Bear The Burn (Firebear Brides 1), страница 1часть #1 серии Firebear Brides
BEAR THE BURN
A LITTLE TASTE…
It was torment, imagining those plump lips of hers curling around the head of his cock, sucking him off like she’d never had real dick before. He grunted as his jerks sped up slowly, in rhythm with the way Tiana was bobbing up and down on him in his heated daydream. The bumpy veins on his shaft seemed to stick out more and his balls filled and throbbed for release, his hand moving faster and faster.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t even hear how the bathroom door opened, or the soft little gasp that Tiana made when she saw him through the perfectly see-through bathroom curtain.
The mewl of a moan played into his mental images perfectly and a second later he blew his load, thick and hot and sticky, against the orange tiles of the shower corner. He opened his eyes, grinning with satisfaction, only to see Tiana stare back at him with a mix of horror, excitement, and lust. His deep, resounding chuckle must have chased her all the way down the hallway as she slammed the door shut behind her.
Oh, this is going to be fun, Royce thought, getting back to washing himself.
Copyright © 2015 Anya Nowlan
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Bear The Burn
All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be used, reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means by anyone but the purchaser for their own personal use. This book may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Anya Nowlan. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
A LITTLE TASTE…
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BEAR THE FLAME EXCERPT
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
“This whole thing is ridiculous,” Royce commented to no one but himself, reading the letter he’d received from his uncle a month ago.
It was at least the twentieth time he’d been reading the damn thing, and it didn’t seem to make any more sense now than it did before. The roads leading up to Shifter Grove kept getting narrower, darker, and smaller, and for the life of him, Royce Hamilton was not sure why he was making the trip up there to begin with.
He was a city bear, through and through. The lead of one of the major fire teams of the Boston Fire Department’s Engine Company 10, he’d been doing what he loved and doing it well for a good ten years now. As far as he was concerned, he was exactly where he was supposed to be in life and nothing could sway him from that path. The sharp right turn he had to take to avoid tumbling down the side of a cliff in his big red rental Chevy reminded him that there were still things in the universe that could make him change course.
Chuckling to himself, he tossed the letter on the passenger seat and continued driving, his hands firmly on the steering wheel. His window was rolled down, and the fresh, crisp mountain air fed his lungs, making them open wider than they had in a long time. His bear was inches from pulling a classic golden retriever move and making him stick his head out the window to whiff in the scent of the forest by the lungful. Now that would have been something new for the serious, dedicated, and always reserved Royce Hamilton, firebear extraordinaire.
The oldest of four brothers, he’d grown up mostly in Boston and unlike the rest of his siblings, had never really wanted to leave. What could there be out there that he didn’t have in Boston? All he desired was in that city: his work, his history, his friends! But still, being in Idaho, so close to everything he’d never known but that his bear seemed to recognize instantly, the tiniest note of hesitation entered into his heart.
Shaking his head, he pushed on the gas.
The faster I get there, the faster I get out, he told himself.
About an hour later, he rolled into Shifter Grove. It was a quaint little town, though he could smell the shifter populace a mile away. It wasn’t that they had much of a notable scent, though some of the wolves in the area certainly needed a good hosing, but that the sheer amount of testosterone and go-get-‘em attitude was pretty suffocating. Driving through the town with its dirt roads and brand-spanking new businesses—Who needs a lawyer in bumfuck Idaho? he had to wonder—he couldn’t help but smirk.
Boston was so much better.
Putting all that aside, he parked his car in front of the general goods store called Pearl’s, and climbed out. His boots hit the ground and a puff of powdery dirt rose up around his knees. Royce made a face, tucking his hands into his pockets. There was an unprecedented drought hitting the Northwest that year and if these folks weren’t careful, they were going to be dealing with a possible fire hazard soon. When he’d been driving through the forest, he’d already noticed that the ground was extremely dry. One lit match could send the whole mountainside up in flames.
Bet they don’t even have a fire station, he thought to himself, mentally clucking his tongue. Not that you care, he added quickly, his bear grumbling deep in him like a stodgy old man.
Royce strolled into the store and loaded up a basket with one day’s worth of food and essentials. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that at least the store had stocked some fire prevention basics, which made him breathe a little easier.
Real Smokey Bear, aren’t you, he thought, smirking at his own cautiousness.
Some parts of the job just ingrained themselves very deeply in a man, never mind whether he wanted it to or not.
“Ma’am,” he started, nodding to the eye-catchingly gorgeous young woman at the counter.
“Hey, stranger!” she greeted him with a grin, running his items through the till with proficiency and speed he rarely saw in Boston. “New in town?” she asked, ringing up his total. “That’ll be ten fifty-five.”
