Love to Bear: A Werebear Shifter Romance

BOOK: Love to Bear: A Werebear Shifter Romance
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Love
to Bear: A Werebear Shifter Romance

By
A.T. Mitchell

Content
copyright © A.T. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

Published
in the United States of America.

First
published in November, 2013.

Disclaimer:
The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance it may hold to
persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental.

About
This Book

Samantha Aarons left Sioux Falls with a
broken heart for a fresh start in the Montana wilds. Outside
Kalispell, the native bears are strange and ferocious –
especially when a hulking grizzly steps out of the woods and
frightens Sam half to death.

Werebear shifter Don Flood can't
believe his incredible luck. The beautiful woman he discovers on
patrol just might be his fated mate! The delicate flower faints after
seeing him turn into a man, and Don sees his opportunity to charge
straight into her heart.

But love makes men do stupid, dangerous
things.

The Grizzly Bone Clan has a standing
policy against allowing humans on their turf. Still, Don refuses to
let the Elders' prejudice steal her away, doubling down on love after
Sam reveals the key to the Clan's flatlining population.

Sam soon adores the passionate, wild
love of her dominant grizzly man. But Happily Ever Afters never
seemed further when a wicked conspiracy threatens to scatter their
fate forever.

Can
she survive becoming his mate...or will she feel heartbreak twice?

I:
Just Let Go (Sam)


You're hundreds of miles away from him, Sam. He
can't hurt you anymore. Not here.”

I started into Jenn's smiling eyes. My heart swung lower
in my chest, a balloon stretched to overflowing with too much grief
and too nice a friend.

Jenn had good intentions. But her words, however wise,
wouldn't extract the bitter weeds crowding my heart. I couldn't
imagine anything that could.


Heartache travels pretty easily. I just wish I
could bleach him out. Wipe the memories for good.” I stared at
the high rocky peaks looming over our campsite. “It's re-living
the breakup over and over again that hurts...”


I know,” Jenn whispered. She reached and
gingerly patted me on the shoulder.

She'd been up for several hours longer than me. As
usual, I overslept and missed the sunrise over Glacier National Park,
a gorgeous spectacle that illuminates autumn's rich palette and
sparkles off the frosted mountains.


You gotta try, though, Sam.” Her smile
softened and she stared at me more seriously. “I'll tell you
what: if our trip out here won't help you forget, then we're going
bar hopping the instant we get back to Kalispell.”

I cringed and flushed a little. Jenn saw my reaction
instantly and began to laugh.


No, I'm not ready for that yet. Not sure if I'll
ever be ready for another man again.”


Bullshit,” she said, a gruffness in her
voice so familiar I managed a weak smile. “You were the one who
couldn't stop yammering about boys and marriage in our freshmen year.
Remember all those notes Mister Robbins picked up?”

I blushed harder, but laughed along with her. I'd never
live down the shame of having our ninth grade English teacher
intercepting my notes scrawled in pink ink. Robbins read them out
loud, mortifying me half a dozen times before I finally learned my
lesson.

Funny how I don't remember that crap until Jenn
mentions it,
I thought.
Somehow,
I survived all that. Maybe I can heal this too, with time and a lot
of nice distractions...

I turned away from her and stared off toward the
mountains near the Canadian border. It was only my second trip to the
sprawling, rugged national park since I'd arrived in Montana late
last summer.

A great sadness hummed
inside me, even as a soft wind caressed our backs with its potent
chill. It was the kind of melancholy that cut
deep
,
all the way to my bones.


I think I'll take a long walk,” I said.

Jenn nodded. She knew how badly I needed to be alone.

She understood me. Better than anyone had since Ryan.

Or, at least, the way I
thought
Ryan understood
me. I'd been horribly wrong about that.

So wrong I had to leave everything behind. Wrong enough
to drive hundreds of miles from Sioux Falls to join my best friend
out West.


Don't be late for snacks and supper, girl,”
she said cheerfully. “Oh, and don't forget this!”

I spun. Jenn forced the oversized steel canister into my
hands, and I did a double take.

Jesus. How could I have been so stupid?

The canister's front showed a grizzly bear's face, its
monstrous jaws stretched wide in a warning growl. Out here, bear
spray brokered life and death.


Ah. Thanks for reminding me. You're a lifesaver,
Jenn. You really are.” I gave her a quick hug, slung the big
leather carrying case I used for a purse over my shoulder, and walked
on.

Bear spray clenched tight in my hands, of course. I'd
never seen a grizzly bear since arriving in northern Montana. Even
Jenn hadn't had many encounters in her four years here – but
nobody in these mountains took their chances.

I walked on through the narrow path cut through tall
trees. The land grew increasingly rocky and uneven about half an hour
on my walk. It reminded me just how far from civilization each step
took me.

I stopped near a bridge to catch my breath. Even in the
chilly September air, sweat beaded on my brow. I wondered how long it
would take until I became a proper mountain girl.


God, those peaks.” I leaned on the stone
wall and eyed the tallest mountains.

My brain still wrestled with processing the mountains
stretching up into the clouds. No doubt about it. I'd left the flat
Dakota plains behind a long time ago, and the mountains were towering
proof.

