Hard (The Bear Chronicles of Willow Creek #2) (13 page)

She lays a trail of kisses from my chin to my ear. “Thank you, baby. I’m glad I finally decided to talk to you about this. It’s been hard keeping it to myself all this time. I’ve never even told Amelia because I didn’t want her to stay behind just to protect me. I knew how important it was to both of us that she leave.”

Yawning, she snuggles into me and says, “I didn’t get much sleep last night. How about taking a nap with me?”

My dick goes hard at the thought of being inside of her again, but I shake my head no. “I can’t, Angel. I’ve gotta go out of town for a little while.”

“What?” she asks, jerking back to look me in the eyes. “You’re leaving? Why the hell didn’t you say anything before?”

I nod, hoping I can tell her just enough to put her mind at ease and keep from lying to her. Lying to your mate is nearly impossible. It causes pain so excruciating that it often forces a shift that does not end for days. I will not allow that to happen, though. No, this son of a bitch has to be stopped right now.

“Yeah, I have some business to take care of for Ethan,” I say, skirting the truth. 

Ethan knows what I’m doing and completely agrees with it. If it wasn’t for fear of leaving the women alone, he would be at my side. In fact, I had to argue with that ass to let me go alone in the first place. He thought that as leader, he should be the one to deal with Mr. Adams, but I wasn’t having that. I reminded him that it was my mate who had to live in fear of her foster father, not his. After some bitching, he finally agreed.

“How long will you be gone?” she asks, narrowing her eyes. 

Running a hand through her dark hair, I reply, “Two days at the most. If I’m lucky, I’ll be home in the morning. Trust me, I won’t even be gone long enough for you to miss me.”

“Yeah, I don’t know about that one,” she grumbles. “I’ve never been apart from you for more than a few hours at a time when you go to work or something. I don’t like not being able to go to you if I need to.”

Releasing a sigh, I pull her toward me and begin to run my fingers through her hair in the way I know relaxes her. “I know, Liza. I don’t like it either, but I won’t be gone for even twenty-four hours. I swear, I’ll be back before you realize it.”

My flight leaves late this afternoon, and I’ll arrive in Chicago tonight. My plans are to go straight to his house and pull his ass out of bed. If all goes well, I will be done and on the first flight back in the morning. If not, I may have to wait until tomorrow to talk to the bastard. If so, I’ll make his ass pay for keeping me away from my mate. 

Liza snuggles into me, laying her head on my chest. “I don’t like the idea of being without you. I doubt I’ll even be able to sleep without having you in bed beside me.”

Being mates, any separation is hard. Being separated while we are freshly bonded is even harder. If this was anything else, I would put it on the back burner, but this can’t wait. Even one day could be too damn long. I can’t take the chance of that fucker laying his hands on a young girl, especially one that means so damn much to my mate. 

“I don’t even want to think about going to sleep without you. It’s just as hard on me to be separated from you. I need you more than you’ll ever realize.” I smile down at her, my first true smile of the day. “But, this is something I have to do.”

“Can you tell me what that something is?” she asks, an edge to her voice as if she knows I’m hiding something from her. “Or am I the little woman that’s not supposed to ask questions?”

I can hear the anger in her voice and know she’s about to blow. Still, I can’t hold in my chuckle. I never would have thought that a feisty woman like her would be the mate for me. She is, though; she’s every damn thing I’ve ever dreamed about. 

“I can’t lie to you, Liza,” I explain, hoping she will understand. “But, I’m asking you not to question me. You’ll know everything as soon as I get back. For now, you just have to trust me. I’m trying to do the right thing here.”

Her body goes taut for a second before she nods her head against my chest. “You better tell me everything as soon as you get back.”

Placing a kiss on the top of her head, I make her a promise. “I will.”

“So, how soon are you leaving?” she asks, trying and failing miserably to hold in her pouty bottom lip.

Laughing, I lean forward and give it a gentle nip. “None of that now, Angel. I feel bad enough as it is without you pulling the pouty routine out.”

“I so am not pouting right now, Eli. Don’t give yourself that much credit,” she says with a frown upon her gorgeous face.

“Don’t give myself that much credit, eh? Did I not just listen to you whine for over five minutes about me leaving you behind? I’m pretty damn sure I need to be giving myself more credit.”

Punching me in the shoulder, she just shakes her head and crosses her arms, refusing to look at me as she continues to pout.

Ha, yeah, I am so not falling for this little routine of hers. It may work on Amelia, but there’s no way it’s going to work on me. Lucky for me, I know exactly how to distract her and get her mind off of things.

Deciding to act quickly, I lunge at her and tackle her to the couch, causing a shrill little scream to leave her lips in surprise.

“What the hell, Eli,” she shouts. “What was that for?”

“That’s because you’re still pouting. And this,” I say as I grind my hard-on into her center, “is what I’m going to use to turn that frown upside down.”

As soon as the words leave my mouth, she begins to giggle, giving me the exact reaction I was hoping for.

Leaning down, I devour her mouth in a searing kiss. “Now, are you ready to find out just how much I can distract you in the five minutes before I need to leave?”

Chapter Eighteen



the back deck, I look around the yard and can’t quite keep the happy sigh from leaving my lips. Never in all my life, not even when my parents were alive, have I ever lived anywhere so beautiful. Not only is Ethan’s log cabin gorgeous, its surrounding is absolutely surreal. With its knotted pines and weeping willows, the back yard looks like something from a movie. 

I watch as a squirrel runs from one tree to the next, and I say, “It’s so beautiful back here. I love just sitting out here wasting the day away.”

“Me too,” my sister says with a smile on her face. “It’s my favorite place in the entire house. I’ve loved sitting back here ever since the first day I arrived, but I love it even more now that you are here to share it with me.”

