Liam's Bride: BBW Werebear Romance (Clan Conroy Brides Book 1) (8 page)

 

 

 

“It’s good.”

Meredith turned, straightening from her crouch where she’d been carefully packing the few remaining jars of salsa and preserves. Liam stood at the table, a sample spoon in his mouth.

“The teenagers make it every Friday evening,” she said, keeping her voice even. She couldn’t help how her heart spiked from the sight of him, how her core dampened, clamoring to take him behind one of the old brick buildings and… show him her vegetables.

His nostrils flared, eyes paling to a warm amber. “How many jars can they produce a week?”

She struggled to think. “We do twenty of each flavor. There’s three flavors of salsa and three jams- one of them being a savory jam.”

“I might be interested in carrying a line in the restaurant.”

Her eyes widened, and she grinned. Brick bounded over, back from her trip with another student to the rented U-Haul.

“’Sup, Mr. Conroy,” the girl greeted. She glanced at the jar in his hand. “Good, huh? You should serve it with chips in your restaurant on like a southwestern night or something. Instead of bread, you know?”

Liam looked at Brick thoughtfully. “I was discussing something similar with your teacher,” he replied. “That isn’t a bad idea.” He looked at Meredith, lifting the jar. “I’ll take whatever you have leftover.”

She licked her lips. “No charge. Consider it samples. For a future order.”

He titled his head, studying her with glowing were eyes. What was he feeling, thinking, that made his shifter nature so… evident… at the moment?

“Hmm. That wouldn’t be fair. I’ll take one of each flavor as a sample, and the rest I’ll pay retail for.”

“Take one of each as a sample,” she countered, “and the rest at wholesale. You should pass out samples to your customers, see if they like it before you place an order.”

She folded her arms.

He smiled at her, a slow, masculine expression filled with a heat that struck a chord deep in her body. Ringing bells.

“Tell you what. We’ll do it your way- but there’s a price.”

She watched him warily. “A price.”

“A kiss.”

Meredith tensed. His kisses weren’t nearly as benign as he made them sound. One kiss would leave her achy with need the rest of the damn day. And all night, until she was one thought away from texting him. And she’d never engaged in a late night booty call in her life. She blushed. Dark eyes watched her, knowing.

“Come here, Meredith.”

“There’s people around.”

“I’ll be quick.”

Her feet took her to him before her mind could agree. Traitors. He didn’t wait for permission, wrapping a strong hand around the back of her neck, soft lisp descending on hers in a deep, drugging kiss. Stealing her breath, her will to resist.

“I’ll let you know what they think,” he said, pulling away.

“I’ll box them up for you,” Brick said, making Meredith jump. She hadn’t realized the girl was behind her.

“Oh! Yes- um. That would be… good.”

Brick snorted, muttering under her breath. She jerked her head at one of the other students, a young man with a wide grin on his face. The color on Meredith’s cheeks deepened. It was all she could do to make her feet move and help them; to break the forbidden spell of Liam Conroy and this strange attraction between them.

She hauled the second to last box into her arms, having shooed Liam away minutes ago. This was her work- she didn't need him being all He-Bear on her like she wasn’t capable of moving her own stock. Though his old-fashioned insistence was nice, along with the disgruntled though gentlemanly deference to her wishes when he finally gave up and let her carry her own boxes.

The sound of glass shattering jerked her attention back to present time. She turned, glimpsing Brick’s pale face before the girl burst into action, cleaning up the handful of jars she’d just dropped.

“No matter,” Meredith said, crouching down to help with the glass. She glanced at the girl again, sunny smile fading. “Brick, it’s just a few jars of preserves. It’s okay.”

The teenager shook her head. “I know. I’m cool.”

Meredith sat back on her haunches. “You don’t look cool. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

But she saw the teenager’s eyes flick over her shoulder, then jerk back down to the ground. She cut her finger picking up glass, letting out a string of curses.

“Brick,” Meredith said, reproving.

“What, what? Jesus. It’s just cuss words.”

She opened her mouth to reply, but the girl cut her off, rising. “I said I’m fine!”

Meredith didn’t think so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER

8

 

 

 

 

 

Meredith pressed Accept on her cell. Assigning Liam a ringtone she knew was a sign things were becoming serious. Still, most days shadowed her emotions as they dated, seeing each other nearly every evening and sometimes during the day, for the last two weeks.

"Hi."

"Sweetheart."

