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Authors: Jenika Snow

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BOOK: Grin and Bear It
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“Fuck
you,” Beau stuttered, rubbing his neck, his voice strained, but filled with
anger.

Mason
smirked. “Fuck me?” He crouched on his haunches and reached behind him,
grabbing the knife he had tugged at the small of his back. He showed Beau the
blade, felt pleasure when his eyes widened further and he tried moving away.
Yeah, the asshole knew what was coming. He had nowhere to go. Mason brought the
blade to Beau’s neck, added pressure until blood welled up, but stopped before
cutting into his jugular. “I could slit your throat right now, watch you bleed
out on the floor and feel nothing over your death.” Beau gasped for air, but
didn’t speak.

“Then
do it,” Beau wheezed out again.

Mason
looked at his face, brought the blade up, and ran it over his cheek. Beau
hollered out in pain as the knife opened up the flesh on his face.

“Does
that hurt?” Mason asked in a stoic voice.

“Fuck
you.”

Mason
chuckled. “You keep saying that like it means anything.”

“I’m
not afraid of you,” Beau said and tried to stand, but Mason shook his head and
Beau stilled.

“The
stench of your fear says differently, although I give you props for trying not
to show it.” He didn’t move as he stared right into Beau’s eyes. Mason wanted
to say fuck it and just gut this worthless piece of shit and be done with it,
but the longer he looked at him the more he thought about
Ryeissa
,
about going back to her and her knowing what he’d done.

It
would be a stain on him, a stain on what they could share together. He felt
that all the way into his blackened soul.

Mason
didn’t follow anyone’s rules but his own, and it had always been like that. He
didn’t want to think about
Ryeissa
right now, not
when there was all this violence around him, consuming him, wanting to take
control. But he couldn’t help it, couldn’t get her sweet, innocent face out of
his mind.

You don’t need to solve violence
with violence.

But
Mason was damaged, and always would be. He had marks on his soul, evil coursing
through his blood. As he much as he wanted to just end this asshole’s life, go
back to his old lady, and pray he hadn’t ruined it, he also didn’t want to have
to lie to her if she asked if he’d killed this punk.

He
tightened his hold on the handle of the blade, gritted his teeth, and knew that
what he was going to do was the right thing, even if at this moment it felt
like the wrong thing to do. He stood and moved back from Beau, but kept his
gaze on him. “You’ll leave Steel Corner, and not come back. If I find out you
or your friends are in town, or anywhere near town, I’ll hunt you down, cut off
your arms and legs, gut you like a fish, and toss you into the Steel Corner
Lake. Understand?”

Beau
didn’t answer right away, but looked behind Mason at the other guys, and Mason
felt his annoyance rise. In one swift move, Mason stood and brought his boot to
Beau’s gut hard enough he slammed against the wall again, and blood splattered
out of his mouth.

“Damn,”
one Grizzly said.

Another
whistled under his breath.

And
another started laughing.

“I
asked you a motherfucking question.” Mason then reached down and hauled Beau
off the ground. But Beau still didn’t answer. This prick had to have a death
wish. “I could make this hurt even more before I fucking killed you. I could
break every one of your fingers, skin you alive, and make sure you stayed
conscious throughout the whole thing. Would you prefer that?” Mason said in a
low, dangerous voice. “You have a choice, and you’re really fucking lucky I’m
even giving you one. You can either get the fuck out of town with your life, or
die in Steel Corner acting like you actually have one chance right now.”

Beau
kept looking behind Mason at the other members.

“You
think they give a shit if you live? You think they’ll stop me? Hell, they’ll
want to see your blood covering the ground. They’ll fucking take bets on when
you’ll
be pissing your pants.” Mason
bared his teeth, growling out low.

“We
came to watch a show, motherfucker.” That was
Jakob
speaking, and the amusement in his voice had Mason grinning, but in a purely
sadistic way.