I heard a branch snap in the brush on the other side of
the bridge. My heart did a flip and my knees pivoted. I turned to
face the sound that made my heart race.

I didn't see anyone. My fingers tightened on the bear
spray a little harder. I braced for its impact if I had to fire –
Jenn said punching the nozzle had a small pistol's kick.

Oh, God...no...

More sounds echoed in
the trees. I was ready – well, could anyone ever be
ready?
– to come face to face with a thousand pound grizzly when the
shadow emerged from the trees.

A hunter with an overgrown beard tipped his camouflage
cap to me. I nodded back, visibly winded, embarrassed and pissed at
myself for letting my nerves get the best of me.

Shit. I'm really out of my element here. But it's not
like it was much different back home for obvious reasons...

I was too shaken to start walking again. I turned back
to the mountains, gasping in the cold, nourishing air to replenish my
quivering lungs.

I thought about Ryan. Ryan, Ryan, Ryan Reynolds, the man
who'd stolen my heart and smashed it into a thousand pieces.

His words echoed in my memory, sardonic and absolutely
evil.


No hard feelings, Samantha. I know you're a
believer in true love. If I didn't let you down easy, I wouldn't be
able to live with myself. There's someone out there for you. I just
know it.”

Yeah. It's so easy to say when you lead a girl on for
a year and a half, isn't it?

When you laughingly pointed at rings in the jeweler's
windows at the mall...when you held me close after sex, whispering I
was the only one for you...when you were secretly fucking my roommate
behind my back just a few months after we started dating.

How had I been so stupid? So blind? And so in denial?

Even when Betty seemed overly familiar with my
boyfriend, I brushed if off. And when he came over for dinners and
they made eyes across the table, I inwardly stewed, but clung to the
dozen unlikely possibilities that would explain it.

I had to ignore the only obvious one. And when I
couldn't ignore it any longer, my heart became tainted with this halo
of sadness, this heavy fog I couldn't shake no matter where I went or
in what company.

Turning smartly, I
began to walk forward, away from the bridge. I pushed my way into the
mountain forest where the walkway became
super
narrow.

The temperature continued to fluctuate as noon drew on.
I hiked – no, stomped – higher for more than an hour.

Reaching the higher elevation meant colder air. My
breath shot out in little puffs like dragon smoke, mirroring the rage
and hurt churning in my stomach.

I couldn't think about anything except Ryan. Stupid Ryan
and his happy relationship with my roomie-turned-traitor. For all I
knew, they were probably engaged by now, happily planning the wedding
I should've had.

I wish they'd never met. Hell, I wish I'd never met
either of them.

If wishes were fishes,
a sharp voice said in the back of my brain.

I fumed. I'd always hated that stupid phrase. Probably
because it was too honest.

They were my mother's only words of advice too, which
didn't help me like it any better. She was a hard career woman
without any time for twenty-something angst.

I wished I'd inherited some of her icy stoicism, at
least when it came to relationships. Mom never dated, and only joined
men in their beds to satisfy her baser desires.

I never knew a father. Some liaison with an unknown stud
earlier in life had created me, probably with the same calculated,
business-like approach Mom took to everything.

It wasn't like the attitude hadn't paid off. It had
helped her advance to VP in one of the largest Dakota oil companies.

Her job gave her money to spend on me, to buy her way
into my heart. But beyond the dollar signs and a vague sense of
family blood, we spoke a different language. She worked too much to
let silly emotions get in the way of anything – especially
mine.


Thanks, Mom,” I muttered, remembering the
way she'd practically ordered me to ditch my dead end job doing data
entry at one of her company's local subsidiaries.

She'd stuffed a check for three grand into my hand and
sent me on my way. Now, more than a month later, the funds were
half-depleted and I couldn't keep mooching off Jenn forever.

My friend was right. Much as I didn't want to admit it,
so was Mom.

This is my last chance to get my head together. Last
one I've got out here in Nature, where there are no judgments and no
expectations. Last chance, before the real world sinks its teeth in.

My breath hitched and the tears came hot, smoking down
my cheeks in a messy, blinding stream. I was halfway up the side of a
shallow mountain.

Common sense would've told anyone to pay attention to
where they were stepping – but not me. My toe caught the edge
of a smooth rock and slipped.

The sky, the treetops, the mountains all spun at once.

Next thing I knew, I was flat on my side, wincing as a
hundred pokey stones ground into me. I laid face down in the dirt and
cried. I just wanted to dig through the mountain soil and bury myself
where no one would find me.

I hated my life. Twenty two years of wandering and bad
luck brought me to this point. And through the sadness, the anger, it
was all too appropriate, wasn't it?

Face down in the dirt. Sharp rocks digging into my arms
and thighs. The cold, indifferent wind sweeping down from the
heights, billowing against my rattled flesh like another bundle of
stone...

Somehow, I found the courage to sit up and dry my eyes.
Three months since the breakout taught me to carry tissues in my bag
at all times. I never knew when I'd have a meltdown and need them.

My ears barely registered the crunch of gravel. It was
coming from further up the hill, just over the curve.

BOOK: Love to Bear: A Werebear Shifter Romance
8.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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