Bear with Me (Bear Mountain Patrol Series Book 1)

BOOK: Bear with Me (Bear Mountain Patrol Series Book 1)
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Bear with Me

By: Sydney Addae

 

 

Bear with Me is the first book in the Bear Mountain Patrol series. Tag Brewer is a troubled young man who lost his father in a BMP sting that went wrong. Worse the higher-ups covered up the truth and threatened Tag in a manner he couldn’t retaliate, which drove him and his Grizzle to roam the mountains seeking peace.

Camilla Lopez, diagnosed with degenerative myopia from her teens, lived in fear of losing all of her eyesight. Unable to participate in most childhood events, she lived the most exciting life in her mind with the aid of movies and actors. 

The day she meets Tag something weird happens to her, and for the next few years she can’t get him out of her mind. What neither of them realizes is when a human female comes in contact with a bear shifter, who is his mate, her subconscious recognizes the connection before he does. Even when she has no idea why he, stubborn as he is, is the center of her focus, all it takes is one kiss, or sex, or body fluid exchange to awaken his Grizzle, and the chase is on, the tables turn and he realizes he cannot live without her.

Tag isn’t your ordinary bear, BMP isn’t your ordinary agency, and this isn’t your ordinary Bear Shifter romance!

 

Thanks to a great team of women who help made this book a reality for me, T.Coleman, R. Gaar, K. Moss, and S. Hudd. You are the absolute best!

 

Prologue

 

The small, ramshackle bar, sat in the middle of a barren valley no longer on any map, sold watered down drinks to the locals and strangers with the misfortune to stumble through its doors. Scuffed hardwood floors, cheap posters of women holding liquor bottles or selling condoms plastered the walls. Dimly lit by a few overhead lights, the place smelled of cheap booze, unwashed bodies and sex.

“Plata o plomo?” Rudy Rivera, a small-time black bear who actually thought the Colorado Mountains was his turf, rocked on the heels of his shoes demanding an answer.

The collection of voices stopped in mid-sentences. All eyes zeroed in on the lone man sitting at the bar sipping his drink, ignoring the man standing slightly behind him. Bottle empty, Tag Brewer looked at the bartender and waved for another round. Understandably confused, the barkeep hesitated and looked at both men.

“Sir, I can’t,” the bartender said begging with his eyes before stepping away.

“Plata o plomo? Last time I ask this,” Rivera repeated his earlier question in a nasty tone. Pistols drawn, two men moved from the sides of the bar, bracketing the smaller man but solely focused on the silent man at the bar. Three additional men, who had been sitting at tables, quickly stood holding semi-automatics and a pistol. Wisely, the few females fled, their heels clicking across the wood floor before closing the door on their way out. The door screeched on its hinges and then banged closed.

Tag allowed the question to settle in his gut as he peered into the large mirror behind the bar. Rivera’s hand rested on the butt of his gun; his index finger slightly moved back and forth as if caressing an old friend. Dressed in a white cotton button down shirt and chocolate-colored denim jeans with a diamond ring on his pinky, Rivera looked every bit the thug Tag assumed him to be. Every second they stared at each other, Rivera’s jaw tightened and his face reddened.

Tag’s father had been killed by Rivera’s boss, Sanchez, in an undercover drug deal gone bad. The BMP in Montana threatened Tag with imprisonment or worse if he sought retribution on these men, but this wasn’t Montana. In the Colorado mountains, a bear handled his own vengeance with little interference.

“What does that mean?” Tag asked in a deceptively quiet tone even though he understood the words quite well. In the past six months, both shifters and humans had disappeared from this area and were never heard from again thanks to Rivera and his South American connections. The man smelled like evil or shit - both left a rancid taste in the back of Tag’s throat.


Silver or lead, you choose, coins in your pocket or lead bullets in the head,” Rivera emphasized the latter with a sneer.

Neither option appealed to Tag, although a man could always use extra cash, in this instance, he would pass. In a blurring move, Tag pushed away from the bar, grabbed Rivera by the neck while pulling out his Glock. Five men were dead before they realized he had captured their boss. People always underestimated how fast a grizzly could move, Rivera should’ve known better.

Tag dragged the struggling man forward then used him as a shield when the bartender stood from behind the bar with a rifle and fired.

Rivera screamed.

“Shit, sorry boss!” yelled the bartender, ducking behind the bar again.

Tag picked up the semi-automatic from one of the dead on the floor and shot up the bar, silencing the bartender for good.

Blood poured from Rivera’s wound but Tag knew that was temporary, the black bear would heal unlike the humans who worked for him.

