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Authors: Ruby Shae

Tags: #Romance, #shifter, #bear

Lost Bear

Lost Bear

(Bear Mountain, Book 5)

 

Ruby Shae

Lost Bear

(Bear Mountain, Book 5)

Copyright 2015 by Ruby Shae

 

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the author.

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Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in, or encourage, the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

About This Book

 

Dave Yeager is the deputy in Bear Mountain, and the only human in town who knows about the shifting abilities of the sheriff and his friends. After watching yet another couple mate, his dreams for a family resurface, and loneliness sets in when he’s reminded he may live out the rest of his life alone.

Emma Thompson, after being jilted one too many times, has been living in her bear form for the past ten years. The energies from the pregnant bears bring her back to Bear Mountain, but she’s surprised to find the pull of the deputy a greater draw.

When Dave meets Emma, sparks fly and he’s convinced she might be the one. Unfortunately, his stubborn bear has other ideas. Unwilling to be cheated on and left by yet another man, she creates a plan to satisfy them both and allow them to remain friends. Her plan seems perfect until she realizes that whether bear or man, an alpha always gets what he wants.

Lost Bear

(Bear Mountain, Book 5)

 

By Ruby Shae

Chapter One

 

Dave Yeager looked into the trees just beyond his property and sighed. From his back porch, he could see into the National Park that bordered Bear Mountain, and he watched carefully to see if he spotted any of the small animals that usually played near his home.

For some reason, even though the June days were longer and warmer, the forest was abnormally quiet. There were no rabbits or squirrels on the ground, and not a single bird occupied the trees.

He studied the area, and carefully watched for anything unusual, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Still, he couldn’t help feeling as if he were being watched. Usually, the feeling would be followed by a sense of danger and he’d grab his weapon and investigate, but instead he felt something akin to hope.

Great! Now I’m losing my mind!

He’d been unusually lonely lately, and he wondered if it had more to do with his job, or with the fact that another pair of friends recently mated. The permanent pairings constantly reminded him of his possible forever single status.

Feeling occasionally inadequate at work didn’t help matters.

It had been nine months since he and Gage had caught the old, corrupt sheriff, but some of the townspeople still thought of him as guilty by association. He and Tom hadn’t been friends, and they rarely worked together, but everyone expected him to somehow know about Tom’s illegal activities. He’d never trusted the man, but with nothing more than a gut feeling and no prior investigative work experience, he’d been in a tough position.

He hadn’t lied when he’d told Gage he didn’t want to be sheriff all those months ago. Bear Mountain had been his first assignment, and instead of following his instincts, he’d pushed them aside to avoid making waves. If he’d trusted himself, he could have saved many of the townspeople a lot of heartache. Most people thought he’d been a part of the old sheriff’s evil schemes, and only accepted him because Gage insisted on it.

Once a solitary man, Gage now worked with the public on a daily basis and protected their town with all of his abilities.

Including shifting into a bear when necessary.

Of course, they didn’t know their sheriff possessed such talents, but they didn’t need to. They only needed to trust him, which they did.

Dave trusted him, too.

The first time Dave had seen the man shift, he’d been shocked, but not afraid. Somehow everything he’d known about Gage made his ability seem logical and he’d promised to keep the secret. When more bears decided to relocate to Bear Mountain, he kept their secrets, too.

He envied their special connection to each other and their mates, and valued their friendships. They trusted him, even if some of the town didn’t, and included him in most of their clan gatherings.

A pang of jealousy shot through him when he thought about dinner last night at Gage’s.

His five friends were mated to four beautiful, curvy women, and though he shared their happiness, he couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever find someone to love him so completely.

He’d moved to Bear Mountain ten years ago to take his first job in law enforcement, and he’d instantly fallen in love with the town. He’d decided he never wanted to leave, and bought a house three days later. All those years ago he’d felt certain one day he would meet someone special to share his life, but he hadn’t thought about where he’d meet her.

