The Bear Necessities (A Redwater Shifters Tale): Sequel to Bear With Me (Redwater Shifters Book 3), страница 1
Table of Contents
Copyrights and Disclaimer
Annie & Nathan
Scott & Betty
Redwater Shifter Series
Acknowledgments and Contact
The Bear Necessities
By B. N. Kasner
Table of Contents
Copyrights and Disclaimer
Annie & Nathan
Scott & Betty
Redwater Shifter Series
Acknowledgments and Contact
Copyrights and Disclaimer
Copyright © 2017 by B. N. Kasner
Cover Copyright © 2017 by B. N. Kasner
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 B. N. Kasner
All rights reserved.
Annie & Nathan
For three years Annie and Nathan Bowers have waited to see a positive pregnancy test. Annie is losing hope while all the women around her have no problem getting pregnant. She feels like a failure, no matter how many times Nathan says otherwise. As Annie pulls away, Nathan is trying his damnedest to save his mating. His wife means the world to him, losing her isn’t an option.
Staring at the test, Annabeth Bowers felt her eyes burning. She wouldn’t cry. Hell, Annie knew that was bullshit. The first tear was already running down her cheek. After three years, she’d thought all her tears had dried up. Apparently not.
She’d been sure this cycle was the one. The one where she would finally see the positive plus sign. In the past, Annie had never felt so sure. Maybe that’s why it felt like a hot knife had plunged into her heart.
Shifters weren’t supposed to have infertility issues. They were programmed to find their mates and reproduce like rabbits. Both Annie and Nathan had taken every test, but nothing was wrong with either one of them. None of the doctors ever figured out why Annie couldn’t get pregnant.
Annie hadn’t gone back to the doctors in over a year. Nathan had convinced her they needed to take a break. If they got pregnant, great. But if they didn’t, it wasn’t a big deal. Only, to Annie, it was a big deal. Especially with all her girlfriends having babies, having no problem getting pregnant.
This last cycle, she and Nathan had gone to Vivienne. The elderly witch was the territory’s healer. If anyone could help them conceive, it would be her. Just another reason Annie had thought the damn test would be positive. She gripped the sink as sobs racked her body.
Why her? Was something wrong with her? Why couldn’t she give her mate the family they both desperately wanted? Neither of them had come from a big family, something they wanted to change when they started their own. However, with the way things were going, they weren’t going to have a family at all.
“Annabeth?” Her mate’s voice sounded panicked. Nathan was always calm and laid back. Easy-going. Hearing him worked up only made her feel worse. “Oh, honey.”
Nathan’s strong arms wrapped around her, pulling her into his body. His heat seeped into her, warming her down to her bones. Annie hadn’t realized she’d been shaking. She felt her sweet mate’s lips at her temple, giving her a comforting kiss. “You should’ve waited for me. I know how hard this is on you.”
Did he though? Did he feel like he lacked something when his friend’s mates turned up pregnant? Maybe so, but they didn’t share those insecurities with each other. At least, not anymore. They weren’t as close as they once were.
All her friends thought she had her life together. They looked up to her, while truly it was them who had the wifely and motherly duties down pat. She was hiding so much of herself from so many people. People who were supposed to be close to her, and yet, Annie felt alone. Although, the feeling wasn’t anything new to her.
Most of her life she’d felt alone. The only one to ever make the feeling go away was Nathan. Now, it even felt like she might lose him. “Shh, Annabeth, I’m right here. I’ve got you, honey.” She breathed in his scent, using the spicy pine smell to calm down. “That’s it. You’re alright.”
His hands stroked down her back in soothing motions. The one thing which hadn’t taken a nose dive lately was her and Nathan’s sex lives. Thank the Goddess. Shifters were notoriously sexual creatures. Right then, she wanted Nathan to do more than comfort her.
She wanted him to make her forget, even if it would only be for a little while. Nuzzling his neck, Annie nipped his jaw. Being as tall as her mate had its perks, like knowing exactly when his desire matched her own. “You know we have Lani’s baby shower in an hour.” Nathan’s raspy, sexy voice said one thing, while his hands and body said another.
“Who said we needed an hour?” She leaned back to catch a glimpse of her mate’s face, but he threw her over his shoulder. Growling like the sexy bear he was, Annie heard him mumble about showing her just how much of the hour they’d need.
“I can’t believe you guys are just getting here. We’ve got twins, a sixteen-year-old pup and we still made it on time.” Annie felt her face heating up, knowing her blush would give them away. Her bear had taken his time on her. He’d shown her why they had definitely needed longer than an hour.
The cocky, satisfied smile on Nathan’s face made her feel like a Goddess. Even if all their friends knew what they’d been up to. All of them except for Gene and Lani, who were sitting in the front of the room cooing at their son. Gene’s living room looked like a mini forest had exploded in it. Since Lani had delivered their child early, the baby shower now included the little man himself.
