Authors: Ruby Shae
Tags: #BBW, #Paranormal, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #Forever Love, #Adult, #Erotic, #Black Bear Shifter, #Mate, #Suspense, #Violence, #Supernatural, #Protection, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Romantic Suspense, #Fantasy, #Hearts Desire, #Blackbeary Creek, #Series, #Outcast, #Small Clan, #Brother's Best Friend
(Blackbeary Creek, Book 1)
(Blackbeary Creek, Book 1)
Copyright 2016 by Ruby Shae
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
About This Book
Tegan Ryan is tired of being an outcast. Being the offspring of bear shifters, but lacking the ability to shift, keeps her detached from the shifter world; and living with bear shifters, and keeping their secrets, keeps her from fully connecting with humans. Her height, along with miles of plus-sized curves, doesn’t help the situation, and neither does the bone deep desire she has for her brother’s best friend.
Ethan Brooks, a black bear shifter, and second-in-command for his small clan, has loved Tegan since the day she was born, but he never understood their connection until her eighteenth birthday. Unfortunately, Tegan’s feelings toward him didn’t change, and in an effort to save his sanity, he buried his longing and tried to ignore it.
Realizing you’ll never truly fit in anywhere is devastating, but Tegan knows it’s the truth. When her alpha grants her permission to leave, she doesn’t waste time embracing her new life, but that doesn’t stop old threats from emerging. After years of unsuccessfully denying his bear, Ethan won’t let anything stop him from claiming his mate…but he’ll have to face one pissed-off alpha, a raving lunatic, and a skeptical curvy beauty that owns his heart, even if she doesn’t know it yet. He’s definitely got his work cut out for him.
(Blackbeary Creek, Book 1)
By Ruby Shae
Tegan Ryan turned her SUV off the main road, and followed the long, tree-lined driveway to the large clearing at the end. Halfway down the path, a large black bear burst out of the woods and barreled toward the driver’s side door playfully, before turning at the last minute and racing her down the lane. When he reached the house, he stood on his hind legs and did a little victory dance before running back into the trees.
Tegan laughed at Zach’s antics, and parked her vehicle in the roundabout in front of the main house. Her bruised cheek burned from smiling, and she checked her reflection in the rearview mirror before grabbing her purse by the one good strap and exiting the car. In the distance, she saw her best friend, Graham, sitting on his porch, and she smiled again and waved in his direction.
“Everything okay, Tee?” he yelled.
His deep, strong voice carried easily across the clearing, and she silently cursed.
“Peachy keen,” she called back, thankful for the darkness shrouding the house that stood between them. Tomorrow she would tell him everything privately, but she didn’t want the others to know about her crappy date.
“Lunch tomorrow?” he called.
“You know it,” she returned. “I’ll be ready at two.”
She waved and walked up the steps to the big house.
A few years ago, she would have found Graham across the hall from her room, along with the four other bears in their clan, but a lot had changed since they’d first arrived in Blackbeary Creek.
Her brother, Tristian, had been lucky when the previous land and home owner had decided to sell, and as his clan and business grew, so did his estate. There were now two small homes on each side of the main house, and they were spaced far enough apart that everyone had access to privacy when they needed it.
Everyone except her…and Tristian.
According to Tristian, she’d been too young to live alone when the other houses had been built, and even though she was now twenty-four, she didn’t want a home of her own. At least, not in Blackbeary Creek.
Though she was technically a bear by blood—her parents and Tristian were all black bear shifters—she’d been born a full-human and she didn’t really belong on clan land. Unfortunately, she didn’t belong with the humans either. Four awkward, lonely years of college had proven that fact over and over. If it hadn’t been for Graham’s friendship during her first two years, she probably would have dropped out and resolved to work in her brother’s club for the rest of her life.
Fortunately, she’d stuck it out and got her degree. It was hard at first, but she could now support herself as a freelance writer, and that was a job she could do anywhere. If she hadn’t already been sure leaving was the right decision, her date tonight had confirmed it.
She knew what happened wasn’t her fault, but her heart had decided it’s match years ago, and no other man would ever change its mind. Unfortunately, big, strong, alpha bears didn’t go for tall, curvy, pathetic, non-shifting freaks…and they went for them even less when they were their best friend’s chubby little sister.
