Axman Werebear (Saw Bears Book 5) (8 page)

BOOK: Axman Werebear (Saw Bears Book 5)
4.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Chapter Nine

 

“Okay, I think I got it, but just in case I don’t, can you explain the rules again?” Diem asked Bruiser.

“I got this,” Drew said, shoving past her mate and latching his giant hand around hers. “You suck at explaining.”

“Hey,” Bruiser huffed.

Diem looked behind her sympathetically as Drew dragged her toward a long plastic table lined with cups of beer. He had just confused the stuffing out of her, though, so Drew was right.

“Stand here and practice so you know what you’re doing because you are on my team, and my team wins. What are we?”

“Um, winners?”

Drew squinted his blue eyes and frowned. “Well, don’t say it like a question, Diem.” He lifted his voice louder. “What are we?”

“Winners!”

“Better. Now look, chug that. Do it. It’ll loosen you up.”

She did as she was told and downed the cup of light beer. “Okay, now what?”

“Put your cup right side up on the edge of that table and knock it with your fingertips. Try to get it to flip upside down. Here, like this.” Drew gulped another cup down and showed her how to play flip-cup.

She tried a few times—or more accurately a few dozen times—until she was comfortable with the motion.

“Good. So, when the person in front of you, me, flips my cup and throws my hand up like this, you slide down that tarp as fast as you can, then chug your beer, then flip it and signal the next person. Fastest team wins. Got it?”

“I’ve totally almost got it.”

“That’s the spirit.”

“What will we win?”

“Bragging rights and more beer.”

“Right.”

“You ready?”

“I’m mostly ready.”

“Okay, line up!” Drew yelled, pulling her back past the giant blue tarp soaked in suds and water.

The Ashe crew filed into two separate lines. The men wore swim trunks, and Diem blinked hard at the sea of muscles, tattoos, and scars. Brooke and Haydan stood waiting by the table of beer to judge there was no cheating because apparently cheating at Slip ’N Slide flip-cup was a thing. Brooke wore a little yellow bikini and showed off her gorgeous baby belly proudly, stretch marks and all. God, Diem loved it here. She’d seen half the crew at some point lean down close and talk to Brooke’s unborn cub as if he could hear them.

The way the men treated women here, it was impossible to feel self-conscious, especially when the other women were so confident with their revered place among these dominant grizzly shifters.

“You’re going down, Daye!” Skyler called from the other line.

“That’s Keller to you, as soon as I fill out the paperwork.” Oh, geez, she sucked at trash talk.

Drew shoved her into the third spot in line, right in front of Bruiser.

“Is this where the weakest link goes?” she joked.

“No,” Bruiser said, brushing his lips against the back of her neck. “This is where the badass dragons go.”

“Huh?” Denison asked from the other line.

“Nothing!” Diem called with a grin.

She pulled the strap on her bright green bikini top tighter and narrowed her eyes on the beer table. Brooke and Haydan held up their hands and the former called out, “Ready, steady, go!”

Diem’s hands shook from nerves as Brighton took the first turn for their team. What if she fell on her face and messed up and everyone was mad at her for sucking at team sports? In her defense, dragons didn’t exactly play well with others. Or at least the Daye dragons didn’t. She was pretty sure her half-brothers would lose for their team just to be assholes.

That was the Daye way.

But she wasn’t a Daye anymore, and black bear blood ran through her veins from her mother’s side, a fact she was growing prouder of by the day. And when Drew took a turn and flipped his cup and his hand shot up in the air, well, Diem took off determined to not be the weakest link in her team’s chain. She fell stomach first onto the tarp and squinted against the flying water and bubbles to the raucous encouragement of her team behind her. They were chanting her name as she slid onto the grass and sprinted for the table. Drew murmured encouragement as she downed the beer and set her cup right side up. The first time she missed, and the second time, too, but the third time was the charm, and she shot her hand in the air as Drew grabbed her shoulders and shook her like a rag doll as he whooped. Her bones were thoroughly rattled, but nothing could touch this feeling as she watched a proud grin stretch across Bruiser’s face as he took off for the tarp.

