Read Woodcutter Werebear (Saw Bears Book 2) Online

Authors: T. S. Joyce

Tags: #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Romance, #Erotic Romance Fiction, #Werebear, #Shifter

Woodcutter Werebear (Saw Bears Book 2) (2 page)

BOOK: Woodcutter Werebear (Saw Bears Book 2)
13.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Chapter Two

Skyler was going to have a full-blown panic attack right in the cab of Kellen’s truck.

She didn’t even know why she’d struck up a conversation with him in the line at the grocery store. She’d watched him agonize over which bouquet of flowers to pick, and something about his thoughtfulness had struck her as sweet. She’d known Roger for three months, but it was abundantly clear he’d never buy her flowers unless it was to throw at her gravestone. He hated her almost as much as she hated him. He had told her he’d asked the council to be mated to her because he cared for her, but he didn’t. He just wanted a trophy he could dominate so all the other warriors could see how macho and powerful he was. Roger was a grade-A, class-ten asshole behind his charming, serpent smile.

She was the unlucky one who’d been chosen by the great Roger Crestfall. He’d broken her in a few short months, but hey, he was a legacy with a bright future. She was supposed to be grateful for the life he’d forced her into.

And apparently, she was on a streak of questionable luck because Kellen had decided to kidnap her on the day Roger had demanded she be a better mate and make him dinner. One he
can actually eat this time.
Roger’s words. Kellen had said it wouldn’t be the last time her mate pushed her, and he was right. Everything in her had rattled with the truth of her situation when Kellen had spouted off that it would happen again.

It would, and next time it would be worse. The only thing she could do was be perfect, do everything Roger demanded, and try to minimize the risk. She had no choice if she wanted the protection of her people. Leaving him wasn’t easy like Kellen had said. Leaving her mate meant banishment.

Did she love Roger? No. She was scared of him—enough to evoke some kind of sick loyalty to him so he wouldn’t hurt her again.

She used to be stronger than this.

“Kellen, please take me home. I don’t want to go wherever you are taking me. I want to go back where I live with my mate.” Perhaps if she said it enough times, Kellen would listen. He talked in an odd manner, much too open about what they were. Geez, he’d practically outed her shifter status in front of the cashier in the grocery store. He had a blatantly honest way of speaking that made her nervous. Men didn’t give away anything for free—especially not feelings.

He didn’t answer, only turned up the radio like she’d done earlier.

She spoke louder. “What will Brooke say when you bring me to your place? She’ll be angry.”

“You speak of anger a lot, yet you aren’t an angry person. You aren’t mad that your face is bruised up because that prick made a bad decision. Brooke won’t be angry. She’s been hurt, too.”

Okay. So did he collect broken women? She didn’t understand. “Does your kind take multiple mates?”

Kellen threw her a disgusted look, then dragged his gaze back to the road. “We mate for life.”

“Well, so do we.”

“We also pick our mates. Do you love Roger?”

She wanted to say yes. Dammit, it was right on the tip of her tongue, that bitter, burning lie. If she said yes, Kellen might take her back. He thought he was saving her by stealing her away, but she’d only have hell to pay when Roger found her. And Roger wouldn’t stop with her. He’d bleed Kellen for taking his trophy.

The drive stretched on and on. Every time she twisted in her seat to plead with Kellen to take her back, his face turned severe and determined and he gripped the steering wheel harder. He drove them through miles of piney forest and winding roads without a word.

She didn’t know Kellen. He could be an ax murderer, and now she was in his truck, headed into the wilderness. No one knew who she was with or where she was going. She’d been so dumb to ask him for a ride. And now her stupid instincts seemed to be broken completely because she wasn’t freaking out half as much as she should’ve been. That was a bad sign, right? When a man was charismatic enough to steal her away and she hadn’t even tried to jump out of the truck once in the last hour.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

Kellen turned down the music and smiled. “You mean where do
we
live? I’m going to keep you safe, remember?”

