Authors: Jenika Snow
Cover Artist: Sour CherryDesigns
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
WARNING: The unauthorizedreproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used orreproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in thecase of brief quotations embodied in reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Allnames, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events,locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
To all the readers that haverooted and shown their support for the Grizzlies!
GRIN AND BEAR IT
The Grizzly MC, 11
Copyright © 2015
Thisnovella is a look into the lives of the next generation of the Grizzly MC.Although it is written so it can be read as a standalone, it is highlysuggested that you read the previous Grizzly MC books in this series, as wellasReckless, the first book inThe Sonsseries, to better know thecharacters, their lives, and the world they live in.
“You’recheating, you motherfucker,” Mason said, teasing, and grinned over at Link.Link grinned back and flipped him off.
“Don’tblame your piss-poor poker skills on me cheating.” Link grabbed his shot glassand tossed it back. “Do another shot with me, man,” Link said after he finishedhis liquor.
“Nah.I’m sober and need to head home soon. I got shit to do for the club tomorrow.”Mason rubbed his face with a hand, felt damn tired, but was also having a goodtime.
Linkflipped him off again, but was smiling. They were partying at one of the barsthe Grizzlies owned in Steel Corner. The place was closed off to the publicbecause of the hour, and a few of The Brothers of Menace MC kids and TheGrizzly kids were all getting trashed.
Shoutingfrom the guys off to the side playing darts had Mason looking over his shoulderand seeingJakoband a few of the other Grizzliesstanding around drinking. He stared atJakob, thebear shifter he’d practically grown up with, and thought of as a brother. Theywere both Grizzly members, both brothers in arms, and although they’d beenfriends for a long fucking time, an altercation weeks ago had caused this riftbetween them.
“Hey,I know you probably don’t want to talk about it,” Link said.
Masonturned back around and faced the Brothers of Menace member. “Whatever you’reabout to say is probably better left unsaid.” He grabbed the water he’d beennursing for the last hour and finished it off. He wouldn’t mind gettingshitfaced, but he’d been getting drunk and high enough lately, and the feelingof just being … normal, held an appeal at least for tonight.
Linkgrabbed his beer he’d been drinking in between taking shots, and finished itoff. He lifted his hand for the barmaid to get him another, and looked over atMason. “You know what I’m going to ask?”
“Comeon, man,” Mason said, lifting his eyebrow as he stared at Link. “I’m not a mindreader, but I know damn well you’re going to ask what the deal was with me andJakob.” Lincoln “Link” Roberts was a Brothers of Menacemember, and Kink’s son. Link might not be a Grizzly, but this kind of shitspread like wildfire, especially through the MCs. Rumors had a tendency to alsoget warped in the process, and Mason was sure that’s what had happened with thedeal between him andJakob.
Linkdidn’t respond right away. There was another round of laughter and swearingfromJakoband the other guys playing darts, and thenthe barmaid gave Link another beer. When they were alone again Mason exhaledand leaned back in his chair, scrubbing a hand over his hair.
“Ijust want to knowwhat’s factand what’s bullshit.”Link took a drink of his beer and set it back on the table. “I mean you knowthe shit going around about why you guys fought, right?”
“Idon’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks, and what you’ve heard is probablybullshit anyway. It is what it is.” Mason was about done with this scene andthis conversation, because talking about it was just pissing him off even more.
“Soit was about you making a move onJakob?”
Masonstraightened, surprised that the rumor had twistedthatmuch. “What?”
Linknodded. “One of the things going around is that you wantJakob,but when you came on to him he turned you down.” Link looked so serious. “Yougot pissed and that’s how the fight started.”
Masongrunted and relaxed against the back of the chair again. “Listen,ain’tnothing wrong with a man wanting another man, but Idon’t fly that way, brother. I like pussy too much.”
Linkshrugged, picked up his beer again and took a swig. He set his bottle down, andwhen they stared at each other for a few seconds, neither speaking, Masoncursed internally. He might as well clear the air, because he knew Link wouldjust keep speculating.
“Listen,I was drunk the night all this shit started.” Mason had his hand in a tightfist on the table, knowing that although what had happened wasn’t the biggestfucking deal in the world because it had been a huge mistake, it also had beensome bad shit. “I fucked a girl he wanted, and that’s why we fought.”
Linklifted a brow. “You knew before you fucked her thatJakobwanted her?” Link asked, sounding a little shocked.
Masonexhaled. “I’m a motherfucking bastard, I know, but I was wasted, man, and whenI went to my room to crash she followed. It was dark. I couldn’t even see thechick well enough to know it was the same oneJakobwas hard up for.” He leaned forward and scrubbed a hand over his face, feelingthe day-old stubble on his cheeks.
Masonnodded. “Jakobwalked in on us, and that’s when Isaw, after he turned on the light, that I’d just had my dick in the sweet-butthe’d beenjonesingfor.”
“LikeI said, I’m a motherfucker, but I honestly didn’t know who I was in bed with.All I knew was that it was a chick from the party, and she wanted my cock.”Damn, that made Mason sound like a dirty bastard. “Jakobleft when he caught us, and the next day was when the fight broke out. He wasdrunk, as was I, and shit hasn’t been the same since.”
“Haveyou tried telling him that it was a mistake, a fucked as hell mistake, but onenonetheless?”
Masonlooked at him like he was fucking crazy. “Yeah, man, of course I tried tellinghim right after the fact, but he was too pissed, and rightly so.” Mason hadpushed all this shit behind him because he didn’t want to dwell on it. He’dscrewed up big-time, and a man he considered family hated him for it. “I juststopped talking to him about it, or trying to, after the second time he letinto me. I can’t blame him for hating me. Hell, I hate myself most of thetime.” And he felt like a bigger asshole for even saying that out loud,admitting that to Link. “I don’t know if he wanted her as something more than apiece of pussy, because hell, he could have tapped that, and maybe did, but hefucking hated me.” Mason paused a moment. “He still does.”
“Man,don’t talk like that.”
Masonshook his head before Link could continue. “No, I do, Link. I fucking hate myselfa lot of the time because of the shit I do. I could have avoided this if I paida little more attention. But it’s not just theJakobshit. I’m a bastard. I start in on members of both MCs, thinking it’s funnywhen it’s not. I just almost went at it with your brother because I was drunkand high, and giving him crap over that girl he’s into.” Mason was a punk,drank and smoked more than he should, and because he’d lived that kind of life,one that was on the edge and didn’t give a fuck about anyone but himself, hewas a lowdown prick.
Hehad no siblings, and being an only child to Court and Lilly shouldn’t have madehim feel lonely. He had a family, blood and extended family within the clubthat had always been there. His old man and mom loved him, and had raised himto be the man he wasn’t acting like.
“Youneed to talk toJakobagain, straighten this out,”Link said.
BeforeMason could have responded, even if he would have, the sound of footstepsmoving closer to them had his bear coming alert. He scentedJakob,knew that the other guy was drunk, that he was probably high, too.
“Talkto who, me?”Jakobsaid in a deep, slurred voice.
Masontensed, knowing what was going to come even if he ignored this shit. But he wasnot about to go at it with the other bear shifter. He stood, turned and facedJakob, and saw that his instincts and senses had beenright. The man was drunker than shit and high as well. His eyes were bloodshot,and he reeked of alcohol. “I’m not doing this with you now,Jakob.”
“No.”Mason grabbed his jacket he’d slung over the chair he’d been sitting in, fishedhis keys out of the front pocket of his jeans, and went to move pastJakob. But the MC member obviously wanted to start a fight,and Mason wasn’t going to go there. He’d tried to apologize, tried to sit downmore than once.Jakobwasn’t having that, and Masondidn’t want to make the already bad blood between them worse.
Butbefore he could move pastJakobthe other beargrabbed his arm, spun him around, and the two faced off.
“Yourunning your mouth about what a backstabbing motherfucker you are?”
“You’redrunk,” Mason said, pulled his arm free, and took a step back. His bear wasright there, rising up on instinct, ready to protect himself at all costs. Yes,this was a man he considered a brother, but he was also a threat right now.
“I’mnot going to do this, not only because I care about you, know I fucked up, andwant to make amends, but also because I’d tear you up right now.” His bearflashed across his face, and he felt the beast rise up and growl and snap, awarning, a threat. “I’d fuck you up because you’re drunk,Jakob,and would be sloppy in a fight.”
Andbefore Mason could leave,Jakobreared his arm backand punched him in the side of his jaw. Mason’s head cocked back, blood eruptedin his mouth as his teeth cut into his inner cheek, and pain consumed him.
Chairsscraped along the floor as everyone came forward. The front door opened, and hescented Marcus step inside.
“Whatthe fuck…” Marcus said and trailed off, obviously seeing the shit going down.
Cainand Bodhi pulledJakobback; Gabriel and Maverickwent to stand beside Mason, and the whole room grew still. The rest of the clubmembers and even some prospects were watching with worry but also with anticipation.Mason stared atJakob, saw the other man’s jawclenched tight. His bear was trying to push forward, butJakobwas keeping it back with what little control he had.
Masonturned his head and spat out a mouthful of blood and spittle, stared ateveryone, and cursed internally.Fuck allof this.He turned and left, and walked by Marcus, who tried to stop him.
“Mason,man,” Marcus said, but Mason just wanted out of there.
Heleft the bar, got on his bike, and then he was shooting off down the road, justwanting everything to disappear, for the world to just swallow him up.
Heincreased his speed, took the corners sharp, and didn’t give a fuck if he brokeany laws in the process. He was going faster and faster, the world around him ablur. Mason entered the square of town, slowing slightly, only because he knewthat if he did get pulled over right now he wouldn’t be able to get this steamout of him. The intersection in town came up.
Justas he went to turn to head down the back roads, the sound of tires squealinghad him looking over to the side. And then he saw it, a pickup truck barrelingtoward him from the other direction, an arm out the passenger side window, andthe glint of a gun catching the light.
Thetruck picked up speed, coming right at him, only a couple of feet from him now.He heard the gun go off a second before he felt the searing pain of the bulletslamming into his chest.
Hisbear roared out in anger and agony.
Thetruck slammed into his Harley at the same time he flew off his bike from the impactof the bullet. The sound of tires squealing again filled his head, painencompassed his body, and then the world went dark.
Recovery: weeks later
Thosefour things Mason repeated in his head over and over again, never losing sightof the fact when he got out of this fucking hellhole and wasn’t in a damnwheelchair any longer he’d find the men that did this to him and make them pay.
Hedidn’t need his club to exact his revenge, didn’t need the MC having his backto hunt down the motherfuckers that had shot at him, made him this cripple.Even if the MC demanded to know who had done this to him, wanted to find outand take them out, this was Mason’s fight.Hewanted to find them, and he was going to exact vengeance. He felt weak, pissedoff, and hated his life, but what kept him going was the image that played overand over in his head: blood covering him, bodies dead at his feet, and the rushof release he got because he took out the ones that put him in the hospital inthe first place.
Hesat in the chair in front of the window, the rain making all the shit outsideblurry. But Mason was feeling volatile right now, just thinking about when hecould get out of here.
Staringat his legs now, he tore away the blanket the nurse had covered him with whenhe’d first been put in the chair.
“Fuckthis,” he said out loud.
Thesound of the voice behind him had Mason tensing and stopping from making a moveout of the wheelchair. He clenched his jaw and swore, not caring if she’d heardhim curse. She’d certainly heard him say worse than that. He didn’t respond toher greeting, though.
“Arewe doing the silent treatment again today?” she said in an amused, slightlyteasing voice.
Heturned the wheelchair around and stared at her. She was clearing off the dryerase board and writing her name on it, like he didn’t know who she was.
Sheturned and smiled at him, but he sat there and glared. He wasn’t really pissedat her, or anyone aside from those motherfuckers that had put him in thissituation. But because of the problems he now faced, the fact he didn’t evenknow if he’d walk again, he hated everyone, was enraged at the world, and hedidn’t know if he’d ever feel any different.
Herlong, blonde hair was in a loose braid over her shoulder. Her eyes were blueand bright, and the fact she was an RN but looked so young was a little bit ofa surprise the first time he’d seen her. And her body … fucking hell, she hadthick, womanly thighs, an ass that was big and juicy, and had tits big enoughthat if they were in his hands they’d be overflowing. And that was sayingsomething since Mason had pretty large fucking hands. But she was built so damnluscious, like her body was made to take a good, hard fucking, the kind heliked to give.
“Comeon, Mason. We do this every time I come in and work. You really going to ignoreme?”
Hescrubbed a hand over his face, feeling the several days’ worth of beardcovering his cheeks and chin. He’d shaved last week, not really caring, but hismom had insisted that he clean up. But he hadn’t done it since then, didn’tcare if he resembled a mountain man, or if it looked like he just didn’t give ashit … he didn’t.
“I’mnot really in the talkative mood,” he replied to her, and wheeled himself overto the bed. She moved toward him, but he held a hand out and shook his head. “Igot this.” He hated having them help, but at times they insisted. It was easierjust letting them because then they’d get the fuck out of the room and leavehim alone.
