Authors: T. S. Joyce
BOARLANDER CURSED BEAR
(BOARLANDER BEARS, BOOK 5)
By T. S. JOYCE
Boarlander Boss Bear (
Boarlander Bash Bear (
Boarlander Silverback (
Boarlander Beast Boar (
The Boarlander Bears can absolutely be read as a standalone series, but if you would like more of these characters, check out T. S. Joyce’s bestselling Saw Bears, Fire Bears, and Gray Back Bears series, starting with
Lumberjack Werebear (
Saw Bears, 1
Reading Order for Damon’s Mountains
Lumberjack Werebear (Saw Bears, 1), Woodcutter Werebear (Saw Bears, 2), Timberman Werebear (Saw Bears, 3), Sawman Werebear (Saw Bears, 4), Bear My Soul (Fire Bears, 1), Axman Werebear (Saw Bears, 5), Bear the Burn (Fire Bears, 2), Bear the Heat (Fire Bears, 3), Woodsman Werebear (Saw Bears, 6), Lumberman Werebear (Saw Bears, 7), Gray Back Bad Bear (Gray Back Bears, 1), Gray Back Alpha Bear (Gray Back Bears, 2), Gray Back Ghost Bear (Gray Back Bears, 3), Gray Back Broken Bear (Gray Back Bears, 4), Lowlander Silverback (Gray Back Bears, 5), Last Immortal Dragon (Gray Back Bears, 6), A Very Beastly Christmas (Gray Back Bears, 7), Boarlander Boss Bear (Boarlander Bears, 1), Boarlander Bash Bear (Boarlander Bears, 2), Boarlander Silverback (Boarlander Bears, 3), Boarlander Beast Boar (Boarlander Bears, 4), Boarlander Cursed Bear (Boarlander Bears, 5)
Copyright © 2016 by T. S. Joyce
Copyright © 2016, T. S. Joyce
First electronic publication: March 2016
T. S. Joyce
All rights are reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the author’s permission.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental. The author does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for third-party websites or their content.
Published in the United States of America.
Cover Image: Furious Fotog
“Shae?” a woman in a lab coat asked.
Everything hurt. With a slow blink, she forced her gaze to the gray-haired woman who stood beside the bed.
“Shae, you’ll be leaving here now. Someone has…” The woman’s eyes rimmed with tears. She gave the camera in the upper corner of the room a quick glance before she leaned forward and hugged Shae’s shoulders. “Someone has made a great sacrifice for you.”
“Why are you calling me Shae?” And why were her arms and legs tingling like they’d been asleep?
“You won’t remember me,” the woman said, quiet as a breath, “but I’ll always remember you.”
The woman helped her up and led her into a hallway. Against the walls were other women in lab coats. Some wore glasses, some were curvy, and some were tall and lanky. Some held clipboards, but all of them had twisted their hair in tight, uncomfortable-looking buns on top of their heads. Were they scientists? All wore grim expressions. Maybe they hated her.
Where was she?
Shae stumbled on her tingling legs, but the nice scientist caught her and draped Shae’s arm over her shoulder. The hall stretched on forever. Shae looked behind her to the sea of emotionless faces. Why couldn’t she remember anything? Even now, she struggled to recall her life a minute ago. Just sixty seconds, and her brain denied her. She reached and reached, but nothing was there.
Something massive slammed against a glass wall beside her, and she parted her lips to scream. The terrified noise stayed lodged inside her as she stared in horror at the massive silverback gorilla who slammed his fists against the thick glass. He paced away, then charged the window again and did the same thing. In the corner of his room—or cage?—there sat a young woman, naked, her knees drawn up to her chest as she watched the gorilla with disdain in her dark eyes.
“Why do you have a girl in there,” Shae slurred. “She’ll get hurt.”
“Don’t worry about them. He won’t hurt her. She’s his mate.”
Mate, mate, mate…
As she stumbled past the window, Shae blinked and tried to hold onto the vision of the raging silverback, but already it was blurring from her mind. “I can’t remember…” Anything.
“That’s good. That’s really good.”
