Boarlander Beast Boar (Boarlander Bears Book 4)

By: T. S. Joyce
Chapter One

Pain was a part of this life. Scars were, too. There was no soft, cushy existence for shifters, and especially not one for Mason Croy.

There was just this: ache, loss, longing, anger. Always anger.

Mason spat blood. He angled his neck, cracked it, and then stretched it to the other side to do the same again. “Call me pig one more time,” he dared the three humans who’d lured him to the alley beside the post office.

The tall one held a bloody brick in his shaking hand, and his face was gore. It was that one who wouldn’t shut up in the post office. He just couldn’t let Mason pick up a package and leave in peace. Couldn’t let him run one lousy errand without having to swallow all the slurs and names he and his backwoods buddies came up with. And one had decided to video tape him, right up to the point when he’d ripped the phone from his hands and chucked it against the wall, shattering it into a million satisfying pieces.

Red tinted the edges of his vision as one of the men circled around him. Mason wasn’t stupid enough to get himself surrounded. Not when this one had brought a crow bar. Good. He hadn’t had a good fight since the night at the fight barn. Wailing on Clinton was the only thing that had settled the fire inside him, and then he’d spent two damn months pretending he was okay. Pretending there wasn’t some monstrous urge in him to destroy everything just to feel better. Pretending to be happy floating between Damon, the Gray Backs, and the Boarlanders. Fuck. Bash’s sad face flashed across his mind, and he shook his head hard to dislodge the vision.

His boar raged to escape him, but he couldn’t lose it like that. Not here. Crowbar lunged, swung hard, and Mason smiled in the instant he caught the cold metal and arched back his other arm. Finally.

The red in his vision turned black, and he was gone. He was driven only by instinct and pain. Something hit him hard in the back of the neck, but he wouldn’t worry about the others. Not now. With his knee on Crowbar’s chest, he wailed on him.

Someone was yelling. “Mason!”

Fuck off. I’m busy.


Mason lifted his fist. Crowbar wouldn’t be crowing about what a freak he was anymore. He wouldn’t spew to anyone else about how his people should be shoved in cages. He wouldn’t talk anymore about shifter babies being put down or the government castrating the male monsters.

Mason was ripped backward so hard, his shoulder dislocated. Harrison’s furious blazing blue eyes were there, but Mason was trying to look around him at Crowbar. The Boarlander alpha had Mason pinned against the brick wall with his forearm on his neck, but Mason wasn’t done punishing that asshole yet.

“Stop it!” Harrison barked out, struggling to keep Mason from the anti-shifter humans. So much power in his voice, but his order washed right over his skin like a chilly wind. Silly alpha couldn’t give a rogue an order. Mason belonged to no one. Belonged nowhere.

I’m nothing.

His attackers were running now, their weapons discarded in the muddy alley. In a puddle where the brick lay, shallow waves lapped at it, his blood spreading from the gray stone outward.

“I’m good,” he gritted out.

“You aren’t—”

“I am!” Mason shoved Harrison off and gave the alpha his back. Harrison didn’t know it, but that was the biggest slight a boar could give. It was a sign of deep disrespect, but fuck it all, he shouldn’t have pulled him off that anti-shifter scum. Mason slammed his fist against the brick.

“What’s going on, man?”

Mason slid his bloody hands down the wall and squatted in the mud, gripped the back of his head to keep his skull from splitting apart. He couldn’t Change here. Couldn’t Change. Damon would be disappointed. Again.

What was wrong? He was being haunted. It had been ten years, but recently, Esmerelda had started showing up in his dreams, just as he remembered her, crying and sad. And right before he woke up in a cold sweat, she always said the same thing. They’re coming.

Mason retched, then shrugged Harrison’s hand off his back. He didn’t want touch. Never had. Touch meant something different to boars. Touch was for mates, and he’d failed his a decade ago. And now she was back as an excruciating reminder that he hadn’t been enough, and no matter how much he fought or Changed, it wouldn’t help. He deserved this hollow feeling in his middle. He’d earned it.

“Mason,” Harrison said, his tone softer this time. “What is it?”

Mason gritted his teeth and snapped his shoulder back into place, and the searing pain dulled the image of Esmerelda he had in his head. When he could see straight again, he dragged his gaze to Harrison. “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice cracking. Chest heaving, Mason stood and stumbled toward a water spigot on the side of the building. He turned it on and cupped his hands under the cold stream. Right before he splashed it onto his face, he saw his reflection there in the clear water. He barely recognized himself under the full beard and empty eyes. Wincing, he brought his hands to his face and then reached for more of the spewing water to rinse again. Too bad the water could only wash away blood and not memories.