Shestayed back, and he maneuvered himself so he was now sitting on the edge of thebed. He felt sensation in his legs, but they were both pretty fucked up, and heknew he’d need physical therapy if he had any chance of getting back to hisformer self.
“Well,you know the drill, Mason.”
Yeah,he did. He rested his hands on his thighs and let her do her thing withlistening to his heart and all that. The seconds ticked by, and he couldn’thelp but stare at her. The way her blonde hair brushed along his cheek as sheleaned in closer and moved her stethoscope to his back. She smelled good,really damn good, like cupcakes or something equally sweet. He found himselfinhaling deeply, taking in the scent of her. His bear rose up, the bastardhaving been thirsty for blood, but right now groaning deep inside because heknew she’d be soft.
Hefelt like a pervert for lowering his gaze to her scrub top, the blue V-neckmaterial gaping open and showing off this little white undershirt she wore. Damn,her breasts were big and round. For the first time since he’d woken up in thehospital his cock stirred and started getting hard.
Hecleared his throat just as she pulled away, and he lay back on the bed, pullingthe blanket over him to hide his growing dick. She went to the end of the bedand started checking his feet, feeling for his pulses.
“Whatkind of name isRyeissa?” he asked with a deep voicethick with his rising arousal.
Shelifted her head an inch, her blonde eyebrow rising. “It’s my name.” Shesmirked. “What kind of name is Mason?” she asked back, a teasing note in hervoice.
Nomatter how rude and distant he’d been whenever she’d worked as his nurse sheonly showed him kindness and friendly banter back. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean tobe a dick.”
Shesmiled and looked him in the eye. “I was named after my grandmother. It’sUkrainian.” She pushed the blanket over his leg to look at the surgery woundson his calves and thighs. As she went over to the sink and cabinet to get themedical supplies she’d need to clean them, like they all did when they cameinto his room, he couldn’t help but stare at her.
Outof all the nurses he’d had she’d been the only one to have an attitude towardhim that wasn’t defensive. Yeah, he did act like an asshole the majority of thetime, and although he should feel guilt over snapping at the personnel at thehospital, he couldn’t because he was filled with so much hatred and anger.
Forthe next five minutes he lay there watching her clean and redress the wounds onhis legs from when he’d had surgery to try to give him a chance of not losingany ability down there. The higher she went up the more he felt this tightnessin his body. She stopped at his upper thigh, peeled the dressing back, andlifted her gaze to his.
“Thisone is just about healed. I’ll ask the doctor to put in an order to discontinuethe dressing, but he’ll be in later today to see you anyway.”
Henodded and cleared his throat. She dressed it with a bandage again, and thesoft touch of her finger on him, even though she wore the latex gloves, gavehim major wood. Yeah, he was a dick fuck for popping a hard-on for his nursewhen she was just trying to help him out.
Thenshe checked the bullet wound on his chest, cleaned and redressed that, andlifted her gaze to his. Maybe she’d sensed him staring at her? He certainlywasn’t trying to hide it.
“Youneed anything before I leave?” she asked and walked over to the wastebasket tothrow away the dressings and gloves. As she went to the sink and washed herhands, the filthy fucking sexual images he had of what she could do to himbefore she left made him feel like a sick bastard.
Hecleared his throat again, feeling uncomfortable as hell because of his suddenreaction to her, but shook his head in response to her question. “I’m good.”
“Okay,well your call light is right beside you, so if you need anything let me know,Mason.” She smiled again and left the room. He swore that smile could light upa damn room, just push the darkness he felt inside of him away for the moment.
Hewatched her through the double glass doors of his room, saw her talking toanother nurse, and when she glanced over at him they held each other’s gazesfor a suspended moment. She smiled again, and he knew that whatever it wasabout her that made him feel like this, feel off balance, wasn’t something thathe felt especially comfortable with.
Neverget involved with a patient.
Itwas a really simple and easy thing to follow, up until now. Of courseRyeissahadn’t gotten a marriage proposal, or an invitationto go out to dinner, but that wasn’t the kind of “getting involved” she wasreferring to.
Shelooked at Mason through the glass window at the nurses’ station, saw him lyingin bed watching TV, and a part of her empathized with what was going on withhim. He was young, older than she was by only a couple of years, but so youngto be in this situation. The threat of possibly not regaining full function ofhis legs had to be hard on him, especially given the fact he was also a bearshifter and she knew his kind needed to be able to run in their animal form.
Hewas hurting inside, she knew that, saw it on his face when she looked at him,felt it in the way he held himself, in the anger that poured from him. Shewanted to help him, to help him heal, not just as his nurse and caregiver, butas a woman wanting to help a man she’d grown attached to. And yes, she’d grownattached to him. It wasn’t love, wasn’t even lust, although he was a brutallyattractive male. It was just the fact she wanted him to open up, tofeelagain.
Butshe kept her composure, had her “game face” always on, and was only everprofessional toward him. The teasing was her way of trying to get him to openup, to try to see that she wasn’t an enemy, but someone on his side.
He’dbeen transferred from a hospital in Denver weeks ago to the hospital in SteelCorner, and in town his MC was very well known. She knew about The Grizzly MC.In Steel Corner they were feared, had a reputation of being badass, a club youdidn’t mess with. But they also were known for helping out the town whenneeded. They didn’t care who knew they did illegal things, or who they had tohurt that threatened their club.
Overthe last few weeks she’d gotten to know everything about Mason, not because hewas especially forthcoming with information, but because she’d seen his medicalhistory, heard the rumors, and was told by the others who and what he was.
Hewas a big guy, tall, muscular, with tattoos that covered his chest and arms.This darkness covered him though, and she wondered the life he must have ledbeing in a one-percenter biker gang. Yeah, she knew enough about MCs to knowthat The Grizzly MC wasn’t one that followed the rules, so to speak. They didwhat they wanted, participated in plenty of illegal activity, from what she’dheard, and they were feared but respected in town.
She’djust moved to Steel Corner a few years ago, but in that time she’d come tolearn everything there was to know about the mountain town. This was her home.The residents within it were friendly, if reserved, and she couldn’t seeherself anywhere else.
“Hescares me a little.”
Ryeissaturned and looked at Jaxson,another nurse on duty. He sat beside her and glanced through the window atMason.
“Really?”She looked at Mason, too.
Sheshrugged, her focus still on Mason. “He can be fearsome, no doubt about it, buthe’s just a guy at the end of the day.”
Jaxsonsnorted. “He’s a bear shifter in a motorcycle gang.” He looked at her again.
“He’sjust a kid that got hurt.”
Jaxsonlooked at her like she was insane.
“Akid? Rye, he is a grown man that could probably kill someone with his barehands.” Jaxson looked at Mason ago and lowered his voice. “Probably has.”
Ryeissalooked at Mason, and as the two ofthem watched the MC member he turned and stared at them.
“Shit,you think he heard me?” Jaxson said in a low voice.
“Yeah,I do. You better run,”Ryeissasaid seriously, butsmiled.
Jaxsongot up when one of his call lights went off, andRyeissawent back to looking at her paperwork, but the feeling of being watched, thesensation of the hair on her arms standing on end, had her looking up andseeing that Mason watched her. They held each other’s gazes for what seemedlike forever, so long that she shifted on her seat and had to look away,breaking the contact.
Herheart raced, her face got hot, and she knew what she felt for this man,technically a man she didn’t know personally, was uncalled for. She needed tofocus on her work, and not on the tattooed bear shifter just a few feet fromher.
Thatwas safe, because playing with these ideas and feelings she had for Mason wasnot something she should even be thinking about.
Masonfelt the sweat run down his back, cover his forehead, but he was determined todo this on his own. He grabbed the bar in front of him and pulled himself up.It had been another week that he’d been trapped in this damn hospital, but thedoctor had come in and said he’d be discharged at the end of the week. That hadgiven him the encouragement he needed to get his ass in gear.
Hestared at the wall in front of him, continued to pull himself up and lowerhimself slowly. He had been doing this for the last ten minutes, his focustrained,histhoughts on vengeance.
“Ithink that’s enough for today, Mason,” the PT said.
Masonlet out this growl, his bear right there at the surface because his anger wasso intense, had been for weeks.
“Listen,growl all you want, but I’m here to help you.”
Masonlooked over at Jeremy, the guy that had been helping him with his physicaltherapy since he’d been here.
“Youwant to keep going at this rate you’re going to end up backtracking. I know youwant to heal, but breaking yourself won’t accomplish that.”
Masonglared at the PT for a second, then slowly lowered himself back on the chair.
“Good.I know you don’t want to be here, and you think by doing more, that you’ll healfaster, but it isn’t how it works.”
Masongrunted and accepted the towel Jeremy gave him.
“Ithink you’re good for today. Let’s get back to your room.”
OnceMason was back in his room he grabbed a change of clothes and headed to thebathroom. He was supposed to call for help, but he hated the fact he couldn’teven take a fucking shower in this place without someone waiting for him. Butas he wheeled his way into the bathroom there was a knock on his door.
Ryeissastepped inside, crossing her armsunder her breasts, and having Mason’s dick jerk from the sight of those hugemounds pressing against her top.
“Ididn’t put on my light,” he snapped, hating that he had to use anger becauseright now he felt so damn hateful. Her job was to help him, and the guilt thathe was pushing people away pissed him off.Hepissed himself off.
“Yeah,I know. That’s the point of me coming in here.” She stepped inside and shut thedoor. “Mason, I’m your nurse and here to help. If you were to fall in there youcould really hurt yourself, which would set back your healing and possibly haveyou staying in here longer.” She lifted a brow, almost as if challenging him.“You really want to be stuck here longer than you have to be?”
Hescrubbed a hand over his face, and brought it up and over his head, running hisfingers over the short strands. “Fuck no,” he said, not caring that he’dcursed, but wanting to apologize. “Sorry.”
“Youdon’t have to be sorry. I just want you to be safe.” She moved closer.“Besides, if you fell I’d have to do a lot of paperwork,” she said in a teasingvoice. “You’d be inconveniencing me, Mason.”
Damn,he liked when she said his name, and fortunately he had the towel covering hisdick, because if not she’d surely see the erection he sported.
“Youknow the drill. I’ll help you in, you can get undressed, and then I’ll give youprivacy. But you have to promise to ring that call light when you’re done. Okay?”
Hegrunted and gave a sharp nod.
Oncethey were in the bathroom she started the shower, adjusted the chair in thestall for him, and turned to look down at him. “You need help with your shoesor getting undressed?” she said with a stoic expression, her voice allbusiness.
Thevery thought of her undressing him had his cock throbbing in arousal, butself-hatred and shame that he might actually need help at all pissed him offeven more. He used to be a really fucking strong male, and now, in this damnwheelchair, he felt like a weakling, like a failure. He’d push himself hard toget back to his former self, because the alternative—this alternative—was notgoing to be his reality.
Shesmiled at him. “Promise you’ll use that call light when you’re done.”
“Yeah,”he said but didn’t look at her. He couldn’t. She was beautiful and caring, andhe could sense in the air, from the aroma that came from her, that she wasgenuine and really did give a shit about him, and was not just acting like thisbecause it was her job.
Shestepped out of the bathroom, and he stared at the closed door for severalseconds before finally getting his shit together. He needed to stay focused,worry about why he wanted to desperately get better. Yeah, he wanted back tothe way things were, to the way he’d been, but also to fuck up those assholesthat had put him in this goddamned situation.
Hegot undressed, his focus on the game, on his plans. Hell, he was even morefocused on beating some humans’ asses than the issues he had before it allstarted.
Maybethe situation withJakobwasn’t that big of a deal,but to Mason it was. They were family, blood even if they weren’t from the sameparents. He wanted shit to be good between them.
Asmuch as he’d wanted to patch things up withJakob,had even tried apologizing because of what he’d done, all Mason had been ableto focus on was himself. And even if that made him one shitty asshole it wasthe way things had to go down until things got cleared up.
Exhaling, and his thoughts instantly goingback to the humans that had run him down, he stared at his blurry reflection inthe mirror. Although he hadn’t wanted the club to help him take down theassholes that had hurt him, he had found out who they were. It had been thosehuman assholes that had crashed a Grizzly party a while back, the ones that hadacted like they’d had big balls to be going up against them.
Yeah,it had been them that had fucked with the wrong bear shifter.
He’dhunt them down, preferably on his own. He didn’t want the MC involved in this,even if they were his family, his brothers. He needed to do this on his own,when the time was right. Only then would he feel like he could move on.
Ryeissastayed close to Mason’s roombecause she was worried he’d be too hardheaded and proud to use the light whenhe was finished. She knew a man like him was probably used to always being incontrol, to having the upper hand in everything in his life. Right now heprobably felt weak, unable to have any kind of power over how things went.
Whenthe bathroom light when off, an alert that was different from if he’d just usedhis call light on his bed, she stopped working on her paperwork and went intohis room. Her heart was beating fast, hard, and when he called out that shecould come in she had to take a deep breath.
Theroom was humid, warm, and after a second of her vision clearing she sworeeverything stalled in her when she saw Mason sitting there in nothing but apair of sweats. His chest was damp from the shower, and droplets of watercovered the hard, tattooed flesh. His nipple was pierced, and although he’dbeen in the hospital for several weeks recuperating he was still so powerful.She knew he overdid it at times during PT, because of the note from the therapist.Although she wanted to tell him he should take it easy, saying anything likethat to a man like Mason, a bear shifter, wouldn’t prove useful.
