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Bear turned back around, his eyes darkened and glowed like blue flames. “I don’t give a fuck about my shoulder, Ti. What I give a fuck about right now is you taking off when I told you it wasn’t safe.” Bear looked down at me like I’d crossed him in a way I didn’t understand. “Maybe you didn’t believe me when I said the MC would be coming for you.” He nodded to the bodies in the road. “You believe me now?” he asked, his nostrils flaring.

I took a step back and he took a step forward, not allowing me the distance I wanted to put between us. “Why did you come?”

“What the fuck did I just say? I came because you didn’t listen. I came because it’s not safe and if I hadn’t come you’d either be dead right now or wishing you were dead once they got through with you,” Bear said. And for the very first time, I was afraid of him. Not because I thought he would hurt me, but because I’d never seen him so angry.

“I don’t understand you,” I said.

“You don’t have to understand me,” he growled, and as if he was proving his point he crashed his lips over mine.

I wanted to push him away. I wanted to tell him no. But after thinking he could have been one of those dead men in the road, my body wouldn’t let me. My brain wanted to scream at him, punch him, but when his tongue ran along the seam of my mouth seeking entrance my traitorous lips opened for him, groaning when his tongue found mine, pressing myself up against his dirty body. He cupped his hands around my face and kissed me like he was screaming at me, punishing me for disobeying him, for being in his life, for not being in his life.

I took his punishment and gave it back to him, telling him all the things with our kiss that I didn’t understand myself. The coolness of his rings pressed against the skin of my back underneath the hem of my shirt.

Bear pulled back, breathing heavily, staring through me like he could see right into my soul. “You just have to fucking listen to me, but as much as I want to have a conversation with you right now where you tell me what a shit person I am and I tell you that you’re the most anger inducing girl I’d ever laid eyes on. And much as I want to keep my mouth on you, we have another couple of problems I’m gonna need you to help me take care of first before they become bigger problems.” Bear wrapped a muddied hand around my neck and closed the distance between us.

“What?” I asked, trembling under the weight of his stare, somehow forgetting about the dead men lying only feet away from us.

“You know how to sew?”

“That’s an odd question.”

“Not that odd seeing as I’m bleeding out,” Bear said, releasing me and grabbing onto his shoulder. “It’s clean through, just needs some putting back together.”

“Shit. Here,” I said, ripping off my shirt I stood up on my toes to press it to the back of his shoulder blade.

“Fuck,” Bear groaned. I let up on the pressure, thinking I’d hurt him. “Maybe you should let me bleed out. Might be worth it,” he said, licking his lips. I followed his gaze to my naked breasts. My nipples hardened under his stare.

“Fuck, Ti, you may not have pulled the fucking trigger, but I got a feeling you’re going to kill me yet.” His hands settled on my ass, while I tried to stop the bleeding, his fingers kneading into my flesh as I concentrated my efforts on his wound.

“What’s the other thing we have to do?” I asked, feeling the blush burning my cheeks and neck, grateful for the cover of night to hide my embarrassment over being so obviously turned on.




“I can’t go in there,” I said, stopping just short of the front porch steps, my arms crossed over my bare chest.

“Needle and thread,” Bear said, wincing, still holding my bloodied shirt over his shoulder. “Where would I find it?” he asked and I was relieved he wasn’t going to force me inside.

“Sewing room off the kitchen, right on the left. Mama kept that stuff in a tackle box in the draw next to her Singer.”

Bear disappeared into the house, emerging a few minutes later with my mom’s entire tackle box. “No lights,” Bear said, tucking his lighter, which he had been using to guide his way through the dark house, into the pocket of his jeans. Of course there were no lights. The bill was past due before my parents’ deaths, and the dead don’t pay the electric bill. Most of the time, in our house, neither did the living.

He tossed me a blue tank top that he’d gotten from my room and I hurried to cover myself with it. “Thank you,” I said. Bear’s response was a small grunt.

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