It warmed her when he called her that. Warmed her better than the sticky toffee pudding he'd made them for dessert the other night. She'd brought her five cheese and mushroom macaroni to his house. They'd taken to eating at least one meal together a day, even if it was just a quick sandwich at the Y. She saw him on site often, even heard him bellowing through the ruckus of the demo. She stayed outside as much as possible, and was relieved he wasn’t touching her office to redecorate. At least not yet.

"Come camping with me tonight."

"Camping?" Not that she wasn’t an outdoorsy kind of girl. But camping meant sleeping overnight, and that meant dark and privacy and a fluffy sleeping bag under a cozy tent... she licked her lips.

"Umm... who's doing the cooking?"

"Hebrew National, baby. Hebrew National."

It sounded delicious. "Okay."

"Do I need to bring two tents?" The soft promise in his voice shivered over her spine. Was she ready? When she was near him, it was all she could do to step back, to not tear off their clothes and fuck him senseless. But when she was in her right mind, she had to consider the consequences. To her heart. But damn, she was tired of being cautious.

"No. One is fine."

And as soon as she said the words, Meredith knew he would never let her take them back.

"Good.” Warm, dark approval. “I'll pick you up?"

"No, I can meet you at the campsite."

"Meredith." The steel in his tone chased away the shivers. "I'll pick you up."

She closed her eyes, stifling a curse. Fine. She'd just have to make sure Harvey left soon.

 

 

 

“Dad, is there somewhere I can drop you off? How’s the job hunt going?”

He looked up from the paper he was reading, uncomfortable with cruising Craigslist and the local want ads via internet.

“The program I’m in has a few leads for me.”

She sat down at the table, forcing herself to be patient. It helped that the looming, angry, stressed man of her memories was absent in this average height, lean person with his soft voice and steady eyes.

“Is there somewhere you need to go?” she repeated, glancing at the DVR clock. Liam would be here soon, and it was getting harder and harder to keep him out of her apartment. She could tell from the raised eyebrow and slight frown he was trying to decide if she was keeping something from him.

She was, but not quite what any normal male would think she was keeping a secret.

“Thing is, Dad, I have a guest coming by to pick me up and, well…” Meredith felt a moment of discomfort. Her reluctance to hurt his feelings disturbed her sense of justice. Since when did the feelings of a killer matter?

“Who’s this guest?” Harvey asked. “A friend?”

“Yes, a friend, and he’ll be here soon-”

“He?” Harvey smiled, a rare occurrence, leaning an arm on the table. “Maybe I should meet him at the door then. Give him a look over.”

She stared at him, half charitable mood evaporating. The image of the protective father with a shotgun ruined her mood.

“I don’t think that’s necessary.” She paused, asking her mother to forgive her. “Have you talked to Mom yet? I told her you were staying with me- she didn’t say anything but I think she’d like to see you.” Kathy had never remarried. Never had much to say about Harvey at all.

He rose from the table, rolling up the newspaper. “Alright, sweetheart. I’ll clear out so you don’t have to explain your ex-convict Dad to your man.”

Her lips thinned. He made it sound petty and inconsiderate.

“I’ll introduce you if it gets serious, okay? I just don’t think I should spring all my drama on him this early on.”

“Makes sense.” He hesitated, stooped slightly and kissed her on the forehead. “Enjoy yourself, Mere, and be careful.”

He left out the door with his prepaid dollar store phone and a thin wallet, Meredith letting out a breath of relief. Then saw the clock and realized she was cutting it close.

 

 

 

Meredith walked out of her apartment as soon as he pulled up, a small backpack slung over her shoulder. Walked fast. Liam’s eyes narrowed. Not for the first time he wondered at her secret. He knew it wasn’t simple vanity, like she’d claimed. Anger welled; he banished the emotion as ridiculous. There was no way she lived with another man; he refused to believe he was that bad a judge of character.

Her chili paste hair spilled in loose waves over her shoulders. As usual, green eyes looked at him through a half suspicious, half slumberous expression that kept him walking around with a perpetual hard on.

Not any longer. He’d given her time. Given her space to run away. She hadn’t. He would make her his and ignore any more girly protests short of an actual ‘no.’ The faded jeans she wore hugged her hips, coyly demure with the deep v of her t-shirt, showing off more cleavage than he was comfortable letting his woman display. Her body was made for fucking, made for bearing his cubs. Made for him, the perfect armful of lush, sensual woman.

"Don’t you have a sweater to put on?" he asked. The words just spilled out of his mouth without him editing for tone. He didn’t want her to think he was unhappy with her appearance... he was just unhappy with so
much
of her appearance on display where other unmated males might bump into them.

