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KODIAK ISLAND SHIFTERS
STERLING BEAR CLAN
COLTON
CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER TWO
CHAPTER THREE
CHAPTER FOUR
CHAPTER FIVE
CHAPTER SIX
CHAPTER SEVEN
CHAPTER EIGHT
CHAPTER NINE
CHAPTER TEN
CHAPTER ELEVEN
CHAPTER TWELVE
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
CHAPTER FOURTEEN
CHAPTER FIFTEEN
CHAPTER SIXTEEN
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Copyright © 2016 by C.J. Ayers.
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted
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embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses
permitted by copyright law. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution
of this copyrighted work is illegal.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places,
events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or
used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons living or
dead is purely coincidental.

This book is intended for adult readers only.
Any sexual activity portrayed in these pages occurs between consenting
adults over the age of 18 who are not related by blood.

KODIAK ISLAND SHIFTERS Sterling Bear Clan Colton .

Chapter one

“Take a seat Doctor Cooper.” Hannah’s lawyer proffered a chair
opposite his paper-strewn desk. He adjusted his spectacles before
continuing, “It’s all fairly straight forward - all monetary assets are to be
transferred from your uncle’s estate at your earliest convenience.”

Hannah smiled tightly, this whole week had been nothing short of
surreal. To say the least. It began with her uncle’s funeral, a man she hadn’t
spoken to in years and only vaguely recollected. It was now ending, on a
warm Friday afternoon, in a lawyer’s office, discussing the deposit of a
pretty large-sized inheritance into her bank account.

“I have to say,” the lawyer continued, “it’s a rare pleasure allocating
such large funds to someone so risk-adverse. You have a very healthy credit
record, Doctor Cooper.”

“Well. I don’t come from a wealthy background, Mr. Moore. I think
that helps.”

“Indeed.” He nodded, “there is, however, another matter I wanted to
discuss with you today.” He cleared his throat before continuing, “your
marriage to a Mr…” He peered down at the document in his hand,
“Bradley…”

“Brad Crawford,” Hannah interrupted him. “Yes. We’re not actually
married. I mean… we’re married… technically, but… well, haven’t been
together for many years now. We just never got around to legally
divorcing.”

“Yes, well, Dr. Cooper, I suggest that you do. You understand, of
course, that he could cause,” he hesitated, looking for the right word,
“issues as your legal husband if you were to receive the inheritance and
then opt for a divorce. My suggestion to you would be to obtain signed
divorce papers before the transfer proceeds.”

Hannah nodded, “I understand. I don’t think that will be a problem…
once I track him down.”

“You don’t know Mr. Crawford’s location?”

“No. I haven’t seen him in ten years.” Hannah shrugged, she really
hadn’t thought about him for an entire decade. They broke up a month
before she left for medical school, and neither of them had been in contact
with one another since.

“Well, I suggest you locate him. My understanding is that these funds
will enable you to start your own medical practice?”

Hannah nodded, “Yes… and pay off my student loans.”

“Admirable. I hope it proves a fruitful endeavor. I will have the
divorce papers drawn up for you by next week. Once you have the co-
signature, we can reconvene and transfer the funds.

“Okay. Well, great.” Hannah rose from her chair, and shook her
lawyers hand. “Thank you for your help, Mr. Moore.”

“It’s a pleasure Doctor Cooper.”

Riding the elevator down from Delaney, Smith and Wexler LLP,
Hannah felt dizzy. She’d hoped that one day she’d have the financial means
to open her own practice specializing in family medicine, but never in her
wildest dreams did she imagine that day would come so soon. Thank you,
Uncle Henry. May you rest in peace.

All she had to do now was find Brad and get divorced. Hannah
slipped on her RayBans as she stepped out of the office building and into
the bright Chicago sunshine. She headed towards a Starbucks across the
road. Hannah wasn’t on call, so this was only the second cup of the day. If
she was going to start trying to locate Brad Crawford, she reasoned, she’d
need all the help she could get.

