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A Man’s Worth(Brac Pack 31)

By:Lynn Hagen


Chapter One




“If you don’t put it on correctly, I’m going to beat the shit out of you.”

“I would really like to see you try,” Chauncey said to Bryce as the side of his mouth kicked up into a good-humored smile. “Just because you are a damn bear doesn’t mean you have to behave like one. Stop acting like somebody stole your sweets.”

As the thunder rolled across the sky, telling Bryce the storm was getting closer, he steered Hell Raiser toward the south pasture. It didn’t matter to man or horse if it rained. Hell Raiser only allowed Bryce—and Riley’s mate, Sterling—anywhere near him, and was ornery as hell. A heavy downpour was nothing to either of them.

Not when Bryce felt just as gloomy on the inside as the weather surrounding him.

“Why don’t you stop dictating to me from up there and get down here. I could use the help.” Chauncey wiped his brow and then locked his feet into place as he lifted the new tire for the tractor. “Just because I’m as strong as a bear doesn’t mean this shit is easy.”

“Will you stop with the bear references,” Bryce snapped as he climbed down and hitched Hell Raiser’s reins to a nearby branch. “It’s annoying as hell.”

“So is your sour mood.” Chauncey grunted with the back tire in his arms, but managed to scowl at him. “I remember when you were carefree, laughing all the time. Now you look like you need an enema.”

“Can we stop worrying about me and get this done?” Bryce groused as he helped Chauncey place the back wheel on the tractor. His brother quickly secured the large tire in place as Bryce watched him work.

He wasn’t trying to be a prick. Bryce didn’t like feeling pissy. It wasn’t in his nature. He was just as good humored and playful as his other brothers. But when he found out his mate had been disguising his scent just so Bryce wouldn’t know they were destined to be together…well, that downright pissed him off.

Was he that bad of a man that Ahm had hidden his scent all these years?

Years.

Bryce felt his chest tighten as a deep ache began to thrum through his heart. The Shadow elf had hidden who he was to Bryce for years. He had a right to be pissy. The thought of what Ahm had done hurt like hell.

“Okay, I’m done.”

Bryce left Chauncey to finish up as he mounted the horse and took off toward the house. If Ahm didn’t want him, then Bryce wasn’t going to sit by and wait on the man. It was very apparent that Ahm had made his decision about their relationship.

And it hadn’t been in Bryce’s favor.

Fuck that Shadow elf.

Bryce rode to the barn, dismounted, and took care of Hell Raiser before putting him in his stall. He fed the horse a few treats, rubbed his hand down the soft hairs on the horse’s neck, and then exited the barn.

“Pa said to help you today,” Abe said as he came running toward Bryce. Abe was a Wood elf. He had helped rescue Bryce’s brother, Cole, and Chauncey’s mate, Curtis, when an evil bastard had kidnapped them.

He liked Abe, although the man was a bit on the flirtatious side. It didn’t bother him. Abe was harmless. He was like a small puppy yapping around Bryce’s feet. “What did he tell you to help me with?”

Abe shrugged. “He just said to give you a hand. I think he wanted to get me out of his hair.” The amusement on Abe’s face belied the hurt Bryce saw in the man’s blue eyes. Bryce had figured the guy out a long time ago. Abe may be flirtatious, but it was a front. The man was lonely and had confessed to having no friends in the tribe he had lived in.

Something snapped inside Bryce. He was tired of being grumpy and tired of being a prick. That wasn’t who he was normally. It was about time he got over being rejected by his mate and had a bit of fun. “Why don’t we take off for the rest of the day and find something to get into?”

Abe’s grin was wide. “Okay.”

Bryce smiled for the first time in what felt like forever as he walked toward his truck. He wasn’t going to let anyone take away who he was. Not even his mate. The thought brought a spike of pain to his chest, but Bryce forced himself to ignore it.

He had to or he wouldn’t be able to function under the excruciating pain. The thing Ahm failed to realize about Bryce was that—although he was a big burly bear—he had the biggest heart and had dreamed of finding his mate since he was a small cub.

That might not matter to the elf, but it meant the world to Bryce.

So, since the man wanted to be a coward and run from Bryce…fuck him. Bryce opened the driver’s door and hopped in. Abe climbed in on the other side, buckling himself in.

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