It’s bad enough that as the elder bear shifter in my clan, I’ve got to guide two adult cubs through their changes and help them acclimate to their newfound abilities, but the biologist who recently transferred to my office is the icing on my stress cake. She’s not only a beautiful distraction, she’s also smart, funny, and her research project has the potential to reveal the existence of shape shifters to the world—especially when there are two bears running around who aren’t quite acting as bear-like as they should.
I moved to Parrish Falls—a.k.a. The Middle of Nowhere—Michigan to study black bears. But in the three months that I’ve been working as a biologist at the local branch of the DNR, I haven’t seen a single one. Because my boss has been actively
cockbear-blocking me every chance he gets. I don’t know what his problem is, but I’m about to find out. Just as soon as I can look at his gorgeous, grumpy face and not mentally relive every filthy sex dream I’ve had about him.
Confronting Noah doesn’t go as planned, and I discover that shape shifters exist and fairy tales aren’t just stories. Somehow, I’ve found myself snowbound and playing Goldilocks to three stupidly-hot bear shifters. As it turns out, “just right” is so much more than a figure of speech.
Instead of drifting off, I laid there wide awake, my body thrumming with hunger, aching for release. Aching for Noah. Sighing, I flopped over and tried to get comfortable enough to relax. Over an hour had passed, and I was still tossing and turning. At least, I could comfort myself with the fact that he had no idea I wanted him. I’d been careful not to give even the tiniest indication that I found him attractive. It was hard enough for a woman to be taken seriously in this field. I didn’t need to make it more difficult on myself by bringing sex—or even attraction—into the equation.
I rolled over and stared at the clock. It had now been almost two hours since I’d laid down, and I was no closer to sleeping than I had been when Noah was tending to my injuries. For the briefest of moments, I slid my hand toward the waistband of my borrowed pajama pants, figuring an orgasm would help me fall asleep, but I let my hand fall to the bed. With my luck, Noah would decide it was time to check my concussion status while I was in the middle of rubbing one out.
“Fuck it,” I muttered and decided to look for something to read. Throwing off the covers, I climbed out of bed and quietly opened the bedroom door. From my vantage point, the house was dark and silent. Maybe everyone had fallen asleep. Still wearing Noah’s huge wool socks, I padded on quiet feet down the hallway into the kitchen and froze at the sound of a muffled groan behind me.
Was Quinn hurt worse than Noah and Lucas had let on? Did he need help? I turned back toward the bedrooms when I heard another moan.
“It’s not what you think, Goldilocks.”
I whipped around and spotted Noah standing by the window, silhouetted by the scant light reflecting off the swirling snow. “What?”
“That’s not the sound of pain,” he murmured, amusement heavy in his voice.
“Oh.” I frowned, turning over his words. But the rhythmic sound of bedsprings creaking quickly cleared up any confusion. “Oh!”
Thankfully, the lights were still off, because I could feel my cheeks coloring. I wasn’t sure if I should keep moving forward or go back to bed. Neither option was particularly appealing. Either way, the sounds of Lucas and Quinn going at it only made my lingering arousal more painfully consuming than ever.
“What are you doing out of bed?” Noah asked, pulling my attention out of my pants.
“I can’t sleep.”
He chuckled. “Trust me—I’m aware.”
I frowned. I didn’t think I’d been loud enough to keep anyone awake.
“How’s the pain?”
“It only hurts if I touch it.”
“Good—that’s an improvement.” He paused for a moment, then added, “You should go back to bed.”
“I can’t sleep,” I repeated and wandered over to the window by the door and stared out at the blowing, drifting snow. There were no signs of our trek through the woods. All traces of our footsteps had been obliterated.
“And we both know what you can do to make that problem go away.”
Turning to face him, I crossed my arms over my chest. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
In the dim light, I could just make out the curve of his lips. “One of the things shifters are gifted with is enhanced senses.”
“One of those senses is enhanced hearing. So, I could hear every toss and turn and even your ‘fuck it’.”
I racked my brain, hoping I hadn’t muttered anything incriminating about him.
He reached out and, catching the end of my braid, began rubbing the tail between his thumb and forefinger. “I also have an incredible sense of smell.” He held my gaze as if this revelation was supposed to mean something to me.
“Here’s the thing. I’ve been scenting your arousal since this afternoon. I have no idea what you were thinking about while we were driving to the drop site, but if you want to share what had you so worked up, I’m all ears.”
My mouth dropped open.
“It happened again when we were sitting by the table, and you’ve been restless and needy ever since.”
I wanted to speak. To deny it. To say something—anything—but I had nothing. I couldn’t think of a single thing.
“And as soon as you figured out what Lucas and Quinn were doing, it spiked again.”
I closed my mouth, but I couldn’t look away from him. The light was almost non-existent, but I could still see his dark, glittering eyes. They were trained on me, observing my every reaction. I was so tempted to reach out and touch him, run my palms over his tightly sculpted chest and shoulders—just to see what would happen.
I wanted to believe that it was something about his shifter nature that had me ready to turn my back on my career and the tiny amount of professionalism I was still clinging to. But I knew it wasn’t. It was just me wanting him like I had since we’d been introduced. Balling my hands into fists, I pressed them to my legs, trying to keep control of myself, any way I could. It didn’t stop me from staring at his mouth, wishing I knew what he tasted like. Nor did it stop me from tracing every inch of his body with my gaze, memorizing it, because this was likely as close as I’d ever get to touching him.
“Yeah?” I lifted my eyes and met his.
“You need to stop looking at me like that.”
“Like what?” I heard myself ask. Yep. I definitely had a concussion. That was the only thing that would explain my absolute lack of self-preservation.
“Like—” His voice sounded raw, strained, and he paused to swallow. “Like you’re waiting for me to fuck you up against this door.”