Rancher Bear: BBW Bear Shifter Romance (Bear Haven Book 2), страница 1
.99 Sale Polar Bear boxed Set
Also by Terry
Copyright © 2015 by Terry Bolryder
All rights reserved.
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Jesse pressed Bonnie against the wall of the barn, her hands pushing against his chest, both of them heaving hard breaths after the strongest kiss of their lives.
“It’s wrong,” she said. “Seth and I are only taking a break. We’ll get back together again. We always do.”
“He doesn’t love you,” Jesse said. “I can.”
She pushed hard, gasping, and he finally stepped back. He was impossibly bigger than her, with his hulking muscle and tall height. His blond hair was swept back in a low, short pony, and several strands were hanging loose in his face, framing fiery blue eyes.
“Has he ever kissed you like that?” Jesse rasped. “He can’t, can he? No one can.”
Jesse’s eyes glowed in the dim light of the barn, where they hid from his brothers and her friends, who would never understand what had happened.
Bonnie had been drawn to him from the moment he’d visited her and Ruby at the hospital where she’d been admitted for a bad stomach flu.
From the first glance, lightning had struck between them.
There was just one problem.
She’d been engaged.
But not anymore. At least for now. When she’d gotten home, she and Seth had fought over the length of her stay and the fact that he hadn’t cared when she’d been sick. Seeing her friend Ruby with her man, Shane, had made it clear just how much was missing between her and Seth, and she’d needed to take some time to think.
She also had to come out to visit her friend and celebrate her wedding. The couple had quietly eloped, but they still invited her and her friend Harmony down to visit after the honeymoon.
So here she was, almost shacking up with the groom’s brother.
But she and Seth would get back together. They always did. They’d been friends since childhood. Well, if you could call friends a one-sided exchange that always seemed to benefit Seth and not her.
However, Seth had always been everything she’d wanted in a relationship. He was refined, came from a good family. Handsome, the right height, tall but not too tall. Intelligent and educated. A veterinarian, while she was only his assistant.
Okay, they'd gone to school together, but she’d been fine starting a practice with him. It was natural for a boyfriend and girlfriend to partner up. And besides, as Seth had said, she wasn’t the type to start something up on her own. She was too mild. Too meek.
She didn’t feel mild and meek right now, with her heart thundering hard over a kiss nothing like anything she’d had before from a man who looked like he’d stepped out of a mountain fantasy.
Jesse was wearing a denim top and bottom, as he often did, and beneath that, the powerful muscles of his chest strained under a white tee. His thighs—dear goodness, his thighs, which had been pressed against her a moment ago—they were heavenly. The feel of hard muscle…
Jesse wasn’t anything she wanted intellectually. He was all wrong for her and her family. She had duties to fulfill.
But just right now, while bad for her mind, he was so good for her body.
Jesse thumped a hand on his leg and strode across the barn to one of his horses, putting his hand through the animal’s mane and uttering soothing words, though she didn’t know if it was for the horse or himself.
In the time she’d spent at Bear Haven, she’d noticed a marked difference between Jesse and his brothers. He was more cooped up, almost had a cramped feeling about him, as if he kept everything packed down deep inside.
But his eyes. His blue eyes were always burning. Especially when he looked at her.
His expression was cool in the semidarkness. “What makes you think you two will get back together this time?” he asked. “You left. Don’t you think that’s a bad sign?”
“I needed time to think,” she said tremulously.
“He can’t give you everything,” Jesse murmured.
“I know,” Bonnie said. “But neither can you.”
Jesse walked forward and caught her by the arm just as she was about to reach the exit, where light was streaming through. “You know you’ll never be satisfied with a man like him.”
She narrowed her eyes on him, a flashing light green like spring trees. “I’d never be satisfied with you either.” She shook her red hair and jerked her arm away from his warm grasp, no matter how she wanted to stay there. “As much as you seem to think otherwise.”
“I’ll win you over, Bon,” Jesse said in a deep voice as she opened the door to the barn with a loud creak. “You can’t run forever.”
She just shook her head and sighed as she let the door close behind her, keeping the memories of what just happened between them safely tucked away.
Just like she wanted them.
She walked toward the main house and saw Ruby striding toward her. She still wasn’t used to how different Ruby looked since taking up residence in Montana. She’d traded cute skirts and trendy shoes and tops for flannel, jeans, and sturdy cowboy boots. And she looked absolutely glowing with happiness.
Ruby threw her arms around her and held her tight. “Where were you? I’ve been looking for you.”
“Oh, just on a walk,” Bonnie said, feeling guilty for misleading her friend, but not ready to hear her reaction to what had happened with Jesse. With the chemistry between them, it was bound to happen.
