Story Excerpt
The Bear Essentials

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Rob grinned when he heard his best friend’s unique ring tone blare on his phone. He tapped his Bluetooth earpiece, connecting him to the call. “Yo, dude, we did it.”

“Right?” Billy Ray Jenson replied.

“I can’t believe it’s finally over.”

“Yeah, man, school sucked.”

Rob couldn’t agree more.

“We still meeting out by the river tonight?” He couldn’t wait to celebrate.

He had wanted to drop out of school when he turned eighteen and go to work fulltime in his father’s construction company. His parent’s made him stay in school, and now he was glad they did, but the last few months had been the hardest.

Unlike the rest of the known universe, shifters had to attend an additional three years of school. Most humans assumed it was some sort of advanced college courses, and maybe that was true to some extent. The courses they took taught them about their bear history. It taught them how to control their beasts when they were faced with violence or situations that forced their bear to the surface.

It taught them how to be better bears.

 “You know it.”

“You and Jed grab the beer,” Rob said. “I’ll bring some steaks.”


Billy Ray was a man of few words, at least few comprehensible words.

“I need to swing by the house and grab few things then I’ll head out to the river.” And he wanted to talk to his parents now that he had finished school. He wanted to go to work for his father fulltime. He had been dreaming of working side by side with his dad since he was seven years old and picked up his first hammer.

“See you out there.” Rob chuckled as he disconnected the call. He was still reeling from the fact that he had finally graduated. It felt like he had been attending school forever and he had finally been set free. His bear wanted to roar.

“Holy fucking shit!” Rob slammed on the breaks, his eyes rounding as his truck slid to a stop mere inches from the small figure racing across the road in front of him.

Wide eyes the color of the warm caramel and edged with kohl peered up at him over the hood of the truck, big fat tears dripping from them down pale white cheeks. Time seemed to stand still as Rob sank into those big liquid eyes, drowning in them.

Then the man blinked, his dark thick eyelashes sweeping over his pale tear stained cheeks as he huddled further into his dark grey hoodie. He turned and started across the road again, the moment broken.

Rob stared after the lone figure, stunned by the overpowering emotions suddenly running rampant through him. He didn’t understand why his stomach clenched at the sight of those tears or why his dick became so hard he could have punched a hole through a steel plate.

But he was going to find out.

Rob growled as he drove his truck to the side of the road and turned the engine off. He jumped out of the truck and raced after the little man, catching sight of him hurrying down a dirt path on the side of the road that led into the woods.

He quickly caught up with his prey, barely panting from exertion. He grabbed the guy’s arm, his eyebrows shooting up when the guy instantly dropped to the ground and curled into himself.

“Please, don’t hurt me,” the man whimpered as he covered his head with his arms.

Rob growled, his gaze snapping back and forth as he scanned his immediate surroundings for signs of danger. Spotting nothing out of place, Rob lifted his nose and drew in a lungful of air. He smelled the forest—trees and dirt and the slightly musty smell of dead leaves.

And apples…cinnamon and apples.

Rob frowned in confusion. If he didn’t know better, he’d think someone was out in the middle of the woods baking an apple pie. God, he loved apple pie. It was without a doubt his favorite desert next to honey.

Nothing tasted better than honey.

Dismissing his wild thoughts, Rob turned his attention back to the man cowering on the ground at his feet. A deep mind numbing rage began to take hold of him when he noticed the bruises showing up through the rips in the man’s hoodie. There was even a trickle of blood at the corner of the man’s mouth, no doubt due from the cut on his fat lip.

Someone had worked this poor guy over, and hard.

Rob squatted down next to the smaller man. Jeez, he had to outweigh him by at least a hundred pounds if not more. The little thing was all skin and bones.

And bruises, there were a shitload of bruises.

“What happened, cub?” Rob spoke in his gentlest voice, which wasn’t easy when his usual tone was deep and rough. It matched his looks. He was big and fierce and made like a brick shit house. And for once in his life, he wished he wasn’t so intimidating.

The poor thing was going to shake apart.

“Sshhh, it’s okay.” Rob tried to sooth the man by rubbing his back. “You’re safe now. No one is going to hurt you.”

When a little of the tension eased in the man’s body, Rob lifted him up into a sitting position, surprised by how easily he could move the guy. He had lifted heavier bags of cement.

Big liquid brown eyes peeked up at Rob through a fall of honey blond hair. Rob reached down and gingerly touched the man’s swollen bottom lip, grimacing at the wince of pain that crossed the guy’s face.

“What happened to you, cub?”

“They took my bike.” The words were whispered in the sweetest voice Rob had ever heard. It wrapped around him like a blanket of tranquility he had never felt in all his years. If he had been a cat he would have purred.

He wasn’t a cat.

“Who took your bike, cub?”

“Casey,” the man said as his eyes flickered up for a moment before darting away. “My name is Casey Newton, not cub.”

Rob chuckled at the small flicker of defiance he could see in those warm caramel brown eyes. He knew who Casey was. While they didn’t run in the same circles, Rob had seen the man around town. He might not have known his name until now, but he knew who Casey was.

“I like cub.”

And he liked this particular cub. The draw to cradle Casey in his arms and hold him close, protecting him from all the evils in the world was riding him hard. Rob had felt the same way each time one of his siblings came into the world, just never to this magnitude.

He’d kill a rock for his mate…