“You are a dead man,” Rivera said through clenched teeth and narrowed eyes. “I will kill you for this. I never forget, never. Your family, your woman, your children, they will never be safe from my retaliation.”

Tag looked down at the ruddy-faced man in his grasp. “You’re right. You’re a shitty piece of work that has killed human and shifters alike. No reason to turn you in to BMP.”

Rivera’s eyes widened then narrowed. “Bear Mountain Patrol? Is that who sent you? I should’ve known.” He paused and met Tag’s gaze in the mirror. “Perhaps we can come to some arrangement.”

Tag smiled as he pulled Rivera’s gun out of its holster, placed the metal to his forehead and pulled the trigger. “Plata o plomo? You get the fucking lead, bitch.” He dropped Rivera’s body, looked at the blood pooling on the floor and stepped back. Jackson’s frowning face, the head of BMP in this area, flashed across his vision. The man made it his personal mission to keep Tag alive when others in BMP would’ve gladly made him disappear permanently.  Out of habit, he sent it into the box marked “Who-gives-a-shit?” in the corner of his mind to be dealt with in the next millennia. Right now he had other things to deal with.

The clock was ticking, reinforcements would arrive soon. Although he enjoyed clearing the mountain air of the stench from foul bears like Rivera, the BMP frowned on anyone using their name to frighten or kill other bears. He pulled the chain from one side of the double entry doors then secured both. Next he moved to the bar, opened several bottles of alcohol and poured liberal amounts on and around the men. With his pocket lighter he set the bar towel aflame and used it start a blaze. Soon, fire licked the wood, drank the alcohol and spread in its thirst for more.

Tag looked at the flames for a second. Grizzle, his beast, roared at his signature “Dragon” tactic of burning the evidence.

“Good hunt, we take prey?”
Grizzle asked.


Yes, we found prey, he’s destroyed
.” Tag soothed his beast, needing to move quickly. “
We need to leave
.” 

“More hunt?”

Tag moved to the bathroom in the rear of the club. There was no exit door but that would change soon. “
No more hunt, not today. We found our prey, now we leave the fire to burn.”

“Grizzle like fire.”


No time to play or watch the fire today, Grizzle
.” Without much thought, Tag
flowed from 6’4” into a towering 8 foot, 550-pound grizzly bear, doubling his normal weight.

Grizzle turned to stare at the fire. The crackle sound excited him. “
Fire.”


Make a hole in the wall, Grizzle
,” Tag’s human side spoke with a crisp demand.

When he first shifted at 11, Tag couldn’t understand where his cub came from and how it filled his tall, thin frame. Plus, he wondered where all that hair had come from. And where did it go? His mom said it was a kiss from the angels. Through the years, Tag stopped questioning how or where such a huge animal resided when he was in human form and accepted no one knew how any of this happened. It just worked.

Being dual-natured, there were differences between his appearance and natural-born bears. Tag had better control of his arms and his legs were a little longer which allowed him to fight and run with human maneuverability. His face wasn’t as flat, his hump not as pronounced and his thick claws were four and a half inches, unlike the naturals whose claws grew between three and four. But the ferocity and strength of the grizzly, along with their sensory capabilities transferred in both of his forms.

Grizzle’s head hit the ceiling as he worked fast. The smoke from the front of the club seeped beneath the door. Grizzle pulled the bars in the window, causing them to pop and loosen. It didn’t take much longer for him to enlarge the opening. Using the fire as a distraction, he returned to his human form and exited through the hole. No one was on the back road as he walked away and headed into the safety of the mountains.

Focused on leaving, he missed the BMP patrol car parked in the woods down the road.

Chapter 1

 

“The next movie’s my choice,” Camilla said pushing her thick glasses up the bridge of her nose with one hand and Tyra’s, her room-mate, feet off the sofa with the other. Camilla scooted forward holding the DVD high so they couldn’t see the title, Kill Bill.

Pepperoni, sausage and peppers from their pizza mingled with the strong pine scent of the cleaner she’d used to clean the bath earlier. Jewel, her other room-mate, grabbed a slice from the carton and stuffed it into her mouth.

Laughing as she stood in the middle of the small living room, Camilla searched for her glass of water and grabbed it from the sofa table. Since the entire three bedrooms, one and a half bath condo measured 1,100 sf, two long sofas, one a pull-out bed, in the middle of the living-dining combo area made things tight. Home for the past two years, she and her roommates had passed a rigorous inspection of Mrs. Vingunther, the older woman who owned the place but didn’t want to rent it to just anyone.

Camilla would miss the coziness of the dining area, with the white table and mismatched chairs they’d bought from a secondhand store. Smiling, she thought of all the late nights they all sat to eat, study or yak about dates gone horribly wrong. Once she teased they were like the Golden Girls but no one got the joke. 

