Authors: Bianca D'Arc
Tags: #paranormal romance, #alpha male, #werebear, #bear shifter, #bear shifter romance, #grizzly shifter
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construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead,
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Copyright © 2016
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Tales of the Were – Grizzly Cove #5
Jack never expected to find a badly injured
mermaid washed up on shore. Grace never expected to live through
her encounter with the leviathan. When she wakes up in Jack’s care,
she finds herself drawn to the handsome grizzly shifter, though the
sea, and the leviathan, calls to her. Can she resist the allure of
the ocean? Can she stay with her bear, on land, or will she break
both their hearts?
With deepest thanks to my friends and family,
for putting up with me.
Special thanks to my editor, Jess, and the
rest of the team, and sincerest thanks to the readers who make this
all possible. Especially my facebook friends, Anna-Marie, Tina,
Tamara, Grace, Lisa, Stacy, Tracie, Barbara, and so many others who
make each day fun. Love you guys!
Jack liked the solitude of being outdoors,
away from people, especially in the winter. Regardless, he always
made at least a few appearances each month at his brother’s house,
which was usually filled with his new sister-in-law’s family and
their mates. The ladies liked to organize family meals every
weekend, which was something Jack and his brother, Brody, hadn’t
experienced since before leaving home.
Things in the cove had been simpler when it
had been just the guys from their old military unit. All single.
But now, four of Grizzly Cove’s residents were mated, including
Brody, and the Alpha, John.
Things had changed drastically in the cove,
and while it was a happy time for the newlyweds, the rest of them
were all on alert because of the threat still coming from the
water. The creature known as the leviathan was waiting, a mostly
unseen menace, watching and waiting to pounce, given the slightest
John’s new mate, Ursula, was a powerful
witch. She had nearly died placing magical wards to keep the
leviathan out of the cove itself and away from shore, for the most
part, but there was still a problem. The evil creature was still
out there, waiting for any break in their defenses to feed upon the
power of anyone caught out, away from the safety of the wards.
The leviathan and its army of smaller minions
kept trying to break through the wards and encroach closer to the
cove, but so far, they’d been unsuccessful. Better safe than sorry,
though, so all the residents of the cove had decided to stay
Which was why Jack was out here, walking the
shoreline after dark, doing his job as Game Warden of Grizzly Cove.
The title was mere ceremony, as were most of the officious-sounding
job titles given to the former military members of the growing
community. Their real function was as guards, lookouts, spies and
peacekeepers. Goddess knew, they’d acted in all those capacities
during their time working for Uncle Sam. Now they were using those
hard-earned skills to protect and defend their new town.
There had been real trouble a few weeks back,
before the wards had been placed. Deputy Zak Flambeau’s new mate
had been attacked right on the beach by a tentacled creature trying
to drag her into the water. Only Zak’s ferocious claws had been
able to stop it. He’d shredded the tentacle, which was now resting
in a refrigerator in the back of the town hall, parts of it having
been taken by courier for further examination by specialists.
Nobody had known what the heck the animal
was, but it had reeked of magic. Black magic. Not friendly in the
least. After that, the water, and most of the beach, had been
declared off limits, but only the lone polar bear in town seemed to
mind. He actually liked swimming in temperatures that would freeze
the balls off any other
bear, the crazy son of a
Jack had gone all the way around the cove on
his rounds, checking the perimeter and making sure all was well in
the woods and beach that bordered their little town. He was up by
the southern tip of the cove, where the land met the sea, almost at
the end of his rounds. His house wasn’t too far away, which was why
he began and ended his scouting of the perimeter from this point
each evening. He liked the isolation of living on the edge of the
ocean. Something about the waves he could see from his hilltop home
called to him, though he didn’t really understand why.
Just a few more minutes and he’d be able to
go home and clean up in time to head over to his brother’s place.
Family dinners were sort of mandatory now that Brody had claimed a
mate. Jack didn’t begrudge him that. He really liked his new
sister-in-law. But Jack and Brody had never really been as close as
some of the other siblings in their group. They’d been born a
generation apart, and Jack was more of a loner, preferring to spend
time in the woods—either in his fur or out of it—more than with
Which was probably why they’d given him the
job of Game Warden when they were passing out titles and duties.
Their Alpha, John, knew each of the men too well to give them a job
for which they weren’t suited. Settling in Grizzly Cove was
supposed to be a reward, not a punishment, so John was sure to give
each of the guys a choice if they wanted to work in a job or not.
Most were content to serve the community they were all trying to
build, in one way or another.
Jack was happiest on his own, and observing
nature—and potential threats from humans, shifters, or Others—was
his specialty. So his job was a near-perfect fit.