Itwas when she realized that she’d been standing there staring at him for farlonger than was appropriate, that she felt her face heat and put her nursepersona back on.
“Thankyou for using the light, Mason.”
Hewas still looking at her, his dark hair short and slightly spiky around hishead, and the light coloring of his eyes were a contrast to the darkness thatseemed to surround him.
“Ididn’t want to inconvenience you,” he said in a hard voice, but when he smirkedshe couldn’t help but smile at his teasing.
Shewould have preferred to be here before he’d gotten out of the shower, but he’dput the light on regardless, and she knew for him that had to have been harditself.Ryeissatried not to stare at his chest, athow big he was, how powerful. The Grizzly MC tattoo on the side of his ribs,the ink angry, dangerous, and frightening in appearance, had this wave ofarousal slamming into her. God, she was losing it.
Thelow sound that came from Mason had her snapping her attention to his face, hereyes widening as she saw the lightness of his eyes suddenly become dark asnight. Even though she was just a human, she could sense his bear right there,the animal watching her, staring back at her.
Itwas then she realized he’d smelled her arousal, that he could sense that aseasily as he could see her inhaling and exhaling. Humiliation but also thisintense awareness came over her, and she actually took a step back. Thissituation was inappropriate on her part, but it was also so confusing, soconsuming. Was the sound he made one of a warning because she was having thispleasure course through her at looking at him? Or was it something else?
Aknock on the room door had her turning around, away from Mason and his godlikephysique, and tried to calm herself.
“Yo? Mason?” a man with a very deep voice called out.
“Comeon, you have visitors,” she said and cleared her throat, moved behind thewheelchair, and started pushing him out of the bathroom. But before they walkedthrough the doorway he placed a hand on hers, turned slightly around, andlooked up at her.
“Ryeissa,” he said her name so deeply, so harshly almost,that her heart felt like it stalled in her chest.
Shecould see his muscles tensing from the act of him moving on the chair, turningto he could look at her. His eyes were still that black color, as if hecouldn’t control himself.
Hedidn’t say anything though, just inhaled deeply, as if he were taking in allthe air, sucking it into his lungs until she thought she might pass out. Itfelt like they stared like that for hours, looking at each other, neither onespeaking or moving, but finally when she heard more people come into the room,more of them talking, she snapped out of this trance she was in and pushed himinto the room.
“Letme know if you need anything, Mason.”Ryeissacouldn’t get out of there fast enough, and once she shut his room door andcould actually breathe again, she knew that being around Mason was making thissituation, making keeping her composure and self-control, feel like the hardestthing she’d ever had to do.
“Hey,you good?” Jaxson asked as he walked by, two IV bags in his hands and thetubing draped over his arm.
Shelicked her lips and nodded. “I’m good.”
Jaxsonlooked at her for several more seconds, his eyebrows knitted, but he finallygave a nod and moved on. She exhaled, turned from the door, and made her waytoward the nurses’ station. She could feel Mason’s gaze on her as if she werestaring right at him, their eyes locked.
Shewas losing it, and she needed to get control. This was a dangerous slope shewas going down, and she didn’t want to face-plant when she hit the bottom.
“Damn,Mason,” Gabriel said, his focus onRyeissawho couldbe seen through the window in his room. She was over at the nurses’ station,her back to them, and her hair in another long braid.
“Makesme want to get sick so I can have her as my nurse,” Link said.
“Shecan give me a sponge bath, maybe even throw in a fondle—”
“Shutthe fuck up,” Mason said to Bodhi. “Show some damn respect.”
Marcussat on the edge of the bed. “So I heard from your mom you get out the end ofthe week?” Marcus asked.
Masonnodded. “Yeah, thank fuck. I’m about done with this bullshit, although I’llhave a lot of physical therapy to do.” The thing was he was glad he’d begetting out of here, but the thought of not seeingRyeissaagain had this tightening taking root in his gut. He pushed thoughts of thefemale away, because he couldn’t worry about any of that.
“Youlook well, man,” Link said.
Masonshrugged and said, “Thanks.” He didn’t feel like he looked well at all. He hadfeeling in his legs, could walk with help, but it would still be hard for himto do the shit he’d done before. He just had to make sure he worked hard, althoughthat wasn’t an issue because he had goals in mind, and nothing was going todeviate from them.
Theroom was silent for a second, and he scented everyone’s emotions. “Jakobdidn’t want to come down?” Mason asked, knowing thatthe shit that happened between them was deep, but he’d hoped thatJakobwould have seen him after the accident. It had beenweeks, and his fellow Grizzly brother hadn’t come to see him at all.
Therewas some shuffling of feet, some clearing of throats, and then Mason just felthimself pull tighter, about to snap. “What the fuck?” he said to no one inparticular.
“Mason,man, he left town a few weeks back, like right after the accident, to helpanother charter. We don’t even know when he’s coming back.” Marcus was the oneto respond.
“Doeshe know about the accident?”
Theyall seemed to grunt in answer at the same time.
“Yethe can’t even call a brother?” Mason scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling hisannoyance over the shit that went down withJakobfading over the fact that even after everythingJakobstill didn’t want anything to do with him.
“I’msure he’s just swamped. I wouldn’t worry about it.” Gabriel was the one toanswer, but no one responded after that. They all knew what the deal wasbetween them, because nothing in the club stayed a secret.
“It is what it is, and I guess I’m just goingto have to fucking face the facts.” And those facts sucked, but he’d broughtthem on himself.
Theknock on his door had Mason sitting up straighter, his bear knowing it wasRyeissabefore he even looked toward the doorway and sawher standing there. She had her hair undone from her usual braid, thepin-straight, long, blonde strands hanging over both of her shoulders.
“Heythere,” she said and smiled. She had her bag slung over her shoulder, as if shewere leaving, or maybe just coming in. His bear had her scent ingrained intohis lungs, and made sure to memorize it, because something in him, this primalpart of himself that he’d never hide, wanted this woman. It might be wronggiven their relationship, the fact she was his nurse, but Mason didn’t give afuck.
Overthese last few weeks of her taking care of him she’d always brushed off hiscoarse attitude, teased him until he felt that tightness in his body wane, andhe couldn’t deny that there was a sexual attraction between them. He’d smelledit come from her on more than one occasion, and that sweet, intoxicating aromahad made his bear push for supremacy, to just use his power to claim her, tellher that she was his.
He’dnever had this type of reaction to a female before, never even wanted to haveit, in fact. But the truth remainedRyeissawasgenuine, not like the fake bitches that hung out at the club and spread theirlegs for any Patch. She had this innocence to her, this vulnerability thatcalled out to the male part of him.
“Ijust wanted to stop in before my shift and see how you’re doing.”
Heturned on the bed so he could face her. “You’re not my nurse tonight?” Hecleared his throat, his animal pacing beneath his skin, itching to get out. Hehadn’t shifted in weeks, but shifting with his wounded legs wouldn’t be a goodidea anyway. But even still that didn’t mean his bear didn’t want out, didn’tneed that freedom.
“I’vebeen called to work the ICU tonight, and tomorrow I’m off.” She stepped furtherinto the room, adjusted the bag on her shoulder, and he scented her uneasiness.She was nervous, not that she was uncomfortable with him, but because she wasuncomfortable with how shefeltforhim.
“Thatfucking sucks.” Mason hadn’t meant to say that out loud, but the words werealready out in the open. She laughed, and it was a soft, warm sound. His bearwas at the surface again, always present when she was around. He’d stoppedtrying to push the beast back, stopped trying to have his human side reign overthe dominant animal.
“Yeah,it really does suck,” she said and smiled. There was a moment of silencebetween them, but all he felt was this intense, possessive, and proprietaryneed for her. It was fucked up because Mason couldn’t be with this woman in anysense of the word. It didn’t have anything to do with the fact she’d seen himat his worst, but because he wasn’t even a full man right now. He couldn’tfucking walk very well without help, and had enough baggage to weigh her downto the bottom of a lake.
“Iknow you’re getting discharged tomorrow, so I wanted to see you before youleft.”
Hedidn’t respond, because what he wanted to say would have probably scared her.
I want to see you after I’m out ofhere. I want to touch you, smell your body, lick every inch of you until I haveyou memorized, imprinted in me.
Hisbear pushed forward against that thought. His nails lengthened into claws, hisincisors punched out into fangs, and the very animal part of him tried to comeforward. But he was stronger than he’d been when he first came here, couldcontrol it, if only for a moment. He didn’t want to scare her, and shifting uncontrollablybecause his beast wanted her, wanted to smell her, drag its tongue over everdip and hollow of her body, would scare the shit out of her.
Theylooked at each other for a moment, and although he wanted to just be a man,have a set of balls, and tell her that he wanted to know more about her, takeher out even, he kept his mouth shut. It didn’t matter if he scented herarousal for him, because he also smelled the guilt and resistance she had forthose feelings. She didn’t feel it was right to want him, and he couldn’t blameher, couldn’t fault her for not wanting a male like him. She knew a hell of alot about him, and maybe she’d read shit that had turned her off? Being arousedand wanting someone didn’t mean she had to like it. They were two totallydifferent things.
“Okay,”she said and moved on her feet a little, shifting back and forth on the tile.“You take care of yourself, Mason, and stay out of trouble.” She added the lastpart as if trying to keep the conversation going.
Everythinginside of him told him to speak up, quit being a pussy, but he knew he neededto keep his distance. He didn’t need to be with her in any way. She was betterthan he was, and until he dealt with the shit going on in his life he didn’tneed these emotions.
Shesmiled again, then turned and left, and what did Mason do? He fucking sat thereand watched the only female that had made him feel anything remotely real walkaway.
Masonsat at one of the tables in the clubhouse, the guys all around him drinking,smoking, doing lines of coke, or letting the sweet-butts grind their pussiesand tits all over them.
Thekids of the Grizzlies and Brothers of Menace were the only ones that were stillpartying. The Originals had been here earlier, showing their support for him,patting him on the back, and telling him shit would be okay, but until Masondealt with things it wouldn’t be okay. He could make it out like he had himselfunder control, but the truth was he felt like he was slipping at the seams,just tearing in two.
Fuck,he couldn’t even stand up and get himself another damn beer. Although he wasdoing better, able to walk with support, he sure as hell wasn’t at the top ofhis game. He felt like a damn weakling, a loser, and that was shit because hewas a feared MC Patch, or he once was. What asshole would be afraid of him now?
Itwas all bullshit.
Hegrabbed his beer and finished it. Before he could wheel himself over to the barfor another bottle a sweet-butt was walking toward him, swinging her hips backand forth like she was going to throw a hip out of place.
“Hey,Mason,” she said and placed a cold beer in front of him. He’d had so manyalready that he was feeling good and drunk, but he still felt like shit.
Hegrabbed the beer and tipped it toward her. “Thanks, Juju.” He drank half of itin one go, set the bottle down, and felt the wave of intoxicated pleasure movethrough him. He wanted to just be so shitfaced he couldn’t even see straight.
Jujusat down beside him, didn’t speak for a long while, but he was okay with that.He didn’t even want her ass by him, didn’t want anyone by him, but he’d been adick long enough. If she sat there and kept her mouth shut, didn’t try to jumpon his dick, they’d be cool.
Hestared around the room, saw some of the Brothers’ kids standing by the barspeaking to some of the sweet-butts. Gabriel and Maverick, Lucien’s sons, weresandwiching this redheaded sweet-butt. He idly wondered if the brotherstag-teamed the female, but that thought was quickly pushed away because he justdidn’t give a shit.
Marcuswas withCorinsitting off to the side, the Brothercupping his old lady’s cheek and saying something to her that had her faceturning red. There was this tightening in Mason’s chest as he watched thatprivate act, saw the affection the man had for his woman, and he thought aboutRyeissaright then. It had been only a few days since he’dbeen discharged, but he’d thought about her constantly. He didn’t even knowwhere she lived, but he knew her name, and had ways to find out whatever hewanted about her. He’d even found himself thinking about hitting up Maverick,because the male could find out anything.
Mostof the females that weren’t sweet-butts had been asked to leave, not becausethey weren’t welcome, but because the type of partying the guys did with theclub bitches wasn’t something their sisters or fellow MC females needed to see.But the Patches that had old ladies had kept them close, maybe to assure themthey were it for the guys, or to make sure the loose females in the club stayedthe fuck back. It was humorous to watch the old ladies with their men, becausewhether the guys realized it or not, their women held the power.
Lincoln,Marcus’s brother and Kink’s son, was over by the pool table playing a game withMalice’s sons, Darius and Dakota. Nico, Lucas, and Cain, Jagger’s sons, wereall by the dartboard. Lucas and Nico had their old ladies, Alexis andTarren, close, and the females were kicking the threemales’ asses at the game.
Andthen there was Ben, Stinger’s son, and Bodhi, Diesel’s son, that were at one ofthe tables playing poker.Jakob, Bodhi’s brother, wasstill on the club run, but he was due back either tonight or tomorrow morning,or so Mason had heard. A few prospects were busy doing the bitch work orhanging with the guys, but Mason felt so fucking out of place in his own club.