She cast her shocked gaze out the window to the blurred greens and muddy browns that passed by as Kellen hit the gas on a straightaway. “If my mate found out I was living with you—”

“He’s not your mate, Beautiful. Best you stop calling him that.”

“Do you think…” Skyler inhaled deeply and organized her thoughts, then tried again. “Do you think you’re my mate?”

“No! Because again, you didn’t choose me. I’m not taking you away from that prick so you can be some sort of sex slave for me, Skyler. I’m taking you so you can get a break from your life and see there is more out there than some asshole with a temper problem. You gotta job?”

“Not anymore.”

“Let me guess. He doesn’t want you to work because he claims he wants to take care of you.”

Bingo. Fuck, this strange-talking, sexy stranger was hitting the nail on the head at every turn. She narrowed her eyes at him. “How do you know so much about the psyche of a man like Roger?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Yes, I do.”

Kellen looked over at her once, twice, confusion pooling in the deep chocolate brown of his eyes. He cleared his throat, as if the thought of speaking about himself made him uncomfortable. “Roger doesn’t want you to work because he wants to keep you dependent. He cut off your money. The best remedy for that is to take your independence back.”

“I don’t even know what job I would do.”

“What did you do before Roger?”

“Don’t laugh, but I was a skydiving instructor.”

“Why would I laugh? That’s awesome.”

She waited for him to take it back or tell her he really thought it was stupid that she’d take such a risk at her job, like Roger had done, but Kellen didn’t.

Instead, he asked, “So, did you jump out of planes with your students?”

“Sometimes I did, and sometimes I instructed them before they went up with other teachers. I was part of a team. I loved—” Her voice caught suddenly, and she swallowed her heartbreak down. “I loved flying,” she said on a breath.

His startled eyes landed on her, then he directed his attention back to the road. “Did you have sex with him?”

The question was so inappropriate and unexpected, she gasped. “Kellen, you shouldn’t ask things like that.”

“We’re friends now, Skyler. I’m going to be your friend, and friends can talk about this stuff. Did you have sex?”

A flash of red anger blasted through her, and she clenched the strap of her purse to keep from verbally reaming him. “Not that it’s any of your business, but no. I’ve been putting him off. I told him I didn’t want to until the ceremony. That’s why… Fuck.”

“That’s why he pushed you?”

She didn’t answer. Couldn’t. Shame heated her cheeks as she remembered how hard he’d tried to get her to sleep with him before she’d screamed at him. That’s what got her the black eye. She had dared to tell him no, and she’d gone farther and yelled at him as she denied him. Men like Roger didn’t take rejection well.

“No ceremony. No sex. No mark. No mate. You’re a free woman, Skyler. You can pick whoever you want. You can sleep with whoever you want. You can work wherever you want.”

“Kellen,” she whispered, heart in her throat. “You make it sound so simple, but it isn’t for me.”

“Tell me the consequences of not being with that man. Make me understand.”

“I’ll be banished from my people. They won’t offer me protection, and I’ll be alone. It’s dangerous for people like me. We survive best in pairs and groups.”

“Why is it dangerous?”

“Humans finding out what I am, for one. And two, my people are at war. They always have been, I guess. If I don’t have the protection of my people, I’ll be picked off by our enemies. They’ll spit on my carcass and never think twice about my death.”

“That won’t happen.” Kellen’s hands had a strangle hold on the steering wheel. “It won’t because I won’t let anyone hurt you.”

“You don’t know how powerful my people are, and my bloodline is important to them.” She sighed and shrugged her shoulders as if to ward away her misery. “Roger is a good fighter, and he was born a shifter, not Turned. He’s a legacy. He’s helped to win important battles, and that’s how he won the right to take me as a mate. I’m a breeder.”

“A breeder.”

“Yeah, it’s when—”

“I know what a fucking breeder is, Skyler. I’m just not buying that you actually believe that is all you are. Your people don’t deserve you.”

