Bearllionaire: (BWWM) Paranormal BBW Bear Shifter Romance Standalone (3 page)

BOOK: Bearllionaire: (BWWM) Paranormal BBW Bear Shifter Romance Standalone
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3

R
yder waited anxiously
in his Range Rover. He could have taken the limo to town, but he preferred the sense of absolute control that came from being behind the wheel. Control that the storm kept trying to take from him. He made a note to find out exactly what the best method for being the safest on snow was. Ryder didn’t like anything interfering with his ability to control things, especially when it came to safety.

Living and working in Silicon Valley ever since the tragedy years ago, he’d almost forgotten how bad weather could make driving. And now that he’d be driving his potential new mate home, he had to steel himself against the rush of nerves that came when he thought of the night he’d learned exactly how powerful a bit of frozen water could be.

But he hardened his heart against the sensation and turned down the music when he thought he heard the sound of a door opening and closing. He slid out of his seat and shut the car door behind him as he hurried up to her walk. Janna looked beautiful as usual, her dark curls swirling about her head, those sparkling eyes blinking away the snowflakes battling to get past her long lashes, those plush, red lips pursed against the wind as she struggled with her suitcase, which Ryder hefted easily away from her and over his shoulder as he wrapped an arm around her and guided her down the walk.

She gave him a grateful, though still a little dubious, look and came with him to the car. He got the door open and ushered her in, shut the door, and then hurried around to the back to put in her oversized suitcase. What a woman would need for a few days to a week that could take up such a huge amount of space he didn’t know. He just knew he could barely believe he’d closed the deal and gotten her to come with him.

Now came the hard part.

A world of tech negotiations and million-dollar business deals still hadn’t given him much experience with women. Sure, a few beautiful women here and there at parties or coming on to him after business meetings, but no one that had ever given him the instant, hungry attraction he’d had when he saw Janna.

When he saw her, he knew it was forever. If he could win her, that is.

But he still didn’t forgive his father, he thought as he swung up into his seat and closed his door against a whoosh of air. When his father had demanded in his will that his sons come back and find mates in the tiny town where they’d grown up, he couldn’t have known there’d be a beautiful, feisty woman like Janna waiting for him.

Even now, she was sitting with a backpack on her lap, back rod straight, red lips pursed stubbornly. This was a woman who wouldn’t make things easy, and Ryder already liked that about her. Hell, maybe that’s why he’d been drawn to her in the first place.

“Anywhere you need to stop before we head up into the mountains?” he asked.

“No,” she said, pouting slightly.

“Not having second thoughts, are you?” he asked. He’d prefer if his future mate didn’t feel he was being too pushy about this. He didn’t want her looking back with any regrets. Then again, he had a feeling he couldn’t give her a lot of time before claiming her. He’d seen the man in the store that had been here before him. The confusion and hurt in Janna’s eyes. This was the bastard who’d put all that doubt there, and the bastard clearly wasn’t done causing the damage he intended.

But Ryder intended to insure he didn’t get the chance to finish what he’d started. The man wanted Janna, but Ryder would make sure he never got her. Even if she didn’t choose him. He could sense the other man was the type who actually saw women as acquisitions, which is something Ryder found disgusting. Anything between him and Janna would have to be more of a merger.

He grinned at the thought of it and put the car into gear, enjoying the way Janna eyed the luxurious interior. He didn’t need a lot of money or nice things himself, but he thought he wouldn’t mind if Janna could benefit from some of the hard work he’d been doing.

But he hadn’t done it for the money. He’d done it for the same reason he’d done many things. The control. The power. The pursuit. The rush. The competition.

And sure, seeing that jerk in Janna’s store had fired that innate sense of competition within him, but Ryder had been set on Janna since the night he came to her table. Maybe he wasn’t that experienced with women, but he could tell by the way she blushed, the way she tried to hide her squirm when he locked eyes with her, that she was affected too. Now he had her for a week. He just needed to woo her.

But how did one do that? He was grateful he’d have Riley, the gross playboy, to give him some tips. He could always toss out the distasteful ones. He was sure Riley, as a celebrity, had a different way of getting women and a different taste for them than he, Ryder, did.