He was six years older, the same age as Tristian, and one day soon Ethan would find his mate. She knew her heart would never survive the blow.
Her resolve to talk to Tristian caused her to walk a little taller, but she couldn’t do it tonight. If he saw the darkening bruise on her face, she wouldn’t be able to bring up the subject for months. It was better to wait a day or two, and face him with without the blemish.
When she entered the house, she was grateful for the sound of the TV coming from the family room. If Tristian was involved in an action movie, he wouldn’t get up from the couch until it was over, and that meant he wouldn’t ask too many questions. She could grab an icepack, disappear into her room, and ignore her date’s nasty words.
“I’m home,” she called through the house.
The voices on the TV silenced, and Tristian yelled back.
“How did it go?”
“It could have been worse,” she hollered back from the kitchen, forcing a laugh.
“Do you want to talk?”
“Nah, I’m good,” she called, pulling out an ice pack. “I’m going to bed.”
“Okay,” he called. “Night.”
She released a sigh of relief, and closed the freezer door.
“Way to distort the truth.”
Tegan screamed and dropped the icepack before her mind registered that the big, gorgeous body standing in her kitchen was Ethan. The short, dark brown hairs on the top of his head were mussed in all directions, and his dark green, emerald eyes made her want to share every secret that lingered in her soul. Too bad he didn’t want to hear them.
At five-feet, ten-inches tall, she could never be described as average height, but she felt that way next to Ethan. He stood seven inches taller than her, and she’d seen him naked enough times to know solid muscle bulged in all the right places, adding to his already large frame.
For a moment, she wished for the old days, before she’d turned eighteen and they’d found out she couldn’t shift, when she and Ethan were friends. They’d grown up together, but when she became an adult, everything changed. Their once easygoing friendship dissolved when he suddenly became boyfriend material in her mind, and she suddenly became a human problem he had to deal with in his.
“Damnit Ethan,” she cried. “You scared me half to death.”
“What happened to your face, Tee?” he asked, his voice low and lethal.
Deep down, she wanted to submit to that voice and tell him everything.
“None of your business,” she scowled.
“What’s wrong?” Tristian asked, charging into the room.
“Nothing,” she said, picking up the icepack.
“Her face is bruised and one of the straps on her purse has been torn off.”
“It’s no big deal,” she said, facing her brother.
“No big deal?” Ethan roared. “Your face is purple, and your bag is ripped. Obviously something happened tonight, but instead of telling the truth, you lied to Tristian. Who are you trying to protect, Tee?”
“I’m not trying to protect anyone, and I didn’t lie,” she shouted back. “I said my night could have been worse, and it could have been. Lucky for me, it wasn’t.”
“Omission is still lying,” he scolded. “When you get into trouble, we need to know about it immediately so we can clean up your messes as soon as possible. Secrecy is imperative to our survival, a fact that you seem to keep forgetting, and we need to know when you leak our presence to the outside world. Whatever trouble you’re in, we’re in, and I don’t like surprises.”
His accusations cut deep, but she refused to let him see how much his words hurt.
“I haven’t forgotten anything, and I’ve never compromised your security,” she seethed. Ignoring Ethan, she turned to Tristian, “I went on a date with a guy I met in the club a few nights ago. We talked on the phone a few times, and agreed to meet for dinner tonight. Dinner was okay, so afterward, when he invited me to sit in his car and talk, I agreed.”
“Oh please,” Ethan sneered. “We all know you didn’t plan on talking.”
Ouch! Too bad that had been exactly what she’d planned.
“Ethan,” Tristian warned. “That’s enough. Keep going, Tee.”
“Ethan’s right,” she said. “He didn’t want to talk. We kissed, but when I pulled away and refused to do more, he slapped me. When he tried to force me, I punched him in the throat and left. He didn’t follow me.”
They didn’t need to know about how he’d inundated her with ugly comments regarding her height and weight before she fought him off, or about how scared she’d been when he’d slapped her. Years ago, they’d both taught her to protect herself, and she’d never been more grateful.
“What about your purse?” Ethan asked, his voice now level.
“My purse got caught on the door handle during my escape. I wasn’t about to stick around and figure that mess out, so I ripped the fabric and kept running.”
