Bear Mine for Christmas: BBW Holiday Paranormal Bear Shifter Romance (Christmas Bear Shifter Romance Book 2)

BOOK: Bear Mine for Christmas: BBW Holiday Paranormal Bear Shifter Romance (Christmas Bear Shifter Romance Book 2)
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Bear Mine for Christmas

 

 

 

ARIANA HAWKES

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Ariana Hawkes

All rights reserved.

 

 

This is a standalone, 25,500-word HEA romance, perfect for a lunch break, bath time, or a little dose of me-time, wherever you are!

 

 

 

Your free book is waiting!

 

 

A 4.5-star rated, comedy romance featuring one kickass roller derby chick, two scorching-hot Alphas, and the naughty nip that changed their lives forever.

 

The only thing missing from Aspen Richardson’s life is a man who will love her just the way she is. In the small town she calls home, bullies from the past remain, making her wonder if it's ever going to happen. But, things are about to change in a major way, as the secret Aspen’s parents have been keeping from her comes out…

 

“This book definitely needs to be added to your MUST read list – you will quickly fall in love with this steamy and fast paced story.”

 

Get your free book now!

 

(If your device doesn’t support links, go to www.arianahawkes.com/freebook)

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Madison Armstrong spun around the living room of her brand new house, her arms stretched out to the sides.

“You used to do that when you were five years old,” her mother Elsbeth called from the sofa, her voice full of laughter.

“And I’ve never stopped,” Madison replied, grinning as she stood still and waited for her head to catch up. “This is so much more than I’d get in Chicago for the money.”

“It’s not a bad place, is it? Living in Misty Hollow does have some benefits.”

“I know it does, and I am happy to be back here, mom. It’ll just take me a little while to adjust to life outside of a big city.”

“Of course, honey. And I’m really grateful to have you here, but I just feel so guilty at dragging you away from your life.” Madison strode across the big living room and sat down next to her mom, taking her hand in hers.

“Mom, my main priority is taking care of you. And it was high time I left Chicago. It’s a great place to have a high-powered career, but not such a good place to have a life. And now that I’m no longer married to another hotshot lawyer, my priorities have changed.” Elsbeth caught a strand of Madison’s rich brown hair in her fingers, and twisted it back into a perfect corkscrew curl.

“I’m just worried that you’ll get bored here, and damage your career prospects by working as a small-town lawyer.”

“No, not at all. I was so over office politics when I left Harbert & Brown. If I ever work in Chicago again, it’ll be a continuation of the law office I’m starting up here. I still have two of my largest clients, who’ve been loyal to me for a long time now, and that’s enough to build on. But to be honest I’m looking forward to working for the community here, and helping to make people’s lives better. And I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.”

Elsbeth’s eyes were full of pride as she gazed at her daughter.

“You always were a sweetheart, even when you were bursting with ambition. I knew you’d be tough enough for the law, although I was a little worried that it would crush your sensitivity. I’ve been so happy to see that hasn’t happened.”

“Aw, it’ll take more than a cutthroat legal career and a bitter divorce to turn me into a big old meanie!” Madison said, putting her arm around Elsbeth’s shoulders.

“That’s my girl. Now, tell me – you are going to take the holiday season off, before you start working at your new business, right?”

“I’m not going to work until you’re fully recovered from your operation, mom,” Madison said, glancing at her mother’s leg, which was in a cast after her recent knee operation. “I feel like we haven’t seen enough of each other in the past few years, and I want to make up for that.”

Just then, the front door crashed open and a girl with wild chestnut hair and rosy cheeks hurtled in, carrying a large cardboard box.

“Hey, Abbey!” Madison called to her 11-year-old niece. “What have you got there?”

“Hi Auntie Madison, grandma,” Abbey said, depositing the box in the middle of the room. “Mom asked me to bring some Christmas decorations over for you. And she’s asking if you want to go get a tree tonight?”

“Thanks, honey. And yeah, that’d be great! Can you ask her to let me know what time?”

“Yeah, she said about 6. She’ll pick you up in the truck.”

“Perfect. Have you created your costume for the parade yet?” Abbey rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, but it’s dumb.”

“Why are you saying that, sweetie?” Elsbeth said, holding her arms out to indicate she wanted a hug. Abbey ran over and squeezed her tight, a smile lighting up her sweet, mischievous face. Madison looked at her fondly, glad that she was such a good-natured kid and hadn’t developed any attitude. After Elsbeth released her, Abbey sighed dramatically.

