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Authors: Jane Wakely

Brock's Bunny

BOOK: Brock's Bunny
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Brock’s Bunny--Chestnut Rock Shifters, Book Three

written
by Jane
Wakely

 

 

 

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First Edition

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Chapter One

 

Hollie
Dawson looked around the restaurant while her date rambled on the phone
to one of his “clients.” The atmosphere was nice if you enjoyed the western
thing.
Hollie
didn’t. Saddles, spurs, horseshoes and
cowboy hats decorated the walls. She could appreciate the antler chandeliers if
she convinced herself that they were
fake
, but she
couldn’t forgive the skulls. Steer skulls occupied several walls and she
couldn’t shake the probability that they were real. Her stomach rolled at the
thought.

Hollie
eyed her date. Her initial response when he asked her out had been no.
He was attractive, but she knew he wasn’t meant for her. She’d only agreed to
avoid another Friday night alone.
Or working.
With
nothing else to do, she spent most of her time at her health food store,
The Harvest
. Her friend, Christina, had
expressed her concern and
Hollie
agreed. She needed
to get involved in something else. Have fun again. A thriving business was
nice, but life was more than just work. It had to be.

Now
that Christina had found her bear, and knew about
Hollie
,
she’d been invited to several weekend get-togethers at Christina’s or
Jenn’s
. Christina and
Jenn
were
best friends, but they welcomed her into their group, and
Hollie
was grateful. It was nice to be around shifters again—even if they were
predators.

Shifters
aren’t natural joiners. They’re used to keeping secrets and spend most of their
time alone. With no one to share their lives, many shifters border on
depression and some can even die of loneliness if they don’t find a mate.
Hollie
envied the friendship her four friends shared. Why
more shifters didn’t try and stick together, she didn’t know.

Hollie
thought about the other shifters she knew of in Chestnut Rock. She
hadn’t met them, but she’d picked up their scents easily enough. Maybe she
should reach out and try to befriend them. Could it be dangerous for them to
stick together? Not likely. She’d have to see what Matt and Bull thought. The
cougar and skunk cousins seemed friendly enough. They might be fun to hang out
with.

The
waiter came, and her date finally ended his call and cut her off to place his
order.
Hollie
ordered a Caesar salad and a baked
potato. Being a vegetarian meant her choices were often limited, but she was
surprised there wasn’t even a fish option on the menu. The steakhouse had
several steak options, obviously. There was one pork dish and three chicken
choices, but no fish and nothing meatless. Both were very poor business
decisions by the owner, in her opinion. Though she didn’t eat fish,
Hollie
had several friends that were
pescetarians
.

Hollie
was surprised at the popularity of the eatery. A Chestnut Rock exclusive,
many people from nearby towns visited on the weekends. Everyone knew there
would be a waiting list on Friday and Saturday nights. It was a place you
brought a date if you wanted to impress her—unless she was a vegetarian. At
least, in the beginning, her date had tried. Unfortunately, after the thirty
minute wait outside, it was clear they really weren’t compatible.

“A salad and a baked potato?
Really,
Hollie
?
This is a steakhouse, one of the best; I
brought you here to try the steak.”

She’d
thought about leaving several times, but something held her back.
Hollie
couldn’t figure it out. Her date was turning out to
be more of a jerk than anything else. “I’m a vegetarian, Ronald. I told you
that when we met in my store, and I reminded you of it again when we were
waiting outside. I don’t eat steak. Or any type of meat.”

“You
should try it just this once. It won’t kill you. Look around, everyone is
fine!”

“It’s
not a matter of it killing me, it’s a choice. I choose to not to kill and eat
animals for food.”

“Why
did you come here then?” His slightly raised voice spat the words like venom.

Was he
seriously mad because she wasn’t eating a steak? Why had she agreed to go on a
date with him? Fear slithered down her back.

“You
brought me here.” She calculated where she could run and cursed herself for
allowing him to pick her up at home.

“Yeah,
well, I wish I hadn’t!” He started looking at his phone again, using his finger
to scroll down the screen and
Hollie
scooted out of
the booth. She was just about to stand up and run when a man stopped at their
table.

“How
are you two doing tonight?”

Hollie
looked up and read his name tag.
Brock Smith.
The owner.
She’d read enough news about the place to know
who he was, but she’d never seen him before. Not in a photograph or on the
street. She’d remember if she had.
Hollie
understood
why she hadn’t left sooner.

Brock
was her mate.

****

Brock
Smith walked out of the kitchen and smiled. Another packed night. Every weekend
had been packed since he opened the restaurant three years ago. People drove
for miles to eat the signature dishes prepared perfectly by his chefs. He was
so glad he took the leap and opened the place even though everyone except his
sister, Candace, had discouraged him. He was too young, too inexperienced and
too poor, they’d said. Those things were true, but he was also smart, driven
and business savvy.

Brock
knew he would succeed.

He came
from a family of culinary specialists. Both parents had been chefs in five star
restaurants in Las Vegas before moving the four of them to Chestnut Rock after his
senior year of high school. He and Candace wanted to follow their parent’s
footsteps and attend the same culinary school, so they’d moved to the Pacific
Northwest and settled in Chestnut Rock.

Brock had
enjoyed the business classes more than the culinary, and refocused his goals.
He loved cooking, but he loved managing more. He’d had a five year plan that
included a chain of family restaurants with his family name on them.

Unfortunately,
plans had a way of changing.

The day
he’d graduated from college, his parents had an accident on the way to his
celebratory dinner. They both died instantly and left Brock to care for
Candace. She was twenty, only two years younger than him, but he didn’t want
her to throw her life away. He wanted her to finish school and follow her
dreams.

Several
of his parent’s local friends stepped forward and let him work with them,
cooking and managing, gaining experience to open his own restaurant. They ultimately
discouraged him, but not because he didn’t have the skills. They wanted to
protect him. It was tough for a business to succeed in this new economy,
especially in an unpopular mid-size town. Brock understood their apprehension,
but he had to try anyway. He was glad he did.

Brock always
walked the dining room, gauging customer’s reactions to the atmosphere and
food. Sometimes he would clear dishes or talk to patrons, asking about their
visit.

A
raised voice brought his attention to a booth in the middle of the room and he
walked over to check on the couple.

At the
sound if his greeting, the man looked up and smiled. His grin reminded Brock of
a hyena and he wondered what the man would try and take from him.

“Everything
is great, Mr. Smith, just great. You’ve done great for
yourself,
this is my favorite place to eat.”

BOOK: Brock's Bunny
6.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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