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Authors: Jenika Snow

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BOOK: Grin and Bear It
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“You
still going after them?”
Jakob
asked, not saying
their names, because he knew Mason would know what he was talking about.

Mason
took a second to answer, even took another shot. He nodded once and said, “Fuck
yeah I am.”

And
they’d have his back, the whole club.

 

Chapter
Six

 

Ryeissa
washed the last dish in her sink,
rinsed it off, and set it on the drainer. She stared out the window, knowing
that she should be doing something a hell of a lot more productive than washing
dishes that weren’t even dirty as she thought about Mason. It had been nearly a
week after his release from the hospital, and she hadn’t been able to stop
thinking about him. She knew his last name, could have easily looked him up or
gone to the MC, but she was afraid. She was not scared of him, or his club, but
of these intense feelings she had for a man she didn’t know.

You know him. You took care of him,
saw the pain he held inside and didn’t want to show. You know him better than
you realize.

When
she’d gone into his room the day before he’d been released she had hoped,
prayed a little even, that this feeling she had for him wasn’t just one way.
But he’d let her walk out of the room, hadn’t revealed anything to her, and
she’d felt like an idiot for her emotions toward him. He had things to worry
about in his life, probably women falling at his feet, and being with her
probably was the last thing on his mind.

The
feeling of soft fur moving against her leg had her looking down and seeing Mr.
Tubs, her “slightly” overweight cat rubbing up against her.

“What,
buddy?” She picked up the cat, his chunky physique having a little huff to come
from her when she picked him up. He was a big boy, a housecat in every sense of
the word, but he was her companion. Living alone was lonely, and although she
had offers from some of the male nurses at the hospital and even one from a
doctor, they all came out lackluster in the end.

But
then she’d felt something pretty damn electric when she’d taken care of Mason,
and she hadn’t been able to shake her feelings. She needed to, though, because
wanting a man that she had no future with, that clearly wasn’t interested, was
going to end up leading her down a road of pretty hard realization.

Who are you kidding? You’ve already
realized that you need to get him out of your head.

“I
think I’m losing my mind, Mr. Tubbs.” She scratched under the cat’s neck, and
Tubbs purred loudly. As she was about to set him on the ground the sound of an
engine coming closer had her turning and looking out the kitchen window again.
The flash of chrome was what caught her attention first, but the closer the big
SUV came down the street the more she felt her heart start to pound faster. She
didn’t know why, didn’t know why she felt this rush of adrenaline move though
her, but it was pretty intense inside of her.

And
when that dark SUV pulled into her driveway, cut the engine, and she watched as
the front door opened, she knew who she’d seen.

No, you hope it’ll be a specific
someone.

Yeah,
she did.

The
first thing she saw when the driver’s side door opened was big, black biker
boots. Lifting her gaze up the denim that covered the legs, she saw the door
move out of the way as it was shut, and felt her throat tighten. Standing there
wearing a pair of jeans, a dark t-shirt, and his leather biker cut, Mason was
looking at her house. He wore dark sunglasses, clearly couldn’t see her at this
angle from where she was looking out her kitchen window, but it was like the
world stopped spinning for just a moment.

The
sound of Mr. Tubbs purring loudly cut into her haze, but she couldn’t move, not
even to set him on the ground. And then Mason moved toward her house, and she
felt this anticipation and nervousness fill her.

“Shit,
what should I do, Tubbs?”

The
cat meowed in response.

“You’re
no help.” She scratched under his ear, set him on the ground, and started
walking toward her front door. When she was a few feet from it there were three
hard knocks on the wood. She actually stopped, her heart feeling like it would
burst through her chest for how hard it was beating.

She
turned and saw her reflection in the mirror in the living room. God, she looked
a hot mess. Her hair was in this “just rolled out of bed and didn’t give a
shit” bun, and her clothes consisted of an oversized shirt that hung off one of
her shoulders, had a pocket right over one of her breasts that was like a neon
sign, and a pair of yoga pants that had Mr. Tubbs’s hair all over it.

Yeah,
hot mess pretty much covered how she looked, and Mason was right on the other
side of that door about to see her in all of her gorgeous—heavy sarcasm—glory.

The
glass on the front door allowed her to see his large, imposing frame. When she
heard another knock she moved toward the door, gripped the handle, and pulled
it open. For a second all she did was stand there, her hand wrapped tightly
around the doorknob, so tight in fact it started to become painful. Her heart
was beating fast, sweat starting to dot her flesh, and she knew Mason could see
all of this, hell, probably smell her body’s reaction to him. He was, after
all, a bear shifter, and these types of things wouldn’t go unnoticed by him.

He
stood on the other side of the door, his sunglasses concealing his eyes, and
the scruff along his jaw making him look so damn raw and sexy. The sheer size
of him was able to take her breath away if not for the fact she couldn’t
breathe as it was.

“It’s
probably weird that I’m standing here, right?” he said in that deep, slightly
serrated voice of his. It sent a shiver along her spine, had goosebumps forming
on her arms, and she told herself to get control of herself or she’d look like
a fool.

