Authors: T. S. Joyce
BEAR THE BURN
(FIRE BEARS, BOOK 2)
By T. S. JOYCE
The author recommends reading this series in order for maximum reader enjoyment.
Bear My Soul (
Bear the Heat (Book 3) – Coming Soon
For more of these characters, pick up the spinoff Saw Bears series
Lumberjack Werebear (
Woodcutter Werebear (
Timberman Werebear (
Sawman Werebear (
Axman Werebear (
Copyright © 2015 by T. S. Joyce
Copyright © 2015, T. S. Joyce
First electronic publication: May 2015
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
For the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to fight fires and protect our communities.
Driving along Main Street, Dade Keller scratched behind the ear of the mutt sitting beside him in the passenger seat of his truck. Usually, he made Tank ride in the bed of his pickup, but today he’d taken pity on him and gave him a window seat. Tank was the firehouse’s mascot. Dade had meant to adopt a brave dog for the firehouse mascot, but Tank couldn’t even handle a yearly trip to the vet without losing his shit. A few shots in his furry butt made him howl like someone was ax murdering him.
Rubbing the brindle, short-haired hound-mix on the head, Dade muttered, “You know, if you stay still for the vet, we’ll get out of there in half an hour tops. You don’t have to make it traumatic for everyone involved.”
Tank cocked his head and slurped his panting tongue back in his mouth. One of his bottom canines caught on his lip. A honk sounded behind him and Dade waved an apology, then eased through the stale green light. Tank lived up at Fire Station 6 where Dade worked, but for some reason, he was always the one recruited for the dog’s annual vet check-ups. He didn’t really mind, though. He had a day off and nothing planned, and besides, he’d bonded with Tank over the two years he’d lived at the firehouse. As much as he hated admitting he had an attachment to anything, he loved that Tank followed him around and no one else when he was working his forty-eight hour shifts.
Secretly, he thought of Tank as his, but if he muttered that little gem out loud, Boone, one of his older brothers, would rib him relentlessly for going soft. And dammit, he was about as soft as a porcupine. IESA had done that—made him into a black ops weapon incapable of attaching to anyone. A vision of that day in the barn after Krueger had kidnapped Cody’s mate, Rory, played across his mind, and he winced. The memory caused him to touch the acid burn scars across his neck. A reminder that humans couldn’t be trusted with secrets.
A black sedan slid in behind him as he headed toward the vet clinic at the end of the main drag in Breckenridge. Dade narrowed his eyes in the rearview mirror at the familiar car.
It couldn’t be. Shayna couldn’t possibly be that dumb.
Dark, tinted windows hid the driver, but as he took the next right, the car behind him sped up and rode inches from his bumper.
“Shit,” Dade muttered, turning left onto a wooded dirt road. Tank growled. Nothing in Dade wanted to do this now, or ever, and he stifled his own snarl that softly rattled his chest. “Tell me about it, boy.”
He pulled off onto the shoulder and slid out of his truck, slammed the door behind him. Hooking his hands on his hips, he waited as Shayna took her time getting out of the sedan in sky-high heels and a short black skirt that was created to lure men to their deaths. This chick was a black widow if he’d ever seen one, and right now, with her brunette waves tickling her low neck line, lips painted red, and that cold, devil-may-care smile plastered on her face, she looked like a right proper little man-eater.
“What do you want, Shayna?”
Inside the truck, Tank was going mad, barking and lunging at the door. Impressive, since Tank liked everyone. Dade’s regard for the IESA operative sank further, if that was even possible.
“You know, when I went back to check on our little operation in the woods, all I found was a torched barn.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but if I did, I’d say I regret that you weren’t there for the fireworks show.” Because Damon Daye would’ve definitely made sure she wasn’t here to blackmail shifters anymore.
“You fucked me once.” She leaned on the side of his truck and offered him a smile that failed to reach her eyes.
“I was drunk, and that was before I knew who you really were.”
“I want seconds.”
His single, humorless laugh cracked across the quiet woods. “That’s a hell no. Have a nice life, Shayna.” He turned and reached for his door handle, but she yanked him back with a strength she shouldn’t have possessed.
He swung around, but her eyes had changed from their emerald color to a churning silver. “What have you done?” he asked on a breath, dread slamming into him.
“It’s not what I did, but what one of your kind did for me. Everyone has a price.”
“Yes you do, Dade. Because I know who you’re sleeping with these days.”
“What are you talking about?”
He took a step back from Shayna. “Who?”
Her eyes tightened and roiled like mercury. “I saw you leave her house last week.”
“The woman from the bar?”
Shayna drew up short. “You’re with her,” she said, less certain this time.