“It’s the Santa’s helper costume I always wear. It’s way too small for me, but I don’t want to get a new costume because next year I’ll be too big to go in the parade.”

“Says who?” Elsbeth said.

“Melinda at school. She says it’s not cool to go in it when you’re a teen.”

“Uh, by my reckoning, you won’t be a teen next year. And being cool is about doing what you want, not what somebody else tells you you should do.” Abbey sighed again.

“I know, I guess,” she said. “Sometimes Melinda can be mean.”

“You love being in the parade, don’t you? It used to be your favorite part of Christmas.” Abbey’s eyes brightened.

“Yeah, I do,” she admitted.

“Well, how about we all make your costume together this year? Then if it is your last year in the parade, it’ll be something to remember, and if it’s not, then it’ll last you for next year too,” Madison said.

“Yeah!” Abbey yelled, raising her small fist in the air. “I’d love that. Thank you Auntie Madison.”

“Any time, honey. Have a think about what you want to go as, and we’ll get started tomorrow.” Abbey enveloped her in a fierce hug then hurtled towards the door.

“She’s such a great kid,” Madison said when she’d gone. “I’m sad that I’ve missed so much of her growing up.”

“Don’t worry, she’s still young, and you’re here now, which is what counts,” Elsbeth replied.

 

*

 

At 6.30pm, Madison’s sister Karen pulled up in the driveway in her pickup truck.

“Make sure you get a nice big one,” Elsbeth called as Madison gathered up her coat and purse.

“That’s a given!” Madison replied, glancing at the high ceiling of her new house. “I think anything under five feet tall would look ridiculous in here! See you later, mom.” She kissed Elsbeth on the cheek, rushed out of the door and jumped into the truck next to Abbey.

“Hi, sis. Sorry I was a bit later than I said I’d be,” Karen said cheerfully, pulling away quickly enough to make Madison’s seatbelt snap tight against her chest.

“No, you were right on time. T-plus 30 minutes is always the time I expect you,” Madison said with a grin. Karen clicked her tongue.

“A harsh assessment, but a fair one,” she conceded.

“Where’s Sophia?” Madison asked after her other niece.

“She’s hanging out with her best friend Marina, as usual. Teens. You know.” Madison nodded knowingly.

“Auntie Madison, I’ve decided what I want to be in the parade,” Abbey cut in.

“What’s that?”

“The ghost of Christmas past.” Madison let out a shriek of laughter.

“Really? Um – I mean – that sounds really cool. So, are you going to turn up in a sheet?” Abbey giggled.

“Nooo! I want people to be able to recognize me! So I’ll just do my face real pale or something. And I need to have a candle on my head.”

“Yeah, that’s going to happen,” Karen said.

“Oh, I think we can create something that looks really candle-like?” Madison said, turning in her seat and winking at her niece.

 

Half an hour of mountain driving later, they’d arrived at their destination. It was a big outdoor store that seemed to sell nothing but fir trees.

“This is new, isn’t it?” Madison said.

“Yup. It’s been around for about three years now. It’s owned by a family of bear shifters.”

“Bear shifters. I’d almost forgotten about them.”

“Yeah, they were more prominent in our high school days, but now they tend to live outside of the community. I think it’s because the information age makes it harder for them to keep their identity a secret from the world at large.”

“That’s kind of sad. I always knew we weren’t supposed to mention them to outsiders, but I guess nowadays, there’s always going to be someone taking a photo with their phone, or posting something careless on Facebook.”

“Exactly. So this business is an eco-thing. They grow the trees without chemicals and they hire them out to you at Christmas, and when Christmas is over, they’ll come by and pick them up. Then they grow them again for the rest of the year and hire them out the following Christmas.”

“That’s so neat!” Madison said. “I always used to feel so guilty when Christmas was over and the tree went in the trash.”

They walked into the yard, Abbey skipping ahead.

“There’s so much choice here, I don’t know where to start,” Madison said, gazing at the bewildering array of trees in all shapes and sizes.

“Can I help you, ladies?” A tall, dark-haired man said, coming over to them. He was dressed in a red lumberjack shirt and faded jeans, and he was startlingly good-looking. He had intense, hazel eyes, a square jaw and full, well-shaped lips. And – Madison realized with a jolt – he was somebody that she used to know. Her heartbeat sped up a little, and, uncharacteristically for her, she felt slightly shaky as she opened her mouth to speak to him.