As she waited for the barista to prepare her caramel macchiato,
Hannah contemplated her options. She knew that neither of her parents
had heard from Brad in years, and she wasn’t really in touch with anyone
from High School. That was one of the drawbacks of medical school; you
could forget about maintaining old friendships during the four years of
intensive study, as lab and class partners became the only faces you ever
saw. The four years of residency that followed had been no easier, but at
least Hannah had shared an apartment with two other young doctors who
understood the need to get shit-faced drunk the first day you lost a patient,
that black-out conditions were mandatory during the day if you were on
night shifts, and the fridge needed to be stocked with Diet Coke twenty-four
seven.

With renewed vigor and a tall frothy macchiato, Hannah set off back
home to her apartment.

Her best bet for tracking Brad would probably be to start with his
sister. If she remembered correctly, she’d seen a new baby announcement
on Facebook a couple months ago with Brad’s sister tagged in the group.
Lila, that was her name. Lila Crawford. As far as Hannah could recall, she
still lived back in Montana, so maybe Brand was near that area too. It
would be nice to visit; maybe she could pop by and see her parents.

“Lila?” Hannah asked when she heard a confused ‘hello’ at the other
end of the line.

“Speaking – who’s this?” Lila’s voice sounded sleep heavy.

“It’s Hannah Cooper. We went to High School together.” Hannah
prompted.

“Oh, yeah. Brad’s wife.”

“Yeah,” Hannah paused. She hadn’t exactly expected a warm
reception, but Lila’s tone was particularly cold. No problem, Hannah

“No…. Just getting my paperwork in order. see how he’s doing…” Hannah trailed off.adopted her best bedside-manner-sickly-sweet tone. Eventually Lila sighed. “Well. “Any idea where I might find out?” “Why you lookin’ for him anyways? You two haven’t seen each other for years. last I heard. before. No idea where he’s staying now though. No surprise there.” “Alaska?” “Yeah. Haven’t heard from that assho… Uh.” “I just wanted to catch up with him. Doin’ odd jobs here and there.” “You getting hitched again?” Lila asked. he was in Alaska. him in over a year. “I was actually looking for Brad.” “Okay.” There was a long silence on the end of the phone.” Hannah had never heard of it. Do you know what area?” “Port Ursa. Do you know where he lives now?” “Not really. thanks Lila. you know? I’m sure he’ll be happy I’ve prepared everything. So much for her trip to Montana. no. It’s been nice talking to…” . “Great. Thanks Lila. “I also had some divorce papers drawn up – we never really got around to it.” Hannah made a sympathetic noise. you’ve been really helpful.

Having drunkenly decided to go “full Vegas. She searched through the pile till she came to the cheaply framed picture of her wedding day. Hannah stared bemusedly at it. remembering her days as an uptight student – forever studying. It had . She looked at the picture fondly. A grin spread slowly across her face. but the memory made Hannah smile. When High School came to an end. forever in detention. Brad had insisted on dressing up in a Rhinestone body suit. It still made Hannah laugh. Hannah smiled to herself. good-judgement came into play. but he had also been a wild card – constantly in trouble. and she’d never gotten along with her brother Brad.” she’d found the tightest. and Hannah’s first actual falling-down drunkenness. shortest mini dress she could find and the highest stilettos. and they had started dating casually. That’s when Hannah’s one and only lapse of cautious.people Hannah hadn’t seen in years. It was full of old photos and mementos. Hannah knelt on her bedroom floor and dug out a shoebox from beneath her bed. Brad may have been the all-star favorite on the school basketball team. and as far back as Hannah could remember. He’d caught her attention during senior year. no doubt about that. but she didn’t look any better. a whole group of them decided to celebrate their freedom with a cross-country road trip. Brad was a bad boy. but he had been fun and she would never regret that vacation. He looked ridiculous. rash and impulsive act of youth. The marriage may have been a silly. and not too hard on the eyes either. positively obsessed with getting straight ‘A’s. The Crawford siblings hadn’t exactly had the easiest upbringing. and he often missed long periods of the school semester. Predicated by a night of free drinking at a casino. In the picture they were surrounded by their friends. It was that wildness that had attracted her to Brad in the first place. Lila had always been a bit of an odd one. Brad had been troubled. The phone went dead before she had a chance to say goodbye. Brad and Hannah found themselves in an Elvis Chapel in Vegas. pledging their future to one another.