“Mason,
just make him your bitch, make the little prick cry,” Odin said, and the
Patches all started laughing behind him.

“Have
him piss his pants like the other bitch,” Bodhi said, and there was another
round of laughter.

“Fuck
you—”

Mason
slammed his fist into Beau’s face over and over again, hearing more bone break.
“You don’t get to say shit. You and your little bitch ass fuckers came to our
party, claiming it was your territory.” That had him chuckling humorlessly.
“You went up against Grizzly shifters, asshole. I could have let that go, but
then you fucked with my life, with my club. You deserve nothing but a slow,
painful death right now.”

“Then
be done with it,” Beau said and bared his teeth, as well.

“Look
at the balls on this bastard,” Cain said, and there was a moment of silence,
stillness.

Mason
could have crushed his life like it meant nothing, and it didn’t, but staring
at this human, wanting him to hurt, all he could picture was
Ryeissa
and the life he wanted with her. He’d left her to
do this, to handle what had been plaguing him for far too long. Killing Beau
wouldn’t solve anything aside from giving him the revenge he needed, or thought
he needed. Letting him live, and fearing what would happen if he fucked with
them again, would be revenge enough.

“You
and your little bitches are going to leave Steel Corner,” Mason said in a
dangerously low voice. He leaned in an inch so he and Beau were nose-to-nose.
“You’re going to leave or I’m going to find you, rip off your dick and shove it
down your throat.” He held his gaze with Beau’s. “You’re going to leave, and
have it in the back of your head that I’ll be able to smell where your punk ass
is, and know that if you fuck with me I won’t kill you, but take a little piece
of you away each time you cross my path.” He saw the way Beau swallowed,
smelled the fear coming from him in a stronger note, and grinned. Yeah, this
little bitch was finally realizing what was up. He was finally getting smart.

But
Mason wasn’t just going to let him walk away. Fuck no. This asshole was going
to feel pain ten times over.

He
took a step back, reached his hand out behind him, and without looking at his
crew took the gun offered to him. The silencer was already in place, and
although Mason liked using his hands to deal with his problems, Beau was going
to see how it felt to have a bullet tear through him.

Pointing
the gun toward his leg, he fired off a shot. Beau screamed and fell to the
ground, grabbing his leg. Tears started to track down the human’s face. Mason
pointed the gun at Beau’s chest, but before pulling the trigger he lowered it.
He then grabbed the knife again and crouched close to him. Beau tried to move
back, but the wall stopped him. Mason didn’t wait in plunging the knife in
Beau’s side. He made sure he hurt, could feel the searing pain deep in his
body. He was getting off lucky, far too lucky, but Mason was going to give him
his life.

He
took a step back, bent, and wiped the blade on Beau’s thigh. “You’ll leave.”

Beau
nodded furiously.

“The
cops won’t know anything about us.”

Beau
shook his head and gasped out, “No.”

“Good.
And you remember that I have your scent memorized. I can find you at anytime,
asshole. You fuck with me or show your face and I’ll start making your life
hell by cutting off your dick.” With that Mason turned and left the piece of
shit house, the other Grizzlies following behind.

They
made their way across the street to the cars, and once Mason was at the
driver’s side door he looked at the house. The door was closed, but hanging
from the hinges. He didn’t know if the human would call the cops or an ambulance,
but he didn’t care either. He wasn’t going to help out the fuckers one way or
another.

“I
think we all need to go back to the club and drink this night off,” Lucas said
and clapped Mason on the back.

Mason
stood there, his hand poised on the handle of the driver’s side door, his heart
racing,
his
blood pumping. He had busted up knuckles,
but he loved the pain, absorbed it all. His shirt was stained red, but it
wasn’t his blood. The small wounds he had on his face had been what he needed,
that pain enough to add even more fuel to his already blazing fire of rage.

“You
heading back with us to the club?”
Jakob
asked.