There were only a few single women left in town, and none of them could be considered more than a friend. They were pretty, each in their own way, but he wasn’t attracted to any of them. He wanted a woman with a little meat on her bones, and curves that went on for miles. He wanted to spend his nights holding a woman with soft flesh, not a hard body.

The few curvy tourists that stopped before entering the National Park were looking for adventure, not life in a small town, and he didn’t waste time with one night stands. In the city, every woman he’d met hadn’t been looking for what he’d had to offer, and eventually he’d stopped looking.

He’d known about the high possibility of living out the rest of his life alone, but he was only thirty-three. Even though he’d given up so young, being single hadn’t bothered him in years. Seeing Gage, Seth and the other guys find love made him long for someone of his own.

His stomach took that opportunity to growl loudly, and he couldn’t help but smile. He might not be a bear, but his stomach sounded like one.

He got up from the lounge chair he’d brought out the night before, but looked back one last time and studied the land. Something was different, but everything looked the same. He couldn’t see it, couldn’t prove it, but he knew something was out there.

When his stomach growled again, he gave up the search and went into the house to make dinner.

***

Emma Thompson sniffed the air again when she heard a loud growl coming from the other side of the bush she hid behind. The man she watched was definitely a full human, and she realized the animal like sound must have come from his stomach. If she were in her human form, she would have laughed out loud at him.

She briefly wondered if he would laugh with her, or chastise her for making fun of him. Most men could dish out a good joke, but couldn’t take one in return. At least, she’d never met a man who could laugh at himself the same way he laughed at her.

You just haven’t met the right man!

She pushed the inner voice away. The last few months had been hard, and the desire to visit Bear Mountain hadn’t been easy to accept. She sensed other shifters in town, but she couldn’t tell who they were. She strongly hoped she hadn’t been drawn back to her parents.

While the three of them had seemed to make a happy family, her parents didn’t like to shift and wanted to blend into society with no, or limited, interaction with their bears. They rarely shifted during her adolescence, a time when she’d needed them most, and when she turned eighteen they moved to Australia to start a new life for themselves.

She was almost two hundred years old, and though she wished things had been different, she didn’t miss them. She’d always felt like a burden to them, and the fact that they’d taken off the minute the law would allow had only confirmed her belief. Her aunt, uncle and cousins had helped when needed and eventually she learned to get by without the help of anyone.

Especially men.

She heard movement on the porch and pushed her muzzle through the bush again to get another look at him. He stood with his back turned, ready to go inside, and she straightened up over the bush to get an unobstructed view before he disappeared inside his home.

He wasn’t as tall as most shifters she knew, but he was tall for a full human. She didn’t know exactly how tall, but he was unquestionably over six feet which suited her perfectly. His broad chest rivaled any weight lifter and the muscles in his back were accentuated by his snug t-shirt. She wanted to rub her hands all over him.

His thick, long legs were covered in a pair of well-worn jeans. From the front she’d seen a hole in the knee and several strings hanging from the hem. From behind, she saw one ripped back pocket, and a tiny hole in the other. He wore flip-flops on his feet, signaling the arrival of summer.

Before he stepped inside the house, he turned back toward the forest. She ducked and flattened herself into the ground, but her bear body rustled the bush in front of her. He surveyed the area like a predator, and she held her breath as she watched his feet for any movement in her direction.

Moments later, he pulled open the screen door again and walked inside. She waited several minutes before she let out the breath she’d been holding and carefully backed up into the trees, and then deeper into the forest.

For the first time in ten years, she wanted to shift back into her human form and chase down a man. Whoever he was, he looked like he’d be able to satisfy her in every way possible. She wondered if he liked curvy girls, and if so, if he’d be willing to go out with her. Or stay in and pleasure her all night long.

No! What is wrong with you? Men can’t be trusted!

She remembered why she chose to live as a bear for the past ten years and chastised herself for the wicked thoughts. Some men might say they liked curvy women, but the minute someone thinner and better looking came around, they couldn’t get away fast enough.

Men always cheated.