When a tall man stood in front of them, blocking the door, the nice scientist told him, “Move.” Her voice sounded gritty and fierce.
“What if she remembers?” the man asked.
The scientist shook her head. “You and I both know she won’t. We
Him? Who was him? Shae looked down at her body. “I’m a girl.”
The pair faced off, but neither answered her, so Shae spoke up louder. “I’m a…” What was she saying? She looked around the hallway—white walls, white ceiling tiles, white sneakers on white tiles.
Where was she?
The man in the lab coat moved, and the nice woman led her out. Shae frowned down at where the lady held her hand, dragging her past the door with the glowing orange exit sign over it. Outside, the wind hit her full in the face, and Shae gasped at an unexpected happiness. It smelled so good, like earth and ozone. For a moment, she closed her eyes to feel the breeze, but she lurched off balance and splashed into a deep rain puddle. It was dark, and the cracked asphalt of the parking lot was only lit by a single street lamp that flickered in the night. Dark clouds roiled above them, and beyond were thick woods whose trees swayed in the wind. The lot was empty except for a black SUV covered in raindrops.
There were two giant men pulling someone from the back. It was a boy, his face covered in a black cloth bag. He was lanky, but the lithe muscles of his arms flexed against his threadbare T-shirt as he pulled the bag off his head and shoved one of the men off him.
When his blinding silver eyes landed on Shae, she yanked her hand out of the scientist’s and froze. He had mussed sandy-blond hair, and his teeth were gritted into a furious expression. He looked…familiar somehow, except for those demon eyes. Those, she didn’t know at all.
“Shae!” he yelled, bolting for her.
“We should go,” the scientist said, scrabbling to take Shae’s hand.
“No,” she whispered. She wanted to see him closer. She couldn’t remember anything, but he was important.
One of the giants grabbed the boy’s arm before he reached her, and now others were pouring outside from the facility behind her.
“You made a deal, boy,” one of the men said.
The boy shoved him with so much force the man blasted backward and landed near the trees. The others surged forward, but the boy held up his hands and said, “Wait! I made a deal, and I’m not going back on it, I swear. My life for hers. Just…let me see her.” He choked on every word, as if he had to force them past his vocal chords. “Let me say goodbye.”
There were murmurings around her, all negative, but the nice scientist dragged her forward and pushed a couple of the others back.
The boy was shaking now, chest heaving, eyes so bright and intense they were hard to look at and hard to look away from at the same time. He cupped her neck and searched her face.
“It’s really you,” he chanted twice. “Shae, listen to me. I love you. I love you. Everything will be all right. Do you hear me? You’re gonna be okay.”
Shae nodded because what else could she do? He was strong, and his hand was gripping her waist now, bunching her shirt. He loved her?
She was desperate to give him something in return for the significance of this moment. He had done something, traded something. He was nice. He was helping her in some way she didn’t understand. “What’s your name?” she whispered.
“Stop right now,” the tall man ordered. “You’ll run the risk of triggering a memory later!”
The boy gave him a fiery go-to-hell look, and then his lips crashed onto Shae’s. It wasn’t gentle, though some long buried instinct told her he was capable of great tenderness. His teeth scraped her bottom lip, and there was a moment of pain before he was yanked backward.
“I know what you’re doing, and it won’t work, you little asshole,” the tall man ground out. “Turning her won’t save you.”
The boy was struggling against the growing hoard of scientists now as Shae was dragged toward the SUV.
“No,” she murmured, not ready to let him go. He was big. He was maybe the biggest thing in her life. He was her only connection to anything she could understand. “Tell me your name!”
“Don’t!” the tall man yelled.
The boy was being dragged inside, but his gaze collided with hers in the moment before he disappeared.
Before he was torn from her sight, he yelled one last echoing word. “Clinton!”
As she was shoved into the back of the SUV, and her face covered with a black hood, she tried hard to hold on to Clinton. The way he’d looked so fierce yet relieved when he’d seen her. The way he’d put so much force behind his “I love you.” The way his lips had felt against hers. But with each second that ticked by, her memories of him sizzled and blistered like the edges of a photograph that had been set on fire. And then there was only one memory left. His voice when he’d yelled his name.