“No,”
he said, looking down at the asphalt, knowing where he wanted to be, what he
had to do.

“Come
on, man. Come back and we’ll drink and smoke until we’re unconscious,” Odin
said.

Mason
shook his head and took a long, deep breath. “I have somewhere I need to be.”
He lifted his head and stared at all the guys standing in front of him. They’d
come here and helped him, had his back. They were his family through and
through.

“You
okay?” Ben asked.

“Yeah.”
He ran a hand over his hair. “Thank you for having my back.”

“Always,”
they said in unison.

“But
I need to go see someone.”

“Someone?”
Jakob
asked, although the way he said it told Mason
he already knew what was up.

“Yeah,
the female I want as my old lady. I need to make things right with her.
Hopefully I didn’t fuck things up.”

He
gave a nod to each of them, watched as they got into their cars, and then Mason
climbed into his SUV. He sat there for a moment, staring at the streetlights,
knowing that showing up at her place all bloody was probably going to scare her
and really have the reality of this slamming home. But he had to see her now.
She needed to see him for who he really was, blood and violence and everything.

He
started the SUV just as a crack of thunder and lightning raced through the sky
and then the heavens opened up and the rain poured down.

He
really hoped he hadn’t screwed things up, because
Ryeissa
was his life now, and walking away wasn’t something he could do. It wasn’t
something he would do.

Chapter
Thirteen

 

It
was raining heavily, and the sound of the wipers running across his windshield
helped to drown out the beating of his heart. He had a busted lip, and the
flavor of his blood was a continuous metallic sting in his mouth. He should not
be going to see
Ryeissa
right now. He should be
drinking, getting trashed with the other Patches, putting all of this behind
him, but as he had stared at those fuckers, wanting to kill each of them ten
times over, to just end their worthless lives, all he could see was
Ryeissa
in his mind.

So,
with his knuckles bruised and split, blood drying on them, and his body still
primed for a fight, he headed to
Ryeissa
. He needed
her calming nature, her sweet face looking up at him, giving him that
reassurance that she was his, that everything would be okay. He needed all of
that and more, because right now he felt like his skin was tearing away, like
he was going to explode and be nothing from the torrent of emotions slamming
into him. He needed to shift, needed to let his animal out since he’d let those
bastards live. It had been hard walking away, even if they’d been unconscious
and beaten to hell. But they were alive, and he’d had the strength to do that.

He’d
left his Harley at the clubhouse when he’d gone to handle those assholes, and
when he pulled the SUV into her driveway and cut the engine he just sat there
for a moment. The rain pelted against the windshield, making everything blurry,
not quite real.

He
hated himself that he’d left her like he had, that he hadn’t been strong enough
to stay with her, to keep his emotions away. But he had to do this for himself,
had to do this in order to move on.

He
climbed out of the vehicle and shut the door, standing there for a second and
just staring up at her place. The light was on in the living room, and he felt
this possessiveness slam into him that
his
woman was in there. And she was his whether they’d been together in every way
or not. She had been his from the moment they’d stared into each other’s eyes
in that bathroom at the hospital, from the time he’d smelled the scent of her
arousal for him fill his head.

You might have fucked this up for
good, Mason.

Making
his way up to the front door, he held his hand poised at the smooth, white
painted wood, his knuckles curled inward, ready to knock. But before he brought
his knuckles down on the wood it swung open. She stood there, her throat
working as she swallowed and stared up at him. She didn’t say anything, though,
and he didn’t move from where he stood. The rain soaked him, washing away the
blood and violence that were visible, but not cleaning away the darkness he had
inside.

She
stepped aside, allowing him entrance, and it was her acceptance, although she
didn’t speak. When he was in the foyer she shut the door. He turned, and they
stared at each other for several long seconds. It didn’t go unnoticed that she
appraised him, looked at the few wounds he had, probably able to sense the fact
his animal was right there, still trying to overpower him.