If she remembered that fact, she’d be a lot happier and could finally start having some fun. She’d lived for two hundred years without a permanent man in her life, and she could live another two hundred, and another two hundred after that.

She could admit she didn’t want to though.

She’d always wanted a man to love her like she’d seen in the movies and read in books. She’d wanted a man with unconditional love for her and her curves, and one she could trust with the secret of her bear. She’d never told another sole about her bear, but she wanted someone she could share all of herself with. Someone like the sexy muscled guy she’d just seen on the porch.

She wanted to stalk him, and when she had him cornered, she wanted to pounce.

She shook her head and ran into the forest. She needed to separate herself from the man, and all the feelings he stirred deep down inside.

She ran until she couldn’t run anymore, and lumbered inside a cave for some rest.

As she drifted off to sleep, she felt the energies of the pregnant bears pulling her back to Bear Mountain, and the pull of the man she’d ogled from behind the bush.

Mate!

No…he couldn’t be.

A mate would be dangerous to her carefully guarded, fragile heart. She’d never be able to avoid him, but that didn’t mean she needed to do it without a plan.

Mate or not, she refused to allow her heart the chance to be broken again.

Chapter Two

Dave walked into the sheriff’s office and rolled his shoulders. The sheriff glanced in his direction, nodded, then continued whatever he’d been working on. He stomped past the sheriff’s desk to his own, and dropped the pile of mail on the hard surface. It landed with a thud that echoed around the room, and the noise satisfied him in a way he didn’t understand.

He picked up his mug and walked to the coffee maker, but when he found it empty, he slammed the heavy dish down on the little table that held the machine. The table wobbled, but eventually settled despite his abusive rummaging around in the lower cabinet for coffee and filters.

He huffed and puffed as he crossed the room and back to fill the carafe with water and refill the machine. He grunted as he added the filter and coffee grounds.

The sheriff didn’t say a word as he stared at the machine and mentally cursed it, willing it to brew faster, but he felt the man’s eyes boring into his back.

“What?” he turned and roared at the man. A lesser man might be afraid to confront the shifter, but Dave wasn’t a lesser man and he didn’t fear his friend.

“Something wrong?” Gage questioned, a smirk on his face.

He knew his behavior looked ridiculous, but after a restless night of sleep, he’d woken up irritable and grouchy. For most of the day he’d tried to shake the foul mood, but as the hours passed, he seemed to be getting worse instead of better.

“This damn coffee maker is too damn slow,” he said and turned back toward the brewer.

“You and I both know that it’s not the coffee maker. You’ve been spewing venom all day,” Gage said. “What’s the problem?”

In the early part of the day, he’d been able to pass his mood off as a bad start to the morning, but they’d had lunch an hour ago and he still wanted to fight everything in his path.

“Sorry,” he sighed, and sat down at his desk. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I’ve just been a little bit lonely lately.”

“That’s understandable. Especially since everyone around you has gotten paired up over the last few months,” Gage said. He pushed a plate of cookies toward him. “Lynette brought over some more cookies. She obviously likes you. Why don’t you ask her out?”

“She’s a beautiful woman,” he said, taking a cookie, “but she’s not my type. I prefer someone with a bit more…”

“Curves?” Gage asked, filling in for him.

“Curves, cushion, meat, flesh…all of the above.”

“I hear you,” Gage laughed.

Dave smiled. All of his friends had mated with beautiful, curvy women. He’d even known Kate and Sam long before they were paired up with his friends, but neither one of them had been right for him either. Maybe the ideal woman he’d fabricated in his mind didn’t exist.

“I want a sexy, smart, beautiful, voluptuous woman who can put up with me,” Dave continued. It didn’t seem like too big a request when he said the words out loud. “No one in this town fits the bill, though.”

“Maybe you have to broaden your search. You haven’t been to the city in a while. I think it’s time for a night out. The guys and I can help you search.”

“I guess we can give it a shot,” he said.

“Great. How about Saturday?”

“I think do Saturday,” he hesitated.

“You know you can. I’ll make sure it works for everyone and call you later to confirm.”

