Authors: T. S. Joyce
(BOARLANDER BEARS, BOOK 3)
By T. S. JOYCE
Boarlander Boss Bear (
Boarlander Bash Bear (
Boarlander Beast Boar (Book 4) Coming March 2016
The Boarlander Bears can absolutely be read as a standalone series, but if you would like more of these characters, check out T. S. Joyce’s bestselling Saw Bears, Fire Bears, and Gray Back Bears series, starting with
Lumberjack Werebear (
Saw Bears, 1
Reading Order for Damon’s Mountains
Lumberjack Werebear (Saw Bears, 1), Woodcutter Werebear (Saw Bears, 2), Timberman Werebear (Saw Bears, 3), Sawman Werebear (Saw Bears, 4), Bear My Soul (Fire Bears, 1), Axman Werebear (Saw Bears, 5), Bear the Burn (Fire Bears, 2), Bear the Heat (Fire Bears, 3), Woodsman Werebear (Saw Bears, 6), Lumberman Werebear (Saw Bears, 7), Gray Back Bad Bear (Gray Back Bears, 1), Gray Back Alpha Bear (Gray Back Bears, 2), Gray Back Ghost Bear (Gray Back Bears, 3), Gray Back Broken Bear (Gray Back Bears, 4), Lowlander Silverback (Gray Back Bears, 5), Last Immortal Dragon (Gray Back Bears, 6), A Very Beastly Christmas (Gray Back Bears, 7), Boarlander Boss Bear (Boarlander Bears, 1), Boarlander Bash Bear (Boarlander Bears, 2)
Copyright © 2016 by T. S. Joyce
Copyright © 2016, T. S. Joyce
First electronic publication: February 2016
T. S. Joyce
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the author’s permission.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental. The author does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for third-party websites or their content.
Published in the United States of America
Alison Holman was definitely going to get maimed today.
She blew out a trembling breath and gripped her Glock 22 harder to steady her shaking hands. Above, more than a dozen buzzards circled in a tight group low to the ground. They would land soon, but before they found whatever had them on the hunt, she needed to make sure the shifters here weren’t into something that would bring war to Damon’s mountains.
It was hot and muggy, and even with her dull human senses, she caught a whiff of rot on the wind. Her hands were shaking again, and now fear was slowly freezing her blood. This was why she’d been given this shithole job. She wasn’t good under pressure. Not anymore.
When birds flew up from the knee-high grass in front of her, she startled hard and gasped. Good thing she didn’t have her finger on the trigger because she would’ve fired. Stupid Finn for being in town on a supply run. And stupid town for being so far away. And stupid life for leading her here to this terrifying moment.
She felt watched.
She always felt watched.
Angling her body, Alison stepped carefully out of the meadow and into the shadows of the pines. There. An animal, a deer maybe, had been killed, and the long slash marks down the back end said it was likely a bear. No, not just a bear, but a grizzly shifter. The monsters in these mountains would’ve pushed any predators out of the area.
It was too quiet. There were no chirping birds or soft
of the grass. The breeze dipped to an eerie stillness, and the fine hairs lifted all over her body. She resisted the urge to check the load in her weapon. She’d needed to make sure the monsters hadn’t killed a human, but now it dawned on her what she’d stepped into—a grizzly kill. And that half-eaten prey was something an apex predator would be fiercely protective of.
She should leave. Now.
Gritting her teeth, she backed away slowly, but froze when she saw movement through the trees. Just a flash of coal-black fur, and then a massive gorilla came charging through the trees. Alison couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t do anything other than watch the terrifying speed and power with which the silverback ran toward her.
Run, run, run!
With a horrified gasp, she stumbled back a step and tripped on a tree root. She hit the ground hard, and with a grunt, she pulled the trigger.