James Kennedy Dodson, who was born at twenty-eight weeks, looked as healthy as any baby born full term. He’d had to stay in the hospital for a month before Lani and Gene were allowed to bring him home. While waiting, everyone had rallied around them to get the house ready for a newborn. The sight made Annie want to curl up in a ball. She was that envious and jealous.
Would she ever have a family? Share a moment so tender and loving with Nathan and their child? Annie put her thoughts to the back of her mind when she went to meet the little guy for the first time. “You sure he was early?” Nathan asked from beside her, clapping Gene on the shoulder.
“Yep, but he’s big and strong like his daddy.” Gene beamed at his wife, reaching down to hold onto on of James’ tiny, chubby hands.
“He got to come home two weeks early because he’s a fighter, like his mama.” Before the couple could exchange any more romantic comments, Isaiah rushed into the room.
“I didn’t miss the big announcement, did I?” He pouted, then practically
“Goddess, you need a woman to calm your ass down,” Gene muttered, peeking through a hole in the paper. “And no, you didn’t. Besides, these two just showed up too.” Gene smirked at Nathan. Apparently, they were sharing a guy moment.
“Good, I have a bet going on around here. If he’s a wolf, I get a hundred bucks. And if he’s not, well, I may need to borrow some money from ya.”
“Which side are you on, Annie?” Lani’s eyes hadn’t left her son. Annie could see why, he was fricking adorable. James didn’t have any hair but bright red eyebrows, green eyes and chubby little limbs. He was sure to look just like Gene when he got older.
“Wolf.” Lani looked up just long enough to wink at her.
“You two get some food before Ella’s brothers eat all of it. There goes Mason. Goddess, how does Ella put up with all of them?” Gene scratched his head, but a smile stretched across his face. Everyone loved the Wilson brothers once they got to know them. “Hey, the kids are supposed to eat first.”
The three men, along with Corey all stopped to look at Gene. Other than the twins and James the only kid there was Stella. The little girl Carter and Grace had taken in after an anti-shifter group attacked Redwater. Carter, with Stella wrapped up in his arms like a Koala bear made his way over to the food table. Annie didn’t miss the smug look Carter gave the others as he made up three trays.
One for each member of his family. Even Carter and Grace had a child. It was just another reminder of everything she wanted, but didn’t have. Nathan must’ve felt her growing sadness because he chose the moment to usher her to the food table. If only he knew her stomach revolted at the very thought of eating.
She hated playing pretend, acting like none of this got to her. When in reality, it felt like someone had twisted a knife deep into her heart.
“A little wolf pup, can you believe it?” Nathan tried to sound more excited than he felt. His wife radiated sadness. He’d hustled her out of the baby shower faster than Mason could give Ella hell about lifting something heavy. Thankfully, no one other than him had realized how upset his honey was.
He could only imagine how much worse Annie would feel if she’d caused a scene. And it’s exactly what would’ve happened if the other women knew how bad things were. Their friends were more like family. A family that had no damn secrets because their wives were bloodhounds. They wouldn’t stop until the problem was solved and everything was okay again.
Only, this wasn’t something his friend’s mates could fix. They, unfortunately, made things worse. “I know, did you see Gene’s face? Priceless.” Annie rewarded him with a small smile before she turned her face back towards the window. “Little James sure is a cutie pie.”
Nathan cursed seven ways to Sunday inside his head. Lately, it seemed like no matter what he said or did, his wife found a way to be sad. He got it. Really, he did.
The same emptiness she felt was inside him. All he’d ever wanted was a big family. Growing up it had only been him and his mom. They were as thick as thieves, always getting along. But after she passed away, a hole was left inside of him.
Annie had filled most of it when she came along. However, there was still room leftover for children. Lots of them. At least, it had been the plan until last year. Nathan couldn’t take seeing his wife poked and prodded anymore.
Not when the damn quack doctors couldn’t find anything. He needed a break from trying, and so did Annie. Even if she didn’t want to admit it. Every month his wife analyzed everything she felt, telling herself it was a pregnancy symptom. Then when the test came back negative, she’d be devastated.
Nothing could cheer her up. This past year though, things had been better. Some of the pressure was gone since Redwater was basically in crisis all the time. Work had taken over their life. While he played nice with different shifter species, Annie ran the Community Center.
Thankful their sex life hadn’t taken a hit, which Nathan was grateful for. He knew he could always reconnect with her emotionally through sex. The two of them were always passionate in bed. Letting their insecurities go, being completely bare and vulnerable together.
