Her Holiday Bear (A BBW Paranormal Christmas Romance)

BOOK: Her Holiday Bear (A BBW Paranormal Christmas Romance)
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HER HOLIDAY BEAR

COPY RIGHT BY

MARIE MASON

 

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

 

As soon as she had seen the ad for an elementary schoolteacher in Riverton, Colorado, Ally Stephens had felt a pull to the shifter town. Okay, so maybe she’d filled her head with fairy tales and hoped she’d be some shifter’s one and only. She had nothing stopping her from answering the ad. No parents. No siblings. Taking a chance, she moved to the small town–and promptly lost her heart to the town’s sheriff, a gruff bear shifter who had no use for a mate. After months of exchanging panty-melting glances and light flirtations, Ally resigns herself to being alone again for Christmas–and possibly for the rest of her life.

 

Bear shifter Jagger Houston was a loner by nature, both as a man and a bear. He didn’t believe in true mates, didn’t believe in love. However, he did believe in lust. He tried to convince himself—and his bear—that was all he was feeling for the curvy chocolate-haired schoolteacher who had come to town. It didn’t matter how good she tasted or how sweet she looked, neither he nor his bear wanted to be tied to someone for the rest of their lives.

Or did they…

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

“ARE YOU SURE you wouldn’t like some of this homemade fudge?” Ally Stephens tried to smile her thanks at Lester Bailey, the local baker. He was giving away free samples at the Christmas Bazaar, an annual event held in the small town of Riverton, Colorado. On the first weekend of December, schools, churches, and the local businesses gathered around the courthouse square to sell everything from fresh cut trees to designer purses.

The void Alley carried inside her expanded as she watched the families admiring the decorations and purchasing gifts. She’d lost her parents when she was still in college. She’d been an only child so a few distant cousins were her only living kin. The pain of her loss had lessened over the years, but she missed having a family especially at Christmas time.

“No, thank you.” She managed to answer him with the semblance of a smile. He’d asked her out on numerous occasions and was always polite and accepting when she turned him down. It wasn’t his fault that she didn’t find him attractive. She’d gotten the impression that he thought since she was overweight, he could entice her into dating him by giving her free samples of his baked goodies. His candy and cakes were delicious, but the man could never be considered palatable. He was in his early forties, short and balding. He had the textbook definition of a comb over. What little hair he had left, looked as if he dyed it with black shoe polish. The white apron he wore barely covered the paunch at his waist.

He was not her idea of Prince Charming. Or the big bad wolf.

As a child, she’d devoured fairy tales. Once the world discovered that shifters existed, she’d fueled her dreams on the gossip about fated mates and forever. Oh, who was she trying to fool? It was more than that. When she’d seen the ad on line for an elementary schoolteacher in Riverton, a known shifter town, something had called to her, telling her she needed to apply. From there, things had snowballed and before she knew it, she was turning in her resignation at the inner city school where she worked and was on her way to Colorado.

She’d uprooted her whole life on the off chance that a shifter would claim her as his mate. She couldn’t let go of the longing to have a man find her instantly desirable and willing to devote his life to her. She’d do the same in return, confident that fate would have chosen well for her.

She was about to make a polite excuse to get away from the overzealous baker when she heard the thud of boots on the sidewalk behind her. As though animated by a force outside herself, Ally turned and saw the sheriff.

Her sheriff! Jagger Houston. He stopped a couple of feet away, his black Stetson pulled low over deep set brown eyes, assessing her the way he would a criminal he was about to arrest. As always, he was clad in the form fitting gray uniform worn by the department. Taking a sweeping glance down his body, she tried to control the groan that threatened to escape. Because she did mean form fitting.

He had thick, muscular thighs, narrow hips, a flat stomach and broad shoulders, encased in a heavily lined suede jacket that looked as if they could hold the weight of the world. A large, wicked-looking knife was strapped to his waist on one side, his department issued revolver on the other. Not that the bear shifter really needed the weapons to put the fear of God into anyone caught misbehaving. His extreme height and weight, along with the gruff expression he usually wore was enough to send the devil himself running toward the nearest church to repent of his sins.