Andhe couldn’t lie and say that it didn’t suck balls thatJakobhadn’t come and seen Mason while he was in the hospital. Although he’d been inanother state doing work with another club,Jakobcould have called. It hurt, but Mason also knew that things had been bad withthem from the beginning, and thatJakobhad to havecared about the girl Mason had fucked or he wouldn’t be this upset about it.
“Youfeeling okay?” Juju asked.
“Icould be a whole lot better,” Mason replied, his focus on the guys in the clubhaving a good time, their lives not totally fucked up. He was feeling sorry forhimself, his anger manifesting into this tyrant inside of him, butting headswith his bear for dominance. He was also being a whiny bitch, but no matter howmany times he told himself to toughen up and be a man, he always thought aboutwhat he may never do again.
“Youwant to go somewhere and talk?” Juju asked.
Heshook his head, because “talking” probably meant “fucking” and he was onlythinking about one woman for that.
Yeah,he had it bad for her, and no amount of distance or time, or telling himselfthat she was better off without him, could change the fact he was determined tohave her.
“Imeant talking, not screwing,” Juju said.
Helooked over at her, and he saw her focus was across the room at the bar. Shewas either checking out Gabriel or Maverick, but if she wanted them she had toknow it was just for a quick lay. Those Menace Brothers didn’t do anything morethan the bump and grind.
Masondidn’t say shit, because he had no room to talk. Here he was thinking about awoman that he wanted, yet hadn’t been man enough to admit that to.
“Mason,yo,” Link called out and held up a bottle of whiskey.“Come do shots with us.”
What the hell.He was already wasted, so a fewmore shots would just quicken the rate of him passing out on his bed.
Hemoved away from the table, and although he could have walked over there, itwould have been painful, awkward, and taken a hell of a long time. But Masonwas trying, never giving up, and sooner rather than later he’d be back to hisold self again.
Therewas a round of cheers when he was in front of Link and the other guys. TheGrizzlies and Brothers moved toward them, and they started passing around a fewbottles of whiskey. Before Mason knew it he was so drunk the room spun, and hefelt sweat line his temples.
“Comeon, Mason, take me to your room. I know you haven’t had any sweet, tight pussyin a long time.”
Heturned his head, the damn thing feeling a little too heavy to even hold up.Standing beside him was Tiffany, one of the biggest sweet-butts in the club.She’d fucked all the guys ten times over, didn’t care that everyone knew hersnatch was loose, and was always eager to get double stuffed at the drop of ahat. She was not the type of female Mason wanted. Even ifRyeissawasn’t on his mind, Tiffany was a whore in every sense of the word, and not thetype of pussy he wanted his dick in. He’d had his fair share of pussy back inthe day, but he didn’t just fuck anything with a hole, not like some of thePatches, and since his accident he hadn’t been with anyone.
“Ijust need to go to bed,” Mason said to himself more than anything, but beforehe could wheel himself in that direction Tiffany was behind him and pushing himtoward the bathrooms. He was too drunk to stop her or tell her to fuck off. Hemay be blitzed, but he sure as fuck was coherent enough to know he wasn’tgetting his cock out in front of her.
Oncein his room he gestured with his hand for her to leave. When she didn’t helooked at her, the room spinning, her image doubling. He tried focusing hisvision enough that he could see her straight and focused on sounding like hewasn’t as drunk as he was.
“Mason,come on, baby.” Tiffany started undoing the buttons on her tight ass shirt, buthe started shaking his head, and then felt the world tip from the act.
“Getthe fuck out, Tiffany,” he slurred out. “Even if I wanted to have sex with you,which is a big ‘fuck no’, I have whiskey dick.” Mason wasn’t going to evenbringRyeissainto this conversation, wasn’t going totell the sweet-butt that his dick was only going to get hard for his formernurse. He wouldn’t taint the thought ofRyeissabybringing her up in front of this slut.
“Mason,come on. You know I can get your dick hard, know that a little limp cock isn’ta problem where my mouth is concerned.” She moved an inch closer, but he wasdone with this shit.
Masonshifted the chair around so his back was to her, braced his hands on thearmrests, and pushed himself up. Being drunk he probably shouldn’t have triedto clear the space between the door and bed, but he couldn’t just sit there andlet the bitch grope him. He started walking, albeit sloppily because of howintoxicated he was, and braced a hand on the wall to steady himself. When hewas sober it was slow going in trying to walk, but being wasted made it like hewas trudging through water, thick damn water that suffocated him.
Hemoved toward the bed, hating that there was still pain in his legs despite thetime that had passed and the amount of alcohol he’d consumed. He got to the bedand collapsed, not even giving a shit. “Get the fuck out of my room, Tiffany,”Mason said, his face in the comforter, the words muffled. Sleep was coming onfast, and his limbs felt like they were full of lead. He felt Tiffany touchhim, run her finger along his spine, and he rolled over, pushing her away. “Getthe fuck out, bitch,” he said with his eyes closed. “I don’t want your loosefucking pussy. Take the hint.”
Maybeon another day, another time, he might not have been such a dick, but shewasn’t leaving, and in fact being a little too persistent in this shit. Hedidn’t want anything to do with her, never had, and never would.
Sheglared at him, and although he had to squint, had to focus his vision, he couldsee he’d pissed her off.Good.
“Youknow what, you’re nothing but a washed-up crippled biker. The club isn’t goingto want anything to do with your broken ass.” She turned and walked toward thedoor.
“Andthe only thing the club wants from you is your loose ass pussy, well, asidefrom me.” He grinned, although her words had hit him deep. Fuck that, hewouldn’t show her that what she’d said affected him. He flipped her off forgood measure.
Shehuffed out and left, and Mason lay back on the bed and closed his eyes. Hewasfucking broken, but he wouldn’t letthat bring him down, and he wouldn’t be a wash out. He’d rise again, grit thisbullshit, and let his bear come forward to help heal even further. When he wasback to himself, could beat a motherfucker, he’d go after the pricks that puthim here. And once that was done he’d tellRyeissathat he wanted her.
Fuckinghell did he wanther.
Nothingwould stop him from going after what he deserved, not even himself.
“Hitit harder, Mason,” Bodhi said and held the punching bag.
Masonwas standing up, had his feet braced apart, and was going to town on the red,busted as fuck, and duct taped punching bag. Sweat covered his forehead,dripped onto his bare chest, but he wasn’t going to stop. He wouldn’t stopuntil he couldn’t even breathe.
Theother Grizzly guys were working out. Even some of the Originals were at the gymthat had been erected behind the Grizzly MC clubhouse.
“Let’sdo the weights for a little bit, Mason,” Bodhi said and steadied the bag. Masonstraightened, breathed in and out hard, and looked around the room. Even hisold man, Court, was over by the weights with Jagger andDrevin.Court was a beast, pumping the iron up and down over his head, his old man’smassive chest rising and falling from the force of his breathing.
Hell,they were all damn beasts, but that’s what made them powerful, dangerous.
“Comeon, let’s lift,” Bodhi said and slapped Mason on the back.
Theymoved over to the weights, albeit slowly as hell because of Mason’s legs, buthe pushed through all of that. Every day he was getting stronger, gettingbetter and healing, and right now that’s what he had to focus on. Mason sat onthe bench, and stretched his arms out before lying down. He wrapped his fingersover the grooved bar above him, checked out the weights on either side, andinhaled deeply.
Forthe next ten minutes he pumped the weights up and down, took a few breaks, lethis muscles relax before starting again, and he felt the power move throughhim. His body burned, strained, and his bear became stronger.
“Whenare you able to shift?” Bodhi asked from above him, spotting Mason.
“Thedoctor wanted me to wait until I was healed more, which I should be good to gonow.”
Bodhinodded. “You sure, though? I mean you’re really kicking ass in working out andyourPT, but you don’t want to strain yourself, man.”
“I’mfine. Until I’m back to the way I was I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
Bodhishrugged and kept his mouth shut as he continued to spot him. After a few moreminutes Mason’s body was screaming for a reprieve. Bodhi grabbed the weightsand set them back on the bar. Mason sat up, grabbed his towel, and dried hisface and chest off. As he was wiping off his forehead and running the rag overhis hair the sound of the front doors opening and ofJakob’sdeep voice coming through had everything in Mason freezing. He set the toweldown on his thigh, was still trying to catch his breath from the workout, buthad his focus on the man he’d thought of as a brother his entire life.
Theregret Mason felt every time he saw or thought ofJakobwas there, but as he saw his once close friend, brother in arms, walk throughthose doors smiling at something Ben said to him, anger rose up like a fuckingbeast inside of him, going to war with his bear and all common sense. Masonmight have inadvertently fucked some chickJakobhadwanted, but he’d nearly died, and this bastard hadn’t even come and checked onhim during his hospital stay.
Masonrose, feeling stronger than he had in a long damn time, and felt his animalpush forward. He needed to shift, but there was a part of him that was hesitantbecause he worried he would set himself back. But even so he needed to controlhimself right now. MaybeJakobhad a good reason fornot seeing Mason at the hospital, but not even a fucking phone call had gonedown from the brother.
Jakobstopped a few feet away from whereMason stood, both males staring at each other and the gym seeming to go still,silent.
Fora solid minute, or it seemed that way at least,Jakoband Mason just glared at each other. The tension was thick, the air hot fromtheir emotions, and he knew right here wasn’t the time or place to startanything. He was feeling guilt over what he’d done, would always feel that, buthe was also pissed at how things had played out, and how long it had stayedthat way.
“I’mnot fucking doing this,” Mason said, but it was mainly to himself. He didn’thave time to deal with an altercation with a fellow Patch, and even if they didget into it, the club would stop it. They had to because they were a family,and should be sticking together.
Masonmoved pastJakoband Ben, grabbed his duffle that wasin the corner, and pushed the doors open. The sun was bright, slightly blindinghim for a moment, and he walked further toward the main clubhouse. He’d take ashower and hit up Link forRyeissa’sinfo. Yeah, hesaid he’d stay away, but he wanted to see her right now. Heneededto see her. It might be anotherroyal screw up on his part, going after her when he didn’t even have his lifein order, but he didn’t care about anything right now aside from forgettingabout the negative shit in his life.
Hebraced a hand on the side of the club, the brick hard, cold. One of the spotswhere he’d been shot, on his thigh, had barely missed his femoral artery. Itached like a motherfucker. He’d also been shot in the chest, which had beenwhat he’d initially felt. Those assholes must have shot him again for goodmeasure, but Mason had been so out of it that he hadn’t felt it.
Heran his hand over the healing gunshot wound and felt his legs tingle becausehe’d probably pushed himself too hard these past few days. Shaking off thediscomfort he walked around to the front of the club and stepped inside. Yeah,he’d go seeRyeissa, because he hadn’t been able tostop thinking about her since he left. She might put him in his place, turn hisass down, but he wouldn’t stop, because he’d never wanted a female like hewanted her, and Mason wasn’t about to ignore that any longer.
Jakobstood there, his teeth clenched,his anger rising. He was frustrated, upset with himself and all the shit thathad gone down. The situation with Mason had been going on for a long time, andalthough he was the type of male that held a grudge, things had changed. He’dchanged. He’d been a bastard after Mason’s accident, not calling him, and notseeing him when he was conscious. No one even knew he’d gone to see Mason whilehe’d been sedated. He hadn’t told anyone that he’d gone and seen the otherGrizzly, not because he was ashamed, but because he didn’t know how shit wouldplay out in the end.
Thatwas a douchebag thing to think and feel, andJakobwas an asshole for not pushing his pride away, but he couldn’t change the wayhe was, the way he felt. He lifted his head, not realizing he’d been staring athis workout sneakers, running his gaze over the laces, and thinking about howeverything had gone so wrong in such a short time. He looked at the males infront of him, at the Grizzly members that he’d die for. They’d always had hisback, always would.
Noone said a thing to him, but they were smart. This was between him and Mason.It needed to end, needed to get aired out without the fists flying and theirrage getting in the way.
Heturned and left the gym, walked across the concrete, passed their Harleys, andwent into the clubhouse. He saw Mason sitting at the bar alone, a shot glassand bottle of scotch in front of him. It was early, but it was clear he washaving a hard time.
Takinga deep breathJakobmoved toward the other male andsat beside him. Mason didn’t look at him, and instead kept drinking andgripping onto the neck of the bottle, his knuckles white.
“Man,Jakob, I’m not in the mood to go at it. Let me finishthis and then we can finish this, if that’s what you want.” Mason drankstraight from the bottle, and kept his focus forward.
Fora secondJakobdidn’t say anything, but then heturned on the barstool and stared at Mason. “I don’t want to go at it, Mason.”
Masonstopped from bringing the bottle to his mouth, set it down, and heldJakob’sgaze.
Jakoblooked at the scarred top of thebar, at the wear from the years of partying, of being together as a family.