“You can say that. Just passing through,” he said, handing over ten bucks and some change. “Speaking of which, I don’t know if you can help me. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going.”
Royce tucked his hand into his pocket and fished out a piece of paper with a smudged address on it. He handed it to the pretty woman at the counter—her nametag read Pearl, so he assumed he was talking to the owner—and leaned on the counter with his elbow. As she read it her eyebrows shot up, then looked at Royce with a newfound interest.
“The Hamilton grounds? Yeah, I know where those are. You just go out of town for another twenty minutes or so down the… well, the only road that goes north, and when you hit a five-road intersection, you take one of the three that head to the west. And the next buildings you see are all the Hamiltons’. That’s a mighty big compound just to be driving through. I thought Herbert Hamilton passed away recently?”
Wow. Small towns really all… small.
He nodded tentatively, tucking the address in his pocket again and gathering up his rice and beans. “He did. Herbert was my uncle.”
Royce couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, so I heard. Never met the man, actually. But he left me and my brothers the grounds and I figured I should give them a once-over before I sell them.”
“Oh,” Pearl said, slouching back with obvious disappointment. “Such a nice place to sell. Shame. Sure you don’t want to relocate? We have the best bar in a three-hundred mile radius!” she said, getting that warm smile back.
“You mean you have the only bar within a three-hundred mile radius!” he laughed.
“Same difference,” Pearl chuckled as Royce made to leave. “Well, anyway, if you reconsider, you’ll know where to buy your supplies!”
“I bet this is the only place within a day’s drive too,” he said with a wink.
The way she smirked back told him that he was not wrong.
Still chuckling under his breath, Royce threw the goods in the backseat and jumped in, revving the engine as he peeled off. At least a truck made sense here. In Boston, it was hard to justify something so damn big when he lived within jogging distance of the station. Then again, for a werebear, just about anything was within jogging distance.
The road to the compound was easy enough to follow since it was the only one heading out of town to begin with. It split off a few times and Royce could spot roofs of big farm houses and ranches, but he kept going until hitting the fork. He’d thought Pearl’s comment about the spike had been some sort of a mistake, but there actually were three separate roads that all seemed to head toward something behind a patch of thick forest. Taking the middle one, he gave a mental shrug to not question Idaho directions.
When he got to the actual homestead, his mouth dropped and remained firmly planted somewhere around his knees until he parked the car. The place was huge. Absolutely gargantuan. He grabbed the letter from the seat and shoved it in his pocket. Stepping out of the truck in the middle of the compound, Royce couldn’t contain his surprise.
“Holy shit,” he hissed, pulling his hand through his hair.
There were at least a few houses that had to have been a family home and living quarters for the guests and servants back in the day. A large barn that could have once been red stood behind the homes, and he could spy the remnants of countless cattle yards and paddocks. Strolling through the massive lands, he found several sheds and what might have once been an engine repair shop from the tools sprawled around.
The farm lands were overgrown with weeds, but he could still see that there’d been vegetables grown and some sort of grains. Simply put, it was one of those real, old-school farm compounds that he thought only existed somewhere in the backlands of Kansas. Yet this one was nestled amidst thick green forests ad towering mountains, and there wasn’t an Amish buggy in sight. He couldn’t believe it.
This was nothing compared to the cramped apartment where he lived in Boston. But size wasn’t what really spoke to him. Royce made his way back to the main building, a gorgeous mammoth of a three-story home, with Victorian outcroppings and wooden paneling that despite its current state of disrepair still spoke of a dignified and magnificent past.
“So this is where Dad lived,” he mused to himself, walking up the creaking stairs and unlocking the front door with the single key that had come with the note from Herbert.
He walked in and the scent that greeted him was so familiar it brought tears to his eyes immediately. What smoke and noxious gases couldn’t do, the scent of his long-lost father managed in a split second. It felt like… home. And he couldn’t even recall ever being there.
Royce walked to what used to be the kitchen, the linoleum peeling up and the wallpaper sagging, but he knew exactly which room it was. It had the great view of the backyard that he remembered from…
I know this place, he realized with a start.
Twisting around and inhaling deeply, Royce’s brows furrowed. Yes. He knew every bit of this place. Down to the crawlspaces under the house, the way that a bear cub could spring up to the second level of the hay shed even if there wasn’t any ladder in sight, and how good the water in the tiny hidden lake in the middle of the tuft of forest to the east of the main house felt on a hot summer day.