a taste of much needed freedom before she buckled down to carving out her future career path. it was horrible - he yelled for hours.” Hannah laughed.” Grayson was the Chief of Staff at the Chicago General Hospital where Hannah and Laura where finishing their residency. due to her ungodly work hours. dark circles under her eyes. “No. looking utterly miserable.” “Eww… I’m sorry. schooling. Of course.” Laura smiled sheepishly. Working with Grayson. I’ll do your laundry next week. “By the way. it always necessitated buckets of ice cream. that sounds rough. Are you okay?” “No. Hannah’s dating landscape had been pretty barren. honey – we don’t. “Have you heard of Port Ursa?” “In Alaska?” . but I appreciate the sentiment. For Laura. “I’ll go out and get some. He was an acidic demon. She was actually surprised that this much time had passed without him contacting her to get the marriage annulled. “Hannah continued. “long shift.” “Really?” Laura’s eyes lit up. thank you. and getting on the wrong side of him would lead to shifts ending in tears. “Thank you. She was intrigued to see what had become of Brad. and I was so tired I didn’t even know what he was yelling about. but she would have thought Brad would have found a nice girl to settle down with by now. and wrapped her up in a blanket on the sofa. and somewhat narrow-minded focus on her career. “Come on. “Do we have any ice-cream?” Laura stood in the doorway in her scrubs.been her last hurrah.” Hannah ushered her into the living room.” she pouted. “No you won’t – you never do.

“Be back in five.” Hannah picked up her keys and purse.” “Of course it is. mildly annoyed that the one rare week she got off would be spent traipsing around in backwoods Alaska. “Salted caramel?” “Can you get that and a cookie dough one?” “Don’t push your luck.” Hannah sighed. no doubt freezing her ass off. one of the islands you can only get to by canoe or bush plane or something. I think it’s a bit of a nightmare to get to – like. trying to locate her legal husband. Hannah marched down the stairs.” Laura gave her a helpless wave from her position on the sofa. . “Yes! Do you know it?” “Not really. My dad went fishing there once.

what else do you want to do with the profits?” Colton’s brother sighed. They had been playing a game of poker. It meant more income for them. “Come on. “We’re running a multi-billion-dollar chain. You know he’s right. Colton. pristine Alaskan wilderness.Chapter two “I think we should expand. All the small towns had an outdoor goods supply shop. as employees. Thus Sterling Camp Goods became Sterling Outfitters. idly scratching his lean torso as he waited for his brothers’ response.” remarked Colton. “He was right the last time. Years ago. as did the stock. Visitors poured in seasonally for adventure and nature watching in the brutal.” Wyatt spoke in measured tones. one by one. Wyatt. and he’s going to be right next time. the three Sterling brothers had been left running the family’s small camping goods and outdoor supplies store located right in the heart of “nowhereville” Alaska. Inc. but the quality varied.” Colton Sterling leaned back in his chair. but talk had turned to business as it so often did. Colton’s brainstorm had been to take over each of these mom and pop stores.” Tucker Sterling broke the silence.” “But we can easily cover it with Sterling Outfitters. and within a few years. Alaska was growing its tourist influx every year.” The three brothers sat around the huge scarred oak conference table in the backroom of Sterling Outfitters. the game paused while each man carefully considered the options. whilst keeping on board the experts who had been running each shop. he’s right this time. The whisky had stopped being poured as they tried to reach a solution. “It’s risky. Colton alone had seen the bigger picture. new stores popped up in various locations in a . as well as access to superior quality products. “It makes me nervous that we couldn’t cover it with the income from the current fishery. when their father died.