“Crazy woman, listen carefully. I’m not
anyone. I’m not looking for a mate, and I’m sure as shit not looking for a casual fuck from a woman who works for IESA and has made my life a living hell. Now kindly piss off. I have somewhere to be.”
“I need a cub.”
“What?” He rounded on her, heart pounding with fury. “You would make a terrible mother.”
“I don’t give a shit about being a mother, you idiot. In light of Krueger’s unfortunate disappearance along with our men, IESA is rebuilding. Aw, look at your sad face.” Shayna pouted out her bottom lip. “Did you think your little killing spree was going to make the government forget about you? Krueger’s work needs to go on. You and your brothers were at the end of your usefulness on missions. You got too nosey and grew some morals. We lured you to the barn to take you for reproductive research, but you ruined our attempt to save at least some of you, you ungrateful dick. If you won’t be forced, I’ll buy you instead.”
“I’m taking a hard pass on this one, Shayna.” Dade’s voice cracked like a whip, but he didn’t care. He wanted nothing more than to strangle the woman for all the pain she’d brought. And now she was a fucking bear shifter, like him.
“I have agreed to bear a cub and was given a choice between you and your brothers for the other half of my future cub’s genetic material. IESA wants the Keller line, and since Gage won’t even look at me, and Cody is shacked up with that whore now, it’s between you and Boone. And quite honestly, you’re the better lay.”
Bile crept up Dade’s throat at the thought of her sleeping with Boone, too. It seemed the Keller boys had all been screwed. “I won’t be bought. Not by you or anyone else.”
“But you were fine with being blackmailed. When your family was in danger, you all flocked to do our bidding. Don’t make me go down that road again.” She turned and lowered his tailgate, then leaned on it and pulled her skirt up to expose her bare ass. She arched her back until he could see her pink, wet lips between her legs. “Now hurry, Dade. I’m ovulating.”
Dade looked around the woods, shocked. “This is what you want? A quickie fuck on the side of the road?”
“Well, no. I want lots of quickie fucks, lover. At least until you put a cub in me. Lucky you.”
“You’re crazy,” he whispered, disgusted.
“Oh, come on. You didn’t even know Lisa’s name. At least you know who you’re sleeping with this time.”
He huffed a blast of air and shook his head. “The answer is never. Now get off my truck before you give it an STD.”
Shayna spun, eyes blazing. “You’ll do this, or your entire family will pay. Anyone you get close to will have to look over their shoulder. IESA is coming for you, Dade. I was the one who convinced my superiors you were more useful to us alive than dead. I was the one who petitioned to have you spared for reproductive research after Krueger went missing. The only thing standing in between the Breck Crew and complete annihilation is me. You pissed off everyone when you killed Krueger and half of our damned corporation.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You kidnapped Rory, tried to kill me, tried to take my brother’s for some fucked up science experiment, and IESA’s treachery backfired. If your people are missing, seems to me the blame lies with your agency. Not with me or my crew.”
“You’re monsters, Dade! Look at you! Look at your eyes, all gold and green and couldn’t pass for human if you tried. We can do whatever we want with you because you are monsters. What would the public do if we told them what we’re really protecting them from?”
“That’s bullshit. We aren’t dangerous to humans.”
“And who do you think they’re going to trust on that, huh? Some savage bear shifters, or the people entrusted to protect the public at all costs? Accept it Dade. I run your life.”
Screw the open tailgate, he couldn’t stand here and listen to this anymore. He hopped into his truck and rolled the window down as he turned the engine. “The only monster here is you, Shayna. My answer stands.”
“I own you!” she screeched as he spun the truck around her, kicking up dust with his tires.
Tank scrabbled toward the open window, snarling and barking at the woman who stood in the cloud of dust with her skirt up to her stomach.
Dade slammed his fist against the steering wheel and gritted his teeth until his face hurt.
Shayna was wrong.
No one owned him.
A couple more miles, and he pulled into the parking lot of the veterinary clinic, pissed as hell and ready to crack some skulls. Shayna was trouble, but as tempting as it was to use the skills he’d obtained from IESA’s forced missions on that woman, he couldn’t just go around killing everyone who threatened the Breck Crew. There had to be a better way to get IESA off their backs. He pulled his phone from the cup holder and texted Boone and Cody.
Shayna’s back, and someone’s Changed her.
His phone was probably bugged, but screw it. Whoever was tracking his messages already knew what he was and likely knew what Shayna was, too. Shoving the cell in his back pocket, he grabbed Tank’s leash and slid out of the truck with the dog following directly.
His cell buzzed back, but he ignored it. He’d meet up with his brothers tonight at the station and figure out their next move. For now, he was going to put a pair of sunglasses over his blazing eyes and get Tank through his exam, all while trying not to rip anyone’s head off.