“Iknow all the shit between us has put this wall up, but,Jakob,man, I was in the fucking hospital and you didn’t come—”
“Idid come and see you.” He saw the surprise on Mason’s face before it wasquickly covered by his ever-present stoic expression. Mason was the hothead ofthe group, the one that didn’t give a fuck about anything, and lived like eachday was his last. He drank heavily, partied harder than most of the guys, itseemed, but he always had a Patch’s back. “Let me see that,”Jakobsaid and gestured toward the bottle of scotch.
OnceMason handed it to him he took a long swig from it. He set the bottle on thebar, swallowed what was left in his mouth, and nodded.
“Itwas when you were first taken to the ICU, and before I had to leave town tohelp that charter.”Jakobstared at Mason, notrevealing how he felt inside through his expressions. “You were out, in a coma,or sedated, or some shit, but I came and saw you knowing that I had to. I satwith you for a long while, talking to you, apologizing.”
Jakobgrunted, and gave a slow nod.“Even after I left I was getting updates from the guys on your recovery.”
Masonstayed silent, but watched him.
“Butthen I left, got wrapped up in helping the charter. But that’s not a damnexcuse.” He turned and faced the front of the bar again. “I didn’t call, didn’tmake a better effort at coming and seeing you again after you were on the mend,and I’m a motherfucker for that.”
“No,I fucked up,Jakob—”
“Listen,you screwing that chick was wrong, but I know you were drunk and didn’t knowwhat you were doing.” He faced Mason again. “I know, Mason, but I’m stubbornand wanted to stay pissed because I didn’t want to feel anything else. It wasan asshole move, one that I can’t take back.” He looked into Mason’s blue eyes.“I want to say I’m sorry, too. I should have called, should have gotten overall of this, as well. It’s too late, nothing can be changed, but fuck, man…”
“Ihated seeing all those tubes attached to you, hated seeing you so weak. Itfucking sucked, and I felt like an even bigger bastard for turning andleaving.”
Thesilence stretched between them.
“Iwish you would have come by, or at least called once I was up. It fuckingsucked,Jakob, sucked that I didn’t have all of myfamily.”
Jakobnodded. “Yeah, it has sucked. Weshouldn’t have been at each other’s throats. I want to put all the crap thathas been going on between you andIfor the last fewmonths behind us.”
Masonscrubbed a hand over his hair and breathed out, butJakob’sbear scented the relief coming from the other male. “I want to put that shit inthe past, far back there, man. I want my brother back,Jakob.”
Jakobnodded and clapped Mason on theback.
Theywere silent for a moment, but then Mason cleared his throat andJakobknew he was going to bring up the female that hadcome between them all those months ago. He smelled that realization in the air.
“Didyou want her as your old lady?” Mason asked.
Jakobwas silent for a moment, loweredhis head so he could stare at the bar again, but finally shook his head. “Nah,man, but I thought I saw things going further. I thought she’d be loyal, thatshe felt something more for me. It was clear she just wanted her loose ass cuntfilled by a Patch.” He breathed out, feeling his anger for that bitch rise aswell. She hadn’t been drunk, had known what she was doing, and he fucking hatedher for that.
“Youstill talk to her?”
“Fuckno,”Jakobsaid. “That bitch got kicked to the curb.She only wanted to be an old lady, and didn’t care which member it was with.”He grabbed the bottle and took another swig.
“Ishould be the one apologizing again, Mason. That chick got between us when sheshouldn’t have. But the fact I let my pride and anger stand in the way betweenus for so long is fucked. I just want to get back to the way things used tobe.”
“I’lldrink to that,” Mason said and grabbed two shot glasses, took the bottle ofscotch, and poured them both a drink. They tossed back the whiskey, andJakobfelt like maybe things could be the way they were,that they could be the way they were before some bitch and his pride got in theway.
“Youstill going after them?”Jakobasked, not sayingtheir names, because he knew Mason would know what he was talking about.
Masontook a second to answer, even took another shot. He nodded once and said, “Fuckyeah I am.”
Andthey’d have his back, the whole club.
Ryeissawashed the last dish in her sink,rinsed it off, and set it on the drainer. She stared out the window, knowingthat she should be doing something a hell of a lot more productive than washingdishes that weren’t even dirty as she thought about Mason. It had been nearly aweek after his release from the hospital, and she hadn’t been able to stopthinking about him. She knew his last name, could have easily looked him up orgone to the MC, but she was afraid. She was not scared of him, or his club, butof these intense feelings she had for a man she didn’t know.
You know him. You took care of him,saw the pain he held inside and didn’t want to show. You know him better thanyou realize.
Whenshe’d gone into his room the day before he’d been released she had hoped,prayed a little even, that this feeling she had for him wasn’t just one way.But he’d let her walk out of the room, hadn’t revealed anything to her, andshe’d felt like an idiot for her emotions toward him. He had things to worryabout in his life, probably women falling at his feet, and being with herprobably was the last thing on his mind.
Thefeeling of soft fur moving against her leg had her looking down and seeing Mr.Tubs, her “slightly” overweight cat rubbing up against her.
“What,buddy?” She picked up the cat, his chunky physique having a little huff to comefrom her when she picked him up. He was a big boy, a housecat in every sense ofthe word, but he was her companion. Living alone was lonely, and although shehad offers from some of the male nurses at the hospital and even one from adoctor, they all came out lackluster in the end.
Butthen she’d felt something pretty damn electric when she’d taken care of Mason,and she hadn’t been able to shake her feelings. She needed to, though, becausewanting a man that she had no future with, that clearly wasn’t interested, wasgoing to end up leading her down a road of pretty hard realization.
Who are you kidding? You’ve alreadyrealized that you need to get him out of your head.
“Ithink I’m losing my mind, Mr. Tubbs.” She scratched under the cat’s neck, andTubbs purred loudly. As she was about to set him on the ground the sound of anengine coming closer had her turning and looking out the kitchen window again.The flash of chrome was what caught her attention first, but the closer the bigSUV came down the street the more she felt her heart start to pound faster. Shedidn’t know why, didn’t know why she felt this rush of adrenaline move thoughher, but it was pretty intense inside of her.
Andwhen that dark SUV pulled into her driveway, cut the engine, and she watched asthe front door opened, she knew who she’d seen.
No, you hope it’ll be a specificsomeone.
Thefirst thing she saw when the driver’s side door opened was big, black bikerboots. Lifting her gaze up the denim that covered the legs, she saw the doormove out of the way as it was shut, and felt her throat tighten. Standing therewearing a pair of jeans, a dark t-shirt, and his leather biker cut, Mason waslooking at her house. He wore dark sunglasses, clearly couldn’t see her at thisangle from where she was looking out her kitchen window, but it was like theworld stopped spinning for just a moment.
Thesound of Mr. Tubbs purring loudly cut into her haze, but she couldn’t move, noteven to set him on the ground. And then Mason moved toward her house, and shefelt this anticipation and nervousness fill her.
“Shit,what should I do, Tubbs?”
Thecat meowed in response.
“You’reno help.” She scratched under his ear, set him on the ground, and startedwalking toward her front door. When she was a few feet from it there were threehard knocks on the wood. She actually stopped, her heart feeling like it wouldburst through her chest for how hard it was beating.
Sheturned and saw her reflection in the mirror in the living room. God, she lookeda hot mess. Her hair was in this “just rolled out of bed and didn’t give ashit” bun, and her clothes consisted of an oversized shirt that hung off one ofher shoulders, had a pocket right over one of her breasts that was like a neonsign, and a pair of yoga pants that had Mr. Tubbs’s hair all over it.
Yeah,hot mess pretty much covered how she looked, and Mason was right on the otherside of that door about to see her in all of her gorgeous—heavy sarcasm—glory.
Theglass on the front door allowed her to see his large, imposing frame. When sheheard another knock she moved toward the door, gripped the handle, and pulledit open. For a second all she did was stand there, her hand wrapped tightlyaround the doorknob, so tight in fact it started to become painful. Her heartwas beating fast, sweat starting to dot her flesh, and she knew Mason could seeall of this, hell, probably smell her body’s reaction to him. He was, afterall, a bear shifter, and these types of things wouldn’t go unnoticed by him.
Hestood on the other side of the door, his sunglasses concealing his eyes, andthe scruff along his jaw making him look so damn raw and sexy. The sheer sizeof him was able to take her breath away if not for the fact she couldn’tbreathe as it was.
“It’sprobably weird that I’m standing here, right?” he said in that deep, slightlyserrated voice of his. It sent a shiver along her spine, had goosebumps formingon her arms, and she told herself to get control of herself or she’d look likea fool.
Whenshe didn’t respond, because honestly she didn’t know what to say, didn’t evenknow if she could have formed a word right now, he lifted his hand and rubbedthe back of his neck. He looked over at his SUV, and the awkwardness bouncedbetween them.
“Shit,it is weird. I should have called, but then again that would have been just asstrange since you never gave me your number.”
Ofcourse she wondered how he’d known where she lived, but she reminded herselfthis was a man from the Grizzly MC, and he had to have connections in finding outinformation. That should have bothered her, worried her at the least, but thetruth was she didn’t feel anything like that. There were no warning bells goingoff, no fight or flight instinct telling her that this man could be, andprobably was, dangerous to her. All she felt was that warmth and crazyattraction for him. And they didn’t have the patient and nurse relationship anylonger, so she didn’t have to feel that guilt that what she wanted with him,what she felt for Mason, was wrong.
Shecouldn’t help but smile at the clear fact he was uncomfortable right now. “It’sokay, Mason.”
Hestopped running his hand on his nape and looked at her.
“Itis strange, and I don’t know if I should be worried you got my address.” Shesmiled after she said that, not feeling anything but this pleasure that he wasstanding right in front of her. “But the truth is I like weird.” She felt alittle stupid for saying that, but she couldn’t filter her thoughts or words.It was like they just came out, like she couldn’t at least act like she didn’twant him fiercely, which she did.
Beforehe could say anything, and before she could put her foot in her mouth, shestepped aside. “Come on in.” Her appearance and the fact her house was probablya wreck faded, and all she thought about was how she felt for him.
Hestopped inside, and she noticed that although he was up and walking around, amiracle all in itself because of the injuries he’d sustained, he did limp onthe side he’d been shot. She shouldn’t be checking him out, because he mightjust be here on a friend level.
Don’t be a fool. He looked you up,found out where you live, and is now standing in your foyer.
Hisbody was so much bigger than hers. She felt feminine, like a woman around thisbeast of a man. His arm brushed against hers, having her flesh tightening, herheart beating faster, if possible, and her breath stalling in her lungs. Sheslowly shut the door, leaned against it, and for a second just stared at theback of his cut. That patch showing the motorcycle and claw marks, showing herwas a member of one of the most feared clubs in the state, slammed into her.She was here alone with Mason, and he could crush her like a twig if he wantedto.
But he won’t, and I know that witheverything in me.
Masonstood there for several seconds, inhaling the scent ofRyeissa,taking in the feeling of being in her home, of being near her, and had to forcehis bear down. As it was his claws were trying to push out, his canines, too.He felt his eyes shifting in color: black to blue and once again to black ashis bear tried to get dominance.
Takinga deep breath he closed his eyes for a second, focused, and found his center.He turned and saw her standing by the door, her palms flat against it as shelooked at him. She wore her hair up. It was wild, strands falling from themessy knot on her head, brushing along her cheeks, and having his dicktwitching in arousal. He wanted to touch her hair, smell it, run it along hislips, and then wrap it in his fist as he fucked her.
Hershirt, goddamn it, her shirt was loose, barely showing him her figure, but thefact that it fell off of one of her shoulders, exposing her creamy peachcolored skin had him forcing himself to rein in his desires. His cock washardening, his hands tight fists at his sides. He shouldn’t be glaring at her,checking her out like some kind of lewd bastard, but damn he couldn’t helphimself, not when it concernedRyeissa.
Helooked down at the floor, trying to rein himself in, but he saw her toes, onesthat were painted this vibrant red and were so damn small. Everything about herwas small compared to him.
“No,it’s really fucking weird andstalkerishthat I justshowed up,” he said, knowing it was, but she’d come to realize that when aGrizzly wanted something he went after it no matter what.
“Weird?A little.Stalkerish? Most definitely.”
Helooked at her face, saw the twitch on her lips, and scented that she wasn’tfeeling like he was the biggest fucking psycho. She wasn’t afraid, which wasgood, because he’d never hurt her, even if showing up unannounced was probablycrossing a line.
“So,”she said, her hands in front of her, her fingers twisted together. “You’rehere, in my house.”
Hescented her nervousness, and although he didn’t want her to feel like thataround him, the aroma was arousing, sweet, and feminine.
“I’mhere.” Mason moved a step closer, his bear pushing forward, wanting to be withthis woman in every way. But he needed to go slow, because if he went the speedhe really wanted she’d be on her back right now with his mark on her neck.
Hecurled his fingers tight into his palms, felt his claws that had started toemerge prick his flesh, and scented the faint aroma of blood in the air. Heshould just spit it out, tell her what he wanted from her, why he’d just shownup at her house, and then whatever her response was he’d take it from there.
“Iwant to take you out,Ryeissa,” he blurted out,feeling like a teenager instead of the fact he was in his twenties and afull-grown bear shifting male. He wanted to show her who he was before theywent further, before he finally claimed her. Because he would claim her, everypart of her, but only if she understood the kind of male he was, the kind ofman that she would be agreeing to be with. He knew she wanted him, knew shedesired him, but did she really know the type of guy he was?