She stopped in front of him, eyes narrowed. "What's wrong with what I have on?"

Shit. He knew that tone. "Nothing, sweetheart. I just don’t want to have to kill a man for looking at what belongs to me."

Meredith stared at him. "That's ridiculous. That would never happen."

He bared his teeth at her. The creamy rose gold flesh swelled as she inhaled with irritation. Damn. He wanted to sink his face between the globes, tear off the shirt and bra and find out the color of her nipples. Fuck her plump ass from behind with his hands full of her breasts.

The little human took a step back, something flickering in her eyes. Not quite fear, but a feminine wariness. Yes. She should be wary. Very wary. He was no tame Alpha for her to play games with.

"I- I'll go grab a summer cardigan."

Wise.

 

 

 

Meredith watched Liam from the corner of her eyes. He wasn’t in a bad mood, necessarily. But a tension rode him that hadn't been there when he'd pulled up. She'd seen him from her door, big body relaxed, a smile hovering on his lips. It was only when she came close that the smile disappeared, his hot dark eyes glued to her chest. If he was anyone else, she would have slapped him. The thoughts behind the stare... she shuddered, wondering if she would even get a hot dog tonight. Or if she was the menu.

She cleared her throat. "So... how was the restaurant today?" He'd mentioned earlier he’d be working a few hours though the schedule had him off. He’d mentioned, mouth quirked in wry humor, that his sister insisted he start leaving the staff in peace at least one day per week.

Liam glanced at her. "Small talk won't handle me, sweetheart. Only one thing will."

Well... that was clear enough. "Are we going to set up camp right away?"

He growled, and muttered something under his breath.

"What? Liam, did you just say-"

"That we might not make it to the camp site? You heard me." His teeth flashed. "Your hearing is getting much better. After tonight it will continue to improve."

What the hell did that mean? Did he think his cock was so magical it would give her new sense or something? Meredith blushed, feeling irritated she was such a Mary Sue that thinking the word 'cock' brought heat to her cheeks.

"A quarter for your thoughts," he purred. A Bear.

"It's a penny for your thoughts."

"Inflation, sweetheart."

They pulled into the campsite, a national park reserve right off the highway. Small campers and SUV's snuggled into slots. Children played on a small swingset near the edge of the lake. Meredith expected him to stop in one of the numbered slots, but he continued to drive up the narrow, winding dirt path.

"Where are we going?"

"The Den has land rights for private campgrounds a ways up. It's more private."

And, from the tone of his voice, they would need privacy. There was no actual slot to park in. He found a space of cleared land and sat the SUV there. Silence descended when the engine shut off. Meredith burst into motion, throwing off her seatbelt and hopping out of the car.

"What a nice day out. Is there a restroom near here or do we have to hike back down to the campgrounds? My, isn't it nice to have a bit of quiet."

She heard the driver door slam and the subtle brush of fabric against... what kind of metal were cars constructed from anyway? Or were they plastic? Not like the good old days, huh, where everything was made in the U.S.A. and-

"Meredith."

She jumped, shut her mouth, realizing she was babbling, even her thoughts were babbling. Could thoughts babble? The heat of his body pressed against her back as strong arms wrapped around her. His body tensed and for a split second she thought he would push her onto her hands and knees, pull down her pants and plunge into her body. The hard length of him against her back, his hands brushing the undersides of her breasts, was proof enough of his intentions.

But after a second, tension eased.

"What are we going to do?" she asked, voice barely above a whisper.

Liam's breath caressed her ear as he kissed the lobe. "Whatever you want, sweetheart. I know you want. Need. I can smell your desire."

How mortifying. How arousing. She closed her eyes, hands rising to grip his wrists. Imagining those hands on her, the small of her back arched, an involuntary movement that sent the curve of her full bottom ever tighter against his cock. She couldn’t help herself, some female instinct took over. Rubbing against him, pulling his hands to cup her breasts, wanting to feel the clever fingers pluck her nipples. Pluck her clit, sink into her pussy and fuck her until she came, and then wash rinse repeat with his cock.

Liam hissed, hands grasping flesh. He pulled away from her. "Wait, damnit, wait. Let me set up camp first."

Meredith allowed him to pull away, a slow smile on her lips. He sounded shaken, the words coming from between gritted teeth. She turned, watching as he avoided her eyes and headed to the trunk of the SUV.

He made short work of setting up the tent and sleeping bags. He also set out a small folding table and brought out supplies, including a portable grill. And more food than the two of them could possible eat on their own.