“You okay?” she asked. “You’re awfully quiet. Something you haven’t really been with me.”

Ryder cleared his throat. Damn, he had a habit of getting lost in his mind when he was nervous and trying not to be. But she was just so beautiful, and now that he’d gotten her to agree to come with him, his mind was racing on how to move forward without screwing it up. “Fine, just concentrating on the storm. These roads can be dangerous. I want you to feel safe with me.”

She grinned. “That’s sweet of you. But I’ve been up these roads many times in much less safe cars. We like to have girls’ night at the lodge, remember?”

He growled. “I don’t like the sound of that. What if you got hurt? We’ve had accidents on this road, you know. People were killed.”

She sighed. “Not all of us have fancy cars, Mister Billionaire. And I’m not giving up my girls’ nights for anything. It’s all I have in this little town.”

“Yeah, I can’t imagine living here really,” he replied. Even though he could. In a little cabin, just the two of them, until cubs came along. He wet his lips and focused on the road, as he was supposed to be doing. “So who was the guy that came in before me?”

He regretted it the minute it came out. But the jealous part of him, the part that didn’t want to share any part of her with anyone else already, couldn’t help wanting to know everything he could about his potential future rival. It was the business shark in him, maybe. Scope out the competition. Find out their weaknesses. Attack.

“Oh. Um. An ex.”

His stomach twisted in an unpleasant way. He knew it was a little odd that he was falling this hard, this fast, but according to his father, this was how it had been between him and Ryder’s mother. Ryder hated his father for being a player, but he had to admit he admired him for knowing what he wanted and going after it. It was the selfishness that came after that Ryder couldn’t accept. Damn it, would he end up like that if he mated? No, it was monogamy for him all the way. Besides, with his work, he’d barely have time for anything else.

But he had a feeling after ignoring his bear for so long, he’d be taking some time off work when he found a mate. Or at least taking it a little easier.

Ryder focused on the road, which was still icy but better now that the snow was lessening. The wipers made a kind of unpleasant intrusion into the silence, reminding him he really should have something to say about now. But bears were solitary creatures, so even his animal couldn’t help him with this one.

Bear shifters were rare and didn’t reproduce as easily as wolves or other shifters did. That was probably part of why his father had pulled them all back here to find mates. Probably there were some women around with latent bear blood or women who were just hardy in general if they could live out here in the cold, isolated weather in the winter.

Women who could perhaps carry bear shifter cubs.

He stifled a growl as he tried to think of a way to ask about her ex that wasn’t intrusive. But he couldn’t, so he just stayed silent, unable to believe he could already feel so possessive of a woman he’d barely met.

“So what brings you to Bearstone Park?” she asked quietly. “Must be pretty different for a big tech mogul like yourself.”

He sighed and clenched one hand around the wheel. “Actually, I grew up here. At least for while. Anyway, Dad’s will brought us back.”

He snuck a look at her and caught her biting her lip and eyeing him sideways. He snapped his gaze back to the road. Just the one second look at her, those lush lips bitten in just the way he’d like to bite them, had made his pulse increase.

Easy, Ryder.

“But if you didn’t want to come back, I doubt there’s anything in his will that could tempt you. I mean, you’re one of the richest men in the world.”

Ryder nodded. It was true but only because his dad had given them all something to start out with. He’d gone into investing and done very well for himself after business school. But it was more than that. His father had given him life in a world where life wasn’t easy to give. He had a duty to reproduce, and his father would know more about it than most. And with so little family, bear shifters took family ties seriously. Especially without a mother around.

His heart throbbed at that and his chest tightened painfully, as if to shield the long-buried wound there.

“You’re kind of a still-waters-run-deep kind of person, aren’t you?” she asked.

He laughed at that, palming the wheel to take a careful turn and rubbing the ache from his chest, hoping she didn’t notice. “I don’t know. I can be quite loud and forceful when the time calls for it, or even when it doesn’t. You can ask my brothers about that. I guess being home just sort of feels nostalgic.”

“So your brothers will be there too?”

He opened his mouth to say yes, that they were also there looking for mates, but then jealousy ran through him. “They’ll be around, yes. But you’ll be working mainly with me.” Damn, that sounded controlling. But best she get used to it now. If she became his mate, he’d be that much more possessive. Much as he loved them, his brothers were the last people he’d want spending much time alone with his potential future mate.

