Hollywood Bear: BBW Bear Shifter Paranormal Romance (3 page)

BOOK: Hollywood Bear: BBW Bear Shifter Paranormal Romance
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Madison pulled up the jeep, and squinted off to the west. “Mick, that fifty percent chance of rain is beginning to look like a cup half full, if you know what I mean. I’m going to put up the top.” She jerked her thumb at the Jeep.

Jorge said, “I don’t mind a little rain, but these tires are not made for mud.”

“How about you two check out that trail to the left there,” Mick suggested. “It’s wide enough for the jeep. We’ll stick with this one.” He indicated a tree-shadowed hollow below, with a path barely wide enough to walk single file. It would be a challenge for bikes, but he’d done it before. “Compare notes at the bottom and then head on back.”

He didn’t miss the look of mute surprise Shelley cast his way.

“Or would you rather ride with them?” he asked.

She glanced at that shadowy hollow diving straight down the mountain and laughed. “No way.”

She tucked her brown curls up and pulled on her helmet.

“I’ll go first,” Mick said. “We can take it as slow as you like.”

 

***

 

Shelley would have thought she was dreaming if she hadn’t been astride the most awesome endurance bike she’d ever ridden, flashing through magnificent scenery. They headed down the narrow trail in a beautiful, breathtaking ride.

Yeah. Magnificent scenery. She could just hear Jan’s long drawl, “Ri-i-i-i-ght, you were totally into the scenery. Su-u-u-u-re.”

Okay, so the scenery was a magnificent backdrop for the even more magnificent sight of a big, well-built man on an equally big, well-built motorcycle.

Under anyone else that Husky would look like a hog, or even a tank, but the Russian Bear mastered it like it had been designed for him. He and the bike handled the rough trail expertly, giving her an unimpeded view of long, muscular thighs, and hard, sculpted arms. He skillfully maneuvered the bike at high speeds. She watched the shift of his hips and the play of muscles across his back as he leaned into a tight turn, and imagined those hips driving into her . . .

She nearly ran off the trail. Shit! Pay attention!

She straightened her bike. But five minutes later she caught herself on another turn looking over at at his broad chest, and the tuft of hair at the top of the V in his shirt. He didn’t even wear a bike jacket. Those curls looked so soft…

She wanted to bury her fingers in that hair.

She wanted to bury her lips in that hair . . .

Stop that!

The truth was, the fiery, revving engine between her legs, the exhilarating speed that gave the illusion of the world turning under her, the feel of the wind buffeting her body, the constant demand of skill—these always turned her on. And when you factored in Mick the Russian Bear Volkov roaring down the road, well, she was
really
turned on.

“You okay?” he called at the top of a hairpin turn. Even his voice scorched her, a rough low rumble.

Shelley’s throat dried, and all she managed was a nod: she was doing just fine. Really fine.

For several exhilarating minutes, Shelley bumped over the rough trail behind the 610 as she kept sneaking peeks at him.

Just one more. No, this is the last, I swear.

And then he cast a look back at her. She couldn’t see his eyes behind the darkened visor of his helmet, but the shadows around his sexy mouth, the challenging tilt of his head, thrilled through her nerves. Was he really checking to see if she was handling this trail like some newbie with training wheels?

You want to see some stunt riding?
she thought.

Ahead, she spotted a rocky scree above a sharp turn. She revved the bike, shifted, and shot up a rock, leaping over the turn he’d slowed to take and landed perfectly. With a laughing glance behind her she blew down the trail, leaving him in her dust.

She had about a minute to chortle. Then as the path bent to the right, a shadow flashed over an enormous fallen log inside the path, the 610 whomped to the ground in front of her with a scattering of mud, and Mick pulled ahead.

“Okay,” Shelley muttered, grinning. “Game on.”

 

***

 

His plan had been to separate her from the others so he could enjoy the sight of her on a performance bike. Maybe he’d show her a couple of his favorite trails, if she were up for it. He hadn’t bet on the storm that had started boiling up overhead.