“Well, don’t disappear on me. I don’t get a lot of time with you. I have to use what I have.”
“Okay,” Bonnie said, nodding and hoping to hide her flush.
“And how is Harmony doing?” Ruby asked.
“Why don’t you ask her yourself when she gets here in a few days?” Bonnie asked.
Ruby frowned, her beautiful pink lips pursed. “I can’t wait that long.”
“We keep in touch over Facebook, you silly creature,” Bonnie said. Still, the feel of her arm around Ruby’s waist was nice. Familiar. The three of them had been friends since becoming roommates in a shared apartment their first year of college, despite going to different schools. It had just worked out well.
Ruby had light-blond hair, so light it was nearly as light as her pale skin. She had cornflower-blue eyes and a complexion Bonnie always envied. She herself had thick, bright, carrot-red hair and green eyes and a ghostly pale complexion dotted with freckles.
Also, while Ruby was curvy and fashionable and seemed to own it, Bonnie had always felt shy about her size. Perhaps it had to do with the cruel words her mom had always said to her about it. About how she should be lighter, how lazy she looked. But no matter what she did, no matter how she exercised or tried the latest diet plan, nothing worked.
So she’d grown to accept i
Well, they’d decided to wait until marriage, though she hadn’t told either of her friends about it.
They picked on Seth enough.
“So are you breaking up with that jerk for sure this time?” Ruby said eagerly, opening a raw wound without meaning to. “Because I think you should just move out here, find you a mountain man, and work on the ranch.”
Bonnie sighed. “I don’t know what you all have against Seth. I’ve never felt the same way about another man.”
“You mean comfortable? Safe? Secure?” Ruby said sardonically.
Bonnie nodded. “There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ll have a good life. A secure one.”
“So why did you cut him off, then?” Ruby asked, folding her arms and cocking a hip. “You hoping it’ll make him change? It never has before.”
“Well, I never ran off to a ranch before,” Bonnie said. “And yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I am hoping for some passionate gesture. Maybe I just need space to think. I don’t know, girl.”
Ruby’s blue eyes softened and she looked out at the land around them. “Well, this is the perfect place to come. I’m here if you need to talk, and you have all the space you could want. That’s for sure.”
“I’m glad,” Bonnie said. “Still, can you imagine? Seth running to the rescue?”
“You’ve never needed to be rescued,” Ruby said. “Frankly, you’ve done all the saving in that relationship.”
“What do you mean?” Bonnie asked.
“Nothing,” Ruby said, pressing her lips together. Bonnie got the feeling her friends often kept something back from her. But the part of her that wanted to stay in her comfortable denial of whatever it was didn’t care to ask them what they thought.
She should know better than anyone else what was good for her. Harmony had perfectly terrible taste in men, and before Ruby had met Shane, her hot, tall, dark and handsome mountain cowboy, she had dated only disappointments as well.
And perhaps not everyone needed the kind of passion Ruby shared with her mate. Maybe some people were more suited to a quiet passion. Raising a pair of perfect Persian cats, and running a successful vet clinic that brought her into contact with all the animals she could want.
She wondered if she’d have a chance later to go see the horses, when Jesse wasn’t around. He liked to be around the stables, and she sensed he was almost more comfortable with animals than people.
A strange trait for a rancher that owned several restaurants that served his own premium beef.
“What’s that look on your face?” Ruby asked, catching her dreamy expression as she’d been zoning out. “I’ve never seen you look like that.”
“Nothing,” Bonnie said quickly. “Come on. Let’s go meet Shane. You said we were all having lunch together?”
She gulped. She hoped Jesse missed that meeting. He should have gotten the hint from what she’d said in the barn, yet she had the feeling if she spent more time with him, especially alone, she’d be taking those words back and he’d be taking her up against the barn door.
She felt her pale cheeks flame and walked intentionally ahead of Ruby to hide it. What had gotten into her, thinking of such things when she was planning to get back together with Seth?
But she also knew many people planned things, only to prove themselves wrong later. She hoped that wasn’t the case here.
But when she walked into the private dining room where Shane was waiting, she was dismayed to see Jesse had somehow gotten there first. He was leaning back on his chair with his hands lazily placed behind his head, a placid expression on his unbearably handsome face.
And he was looking at her with no indication that anything had happened, the bastard, when she knew her face would be glowing.
It was going to be an interminably long two weeks.
“Did I miss something?” Shane asked, looking from Ruby to Maverick to Jesse and then Bonnie as Fanny served them lunch.
“No,” Bonnie said a little too quickly.
Jesse kept a smile from quirking his lips. He liked that he had an effect on the woman, that he managed to get her riled up. He’d never seen her riled over her city boy lover, so that had to be a good sign.
