Authors: Jane Wakely
Christina’s Bear (Chestnut Rock Shifters 2)
by Jane Wakely
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Mills looked around the now half empty apartment and couldn’t help the sadness sweeping
over her. She and Jenn lived here together for two years and now Jenn had been
completely gone for two weeks. Christina knew they couldn’t live together
forever, but she’d honestly thought it would be much longer before either one
of them found
Jenn and Matt had worked out their differences, Jenn’s belongings disappeared
little by little until her friend finally admitted she was moving in with Matt.
Christina was very happy for the two of them—and if she was honest, a little
jealous. Not of Matt, of what Jenn found with Matt. Someone to love her
unconditionally. Christina often wondered if she would ever find a perfect
friends was easy. Her height combined with her trim body and large breasts always
gained the attention of men, but she’d kept most of them in the friend
category. The ones that became boyfriends quickly tired of her bubbly—sometimes
loud—personality. Looking for love resulted in dating often and had gained her
the reputation of being a fun party girl. Unfortunately, many people made the
mistake of thinking she was easy and slept around. Jenn was the only one who
knew the truth and now Jenn was gone. Christina felt very alone.
realized this was the first time in her life that she was truly on her own.
She’d lived with her parents until she was eighteen then went to college and
gained Jenn for a roommate. They became fast friends and decided to move to the
mid-size town of Chestnut Rock after graduation.
girls found Chestnut Rock on a road trip weekend and they each instantly fell
in love with the ample trees and wildlife combined with all the amenities of
living in a big city. The Pacific Northwest was far from home for both of them,
but after living in the area for four years, they loved it. They had each other
and staying seemed right to both of them.
by being unsure of what to do next, Christina entertained the idea of moving
home for about two seconds. The town that she grew up in wasn’t her home
anymore though. Chestnut Rock was her home and she wasn’t leaving. She’d just
have to figure out her new living arrangements. Did she try to find another
roommate or move to a smaller apartment? Neither idea held any appeal. She’d heard
enough roommate horror stories to know that she’d gotten lucky when she’d been
paired up with Jenn. No, a new roommate wasn’t for her.
she hated to move out of her apartment complex. Instead of being stuck
together, each apartment was a single story, stand-alone cottage. They were
close together, with only four feet separating each building, but it was enough
space. There was a patch of grass surrounding each walkway, and the front of
every cottage lined the street. The back of the buildings lined the forest.
houses in Chestnut Rock had the forest line meet their backs, but very few
apartment complexes did—and this was the only cottage complex in town. When they
moved in, Christina knew she wouldn’t want to leave until the time came for her
to buy a house of her own. She could afford to buy a house with her salary—her party
planning business was doing extremely well—but she wanted to live in a house
with her husband and family, not by herself.
as she wanted to stay where she was, she didn’t want to spend the money on a
two bedroom apartment when she didn’t need the space. There was no reason to
rush into anything—she could take her time—but she might as well start looking
for a smaller place.
with her decision, Christina decided to walk down to the market for a cup of
coffee and a newspaper. It was time to start her search.
Johnson sniffed outside the cave before lumbering inside and shifting back into
his human form. Because he was new to the area, he had taken a long hike
through the woods, checking for danger and hiding places in case he needed
told him that the town of Chestnut Rock, and the connecting forest, would sooth
his restless bear, but he honestly hadn’t known what to think. With nothing to
lose and very few belongings, he’d packed up his tiny apartment and moved to
the mid-sized town.
Bull had met in college and when they quickly recognized the other as a
shifter, they’d formed an unbreakable bond. After college, they each went their
own way, traveling and exploring the country. They’d met up once or twice a
year until Matt put down roots in Chestnut Rock. Bull had continued to look
until he decided he didn’t want to look anymore. He was tired and he wanted a
permanent place to call home. Matt constantly raved about his home and convinced
Bull to make it his home, too.
pulled his shirt, jeans and flip-flops out of the crevice in the cave wall
where he’d stored them earlier. Being a bear shifter meant he needed to take
precautions when he allowed himself to shift. If a wolf, bunny or deer was
spotted near the hotel, most likely not much would happen. The wolf would be
mistaken for a dog and the bunny and deer would charm people with their
cuteness. A bear, however, brought a much different reaction—usually involving
screaming and the loading of shotgun barrels.
time he’d learned to take safeguards against those types of situations.
was dressed, he walked to the edge of the cave and sniffed to make sure no full
humans lurked in the nearby trees. Satisfied he was alone, he walked out of the
cave and through the forest to the nearby street. There was a market down the
road from the hotel and he needed coffee and a newspaper.
given him a good recommendation and Bull had an interview at the construction
site on Monday. He had plenty of experience from his many years of moving
around. Someone was always building something somewhere and he’d learned as
much as he could from every employer. He wasn’t worried about getting the job,
but he needed to find an apartment.
been one night and he was already tired of the hotel. Matt had offered him the
guest room for as long as he needed it, but now that his friend was mated and
engaged, Bull didn’t want to impose on the couple. Also, being an unmated
shifter around a newly mated couple was difficult.
an unmated shifter was extremely lonely. Even when surrounded by family and
friends, the loneliness had the ability to creep in and take over if the
shifter wasn’t careful. In some cases, shifters literally died of loneliness.
Being around a newly mated couple increased the chance that a shifter would
fall into a depression so deep they couldn’t recover.
going to Matt’s tomorrow. He was anxious to spend time with his friend and meet
Jenn, but he couldn’t stay there.
needed to start looking tonight for a place of his own.
put the plastic lid over her steaming cup and pressed hard around the edges,
making sure it was secure. The smell of the fresh brewed coffee, along with the
flavored cream, was heaven. The special brew was the same brand as the one she
used at home, but it always tasted better.
about to take a careful sip when someone called her name.
Christina, how’s Derek?” The clerk yelled across the store and laughed.
The only bad thing about coming in here sometimes was that jerk. The store
owner and his son were so nice, she had no idea how that guy had gotten a job
couldn’t remember his name, but he was best friends with Derek, a guy she dated
when she had first moved to town. It had been a mistake. Derek was mean and she
ended their first and only date by walking out before dinner had arrived. She
found out later that he lied about what happened and told his friends she had
sex with him. She hadn’t figured out they were laughing at her until a string
of suitors asked her out and tried to get into her pants.
memory caused her eyes to sting. She focused on the lid of her cup, pressing it
again around the edges and blinking several times trying to keep the tears at
bay before she glanced around to see if anyone else was inside the store.
Grateful she was alone, she turned to walk toward the counter.
jumped and opened her mouth to scream when a strong hand carefully closed
around her wrist, effectively stopping her from shaking and splattering anymore
scalding liquid out of the lid.
reason, the mammoth hand brought the image of a giant animal paw to her mind. His
skin was golden brown, as if permanently kissed by the sun. The only people in
the Pacific Northwest with that color skin tone regularly visited tanning
salons. She knew he hadn’t.