Tyra leaned up and groaned. “No way. Okay, you win. I can’t take another shoot-em-up movie. Aren’t you tired of seeing guns and war? After
two
Lara Croft
movies, back to back,
and then GI Jane, which you couldn’t watch the bloody scenes by the way, I figured you’d be tired of those.”

“You rather we watch one of those “he cheated on me, so now I’ll get even” movies?” Jewel said in her light British accent then shook her head. “We need a break from
Gone Girl
,
Hunger Games, Divergent, Waiting to Exhale
and all the cops and criminals. Come on guys, let’s watch something happy, something fun.” She looked at Camilla with a twinkle in her sapphire- colored eyes and bright smile.

“Fun?
Waiting to Exhale
was fun, did you see her light his car on fire? That was the highlight of the movie.”

“Tyra, I’m worried about you,” Camilla said then laughed at Tyra’s finger in the air.

“Can’t help it if I identify with the sister in the movie and you… don’t.”

“Which sister, there were four, not all of them set shit on fire, either,” Jewel said rolling her eyes. “Women don’t always have to resort to violence to make a point.”

“Nope, we call on Madea, let her handle it for us.” Camilla did her Madea imitation of running and pulling out her pistol. Her friends laughed.

“That movie was silly,” Tyra said then smiled. “But it was funny, got to give it to her.”

Jewel laughed and Camilla smiled. They were an unlikely trio, British, Cuban-Bahamian, and African American, from different cultures, races and nationalities which should’ve divided them but in a weird way made them closer. She couldn’t ask for better friends when she left home and moved to college in Colorado. In this room she was the oldest in age only, not life experience which she learned early in their friendship.

“What about this?” Camilla dug into her coveted stash of movies she’d been collecting for the past decade and pulled out another DVD.

“We really should get Netflix or one of those other streams so we can just use the remote,” Jewel said flipping her long dark ponytail as she lay on the other sofa in their cramped living room.

“Would’ve been good if you’d gotten it during our junior year, Jewels and not after we graduated from undergrad,” Tyra said and stood, stretching. The shortest of them, standing a few inches over five feet, with a curvy petite frame and short pixie cut that matched her sassy personality. “I concede, Milla. You’re the bestest video queen of them all. I cannot match your prowess when it comes to movies. Your knowledge is unsurpassed. Now I’m going to bed.” She walked toward the hall then looked back at them. “Breakfast is cancelled since it’s 4am, a late lunch, maybe go to Maxi’s they have a new band, it’s free before 8pm.”

Camilla smiled as she nodded. This was their last summer as roommates and they planned to make the most of it. “Sounds good, I’ll probably go for a walk later then talk to mom. She’s been calling a bit lately.”

Tyra sucked her teeth. “Just tell her you don’t want to move home. You know that’s what she wants anyway. How old are you?”

Fire raced to her cheeks. Camilla reeled from the tone of the question. She removed her glasses, cleaned and then replaced them on her face. Calmer, she looked at Tyra. “Age is not the issue.”

“Twenty-six,” Jewel said at the same time then shrank back. Her lithe body, a few inches shorter than Camilla curved onto the sofa.

Camilla frowned at Jewel. “Age has nothing to do with it. There’s just the two of us now and I’m far away. She doesn’t have anyone else since Daddy died.”

“Milla, you stayed, three – four years after high school to help take care of your daddy, started college late so your mom could work. I’m not saying you don’t owe your parents, we all do to a point but you don’t want to live in Florida anymore. Why can’t you just put your foot down?”

Obviously, Tyra’s mama’s not like mine
. Camilla forced herself not to shudder at the idea of putting her foot down with Mama. Her mom was reasonable unless she thought someone disrespected her. A switch flipped inside her mind and she’d blow like a volcano, spewing curses on the unfortunate person. “
Women with Island blood are born with more fire
,” her Dad explained to her once when her mom went off on a rant over the way someone talked to her.

“Starting school later wasn’t just to help with daddy, I told you that. I had surgery and all the problems that came along with that. My eyes still aren’t right, but better. Mama had both me and daddy to deal with and it took longer than we thought. She’s alone and I’m not going to stop talking to her. ” Why did she feel the need to defend her actions? She shouldn’t but she cared what they thought of her.

No one spoke for a few moments. Camilla pushed her glasses up her nose and inhaled. Her healthy room-mates had no idea of the hell living with degenerative myopia had been. Losing the ability to see clearly even with glasses
, plus headaches, and sensitivity to light
affected a person’s self-esteem and dreams. In the secret places of her mind she longed for the adventures of Lara Croft, the challenges of G.I. Jane and the fun of Charlie’s Angels, none of which would ever happen because of her worsening eyesight.