Shae blinked hard against the darkness.
Where was she?
Beck was pregnant.
Clinton scented the air around her for the hundredth time just to make sure, but he didn’t make mistakes about pregnancies. He’d been trained to recognize the pregnancy hormone at eighteen, and the ability had never left him. He’d known Bash’s mate, Emerson, was pregnant before she’d known, but this—Beck being with child—he hadn’t expected in a million years. Her mate, Mason, was supposed to be sterile. Obviously his fuckin’ boar-people lied to him.
“Clinton,” Beck said, swatting at him. “Stop smelling me.”
Mason shoved him in the shoulder, forcing space between him and his mate, and for a moment, Clinton considered blurting out the news. The idiots hadn’t even figured it out yet, probably on account of Beck’s patchy periods and all that. He could ruin it for them. Ruin Beck’s moment so she wouldn’t get to tell The Barrow he would be siring a little piglet sibling for her son Air-Ryder.
Instead, Clinton spat near Mason’s feet and flipped him off. The old Clinton would’ve ruined surprises. The old Clinton was fun and didn’t give a shit about anything, or anyone. New Clinton was a boring asshole just like the other Boarlanders. God, this place was quicksand.
“Stop staring at her like that!” Mason said. “You’re freaking her out.”
Clinton was, in fact, staring at Beck’s stomach, imagining how Mason would react when she figured it out and told him. He was definitely going to cry. That old boar teared up all the damned time when Air-Ryder did anything cute. What a queef.
“What’s taking so long?” Harrison ground out. His eyes were that bright blue that said he was probably going to Change and bleed someone. Good. Clinton hadn’t had a good fight in two days, and his bear was restless.
“You in a hurry for another row with the boars?” Kirk asked nonchalantly from where he stood with his arm slung over his mate, Ally’s, shoulders. But his eyes were gold, and he smelled like the monster gorilla in his middle, so that fucker wasn’t fooling anyone. He was just as riled up as the rest of them.
Clinton crossed his arms over his chest and tossed a glance over his shoulder at where Air-Ryder was burying a leftover brick in the middle of the gravel road. It would probably pop everyone’s tires as they drove through the trailer park. Good boy. “Beck, you should take your kid inside.” Both of them.
Beck tossed him a don’t-tell-me-what-to-do frown. “They aren’t coming to fight us. They just want to talk, and it isn’t Jamison leading them anymore. It’s Mason’s dad.”
“False. It’s Mason who defeated the dominant boar, so guess who is king asshole now?” Clinton kicked at a pile of white gravel to dispel some of the tension zinging through his body. Too loud, he yelled, “Just do it, okay?”
“Enough!” Harrison said, slashing his hand through the air. “I swear to God, if you throw a tantrum right now, I’m going to break every major bone in your body. You have been a beast for weeks now.”
“I’ve been way better than I feel like being! I want to fight all y’all anus-wagons all the time, and I haven’t.”
“Because you gave up fighting for whiskey,” Bash said in a happy voice.
Clinton wanted to ring his neck. How could one person be so perpetually happy every single day of his life?
“Would you rather I go back to fighting?” Clinton asked.
“Nah,” Bash said, rubbing his pregnant mate’s round belly. “I like Drunk Clinton way better than Crazy Clinton.”
Bash’s mate, Emerson, stopped biting her thumbnail and moved Bash’s hand over to her right side, like she was chasing the baby’s movement. “It’s true. Bash says all the time that Drunk Clinton is a great ninth best friend.”
“Ninth?” Offended, Clinton looked around at the Boarlanders. “There are only seven Boarlanders other than me and you.”
Bash grinned bigger. “Air-Ryder is my eighth best friend.”
“You listed a five-year-old kid as a better friend than your own crew-mate?” Clinton narrowed his eyes at Bash’s stupid smiling face and growled out, “Everyone here is an idiot but me.” And then he stomped off, sat heavily on the bottom stair of Harrison and Audrey’s front porch, and plotted ways to vandalize the park after everyone went to sleep tonight.
