Ash's Beauty

A Shifter Novel (16)

by Jaden Sinclair

He had been looking for his mate for a while, with no luck. Thinking about trying his luck at a Gathering, Ash Laswell never dreamed that his mate would land in his lap. But when she steps from that bus on a sunny summer day, he just knew that he had to have her.

Christine Maxwell has finally come to live with her best friend, Jewels, after a nasty accident. She’s looking for a new start in a new town and putting the past behind her. And for the most part, she’s done well, until Ash makes it very clear that he wants her as his mate.

Ash doesn’t see Christine’s handicap, doesn’t see any flaw that she might think she has. All he sees is a woman who stirs his blood. And when her past does show up, Ash shows his mate just what the shifter will do to protect what is his.


Chapter One


Ash Laswell pulled up in front of the diner on his bike on a beautiful summer day. The sun shinned brightly, the heat not too overwhelming, and his mood was on a high.

Walking his bike backwards, he settled in his spot, pushed the kickstand down, and stretched out across the double seating while he waited for his brothers.

Life was good. Ash couldn’t think of a thing wrong with his. He had a nice job working for Jewels Stanton’s club. He sometimes worked the door, making sure the many underage kids didn’t sneak in. He also helped with unloading the stock of booze and, when things got super crazy, which happened more often than not, he played the role of a bouncer. He loved it all. He also helped out with his father’s marina business and gave his brother, Alex, a hand from time to time on the boat repairs. He had nothing to complain about, nothing that is, unless he stopped to think about a mate.

Being a full-blooded shifter meant he couldn’t go out and hook up with just anyone. Sure, he could have a girlfriend, maybe some hot-ass sex, but finding that connection that made him complete, he just couldn’t find.

Fox, his younger brother found it by pure accident. Lindsey, best friend to Ash’s oldest sister, Darian, spent so much time at their house, hell, Ash looked at the girl as another sister. None of them saw the curve ball that hit when Fox ended up marking and mating her. Ash was happy for them both. Lindsey was already part of the family, and Fox ended up finding his other half. His sisters also were mated, leaving just Alex and himself free.

Ash wanted his mate.

He already had been to a couple of the Gatherings, but nada. He dated a few humans and, again, got hit with big disappointment. Now he decided to just sit back and see if luck might come to him like it did his brother and sisters. Hell, even Alex had something, but that prick was too damn stubborn to see the prize in front of his eyes, a mystery that one day Ash would figure out. Already the town talked about the sparks that flew when a certain woman came around Alex.


Thinking of her, he heard the loud sound of her truck pulling in across the street. Pushing his sunglasses up to the top of his head, he watched as she parked and jumped out of the truck.

Like always, Jewels was a knockout. She had on her super tight and short shorts, boots, tight tank top, and her hair blew freely around her. For the most part, Jewels wouldn’t be the kind of woman many shifters liked. Strange as it sounds, males—like himself—wanted and hungered for a mate with curves. They didn’t want that skinny shit, and when one hooked up with a human for a mate, it always shocked other humans, big time. They just couldn’t understand, and males refused to try to explain. It was one reason females of a shifter household had the curves. To a shifter, a skinny girl is not a healthy girl.

Jewels was different. She happened to be a hell of a woman, and Ash saw the hungry look Alex tried so damn hard to hide from them all every time she showed up.

Sitting up on the bike, Ash put two fingers into his mouth and whistled loudly. Jewels stopped and turned. When she saw that he was the one who whistled, a big smile spread across her face, she waved, and then jogged over to him.

“Hey, you!” Jewels said when she got close. “Looking good, Ash.”

Ash grabbed her and pulled her into his arms, like he always did. “When are you going to run away with me?”

She laughed, and he smiled. “Now, you know you can’t handle me.”

“Oh, baby, you’d be surprise,” he purred. “One night with me and you’re hooked for life.” She laughed again. “I’ll make your toes curl.”

“You are priceless, you know that?”

“Yes, I do.”

“What are you doing in town? Don’t you have a cabin that needs worked on?”

“I need to eat, also.” He hugged her close. “What are you doing here?

“You first.”