“Did
you handle what you needed to?” she asked softly. She sounded strong although
her voice was low, hesitant.

He
nodded once. Mason took a step closer to her, knowing that he might have ruined
things with the violence he had inside of him, the mayhem that he had to let
out when the time called for it.

“This
is who I am,
Ryeissa
.” He took another step toward
her. “This is the male you want, the real me.”

She
took a step back, and the door stopped her retreat. “I know who you are,
Mason.”

He
shook his head and moved a step closer. He felt her body heat, felt her
breathing along the base of his throat. He picked up on the little physical
signs of her emotions, in the way her pupils were dilated, her lips parted, her
chest rising and falling.

“You
don’t know who I am, not completely,
Ryeissa
.” He
looked at her lips. “I’m not a good man, not by a long shot. I’ve hurt people,
enjoyed doing it, too.”

She
swallowed, and he lowered his gaze to her throat, stared at the slender arch,
the fact her flesh was so creamy, like the inside of a ripened peach. His cock
started getting hard even though now might not be the best time for his arousal
to rise up.

“This
is who you are,” she said and lifted her hand to touch the blood that was on
his shirt. It wasn’t his, not the majority of it anyway. “This is who you’ll
always be?”

He
nodded. “I can’t change, won’t, not even for you.” He grabbed her wrist when
she was about to pull her hand away. He held her arm between them for a second,
and then brought her wrist to his nose, inhaling deeply while holding her gaze
with his. He let out a low growl that came right from his bear.

“I
don’t know what to say, Mason.”

“You
don’t have to say anything. I just want you to know that although I probably
fucked this up, let you see a side of me that probably scares the shit out of
you, and rightly so, you are the only woman I’ve ever felt anything for.” He
let go of her hand. “You’re the only female I’ve ever wanted as mine, as my old
lady.”

She
licked her lips. “I—”

“I
want you as my woman, my old lady,
Ryeissa
.”

“Mason—”

“Let
me get this out, and if you want me to leave after that I will. I’ve claimed
you before I ever really knew what that meant. I want you, and so does my bear,
and although walking away will be one of the hardest fucking things I’ve ever
had to do, I’ll do it if that’s what you want.”

The
silence stretched between them. She didn’t push him away, though, didn’t tell
him to leave her alone, to get out of her life. The scent of her filled his
head, made him want to be a good man for her, but he knew he never could. He’d
always be like this, always be so rough around the edges that he’d piss her
off, make her upset because he was hardheaded, but in the end he’d always be
there for her.

“I
want you to know that the things I do, the things I’ve done, make up who I am,
but also they don’t define how I feel about you.” He cupped her cheek, pleased
she didn’t shy away, that she didn’t push him away. “I want you to know that
I’d never hurt you, that I’ll always protect you, even if you don’t want me.”

She
didn’t say anything in response, didn’t move away, but he could tell she was
confused by everything.
Ryeissa
moved her gaze over
his face, lifted her hand, and ran her thumb along his cheek. When she brought
her hand away he saw blood cover the pad of her thumb.

“This
isn’t your blood,” she said without question.

“No.”

“I’ve
never met a man like you, Mason.”

“I’m
not a good man,
Ryeissa
, but I can be good to you,
really fucking good if you still want me.”

Another
stretch of silence passed, and then she surprised the fuck out of him by rising
on her toes and pressing her lips to his. And he knew this woman would be his
downfall, his everything, and he was ready to do this, more than ready.

Mason
pulled back after only a second of having her lips on his, and stared into her
eyes. They were wide, but accepting. He looked at her lips, then lower still to
her chest that heaved up and down from the force of her breathing, from the
intensity of her arousal for him. Of course she had confusion still in her. He
could scent it coming from her.

“I
admit all of this is a little scary,” she whispered.

“You
don’t have to be afraid of me. You never have to fear me. I’ll only ever
protect you, cherish you, and make sure you know that to me you’re it.”

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