I’m about to reply, when my phone rings. Seeing a number I don’t recognize, I shrug my shoulders and answer it. “Hello.”

“Oh my God. Oh my God,” Natalie chants into the phone before letting out a loud scream. “I love your husband.”

“I don’t have a husband,” I reply with a confused shake of my head. “Whose phone are you calling from?”

She lets out another excited squeal. “It’s mine. It’s the new iPhone, and I can call you as much as I want. We can talk for hours.”

Growing even more confused with each word that leaves her mouth, I do my best to get her to calm down. “Okay, Nat, honey. You need to tell me what is going on, without blowing out my eardrums with your screams.”

“Your husband showed up here early this morning. He gave…”

I cut her off, wanting to make sure I understand what she’s saying. “Husband? Do you mean Eli?”

What in the world would he be doing there? The second I ask myself that question, I know the answer. He went after Mr. Adams. Considering that Natalie isn’t crying, I can only assume he didn’t kill the old bastard nor bring out his bear to scare him. Thank God for that. 

“Yes,” she screams again. “He told me he was your mate. I figured that was slang for husband. I can’t believe you didn’t tell me you got married.”

She ends on a pout, so I know I have to smooth this over before she has one of her tween fits. “We’re not married yet, but he did ask me to marry him.”

“That’s wonderful. He is so amazing,” she says, talking so fast I can barely understand her. “He’s really cute, too, if you like those rough-looking kinds of guys. He kinda looks like the bad guy in that movie we went to see right before you left.”

Wanting to get back on track, I try to lead the conversation in the direction I want it to go. “So, Eli went to Chicago.”

“Yeah,” she says, dragging the word out. 

“What happened while he was there?” I ask, wanting to know everything. 

“You will never believe what he did. He just walked in while we were all sitting at the table eating breakfast. He didn’t even knock,” Natalie explains, still talking a mile a minute. “He came right up to Mr. Adams and dragged him out back. Mrs. Adams was screaming like a mad woman. She even called 911 and told them we were being robbed.”

Oh, fuck! Please tell me Eli isn’t in jail. I would never forgive myself if he got in trouble for me. Not to mention, his father would never grow to like me if Eli ended up in jail because of me. My body is shaking so badly at the thought; I nearly drop the phone but catch it just before it slips from my fingers. 

Before I can ask what happened, Natalie goes on. “They stayed out back for about fifteen minutes then came back in like nothing ever happened. When the cops got here, Mr. Adams told them it was a misunderstanding.”

Letting out a relieved breath, I ask, “What happened then?”

“Eli took me into the living room and gave me the new phone. He said I could call you anytime I want, and that if Mr. Adams even looked at me wrong, I was to call him immediately. He asked me to wait until after five to call you, and then he just left. It was so damn cool,” she says, her voice filled with excitement.

Tears prickle my eyes as I realize what my man did for me. He put himself on the line to protect a girl he didn’t even know, just to make me happy. 

 Just as a sob works its way up my throat, Eli steps out onto the back deck and smiles at me. “I’m home, babe.”

Forgetting about Natalie, I let the phone drop to the deck and jump from my seat. Running to him, I throw myself in his arms and say, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Angel. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you what I was planning before, but I couldn’t sit here even a moment longer with that disgusting prick thinking he was getting away with his shit.”

“I know. I get it. I don’t really like the fact that you lied and snuck around behind my back, but I understand the reason behind those things now.”

“What’s going on, guys?” Amelia asks, coming up from behind us. Hell, I’d totally forgotten about her being out here with me. Regardless of whether or not Mr. Adams is going to keep his dick in his pants from here on out, I still don’t want Amelia to know what was going on.

Looking up at Eli, I give a subtle shake of my head, hoping he picks up on what I’m silently trying to convey to him. “Uh, nothing. Eli was in Chicago for work and he stopped by our old house and gave Nat a new phone so that she can call me anytime she wants.”

“Oh, that’s awesome. Now you can do more than just text. I know how much you’ve been missing her.”

Snuggling into Eli’s side, I nod my head in agreement. “Yeah, texting just isn’t the same when you’re used to talking to the person every day.”

Walking toward the back door, Amelia gives Eli a pat on the arm as she goes by. “Well, Eli, I guess you really are a keeper.”

Quirking a brow at my sister, she just laughs and walks into the house, closing the door behind her. “You hear that, Angel? I’m a keeper,” Eli says with a chuckle.

“Oh, I heard it all right, but that’s not the only thing you are.”

“Oh, right. We can’t forget about the fact that I’m the best fuck you’ve ever had.”

Shaking my head, I give his ass a playful slap before turning to follow Amelia into the house.

Lord, what have I gotten myself into?

Chapter Nineteen



sure this is what you want?” my father asks as he looks in the mirror and straightens his tie for the tenth time.

My father may still grumble about me marrying Liza, but he’s not necessarily unhappy about it either. He thinks of her as a daughter, and he’s ready for grandchildren, even if they are half human. He’s sure the shifter side will win out. If not, he says it won’t be so bad having a few little humans following him around. Honestly, I think we can both thank Liza for his new way of thinking. I really don’t think he would have been this easy to handle before the grief counselling.

 “I’ve never been surer of anything in my life,” I admit, grabbing the door handle. “Come on, old man. We’re gonna be late.”

Walking out of Ethan’s cabin, I make it to the back yard in time to see the preacher taking his place. My father lifts his chin to me before patting me on the back and walking back toward the house. I nod my head at the guests as I walk to the front, meeting Ethan beside the preacher. 

My cousin similes at me and says, “Are you ready for this?”

Repeating my words from earlier, I tell him, “Never been more ready for anything in my life.”

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