Boarlander Bash Bear (Boarlander Bears 2)

By: T. S. Joyce

Chapter One

Sebastian Kane slammed the door to his alpha’s jacked-up truck and strode for his trailer.

“Oh, come on, Bash!” Clinton called to him in a baiting voice. “Are you really mad?”

“At you?” Bash muttered, quickening his step. “All the damn time.”

“I heard that,” Clinton said.

A growl rattled up his throat as Bash tossed a quick glance to the woods behind his home and considered Changing. Clinton had been raggin’ on him all day at the jobsite and then the entire drive back down Damon’s mountains to Boarland Mobile Park. Usually Bash was more patient, but right now his blood was boiling, his nerves firing, and he was sorely tempted to give his body to the bear. He wished he could bleed Clinton, but Harrison would be disappointed, and he didn’t want to upset his alpha, his best friend.

He took the porch stairs two at a time and shoved the stack of tires out of the doorway, which pissed him off even more. The door had rotted right off the hinges, and when Bash had tried to replace it, Clinton had pitched a fit. Harrison had given him permission to put up a door, but he needed to order the materials along with everything else they needed to fix up the trailer park.

Hands shaking in anger, he peeled back his flannel work shirt and chucked his hard hat against the wall, and damn it all, it sunk deep into the cheap, thin wood and sat there, five feet above the floor, taunting him. Too rough. Always too rough.

Clinton was right. He wasn’t cut out for a mate. Not a human one like he wanted. He couldn’t be gentle enough.

A knock sounded at the door, and he crouched as he turned, a snarl in his throat.

“Whoa, Bash!” Audrey said, her cheeks pale. Sometimes she still thought she was submissive, even though the tiger in her middle was a dominant brawler. “You’re upset.”

“Am not,” he muttered as he stood. This wasn’t like him to have mood swings. He was a happy bear.

“I can tell you are. Clinton?”

Bash dropped his gaze and exposed his neck to his Second, then nodded once. “Sorry.”

“For being mad? If I don’t get pissed off at Clinton five times before noon, it’s a slow day. Ain’t no shame in feeling, Bash,” she said in that thick southern accent of hers. Audrey’s soft brown eyes flickered to his bare shoulder, and she frowned.

Self-consciously, he covered the uneven skin with his hand and ducked his gaze. For a second, he thought she would ask him about it, but Audrey was sweet. She understood things the other shifters in his crew didn’t. She was…nice.

“I have something that will make you feel better.”

“What? A present?” He loved presents.

With a grin, she turned and pulled at the neck of her Moosey’s T-shirt. A half-moon of torn skin on her shoulder blade peeked out, and Bash went numb. “Audrey,” he whispered as he stumbled toward her. He stretched the collar out of the way, revealing the entire claiming mark. “Are you one of us now, girl? Like, official?”

When she turned, her eyes were rimmed with moisture. Confused, he brushed his finger under the drop that had fallen to her cheek. He stared at it with a frown, then studied her face. “Why are you sad?”

“Not sad, Bash. I’m happy. Harrison claimed me last night, and I never thought I would actually get to be a part of this place.” She looked around his shitty old trailer like it was a castle and shrugged her shoulders up to her ears. “But now I am.” Sweet Audrey. She’d grown up alone with no other shifters.

“Well, you had all of us from the moment we met you.”

“Not Clinton,” she said with a single, thick laugh.

“Well, Clinton don’t count.”

“I already told the boys that I’m claimed, but I wanted to tell you last and alone because I wanted to thank you out of earshot of the others.”

“For what?” He liked Audrey a lot, but she was confusing as hell.

“For being the first to accept me. And for making me pizza rolls all the time. And for being a good friend to Harrison, but also to me.”

Bash hid his smile by dropping his chin. She gave pretty compliments. Audrey never swallowed her nice thoughts down like everyone else did. She always gave them freely. Good Second.

Audrey turned at his door and stepped carefully over one of the tires on the front porch. “Oh, before I forget. Kirk wants to talk to you.”

“Okay. Audrey?”

“Yeah?” she asked, turning.

Bash pointed to her shoulder where Harrison’s claiming mark was covered now. “That was a good present.”

She gave him a crooked, emotional smile and said, “You’re gonna make a mate really happy someday, Bash.”

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