Since her father and most of his siblings were myopic to various degrees, chances of her regaining most of her vision were slim despite the great strides made for correcting the problem. According to her doctor she fell in the small percent who glasses, contacts and surgery didn’t help. Her father’s death released her to attend college but the challenges of her eyesight never changed.

“Remember what it was like our freshman year? It took a whole semester for you to get back into the rhythm of school and being on your own. Your first kiss, first boyfriend, how happy you were living on your own for the first time. Like a flower you blossomed, I don’t want you to lose that. You’re so different now, happy, dancing and singing off-key in public. Never mind; call your mom, a break would be nice,” Tyra said smiling as she walked back toward them.

Camilla threw up her middle finger even though Tyra spoke true. She’d never been able to let go and be herself as she had since moving away from home and finding good friends. Tyra and Jewel never remarked about her stumbling over things right in front of her sometimes. Although she suspected they had no idea of the extent of her health problems, they accepted her limits and rarely pushed, except for when it came to mama.

“Yeah,” Jewel said sitting up. “Remember how happy you were the first time you got drunk?”

“I wasn’t drunk,” Camilla said. “Tipsy, feeling good.” Her cheeks blazed at the memory of that night, she’d gotten the courage to wear an outfit Tyra and Jewel put together. The low-cut dress squeezed her breasts so tight; her 34Bs looked like D cups. Even wore a pair of contacts after Tyra and Jewel promised to remain close in case she needed assistance navigating the room. Men had asked her to dance, placed their hands on her hips and called her sexy.

Her!

That night she hadn’t been the tall, skinny, flat-chested girl with thick eyeglasses no one noticed. For three hours her mind had been free, he hadn’t entered her thoughts not once. Later that night, every word, pickup line, gesture were compared to the secret man in her heart and while the men she met that night fell short, being the center of attention had been liberating. Hands down, that had been the most magical night of her life.

“Drunk, or whatever makes you feel better,” Tyra corrected then sat on the edge of the sofa. “Look, I love your moms, she’s a nice person and I get you’re all she has left but you’re entitled to live on your own too. At least for a part of your life. You’re young, smart and gorgeous.”

Camilla snorted recalling the years she yearned for male attention and had been overlooked for shorter, curvier girls who looked like her roommates. She pushed up her eye-glasses. “That’s a stretch.”

“I wish I had some of your height and a small apple butt, like yours,” Tyra said, her hands on her much larger hips.

“I’d kill for long, thick hair like yours,” Jewel said. “It’s dark but has all those natural highlights. My mum would say the sun kissed your hair. And your skin? You don’t need to tan, ever, it’s the color of blanched almonds.”

Gotta love roommates who make lemonade from lemons but she had seen herself through the eyes of well-meaning distant family members, neighbors and classmates all her life. At 5’9” and 129 pounds, she had always been the tall, flat-chested, skinny chick, with thick, wavy hair and no ass, that nobody noticed. Add wearing glasses since elementary school, a Cuban father and Bahamian mother to the mix to see a clearer picture of the diversity in her home as a child. Back then her parents insisted she learn Spanish, travel to the Bahamas and have knowledge of her roots, which left no time for afterschool activities or making friends.

Rather than get into another discussion about her appearance, she returned to the heart of their previous discussion. They needed to understand she had made her decision and to stop acting as if she had no backbone.

“Thanks. Mama knows I’ve already been accepted into grad school and the three of us are spending this summer together, she just wants me to split the time, that’s all. Just like you’re going to visit your NaNa, Tyra,” Camilla said pointing at her friend.

“Visit, not move in which is what your mama wants, no matter how she coats it,” Tyra said, standing. “You’re my girl, quirks and all. Whatever you decide, I’ve got your back.”

Camilla released a long breath. How had the conversation taken such a downturn? “I’m not moving home to live with my Mama. It’s just a visit. She wants to do some girl things again, like we did right after Daddy…” She raised her voice to make sure Tyra heard.
Mama was lonely that’s all
.

Tyra held up two fingers in a peace sign as she walked down the hall. Camilla glanced at Jewel and spread open her hands in a pleading gesture.

“Seriously, I’m not moving back home.” This time she heard the pleading in her voice and inwardly cringed. The idea of going home and being manipulated into remaining made her stomach clench.

Jewel patted her hand and scooted back onto the sofa. “It’s okay love, we all have mums.”

BOOK: Bear with Me (Bear Mountain Patrol Series Book 1)
11.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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