Boarlander Cursed Bear (Boarlander Bears Book 5) (13 page)

BOOK: Boarlander Cursed Bear (Boarlander Bears Book 5)
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Selfish Monster. Leave her alone.

 

After that entry, they all ended with that tagline.
Selfish Monster. Leave her alone
. Alyssa closed the diary because she couldn’t read anymore of his pain and be okay. Not now. She wasn’t ready, wasn’t strong enough yet.

“I bought this place a few years ago,” he explained. “I was hoping your parents didn’t know about the diary and hadn’t taken it with them when they moved because I wanted it. I wanted that piece of you. Wanted the reminders about how much you had cared about me once. The Boarlanders don’t know I own this place, so I come out here when everything gets too heavy. And I drink and read your journal and remember the good parts before Amber got to me. I remember you because you are all my good parts.” Clinton scrubbed his hand down his beard, and his eyes rimmed with moisture. “I’m sorry I broke you, too. I’m so sorry.”

Alyssa sat up and straddled him, melted against his chest and hugged him hard. “I didn’t know it was like this for you. I didn’t know I was already yours or that you were already mine. I’m angry that you scared me, but I understand. You were scared to lose me again.”

Clinton kissed the side of her head, let his lips linger there for a long time as he held her tightly against him. “I was
terrified
of losing you. It’s not an excuse, though. I can’t stop thinking about you running from me and not being able to stop my bear. I can’t stop seeing the fear in your eyes when I bit you. And now this…” He eased back and cupped her face. He brushed the pads of his thumbs right under her eyes. “You’re so goddamned beautiful, but the silver in your eyes will always remind me of what I did to you.”

A warm tear streaked down her cheek as she kissed the palm of his hand. “Listen to me.” She held his gaze so he could see her honesty, as well as hear it. “I forgive you.”

“Don’t let me off the hook—”

“I do. I forgive you for all of it. I know you were trying to protect me. And I saw you trying to stop your bear. These silver eyes? They were always meant to be mine, Clinton Fuller. Do you hear me?
Always
. We just took a really long, broken road to get here. I don’t regret the bear you gave me. I love her. Now that I know how we were, what I’d wanted, how scared you were to lose me, I
love
her. Come here.”

She tugged his hand upward and led him out of the bedroom, traced their steps in the dust until they were standing on the front porch of her childhood home. She stared out at the yard full of weeds.

Look for me in the dandelions.

Alyssa stood on her tiptoes and kissed his lips softly. And then she eased back and hugged him close, her eyes on the sea of yellow flowers. “I forgive you because you never gave up on me, even when you’d given up on yourself.”

Chapter Eighteen

 

It was dark by the time they got back to Boarland Mobile Park. Someone had turned on the strands of outdoor lights that lit up the trailer park at night, and such a strange feeling washed through Alyssa when she saw 1010 at the end of the road. That old trailer felt like home now. So much had happened here.

She’d found Clinton again.

She’d found friends in the Boarlanders and the other crews in Damon’s mountains.

She’d gotten a job managing Moosey’s and would soon have a pet baby mouse when Nipples weaned her little peanut. The boys had already bullied her into naming it Tittycakes.

But the biggest thing—she’d figured out who she was here. And no, that didn’t mean Shalene Dawn Dunleavy either. She’d discovered who she—Alyssa—was.

“I’ve thought about what you asked.”

“Okay,” Clinton said, pulling to a stop in front of his trailer. “What name do I call you?”

“You know how you were upset I kept mentioning the boy from my dreams because you didn’t want me comparing you to the boy you used to be?”

Clinton nodded, a slow smile spreading across his face. It was the big genuine one where she could see his teeth. The one that reached his eyes and stopped her breath. God, he was so handsome. His eyes were that gray, happy color, and the feral edge had disappeared from his facial features. His muscular chest rose slowly as he put the truck into park and draped his arm over the steering wheel.

“I feel the same. I don’t know myself as Shae, and I don’t want you comparing me to a person I don’t remember. I want you to fall for me. I want you to call me Alyssa.”

His grin turned soft, and he leaned over and sipped at her lips. Alyssa let off a sigh and wrapped her arms around him. She smiled against his lips and murmured, “Say it.”

