Read BEARing The Frozen Night (Ice Bear Shifters Book 1) Online

Authors: Sloane Meyers

Tags: #Paranormal, #Romance, #Bear, #Fiction, #Adult, #Erotic, #Werebear, #Shifter, #Veterinarian, #Alaska, #Adventure, #Winter, #Secrets, #Trust, #Danger, #Mate

BEARing The Frozen Night (Ice Bear Shifters Book 1)

BOOK: BEARing The Frozen Night (Ice Bear Shifters Book 1)
13.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Bearing the Frozen Night

 

Ice Bear Shifters, Book 1

 

 

By Sloane Meyers

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Similarities to actual people or events are entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sloane Meyers. All rights reserved.

 

www.sloanemeyers.wordpress.com

Chapter One

 

Kenzie Atwell stomped the snow off her boots as she entered the twenty-four hour superstore. The place didn’t even have a name. Everyone in town just called it “the store,” and everyone knew which store was being referred to. It was the only place to buy groceries in a hundred mile radius. Kenzie didn’t need groceries right now. Her fridge was well-stocked, and she should have gone straight home after work to escape the cold and dark. But she was craving ice-cream, of all things. Maybe it seemed counterintuitive to want a frosty treat in the middle of the dark, cold winter. But somehow the smooth, creamy vanilla bean flavor melting on her tongue always reminded her of warm summer days back home in Oregon.

Warm. Summer.

Those were two words that conjured up memories that felt increasingly distant. With sixty-seven days of complete darkness, the winters in Glacier Point, Alaska were depressing for even the most optimistic of souls. Sure, the summers had eighty days of uninterrupted sunlight to make up for it. But on today, day fifteen out of sixty-seven of darkness, the frigid night felt unending and unforgiving. And they weren’t even close to halfway through it yet.

It was only 6 p.m. But it might as well have been 1 a.m. Or 2 a.m. Or some other ungodly hour of the a.m. Everything ran together. Kenzie found her way to the freezer section and surveyed her options. Vanilla. Strawberry. Chocolate. The folks up here didn’t have time for the fancy froufrou flavors that were popular back in Oregon. Back home, Kenzie had been quite a foodie, and ice-cream had been her greatest weakness. She had been especially partial to the flavors Lavender or Ginger. When one of her favorite restaurants offered a Lavender-Ginger combination flavor as a special summer dessert option one year, Kenzie thought she had died and gone to heaven.

But basic vanilla wasn’t all that bad. Kenzie grabbed a half-gallon of it and headed for the checkout. She was quickly overheating indoors. Her flannel-lined jeans were a comfortable level of toasty, but she was burning up inside her insulated parka jacket that she hadn’t bothered to take off for the quick trip inside. In her rush to get to the front of the store, she almost ran over the security guard. He wore a goldtoned name badge, which seemed a bit extravagant for a rent-a-cop job, but whatever.
Ryker Pearsons
the badge read. Ryker. That’s a nice, unique name, Kenzie thought. Kenzie had seen him in here several times before, but never close enough to see his badge.

“Sorry, Ryker. I didn’t see you there,” Kenzie said, looking up at his eyes, which were an odd shade of violet. The color caught her off guard, and she stared for a moment. She had never seen eyes quite like his before. The color was so unnatural that she almost thought he must wear colored contacts. But she nearly laughed out loud at the thought. No one up here had time for nonsense like that. Glacier Point, Alaska wasn’t where you chose to live if you cared about things like changing your eye color. This was a land of simple survival. Kenzie realized she was staring at Ryker like a total creep, so she smiled quickly at him and wished him a good evening, then hurried on her way. He hadn’t said a word to her the whole time, and when she turned to look over her shoulder, she saw his deep violet eyes following her, watching her as she scurried across the store.

He was odd. But then, who here wasn’t? The winters of Glacier Point left everyone feeling a little strange. At least he was handsome. She was a sucker for guys who had a perpetual hint of stubble on their face, like Ryker. He was tall and muscular, and he kept his dark brown hair neatly trimmed and combed. Most of the men up here looked like they hadn’t bothered to shave or brush their hair since they hit puberty. There were a few okay ones here and there, but, mostly, it was sparse pickings if you wanted a good-looking guy. Kenzie had compared the men up here to seals when she first told her best friend back home in Oregon about them. There just seemed to be so much blubber everywhere. Kenzie frowned. She was one to talk. If she didn’t stop making these frequent pit stops for ice-cream, she was going to lose her lean figure, too.