The sunlight reflected red highlights in Air-Ryder’s gold hair as the boy approached, lugging a heavy rock. “Here Mister Clinton. Momma says you like to throw stuff when you’re mad.”
Clinton waited until Beck stopped watching them with that stupid mushy look on her face and turned back around. Then he ruffled Air-Ryder’s hair and chucked the rock present as hard as he could into the woods. The sound of the stone ricocheting off a pine tree did make him feel a little better, and Air-Ryder’s little giggle drew a smile from Clinton before he replaced it with his usual grimace.
The rumble of a truck engine sounded faintly in the distance. Fuckin’ boars. They’d lost the boar-war bad, and yet they had begged Mason for this meeting. The Ashe Crew and Gray Backs, and hell, even the motherfuckin’ dragon himself was on standby, ready for makin’ bacon if the boars even breathed wrong. But still, Clinton couldn’t settle the feeling that something bad was going to happen. That was an instinct that never went away—partly a product of his broken bear and partly because he was cursed. Fear was the biggest trigger for his inner monster. The Boarlanders didn’t know that, nor would they ever, because they would rag him mercilessly.
, they would call him, but they didn’t understand. They hadn’t seen what he had. Hadn’t felt what he had. Hadn’t bled like him or mourned like him. Hadn’t lost like him. They thought they understood the stakes of losing what they’d found here, but they had no idea the toll it would really take. He would burn every fucking threat to the ground to keep the Boarlanders from feeling the fear he did.
The memory of Mason bleeding out under the hands of their crew as they worked to save his life flashed across Clinton’s mind. He gripped his middle, trying desperately to keep his bear inside.
“Mister Clinton?” Air-Ryder asked in a tiny voice. “You feelin’ like a Change? Mason says that’s okay. We can Change whenever we want here. We’re safe.”
. Damn it all, Clinton wished Air-Ryder could feel that his whole life. “Back up, buddy,” he choked out as his bear swelled and clawed inside of him.
But now Air-Ryder was petting him like he was a Great Dane, stroking his miniature hand down Clinton’s back. “You want to throw another rock?”
Clinton huffed a sound that was laughter and pain. He had to keep his shit together for the kid, but also for the crew, because the boars were coming, and he would screw up everything if he rampaged like his bear wanted.
Squatting down, Clinton linked his hands behind his head and blew out a steadying breath, and then another. And Air-Ryder petted on.
By the time the shiny black diesel truck rolled under the Boarland Mobile Park sign, Clinton felt like he could keep his skin a while longer.
Scared animals were dangerous animals. If Harrison spent a single minute in Clinton’s shoes, he would see how unsalvageable he was and put his crazy ass down. And Clinton wouldn’t even blame him. He was lucky to have survived so many crews.
When the truck came to a stop in front of the semi-circle of Boarlanders, an older man with wide shoulders and tired, dark eyes got out. He looked like Mason, but with thirty extra years of age and stress on him. Two other men got out, too, and flanked him. One was taller, and thinner, with blond hair and a snarl on his lips, while the other was shorter with a big barrel chest and tree trunk arms. He was the one to watch, reeking of dominance, with his eyes all psychotic-looking.
Air-Ryder slipped his hand into Beck’s, and Clinton put himself between the little family and the boars. He couldn’t help himself. Mason looked calm-as-you-like, but if Harrison said “go,” Clinton would happily rip these douche-wagons limb from limb just for funsies. They had brought war into Damon’s mountains and put all the shifters here at risk, and Clinton was a proud grudge-holder. Always had been, always would be.
“Son,” the older boar greeted Mason. He looked around at the others with narrowed eyes. “I gave you my word we didn’t come to make trouble. Are the bodyguards really necessary?”
“Apparently,” Mason said languidly. “What do you want?”
Cockface cleared his throat, then crossed his arms, flexing them like he was trying to puff up. Wouldn’t work. Everyone here was a bigger monster than him. “As you know, defeating Jamison means you are the dominant boar now—”
“You aren’t pissed that one of your sons killed your other son?” Clinton asked.
“No,” the old brawler gritted out. “That’s the way it is for our people. Someone has to win, and someone has to lose.”