died. had died in a freak auto accident only few miles from home. waiting for his input. Their father. Purchasing the fishery that previously belong to their pack leader isn’t going to help politics. that place will just go to waste – there’s no one here that has the inclination to take on a place with so much bad debt attached. If it’s not us. grounded in the fact that two of Jackson’s pack members . let’s speak to Joe about it – see what he says. and most of the lower 48 states. No one could deny that Colton had a mind for business that bordered on genius. “the Jackson pack aren’t pleased with our stronghold here. Joe Sterling was the uncle of the three men.” The brothers were at a stalemate. Port Ursa had been such a small town that the police and legal infrastructure hadn’t amounted to much. Both Wyatt and Colton looked to Tucker. Colton. the car had been deemed faulty. I don’t want more shit from Jackson and the rest of them cocksuckers. The Sterling clan had their suspicions. we also need to think about what the consequences are going to mean for relations between our clan and the wolves. and in the end. Jeremiah Sterling. When their father. Tensions between the wolf pack and bear clan had been growing steadily more precarious.” Wyatt reminded him. Joe’s brother. The investigation into his death wasn’t much at the time. this is a good opportunity and it shouldn’t go to waste. Canada. Joe took over as Alpha of the bear clan. Wyatt – that old hunk o’ dog shit drank the place into the ground.chain that encompassed Alaska. “You know it’s not just the money. His death was listed as an accident. Sterling Outfitters was now a household name. “Look. but Wyatt’s right. Now Colton was eager to replicate the model in the fishing industry.” “Fuck. His action decreeing that the subject was now closed.” The other two nodded and Wyatt reached for the bottle of whisky. I agree with Colton.

* . and then raised his glass. “How’s that woman you’re seeing from San Fran?” Tucker asked. Wyatt – when was the last time you even went on a date? And Tucker. I can’t believe you’re both giving me shit for this. Wyatt poured each of his brothers a drink. We know we’re all doomed to perpetual bachelorhood.” Colton shrugged. so we might as well laugh about it. whilst simultaneously catching the attention of a local lawyer. before each downed the golden liquid. Long may we prosper.” “Believe it. nothing could be proven and no one claimed any responsibility. We’ve had a good time. “She’s great. “Let me guess – you won’t be seeing her again?” Tucker laughed. neither of you can talk. “Woman in every port. well .had reportedly been seen hanging around the lot where Jeremiah’s car was parked that day. “To the Sterling Clan. “Come on.” Tucker replied. huh. But.” echoed Colton and Tucker.I’m too busy making money for you two to think about settling down. bro?” Wyatt commented. brother.” Colton stood up and shrugged his coat on before either of them could think of a comeback.” “Long may we prosper. you know you’re as bad as I am. rolling his eyes at his younger brother. his smile wry. Colton had spent the last two months opening a store on the San Francisco coastline. “Yeah.

Colton stood at the dock looking out across the water. That would be entirely too much together-time. clearing his senses. The perpetual half-light of the spring evenings had begun. A couple more nights with the woman would have been fun. As Colton had predicted. No. Drake had seen an opportunity to divide the pack and reconsolidate Yupik power. they were also fighting within their own ranks. but the evenings were still viciously cold. local and peaceful town were drawing to a close. The Alaskan spring had brought some warmth with it. During winter. At the time he’d had no choice but to fall into rank. but since the death of Jeremiah Sterling and the civil unrest this had caused between the Sterling Bear Clan and the Wolf Pack. and would continue until September. but he didn’t want her getting stranded for an entire week. Colton didn’t feel the cold as he gazed out onto the swaying bulks of the commercial fishing ships rocking in the bay. just a sliver. He could still see the light of the horizon. and that was on a good day. The days of Port Ursa being a small. He could detect an out of season heavy snowfall coming. He had a good feeling about the fishing investment. Drake Hansen. He’d eventually want to expand their catchment all the way to Japan. had returned from the military to find his pack had been taken over by Simon Jackson’s faction. As much as his brothers’ hesitation frustrated him. The Jackson pack wasn’t just at odds with the Sterling Clan. rationally he knew they had good reason. Colton sniffed the air. the town had grown rapidly in size – almost too quickly for local infrastructure to keep up. it was better to take a bush plane. The Police department was still based a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Port Ursa which included a ferry trip. but if the weather was going to be bad it was wise to forget it. where dawn was breaking over some far off point on the North Pacific Ocean. a wolf that had been raised in Alaska as part of one of the oldest Yupik packs. Earlier this week he had considered inviting the lawyer over for the weekend. It was about ten in the evening but still not dark. but for now he would be content with the Alaskan coast. It’s probably time to let that .