That was his bear talking. His bear had sized up the woman with her curves and her beautiful ass and made up its mind on the spot. Ryder would just have to follow because the same bear had driven him to success in the business world with its strength and tenacity, and he had no doubt its taste in women were awesome as well.

It didn’t hurt that it made Ryder’s mouth water to think about those luscious curves under his hands. He was a big, tall man, and he could easily handle those bountiful, lush breasts, that wide, plush ass. He gripped the wheel a little tighter and hoped she didn’t notice the sudden tightness in his pants.

“So I’ll be staying at the lodge?” she asked. “Fancy.”

He swallowed, grateful for the change of subject. “Yes. Or one of the cabins, which are even nicer.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to stay there.”

“Why haven’t you?”

“Spendy,” she replied.

He shook his head. “I’ll have to talk to Mark about setting up a locals-only rate. It’s not right that the lodge should be supported by a town that can’t even afford to enjoy it.”

“Well, we do enjoy meeting up there, but that’s nice of you. I think a lot of people in town would take you up on it. But wouldn’t you lose money?”

“That’s not how I like to make money. Excluding people who are poor. And we aren’t usually fully booked, even in tourist season. The lodge is just too big.”

“Ah. Right,” she said lightly, and he panicked, wondering if the conversation was boring her. The last thing he ever wanted her to feel in his presence was boredom.

“So tell me about this ex,” he said as they rounded a turn that put the large lodge in sight in the distance. He almost caught his breath at the view. Large mountains covered in snow rising up on either side, white-laden pines swaying in a blurry haze. Beautiful white all around. “You didn’t seem happy to see him.” Well, it was out on the table now. Hopefully she wouldn’t be mad at him for bringing it up.

She let out a sigh full of confusion and pain, and his throat tightened. His bear was almost too good at reading into any sound or vocalization, and he simultaneously regretted bringing up something painful but was grateful that if she needed to share something with him, she could.

“It’s a long story. You want the long or the short version?”

“Whichever you want to tell me.”

She laughed. “You’re good with women, you know that? I wouldn’t have guessed on first meeting you.”

“I came on too strong, didn’t I?”

She leaned on the window and eyed him playfully. He made an effort to keep his eyes on the road, though he knew the route by heart. “A little. I guess I haven’t had anyone come on to me in a while.”

“I find that hard to believe,” he said a little too forcefully. “I mean, you’re beautiful. I’m sure the men in this town are just fighting over you constantly.”

“Hm, fighting? I don’t know about that. I think most of them still probably see me as Scott’s property. Lots of the folks here are old-fashioned, and it doesn’t help that he owns the bank and a lot of their mortgages. Including mine.”

“Not good,” Ryder said. “He doesn’t look like the type I’d want handling my mortgage.”

“He’s the only game in town,” she said quietly.

“Not anymore.”

“Right,” she said with a sigh. “Anyway, we met online. I thought it was amazing that this handsome, successful guy could be so interested in me. And we met up a few times. I fell in love with the town when I visited. He convinced me to move out. I foolishly jumped at the chance to open my own business. But really, I think I felt he was my last chance. I’m shy, and I’d never really met anyone. No one who showed as much overt interest.”

Ah, so that was why she’d been wary around him. She already jumped in it once with a guy who came on too strong, too fast. But this was different. Ryder was a bear, and his bear was instinctive, but never wrong. And he’d just have to prove that to her. While keeping this other jackass away, of course.

“Anyway, shortly after I moved here, selling everything I had to do so, Scott cheated. Well, I discovered him cheating. I guess he could have been cheating before that, but that’s when I found him. I felt so stupid. I couldn’t go back to my family, who’d done nothing but say ‘I told you so,’ and I had nothing left. So I settled.” Heavy silence hung over them while she thought. “But anyway, I thought he was done. But a few months later, after his girl on the side left town, he was back. Thinking, I guess, the fat girl in town wouldn’t have any other options.”

BOOK: Bearllionaire: (BWWM) Paranormal BBW Bear Shifter Romance Standalone
10.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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