Clinton frowned so hard his face hurt. He dragged his gaze to Air-Ryder. He wasn’t even Clinton’s kid, but if anyone offed him, Clinton would kill everyone associated with his death, whether they were family or no.
“I told you your people are fucked up,” Bash said.
“Agreed,” Mason said. “Make this quick. Why are you here?”
“I need you to fight these two,” his dad said, gesturing with two twitches of his neck to the titans behind him. “With your absence, dominant boar has gone back to me as interim, and I don’t want this job. I retired for a reason. You not taking your rightful place—”
“As president of the fuck-ups,” Kirk chimed in.
The old boar’s eyes went dead. “You not taking your rightful place as dominant boar has thrown our people into chaos. We need a leader. I get that you aren’t coming back to us, but you at least owe it to us to put things right.”
“I owe you.” Oooh, Mason’s tone sounded dangerous as hell.
Clinton rocked forward on the balls of his feet, excitement growing in his middle.
Fight, fight, fight.
“Yeah, Mason. You owe us. Right now we have the damned Barrow as our leader.”
“He ain’t a barrow,” Clinton gritted out. Fuck him for calling Mason old names that weren’t true.
“He is. He isn’t earning enough working out here, and he’s sterile—”
“Horseshit!” Clinton said, taking a menacing step toward the trio of idiots. “So let me get this straight. Your people brought war here, almost killed Mason, and now you think he owes it to you to throw this fight. Because that’s what this is, right? Mason is Beast Boar. He’s bigger than all those fuckers who came up here, more battle-hardened, and you want to pin these lesser boars up against him in hopes they survive and take dominant boar. Right? He almost died. Your son
. I watched him.” Clinton jammed a finger at the Boarlanders. “We watched him bleed out. We held him together. We almost lost him, and maybe that don’t mean shit to you, you horrible father. But I’ll be good goddamned if I’m gonna sit here and watch him throw a fight after he earned the title Beast Boar.”
Mason was staring at him with a surprised expression frozen onto his face, and his annoying mouth was drawn up in a smile.
“Shut up, Mason,” Clinton gritted out. “And furthermore,” he said, swinging his gaze back to daddy fuckface. “He ain’t a barrow, and I bet you knew that all along. What did you do, give him those two sows knowing he couldn’t breed ’em?”
“Clinton,” Mason warned.
“Let me guess…you had ’em on birth control?”
“Clinton!” Mason barked out, good and pissed now.
But when a flash of guilt washed over his father’s eyes, Clinton knew he was right.
“You picked a favorite son, and you destroyed Mason in the process so no, he ain’t fightin’ to save your people from chaos, fuck you very much.” Clinton raised his hand in the air. “I vote to kick the pigs off the mountain.”
Bash’s hand shot in the air. “I vote that, too!”
Kirk tossed up two relaxed fingers, Harrison offered daddy boar a feral smile and raised his hand, and now Beck was looking down at her belly with wide, shocked eyes. Yep, there it was. Patchy periods or no, she hadn’t had one since she’d come to the trailer park. Clinton knew. He kept up with the girls’ cycles, and screw whatever that said about him.
Mason stood rigid against the waning evening light, his furious gaze drifting between Clinton and his father, his chest rising with his ragged breath, his hands clenched at his sides. With a snarl of his lips, he lifted his hand in the air and muttered, “Bye, Dad.”
His father ground his teeth and dared to hold Mason’s blazing blue gaze for a few moments before he wised up and dropped his eyes to Mason’s boots. With a quick nod of his head, he gestured for his two sidekicks to get back in the truck, and then he slid in behind the wheel. Before he left, he rolled down the window. “Mason…” He swallowed hard and shook his head for a long time before he simply said, “I’m sorry.”
Mason gripped the back of his hair as he followed the truck to the welcome sign at the entrance of the trailer park. And when he paced back, his eyes were glowing like blue flames and boring into Clinton.
“What did I do?” Clinton asked.
“What did you mean? About me not being The Barrow, what did you mean?”
Clinton crossed his arms over his chest and looked off into the woods, ready to ignore the shit out of that question.
“Clinton, I swear I’m gonna Change and gut you if you don’t start talking.”