“I’m meeting Alex and Fox. They’re going to come up and give me a hand with the bathroom. Plumbing isn’t my thing. You?”

“I have a school girl friend finally coming to stay with me. She’s had some major bad luck, so I got her to head here. I think she might even settle here.”

“Does she look like you?” Jewels gave him a dirty look, and he winked back. “I just want to know what we’re getting ourselves into. If she looks like you, then the men in this town are doomed.”

“I’m not sure what you mean like me, but I think she’s very pretty. She’s also very shy and thinks she is too fat and not pretty, either. She got a big beat down like Lindsey did before Fox stood up and did the right thing.”

“No family then?”

“A mother who is totally worthless. It a long story.”

“They usually are.”

“Anyway, I’m really excited that she’s coming. Got the service elevator running so she can get into my apartment and not have to worry about the stairs.”

“What you mean?”

“Oh, she was in a nasty car accident. Fucked up her leg or more like the knee, so please don’t make a big deal out of it when you meet her. She’s very sensitive about it.”

“I promise I’ll be on my best behavior, and I’ll have the other two animals be good, also.”

“You’re a dream.” She leaned in and kissed him fully on the lips.

Ash groaned on purpose. “Woman, I can give you dreams that…”

She put her hand over his mouth. “Don’t go there.”

He chuckled. “Want to grab a burger with us?”

She shook her head. “I’ll pass. Alex has been even more of a charming, little dick than normal. I think you need to take him out and get him laid.”

Ash busted out laughing to that. “Oh, that is a good one. That stiff of a brother of mine needs to go out so bad, but even if I pushed him out the door, he wouldn’t go. I don’t know what is up his ass.”

“When you figure that out, please let me know.” She smiled sweetly, but Ash saw something in her eyes, something he couldn’t put his finger on. “I need to go. Need to pick up some food before the bus comes.”

“She’s on the bus?”

“Doesn’t drive, not since the accident. Have a good one.”

Ash watched her walk away. Yep, Jewels is a one of a kind woman. Damn shame not for him, though.

Swinging his leg over, he got off the bike and headed in to the diner. With a nod to the waitress, Ash headed over to one of the booths and sat down. He didn’t have long of a wait before Alex and Fox joined him. They all ordered the triple stack burger with fries and sodas.

“I see Jewels is in town,” Fox said with a knowing grin on his face.

“Yep.” Ash nodded. “Has a friend coming to stay with her.”

“Really?” Fox slumped back in the seat. “Wonder if she’s as hot as Jewels.”

“You’re mated,” Ash pointed his finger at Fox.

“Yeah, but not dead.”

“Knock it off,” Alex grumbled.

“You have really turned into one grumpy prick, you know that?” Fox said. “I swear all we do anymore is tiptoe around your ass.”

“He has a point,” Ash said. “You’re starting to get to the point that if you don’t find your mate soon, we might have to cage up your sorry ass.”

“I’m fine,” Alex said.

“Bullshit,” Ash snapped. “It seems that every damn time we talk about Jewels or she’s around, you become this animal that needs to be fucking chained up.” Ash leaned in towards Alex. “Dude, if you have a boner for her, then get it chewed on. I’m sure if you played your cards right, you could have Jewels, if that is what you want.”

“I don’t have a boner for her, and when did this meeting turn into this shit? I thought we were here to talk about your cabin.”

“We are, but that is before you became this again,” Ash said with a motion of his hand at Alex. “Maybe it’s time for you to go to a Gathering.”

Alex groaned. “Knock it off. I’m fine, all right?”

“I say bullshit, again.”

“Okay, so what do you need help with?” Fox asked, changing the subject.

Ash and Alex had a short stare off. The food came before Ash answered the question.


“What about it?” Fox asked.

“I have this huge ass jet tub coming, and I need to get the plumbing in there done,” Ash told Fox. “Shower is done, all the cabinets in, but I know the plumbing isn’t right for the tub.”

“You get the roof done yet?” Alex asked.

“Done last week.” Ash answered him.

“You don’t need us both then for the tub. Fox can handle that.”

“Yeah, but the kitchen needs to get connected, also, and I’m under a time crunch.  I have to get it all ready by end of the month for inspection so I can get the water turned on and get to move in there officially, not just stay in there from time to time.”