The almost coppery color of his skin along with the dark color of his hair revealed the Native-American genes in his DNA. While her hair was a medium brown, his was closer to a midnight black. Of course, shifters were notorious for being as handsome and beautiful as sin. Not an ugly one to be found as far as Ally could tell. On Jagger, the perfect features were a little rugged, but that in no way distracted her from his magnetic pull. In fact, the wildness she sensed in him drew her to him even more. She was sure other women felt the same thigh-clenching attraction. She shifted her feet, trying to ease the ache in her hungry pussy.

As she stared, his lips parted, giving her a glimpse of white teeth, stark against the darker shade of his skin. He took a step toward her, so close she could count the lines at the corner of his eyes, could smell the outdoors on his clothes, and could feel the heat from his body. The air around them seemed to crackle and her insides did a happy dance as it always did when he was close.

Why, oh, why, did she have to fall for such a man? She felt something for him, something she’d never felt for another man before. But he didn’t feel the same.

“Lester.” He gave a nod to the shop owner then turned his attention completely her way. “Ally.”

The sound of her name in the deep, dark voice made her want to drop to her knees in obedience before him. Tingles skipped along the surface of her skin. This near, he was everything she imagined him to be and so much more. He set her heart pounding so hard she feared something inside her might break. Seeing the slight curve to his lips, she knew he realized the effect he was having on the spinster schoolteacher. Oh, he was an arrogant one.

Before either of them could speak, a high voice trilled, “Oh, Sheriff, could you help me, please?”

Trying to keep the disdain from her face, Ally turned in the direction of the voice. A voice that belonged to Tiffany Broker, the high school English teacher and cheerleading coach. Ally had little to do with the high school, her days spent in her second grade classroom trying to prevent little boys from eating chalk and putting chunks of dried paste in the girls’ hair. Because it was such a small school system, Ally did have to socialize with all the employees–even those with obvious breast implants who looked as if a hard gust of wind would blow them on their pointy asses.

“Hello, Tiff.” The woman hated when people shortened her name and let Ally know that by the contemptuous glance she threw her way. Ally’s mouth curled into a genuine smile. There was nothing more satisfying than pissing off a prissy woman.

She was pleased to see that Jagger only acknowledged the woman with a sharp nod of his head, much like he did every resident of Riverton. Of course, that didn’t deter Tiffany in the slightest.

“Oh, Jagger, I’m so glad you’re here. My car won’t start. Would you be a dear and help me?”

Ally nearly sighed in disgust at the blatant way the other woman was throwing herself at the shifter. She attempted to slide her arm into the crook of his elbow, but he moved away, earning himself a sexy little pout. Which he ignored. The woman wanted him; there was no doubt about that.  Just thinking of the woman–any woman–in the bear shifter’s bed made Ally’s hackles rise. She must have made some kind of sound because Jagger looked her way, one dark brow raised in question. She lowered her eyes, a pink blush staining her cheeks.

Pulling a phone from the pocket of his uniform pants, he punched in a few numbers waiting for the other party to answer. “Jeff, can you come tow Tiffany Broker’s car?” He listened for a moment before grunting in response. “Yeah, it’s on Laurel Street.”

Ally didn’t have to ask how the mechanic knew where Tiffany had parked. The woman had her own private parking space in front of her father’s law office.

The woman reminded Ally of a vulture as she waited for Jagger to end the call. She turned her rapt face to the man beside her. “You are coming to Daddy’s Christmas party, aren’t you, Jagger?”

“No,” he stated quietly, ignoring the petulant expression that spread over Tiffany’s face. “You better let Jeff give you a lift when he comes to get your car.” He took Ally’s elbow. “Let’s go.”

Ally didn’t protest his high-handedness. Why should she? Being with Jagger was exactly what she wanted. She would go with him anywhere he wanted. His bedroom, her bedroom…

She glanced at his face from the corner of her eye. He was what, thirty-one, thirty-two? How many years was that in shifter years? Was it the same as doggie years? She stifled a small giggle. She knew shifters didn’t age the same as human, but it made her feel better to put some type of time frame on the big bear by her side. “Umm, where are we going?”

“I need a cup of coffee.” He ushered her along the street, heading toward the only diner in town. The restaurant was crowded with people eager to get out of the biting cold. There were no empty booths and she figured this close encounter was going to be over before it began. Sighing, she turned toward the counter. No doubt, he’d order a coffee to go. Instead, he marched her to the back of the building and ushered her into a booth occupied by a deputy.