This is the last time I’ll buy ice-cream this month, she promised herself as she set the carton down in front of the cashier and started digging in her oversized parka pockets for her wallet. She already knew it was a promise she wouldn’t keep.

“Hey, Doc,” the cashier said with a lazy drawl. “How’re you doing today?”

“Fine, thanks,” Kenzie said, as she finally found her wallet and pulled out some cash. She didn’t know the cashier, but he obviously knew her. Kenzie was a veterinarian, and a damn good one. She was quickly finding that the best way to become well-known in a town like Glacier Point was to take good care of people’s animals. Although the people here mostly kept to themselves, she encountered friendly nods of greeting more and more often these days. She suspected it had to do with the fact that she had saved the life of Fang, the Siberian Husky who belonged to Martin Oberon, the best known trapper in Northern Alaska. Fang had accidentally gotten tangled in a trap, and lost a lot of blood. Things hadn’t looked good for him by the time Martin got him to Kenzie’s office, and Kenzie thought that even if she could save the dog’s life, he was going to lose his paw. But, somehow, she managed to keep him alive and keep his paw functional as well. She suspected it had more to do with dumb luck and with the fact that Fang had a fighter’s spirit than with anything else, but since that day most people around here greeted her reverently as “Doc.” Her business had increased, and most days she worked what would have been the equivalent of sunup to sundown, if such a thing had actually existed here.

Kenzie finished paying for her ice-cream and went out into the frigid cold again, quickly making her way to her snowmobile. She stashed the ice-cream in the seat’s storage compartment and fired up the engine. No one here bothered with cars in the winter. A snowmobile was the easiest, most reliable way to get around. Kenzie’s snowmobile had a large, flat sled attachment that could be used as a sort of stretcher if she needed to transport a wounded animal. It was the exact same kind of attachment that the Glacier Point’s only doctor for humans used on his snowmobile, in case there was an emergency involving a human patient. Flesh and blood out here was just flesh and blood. All vulnerable in the exact same ways.

Some days, Kenzie still couldn’t believe she was here. She’d always had a bit of an adventurer’s spirit, and she’d wanted to do something different after graduating from vet school. One of her professors had told her about Glacier Point, and said he thought she’d do well up here. Apparently he used to work near here way back when he first graduated vet school as well. He said it was a good way to learn the trade quickly.

“You’ll learn the things that vet school can’t teach you. The things that only real, tough life experience gives you,” he’d said ominously. Kenzie had wanted to roll her eyes at his dramatic declaration, but now that she was here, she was starting to understand what he meant. Things here were… different. Not just cold, but rugged, too. Every living creature up here, human and animal alike, was a little rough around the edges. It took a certain inner stamina and natural wisdom to deal with the wounded creatures she saw every day. But, so far, she thought she was doing a pretty decent job of things. There were a lot of animals up here, and a lot of injuries. But she hadn’t lost a patient yet, and she was pretty proud of that. She turned her snowmobile east and started heading for her tiny apartment. She lived in a space above an old bookstore. The bookstore didn’t do much business, but the guy who owned it refused to admit that it was a bad business model for a town like Glacier Point. He supplemented the store’s income with the rent from Kenzie’s apartment. The apartment was tiny, but cozy. And Kenzie didn’t need much space. It was just her out here by herself. She was getting pretty lonely, and, from the looks of it, things were probably going to stay that way. Her options for boyfriends out here looked pretty bleak. She sighed and pushed the snowmobile faster along the trail to her place. At least she had her work to keep her busy.

She didn’t see Ryker, standing at the front entrance of the superstore, watching her leave. A glowing yellow circle had formed around the iris of his violet eyes as he watched her speeding off.

Chapter Two

 

At six a.m. the next morning, the Northern Lights Clan met for an emergency meeting in the back of Neal Ray’s tattoo shop. Neal growled in frustration as his bears entered the room. There weren’t many of them left since the Blizzard Clan had murdered the majority of the Northern Lights bears. Neal’s father, the Northern Lights Clan’s former alpha leader, had died in the tragedy. Neal’s father should have known that the trio of dead seals on the abandoned stretch of Arctic ice was too good to be true. But the clan had been hungry, and nearing delirium from lack of food. When a human in their old town in Northern Canada had accidentally discovered the Northern Lights Clan, the bears had been forced to flee in the dead of winter. The townspeople had been on a merciless bear hunt, hiding silver traps in an attempt to kill off any remaining bear shifters. After a third bear (and twice as many humans) had died when accidentally running across the sharp, silver spikes of the traps, Neal’s father had made the hard decision to leave in search of a new home base. The clan just wanted to live in peace. But in the end, it wasn’t the humans that got them. It was the Blizzards.