His father had died when he and his brothers Ragnar, Redmond, and Rhodes were just young cubs, barely a year between all of them. Royce had been the oldest and he couldn’t have been more than five. He had fuzzy memories of the big bear of a man who kept throwing him on his knee and the big family they had around them in the estate.
Royce knew from the few things he remembered that back then it hadn’t been just him, his brothers, and his mother, but a whole clan of Hamilton bears to teach them and raise them. It was the werebear way, to bring up the children of the Alpha or any other clan member in a warm, protective environment. And that had to also be why there was more than one building on the grounds that could house a family.
Wiping a tear from his cheek that had already almost dried, he pulled out the letter and let his eyes glide over it again in disbelief. What he’d thought to be the ramblings of an old man now made all the sense in the world. Uncle Herbert, who Royce had only shared a Christmas card or two with—as the aging bear did not wish to come to the city where his late brother’s wife had taken his children—was not a man to mince words. They read:
The Hamilton House and the grounds around it have always been in the Halt Mill clan’s ownership. The times changed and we changed with them, turning into Hamiltons, but the history never changed. This is sacred ground, for you, for me, for our kin. I want to be buried here, right next to my brother. And you boys need to continue what we never could.
If you want these grounds, all four of you must move back to the Hamilton farmstead, and within a year, I want to see all four of you married and at least two of you with cubs. Continue the Hamilton name in the way it was supposed to be—in our forefathers’ lands, living close to our roots. Not in some damn city spirits-know-where. Come home. If you don’t, the estate will be sold and you will be barred from buying it.
I would rather see it go to someone else entirely than to know that I did nothing and let the Hamilton name die. Your father deserves better. I deserve better.
Royce folded the note, this time with care, but kept it in his palm as he stared out the window. How hadn’t he realized? A lump formed in his throat. His bear fought to get out, driven by what Royce could assume was recognition of happier times. But deep down inside, he knew it wasn’t just that. It took no more than a few minutes on his forefathers’ grounds to know that he truly was home now. This was where he needed to be. Boston already seemed like a distant memory.
Now he just needed to get his brothers on board.
Time to find a woman the old-fashioned way, he thought, already shaking his head at the very real possibility that popped in his head. He was beginning to understand why he could sense the shifters in Shifter Grove from miles away. How could anyone ever leave?
Rolling back her shoulders, Tiana groaned softly as the dough underneath her palms refused to work with her. No matter how much she worked it, no matter how many of her little tricks she used, the damn thing just wouldn’t behave and she was having just about enough of it.
The kitchen was covered in flour and all the tabletops sported a bowl or a dish or a baking pan of something either cooling down or waiting to go into her big ovens. There was enough work in the kitchen for at least five bakers, yet she was there alone. It was a typical evening at Tiana’s Downtown Tea Shop and it really shouldn’t have surprised her. But it still sort of did.
Living in Dallas for most of her life, she had sort of grown accustomed to the fact that a lot of people really didn’t appreciate it when you went out on a limb for them. Or, they would appreciate it in the beginning, but when the going got tough, they just rolled out like she had never even existed. Tha
If I can just get these cookies done, maybe I can get more than five hours of sleep tonight, Tiana thought, bleary-eyed.
She rubbed her forehead against her shoulder haphazardly, not daring to touch any part of her hands to her face, lest she get flour in her dark, long curls again. Getting it out was a hassle and a half, especially with her natural, tight curls that took care and effort in the Dallas heat to keep from looking like she got assaulted with a rake.
Then again, who was she kidding, her black mop of hair always looked almost gray because of all the flour and sugar that kept ending up there. Harrumphing to herself, she pulled a stool out from underneath one of the tables and sat down on it, her hands still patiently working their magic. Cooking was an art, but baking was a science, and she’d always thought of herself as a reasonable mathematician when it came to the fine mysteries of making delicious bread or mouthwatering cookies. Yet, this time, everything seemed to be going wrong.
Her white and green kitchen looked like a mess and she had lost count halfway through of which orders she had filled and which she hadn’t. That was supposed to be the job of the new cashier and assistant she’d hired just two weeks ago, who kept falling ill with some sort of a mysterious cold in the Texas summer whenever it was the end of the week and she was scheduled to work.
And this damn ginger cookie? Well, that was the specialty of Layla, the young baker she had hired not too long ago. Layla was nowhere to be found either, though she was supposed to be helping out with the orders that evening. There was a lump in Tiana’s throat that would not go away every time she thought about how damn hard she’d worked to market Layla’s cookies to her current clients, after the girl had begged and pleaded with her to add it onto the menu. Layla had wanted something of her own to feel proud of, and somehow it had ended up as Tiana’s problem once again.