“Why do I get the feeling there is more here?” Alex said.

“I do need help with the dock.”

“I knew it!” Alex dropped his hand on the table loud. “That was supposed to be done weeks ago. Dad told you to get the boat out and put it on your land, what…um, a month ago?”

“I have been busy,” Ash stated.

“The hell you haven’t,” Alex huffed. “You’ve been dicking around.”

“I’ve not been dicking around.”

“Then what have you been up to? Don’t tell me busy crap, either.”

Ash sighed loudly and slumped back in the seat. He spread his arms out over the back of the booth and looked his brother right in the eye. “I’ve been hitting a few Gatherings, okay?”

That seemed to take both of his brothers back. They both looked at him in shock.

“Does Dad know?” Fox asked.

“Nope. I haven’t told anyone,” Ash answered.

“Are you trying to tell us that it’s getting that bad for you now?” Alex asked.

Ash shrugged his shoulders. “Dunno. I’m just tired of being alone. I’m tired of seeing everyone have someone. Tired of seeing all but you and me happy.” He looked at Fox. “Don’t take that the wrong way, either. I’m glad you found your mate. I just want my own.”

“I can understand that,” Fox said.

“I think you need to start hunting, too,” Ash looked at Alex. “I get the vibe that you are ten times worse than me.”

“I’m fine.”

“I doubt it and change the subject.”

To keep the peace, they had some small talk about designs and plans while they ate. Ash told them he had all the material for the dock and had started some of the posts, but that was about it. His focus has been on the plumbing and getting it straight, but each time he tried something or put water down a pipe, he discovered a whole, new leak.

“When is Nick and Darian due to show up?” Ash asked while the three walked out of the diner.

“Not sure,” Alex answered. “I think they might be late.”

The bus turned into town, and all three stopped on the walk to watch. It went past them and into the covered boarding spot and stopped. Jewels came out of the store with her arms full of bags. Food no less. Fox patted Ash on the back and jogged over to her, helping her like always.

Ash noticed how intent Alex stared at her. He said nothing, just watched his brother, and wondered why the hell he didn’t make a move on her. Hell, Ash would bet his last dollar that Jewels would hook up with Alex. For Christ’s sake, he remembered how she followed Alex around when she was younger. She was about ten times worse than Lindsey when it came to always being around.

Jewels put the stuff in the back of the truck and jogged over to the bus. Fox went with her, and Ash and Alex stayed put across the street, watching as she lit up with the excitement of her friend finally coming to stay with her.

Ash just swung his leg over his bike to head out when something in the wind changed. Tiny fingertip chills moved down the middle of his back. He stiffened and looked up, eyes going to the bus. He couldn’t see much. People were walking off, and Jewels and Fox seemed to just get lost within them.

Then he saw her, a vison unlike anything he could have dreamed up.

Jewels had her arms tight around a woman shorter than herself. Her hair was super long, reaching to her waist and a shade of golden wheat. She had the curves he wanted, the plumpness he dreamed about at night.

Right off he could pick up that unsureness Jewels mentioned. When Fox spoke to her, she lowered her head and moved back as if she might be afraid of him. That had Ash wanting to snort. Fox was one of the gentlest guys around, the little buddy to all.

She turned, and he got a full-frontal view. She had bangs, and the long length of her hair parted down the middle. Unsure of the eye color, but he could made out the heart-shaped face and what looked like soft lips. She wasn’t really dressed for a sweltering summer. She had on jeans and a short sleeve shirt. She also had an arm crutch on her left side, but he didn’t give it much thought.

Fox took her bags, and the three walked over to Jewels’ truck. Ash never took his eyes off her, not even when she got into the truck or when Jewels pulled away.

“Earth to Ash,” Fox snapped his fingers in front of Ash’s face, breaking him out of the spell that wove around him so tight.

“What?” He looked at Fox, who in turned looked at the direction Jewels and her friend had gone.

“I know that look,” Fox said, pointing his finger at Ash. “That look means trouble.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Ash snapped.



"Ashs Beauty" - Jaden Sinclair


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