Stepping over a rise in the dunes, well away
from the danger that might possibly be lurking in the water, Jack
looked out over the expanse of rocky sand toward the shoreline. His
night vision was excellent, but he had to squint to be sure he was
seeing what he thought he was seeing.
Sure enough, there was a crumpled shape lying
on the sand not far from the receding waterline. The tide was going
out, and it looked like something—or someone—had washed up on the
beach. Was it alive? Was it a trap to get him closer to the
Only one way to find out.
Jack approached cautiously, but with some
speed. If it was a trap, he didn’t want to give the enemy time to
plan every move. It was better to rush the scene, Jack thought,
though others might’ve disagreed with his tactics. Of course, Jack
had always been a bit unconventional. For a bear, he was a bit of a
lone wolf at times.
As he drew closer, he could see pale skin
that had an almost luminous glow. And the red of blood. The coppery
scent hit him as the breeze shifted, and he knew that whatever it
was on the beach was gravely injured. Maybe even dead.
But no. He saw the faint rise and fall of
breathing as he got closer. It was alive. For now.
And…female, he saw, as he got closer. But she
was like no female he’d ever seen before. That glow was the fading
of what could only be described as scales. And as he watched, her
lower body dried and became two legs instead of a single, thick
He’d found himself a mermaid.
Her breathing was labored, and Jack could see
all kinds of cuts, bruises and lacerations on her naked body. The
fact that she was absolutely gorgeous didn’t escape his notice, but
at the moment, he was more concerned about keeping her alive. She
was in bad shape.
Throwing caution to the wind, he went right
up to her and lifted her off the cold, gritty sand. He had to get
her someplace safe where her wounds could be tended. The closest
safe place was his house, and Jack didn’t hesitate. He strode off
quickly toward his home, never once looking back at the raging
ocean and giant, angry tentacles waving around in the distance
Oh, Jack knew the creature was there. It was
probably the very same creature that had chomped Master Hiram’s
yacht to little splinters a few weeks ago, but Jack figured it
couldn’t come any closer to shore because of the wards.
The mermaid had probably escaped the big
creature either by being caught up in the current and washed ashore
accidentally, or by deliberately beaching herself to escape. Either
way, the wards had probably saved her life. Jack would take it from
there and make sure she lived to tell the tale.
He was also fascinated by the idea of
entertaining a mermaid in his home. Until tonight, he hadn’t been
sure they even existed. Now he knew. He had the living proof in his
Grace was warm and stationary, which wasn’t
right. The ocean was cold and ever moving. Why was she on dry land?
Something was wrong…
Grace fought against the fog that tried to
keep her unconscious, battling through the layers of pain and
confusion to burst through the surface of sleep into wakefulness,
and found herself…in a soft bed, in a lovingly decorated room that
looked like it was part of the forest itself.
Muted greens and browns dominated with
accents of gray and tan. The furniture was like nothing she’d ever
seen before. Twisted tree limbs and knotted pine had been shaped
into the bed frame, chair and matching table. A simple lamp sat on
the table, along with a pitcher of water and a glass.
Water. That would help her more than
Grace reached for it, and had to stifle a
moan as she moved. She paused to take stock before she tried for
the water again.
Under the green comforter, she found
bandages. Lots and lots of bandages. And someone had dressed her in
a long white shirt. A man’s shirt, though, on her, it was big
enough to be a dress.
She did an internal inventory and realized
she must’ve been on land for several hours at least. She was dry
almost to the point of being parched. Sucking in a breath and
steeling herself, she reached again for the pitcher and glass.
“Let me get that for you,” a deep voice said
from the doorway. She looked up, caught in the deep brown gaze of
the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Sandy brown hair topped his
tall frame. He was long and lean, muscular without being overly so,
and his dark eyes sparkled with life and intelligence.
He moved closer and picked up the pitcher,
pouring her half a glass of water. He handed it to her, and she
raised it to her lips, but she was at a bad angle. She tried to sit
up and groaned at the pain in every limb.
“I’ll help you. Just hang on,” the man said,
He grabbed some pillows off the chair at the
side of the bed and put one broad hand behind her back, lifting
her. With his other hand, he stuffed a few pillows behind her,
supporting her with gentle touches while he helped her sit up.
She lifted the glass to her lips again and,
this time, was successful in sipping. She tried to be
ladylike—remembering her land manners—but she was too thirsty. She
downed the entire glass and held it out for more.
Understanding dawned in the man’s eyes. “Wait
a sec. I have an idea.”
He picked up a paper-wrapped straw that had
been sitting on the bedside and unwrapped it. Sliding the straw
into the pitcher, he brought the entire thing to her, placing it in