She flew past him like the KTM had grown wings, throwing a glance of laughing challenge behind her that arrowed straight to his groin.

He gunned the engine, spotted his move, and made the leap. 300 pounds of hot, responsive engine between his legs reverberated through bones and teeth as he accelerated into the wind.

Behind him, then neck and neck, and then ahead of him, Shelley gave him a run for his money. He’d thought she was amazing whirling through the choreographed bar fight, but he hadn’t seen sheer poetry until he saw her astride that hybrid trail bike, her lips parted in a grin.

Halfway down the mountain the storm struck. She didn’t even slow as mud kicked up from his tires, splattering her. Shelley spotted a narrow gap between two gnarled trees a split second before he did—he’d been watching her instead of the trail.

Thump! He was eating her dirt. Then a sudden, pounding rain scrubbed their faces below their helmets.

Both ignored the storm until lightning struck nearby. Then they pulled up under the shelter of a pine just before a tumbling brown stream.

He debated about ten seconds, until another lightning strike. Thunder split the air so loud it sounded like it was fifty feet overhead. When at last it rumbled away, he shouted, “I know a place we can wait it out.”

 

***

 

He
knew
a place?

She gestured to him to lead on. He turned his bike straight into the woods. Then began a wild slalom down the mountainside, engines wailing as they jolted and flew over the rocky terrain. Another flash nearby was followed by skull-rattling thunder. The rain turned to hail, stinging her throat and her wrists between her short gloves and the sodden cotton zip jacket meant for warm spring weather. She shivered.

They slowed, then stopped under a corrugated awning attached to a small log cabin. They left their bikes under the awning. Then she followed him into the cabin. It was one room with a cement floor strewn with pine needles, dirt, and bits of gravel. But at least it was dry.

A rough table sat in the middle, with a single chair. A lantern sat on the table, along with a half-burned candle and a box of matches. On the wall opposite the door was a fireplace made of boulders. A neat stack of firewood stood next to it; in the fireplace, sticks had already been laid, with newspaper under ready to be lit. The only other furniture was a trunk shoved against the wall between two windows covered only by screens, their shutters wide open. Overhead, the hail roared on the roof.

They set their gloves in their helmets and set those on the table, then each went to a window and pulled the warped shutters to close out the storm. Mick went to the table and flicked the lantern’s on button. Dead battery. He carefully lit a match and touched it to the candle. Then he used that to light the newsprint in the fireplace.

While he was absorbed in this operation, her eyes were drawn like magnets to the way his shirt clung to every contour of his body. But when he looked up, she became aware she was staring—became aware of herself in her cold, soggy cotton hoodie. It slapped against her, as heavy as if it had soaked in every molecule of water that had fallen on her. She unzipped it and glanced around for a hook. Finding none, she hung it over the back of the single chair.

When she looked up, the fire had begun to catch, sending long streamers of flame reaching upward. She turned from that to Mick and caught his gaze running down her body. Busted! She smothered a laugh, remembering how she’d been checking him out just as thoroughly two seconds before.

For once the Russian Bear wasn’t glaring. His smile sent tiny zaps of electricity straight down her nerves to pool like liquid fire in her core.

“You know a place?” She put her hands on her hips. As she shifted, her wet T-shirt slapped against her skin. She shuddered and pulled it away as she said, “So this location scouting run was for . . . what?”

“I know every inch of these mountains,” he admitted, and she heard a hint of Russian accent in his deep voice. Then his voice dropped to ocean floor level, intensifying that pool of heat deep inside her, “I wanted to see you on a bike.”

She had to laugh at his honesty. “Did you like what you saw?”

The growl rumbled in his chest. “Oh, yes.”

Wow. He was so impossible sexy. She laughed again, looking away and down, trying to gather her wits. There was only one chair. Outside, hail roared down.