God, he didn’t understand at all. It was so easy for him to judge her, but he didn’t really know. This was how she’d been raised. She’d been born into a culture of people at odds with their own kind. Rules were in place to ensure the survival of her species. Apparently Kellen’s people, whatever and whoever they were, didn’t care about longevity.

“You want a baby with Roger?” he asked, his voice hard as steel. “You think he’d make a good father to your offspring?”

“No,” she said, voice trembling.

“How long do you think you’re going to be able to put him off? What was your plan? He’ll force the issue sooner or later, and you’ll be hurt. And any kid you have—” A long, low snarl came from him. Kellen slammed down on the brakes and doubled over.

The truck was still rolling slowly forward, foot by foot, but Kellen had his eyes closed and couldn’t see where to steer. And now, they were headed for the edge of the road that dropped off to a steep embankment. With a squeak of terror, Skyler slammed her hand against his knee until the brake hit the floorboard, then threw the gearshift into park.

“Kellen, not here.”

“I can’t—fuck.” His breath was ragged and red crept up his neck, up a scar that stretched across his face that she hadn’t noticed before. His shoulders heaved, and the air became heavy with something powerful, just above her senses.

Desperate not to die in the truck with whatever was tearing its way slowly out of Kellen right now, she reached over him and shoved his door open. Unbuckling him, she prayed he wouldn’t eat her. She’d never met another type of shifter before. She was in control of her thoughts when she Turned, but would he be?

She pushed him hard, and he hit the gravel road with a thud. Curled on his side, he grunted in pain.

The keys were dangling from the steering column, and her kidnapper was utterly helpless as he tried not to shift. She could leave. She could shut the door and drive back the way they came and go back to Roger before he noticed she was gone.

Skyler gripped the door handle, prepared to shut it and speed back to her life. Back to her crappy, hopeless, fear-riddled life.

“Trust me,” Kellen said in a ragged whisper.

She must’ve misheard him. “What?”

“Don’t leave. Just trust me. Ahh!” His neck snapped backward, and his eyes watered with anguish. The soft brown color had been replaced by an intense silver, and the thick muscles in his neck strained.

Hell. Kellen was going through hell trying not to shift.

She could go back to her horrid life, or she could take a chance with Kellen. She could stay and take a break from the suck. She slid from the truck and cradled his head. “One day, and you’ll take me back.”

“One day, and you’ll beg me not to.”

She drew up short. He seemed so confident. If he knew the people he was pissing off, he wouldn’t be so keen on keeping her near. “One day.”

His eyes never left hers as he nodded once.

“Let him out,” she whispered against his ear. “I won’t leave you—not yet. Let your animal out and stop the pain.”

An agonized groan left his lips and tapered into a growl. “Get in the truck.”

He didn’t have to ask her twice. She scampered in, shut the door, then hit the automatic lock for good measure. And when she looked up, the back of a giant beast rose above the window line.

“Son of a biscuit,” she murmured in awe as she took in the full, furred, fanged expanse of Kellen Cade Brown.

He was a bear. And not one of those plump, tame ones she had seen bumbling around in a circus once. He was one ton of toned, muscled, ferocious, scar-faced, pitch-black, snarling grizzly.

As he stood on his hind legs and shook his enormous block head, she gasped at his full height. He had to be twelve feet tall. Her heart pounded, threatening to eject from her chest cavity, and a scream lodged in her throat, making it impossible to breathe.

He could rip through this truck like it was a can of tuna if he wanted to.

He lowered himself to all fours, never taking his eyes from hers, and slowly, his animal retracted until he was human and utterly naked on his knees by the truck. So, bear shifters could go back and forth between their animal and human sides almost immediately. She couldn’t do that. She had to stay an animal for half an hour, at least.

His clothes lay in tatters on the ground around him. She searched frantically in the back seat for an extra set, but all she found was a folded pair of jeans on the floorboard. They smelled clean but had dark stains and tattered holes in the knees. Work pants.

BOOK: Woodcutter Werebear (Saw Bears Book 2)
13.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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