Skyler flipped her cup a moment later and raised her hand, and the race was on between Bruiser and Kellen. Bruiser’s abs flexed with every powerful stride, and he slid onto the tarp without abandon. He and Kellen shot down it like two muscly rockets, then raced for the table. Their cups flipped on the first try and at almost the same moment, they raised their hands.

Everly was up for Diem’s team, and she cheered so loud for Brighton’s mate. She was the nicest, sweetest person Diem had ever met, and she wanted badly for Everly to be the one to shoot their team to victory.

Everly flopped off the tarp and ran for the table, chugged her beer, and flipped the cup twice before Danielle reached the table for the other team.

“Come on, Everly!” Diem cheered. “You can do it!” She grasped Bruiser’s hand and jumped up and down beside him.

Everly flipped the cup, and it wobbled, but landed a split second before Danielle’s did. The team erupted into a deafening victory cheer. Clapping, ear-splitting whistles, and she and Everly were hugging and laughing and jumping around in a circle. Bruiser picked them both up in his meaty arms like they were no bigger than toys, and when he set them down, Brighton kissed his mate until she looked drunk.

“Undefeated!” Drew yelled, pointing at Denison.

Denison flipped him off and drank another plastic cup of beer. “Rematch.”

Drew’s blond eyebrows arched high, and he spread his hands out, palm up. “Bring it, Denny boy. My team is undefeatable. We’re like a well-oiled machine!”

“Line up,” Denison called as he pointed to the start again.

Worried, Diem looked up at Bruiser. “Uh, this well-oiled machine has now had two beers in the last few minutes, and I’m feeling wobbly.”

“And that is the point of the game,” Bruiser said, then leaned forward and kissed her until she was even more unstable on her feet.

“That’s not helping,” she muttered as he laughed and pulled her toward the starting point again.

“Are you having fun?” he asked, sliding his arm over her shoulders.

Here at his side, she felt all glowy and safe. “Yeah,” she answered him breathlessly. She really, really was.

“That’s also the point of the game.”

****

After three consecutive games of Slip ’N Slide flip-cup, and after the sun had set over the Montana mountains that nestled the Asheland Mobile Park, Diem settled in with the others around the bonfire and watched fireflies lazily floating about on the breeze along the tree line. In an attempt to sober up, she’d downed a giant glass of water.

“You like your marshmallows burnt to a crisp, don’t you, D?” Bruiser asked, mischief dancing in his eyes.

She giggled and leaned back in the neon green plastic chair by the fire. “You know I do.”

“Alligator,” Denison said half-heartedly around an entire s’more. He’d been tossing out guesses all night.

“Nope.”

Brooke snickered from across the fire, and even Tagan was smiling.

“Man, Skyler already said she is a flier,” Bruiser said, shaking his head in disappointment. “Last time I checked, gators didn’t have wings. You suck at this.”

“I do not! And I’ve already guessed every flying shifter there is. Flying squirrel.”

“Nope,” Diem said. She’d tried to tell him earlier just to put him out of his misery, but Tagan had cut her off and told her to let him guess.

“There, there,” Danielle crooned as she sank onto her mate’s lap. She petted his head sympathetically and handed him another s’more.

It was a sad day to be Denison. Couldn’t guess Diem’s shifter, even though she’d already told him what she was on the first day she’d met the Ashe Crew, and then his team had lost three times in a row, a fact which Drew hadn’t stopped crowing about for the past two hours.

“You look happy,” Bruiser said as he handed her the gooey snack he’d so carefully made for her.

“I am.”

Bruiser leaned close and whispered in her ear, “Happiness is sexy on you.”

“Well, in that case”—her voice came out much huskier than she meant for it to—“I’m ridiculously happy.” She leveled him with a hint-filled stare.

Her heart pounded as she watched a sensual smile curve his lips. “Ladies and gents,” Bruiser said as she bit into her s’more. “My lady and I are done for the night.”