The gorilla didn’t even slow down. She’d missed, and now she would die. He peeled back his dark lips, exposing long canines a second before he skidded to a stop. He slammed his fists to the ground on either side of her head so hard the earth shook. His barrel chest heaved as he inhaled deeply. He opened those terrifying jaws, then roared a deafening sound.
Covering her ears, Alison closed her eyes and waited. Waited for him to end her, waited to breathe her last breath. Maybe it was better this way. She wouldn’t be in purgatory anymore.
Just do it.
Something warm splatted against her shoulder.
Pit, pat, pit, pat.
Why wasn’t he killing her? She wanted to scream at him, “Hurry up!” Fear was the worst part of living.
With a whimper, she cracked open her eyes, and he was there, above her, more massive than she remembered from the night in the woods when she’d first met the Boarlanders. Kirk Slater was terrifying, enormous…beautiful. His eyes weren’t the soft brown she would’ve expected in a silverback, but were instead an intense, glowing gold. She lay trapped in his gaze as the warmth she’d felt earlier was now trickling in a steady stream from his shoulder. She hadn’t missed after all. Her stomach curdled with what she’d done.
“I-I’m sorry.” Her voice was too frail and weak. God, she was so sick of being weak. Stronger, she said, “I’m
Kirk blew out a breath, then, after a moment of hesitation, brushed her short hair from her face with a surprisingly gentle touch. His eyes softened as he ran his dark knuckle down her neck and collar bone to her bare arm. She’d been jogging when she’d seen the vultures, so she wasn’t in her uniform. She was in a tank top, and now his focus was on the half-sleeve of tattoos on her arm. She moved quickly to cover as much as she could with her empty hand. Those were for her and no one else.
With a loaded look she didn’t understand, Kirk punched off his powerful arms and backed away from her. He sat near a towering pine and canted his head slowly, watching her as if he’d never seen a woman cower before. Tricky monster. She knew better than to believe him soft.
He ran his fingers over the seeping wound on his shoulder, eyes on her with his chin tucked to his chest, then with an expressive frown, he looked at his crimson-smeared fingertips. He was giving her a chance to escape, so she scrambled up and holstered her weapon, then put her hands out as she backed away slowly.
He allowed it.
Alison didn’t understand. She’d shot him. Hurt him, but he was allowing her safe passage? It had to be a trick. Maybe this was the game—let her think she’d escaped, then charge her and pluck her head from her body like a grape from a stem. He was strong enough to do that.
But the questions…
Why had he charged her in the first place? That deer wasn’t his kill unless he grew bear claws, so what, or who, was he protecting? And then there was the little problem of her guilt over shooting him, making her legs feel like cement blocks she had to drag through the meadow. She stopped, and the silverback narrowed his eyes.
“I saw the vultures. I had to make sure no one was hurt. That’s part of the job description.”
He huffed what sounded like an empty animalistic laugh.
“I didn’t pick this job, just so you know. I’m not here because I want to hurt you.”
Kirk held two bloody fingers out and gave her a dead look. Right.
“I thought you were going to…you know…kill me. You have teeth and strength.” She gestured to her holster. “This is my only weapon.” She shifted her weight from side to side, debating. “I have first aid at my cabin. I can help.”
Kirk blinked slowly and turned his face away, but he was holding his shoulder now, and she knew the pain he was hiding. She’d seen it before. The tuna fish sandwich she’d had for lunch threatened to come back up. She’d done that—hurt him.
“C-can I see if there is an exit wound?”
Kirk shot her a quick glance, then sat stoically, staring off into the woods as though the surrounding pine trees were the most interesting thing he’d ever seen. She knew what he was doing. He had positioned himself between her and the deer carcass, blocking her view of it completely.
Alison dragged in a deep breath and held it, then approached slowly. God, this was a bad idea. A stupid, terrible, awful idea, and yet here she was, taking step after step toward a Changed, injured shifter. And not just some bird shifter, either. No, she’d chosen one of the biggest, baddest shifters of them all. “Please don’t kill me,” she murmured.