“Why, yes, Jagger, that seat is not taken.” The man grinned at Ally over the rim of his coffee cup as he ragged his boss. She smiled back. Sometimes, it was fun to poke at the bear. She liked the deputy. He was funny and outgoing and was usually the one who came to the school to give the children safety programs. He was a wolf shifter, single, and about her age. He’d asked her out once, but from the start Ally’s affection had been taken with Jagger.

Glancing at the man by her side, she sighed. Would he ever go crazy over her?

She slid into the unoccupied bench seat and kept sliding when Jagger followed her into the booth. She hadn’t been expecting that. Or, how the press of his large thigh against hers made her pussy clench and throb. Okay, so maybe that was her natural reaction every time the man got close to her.

The waitress approached with a steaming pot of coffee in her hand. She topped off the deputy’s drink before turning their way. Her smile was bright and white. “Black, Sheriff?”

He nodded and she flipped over one of the white ceramic mugs already on the table. Almost as an afterthought, she asked Ally what she wanted.

“I’ll have—”

“Bring her a cup of hot chocolate and a piece of cake.” His sober gaze once more swept over Ally’s face. “I’ll have a piece of pie. Cherry.”

When the woman brought their food, she smiled at Jagger again, openly flirting with the big bear shifter. Ally stirred the whipped cream into her hot chocolate and watched the byplay. The woman didn’t exactly walk off in a huff, but anyone watching knew she wasn’t happy at the lack of attention from the sheriff. Ally was over the moon. The woman was young and pretty. And thin. And Jagger had completely ignored the overture being made. Just as he had Tiffany’s.

The deputy threw her another grin and Ally didn’t quite know what to make of that one. She raised her cup to take a sip when Jagger snatched it from her hands. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?”

“It’s still too hot.” His fingers encircled the white mug, making it look almost dainty in his big hand. He blew across the top of it several times, before handing it back to her.

“Is it alright to drink now, daddy?” She blinked her eyes rapidly, mimicking Tiffany.

A not so soft growl emanated from the shifter. Ally just smiled and took a sip of the chocolate. The richness of the cream had mixed with the darkness of the chocolate making for a scrumptious treat. She closed her eyes and savored the flavor. When she opened her eyes, it was to discover two sets of shifter’s eyes upon her. “What? Do I have cream on my mouth?” Instinctively, her tongue came out to lick at her upper lip. Jagger’s gaze dropped to her mouth and she wondered if he was imagining the feel of her lips on his.

The deputy let out a strangled moan. Seconds later, Jagger grabbed him by the collar and dragged him from the booth.

“Hey, man,” he protested the rough handling, “you can’t really blame me.”

Jagger responded with a deep, rough chuff that did incredible things to Ally’s insides. She almost giggled; delighted that he had taken offense to the other shifter’s attraction to her. It had certainly brought out Jagger’s bear. The deputy threw Ally one last look before straightening his hat and walking off, mumbling something about bears and their possessive streak.

With the deputy gone, Ally assumed Jagger would now sit on the empty side of the booth. She was wrong. He sat back down beside her, forcing her further into the corner. She protested as he crowded against her, her heart hammering in her throat. She had no idea why he was suddenly invading her space.

What she did know, was that she liked it.

Picking up her fork, she cut off a small piece of her cake, eating the treat slowly. It was red velvet covered in thick creamy frosting. Jagger’s pie disappeared in two bites and he sat there, watching as she nibbled on her cake. Finally, she couldn’t stand the scrutiny and pushed the plate toward him. “Here, you finish it.”

He pulled the plate in front of him. “Offering a bear a piece of cake is tantamount to offering him honey, you know.”

“The chocolate is sweet enough to for me.”

And you’d be sweet enough for me.
Jagger took the piece of cake, turning away from the woman. There was a hunger inside him that grew whenever the curvy schoolteacher got too near.

Smells of all kinds filled the diner. Cloying perfumes, grilling meat, sweat. They all bled together before fading away so that his bear was able to function in the human world. One scent, though, never seemed to fade away. Her scent. A combination of cinnamon and vanilla that had the power to bring him to his knees if only she knew.

Did she taste the same? Jagger had an uncontrollable urge to find out right in the middle of the crowded diner. And he didn’t mean the taste of her mouth. No, he wanted to yank her onto the tabletop, bury his face between her rounded thighs and taste her pussy whose scent was slowly driving his bear insane.

BOOK: Her Holiday Bear (A BBW Paranormal Christmas Romance)
3.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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