Hewas a bear shifter, had hurt people, and would kill anyone that crossed him,who went against his club. He would do everything in his power to make sure theones under his protection, the people he cared about, were always safe, even ifthat meant he was covered in blood at the end of it all.
“Youwant to take me out, like on a … date?” She was still pressed to the door, andhe could hear the rate of her heart beating, the frantic thumping of it in herchest. She might appear, if only for right now, that she was calm, but hesensed she was far from it. The pleasure that came from her was this citrusyscent in the air, and it was all for him.
“Yeah,like a date.” He ran the back of his hand over the nape of his neck. “I’venever taken a female out on a date before, and clearly never asked one out, asyou can see by me stumbling around like a fool.”
Shesmiled. “You’re not stumbling around.”
Yeah,he was, but it was cool she was trying to make it seem like he wasn’t thispubescent teenager trying to get a girl for the first time.
But it is kind of like that. You’venever given a shit about taking a female out, not until you metRyeissa.
Shewas silent for a moment, and for the first time in his life he started to feelawkward, like she might actually tell him to leave. She might want himphysically, but that didn’t mean she’d want to do anything else with him, evena harmless dinner.
“I’dlove to go on a date, although I have a feeling what I think of as a date andwhat you consider one are probably pretty different.” She smiled, and thisdimple popped out on her cheek. It made her look innocent. But he had a feelingshe could be just as dirty as he was.
Hegave a sharp nod, moved toward the door, and just as he got to her she movedout of the way.
“I’llgive you a call and we can figure out when you’re free.” He was looking at her,but he felt out of his element. His skin was too tight, and his bear felt alittle wild right now. This whole scene was not something he’d done, notsomething he’d ever done. Here he had just shown up at her place, burst outthat he wanted to take her out, and expected her to be okay with all of this.But she didn’t seem nervous, and in fact seemed anxious, despite the smile onher face and the cool composure coming from her.
Hegave one more nod, opened the door, and before he stepped outside he looked ather over his shoulder.
“Iguess you’ll be able to get my number the same way you got my address?” She wasteasing again, and her smile grew. “It is kind of weird, but hey.” She shruggedand started chuckling.
“Shit,yeah, that was a creep move. I’m sorry about that.”
Sheplaced her hand on his forearm, and his whole body tightened. “I’m glad youcame, Mason. I’ve been thinking about you.”
“Yeah?”His throat tightened at her words.
Shenodded. “Yeah. I knew I could have gone to the clubhouse in town and seen you,spoken to you about how I felt—”
“Aconnection.” He finished her sentence.
Shelicked her lips and nodded. “Yeah, exactly.”
Theydidn’t speak for a second, but the connection and the electricity were fierce.His bear was clawing at him, but no way was he going to allow his animal tocontrol the situation, to be the dominant one right now. He was here, with her,and there wasn’t any chance that he’d submit to his beast.
“I’llbe looking forward to your call, Mason.”
Herhand was still on his arm, and the heat he felt from that touch had this need,this proprietary feeling, and all the possessiveness he felt forRyeissarising up like a tsunami.
“I’lltalk to you later,” she said softly.
“Yeah.”Mason looked into her eyes for another second, and then turned and left,feeling like something in his life had clicked right into place.
A week later
Ryeissafinished getting ready, had lefther hair down, and smoothed her hands over her leggings. Mason had calledearlier in the week, but with her schedule they hadn’t been able to plananything until now. She was nervous, and she hated that, but she was alsoexcited.
Staringat her reflection in the glass of the front door, she looked at the blurryfigure of herself. She liked Mason, felt something real for him, but that alsoscared her because she’d never felt anything like that before. The sound of avehicle approaching broke through her thoughts, and she opened the front doorand stepped onto the porch. Maybe she should have waited inside, waited forMason to come to the door, but neither of them was into the traditional route,or at least she wasn’t.
Neither is he. He just showed up atyour place. Remember?
Thathad her smiling. Some might think that had been crossing a line, butRyeissalike that slight intensity from him.
Slight?That had her laughing to herself.There was nothing “slight” about the intensity that came from Mason that wasfor damn sure.
Hepulled his massive black SUV into the driveway, and although there was a flashof disappointment at the fact he hadn’t brought his Harley—because truth wasshe’d never been on one—she didn’t care what vehicle he drove as long as theywere together.
God,she’d really just thought that.
Smoothingher hands over her tank blouse, she smiled as she stared at Mason through thewindshield. The SUV was shiny, the chrome detailing looking tricked out. Ofcourse there was nothing novelty about this man. He was a masculine bearshifter, and even his “toys” were hardcore.
Yeah,she might be getting in over her head being with Mason, but she’d be more thanhappy to suffocate on the feeling she called forth in her.
They’dfinished having drinks and dinner at the local bar and grille. The night hadgone so smoothly, so comfortably, that Mason knew without a doubt she was theright female for him, even if his bear hadn’t already beaten that into his head.They’d left the bar after being there for a couple of hours. Although they’dtalked about a lot of shit, and he’d gotten to know more about her, there werethings he hadn’t told her, hadn’t shown her.
Shemight have been his nurse, knew that he’d gotten into the accident, but shedidn’t know that he was going to go after those fuckers, didn’t know he wasgoing to hurt them. He also wanted to show her who he really was, and that’swhat they were going to do now, what he was going to show her.
Masonpulled his SUV to a stop off to the side of the road. He’d takenRyeissaon the outskirts of town. After asking her if shewanted to be taken home or to see what he really was, she’d just shaken herhead and said she didn’t want the night to end.
He’dwanted to take her on his Harley for this date, to have his woman on the backof his bike, but with the fact he still limped, was still healing, even if hewas almost back to how he felt before the accident, he didn’t want to take anychances with her safety. Although this was the area that the club usuallypartied when they wanted to be alone and not have the Originals around, he knewno one would be out here right now.
“Ready?”he askedRyeissaand smiled at her. She was alreadystaring at him, and although it had been a short time since they’d actuallystarted this … whatever this was, he’d never felt more connected or close to awoman than he did with her.
Masonhad never been one for romancing a female, never even wanted to do anything butfuck them. ButRyeissawas different. She wasdifferent on every level, and it was such an incredible feeling.
Heclimbed out of the SUV and went over to the passenger’s side door to help herout. He would have never been called a gentleman, never even saw himself as thekind of male that did anything chivalrous, but withRyeissahe felt so damn different, and only in the best kind of way.
Openingthe door and grabbing onto her waist before she could say anything, Masonhelped her out of the car. But before he set her on the ground he held herclose to his body, felt the beating of her heart as her chest pressed to his.He stared at her, looked into her blue eyes, at the fact she’d left her hairdown and with the wind blowing it created this hot fucking scene. Her blondehair moving along her shoulders and cheeks, the scent of her fruity shampoofilling his nose … all of it had his cock hardening. But he didn’t bring herhere to fuck, although that was certainly on his mind. No, he’d brought herhere to showRyeissathat he wasn’t just a man, butan animal with every part of him.
“Ireally want to kiss you,” he said in a deep, but low voice.
Shewas breathing harder after he spoke, and he noticed that she looked down at hislips. They hadn’t done more than brush along each other, despite how much he’dwanted to kiss her, touch her, and do a hell of a lot of things to her thatwere far from being gentlemanly, but that’s who he was.
“Thenwhy don’t you?” she asked just as softly.
“BecauseI want to take things slow with you, do this right.”
Shelifted her gaze to his, and they stared at each other for several long seconds.“Maybe I don’t want slow, Mason.”
Hegroaned, his bear pushing forward, wanting to agree with her. The beast didn’twant slow either, but the man wanted to make this last, didn’t want to scareher away with how rough he could be.
“Iwant to do this right because I’m not just a man,Ryeissa,but an animal, too. I want you to fully know who and what I am before things—”And before he could finish speaking she had her mouth on his.
Withher lips pressed to his, their breath mingling together, all Mason wanted to dowas … do everything with her. He pressed her back to the side of the SUV,opened his mouth and took control of the kiss. He couldn’t help it, and neithercould his bear. He wrapped his arms tighter around her, securing her to hisbody as he probed her mouth with his tongue. They stayed locked in that embracefor several seconds, both panting, moaning, and getting lost in this kiss. Hewas hard, so damn hard his cock ached, and his balls were drawn up tight. Heknew if he didn’t stop he’d lose all control. He finally pulled away, lookingat her, breathing hard, intense.
“Why’dyou stop?” she asked breathlessly.
“Becauseif I didn’t I’d be liable to tear your clothes off and do things that you’reprobably not ready for.”
Hereyes widened for a second, but the scent of her rising lust slammed into him.
“Believeme, I want this, want you more than I’ve ever wanted a female, but I want to dothis right,Ryeissa.” He looked down at her chest,his cock hard, throbbing. “I want to have my dick in you so fucking badly, butif I don’t have control now I’m afraid I’ll screw things up with you in thelong run. I’m a bastard, but I don’t want to be one with you.”
Sheswallowed, her throat working from the act, and then nodded.
Heset her on the ground, and pulling away from her was really hard, but he tookher hand and led her up the path that was a few feet from where he’d parked. Itwasn’t one that was used unless someone knew it was there, and the only peoplethat knew about it were the club, and of course those fuckers that had crashedtheir party. Thinking about those assholes, knowing it was them that had himlaid up, had rage filling Mason, but he pushed it back. Right now was about himandRyeissa.
Theywalked for several minutes, and when he cut through the trees and stepped intothe clearing where the ashes and stone of the bonfires they’d lit on more thanone occasion lay in ruins, he stopped and faced her.
Shelooked around, the sun setting above them, sinking behind the trees, andcasting this golden glow along her hair.
“Whatis this place? For parties?” she asked and turned to face him.
Hestared at her for a few seconds, but finally nodded. God, she was gorgeous.
“Youwanted to show me where you party? Did you bring any beer?” She smiled aftershe said that, the teasing in her voice clear.
Masonwalked toward her, knowing he should goslow, but heneeded her close to him. He pulled her toward him and grew harder. “I’m amonster,Ryeissa, an animal, and I want you to seeexactly what you’ll get if you decide to stay with me.”
I need you to stay with me, becauseGod help me if you walk away. I’ll destroy everything in my path to get youback.
“Iwant to show you my bear,Ryeissa.”
Shedidn’t speak for several seconds, but he finally stepped back after she nodded.His animal rose up, needing to come free, anticipating the time when he’dfinally come out.Ryeissawas his mate, he knew that,felt it in his body, in his very cells, and it was time she saw him for themale he truly was. “Are you sure you want to see this?”
Shenodded. “But can I admit I’m a little scared?”
Heinhaled deeply, smelled her fear, but also her curiosity.
“Don’tbe afraid. It won’t hurt you. I’d never hurt you,Ryeissa.”
Shenodded again and licked her lips.
“Mybear wants you, wants to let you see him, touch him, know that he’s here toprotect you, the same as my human side does.”
“I’venever seen a shifter in their animal form,” she said softly.
“I’mshowing you him because I want more from you. I want to be with you,Ryeissa, make you mine.” He moved an inch closer. “I wantto make you my old lady, my mate.”
“Whatdoes that mean?”
Shewasn’t part of his world, and didn’t know what it meant to be an old lady.
“Itmeans you’re mine, you’ll only ever be mine.” He reached out and pushed astrand of her hair away. “It means I won’t let you go, that you’ll be it forme, forever,Ryeissa.”
“Iwant that, too, Mason,” she said without hesitation, and he growled low, morebear than human right now.
Hemoved back, breathing in and out as he felt the shift try to overtake him. Heneeded this, and he needed his woman to see it. Mason needed to shift for thefirst time since his accident, and he wantedRyeissato see it, to watch him.
Hetook off his cut and shirt, removed his pants and briefs, because if he wasgoing to do this he’d need his clothes to get dressed into afterward.
Shelooked at his body, her eyes widening when she looked at his cock. He was hard,there was no getting around that, and as much as he’d wanted to be like thiswhen they were in a bed and he was worshipping her body, this took precedence.
Therehe stood, naked, ready. His body started to shift, his bear coming forward.Skin tore, his muscles stretched and expanded, becoming bigger, more powerful.He let the feral side of him come forward. Fur replaced flesh, and he grew to astaggering height of over ten feet tall once on his hind legs. His hands andfeet became paws, his nails deadly claws. He stood before her, his bear now incontrol.
Masonfocused onRyeissa. Her eyes were still wide, and hewatched as she took several steps back, her fear coming forward. He stoodthere, wanting to go to her, but letting her examine him, get used to this sideof him. He didn’t want her to be afraid of him. He never wanted that, but hewas a massive animal, his bear eliciting fear from everyone it came in contactwith. It was natural for her to be afraid, but he’d show her she never had tohave that reaction with him. He’d protect her at all costs.
Whenshe didn’t run off screaming in fear he lowered himself to all fours, stillstayed where he was, and kept his gaze on her. After a few moments of her justwatching him, looking him over as if trying to memorize every inch of him, shetook a step forward. She took another, and another, and when she was only afoot from him he inhaled deeply. His human side was still there, stillconscious of what was happening, but it was his bear that had the power now.
