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Authors: Moxie North

Bear With Me (10 page)

BOOK: Bear With Me
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Chapter 14


Days passed, then it became weeks. Conner didn’t try to contact Mackenzie and she didn’t reach out to him.

It had been quiet around the work sites. No issues with equipment, no sign of Tony. Cage had given the heads up to Dax in case Tony moved back to California to take up where he left off.

The first few days with Mackenzie gone, Conner tried to tell himself that it was for the best. That she could move on, find someone else. His brothers were supportive, they knew how much he was hurting. If anyone knew, it was them.

His mom didn’t talk to him for a few days, and then even she caved when she saw how miserable her son was. Conner wasn’t looking for their sympathy. In fact he liked it better when they were mad at him. That he could understand, it allowed him to stop the self-flagellation as long as someone else had taken up the whip.

He wasn’t hungry, he wasn’t interested in work. He kept to himself mostly. The wedding was next week and he didn’t want to be the rain on the parade. Spirits were high and they should be, it was a much anticipated event.

Whenever they had some kind of wedding planning meeting, or whatever those women did when they all go together, Conner took himself off into the mountains. Letting his bear out was the only thing that gave him any peace. For the first time in his life, he could appreciate his animal shouldering the burden for a while.

His bear would tramp through the forest, fish in the streams. And more often than not, they would spend the night in their cave. Conner content to let his bear have his time, be himself. The shift in his attitude showed in his animal’s communication with him. Bear was quieter, not always trying to get his attention. He urged him now unspoken, providing comfort and reassurance when Conner needed it and quiet when that was best.

But Conner could feel his animal’s longing for Mackenzie. They both had her on the mind most of the time. Wondering what she was doing, who she was with, was she being safe. He’d picked up the phone a dozen times to call her, but never made it to dialing. If she was moving on he didn’t want to remind her of the pain he’d caused. So he let her be.

It was the Wednesday before the Saturday wedding. Conner was dropping into the office to check in with Cage. With his newest planting area scorched, he had time on his hands and was helping out Wyatt.

“Hey big brother, anything new today,” Conner asked, taking his usual seat across from Cage’s desk.

“Nope, where were you last night? I got stuck hot gluing pearls on gift favor bags, you asshole. Could’ve used your help,” Cage growled, examining his fingers like there would still be marks to show him.

“Poor baby, getting married and having to do arts and crafts. So sorry I missed that,” Conner answered with a chuckle. “Spent the night in the cave,” he told his brother.

“Ahh, seems you’ve been up there a lot lately,” Cage queried, giving his brother free rein to talk if he needed.

“Yeah, it’s quiet up there. Peaceful,” he answered, the smile dropping from his face.

“That’s good man, I’m glad to see you are getting to a good place. I bet your bear is happier,” Cage guessed.

“As happy as he can be,” Conner said, looking down to pick at his fingernail.

Hearing his brother sigh, Conner looked up at his brother, his soon-to-be Alpha. “Have you heard from her,” he couldn’t help but ask.

“Talked to Dax a number of times. No sign of Tony, so that’s good. We’ve only talked about her a few times. He’s pretty pissed as you can guess. But he tells me she’s working, keeping busy. But she’s not good. Losing weight, not sleeping, he’s worried about her,” Cage said quietly.

“Fuck,” Conner said, dropping his gaze again.

“Yeah, fuck is right,” Cage agreed. “On that note, I need to talk to you about something.”

Conner kept his gaze down as he said, “Yeah, what?”

“Conner, look at me,” Cage ordered, his voice commanding his attention.

Unable to resist the urge, he pulled his eyes up to his brother’s.

“She’s coming, for the wedding. It would break Sophie’s heart if she didn’t come. They grew close while she was here. I need to know if you can handle this with her being here. I can’t have some giant drama messing up Sophie’s day. Having Kenzi here is what my mate wants and I’ll make damn sure my woman is happy,” Cage said forcefully.