Clinton nipped her bottom lip, his teeth grazing her skin in a delicious tease. Instead of minding though, Clinton got that stubborn look and got out of the truck. He yanked her door open and pulled her out onto the wet gravel. When her bare feet sank into the mud, she laughed. Clinton’s eyes were glued to the curve of her lips for a moment before he threw her over his shoulder and jogged up the stairs of his trailer.

At the door, he settled her on her feet and cupped her neck, then kissed her again, harder this time. He pushed his tongue past her lips and shoved open the door, guided her backward into his house. Her muddy feet slipped on the wood floors, but he kept her upright. Upright. He’d somehow always done that.

“Say it, Clinton,” she growled. She squeaked and clapped her hands over her mouth in embarrassment.

Clinton swatted her hands away and let off a louder growl. “Don’t hide your animal from me, woman. You’re sexy as hell, all snarly and badass, smelling like fur and arousal.”

“Show me what I did to you.”

Clinton narrowed his eyes but complied. He pulled his shirt over his head, and damn. He bore light scars from all his scuffles with the Gray Backs and Boarlanders and from the boar war, but none of those compared to the raised marks over his body now.

He wore a sexy smirk. “Beast,” he accused.

“I don’t regret it.”

His wicked grin grew bigger. “Not even a little?”

Alyssa traced the bite mark on his shoulder, then ran her finger along some of the claw marks on his neck and chest made by her paws. “No one will miss my claiming marks now,” she whispered.

The smile dipped from Clinton’s face, and his lips collided with hers. He was everywhere, everything. Air and warmth, safety. Her mate. The snarl in her throat was back as she dipped her fingertips below the waist of his jeans. When she brushed the top of his hard cock, his hips jerked.

She’d never felt more empowered. Now no one stood a chance of taking her, or hurting her, because she wielded a beast, created from Clinton’s monster grizzly. And now she had Clinton with a touch.

His fingertips dug hard into her hips, and she loved it. Loved him wild and reckless. They didn’t have to be gentle with each other anymore because he’d banished Amber’s ghost, and now Alyssa was an apex predator shifter like him.

Frantic, she shoved his pants down his legs and shimmied out of her own. Clinton ripped her shirt down the front and shoved the tatters off her shoulders, then unsnapped her bra like he’d done it a hundred times. Maybe he had when they were younger, who knew? She loved their history now, even if she didn’t remember every moment. Their bond was bone-deep and all-consuming, and how lucky that she’d found that after everything that had happened.

She took a long stroke of Clinton’s thick shaft, and he pushed his tongue back into her mouth, over and over, matching the pace she set. He walked her backward until her back was against the wall, and he rolled his hips hard against hers, hitting her just right.

“Please,” she begged shamelessly. Yesterday she’d thought she was losing him and everything she loved, but today had opened her eyes to so much. She didn’t have to give him up. This was her second chance at happiness, and she was so damn relieved they were here, in this moment.

Clinton pulled her hand off his dick and shoved her knees farther apart with his. And then he dipped the head of his shaft into her slick entrance. On the second thrust, he buried himself deeply inside of her and let off a groan that matched the relief she felt. He pulled out slow and rammed into her again. Alyssa threw her head back in disbelief that anything could feel this good, this right. He lifted the back of her knee until her leg was hooked around his waist, and he went at her like a rutting animal, faster and harder as she cried out his name. His abs were like steel against her stomach as he flexed on each thrust, and there were his teeth, gentle on the long scars where he’d torn into her shoulder. Where he’d Turned her. Where he’d claimed he didn’t want anyone but her.

She clawed his back and gritted out, “Say it.”

And as he slid into her and froze, his dick throbbing the first shot of warmth into her, he growled out the word she’d been waiting so long to hear. “Alyssa.”

Orgasm blasted through her, matching his pulsing release as he picked up an erratic pace and slid into her again and again. When he emptied himself completely, he murmured it softer. “Alyssa.”

And then he eased back and cupped her face, uncertainty in his eyes. “I’ll get better. I’ll be better for you.”

She shook her head and eased him back so he could see her face better. She knew her eyes were bright silver to match his right now. “I don’t want you to change. I like you just like this. Wild, stubborn, caring, funny, sensitive man. I like that I get to see your secret side. I like that I’m the only one you give it to.”

