Home > Badger to the Bone (Honey Badger Chronicles #3)

Badger to the Bone (Honey Badger Chronicles #3)
Author: Shelly Laurenston


A nose, both cheekbones, and an upper jaw broken by the force of a ball. A twisted arm cracked from the pressure, then a shoulder. A kneecap destroyed by one kick. A lower jaw cracked by a fist. A trachea crushed by another fist.

A circle formed, preventing the prey from running.

Charles Taylor knew he had to intervene, but he was fascinated. What he shouldn’t be, though, was surprised. Their team had just won the Girls’ High School Basketball State Championship. Because if it was one thing they knew how to do, it was how to be a team.

Finally, he stepped out from beside the tree. One of the prey reached out for him, begging him with tear-filled eyes for help.

Charles, instead, looked at the predators and they all stared back, waiting for him to yell, to chastise, until one happily waved at him.

“Hi, Pop-Pop,” his granddaughter greeted with a wide grin, one eye bruised and swelling. Her lip and jaw doing the same. Marks on her throat suggesting she had been choked first. He glanced down at the men, parts of them so badly broken they couldn’t get up. Several, however, attempted to drag themselves away. One was faster than the others, but before he could get very far, one of the teammates stepped in front of him.

She, like his granddaughter, was a little thing. Deceptively small and innocent looking . . . except for the broad shoulders and thighs. And the eyes. Their eyes betrayed what they were. What his granddaughter was, but only because Max was not his blood. He’d adopted her the same way he’d adopted her younger sister—with absolutely no state or federal involvement and no legal paperwork. But their kind didn’t often do things like the full-humans who surrounded them. When his blood-related granddaughter had come to his Pack-owned home, she’d brought her half-sisters with her and all three had become his concern. His responsibility. His problem.

And, to be quite honest . . . his entertainment. Because where the three of them went—whether together or apart—trouble didn’t simply follow. It nested inside them like a parasite. The trio were the Typhoid Marys of trouble.

So he had no idea how these men had gotten on the bad side of his granddaughter Max and her teammates, but he also knew that Max Yang didn’t attack without reason. Honey badgers never did. But God help you if you attacked them, because they never stopped. They never would stop. No matter how much bigger their enemy, how much stronger, how much faster. Badgers never stopped.

Unless, of course, one offered them something better.

“Your sister is making breakfast. You better get home.”

“Breakfast?” She looked at her watch. “Little late.”

“She calls it brunch, but when waffles are involved, it’s breakfast. Or dinner. It’s never brunch.”

She shrugged those brawny shoulders of hers and looked at her teammates. It was a Saturday but the boys’ basketball team had been given a parade for their championship win. The girls, however, who’d rocked the state championship as only a group of badgers could, had not been rewarded with such spirit. So the ladies had gone to the parade in their team uniforms and, knowing them as he did, had probably started a lot of shit because they had gotten no respect from their own school. The school they’d played and won for.

Although the whole team was great, it was these five who had led them to glory and who probably got the most attention. And, most likely, the attention of these men.

Charles knew the broken men on the ground. They didn’t live in his little town but they drove through it when they were on their drug runs, their American-made motorcycles making rumbling noises that just upset those in his Pack.

These men usually didn’t mess with the residents but maybe it had been too hard to resist five young women in matching, bright yellow basketball jerseys and shorts walking down the street. Maybe that had bothered them or enticed them, but when they didn’t get the response they wanted, they’d hurt Charles’s granddaughter.

And that’s why they were crumpled into screaming piles five feet into Charles’s territory.

“Up for waffles?” Max asked and the four other girls nodded.

“But we should clean up,” one of them said, a basketball under her arm, her badger gaze locked on her cursing and sobbing prey. “It’s always good to be tidy.”

“None of that,” Charles replied, immediately knowing these girls weren’t discussing washing their hands. “You five will not be doing any cleaning up of anything.”

“Well, you shouldn’t do it,” Max debated. “You’re getting old.”

“It’s like you want a paw-slap.”

Another raised her hand to silence them, her head turning, eyes closing. She lifted her nose to the air. Sniffed.

“They’re coming,” she finally announced, her voice ominous.

Charles immediately knew who “they” were, and it wasn’t his Pack. It wasn’t more humans. It was a Clan. Not the Klan, of course, with a k. The Klan had come onto their territory once, back in his father’s time to put a stop to the “mixed-race utopia going on over there” . . . and were never seen again. But a Clan with a capital C.

Hyenas. They’d moved into the farm next door to Charles’s Pack a few years back. Thankfully, neither side gave the other much trouble, but a fight this close to territorial lines could cause all sorts of problems if not handled correctly. Especially since one of these basketball players was the half-sister of some of the hyena adults. Although her badger genes overrode anything else inside her, giving her full-on honey badger traits, the Clan still believed her to be their “property.” The way they believed all the male hyenas were their property. At least, she would be until she turned eighteen. Unless she was at basketball practice, the hyenas didn’t take kindly to her hanging out with her honey badger teammates outside of school.

Charles didn’t hesitate. “All of you go to the Pack house. Now.”

“We’re not leaving you here alone,” Max informed him.

Charles wasn’t worried. Not when he had the perfect distractions right in front of him, still trying to drag their broken bodies away. A few had already crossed territorial lines and if there was one thing this particular Clan hated more than howling wolves . . . it was human men.

“You’ll do what I tell you,” Charles insisted.


“While you’re under my roof, Max MacKilligan—”

“Oh, God.” Brown eyes rolled dramatically. “Not the speech.”

“Move your asses,” he ordered the girls, before adding, “or I can go get your sister and she can—”

Four of the girls abruptly sprinted off toward the Pack house before Charles had the chance to finish his threat, but Max stood there, smirking at him.

“That was beneath you,” she told him.

“Was it, though?”

Max laughed and started off. But before she could disappear into the surrounding woods, Charles told her, “The new Alpha female has been making some noise about you and your sisters.”

Max stopped, but didn’t turn around. But he could see her shoulders tighten. Just a bit, but enough.

“I don’t want Charlie to hear about it,” he went on. “She’s got enough on her plate right now. There’s some bidding war going on between universities that want your baby sister. Charlie is trying to deal with all that without a lawyer. This will just stress her out even—”

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