Read Sassy Ever After: Kiss My Sass (Kindle Worlds Novella) Online
Authors: Serena Pettus
? Did that fucker just fart at us?” Luke gagged.
“Damn it! I had my mouth open,” he coughed, spitting on the ground.
At any other time, Luke would have found the situation hilarious, but his wolf was urging him to get to Ashe.
“Fuck it, forget that gas bag, we need to find Ashe and the baby, something’s wrong.”
Without waiting, Luke took off again. He was just coming to the edge of the trees when the scent of fresh blood tickled his senses.
Up ahead, he saw Ashe by her car with the backdoor open. She appeared to be trying to get Lilly out, but he could scent her distress. Her head rose as she glanced their way.
Luke was about to call out to her when the baby began to cry, and he watched, heart nearly stopping, as Ashe collapsed.
At a dead run he rounded the SUV, trying to assess the situation as quickly as possible. Ashe was crumpled on the ground, the scent of her blood nearly driving his wolf insane.
All the beast knew was that their mate was injured, but the man was in control and would do his damnedest to treat the injury until he could get her to proper medical treatment.
Scooping her up in his arms, he turned to see Benson standing there, eyes wide.
“Grab the baby, I’m taking her inside.”
“Luke, her leg…”
“I know, just grab her daughter and
Carefully, Luke made it up the steps and into the house. His anxiety ramping up as he saw the amount of blood trailed across the porch and just inside the door. Her leg was bad, the skin having clearly been slashed by the badger’s claws. There was no way she’d come out of the attack without a permanent scar as a reminder. For that alone, Luke would hunt that bastard down and kill him.
Inside, the smell of pepper was burning his sensitive nose, but he could still detect the badger as well, and his wolf growled. It had been inside her home. Was it waiting for her?
Luke was about to settle her on the couch when Benson came in with a very upset little girl in his arms.
“Take her to the bathroom. Her leg needs to be cleaned and the tub will be the easiest and fastest way to do that. There’s no telling what that furry fuck had his claws in before he got her, and we don’t want those gashes getting infected.”
Looking around, he headed to the door he assumed would lead to the restroom. Sure enough, it was the room he needed, but getting in there was going to be a feat.
“If you can sit on the toilet, I’ll be able to rinse her leg with the shower head. We need to get the dried blood and dirt off and see just how bad it is,” Benson said from behind him. “Lilly is calm now and I’ll set her in her swing right here so we can see her at all times.” He indicated the doorway as the spot for the swing, and then disappeared from sight.
Trusting him to get the baby settled, Luke moved forward, sitting down slowly, trying not to jostle Ashe or bump her leg on anything. Not that it mattered because cleaning those scratches was going to
Even with the blood and dirt he could tell they were deep. “We need to get her to a hospital,” Luke told Benson when he returned.
“We will.” Benson crouched down, rummaging through the cabinet under her sink before pulling out a bottle of peroxide. “This will have to do for now.”
Ashe groaned, shifting in Luke’s arms. “Lilly?”
“Shhh,” Luke whispered by her ear. “We’re here. The two of you are safe. I won’t let anything happen to either of you.” He felt her relax against him and relished the feeling. True, she was likely still reeling from everything, but having her so close calmed him in a way he’d never felt before. “Ashe, we’ve go to clean your leg up some before we drive back to the clinic in town. This is going to hurt, so be ready, okay?”
At her nod, Benson added, “I’m going to take your shoe off.”
Luke knew his friend was being as gentle as possible, but when he felt her tense in his lap his wolf managed to sneak a growl past his control.
Ashe’s eyes flew open at the sound. “Wh-what was that?” she gasped.
Benson’s big hand settled on her thigh, and Luke struggled not to snarl.
“Calm down, we don’t want to upset Lilly. She’s in her swing in the doorway, and watching us. Nothing is going to hurt you,” Benson soothed.
“But I heard a growl,” Ashe explained with a hitch in her voice. “There was an animal in the house. Some kind of gigantic badger I think. It-it scratched me after I pepper sprayed it.”
Luke took her hand. “He got you good too, so we need to get it cleaned up some and then we’ll take you to the doctor in town. You may need stitches.”
Even with her expression pinched from pain, she was still beautiful. Her long chestnut hair was in wild disarray, almost like she’d just rolled out of bed. Eyes the color of fine whiskey peered up at him and he smiled.
“I might scream,” she whispered.
“Um, okay. Not what I was expecting,” Luke admitted.
Benson chuckled. “I won’t lie, this will probably burn like hell.”
“It already feels like my leg is on fire.”
“These scratches look pretty nasty, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, this has to be done, but we’ll use cool water to rinse it off first,” Benson told her. “I’m going to lift your leg over the tub and take your sock and shoe off first. We’ll get it rinsed, then pour some hydrogen peroxide over it, and wrap a towel around your leg for the ride to the clinic. Sound like a plan?”
“Actually, it sounds like torture, but let’s get it over with,” she grumbled.
Luke watched as Benson carefully placed her lower leg into the tub before slipping her shoe and sock off. Sure enough, Ashe tensed, her body shuddering in his arms. He had to admit, he was impressed. His mate clenched her teeth and breathed through the pain, and he had no doubt she did so to avoid stressing her child.
When Benson was done, he wrapped a towel around her leg, and Ashe slumped back against Luke’s chest. “Thank God that’s over,” she sighed.
“I’ll go grab the things from the car, and set the baby swing in the living room,” Benson offered, stepping out of the bathroom. “The scratches are deep, but I don’t think they’ll need stitches. I’ve got some bandage strips at home that are used to hold cuts together, I’ll go grab them and we’ll close them up better so you won’t have a bad scar. How does that sound?”