Hehuffed out and glanced down at the hand she slowly started to lift toward him.He moved that foot that separated them, came closer to her, and moved his headunder her hand, butting against it.
“God,Mason. Are you still in there?” She looked amazed, sounded like it as well.
Hemade a sound deep in his throat, trying to let her know he was. Her fear slowlystarted to fade, and he loved that she was accepting him.
“Ididn’t think you’d be this big, this powerful.” She speared her hand in hisneck fur and tugged lightly at the strands. “You’re so soft, Mason,” shewhispered, but smiled. “This is kind of crazy, you know that, right?”
Hewould have smiled at her if he could. She sat down on the ground, and helowered his big body beside her. For several moments they just sat there, withRyeissasmoothing her hands over his fur, moving her headcloser to his, and resting her cheek against his back.
“Icould stay like this, Mason, just letting all this power that comes from youseep into me.” She pulled back from him, looked at him in the eyes. “I reallydo care for you, Mason,” she said the last part softly.
He’dprotect her with his last breath, with everything in him. He growled out low,ran his tongue along her opened palm, and before he couldn’t control his bear,control his need to mark her in this form, he shifted back into a human.
Theysat there, both staring at each other, her breathing hitching. He watched heras he got dressed. When he was dressed again and sitting in front of her heknew he had to have her, but he wouldn’t pushRyeissa,especially not after she just saw him shift.
Hegroaned, thankful she’d brought it up, because he was going to do just that.
Ithad been such a short time since she’d fully realized that she and Mason couldactually be together in the way she wanted. It was crazy and strange, but feltso right all in the same breath.Ryeissadidn’t wantthis to stop, not even when she’d seen the massive bear that Mason housedinside. She couldn’t lie and say that it didn’t frighten her, because it did.But she’d also felt this warmth fill her that his animal had been gentle, softwith her even.
“Touchme, Mason, kiss me,” she said softly, needing him right now like she needed tobreathe.
Hewas right in front of her in the next second, grabbed her nape, and pulled hertoward him. She braced her hands on his chest, feeling his hardness, needing itpressed up against her.
Hisbody was hard, defined,evenmore so than when he wasin the hospital, it seemed. His tattoos made him look dangerous, violent, butshe knew he’d never hurt her.
“Kissme, Mason,” she whispered so low she didn’t even know if he heard her, but asecond later he had his lips on hers.Ryeissatiltedher head and kissed him back with all the emotion he conjured inside of her. Hekissed her, licked her lips, her tongue. It was fierce and strong and had herheart beating so hard it hurt. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressedher body to his fully, needing to be as close as she could. The feel of hishard chest, of his big erection probing her belly, sent a fresh wave of wetnessfrom her pussy.
Heused his upper body to press her to the ground, the grass beneath her soft. Shedidn’t are that what was happening right now might be considered animalistic,primal even. It felt incredible.
Oncehe had her fully on her back, Mason rested his big body on hers and put hiships between her thighs. He had all his clothes on, to her disappointment, andthe hard, steel-like erection pressed against her jean and panty covered pussy.A moan spilled from her at the intimate contact, and at the fact he was kissingher like a man possessed, that he was fucking her mouth with his lips andtongue.
Whatwould it feel like to have his bare flesh against hers, dominating her, usingall that strength? She lifted her hands and speared her fingers in his shortdark hair, pulling him closer. His warm, wet tongue slid along hers, stroking,mimicking the exact sexual act she wished they were doing right now.
Andwhen he started a slow and steady thrust of his hips against hers she thoughtshe’d lose her mind. Panting against his mouth and lifting her hips,Ryeissawanted to getcloser, asclose as two people could get.
“Youfeel so damn good beneath me,” he said against her mouth, and then startedkissing her harder. “I want to feel every part of you, want to own you.”
“Iwant that, Mason.”
Heslid his hand down her side, never stopping the kiss or pulling away. And as hefucked her mouth, which there was no other way to describe what he was doing,he started unbuttoning her pants. She held him tighter when she heard him undothe zipper of her jeans, and she lifted her ass to help him pull them down andpast her knees.
Hewas so hard, like he had a steel rod behind the fly of his pants.
“Areyou sure you want me to touch you?”
“I’venever beenmore sureof anything, Mason,” she saidagainst his mouth, and then started kissing him harder.
Hegroaned and moved his hand down her leg, and pushed her pants and panties downa little further. Then he trailed his fingers back up her leg, but moved backdown again so he could help her take off her pants. One of her legs was stillin the pants, but not being obstructed in her movements anymore she was able tospread her legs as wide as they could go.
Shegasped against his mouth when she felt his erection against her thigh and hisfingers on her bare mound.
Hebrushed his finger along the crease where her leg met her pussy, teasing her,but tormenting her all in the same breath. Heat surrounded them, causingrivulets of sweat to bead between her breasts and on her forehead. They tiltedtheir heads at the same time, their tongues delving against the other, deeper,with more passion.
“Youtaste so good, baby. I could get lost in you.” He trailed his lips over her jawand down her neck to where her pulse beat frantically at the base of herthroat. Removing his hand from between her thighs and placing it by her head,Mason rested his body back on hers. The bulge of his cock pressing against hisjeans, nudging at her pussy, had another gasp leaving her.
Hestarted a slow, steady press of his hardness against her, dry humping her untilshe felt her pussy become so wet it was unbearable.
“Touchme again.” She tugged at his hair. “Kiss me again, Mason.”
Hegroaned against her neck, his body tense, his cock jerking against her pussy,and his breathing ragged.
Shelifted her hips, hoping he would appease her, and stop tormenting her with thispleasure/pain. It didn’t matter that she begged him for this, because she waspast the point of being shy and embarrassed by her actions and words.Ryeissarose up slightly and pressed her breasts harderagainst his chest, her nipples tight and sensitive, and rubbing against thefabric of her bra and his hard muscles.
“No,you shouldn’t, Mason.”
Hemoved his hand back between their bodies, touching her thigh, right beside herpussy, but not giving her what she desperately needed. It was like he heldhimself back, maybe thinking he was going too far, too fast?
“Touchme,” she moaned, begging.
Whenhe finally let his fingers slip along her wet slit she bit her lip and moanedloudly, so loud she knew if anyone was close they could have easily heard it.The force of his shaking body atop hers could have rivaled an earthquake, andthe low growls he made told her his bear was still right there.
Slidinghis fingers up her cleft to her clit, he rubbed the engorged bud back andforth, causing her to cry out in ecstasy. She bit her lip harder until shetasted blood. MaybeRyeissashould have felthumiliated by the way she twisted her hips up against his hand, fuckingherself, grinding her pussy on him … but she didn’t. The pleasure was toointense for her to care about anything but right here and now.
Neverhad she felt anything like this, and he hadn’t even penetrated her yet. Shewasn’t a virgin, but she’d never been with a man like Mason. What would it feellike when he pushed all those hard inches into her? Could she handle it, take allof him? Even if she couldn’t she’d sure as hell try like a champ. All she couldthink about was his dick pushing into her body. It would hurt, she was sure,but she didn’t doubt the pain would morph into a pleasure she’d never feltbefore.
“You’reso wet for me.” He moved the digits down her slit and teased the pad of histhumb along the opening of her body.
“Ihave never been this wet,” she groaned the words out. Her legs shook as shebraced her feet on the ground.
“Good.You’ll only ever be like this for me, baby.”
Helicked and bit at her throat, the sting from his teeth and slightly elongatedcanines causing a wave of pleasure to slam into her. When he dipped just thetip of his finger into her pussy she cried out against the side of his face.
Heonly pushed inside of her to the first knuckle, but the intense sensation ofthat had pleasure coursing through her.
“You’reso fucking tight and hot,Ryeissa.” He didn’t pushany further into her, just held poised at her entrance, as if he wanted totease her until she lost her mind. Her inner muscles clenched down on him, andhe growled.
Heturned his face and captured her lips in a hot, wet, and possessive kiss. Heslid his tongue into her mouth at the same time he pushed his finger to thenext knuckle inside of her. A small sound of need left her. In and out he movedhis finger in her pussy and his tongue in her mouth, fucking her in both placesuntil she knew she could come from this alone. With a twist of his wrist hemoved his thumb to her clit, and while finger-fucking her he rubbed thehardened bundle of nerves.
Backand forth he rubbed her clit, making that nub of tissue swell even further andher imminent orgasm churn inside of her. It was so intense that she knew if hekept it up she would climax right underneath him before he even penetrated herwith his cock. Holding off the inevitable because she didn’t want it to end,she focused her attention on the feel of his scruff along her cheeks, at theharsh sounds leaving him.
“Letgo,Ryeissa. I don’t want you to hold back. I wantyou to come with my fingers inside of you.” His voice was a rough growl,slightly distorted from his bear. He moved his thumb faster and faster on herclit and lifted his head to stare down at her. His pupils were eating up hisirises, the color now a pitch black that looked supernatural.
Hermouth parted as she felt her climax rise. Gripping onto his massive biceps,Ryeissatilted her head back, closed her eyes, and felt herentire body tense as she came. She dug her nails into his hard flesh and criedout, unable to hold in the sound. Pleasure coursed through her, starting fromthe tips of her toes, stealing her very breath, sanity, and finishing at thetop of her head so she couldn’t even think straight. Never once did he stopteasing her pussy, and that had her pleasure soaring higher.
Whenshe started returning to earth, the pleasure a tremor through her, it was tosee Mason braced above her, his hands on either side of her head now. He wastense, his muscles standing out in stark contrast to his tattooed flesh, hiseyes still that onyx color. Even now her body ached for more, tingled foranother taste of him, of what else he could give her. What she wanted was tofeel was his cock deep inside of her.
Shelay there for a moment, trying to catch her breath, her sanity. She finallypushed herself up slightly, but before she could say anything, or kiss him, hehad his mouth on hers. He gave her a slow, drugging kiss that had her toescurling, her pussy creaming again, and had a wave of ecstasy moving throughher. He moved his lips down to nip at her collarbone, to lick away at thesting.
Notthinking, just knowing what she wanted to do,Ryeissareached between them and tried to undo the button of his pants. She wasn’teasy, had only been with a few guys in her twenty-three years, and certainlywasn’t overly wanton, but she felt like a vixen with Mason. She felt like shecould be this way with him, because he was just as needy for her as she was forhim.
Buthe stopped her from going any further with a hand on top of hers.
Lookingaway from his jeans she felt this wave of confusion fill her. Surely he wantedher? She could see he was hard, felt the heat come from him like a furnace.
Restinghis forehead against hers, Mason breathed out, his body still tense. “Nothing’s wrong, believe me I want this.”
“Thenwhy did you stop?”
Heopened his eyes and looked into hers. “As much as I want my cock buried sodeeply inside of you that I can’t see straight, I can’t do this here. I want totake you on a bed, without sticks and rocks digging into us,” he said andsmiled down at her. “Believe me when I say I want you really fucking badly.” Toemphasize his point he took her hand and pushed it lower so it was right overhis straining erection. He pressed his lips against hers again, and she felthis erection jerk behind his jeans, right on her hand. Her heart pounded fastand hard, and although she wanted this, with him, he was right.
“You’reright, Mason.” That was harder to say than she thought.
Hepushed back, smoothed his thumb over her cheek, and kissed her again. He movedback and helped her with her panties and jeans, and then pulled her onto hislap. There he just held her, and it was nice, really nice in fact. Oh, she wasstill insanely aroused, but just being in Mason’s arms, the aftereffects of herpleasure still moving through her, had this warmth and contentment filling her.
“Doesit scare you that I won’t let you go?”
Shepulled back enough she could look in his face. For a second she didn’t sayanything, but then she shook her head. “No. Does it scare you that I don’t wantyou to let me go?”
Helooked so fierce right now, so hard and unyielding. He shook his head andpulled her close again. “Fuck no.”
Andit seemed just like that they were not going anywhere. That was more than finewith her.
Heran through the woods, feeling that freedom, that wildness that had been solost to him since his accident, rush through his body and claim him. He was amassive animal right now, his giant grizzly bear, a beast that could take downanyone and anything. All of the other males in the club ran beside him, infront of him, and even behind him. They were a clan, a group of men that hadbled for each other, fought with tooth and nail to make sure they were allwhole, and they’d continue to do that until they couldn’t anymore, until theycould no longer breathe.
Nico,Lucas, and Cain were on his right.Jakoband Bodhiwere on his left. Ben, not a Grizzly Patch, but still family, was runningbehind him. Odin was up front, his big body moving with power, as were all oftheirs.
Theonly next generations missing were Ben, Stinger and Molly’s son, and Colt,Drevinand Allie’s son, and the twin to Cami. But Colt wasfar too young to shift yet, and Ben was busy doing medical shit since he wantedto be a doctor. Out of all the Grizzly kids, Ben had never been deep in theclub, instead focusing on academic things. But he was still family, no matterwhat, even if he had no desire to be a Patch.
Theyran as a group, as one unit, getting their energy out, making sure they wereallowing that feral intensity that was housed in their bears to come forth. Itwas safer for everyone, safer for them.