“Okay, that sounds good,” he said. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to take off a bit early tonight. I’ll finish the mail in the morning.”

“That’s fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Thanks Gage,” he said, sneering at the coffee pot as he walked toward the door, “and thanks for listening. See you tomorrow.”

***

Emma peeked through the bush again, hoping to catch another glimpse of the sexy man. She’d dreamed of his hands caressing her for most of the night, and even though the energies from the pregnant bears called to her, he called to her more.

She’d been told the pull of a mate would be powerful, but she hadn’t anticipated the desire to abandon her defenses and give herself to him completely. He was dangerous to her personal sanity, but as much as she wanted to, she couldn’t stay away.

She knew she’d never be able to completely let her guard down around him, but she’d created a seemingly fool-proof plan to get what she wanted and protect her heart at the same time.

The next step involved shifting back into her human form, finding a place to stay, and hoping he wanted to take a curvy girl for a ride.

Literally.

Men always moved on eventually, and by the time she got him out of her system, he’d be ready to find someone new. They could part amicably as friends, and her heart would stay intact when she saw him with someone else.

It was a win-win situation.

The screen door opened and he stepped out onto the porch carrying a paper plate in one hand and a beer in the other. The plate had two large sandwiches on it, and he picked one up with his left hand and began eating. His movements were slow and controlled, as if he savored the taste of the food.

Most men she’d dated ate like savages. They scarfed down their food in three bites and allowed sauce to drip everywhere. The man on the porch seemed to enjoy his food, and the way his mouth worked as he chewed nearly drove her insane.

The smell of the food wafted across the lawn and a tiny grunt escaped when she smelled the cooked hamburger. She’d hunted and lived off of raw food for nearly ten years, but nothing beat a hamburger on a toasted bun with all the trimmings.

She knew the moment he’d heard her and watched as he stood, plate in hand, and surveyed the area.

“Who’s there?” he called into the forest.

She tried to stay completely still, even as he took the two steps down the porch and walked halfway across the yard.

“I heard you, now show yourself.”

His deep, sensual, commanding voice sent an electric shock to her core. He demanded her compliance and she couldn’t deny him.

She took a deep breath and sat up straight. Her head and shoulders were exposed over the hedge, but he didn’t flinch when he saw her.

“I think you’re the reason all of the animals have disappeared,” he said smiling.

She agreed with a small growl and watched him carefully. He appeared to be unfazed by her presence, and she wondered if he had experience with grizzlies. The species was near extinct, and they usually lived solitary lives, but his house was nonthreatening and bordered the National Park.

“Are you hungry?” he asked, offering her his plate. He still stood in the middle of the yard, but she had a feeling he would move closer if she invited him too.

She nodded her head and he moved carefully down the path in her direction. When he reached the end of his yard, and the break in the greenery, he bent down and slid the plate off of his property and out into the forest.

He kept his eyes on her the whole time, and backed away as slow and controlled as he’d approached. She marveled at his movements, even as he retreated. His heart was kind, but he wasn’t an idiot. The gesture made her heart melt. She wanted him more than ever.

When he made it back to his porch, he sat back down and took a long drink of his beer. She saw the condensation drip from the bottle, and couldn’t help but wonder what he would look like dripping wet.

The light evening breeze picked up, and the smell of the burger attacked her senses. She reached out one large paw, grabbed the edge of the plate with her claw, and pulled it toward her behind the bush. She didn’t want him to see her eat, because in her bear form, she also ate like a savage.

The burger was gone in one bite.

She licked her lips, wiped her face with her paw, and pushed the plate back to where he’d left it.

“Good girl,” he said. “Did you like it?”

She sat back up and nodded her head, confused by her behavior. The desire to please him overshadowed all of her instincts.

He opened his mouth to say something else, but the sound of the phone ringing cut him off.

“Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back,” he said and disappeared into the house.

Again, she obeyed his command, but this time she thought about running. Had she been so intent on meeting her mate that she let her guard down as an animal? She scanned the area, but aside from a family hiking on the other side of the hill, the forest was quiet.