“Bow chicka wow wow,” Drew called.

Bruiser lifted her off the chair and tossed her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He smacked her bikini-clad butt and called over his shoulder, “Shut up, Drew.”

“If I shut up, then we’ll all hear you boinking,” Drew said with a frown.

“Plug your ears,” Diem joked around the full mouth of marshmallows and chocolate.

Bruiser’s booming laugh under her warmed her from her hairline to her toes.

At his trailer, he set her down, then picked her up like a babe and carried her across the threshold. “You sobered up yet, woman?”

“Is that what you’ve been waiting for?”

“Hell yeah, it is. I don’t want our first time to be a blurry memory for you.”

“I’m mostly sober.”

“Mmm, shower first then. I’ll wash you up with that fruity body wash and hoity-toity squishy loofah sponge I found hanging in your shower this morning.”

She snorted. “Don’t hate on my bath essentials, Mr. Keller. I like to smell good.”

“Well, I like the way you smell right now.”

“I smell like dirt and beer,” she argued, pointing to a mud stain across her abdomen to highlight her point.

“No,” he said, sucking on her bottom lip. “You smell like s’mores and campfire smoke and piney earth.

Oh. Well, that actually sounded kind of nice with him saying it all low like that.

“And arousal,” he added.

“That’s embarrassing.”

“Why?” he asked against her lips as he reached into the front of her bikini bottoms.

A slick sound filled the air as he pushed his finger slowly into her.

“And anyways, that’s your fault for walking around all night in your swim trunks that show off those creases of muscle over your hips bones, your eight-pack abs, sexy chest, and muscly arms. The arousal smell is unavoidable if you set out to seduce me like that.”

Bruiser’s lips turned up in a smile against her neck as he kissed her. “You think it’s been easy for me?” he murmured against her skin. “Watching you in that sexy two-piece, the outline of those perfect tits right there for me to see, and all that creamy skin I can’t get enough of? I’ve been rockin’ a boner since you came out of the trailer in that swimsuit, D.”

“For me?”

“Of course, for you. You’re sexy as hell. You’re beautiful, yeah, but it’s more than that. Your personality makes me want you even more. Confidence sure looks good on you, woman.”

Diem slid her arms around his neck and tried to steady her shuddering breath. “I don’t want to take a shower.” Before she could talk herself out of her boldness, she leaned up on her toes and kissed him.

And when he leaned into her to deepen that kiss, she brushed her tongue against the closed seam of his mouth. That soft growl she was growing to love rattled his chest, and she pulled her hand down across the warm, smooth skin to feel it against her palm—that small sound of satisfaction. She’d done that.

He opened his lips and allowed her to brush her tongue against his. With a helpless sound deep in his throat, Bruiser lifted the backs of her knees until he was nestled between her thighs, then he walked her backward toward his bedroom.

Desperate to feel all of his skin against hers, Diem untied the drawstring of his swim trunks and pushed them down his legs. Bruiser seemed just as thirsty for her skin when he tugged the string of her bikini, then plucked her bottoms off and tossed both pieces to the floor. For a moment, he seemed stunned, staring wide-eyed at her body. There wasn’t much light in here, only the soft illumination from the kitchen, but her skin was pale and glowed like a bug light in the dark. She used to be self-conscious about it, but reflected in Bruiser’s dark eyes, she looked quite different. Pretty, even.

“I don’t know how I got so lucky,” he murmured, settling over her.

And she understood. He’d made a deal for her hand in marriage, and by all accounts, this shouldn’t have worked. They shouldn’t have clicked like this. Father had made a mistake giving her to the Ashe Crew for protection because now, she had for a shot at living a happy life, and there would be no more dragons.

It seemed fate had slapped his hand for mistreating his kin.

“I’m the lucky one,” she whispered.

BOOK: Axman Werebear (Saw Bears Book 5)
4.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Unknown Spy by Eoin McNamee
The Snow Kimono by Mark Henshaw
China Blues by David Donnell
Land of Heart's Desire by Catherine Airlie