Clinton nuzzled his rough beard down one side of her face and then down the other, and she got it. She was a bear now and understood the affection. She understood the
thank you
.

“I’m scared of Changing,” she whispered as the vibration in her chest became uncomfortable. Her bear needed something she didn’t understand.

“I don’t want you to be scared of anything.”

“Then teach me.”

Clinton’s answering smile was breathtaking. He scooped her up, just like he had in her dream when she’d cut her foot. And then he took her outside and didn’t stop walking until he reached the Boarlander woods. In the dark shadows of the night forest, he settled her on her feet and squared up to her, so tall and powerful. She was powerful now, too, if only she could figure out how to harness it. She’d been afraid to Change again because of the pain.

“Don’t fight her,” he murmured. He nipped at her neck, then sucked hard, drawing a gasp from Alyssa. “When she feels like she’s filling you up, close your eyes and let her have your skin.” Clinton walked backward, his eyes reflecting like an animal’s in the muted light from the trailer park. A proud smile curved his lips. “Alyssa?”

“Yes?”

“I’ve never seen a grizzly like yours. Dominant, brawling, badass. Gray like your eyes with that pitch-black undercoat. You’re so beautiful.”

She clenched her hands at her sides as pain boiled through her middle again. There she was—her animal.
Hers
. Pride surged through her.

Clinton hunched inward, and his blond bear blasted from his skin in an instant. And when he landed on all fours and shook his head, she closed her eyes and imagined herself a bear. And with a massive wave of pain, she broke apart and reshaped into something other. Something better. She reshaped into her new self. Alyssa, mate of Clinton, the last bear of the Boarlander crew, the last mate of Damon’s mountains.

Clinton rubbed his giant body down her side and then lifted his big head to the clouds and roared a deafening sound. This wasn’t angry. It wasn’t a warning. It was an invitation.

He was calling the Boarlanders.

He was calling their crew.

The woods went quiet, and the wind died down, and then there was a loud, echoing drum. Kirk was beating his chest.
I’m coming. Wait for me.

She understood so much more in this form.

The call of a big cat filled the woods, followed by the roar of a bear and then another. And when she turned, Mason was there, an enormous black boar, head high, ears erect. Bash charged through the woods and play swatted her on his way by. Alyssa huffed a laugh and ducked out of the way, hooked a paw at his back leg until he stumbled. Audrey’s white tiger contrasted against the dark night, and she snarled up one side of her mouth, exposing one canine. She rubbed her body up one side of Alyssa’s body and down the other. She rubbed her fur the wrong way, but that was okay.

Ally and Emerson appeared beside each other, and Beck too, holding a sleeping Air-Ryder on her hip. The girls were all smiling through their tears. How could crying look so happy?

And then Harrison’s dark brown bear was there, eyes on her from where he stood on the outskirts of the greeting. He let off a long roar, his breath frozen in front of his muzzle, and it filled Alyssa with an urge to join in. So she did. She lifted her chin and gave her voice to the chorus, and there was pride in Clinton’s blazing silver eyes.

With a powerful stride, Harrison sauntered up to her, and buried his nose against the scruff of Alyssa’s neck as if memorizing her scent.

She exposed her throat and dipped her head.
Alpha
. Harrison deserved respect.

Bash followed directly behind Harrison, and Audrey playfully leapt on his back before sliding down and falling into line beside him. Mason trotted quietly through the brush, and Kirk jumped for a branch, then swung up beside the boar. The women hiked after the others, and then Clinton followed them, but glanced at Alyssa over his shoulder, waiting.

These were her people now. Her Boarlanders. Her crew.

And Clinton was her mate. And she
belonged
, which felt like such a big deal after carrying such hollowness for so long.

How had she gotten so damn lucky?

Rumbling out a content growl, Alyssa pushed her new body forward and walked alongside the bear shifter who had given her everything. Who had sacrificed himself so that she was here to own this moment, safe and whole.

She wasn’t Shae Dunleavy anymore.

She was Alyssa of the Boarlanders.

BOOK: Boarlander Cursed Bear (Boarlander Bears Book 5)
8.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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