“Mackenzie is coming to the wedding?” Conner was shocked. It hadn’t even occurred to him she would come. But Cage was right, it was best not to say no to Sophie. He was sure Mackenzie was smart enough to figure that one out fast. He really never thought he’d see her again. His bear set up a low whine in his head. Even he was anxious with the idea of seeing her.

Fuck, he missed her. Missed her scent, her laugh, the way she lit up the fucking room. He dreamed about her every night. Every damn night.

“She’ll be here on Friday, she’s leaving Sunday. Now there is no way for you to avoid her and I need you to take these next few days to work out some kind of game plan. I support you even though I think you are a colossal idiot and an asshole to boot. But I know you’re hurting and I don’t want you doing anything rash while she’s here. Think about it, figure out how to cope and then man up and deal with it,” Cage ordered.

Conner knew he was right. He was being a pussy. He’d made the decision, it was one that affected two people and four souls. Conner needed to own it and move forward. He just wasn’t sure how.

* * * * *

Friday came and Conner ensured he was out in the forest all day. At sun up he was waiting for the crew to arrive. He worked himself to exhaustion trying to keep his mind off the fact that Mackenzie was most likely already at his parents’ house.

He would see her tonight, it was the rehearsal dinner and there was no way it could be avoided. Luckily a number of family and friends were coming and they were hosting a BBQ at the main house. Lots of people meant lots of mingling and hopefully few run-ins with his mate.

Yup, that was his grand plan. Avoid at all costs. It wasn’t a great plan, or even a well thought out one. But it’s all he’d managed to come up with after Cage’s warnings.

Conner was the last one to leave the site and he knew he was pushing his luck getting home to shower and change before the dinner. The last thing he needed was his mom all over his ass tonight.

Parking his Jeep in front of his cabin, he stepped out and fell back against the door. Lifting his head he pulled in a huge breath of air. Letting it fill his lungs, soak into his cells.


He didn’t see her, but she’d been around recently. His bear and him were so trained to that scent, it was like Pavlov’s dog. His dick thickened in his pants, at the mere wisp of her.

“Oh, man, this night is going to suck,” he said to himself. His bear chuffed in his head, in complete agreement.

Deciding a shower and possibly the liberal use of his hand to make sure he wasn’t sporting an erection throughout dinner was his first order of business.

After he’d taken care of his most urgent needs, Conner dressed in a pair of nice jeans, black cowboy boots and a long sleeve grey button down. Tomorrow he was stuck in a tux, there was no way he was starting early by wearing a tie tonight.

Taking in a fortifying breath, he headed outside to see the party was already starting. A number of people were milling around outside the house. His mom had tables and chairs brought in to put in the grassy area out front. Huge strands of bulb lights were strung zig-zag across the yard. In between the bulbs hung white Japanese lanterns swinging in the light breeze. The caterers had already set up long tables that were mounded with food and two industrial size grills were off the side of the house billowing smoke.

Sophie had given up control of the catering for this one night so she could enjoy herself. All of the food was ready and prepped for the wedding. She agreed to let the caterers help tomorrow for final prep and set up. But basically, Sophie had cooked most of the food herself. There were all of Cage’s favorite dishes, which meant that the food was a mix of American, British, Asian, and Italian. She wanted him happy and she said the fastest way to a man’s heart was his stomach. The lasting way was in the bedroom. She was a funny one, his soon to be sister-in-law.

Stopping by a group of people, Conner started shaking hands and slapping backs. His cousins and uncles were all there which meant just greeting family took the better part of an hour. He tried really hard to not look for her. He’d occasionally get a whiff of her intoxicating scent, but managed to not turn and look.

Spying his brothers, Conner made his way over to them.

“Please tell me there is beer,” he said by way of greeting.

Wyatt handed him a cold longneck from a bucket on a table. Popping the top, Conner downed half of it before looking at Cage. “Nice party bro.”