He’d known she was his mate from the minute he met her, when Shane had sent him down the mountain to check on his mate’s friends. She’d been in the hospital then, looking beautiful with her bright-red hair splayed over the pillow, and he’d had a vision of himself in bed with her, his hands twisted through all that gorgeous, fiery hair.
He’d never felt that way about a woman before.
And then he’d scented the air and realized something he’d never thought possible. Something about her that no one else in the room had guessed. Maybe no one outside her immediately family.
But it hadn’t stopped his heart and his bear from wanting her and knowing she was the one.
And going berserk when he realized she was promised to another.
How could she, as his mate?
But she didn’t see it that way, and perhaps her species didn’t recognize their fated mates. The whole thing was completely new, and though his brother, a bear shifter, had mated with a human, he didn’t know of anyone who had this kind of mating relationship.
But he wasn’t giving up on it.
While she’d been gone, he’d felt almost like Maverick, his bear wild in his skin, like something was breaking loose. He’d spent a lot of time in his bear form, and Shane had commented on it, but Jesse hadn’t been able to tell him the truth.
He couldn’t break Bonnie’s privacy like that or face his brother’s indignation about his mate already having a lover. Not that it mattered who she'd been with. It was just that he wasn’t letting anyone else have her future.
But he had to let her go back to New York and her job, and in the meantime, he’d heard words from Ruby that made him feel reassured that the other man wasn’t as much of a threat as he’d thought.
To hear her tell it, the man was gay and using Bonnie as a shield against his conservative family. And Bonnie wasn’t aware of what he was doing because she’d never thought she could do better.
Well, Jesse was going to do something about that. But he had to be careful because Bonnie had a surprisingly feisty nature, and he got the idea that the more you tried to get her to do something she didn’t want, the more she didn’t want it.
She did want him, though.
He kept catching her green eyes flicking over to him when she thought he wasn’t looking.
Well, I am, little hellcat. And one of these days, you’re going to get caught.
He’d been thinking of what to do about it when Ruby invited her out here for the wedding and her and the sap had broken up anyhow.
And kissing her had been everything he’d hoped it would be.
But she was still insisting she’d go back to that limp noodle who could only give her half a life. It’d be one thing if he told her the truth and got her consent to a half marriage. But the fact that she didn’t know? Unforgivable.
That didn’t make Jesse’s position any easier, though.
He had to win her, and he had to get the other man out of her life for good. And he’d have to be careful about it, because she was a restless, nervous type who pushed back twice as hard as you pushed on her.
She sure was pretty, though. With long, dark lashes over stunning eyes like the green leaves of quaking aspens and creamy pale skin like nothing they had here in the country. And a love for animals he definitely shared—a way of caring for them he didn’t have the knowledge for.
He could just imagine her living here on the land. Their current doctor could use help, and she seemed to love horses. Perhaps he could use that.
“Whachu you thinking over there?” Mav asked, leaning in and leering. “Bet it has something to do
Jesse’s eyes snapped up but closed in relief when he realized Bonnie had gone outside with Ruby while he’d been lost in thought about their future.
“I see how you look at her,” Mav said, nudging him in the ribs. “Hey, go after it. Buy us a few more months of time.”
“Why don’t you find a mate?” Jesse retorted bitterly. “And stop hassling the rest of us about it.”
“Shane found his. Don’t have to worry ‘bout that no more,” Mav said. “But I don’t want a mate. I can wait.”
“Not for long,” Jesse said. “So maybe you oughta write another of those fake dating profiles like you made for Shane.”
Maverick raised his big hands in the air. “No way. I learned my lesson there.” He scratched his scruffy chin.
Jesse’s youngest brother could have been good-looking if he just made half an effort. Instead, he looked like someone who slept on a park bench. And went to the gym all the time, somehow.
But then, all shifters were buff, bears especially so.
“Maybe I’ll just wait for one of those fancy New York ladies to come out for a trail ride. I’ll take her up Sunset Canyon, park us by a little waterfall, and…” He made a crude gesture, and Jesse whacked him across the head. “Hey,” Mav said. “Just… trying to take care of business.” He perked up slightly, his dark eyes flashing as they turned in the direction the girls and Shane had walked in. “If you aren’t into the redhead, I might be able to work something there. Take up where her gay boyfriend doesn’t satisfy—”
He didn’t get to finish because Jesse whacked him much harder this time, and he grinned but knew it was best to shut up.
“I knew you liked her. Come on. Do it. Save the ranch.”
Jesse’s eyes narrowed. “I love this ranch. This land. You know I do. But I’m not going to mate for that reason—when I take a mate.”
Mav just tilted his head and stared at him sideways.
Jesse stood to leave, brushing off his cowboy hat and placing it over his head. “I’m going for a ride.”