She strained her ears to listen, but she only picked up a few of the words drifting out from inside the house.

Bear. Female. Kate. Come over. Shift. Hamburger. Soon.

Panic filled her at his jumbled words, and she fought the urge to run. She needed to access the situation before she ran wildly into the forest. She surveyed her surroundings, then backed into the trees, keeping a close watch on the back door of the home.

Oh god! She’d acted so stupid! Over a man!

In those few, anxiety filled moments, she’d completely forgotten her reason for visiting Bear Mountain. Her safety became her number one concern.

Who had he been talking to on the phone? Did he know about shifters? Who had he invited over? Who was Kate?

The man raced out onto the porch, waving frantically.

“Don’t leave,” he yelled. “Your friends are on their way.”

Friends?

She didn’t have any friends. Somehow he must have figured out her secret, and he was going to turn her over to some freaks that would perform experiments on her or something. Her heart ached as she widened the distance between them.

She continued backing up until she bumped into a tree.

Another man joined Mr. Sexy and together, they ran toward her. The other man looked familiar, but she couldn’t place him. Friend or foe? She didn’t know.

The two men rapidly approached, and she worried over whether to run or not. She didn’t sense any danger, but was it a trap?

“Well, I’ll be damned. It’s little Emma Thompson.”

Suddenly, the tree behind her spoke, and she turned to attack.

***

Dave felt certain the bear hiding behind his bushes was a shifter. When the animal popped its head up over the plants, something inside him sparked to life. He instinctually knew the bear was a female.

Like the rest of Gage’s clan, she was a large grizzly. Her size alone emitted power and strength, and demanded respect, but she was small compared to the men. Her light brown coat reminded him of a warm summer day, and her eyes captivated him. From a distance they looked brown, but up close they were a dark emerald green.

He didn’t like the fact that she hid from him while she ate, but he knew she had no reason to trust him. She had to protect herself against all threats, including him.

The phone rang, breaking their one-sided conversation and he knew he had to answer it. Gage would be on the other end, confirming their plans for Saturday, and providing the perfect opportunity to tell the sheriff about the bear.

“Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back,” he said, and ran into the house.

He hoped she stayed. He wanted to talk to her again, and see what she looked like in her human form. He felt drawn to her both physically and mentally, and he wondered if it were because of his current state of loneliness, or if it could be something more.

Or maybe you really are insane and she’s just a bear!

The thought made him pause. Was he so desperate for a relationship that he’d created a shifter in his mind? If a female bear appeared and claimed him, all of his problems would be solved and he’d live happily ever after. Of course, that would only work if they were mates. She could easily be destined to be with someone else. Could he have created signs that didn’t exist?

He decided to proceed with caution.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Saturday night is a go. I’ll drive. Let’s leave around five and get dinner first,” Gage said.

“That sounds good,” he said, looking through the screen door. The bear still sat on the other side of the hedges. “By the way, have you sensed another bear in town?”

“Yeah, but it comes and goes, and I can’t track it. How did you know?”

“Because there’s a bear out back, and I think she’s visited me before. I also think it’s a female.”

“A female?” Gage asked. “Really?”

“I think so. Maybe you and Kate should come over.”

“Did you encourage her to shift?”

“No, I figured you’d want to do that, but I gave her some of my hamburger. She gulped it down in one bite,” he laughed. “It seemed like she hadn’t had one in a long time.”

“Is she still there?”

“Yeah,” he looked out the screen again and noticed her agitated movements, “but she seems nervous, almost like she’s going to run. You’d better hurry.”

“We’re on our way.”

“Okay, see you soon.”

Dave hung up the phone and hurried back through the house. He saw the bear backing up and knew she was getting ready to take off.

He waved his hands frantically in the air.

“Don’t leave,” he yelled. “Your friends are on their way.”

She backed away faster, so he waited for Gage. A moment later he saw Seth approach her from behind and Gage joined him in the yard. They both raced toward her, but she continued to retreat until she backed into Seth.

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