Afteran hour of running they moved through the woods at a more relaxed pace, some ofthe guys roughhousing with each other, their growls and the snaps of their jawsplayful.
Whenthey reached the tree line where their vehicles and Harleys were parked, one byone they started shifting back into their human forms. They got dressed, theenergy still moving through them, among them. They were sweaty, their musclespumping with blood, their hearts racing from the exhilaration.
Itwas midnight, the moon was full, the stillness surrounded them, and the soundof his heart beating was a steady but quick rhythm in Mason’s ears. They wereat the edge of Steel Corner, all of the next generation Grizzly membersstanding side-by-side now, their breathing returning back to normal, theirbears still at the surface, ready to be released again with just a thought.
Masonlooked down the line of guys, his brothers, his family. They were all here, allof the males that had stood beside him since the time he could walk. They werebear shifters, men that he’d pledged an oath to that he’d lay down his life forthem. He locked stares withJakob, finding this peaceinside of him that they’d reconciled and they were once again brothers in arms,stronger than before.
Bodhiwas the one to speak, to break the silence. “When are we going after them?” Headdressed Mason.
Masonlooked at the forest around him, playing that question through his head. Heknew where the men who’d fucked with him were, had known they’d stayed in RiverRun, for whatever stupid reason. Even if, at first, he’d wanted to do this onhis own, his vengeance and anger so strong he hadn’t wanted help, not even fromhis family, the club had kept track of the little bastards for Mason. Thepolice had never been involved, mainly because they hadn’t gotten any leads, nowitnesses, and the club and Mason hadn’t said shit. Hell, the cops didn’t knowthe details about what had happened to Mason aside from the obvious cluesthey’d picked up at the scene. But Mason had seen the ones who shot him andknew it was the guys from the bonfire that had challenged them.
Helooked at the guys again, knowing that he wanted to do this alone, but alsoknowing they wouldn’t let him. “Soon. I’m going after them soon.”
“We’regoing after them,”Jakobsaid. “We do this together. We’re a family.”
Allthe guys murmured in agreement. Mason could argue, but he didn’t want to. Hewanted these men beside him, wanted their loyalty and brotherly love. This waswhat being in the club meant, and it was his life. Once he took care of this hewouldn’t have to have it on his mind any longer. He could focus onRyeissa, being with her, making the time with her specialwithout his vengeance always plaguing him. He had to do this not only forhimself, but for his future, the future he wanted with the woman he was fallingreally damn hard for.
“We’llgo after them soon, and make sure they realize fucking with the Grizzly MCbrings destruction down upon their heads.”
Ryeissaknew there was something botheringhim from the moment they’d gotten in his SUV. They’d just finished dinner,which had been low-key and not intimate as the restaurant had been packed, butit had been perfect nonetheless. Although she wanted to spend the whole nightwith him it was already pretty late. She’d gotten off work early today, pickingup a dayshift position for some extra money. Her internal clock was all messedup since she usually worked nights. Since she didn’t see herself reallysleeping tonight anyway, and because she loved spending time with Mason, she’dinvited him out to dinner.
Buther invitation meant that he was the one to pick her up, pick the restaurant,and even pay despite her protests. He didn’t want to think he was a gentleman,or maybe he didn’t see himself as one, but did he realize that he was? Hell,he’d even opened the doors for her tonight. It might have looked a littlestrange given the fact he was nearing six and a half feet in height, wascovered in tattoos and facial scruff, and wore a biker leather vest that deemedhim part of the Grizzly MC, but he’d looked good doing it regardless.
Despitethe tension in the vehicle, the obviousness that something was on his mind,Ryeissakept her mouth shut and allowed him the space itwas clear he needed.
Thewindows were rolled partially down, the night air cool, seemingly still, eventhough they were going over sixty miles an hour on this back stretch of road.
Lookingover at him and seeing the hard look on his face, the fact it was clear hismind was full of things, his heart heavy given his tense expression,Ryeissafelt the need to show him some kind of physicalcontact. She reached out and placed her hand on his thigh, felt the musclesjump, and knew that he hadn’t been expecting it, even if he had senses thatwere far more attuned than hers.
Hemoved his big body slightly on the seat, as if he were uncomfortable all of asudden. The SUV rushed forward in the darkness. She wanted Mason, wanted himmore than she’d ever wanted another guy in her whole life, but taking her time,really getting to know him was smart, too. Although she felt like she knew him,like she knew about the darkness he harbored, she also wasn’t a fool inthinking he didn’t have his own demons.
Hisjaw was clenched tight, and she saw a muscle tick beneath the scruffy skin. Shewent to remove her hand, but he placed his on top of hers. He was steering thevehicle, or at least keeping it straight on the road with his thigh as he heldhis hand on hers.
“Ilike your touch,” he said in a gruff voice, smoothing his fingers over herflesh, and then finally moving his hand back to the steering wheel. “I’m justin a foul fucking mood.” He glanced over at her. “Sorry about the language.”
Shewanted things light between them, didn’t want him to feel like he couldn’t be himselfwith her, even if that, at times, meant he wasn’t in the best frame of mind.“You don’t need to apologize. I don’t want you to think you can’t be yourselfaround me, even if you think being yourself is too crude.” She tightened herhand on his thigh. “I like you, all of you, and besides I fucking swear all thetime.”
Helet out a burst of laughter, his big body shaking from the force of it. “You’resomething else,Ryeissa,” he said, smiling.
“Ihope that’s a good thing,” she said, teasing.
Heglanced at her again, his face taking on a more serious expression. “Yeah,baby. It’s really fucking good.” He moved on the seat again, kept his focus onher for what seemed like a long time, his eyes locked with hers. Maybe sheshould have told him to watch the road, but the intensity in his gaze was tooencompassing for her to care about anything else.
Whenhe finally looked back at the road she let a breath leave her, not realizingshe’d held it in.
“Idon’t really want to go home, Mason. I’d like to spend more time with you.”They hadn’t really spoken about doing anything after dinner, and because hedidn’t seem like he really wanted any company tonight she hadn’t mentionedanything else. But she wanted to help his demons, wanted to be the person hecould go to if he needed consoling. He had a family, an MC, and he clearlydidn’t need her in that department, but she had a feeling the club membersdidn’t share their emotions. She wanted to be that person for him.
Shecould see him smiling, loved that her words had done that to him, brokenthrough that hard exterior of his.
“Ifucking love hearing you say that.”
“Ifucking mean it, too,” she said, swearing back, letting him know he didn’t haveto be someone he wasn’t just because of her.
Theyboth started laughing at the crude words being thrown around, but they soberedwhen his phone rang. She looked out the window, giving him as much privacy asshe could given the fact they were in his SUV.
“Yeah?”he said, his voice deep, scratchy … all male.
Whena chill slammed into her, goosebumps moving along her arms, she turned her headand looked at him. Back was the hard mask covering his face, but it was moreintense, frighteningly so. The volume was up on his phone enough that she couldhear the person on the other end, kind of make out what they were saying.
“They’rehere, Mason,” the muffled, but clearly male voice on the other end of the phonesaid.
“You’resure?” Mason asked.
“Prettyfucking sure, man.”
Ryeissaswallowed. She’d read his reportwhile he was in the hospital, knew he’d been shot at, gotten into a motorcycleaccident, and that he’d barely held onto his life. It had been a miracle hesurvived at all. Someone had wanted to kill him, or at least hurt him enoughthat his life was ruined.
She’dbeen so focused on her thoughts that she’d zoned out, and before she knew it hewas off the phone. He held the cell in the hand that was gripped onto thesteering wheel, and she heard the phone crack in his powerful hold.
“Mason?”she said his name softly, timidly almost. Taking her hand from his thighs, sheclasped her fingers together, feeling this pressure in the SUV, this tightness,frigidness. He was angry. No, angry was too tame a word for the emotions hethrew off.
“Ihave to take you home. I’m sorry, but I have something that I have to take careof.”
Shewanted to talk to him, to tell him she was here for him, that he didn’t have todo whatever he was going to go do. But she clenched her teeth, knowing now wasnot the time. She had until she got home to think of a way to talk to him, tomake himseeher right now, listen toher.
Ryeissahad to make Mason realize that shewanted to be the person he could always count on, no matter how little timewise they’d known each other. She needed to make him see that if they weregoing to do this, to be together, they needed to be a team and trust eachother.
Masonpulled into her driveway, but didn’t cut the engine. He kept his focus forward,hating that he was being an asshole to her right now, but not able to wrap hishead around anything other than the phone call he’d just gotten and the fact hewas about to make things right.
Hecould have taken these guys out sooner, had ways of finding out where theywere, lived, and worked. He could have dug deeper, and so could the club, buthe’d bided his time, healed, and he knew once the time was right he’d go afterthem and finish this. But he’d needed to take care of himself first, gethimself whole. He’d shifted into his animal already, and his body almosthealed, despite his scars. He was ready to end this so he could move on withthe woman he’d grown to love more than anything else.
“Mason,please look at me.”
Heclosed his eyes at the soft sound ofRyeissa’svoice.He didn’t want to be like this around her, but he also couldn’t just block outwhat had plagued him for the last several months. Mason couldn’t hide who hewas. He’d always been this easygoing guy, maybe a little hotheaded and ill-temperedat times, especially when drinking, but he felt empty anymore, even though thissweet female was giving him her support.
Heturned and looked at her, the shadows wrapping around her like this thickcloak. She had broken through that exterior he’d covered himself in, used toblock everyone else away. She’d been the only one to see through his bullshit,seen him for the man he wanted to be again. At least that’s how he felt, howshe made him feel.
“I’msorry, but there’s something I have to do.” He didn’t want to get into thiswith her, didn’t want to tell her all of the baggage he honestly carried. Whatwould she do if he revealed he was going to possibly kill someone? That hadbeen on his mind since the accident, and all he could see was blood anddestruction.
“Mason,whatever you feel you have to do we can talk about it.”
God,if only it were that simple. He shook his head, turned away from her to faceout the windshield, and knew that staying here longer, trying to explain thingsto her, would only have this night ending badly.
“Iknow I haven’t proved myself to you, that I can be trusted—”
“Itrust you,” he said without hesitation, stopping her from continuing. “I trustyou completely,Ryeissa.”
“Thenlet me help you get through whatever this is. I know it’s about the accident,and that you want to go after whoever hurt you, but I’m here for you. You don’thave to solve anything with violence.”
“Youwant me?” he said, changing subjects for a second. She knitted her eyebrows.
“Thenyou need to really understand, like really fucking understand, that this is whoI am.” He curled his hand into a fist and slammed it against his chest. “I amviolent to my enemies. I’ll hurt them when they cross me and anyone I careabout. I have no problem killing someone who fucks with what’s mine,Ryeissa.” He held her gaze for a long second, letting hiswords sink in. “You saying I don’t have to solve violence with violence lets meknow you don’t really understand who I am.”
“No,I understand, Mason,” she whispered. “I just think you can be stronger thanthat. I can help you.”
Heshook his head and laughed humorlessly. “If only it were that simple.” He wasgetting angrier, needing to get out of here, get away from the one good thinghe had going in his life right now—Ryeissa. He didn’twant to screw this up even more, and if he stayed he knew he would. Masonfucking cared about her, loved her. Yeah, after only this short amount of timehe fucking wanted her like he’d never wanted a woman before. Did she know he’ddie for her, kill for her? “I can’t do this with you right now,Ryeissa.”
Heclosed his eyes and grappled with his control. His bear was right there,pacing, wanting out, wanting to finish this so he could move on. He turned andlooked at her, let her see the flash of his bear, and saw her eyes widen.“Because if I talk about this with you anymore I’ll end up ruining this betweenus because I am so on edge, feeling so raw right now. And I don’t want that.”He was pleading with her in his own hardened way, and when he saw the way hereyes became glossy, saw that she was so emotional right now, baring it all forhim, he felt like the biggest damn asshole.
“Ineed to go, to do this, and I need you to just not push me.”
Thesilence stretched between them.
“Please,Ryeissa,” he said harder this time, his bear comingout. “I have to fucking go.” His voice was distorted, and although he wasn’tupset with her, his anger over those motherfuckers and the adrenaline pumpingthrough him made him volatile right now. He was becoming more animal thanhuman. His bear would never hurt her, and neither would his human, but he knewhe’d scare her, and he didn’t want that.
“Iwant you to know that if you would have given me a chance I could have beenthere for you, tried to help you work through this. I would have been by yourside, Mason. It might not have been in the way you liked, but I wouldn’t haveturned my back on you.”
Thatsounded like a final goodbye, like she realized she couldn’t handle it. Heremotions thickened the air between them, a mixture of her sadness, annoyance,frustration, and the fact she cared for him. But the latter was buried deepbeneath the others, and he knew he’d fucked this up because of his own selfish,hardheaded reasons. Despite that he still couldn’t be a man and put his angeraside for her, for the woman he cared about.
Shewas out of the car before he could say anything, even if he had planned on it.He watched her walk up the front steps and opened her front door. And withoutlooking back at him she stepped in her house and shut the door, closing himoff, ending it. He didn’t know if that was it between them, but if it was he’dbrought it on himself.