Better to remain solo this weekend and work on persuading the rest of the Sterling family that fishing was the next frontier.one go and move on to the next. . She’d worn out her newness anyway.

She wasn’t taking any chances. She arrived at a small corrugated steel shack with a sign reading ‘Burke Cabins’ hanging over the top. vast stretch of ice and ocean was all breathtaking. the impossibility of such a large. she went and purchased an extra gallon of gas to store in the trunk. mostly wooden buildings dotted here and there. But. As soon as she got the SUV. She arrived at Port Ursa around four in the evening. Once there she’d had to rent an SUV before taking a ferry across to Port Ursa. Fortunately Hannah had the foresight to print out directions rather than relying on her phone’s GPS. then a one-hour connecting flight to Kodiak. This part of the world took no prisoners. Hannah had pulled out the warmest clothes she could find from the back of her closet. The beauty of the landscape. She’d taken a seven-hour flight to Anchorage. and was even less benevolent toward the unprepared and the foolhardy. not yet thawed from the winter. Most of the commercial construction took place at the edge of the lively seaport. The town was charming and rustic. the moment she’d landed in Anchorage her phone reception became laughably obsolete and Hannah knew she’d be forced to lower her city standards considerably and rough it for a while. .the surreal light that turned the sky a sci-fi aqua marine color.Chapter three Hannah hadn’t realized the logistical nightmare of getting to Port Ursa. a couple of restaurants and cafes. and Hannah drove carefully to pick up the keys for the cabin she rented for the duration of her stay – which she’d hoped would be only one night. The roads were still icy. Hannah peered in through the window and found a surprisingly cozy room where an old man sat at a table playing Solitaire and smoking a stubby cigar. and dug out her winter parka. the Aurora Borealis.

“I really appreciate it. Coffee. and a few moments later he swung it open. “I need one on the hour. and Hannah smiled weakly. She went round and knocked on the door. Tourist season hasn’t started yet. I can tell.” Hannah replied.” He looked extremely pleased at himself as he spoke the word “best. don’t thank me yet – you’re a city girl. hi. coffee drinking and smoking on stomach ulcers. so you’ll be the only one in the cabins. “but you’re getting the best.” “Come on in.” . thanks. “That’s me. “I’m good.” the old man flicked on the kettle.” “Huh. She could hear him shuffling to his feet. “Ah – don’t mind me. “I got your keys ready. but held her tongue. I got three up the way.” The man gave a short bark of laughter at his own joke. you’ll freeze your backside off. you need more just come down and holler. the place is in good shape. If you want heat in that place you need to burn a log fire – if you don’t. noticing that the old man was wearing a pair of bedroom slippers. There’s plenty of wood in there for you.” Hannah dearly wanted to comment on the hazards of heavy alcohol.” he gestured up past the main road. She didn’t think her medical expertise would be very well received. whisky?” He stepped back and waved his cigar in a grand gesture of welcome. Try not to get too lonely. every hour. “Afternoon – Doctor Cooper is it?” He waved his cigar in the air as he spoke. Hannah wiped her feet on the welcome mat before making her way in.” “Suit yourself.” “Thank you.