“Perfect. Thank you
much. You guys have gone above and beyond for me, and I don’t know how to repay you.”
“Well,” Luke cut in, “I have a confession to make.” When she cast a suspicious glance up at him, he quickly explained. “I was needing to talk to you anyway. The thing is, I’m a friend of Matt’s. I was in town trying to locate you, but then I just kind of ran into you at the store.”
“Wait. You know Matt? Is he in town?”
“Luke, perhaps this conversation should take place sitting on a sofa verses a toilet.” Benson raised his hands. “Just a suggestion.”
As much as he hated to admit it, Benson was right.
, damn it! He lifted a sputtering Ashe and carried her out.
“Put me down! I’m too heavy to be toting around. I can walk,” Ashe insisted.
“Your leg is hurt, you would limp, not walk, and how do you think you got in the house anyway?” Okay, it came out kind of dick-ish, but he was majorly stressing about how he was going to break this news to her. She’d seemed excited at the possibility of Matt being in the area. Could it be she loved him?
Luke wasn’t sure how this was going to play out in the end, but he knew that he couldn’t possibly endure trying to woo a woman who was hung up on his dead best friend. Christ, if his mate was in love with Matt, then could she
love him too?
He settled her on the cushions, offering her a sheepish smile. “Sorry about that. I’m just nervous.”
“Well, if that’s the case, then the news can’t be good.”
Luke looked to Benson as he walked through the room with grocery bags and continued on into the kitchen. Thanks to his enhanced hearing, Luke didn’t miss Benson’s whispered, “Gently, man.”
Was there really any way to do this gently? Hell, if he were giving this information to a man, he’d just lay it on him. Like ripping off a bandage. Women were different though, more delicate and easily broken. Emotional.
“Listen, I get that you guys are probably friends of his, I can pick up on the whole military vibe. What you need to understand is what we had was a
. Yes, there’s a baby between us now, but I never intended to hunt him down for money or anything. Keeping her was my decision. I only wanted to give him the chance to know his daughter and be in her life if he wanted to. If he sent you two to tell me that he wanted to continue on as a bachelor, then just come out with it. I’m a big girl, I can take it.”
Her face was set and determined, it was her eyes that gave her away. Luke could see the fear of rejection lurking. Maybe it was that Lilly could potentially grow up without a father that played a part in it, but Luke could see through her bravado.
Sitting on the coffee table in front of her, he uttered the words he knew would destroy all the hopes she was harboring of Matt’s return. “He was killed in the line of duty, Ashe. You were never contacted because you weren’t listed on any of his paperwork with the military. He had told me about you and the baby, and I promised that I would come find you and make sure that the two of you were all right.” Luke sighed, scrubbing his hand over his face. “I’m so sorry.”
She just sat there, her face blank, eyes unblinking, and it was scaring the shit out of him. He could scent a sea of emotions within her, but there was no outside indication of which one might win. Anger, sorrow, love and worry all swirled around her like an emotional storm.
Benson came back into the room with a glass of ice water, handing it to Luke with a nod towards the silent woman before him. “Ashe, here, take a drink of this.”
“Is that vodka?” she asked, her voice falling flat.
Luke was taken aback. “Uh, it’s water.”
She shook her head and finally looked at him. Her eyes were welling up with tears and his gut clenched. “Water’s not going to cut it,” she sobbed.
He couldn’t help it. Luke put the glass down on the table and scooped her into his lap again, cradling her and rocking gently as she cried, morning the loss of her former lover and the father of her child. There was nothing to really say that would make any part of the situation easier, so he offered the only kind of support he could.
Lilly, obviously sensing her mother’s distress began to whimper from her swing. Ashe sat up in Luke’s lap, and then rose to stumble over and collect her child. He let her go, but was ready to catch her should she need it.
Seeing her with Lilly in her arms, knowing that she was his mate, and holding the last living piece of his best friend did something to Luke. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt at peace. Like he and his wolf were finally…
Only, it was just the most fucked up homecoming in history.
When she came back over and reclaimed her place on the sofa, she took the afghan off the back and draped it across her and Lilly. It only took him a second to realize she was about to feed the baby, and Luke quickly got up to give her some privacy.
“You don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to,” Ashe told him, her red-rimmed eyes locking on his. “I’m sure you’ve seen a boob or two in your lifetime, and I had some more questions if you don’t mind them.” Her smile was forced, but he was glad to see it.
Truth was, he had seen more than his fair share of tits, but he never expected to be called out on it by a breastfeeding mother. He could hear Benson chuckling from the kitchen, and figured he’d get him back later.
Moving to the chair nearby, Luke waited for her to get situated, and actually took a moment to look around. Her home was very cozy, with lots of pictures and warm colors. It was obviously a family home and a happy one at that. It was no wonder she’d come back to it once Lilly had been born.
“Will you tell me what happened?” she asked softly.
Looking over, Luke could see the baby’s tiny legs peeking out from under the blanket. Legs that would one day run as a wolf. Now, however, was not the time to deliver that news.
“What would you like to know?” He’d rather spare her the gory details if he could. There was no way he wanted to add fuel to her nightmares. Lord knew she’d had enough events in the day to keep them going for a while.
“How did you know each other?”
“He was my best friend. His mother married into our Pa-, um, family, and we were born about six months apart, so we grew up together.” And there went his first slip up. He’d have to be more careful. She wouldn’t understand what a Pack was, let alone how it was like an extended family. “We did everything together. Once we graduated high school, we decided to join the military and see where that took us. Neither one of us was ready to settle down then, and we were itching for an adventure.”
“Two teenage boys fresh out of school? You don’t say,” she laughed.
“Says the girl who went traipsing all over the US after graduating college. That wouldn’t happen to be
adventure, hmmm?” he shot back, quirking a brow.