Boarlander Beast Boar (Boarlander Bears Book 4)(65)

By: T. S. Joyce


“What happened?” Mason said, kneeling to get a better look.

Ryder’s eyes rimmed with tears, but he blinked hard, like he was trying to be strong. “Momma told me you made those marks on her chest because she was yours.”

“Yeah?”

“Well…I wanted to be yours, too.” Ryder’s lip poked out farther, and he fell against Mason’s chest, hugging his neck tight.

“You made that cut?” Mason asked, shocked.

“Uh huh.” Ryder’s voice sounded small and ashamed.

Mason blew out a steadying breath and pushed him back to arm’s length so he could show him the honesty in his eyes when he made this promise. “Ryder, I won’t leave you. You’re my boy. You, me, and your mom…we’re stuck like glue now, okay?”

Ryder nodded but didn’t look convinced, and he got it. Robbie had left Beck so easily. He’d left Ryder, too, and had been cruel when he spent any time with him. He could understand how the boy wanted something that told him Mason wouldn’t go back on his word like his real dad. Mason frowned and sighed. “You want a mark that says you’re my boy?”

Ryder nodded, his big teary eyes steady on Mason.

“It’ll hurt for a minute,” he warned him.

“I’m strong like an owl.”

Shit, he was going to lose it. Mason blinked hard a couple times, then told him, “You ask your mom if it’s okay.”

“Can he?” Ryder asked.

When Mason dragged his gaze to Beck’s, she was crying and nodding, her arms crossed over her chest like she was trying to keep her heart inside.

Mason took a long, steadying breath, then pulled the knife Beaston had made him from the back pocket of his jeans. “Look away,” he murmured, and when Ryder squeezed his eyes tightly closed, Mason made a quick, inch-long cut deep enough to leave a thin scar, right under his collar bone.

It bled for a few seconds before Ryder’s shifter healing kicked in and sealed it up. Mason had a moment of panic at the thought of hurting him, but now Ryder was grinning big, staring at the mark. “Now you cain’t leave me.” Ryder hugged Mason’s neck up tight.

Mason stood slowly, taking Ryder with him in the cradle of his arm. He drew Beck against his side and said, “Now you’re both my family.”

A light touch rested on his back, and he turned to find Audrey smiling up at him with emotion welling in her eyes. And then Emerson was there, and Ally, hugging the three of them. Harrison gripped his shoulder, Kirk ruffed up his hair, and Bash nearly broke him in half with one of those resounding back claps. Clinton stood leaned against a tree, his chin tucked to his chest, watching them all. He wasn’t even scowling.

“It’s good to have you back, man,” Harrison murmured.

But his alpha didn’t see. He’d never even come close to leaving. Not when he’d tried to live away from the Boarlanders, and not when he’d been fighting for his life.

Everything was here.

Mason ran the pad of his thumb across the dampness on Beck’s cheek and smiled at the tender-hearted woman who had given him so much. He hugged his little Air-Ryder, Son of the Beast Boar, closer and kissed Beck’s lips—just a gentle sip to tell her he loved her.

It didn’t matter where he came from or what people had called him in his past life. It didn’t matter the assumptions the boar people had made about him. He’d discovered something amazing here in Damon’s mountains. He’d stumbled down a long and broken road to end up in a place he could’ve never imagined.

Here, in this old C-Team trailer park, he was a friend.

He was a mate.

He was a dad.

And from this moment on, he would proudly be known as a Boarlander.