When
she didn’t respond, because honestly she didn’t know what to say, didn’t even
know if she could have formed a word right now, he lifted his hand and rubbed
the back of his neck. He looked over at his SUV, and the awkwardness bounced
between them.

“Shit,
it is weird. I should have called, but then again that would have been just as
strange since you never gave me your number.”

Of
course she wondered how he’d known where she lived, but she reminded herself
this was a man from the Grizzly MC, and he had to have connections in finding out
information. That should have bothered her, worried her at the least, but the
truth was she didn’t feel anything like that. There were no warning bells going
off, no fight or flight instinct telling her that this man could be, and
probably was, dangerous to her. All she felt was that warmth and crazy
attraction for him. And they didn’t have the patient and nurse relationship any
longer, so she didn’t have to feel that guilt that what she wanted with him,
what she felt for Mason, was wrong.

She
couldn’t help but smile at the clear fact he was uncomfortable right now. “
It’s
okay, Mason.”

He
stopped running his hand on his nape and looked at her.

“It
is strange, and I don’t know if I should be worried you got my address.” She
smiled after she said that, not feeling anything but this pleasure that he was
standing right in front of her. “But the truth is I like weird.” She felt a
little stupid for saying that, but she couldn’t filter her thoughts or words.
It was like they just came out, like she couldn’t at least act like she didn’t
want him fiercely, which she did.

Before
he could say anything, and before she could put her foot in her mouth, she
stepped aside. “Come on in.” Her appearance and the fact her house was probably
a wreck faded, and all she thought about was how she felt for him.

He
stopped inside, and she noticed that although he was up and walking around, a
miracle all in itself because of the injuries he’d sustained, he did limp on
the side he’d been shot. She shouldn’t be checking him out, because he might
just be here on a friend level.

Don’t be a fool. He looked you up,
found out where you live, and is now standing in your foyer.

His
body was so much bigger than hers. She felt feminine, like a woman around this
beast of a man. His arm brushed against hers, having her flesh tightening, her
heart beating faster, if possible, and her breath stalling in her lungs. She
slowly shut the door, leaned against it, and for a second just stared at the
back of his cut. That patch showing the motorcycle and claw marks, showing her
was a member of one of the most feared clubs in the state, slammed into her.
She was here alone with Mason, and he could crush her like a twig if he wanted
to.

But he won’t, and I know that with
everything in me.

 

Chapter
Seven

 

Mason
stood there for several seconds, inhaling the scent of
Ryeissa
,
taking in the feeling of being in her home, of being near her, and had to force
his bear down. As it was his claws were trying to push out, his canines, too.
He felt his eyes shifting in color: black to blue and once again to black as
his bear tried to get dominance.

Taking
a deep breath he closed his eyes for a second, focused, and found his center.
He turned and saw her standing by the door, her palms flat against it as she
looked at him. She wore her hair up. It was wild, strands falling from the
messy knot on her head, brushing along her cheeks, and having his dick
twitching in arousal. He wanted to touch her hair, smell it, run it along his
lips, and then wrap it in his fist as he fucked her.

Her
shirt, goddamn it, her shirt was loose, barely showing him her figure, but the
fact that it fell off of one of her shoulders, exposing her creamy peach
colored skin had him forcing himself to rein in his desires. His cock was
hardening, his hands tight fists at his sides. He shouldn’t be glaring at her,
checking her out like some kind of lewd bastard, but damn he couldn’t help
himself, not when it concerned
Ryeissa
.

He
looked down at the floor, trying to rein himself in, but he saw her toes, ones
that were painted this vibrant red and were so damn small. Everything about her
was small compared to him.

“No,
it’s really fucking weird and
stalkerish
that I just
showed up,” he said, knowing it was, but she’d come to realize that when a
Grizzly wanted something he went after it no matter what.

“Weird?
A little.
Stalkerish
? Most definitely.”

He
looked at her face, saw the twitch on her lips, and scented that she wasn’t
feeling like he was the biggest fucking psycho. She wasn’t afraid, which was
good, because he’d never hurt her, even if showing up unannounced was probably
crossing a line.

“So,”
she said, her hands in front of her, her fingers twisted together. “You’re
here, in my house.”

He
scented her nervousness, and although he didn’t want her to feel like that
around him, the aroma was arousing, sweet, and feminine.

“I’m
here.” Mason moved a step closer, his bear pushing forward, wanting to be with
this woman in every way. But he needed to go slow, because if he went the speed
he really wanted she’d be on her back right now with his mark on her neck.

He
curled his fingers tight into his palms, felt his claws that had started to
emerge prick his flesh, and scented the faint aroma of blood in the air. He
should just spit it out, tell her what he wanted from her, why he’d just shown
up at her house, and then whatever her response was he’d take it from there.

“I
want to take you out,
Ryeissa
,” he blurted out,
feeling like a teenager instead of the fact he was in his twenties and a
full-grown bear shifting male. He wanted to show her who he was before they
went further, before he finally claimed her. Because he would claim her, every
part of her, but only if she understood the kind of male he was, the kind of
man that she would be agreeing to be with. He knew she wanted him, knew she
desired him, but did she really know the type of guy he was?