Although lately, Annie felt closed off, which frustrated him. How could he comfort her, help her through this if she didn’t let him in? “What do you think our baby will look like?” He mentally cursed again, hating when she did this. In the beginning it was fun, imagining who their child would look like more.
Now though, Nathan knew it would only make her feel worse. Make her feel like a failure because they didn’t have the perfect little imaginary cub. “My hazel eyes and your blonde hair?” He’d play along because if he didn’t, it would only hurt her. And that wasn’t something Nathan wanted.
Annie was his entire world, more important to him than his next breath. The guys liked to give him shit for being a pushover when it came to his honey. Sure, he let Annie have her way more times than not, but they both knew the boundaries. Anything concerning her safety or health and Nathan had no problem putting his paw down. Usually, it included her emotional health as well.
“Yeah, with your kindness and sweetness.” He took her cold hand in his, kissing her knuckles. She rewarded him with a heart-stopping smile. Receiving it made Nathan’s world light up, made everything in his life right. With the Hummer in park, he took a moment to savor his honey’s beauty.
Her hazel eyes were losing some their usual glitter. The brown strands of her hair had lost its shine. Stress and sadness was written all over her face. “Why don’t you lay down, take a nap?” She laughed, momentarily chasing the darkness away.
“You saying I look awful?”
“Not awful, just rundown.” He pushed some brown hair behind her ear, showing off her new piercing. All the women had gotten one, a symbol of strength or something like that. Whatever the reason, it was hot. At least his honey had gone for something small.
Lani on the other paw, did the opposite, coming back with her belly button pierced. Gene’s wife had a wild streak a mile long and she’d never be tamed. Nathan thanked the Goddess his honey was a submissive, sweet as honey bear. “Alright, but dinner is on you.” She hopped out of the Hummer, giving him a saucy look over her shoulder. “And I want a bubble bath ready when I wake up.”
“Anything for you honey, anything.” He placed a kiss on her lips, holding the door open for her. A big part of him almost followed Annie into their bedroom, but he knew she needed rest. There wouldn’t be any rest if he went in there after her. Waiting until Annie was fast asleep, he booted up his laptop.
The adoption website stared back at him. He’d visited the site before, not giving much thought to starting the paperwork. Since seeing how happy Carter, Grace and Stella were, his decision had changed. They didn’t need to be biological parents to love and care for a child. Sharing blood with someone didn’t necessary mean they’d love you.
Nathan knew from experience. His father and half-brothers were pieces of shit Nathan hoped to never see again. Luckily, he’d had his mother. These children didn’t have anybody. He and Annie could make a difference.
They met all the criteria, and then some. Nathan felt a stab of guilt after filling out the first page. This was something Annie and him should’ve done together. Hell, he hadn’t even brought adoption up to her yet. He just didn’t want her to feel like he’d given up on them having cubs.
Because right then, with the state Annie was in, it’s what she’d think. The little pointer hovered over the X. At the last minute, Nathan went back to filling out the paperwork. It could take them years to be matched with a child anyway, turning in the forms now wouldn’t cause any harm.
She waited until she heard the Hummer’s tires hitting pavement to bolt into the bathroom. After yesterday Annie knew Nathan would be furious with her for testing again. Especially so soon after a negative test. But what Nathan didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. She’d have to be a big girl a
Her morning routine dragged on in the guest bathroom. Annie wanted to make sure she didn’t peak. Although, now, she wished she’d just gotten ready in the master bath. Praying to see a plus sign, Annie took a deep breath, turning the test over.
Negative. Before Annie could berate herself for getting her hopes up, the sobs started. Her knees stung from their impact on the cold tile floor. This was becoming too much for her to handle. The urge to throw up hit Annie suddenly.
How long she hung her head over the toilet, Annie had no idea. But, after what seemed like forever, she scented Nathan. Then felt one hand pulling her hair back, with the other rubbing her neck. His cursing echoed in her ears, “Damn it, Annabeth.” Nathan’s anger and disappointment crashed into her through their bond.
“Enough is enough. I’m taking these fucking things and throwing them out. No more testing, understand?” Nathan’s tone left no room for arguments. He rarely gave her a tough time about something.
For him to be so angry meant she’d fucked up, big time. “I’m sorry.” She whimpered, laying her heated forehead against the cold lid.
“Annabeth, there’s no reason to be sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong.” He had her wrapped in his arms before she could voice her protest. “Shush now, honey. I should be the one apologizing. You don’t need me growling, throwing a fit like a cub.”
“No. You have every right to be angry with me, I’m the one who knows better. I know not to get my hopes up.” She curled into her mate’s strong arms, wrapping herself around him. “We do need to get rid of those little devils.”
“And no more testing without me. If we do get a positive, I want to be here with you.” He snuggled her closer, nuzzling her. “I love you more than life itself. We’ll get through this together.”