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Husband Fur Hire

By:T. S. Joyce

Chapter One


“You get out of my house!” Elyse screamed.

She chugged breath and blinked fast to hold the moisture that rimmed her eyes at bay. She would not cry for this man, not one tear.

“Our house, Elyse. It’s our house!” Cole yelled. He looked insane. Hazel eyes blazing, face red, veins popping out of his forehead, he was pacing their bedroom like a caged animal.

Cole McCall was the biggest liar she’d ever met.

He’d lied about being a good man, and about being faithful. He’d broken every promise he’d ever made her, and now this? Elyse wiped her throbbing lip with the back of her hand, and it came back with a smear of crimson.

He’d lost his damned mind if he thought she was one of those women who would take a hand to the face and stick around.

In a rush, she ran out of the bedroom and bolted for the gun rack near the front door. She yanked off an old shotgun, snapped it open, shoved two shells into the barrel, then popped it back into place with a satisfying crack of metal.

“What are you doing?” Cole yelled as he came out of the bedroom, hands in his hair, eyes wilder than she’d ever seen them. He was going crazy. Crazy. She’d watched him slowly lose his mind over the last few months, and she’d been patient, but this was where the horse got off this buggy.

“I said get the fuck out of my house!” Her lip throbbed in time with her racing heart, and her arms shook with shock, but when she gripped the gun and aimed at his chest, her hands steadied. “I hope you know me well enough to understand I don’t bluff.”

“Baby,” he crooned, holding out his palms. Cole’s eyes cooled, and he smiled apologetically, the snake. “You don’t want me to go.”

“I really, really do.”

“You won’t make it through winter without me hunting for us.”

“You gave half our food away to your good for nothin’ brothers, Cole. I sincerely think I’ll be better off without you pissin’ away my money and depleting my winter stock. You don’t even work with me! You don’t. You’ve left me alone to do everything, and you come back only when you want something or when you need someone to hurt. You’re broken. I can’t fix you, and I don’t want to try to anymore.” She cocked the gun. “Gather your shit.”

“I didn’t mean to hit you—”

“Oh, don’t you dare.” She shook her head hard and glared. “Don’t you dare insult me with that garbage. You will never be forgiven for lifting a hand to me, Cole. Never.”

“I love you, Elyse.” He took a step toward her, hands out in surrender. “It was an accident.”

She huffed a humorless laugh and raised the barrel of the rifle to the vicinity of his forehead. “Take another step, and I’ll blow a hole in you so big I’ll see the fucking kitchen through you. Get your things and never come back. If I see you on my property again, I’ll shoot you for trespassing.”

Cole’s shocked gaze lowered to the barrel of the shotgun pointed at him. Elyse gasped when he gripped the end and pulled it to his head for a moment, but he released it and strode into the other room. God, he’d almost forced her hand. Cole really was losing his mind.

The rustle of his duffle bag against the bed was loud in the silence of the small living room, and it seemed to take him hours to pack, though it couldn’t have been more than ten minutes. Ten minutes to exit her life. That should’ve told her everything right there. He had never really been in this.

He would have to take his snow machine to get to Galena, but she didn’t care. She would get her other one working again. She could move on and forget Cole McCall had ever existed. She hoped.#p#分页标题#e#

His hair was mussed when he came out of the bedroom with his belongings strapped over one shoulder. Even if his eyes were pooled with regret, he didn’t have any tears for her. Crazy didn’t cry.

Crazy Cole, like everyone in town had called him, and he’d gone and proved them right. Her disappointment was infinite.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured with one last, long look. It was the sincerest she’d seen him in months.

Then he walked out of her house and into the dark winter, and Elyse knew with certainty that this would be the last she ever saw of him.

****

The worst thing about being a grizzly shifter wasn’t the Change. It wasn’t the pain that came along with it or having to hide his true nature from the humans he interacted with. It wasn’t even the violence he was called upon to perform as a shifter enforcer.

The worst thing about being a grizzly shifter was the hunger.

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