He
was a bear shifter, had hurt people, and would kill anyone that crossed him,
who went against his club. He would do everything in his power to make sure the
ones under his protection, the people he cared about, were always safe, even if
that meant he was covered in blood at the end of it all.

“You
want to take me out, like on a … date?” She was still pressed to the door, and
he could hear the rate of her heart beating, the frantic thumping of it in her
chest. She might appear, if only for right now, that she was calm, but he
sensed she was far from it. The pleasure that came from her was this citrusy
scent in the air, and it was all for him.

“Yeah,
like a date.” He ran the back of his hand over the nape of his neck. “I’ve
never taken a female out on a date before, and clearly never asked one out, as
you can see by me stumbling around like a fool.”

She
smiled. “You’re not stumbling around.”

Yeah,
he was, but it was cool she was trying to make it seem like he wasn’t this
pubescent teenager trying to get a girl for the first time.

But it is kind of like that. You’ve
never given a shit about taking a female out, not until you met
Ryeissa
.

She
was silent for a moment, and for the first time in his life he started to feel
awkward, like she might actually tell him to leave. She might want him
physically, but that didn’t mean she’d want to do anything else with him, even
a harmless dinner.

“I’d
love to go on a date, although I have a feeling what I think of as a date and
what you consider one are probably pretty different.” She smiled, and this
dimple popped out on her cheek. It made her look innocent. But he had a feeling
she could be just as dirty as he was.

He
gave a sharp nod, moved toward the door, and just as he got to her she moved
out of the way.

“I’ll
give you a call and we can figure out when you’re free.” He was looking at her,
but he felt out of his element. His skin was too tight, and his bear felt a
little wild right now. This whole scene was not something he’d done, not
something he’d ever done. Here he had just shown up at her place, burst out
that he wanted to take her out, and expected her to be okay with all of this.
But she didn’t seem nervous, and in fact seemed anxious, despite the smile on
her face and the cool composure coming from her.

He
gave one more nod, opened the door, and before he stepped outside he looked at
her over his shoulder.

“I
guess you’ll be able to get my number the same way you got my address?” She was
teasing again, and her smile grew. “It is kind of weird, but hey.” She shrugged
and started chuckling.

“Shit,
yeah, that was a creep move. I’m sorry about that.”

She
placed her hand on his forearm, and his whole body tightened. “I’m glad you
came, Mason. I’ve been thinking about you.”

“Yeah?”
His throat tightened at her words.

She
nodded. “Yeah. I knew I could have gone to the clubhouse in town and seen you,
spoken to you about how I felt—”

“A
connection.” He finished her sentence.

She
licked her lips and nodded. “Yeah, exactly.”

They
didn’t speak for a second, but the connection and the electricity were fierce.
His bear was clawing at him, but no way was he going to allow his animal to
control the situation, to be the dominant one right now. He was here, with her,
and there wasn’t any chance that he’d submit to his beast.

“I’ll
be looking forward to your call, Mason.”

Her
hand was still on his arm, and the heat he felt from that touch had this need,
this proprietary feeling, and all the possessiveness he felt for
Ryeissa
rising up like a tsunami.

“I’ll
talk to you later,” she said softly.

“Yeah.”
Mason looked into her eyes for another second, and then turned and left,
feeling like something in his life had clicked right into place.

****

A week later

Ryeissa
finished getting ready, had left
her hair down, and smoothed her hands over her leggings. Mason had called
earlier in the week, but with her schedule they hadn’t been able to plan
anything until now. She was nervous, and she hated that, but she was also
excited.

Staring
at her reflection in the glass of the front door, she looked at the blurry
figure of herself. She liked Mason, felt something real for him, but that also
scared her because she’d never felt anything like that before. The sound of a
vehicle approaching broke through her thoughts, and she opened the front door
and stepped onto the porch. Maybe she should have waited inside, waited for
Mason to come to the door, but neither of them was into the traditional route,
or at least she wasn’t.

Neither is he. He just showed up at
your place. Remember?

That
had her smiling. Some might think that had been crossing a line, but
Ryeissa
like that slight intensity from him.

Slight?
That had her laughing to herself.
There was nothing “slight” about the intensity that came from Mason that was
for damn sure.

He
pulled his massive black SUV into the driveway, and although there was a flash
of disappointment at the fact he hadn’t brought his Harley—because truth was
she’d never been on one—she didn’t care what vehicle he drove as long as they
were together.

God,
she’d really just thought that.

Smoothing
her hands over her tank blouse, she smiled as she stared at Mason through the
windshield. The SUV was shiny, the chrome detailing looking tricked out. Of
course there was nothing novelty about this man. He was a masculine bear
shifter, and even his “toys” were hardcore.

Yeah,
she might be getting in over her head being with Mason, but she’d be more than
happy to suffocate on the feeling she called forth in her.
 

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