Jessalyn Delaney has only known pain at the hands of her shifter ex-husband, a coyote who thrived on making her scream. When a brash Highland bear shifter insists she’s his destined mate, she knows better than to go down that path again. Except Tavish isn’t anything like her ex, and she can’t ignore how much she yearns for his touch.
Tavish MacBride is determined to claim his mate and her cubs, even if she’s human. The fact that her ex is causing problems is easily enough handled. As a bear, Tavish isn’t afraid of shedding a little blood. When the coyote harms his mate, Tavish knows he’ll have no choice but to take the shifter out. But first, he has a mate to claim… and what a claiming it will be!
Author’s Note: Mad, Bad Bear has a few violent scenes, bad language, and an alpha bear shifter who knows how to make his mate beg for more. There’s a guaranteed Happily Ever After, and no cliffhanger.
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Kenna McKay & Jessica Coulter Smith
Jess didn’t know why she’d thought she could escape. Eighteen years of marriage, of torment and fear, and she’d thought she was finally free. But could he let her go? No. It wasn’t enough that he’d dragged things out and not signed the divorce papers for months, but now he’d followed her to Scotland. It had sounded so simple. Take a trip with her girlfriends to get away for a while, leave the kids at home with the grandparents, but it was fast turning into a nightmare.
Nicholas didn’t seem to have any interest in the kids, even though they’d seen their fair share of his special kind of attention over the years. She didn’t understand why he wanted her back. Love had been missing from their marriage for a long time, if it had ever truly existed. All he did was belittle her, and that was on a good day. The other days he let his fists do the talking.
She felt the Scotsman approach, had noticed him the previous night, but the last thing she needed was a hookup. Men were the bane of her existence and she was much better off without one, right? Maybe if she found a nice man someday, one who would treat her kids like they were his own, then maybe she could see herself giving love another try. Too bad there wasn’t some magical way to know you were destined to be with someone.
She refused to look up at him. If she ignored him, would he go back to the bar?
Gently, he pinched her chin between his large fingers and turned her to face him. She saw the concern and anger in his eyes when he noticed the bruise on her cheek. It wasn’t like she could hide it.
“What happened, lass? Who did this to you?” he asked.
“We don’t need your help,” her friend Monica said, a hand on her hip. “Just go back to your buddies at the bar. If you’re looking for a quick lay, you won’t find it here.”
The Scotsman held her steady gaze, his hand still gently holding her chin. “I’ll nae hurt her. I want to help.”
“You can’t help me,” Jess said. “No one can.”
“Now, lass. That cannae be true. I swear it, if you tell me who did this to you, I’ll see you avenged.”
Her eyes widened a little. “Avenged? What exactly does that mean?”
She had visions of a sword-swinging barbarian going after Nicholas, which almost made her smile. She’d love to see the look on his face if this huge Highlander went after him with a claymore. Her lips twitched.
“Ah, that was almost a smile there, lass.” His lips tipped up on the corners and her breath stilled. She couldn’t remember ever seeing a more handsome man before. What he was doing at her table she didn’t understand. “Tell me his name, lass. I ken just aboot everyone in this town. You tell me who’s responsible and I’ll see that justice is done.”
Monica snorted. “Yeah, because she wants a club-wielding caveman to beat up her ex. On second thought, that isn’t such a bad idea.”
“Ex?” the Scotsman asked.
“Her asshole of an ex-husband followed her to Scotland. It’s his handiwork you see on her face. I guess we should just be grateful he didn’t do worse.” She muttered something he didn’t quite catch. “I never thought he’d leave the US just to get his hands on her.”
Jess saw his eyes flare, then change from a mossy green to a golden brown, then back again. She thought it was just her imagination playing tricks on her until it happened again. Through the hand gripping her chin, she felt a tremor rake his body, as if he were trying to contain something within himself. Could he be like her ex? Were there others out there like him? The man was huge, and if he also had a shifter’s strength, she wouldn’t stand a chance. Yet, he’d seemed enraged by what Nicholas had done to her. Was it possible it wasn’t her ex’s shifter side that had made him so violent?
The Scot looked at Monica. “Do you have a picture of this ex? Do you ken where he’s stayin’?”
Monica snatched Jess’s phone off the table and began scrolling through the photo gallery. When she found what she was looking for, she flipped the phone around and showed the Scot the last family picture with Nicholas. Jess had meant to delete it, but the kids looked so happy in the photo she hadn’t been able to part with it.
The Scot looked from the picture to Jess. “Are those your kids?”
She nodded. “Piper is sixteen and Donovan is thirteen. You’d think it was the other way around, as tall as he is.”
“Your ex disnae look verra tall.”
Jess smiled. “He isn’t. The men on my side of the family are all over six feet tall. Donovan took after them.”
“I don’t know where the asshole is staying,” Monica said. “We’re at the Sheep’s Heid Inn and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’d found a room at the same place. The better to keep an eye on Jess and ensure she doesn’t have any fun.”
The Scot waved toward the phone. “May I borrow that for a moment?”
Monica arched a brow, but handed the phone over. The Scot rose to his feet and returned to the three men he’d been sitting with. Jess watched as they talked amongst themselves and didn’t miss the dark looks cast her way. When he returned, the men followed him.
The Scot handed the phone back to Monica and knelt in front of Jess again, taking her hand in his. The way his fingers wrapped around her smaller hand, the callused feel of them against her softer skin, sent shivers down her spine. There was heat in his touch, something she’d only ever read about. She watched his eyes do that weird thing again where they changed colors, and it was on the tip of her tongue to ask him about it.