“Weren’t we at high school together?” she said. Recognition dawned in his eyes at the same moment.

“I think we were,” he said with a grin, holding his hand out to her. “I’m Brock.”

“Madison!” she replied, temporarily distracted by how firm and warm his handshake was. His brow furrowed.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you since we left though?”

“I’ve been away,” she said. “I’ve lived in Chicago for the past ten years, but I’ve just moved back to Misty Hollow.”

“Best place to live in the world,” he replied with an easy grin.

“This is my sister, Karen, and my niece, Abbey.”

“Pleased to meet you all.” He shook hands with both of them, while Abbey stared up at him wide-eyed. He was very tall, at least 6’4’’, with a stocky, broad-shouldered build.

“Is this your place?” Madison asked.

“Yup. I own it along with my uncle Grayson, and my cousin Riley - over there.” He pointed to two equally tall men, chatting away to customers at the opposite side of the store. “Now do you all need some guidance with picking your tree?”

“Yes, I think so,” Madison replied, with a smile.

“So, we’ve got Blue firs, Omorika firs, Fraser firs and Norwegian spruces,” he said, leading them around. “They’ve got different attributes and drawbacks –”

As he explained what each of the features were, Madison glanced at him surreptitiously. Brock Fletcher. She knew exactly who he was. She’d only been pretending that she couldn’t remember him too well. And he hadn’t gotten any less hot over the years. In fact, adulthood had made him even more handsome. In high school, she’d admired him from afar. He was one of a group of bear shifters. They’d always kept to themselves and been unofficially out of bounds. As in, girls weren’t banned from dating them, but they never seemed interested, and it was always assumed that humans would date humans and shifters would date shifters. But he’d still been the subject of many of her teenage fantasies. Even when he was 15, he’d been more manly than the human boys in her class, and she’d often wondered what it would be like to date a shifter.

“So, what’s it to be?” Brock said, and Madison realized that he was looking directly at her, with those glowing hazel eyes. She jolted back to reality, flushing. She’d been drifting away on daydreams, listening to the sound of his voice – which was deep, gravelly and resonant – instead of his words.

“Auntie Madison?” Abbey said, patting her arm.

“Sorry! I was a little overwhelmed,” she said trying to recover fast.

“I reckon the Blue fir’s the best, with that lovely blue tinge,” Karen jumped in.

“Yes, I agree,” Madison said, trying to sound like the smart, decisive woman she was, rather than a dizzy schoolgirl.

“Great. That would be my choice too,” Brock said, giving her a smile that sent a shiver all the way through her body. “And what height are you looking for?”

“Uh, well I have high ceilings – maybe 11 feet high. So, I guess quite a tall one?”

“Maybe nine foot then. Like this one?” He pointed to a beautiful specimen with lovely, dense foliage. It was perfect. Madison clasped her hands together.

“Yes, that’s the one!” she said.

“Great. We can deliver if you like?” She wanted to say yes, just to give herself an excuse to see him again. 

“Oh, that’s ok, my sister has a truck,” she found herself saying instead. For a fleeting moment, she thought he looked disappointed, before she told herself to stop being so silly.
He has the looks of a god, and he probably has a bear shifter wife, who’s lovely and slender, and nothing like me at all
, she told herself sternly.

“So, that’ll be $75,” he said. She gave him cash and he handed back some change, taking it out of a tool belt he wore around his waist.
He’s so rough and ready, and masculine
, she thought.
Exactly how a guy should be, rather than the preening, backstabbing career-freaks I’ve been working with for the past ten years.

“Ok, we’re good to go. Which one’s your truck?”

“This one.” She expected him to call one of the guys over to help him, but instead, he heaved the massive tree onto his shoulder and carried it over to the truck, laying it down casually, as if it weighed nothing.

“Thanks!” she said.

“All part of the service, ma’am,” he said with a jokey salute. “Here’s our number.” He handed her a business card. “Just give me a call after Christmas when you want the tree to be collected. Try to water it every day to give it the best chance of survival.” She nodded.

BOOK: Bear Mine for Christmas: BBW Holiday Paranormal Bear Shifter Romance (Christmas Bear Shifter Romance Book 2)
3.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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