color, several shades lighter than they’d been before. There was her bear. Fuck, she was a stunner.

“You aren’t wearing any pants.”

Grim snorted in surprise and looked down at his raging boner. “Nooo, I am not.”

She glanced down at his dick, and her smile got brighter. “That’s big. It’s like the size of my arm.”

Okay, now he was chuckling. “That’s an exaggeration, but my ego thanks you.”

“Well, I don’t know how to flirt, or even seduce a man, so if you ever want more from me, you will have to say a code word or something.”

Grim leaned back on the bed and stared at the ceiling fan. “Like what?”

“Like…let’s diddle.” She giggled and plopped on the bed right beside him. “I like talking to you. It’s easy.”

He shook his head in mock shock. “Woman, you’re the only one in the whole would who would say that about me.”

“Well…if I say something wrong, I will just remind you that you’re crazy and I will get a free pass.”

“Ha! Probably.”

“Your insanity is like a safety net.”

He grinned over at her. She was loosening up and talking easier. Atta girl.

“I wish you didn’t have to go back,” she said suddenly, resting her cheek on her arm and plucking at a loose thread on the bedspread. “I like having you around.”

“I’ve only been around for a few hours,” he reminded her.

Ash shrugged up her shoulders. “Feels like longer.”

And she was right. He’d just met her at the bar tonight, but he’d already told her his real name and admitted things he’d never said out loud to anyone. There was something here. Something big. He wanted to keep her.

Kill her.

The Reaper’s whisper was a punch to his stomach. Ash was a hummingbird, and he could never protect something so fragile from himself. The Reaper would pluck off her wings just to watch her hurt. He couldn’t allow that. Grim would die before he broke this sweet bear.

He reached over and brushed a blue strand of hair from her cheek and away from her glowing eyes. And then he gave her another admission—the biggest one yet.

“You’ll be better off when I’m gone.”

Chapter Eight

Grim was hot.

Ash crossed her legs and leaned back against the pallets in the back of Moosey’s Bait and BBQ. It was break time, which meant staring-at-a-picture-of-Grim time.

She’d totally snuck a picture of him early this morning, out in the freezing cold, his bull onesie covering the bottom half of him, the top half unzipped and hanging off his muscly butt like it didn’t want to let go and, damn it all, she didn’t blame the costume. She’d never been jealous of fabric before, but she supposed there was a first time for everything.

The picture was him standing over the chopping block, ax raised in the air, six-pack flexed as he prepared to slam the blade into a log. His tattoos looked extra dark against his chilled, pale skin. And his arms were thick like tree trunks. She’d never felt like a small girl before, but around him, she felt like the size of a fire ant.

Just gonna zoom in a little…

Oh God, right where the zipper was opened, she could just make out a light happy trail. Why hadn’t he wanted more than a kiss last night? He was hard and she was wet, and they would’ve been good together. But he’d been content to just fall asleep beside her on top of the covers.

When she’d dropped him off at the hotel this morning, she’d gotten real sad because she had to say goodbye to him. The Rogue Pride Crew would all fly back to Oregon today, and her life would go back to being boring.

Her phone lit up with a message from the bangaboarlander site, but she did what she always did and swiped the notification banner up to make it disappear. She had better things to do, like stare at Grim’s rib muscles. Was that a real thing? Rib muscles? He looked like he had rib muscles.

Another message popped up from the site, and Ash glared at it. How dare whoever this was interrupt her Grim ogling?

In a huff, she opened it up to tell him thank you but no thank you, there will be no romance found here, but the user’s name was Joshua.

Ash’s eyes bugged out of her face and she nearly choked on her gum as she stood up in a rush. She opened the message.

I like your bio. It was very…enlightening.


She didn’t even remember what her bio said. Juno had set it up years ago, so Ash exited the message and went to her profile page. It was an old picture of her with plain black hair like her dad’s. She was looking off to the side with a flustered smile on her face. She remembered when Juno took that picture. It was a big holiday party for all of Damon’s Mountains, and there were so many people there it had been uncomfortable for Ash. Everyone talked so fast sometimes, it was hard to keep up with their conversations. It was easiest if she was quiet and laughed when other people laughed. She hadn’t talked hardly at all that night. But her sweater was kind of pretty. Maybe that’s why Juno picked that picture to post. For her purple sweater. Purple was the color of grapes, and grapes were Ash’s very favorite snack.

“Ash!” Audrey called from inside. “Break’s over.”

Crap. Ash speed-read her bio, which was actually her reading super slow because she wasn’t very good at it.

I’m one of the good ones. Sweet, passionate, non-judgmental, double-D boobs, always up for a good time, soft-spoken. Pro-shifter interest only. Humans are okay. Must want a family. Must be good with animals. Must not be a douchebag. I work at Moosey’s BBQ therefore I’m every man’s dream. I can pour a beer with very little froth on top, and I always smell like meat.

Ash scrunched up her face and sniffed her shoulder. Did she?

Hobbies include: skinny-dipping…

What the heck?

Cooking the best damn food this side of the Mississippi, boning, and taking sexy lingerie pictures. I have great feet for those of you with fetishes. Likes butt stuff.

Dear God, had someone changed her profile? She didn’t remember any of this!

Also, this profile update is brought to you thanks to Juno Beck, because Ash is very good at hacking airline apps and almost got me fired. Payback is a biyotch.

There were two middle finger emojis and a gif of a girl twirling her wrist and taking a bow.

Ash’s bear growled. No wonder she was getting all these weird messages lately.

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