Ethan visibly relaxed, apparently satisfied she hadn’t exposed their secrets.
“Okay,” Tristian said to Ethan. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but I want you, Aiden and Zach, to do a perimeter sweep here and at the club. Text me when you’re done, and unless you find something unusual, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Ethan nodded once, and left the house without another word.
“Are you okay?” Tristian asked when they were alone.
“Yeah, just embarrassed,” she admitted, placing the icepack against her cheek.
“You have nothing to be embarrassed about,” he said, closing his arms around her.
“Right,” she said, her voice muffled against his shoulder. “Ethan’s right. I should have known
meant something else.”
“Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t,” her brother shrugged. “There’s no way you could have known for sure. I’m just glad you’re safe. Did you really throat punch him?”
“Yes, just like you taught me,” she smiled. “I never thought I would have to use that move, but at the time it seemed like the only way.”
“I’m proud of you,” Tristian said.
He placed a kiss on the top of her head, and held her tight.
She wrapped her free hand around his waist, and let the tears filling her eyes fall freely.
Tomorrow, she would ask him to let her go.
Ethan Brooks cut through the dense tree-line located behind the clan homes, and lumbered toward his back porch in his bear form. The cool morning air swirled through the clearing, ruffling his thick, black fur, and he welcomed the gentle breeze. Except for the moon, no lights shown from any of the five homes, and he basked in the silent darkness.
As always, his gaze drifted to Tegan’s window, and the ache he constantly carried around inside intensified. The bear wanted his mate, and the urge to claim her was difficult to ignore. His animal didn’t care about protocol, hierarchy or friendship—it only wanted Tegan.
The man, on the other hand, understood the consequences of his actions.
Ethan no longer cared.
Six years ago, he’d thought he could live without claiming Tegan, but tonight had been the last straw to prove otherwise. In an effort to save his sanity, he’d resorted to anger and insults instead of love and compassion, and the end result was killing him.
Hours earlier, in the span of a few minutes, he’d accused his mate of lying, carelessly revealing their most sacred secrets, and worst of all, he’d basically called her a whore. Even though she hadn’t visibly reacted, she’d immediately understood his insult.
So had Tristian.
His alpha rarely silenced him, and while the reprimand had made him uneasy, it didn’t compare to the overwhelming shame he felt from insulting and humiliating his mate.
The distance he’d tried to put between them over the years hadn’t helped one bit, and deep down, where it mattered most, he almost didn’t recognize himself anymore. What had once seemed like a decent plan held no merit now, and the amount of times he’d hurt his mate in order to continue the charade made him physically ill.
It stops now!
He refused to stay on that route, regardless of the outcome.
Tristian had been his best friend since they were toddlers, and though they were both alpha men, he’d always been content to step back and let Tristian lead. The only thing stronger than his allegiance to his friend, was his secret loyalty to his mate, and he could no longer stay silent.
When Tee was born, Ethan knew she was different—more—but he didn’t understand why until her eighteenth birthday. Eighteen was the year a shifter’s animal came, the year of their first shift, and though her bear never surfaced, it didn’t matter. Suddenly, the hold she’d always had over him made sense, and he and his bear rejoiced.
For about five minutes.
Unfortunately, Tegan showed no signs of returning his feelings, and in an effort to save their friendship, and his bond with Tristian, he’d buried his desire and backed off. It had been a good, honorable plan, but it hadn’t been very realistic. Denying his bear on a daily basis had taken its toll, and he was miserable.
Six years was too long to be unhappy.
Tegan was his. She always had been, always would be, and he refused to live one more day without telling her the truth.
After a few hours of sleep, he would come clean to his alpha, apologize to his mate, and then start wooing her. If Tristian kicked him out of the clan, he would leave, but not until Tegan knew the depth of his love and desire.
She deserved the truth as much as he did, and if she was willing to give him a chance, even the tiniest bit of hope, then nothing would stop him from proving himself worthy to be hers.
Ethan took a deep breath, and shifted back into his human form. The transition was smooth and painless, and it took only seconds to complete. He grabbed his jeans off the porch railing, and donned them quickly, leaving the top button undone. He padded into the house, grabbed a bottle of water, and returned to the porch.