Urse was just opening her eyes as the door to her bedroom opened and John was there. Was she dreaming? She blinked a few times as he walked closer.
“John?” she asked, her voice a bit weaker than she liked.
He came closer. “I’m right here, honey. How are you feeling?”
“Like I got run over. But it’s to be expected.” She sat up in bed, realizing only then that she was in her own bedroom. The last thing she remembered, he’d been carrying her and they were outside. “Fill me in on what I missed.”
“Nothing much,” he said, surprising her by sitting on the side of her bed, facing her. It was close…intimate. More than she’d expected. “I carried you in. Your sister complained about you warding the doors and windows, but apparently the wards dropped when you came through. She went down to the bakery to get some treats she said you deserved, and I agreed to keep an eye on you so you wouldn’t wake up alone. No news from my guys, which means everything is just as we left it.” He took one of her hands, gripping it lightly. “That was a hell of a thing you did out there. I had no idea you were that powerful.”
She felt a bit of discomfort. “I don’t suppose that’s a good thing. You probably want us gone even more now, right?”
“On the contrary,” he surprised her by saying. He scooched a little closer to her, adding his other hand to the one that was already wrapped warmly around hers. “I like knowing you can hold your own, and after being inside that circle with you, I’m in no doubt as to your basic nature. Your magic feels pure and good. You can be a strong ally of my people, if that’s your inclination, but either way, you’re welcome here. I’ll square it with the rest of the guys, but I think after they saw what you did out there to protect us, they won’t need much convincing.”
Urse breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t know exactly when it had happened, but Grizzly Cove had begun to feel like home, and she wanted to stay.
“I’m glad,” she said, feeling emotional about his turnaround. “And I promise…we’re the good guys. We don’t have any hidden agendas or sinister plans. We don’t even do a lot of magic most of the time. Just when it’s needed. As you see, it takes a bit out of you, so we’ve been taught to only act when it’s really necessary.”
“You don’t have to explain. After what I witnessed in that circle, I trust you. And that’s not something I say easily.” He tilted his head, his voice dropping low. “You’ve earned both my trust and my respect.”
“I’ve always respected you, John,” she whispered, feeling the air around them warm with a strange sort of intimacy.
Silence fell, and he drew closer. Was he going to…?
John’s lips touched hers, and all coherent thought fled, replaced by pure feeling.
He kissed like a dream. Like a conquering hero who knew how to seduce. Like the masterful Alpha he was. And she was drawn in, the willing partner to his passion.
Something ignited between them. Her blood heated instantly, her heart going from zero to sixty in no seconds flat. It was fast and furious, passionate and powerful. It was unlike any response she’d had to a man before. John was unique. His kiss made her want oh-so-much-more.
His tongue seduced, his taste zinged through her body like a drug, and she was an instant addict. He moved his hands over her body, at first just holding her, then growing bolder, touching her through her clothes.
When his big hand cupped her breast, she wanted nothing more than for the layers of fabric separating his warm palm from her skin to be gone. If she could have twitched her nose and made her clothes disappear, she would have, but that wasn’t one of her powers. No, if she wanted skin on skin, they were going to have to do it the old fashioned way.
Impatiently, she pushed at his shoulders, trailing her hands downward to the hem of his stretchy golf shirt. She liked the way he dressed—clean and simple. And easy to take off.
He seemed to get the message and moved back for the short moment it took to remove his shirt, pulling it up over his head. The sexy six pack abdominals revealed by his too-quick striptease made her mouth water. She wanted so badly to touch.
When he recaptured her lips with his, she allowed her hands to roam. He was hard and muscled all over, inviting her fingers to linger.
She liked the sexy growl that vibrated through his chest against her palms. It awoke something within her—an animal spirit she could trace directly back to that long-ago bear shifter in her lineage. She didn’t notice it often, but every once in a while, she felt the presence of it, way down in her soul.
Only now, it was much closer. It was as if being around John had woken the grizzly. It wanted to be near its own kind. Well, one in particular.
Her hidden inner bear was riled…in a good way, and she wanted to hear John growl in that special way again. More than that, though, she wanted to feel his hands on her skin.
Like a mind reader, John finally got around to pushing the light jacket she’d worn off her shoulders. She let it slide down her arms and pushed it off her hands to fall behind her. His fingers toyed with the hem of her T-shirt, and she covered one of his large hands to urge him onward.
They broke apart again so he could pull the shirt up and off her body, leaving her only in her bra. She wanted that gone too, but he seemed to want to take it slow. He kissed her again, making her his willing slave. She’d do anything he wanted. He’d mastered her mouth, and she couldn’t wait to see how the rest of her body would react to his advances.
Then he reached around her to unhook the clasp of her bra. Yes!
The thin straps were tugged slowly down her shoulders, and then, the cups were peeled away, one at a time. All the while, he kept kissing her, learning the shape of her body with his hands and skilled fingers.
She loved every minute of it. Every touch. Every caress.
And then, John moved away, letting her go. Urse tried to follow, but he pushed gently against her shoulder.
“Your sister is home,” he told her softly. “She’s coming up the stairs.”
Now that was a mood killer, right there. Urse felt like a panicked teenager caught necking at the drive-in. John seemed to understand. He rose and put his shirt back on, then ran a quick hand through his hair.
“I’ll go out and meet her, give her a sitrep and tell her you’re awake. Five minutes enough?” he asked, already heading toward the door of her bedroom.
Thank goodness at least one of them was thinking. She nodded, already scrambling to find her clothes. Mel was sharp-eyed, and the last thing Urse wanted was to sit through her teasing, if she realized what she and the hunky mayor had just been up to. It wasn’t likely she’d be able to fool Mellie for long, but she’d give it her best shot.
This thing with John was too new. Too fragile. Too uncertain.
Would he want a repeat? Had they crossed over into a new sort of relationship just now? Or was this a one-off? A moment out of time, never to be repeated.
She just didn’t know. She wasn’t sure where she stood with him, but she did know, for certain, that she wanted more.
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A man with a plan…
John is the Alpha bear of Grizzly Cove, a town built to his own design, made up mostly of bear shifters. He brought them all together, so it’s on him when the community comes under attack.
A woman of power…
Ursula is more than she appears, and when her secret comes out, she’s afraid the shifters aren’t going to take it well, but John surprises her. He needs her help to combat the evil targeting the town, but there seems to be more to their relationship.
A battle to the death…
When evil attacks from the ocean, can John afford not to utilize Urse’s skills to protect the town and people in it? Better still, can John reconcile his inner bear’s demand that she is his mate, with his lifelong dream of leading his people into a new way of living—in a town built just for them? Or will he have to give up Grizzly Cove in order to keep the woman he loves?
Bianca D’Arc is the USA Today bestselling author of over 50 romance novels. She has twice won EPPIE Awards for her work, along with the Australian Romance Readers Favorite Erotic Romance eBook of 2008 for her first werewolf romance, Lords of the Were. She is a native New Yorker who worked as an executive on Wall Street during the summer of 2001. She changed careers after the tragic attacks of 9/11 and started seriously pursuing publication in 2005. She has a Bachelors degree in Biochemistry, a Masters in Library Science, and a Juris Doctor, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She loves her garden and plays the piano, ukulele and guitar.
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