Cage snorted, “Our entire clan is here, plus friends. I thought rehearsal dinners for were just for people in the wedding ceremony. I was apparently confused on the definition.”

“Oh, quit your bitchin’. You’ve got family, food, and most importantly beer. Tomorrow you marry your girl and a few months after that you’ll have your first cub. Your life is not what I would qualify as tough,” Wyatt said, shaking his head at his brother.

“Doesn’t seem fair does it, Wyatt? Cage is going to be Alpha as soon as he relieves our beloved uncle. He’s got a smoking hot mate who apparently keeps him very happy at home judging by the dopey expression he comes to work with every day. She can cook just about anything, even though he insists on her making sloppy joes once a week. Which by the way, is fucking disgusting dude, seriously. And he’s got a kid on the way, which we can only hope looks like its mother. I’d say someone smacked you upside the head with the lucky stick,” Conner said, finishing off his beer with a long pull.

“Well since he was already hit by the ugly stick, it’s only fair he get a few lucky taps in,” Wyatt joked.

“Lucky taps! That’s what he calls it whenever Sophie lets him get some,” Conner guffawed.

“You two are so lucky there are humans here, or I’d show you just how funny I can make you look,” Cage growled. “And don’t talk about Sophie like that.” He turned to stomp off, which just sent Conner and Wyatt into gales of laughter.

Wyatt called out to Sophie in the distance, “Hey Sophie, incoming grumpy bridegroom!”

“Good luck!” Conner called out.

The rest of the evening went smoothly. Conner finally had enough alcohol in him to be brave enough to look for Mackenzie. She was standing near his mother and some of his aunts. They were all talking and laughing. She was wearing a butter yellow sundress that made her glow in the setting sun. Twilight was falling and she looked like the setting sun herself.

Feeling Conner’s gaze, Mackenzie smiled at his mother and turned in the direction she knew he was. She knew where he was every second of the evening. Her cat had set up an insistent whine the minute he’d showed up. But his clear attempts to ignore her stung. So she put on her happy face and acted like her mate wasn’t just yards away from her. But now, the pull of his gaze was too strong.

Her eyes met his, they were just like she remembered, and damn he looked handsome tonight. She tried to smile at him, show him that she was happy, that she was okay. Her attempt failed as her smile started to quiver the moment she let her lips move. Pursing her lips together tight, she offered him a head nod, which he returned with a chin lift. She turned her back to him before he could see the tears welling in her eyes. She looked to his mom knowingly and made her excuses to go inside.

She didn’t come out for the rest of the evening.

* * * * *

The morning of the wedding was unusually bright and sunny. Even in July the weather in Washington was unpredictable. But the fates were shining down their approval of this union. Everyone could feel it.

Conner was riding in his brother’s truck as they made their way to the little chapel in the woods. His tux collar scratched at his neck and he kept tugging on it.

“We’re loggers; couldn’t you have talked her into flannels and beanie caps? I heard that’s very trendy right now,” Conner griped.

“Oh what do you know of trendy, asshole,” Wyatt shot back.

“More than you, dipshit,” Conner barked.

“Really? I’m on my way to my wedding and you two girls are pulling at each other’s pigtails? I will pound you both into the dirt if you don’t grow up,” Cage growled.

For some reason, this sent both brothers into laughing fits. Cage just shook his head and kept driving. He didn’t trust either of them to get him to the church on time so he forced them into his own truck.

As they approached, the sun was shining through the trees directly onto the little white building. It was so small only immediate family was invited to the ceremony. In their family it meant their clan and Sophie’s parents who hadn’t quit sniffing at the air since they got there. It was like they found the smell of nature an affront to their senses. Luckily the boys’ mom was the one to deal with them most of the time, and the ever gracious hostess was reserving all her snarky comments about them until they left. She was classy like that.

Stepping out of the truck, the three brothers strode into the almost empty church. The minister had already arrived and Cage went up front to talk to him.

BOOK: Bear With Me
5.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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