While most of the bear clans in the icy, unforgiving Arctic steered clear of each other, the Blizzards were always out for blood. Bear shifter blood. They were determined not to stop until they had killed every polar bear shifter that wasn’t a Blizzard. But the Blizzards didn’t like to fight fair. They were cowards, using covert methods to take down the other clans, one by one. The Northern Lights Clan was known throughout the Arctic as the biggest of the big, the toughest of the tough. A single Northern Lights bear could easily take down five other bears at once. The Blizzards wouldn’t have stood a chance in a one-on-one fight, but they had figured out how to melt silver down and pump it into the veins of a polar bear’s favorite food—seals.

Out in the unforgiving wilds of the Arctic, Neal had watched helplessly as bear after bear dropped, writhing in pain as the silver poisoned them from the inside out. Only five bears had survived, Neal included. They had been lucky enough to be last in line for a seal dinner that fateful day, and they had realized something was wrong before they had eaten any of the poisoned meat. Neal had taken over as alpha, although calling the Northern Lights bears a clan at this point was a bit of a stretch. He and the other four bears that remained were all male. They were all that was left. The Northern Lights had always had a strict policy of not mating with humans, so unless Neal agreed to relax that stance, there would be no new bear cubs.

Theoretically, Neal would allow mating with bears from other clans. But, in reality, this wasn’t an option. Back in the glory days, there used to be an abundance of bear shifters roaming the Arctic. Now, most of the polar bear clans in the northern Arctic had become small factions of bears that had survived a strike by the Blizzards. Neal, like most of the other remaining alphas would have loved nothing more than to exact revenge on the Blizzards. But the five Northern Lights bears were no match for the hundred member Blizzard clan. And an alliance with the remainders of other clans was out of the question. Neal trusted no one.

The five Northern Lights bears had tried to slip unassumingly into Glacier Point. They took up occupations that would allow them to look like just another of the introverted humans who lived in the cold north, just wanting to make a living and be left alone. Neal had set up a tattoo shop. Eric became an ice fisherman. Tyler, a personal trainer. Alan claimed to be a writer, working on a novel. But he hadn’t written a damn thing. He spent most of his days taking long walks through the Glacier Point wilderness, mourning his mate, Tessa, who had been one of the first to succumb to the seal poisoning. Tessa had been pregnant with Alan’s cub, so Alan had lost an entire family that day. He had become a shell of his former self. The only time he showed any emotion was during his outbursts of anger, which were becoming more frequent.

Then there was Ryker. Ryker was the youngest bear shifter among them, and the often the hardest to control. All Ryker had seen of alpha leadership was Neal’s father leading the entire clan to their death when they ate the suspicious seals. Ryker didn’t understand why an alpha hadn’t been able to detect the danger. Neal knew his father had been tired. The entire clan had been on the brink of starvation. And they had been in bear form for a long time, trying to survive the cold Arctic tundra. Too long. Neal’s father had known they needed food. They needed the energy to shift into human form, or they would have all been stuck in bear form forever. Legend had it that a bear who didn’t shift back to human form for a stretch of time longer than a month would never be able to assume human form again. They would be forever caught in a bear’s body—with the emotions of a human but no ability to walk among men.

But Ryker didn’t always think rationally. He didn’t consider the consequences of a course of action before taking it. And he loved to challenge Neal’s leadership. Back in the days when there were enough bear shifters to support multiple clans, Ryker was the kind of bear who would have eventually been sent off to become an alpha to his own, new clan. But these days, the clans were dying off, not expanding. Now, Ryker sat sullenly in the center of the room as Neal roared at him.

“What are you thinking, Ryker? You cannot attach yourself to a human. Don’t you remember what the humans did to us back in Canada? They hunted us, and forced us to scatter. Humans don’t tolerate bears, Ryker. I’m sorry, I know you’re young and want to take a mate. But you can’t. Not a human one.”

Ryker growled in frustration, but did not move. He took the verbal beating from Neal for several more minutes, before finally daring to raise his voice to his alpha.

“I won’t show her my bear. I just want to have some fun. Flirt a little. Feel for a hot minute like I actually have a chance at a real existence. What good is protecting ourselves from exposure to the humans if it means we have to live as shadows, solitary and slinking around in the darkness? That’s not the bear way. It’s not the Northern Lights way. We were meant to hold our heads high. To be proud protectors of our family. Not to run around alone, constantly glancing over our shoulders in fear.”