Kirk turned his back on her, and she would’ve thought this was his tactic to ignore her so she would be on her way, but from here, she could see his shoulder, and unfortunately, it was intact, which meant she hadn’t shot clean-through. He still had metal in him. Shit on a stick. This was bad, bad, bad.
“Kirk, you still have the bullet in you and—”
The titan silverback grunted and shrank into his human form, his back still to her. She’d only seen pictures of his face, but she stumbled to a stop at the view of his wide shoulders. His arms were defined and his waist tapered, and as he stood, his powerful legs and ass were on display. Holy hell, he was beautiful, if that word could be given to a man as masculine and dominant as him. With a grunt, Kirk’s back muscles jumped. He held out his hand at an angle away from himself, opened his palm, and a small, misshapen ball of metal fell from his red fingertips.
Kirk’s hair was longer, shoulder-length, and mussed in that just-woke-up look she’d always found eternally sexy. He turned his face, giving her his profile, and in a hoarse voice, he ground out, “You don’t have to worry about the Boarlanders. Your trigger-happy secret is safe with me.”
“I…” Fuck, what could she even say? Another apology didn’t do justice to what she felt inside.
“Leave,” Kirk demanded. In a softer voice, he murmured, “Please.”
But just the thought of leaving him like this made her sneakers feel like tree roots. Unable to move, Alison pushed for more time with him. “The kill. It’s not yours.”
Kirk rounded and strode toward her, his massive dick swinging with every powerful step. Holy shit, he’d looked good from behind, but his front was even better. He had long, muscular legs, eight-pack abs that flexed with every heaving breath, and a ripped chest. It wasn’t until her attention shifted to the stream of blood down his left pec that she began to feel guilty at checking him out. And when she lifted her gaze to his gloriously pissed-off face, she knew she’d made a misstep in staying. She should’ve left when she had the chance.
“You want to know who is to blame for that animal’s death back there?” Kirk asked in a dangerous, gravelly voice as he stopped right in front of her, so close she could feel his warmth.
Alison still hadn’t figured out how to convince her legs to move, so she angled her head all the way back to look up at him and whispered, “Who?”
“You,” he gritted out. “I assume you’ve done all your research on us, right? The shifters in these mountains are just pieces of paper with stats. Does your research tell you what Harrison has been through?”
“Tell me, and I swear to God if I hear a lie in your voice, I’ll tell the dragon you put a bullet in me.”
She gulped at the seriousness of his threat. In no way, shape, or fashion did she want Damon Daye to learn of this. He would burn her and eat her ashes, just like he did to anyone who got in his way.
“Harrison Lang grew up in an abusive household,” she said softly. “Mom died when he was young, and dad got more violent after she did.”
“Right. And then he grew up and got a crew under him because his animal needed it. And do you know what he did? He didn’t lash out like his father had taught him was right. He took a bunch of fucked-up bears and made them as safe as possible because you and your people can’t seem to stop shooting at us. When you and your asshole partner came in the night for Emerson, weapons pulled like fucking cowboys, you had your guns pointed at two people who barely survived multiple bullet wounds.”
“Two people,” she whispered, horrified.
“Georgia of the Gray Backs and Harrison, alpha of the Boarlanders, were poached.”
“Poached?” The word tasted bitter on her tongue.
“Humans paid a guide to bring them up here and
the Boarlanders. Along with Georgia, Harrison cut them off, protected the crew, but sacrificed themselves in the process. She was human, he was a bear, and now they both have matching scars, inside and out.”
“And then we came in the night, threatening them,” Alison murmured. Bile crept up the back of her throat, and she swallowed over and over, trying not to retch in front of him.
Kirk jammed his finger at the half-eaten deer. “That is the result of a spiraling grizzly who was fine before you came along. You want to survive this job you’ve been recruited to do? Try getting to know us.” Kirk spat in the grass and strode off. Over his shoulder he barked out, “Next time, leave your damned weapon at home.”