“Sorry about the storm.” He jerked his chin toward the ceiling. She noticed he hadn’t shaved that morning; the candle light shone pale gold on the bristles covering the clean, strong line of his jaw. “Didn’t think it would hit us.”

“I didn’t either,” she admitted. “And the weird thing is, I saw blue sky over to the east while we were riding under the downpour. It’s probably eighty and balmy twenty miles away.”

“When we get storm cells up here, they tend to spiral,” he said. And then his voice reached the center of the Earth as he said softly, “There’s a way we could warm up.”

“Is there,” she breathed. This was so crazy, like a dream. Except she was so turned on—one of
those
dreams. Heady with anticipation, she knew she was going to ride it out.

A step, a breath, and his hands cupped her face and took her mouth possessively. Wickedly. Oh, yes. She spread her fingers over his shoulders as the heat leaped higher inside her. Hungry and hot, she dueled him as she had on the trail, trading him kiss for kiss. He broke for air first, and she nipped his lip between her teeth.

He groaned and stepped back, breathing as hard as she was. A couple yards away the fire crackled with promise, but she would swear that the heat she felt in the chilly space rolled off him. Or maybe it was hers.

She drew in a breath—and watched avidly as his hot blue gaze flicked to her breasts, outlined in sodden cloth. Maybe it was the fire’s reflection, but his eyes seemed to glimmer a rich golden brown as he gestured toward the trunk. “This place is used by forest service guys. There should be something dry in that trunk. If you’d like to change.”

“No bathroom,” she pointed out.

“I’ll turn my back,” he said, and did.

She huffed a laugh at his gallantry, then froze as he unbuttoned his shirt and slung it onto the table. She stood there, mesmerized by the breadth of his shoulders, the smooth muscles that tapered down toward his hips. Her fingers flexed with the desire to run her hands over his back, to turn him around and feel his chest . . .

Ever since Dominic the Dunce, she’d been wary about getting too close to anyone. Dates were fine, but she now had a firm rule: always get out before morning.

Keep it simple.

This was still like a dream, but so far a good one. Those kisses made it plain that he was as hot as she was. Already she was more turned on than she’d been after hours of foreplay with Dominic or anyone else.

And this situation was as simple as it could get: they were alone, no strings, no nothing.

She turned toward the trunk, and grimaced. Her freezing jeans were already starting to chafe her thighs. She bent to lift the lid.

Whew! Clearly this place was used as a man cave. The flannel shirt on top stank of sweat and cigarettes. She shoved it aside, holding her breath. A pair of pants lay under, even smellier. Then some liquor, a carton of cigarettes, half a package of hand wipes, and two bags of neon-orange crunchy somethings with a sale-date that had passed six months before.

And under those, a pack of condoms. She smothered a snicker.

“Find something funny in there?”

“Condoms,” she said. And then, quickly, “It’s funny because there’s no sign of a bed in here.”

“Instant invitation to bedbugs,” he replied, laughter roughening his voice. “The guys bring sleeping bags if they don’t have campers.”

“Oh. Of course.” So this stuff was emergency rations, guy-style. “My guess is, these clothes haven’t been anywhere near a laundry since Y2K.”

She sat back on her heels, frowning. Stinky shirt or tough it out with wet clothes?

“Can I just say,” Mick put in, “storm and all, those kisses were worth it?”

The fire crackled. Hail roared on the roof.

The heat leaped higher inside her.

Off came the sodden T-shirt. Her skin prickled all over in the cold air, sensitized—expectant. She unzipped her boots and pulled them off. The floor was disgusting, so she stepped back into each boot after she unzipped and tugged off her heavy, wet jeans. Then she put the boots back on, and standing there in bra and thong, busied herself laying her jeans and shirt over the corner of the table nearest the fire.

Then she said, “Okay. “

He turned around, and his jaw dropped. As those eyes raked down her, inch by inch, she felt as if someone had scooped a bucket of sunlight and splashed it over her from hair to toes.

BOOK: Hollywood Bear: BBW Bear Shifter Paranormal Romance
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