Neal roared in anger at Ryker. Neal’s violet eyes grew dark, and the other bears slunk against the walls as Neal’s fingers morphed into long, sharp claws. His mouth became a terrifying display of enormous, sharp teeth. The large canines were as big as Ryker’s head. Ryker did his best not to cower, and braced himself as Neal slapped him across the shoulder, sending him tumbling across the room and landing on a box of ink with a whimper. Ryker felt the warm liquid of his blood trickling down his arm where Neal’s claw had caught him, mixing with the cool, slimy dribbles of purple and orange ink from the tattoo supplies he had crashed into.

“There’s a difference between living in fear, and not being a brazen idiot,” Neal said. “This is about survival, and we Northern Lights bears are survivors. If we bide our time, we can eventually find another clan to mate with. It’s the only way. I will not allow humans to be bonded to us. Not when they hunted us the way they did in Canada. Now get out of my shop, before you break something else. And stay away from the human.”

Ryker quickly scurried toward the front door. He didn’t bother to point out that he only broke the ink because Neal sent him hurtling into it. He had shown enough defiance to his alpha for one day. Ryker should count his blessings that Neal had only morphed his claws and teeth. When Neal went full bear, it was a terrifying sight. Even Ryker, who was an impressively large polar bear himself, was always awed by the sight of Neal’s bear.

But impressive or not, Neal was being unreasonably stubborn. Bears weren’t meant to be alone, not even the ice bears of the unforgiving Arctic. Ryker knew that Neal didn’t trust any humans anymore. But not all humans were unwilling to accept bears. Some humans were capable of understanding and accepting the unique creatures that made up his clan. Some humans would be able to keep their secrets. Some humans might even be able to love them.

Ryker was willing to bet that the beautiful woman who always came to the superstore was one of those special humans. Doc, they called her. But her real name was Kenzie Atwell. He had been drawn to her exquisite, otherworldy beauty. She was so different from any human he had ever seen. At first, he had thought there was no way someone with eyes like hers could be fully human. Her green eyes had the same sort of old soul look that many bears took on when they were in human form. She had the expression of someone who understood that the physical shells of people and animals held a deeper, spiritual essence.

Ryker had let himself grow excited at her beauty, the first time since Neal’s ban on humans that Ryker had let himself truly admire a woman. Kenzie was intoxicating. Her dark brown hair was shiny and smooth, defying the harsh effects of the never-ending winter. Her skin was a beautiful shade of olive, a rarity in these parts, where most women had a sickly white pallor from never seeing the light of day. Her green eyes sparkled with life. And her body. Oh, her body. Kenzie was just a little bit on the short side, but Ryker liked that petite aspect of her. And the one time he had seen her take off her oversized parka in the store, he had been unable to keep his erection in check at the sight of her lean curves. She was muscular, and strong. But she was feminine, too. Her breasts and her ass were both perfectly curved.

She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, human or otherwise. He had stalked her in the store, sniffing as hard as he could, trying to detect the scent of bear on her. Maybe she had found a way to mask it, to keep herself safe from the ever-present threat of the Blizzards? But, no, it was not to be. No matter how hard Ryker sniffed, he could not find her bear scent. He had to admit defeat. She was human. Fully human, and off-limits per Neal’s orders.

The only problem was, Ryker had already fallen for her. He had wanted her so badly, that he had blinded himself, convincing himself that he had a chance at her. He had made a fatal mistake in letting himself think she was a bear. By the time he had confirmed that she wasn’t, his bear had already awoken within him, wanting to claim her for his own. His eyes glowed yellow around the edges with passion when he saw her, a sure, undeniable sign that he desired her for a mate.

Ryker hadn’t meant to defy Neal. And he knew he had deserved the slap his alpha had given him this morning. In fact, he had deserved much more than the sharp slap, but Neal was hesitant to inflict any serious physical damage to his bears, even in the name of discipline. There were too few of them, and the threat of the Blizzards was too real. They could be under attack at a moment’s notice, and they couldn’t afford to have any one of them down and licking wounds. Neal always showed just enough physical force to remind his bears that he was in charge, and could cut them down to size if he really wanted to.

Ryker hopped onto his snowmobile and sped off toward his small cabin on the outskirts of town. For once, he was thankful for the pitch black darkness at nine a.m. He didn’t want anyone to see the blood and ink smeared over his face and arm. He didn’t want to face any questions, from anyone. He just wanted to be alone, licking his wounds and trying to figure out how the hell he was going to get Kenzie Atwell out of his head.

BOOK: BEARing The Frozen Night (Ice Bear Shifters Book 1)
13.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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