"Are we expecting company?" she asked him. "I thought it was just me and you."

His head turned towards her. Coal dark eyes speared her, though when he replied his voice was calm. "It’s just you and me, but once we start cooking, others may smell and come investigate."

Meredith thought it was an interesting facet of their culture that he would pack food with the possibility of feeding unexpected guests in mind.

"Oh. Well. Maybe we shouldn't- do anything..." her voice trailed off as Liam rose, crossing the distance in a few graceful, lumbering steps. He swung her up into his arms, ignoring her small squeal of surprise. She was no tiny girl. He handled her as if she weighed nothing. Eyes devoured her as if she was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen.

His expression did that to her, released an inner sensuality kept under lock and key. Growing up, she’d endured her fair share of teasing. For being curvy, for being her father's daughter. Before she realized that the only standard of beauty that required women be skinny was the television standard. In real life, she'd never seen a man turn down a date with a full figured woman. And the skinny girls were
always
complaining about not being able to gain weight.

Besides, Liam was a big man. Alpha written over every line of his body. He'd crush a small girl. But a fiercely real woman like her- she could handle anything he could dish out.

Ducking into the tent, he lowered her to the ground with impressive control, pressing her into the soft sleeping bag, body covering hers. He held most of his weight on his forearms, but still the delicious weight of him, all hard body and not an ounce of flab, thrilled her. Meredith wrapped her legs around his waist, her hands around his neck, pulling his head down to hers.

"Kiss me," she demanded.

He laughed, teasing her by avoiding her seeking mouth. Teeth sank into the curve of her throat, edges sharper than she remembered. He pulled her back up onto her knees, the movement so fast she had to cling to his shoulders to keep her balance. Her shirt ripped over her head, a rough urgency fueling her lust.

She cupped her breasts in her hands, pushing them up, watched with dark eyes as the muscles under his face shifted. As if the Bear was trying to peek out. Devour her.

"Take the bra off," he said. Meredith had no illusion it was a request.

She reached behind her back, fumbling with the hook as he watched, hands on his thighs, coiled and ready to pounce. She wondered if there was a snake somewhere in his lineage. The scrap of cotton fell to the ground, the full globes of her flesh swinging free. Liam inhaled. And moved, the grace and strength of a Bear capturing its prey.

His mouth found one nipple, fingers plucking the other, tugging the beaded flesh between his teeth. Meredith moaned, a half gasp, half cry at the rough scrape of tongue and sharp edge of… fangs?

“Liam!” she squeaked, not quite panicking, but startled enough to pull away.

He snarled at her, lips drawing back to reveal lengthening incisors.

“Won’t hurt you,” he said. “Don’t pull away.”

She had to trust him. Without trust, there would be no relationship. How could he ever be himself with her if he knew she was frightened? She inhaled, forced her body to relax and leaned into him.

“I’m yours,” she said. “Just don’t mind me if I shriek a little.”

He laughed, a deep broken chuff as he resumed the touches that sent fire into her clit and melted her core, juice waiting to coat his cock when he finally took her.

Her fingers fumbled, his desire for her enflaming her own, creating an uncharacteristic boldness. She tugged at buttons, impatient to undo the one by one. Liam let go of her for a moment, strong hands tearing the shirt from his body.

Rock hard flesh flexed under her fingers, satiny skin a temperature she thought might kill a human male. Her fingers roamed over the torso, feeling the strength and tension of his body, understanding she was about to allow that strength to unleash itself inside her. She would be helpless beneath him, no ability to make him stop if his strength was too much for her to Bear.

Her body didn't care about the danger. Her hand dipped underneath the band of his jeans, delving underneath silk to wrap around the thickness of his cock. It jumped in her fingers and Liam cried out.

"Fuck," he muttered. "Don’t do that or I’ll come. Want to come in your pussy. Or your mouth."

Licking her lips, "Why don’t you then?"

His head snapped back, eyes flaring gold. "What? Don’t play with me."

"Come in my mouth."

Liam stared at her, head tilted, muscles moving under his skin in a way that let her know she was dealing more with Bear, and less with man. He smiled, a slow revelation of fangs and dark, masculine satisfaction.

"Soon," he promised. "There are all kinds of things I’m going to do with you, and to you. But this first time will be for you."

"But I want-"

"Quiet." He put a finger over her mouth, then nudged her, tumbling her back onto the floor and tugging at her pants to peel them down her legs. “Fuck me. This is all mine."

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