” “No. Brad Crawford?” “Ah. while shivering violently as she closed the door behind her. Hannah drove her vehicle slowly. Brad’s on the other side of the island – but it’s only about a twenty-minute drive. There’s a manual in the cabin. “These are them. she told herself. “what you here for anyway? One of those marine biologists? You lot are always coming and poking around. Well. Yeah. I’m… I’m a medical doctor. clearly unimpressed with Brad’s work ethic.” The man grunted. I know the guy. I dunno. Well. Hastily she pushed the logs onto .” He placed the key’s in Hannah’s palm. She lugged her small suitcase out of the back of the SUV and ventured inside. Brad was obviously still making a name for himself by being a little bit wilder and more reckless than the next guy.” Hannah took the map and shoved it in her purse. thank you.” The man’s tone didn’t really surprise Hannah. The man shuffled over to a wooden cabinet on the wall and retrieved a set of keys. it certainly has plenty of rustic charm. “Great. What fer. “Here – map of the area.” he shuffled around looking for something in his desk drawer. you’ll find him at the garage. Surprised he went to school at all. He’ll be closed by now though – likes to get off early that one. following the rough track to the small one-room cabin. “Huh. What you want with the likes of him?” “We went to High School together. I’m just looking for a friend. it reminded her of the way teachers at school would refer to him. Before doing anything she needed to get some heat in the place. tell you anything you need to know.

she was relieved to see flames rapidly come to life. and it wasn’t damp – but with only a duvet for night time warmth. “Please – I’m looking for a sleeping bag. it was still lit and an open sign hung in the window. “You staying at one of Burke’s cabins?” . Sterling Outfitters was by far the largest and grandest looking establishment on the street. Flicking a match. even if it was just for a night. She surveyed the small cabin. The bed was in the same room.” The door chime rang as a family entered behind Hannah. “We’ve got pretty much every type – are you looking for a one man or two man?” “One man would probably be best – as long as it’s seriously warm. Hopefully it would still be open.” The assistant laughed. but it would be a while before she’d be able to remove her coat. “Can I help you?” he asked as Hannah approached. Fortunately. as well as the only chain store. least touristy-looking restaurant. Hannah thought it would be wise to invest in a heavy duty sleeping bag. and gestured Hannah over to the neatly stacked sleeping equipment. “Be with you in a sec.” the assistant called to the family. It would be dinner for one tonight at the nearest. She checked her map and found a Sterling Outfitters in the center of town. she was starving and far too tired to cook. which was a relief. Hannah vaguely recalled seeing a few from the same chain in Chicago. followed by their parents. Plus. She stepped in and was welcomed by a blast of heat and a genuine smile from the rugged looking man behind the counter. Two children ran in giggling.the grate and scrunched up some old newspaper from the pile nearby.

She didn’t stop complaining about the cold. His face blossomed bright red and then rapidly started to lose color. Jamie!” The little boy’s mother was frantically waving her arms about helplessly. anyway.” The man nodded and pulled down one of the bags. “This ‘ere one is lined with duck down. so sadly there’s nowhere else to stay.” “Perfect. Hannah let the sleeping bag drop and was on him in seconds. . as well as some Japanese-made synthetic stuff – can’t really go wrong.” “It’s okay – charming really. “How did you know?” “Educated guess. She was about to say something else. It’s only for a night. but froze to listen to the sounds of sharp gurgling gasps coming from behind her followed by silence. “Jamie. My aunt stayed there one winter during my wedding – house was full. The motel closes over winter till start of June. The boy’s eyes were wide as saucers. as long as I can get warm.” Hannah smiled gratefully.

The child started bawling. whilst soothing the crying boy. Colton heard a commotion coming from up front. Giving one final thrust. “Let me have a look. Get him to a doctor as soon as you can.” “We can’t get to the doctor – we can’t cross on the ferry in this weather. a bright blue object flew through the air and smacked against the glass display case. “Thank you! Oh. “happens all the time. It almost sounded like the place was being held up . “You need to get him to his pediatrician. “He looks okay. he may have sustained damaged to his esophagus.a loud blood-curdling cry was emanating from a woman. There was also a second woman standing behind the child executing what looked at this angle like an efficient Heimlich maneuver. I can’t thank you enough!” The mother took the boy back in her arms. He burst into the main store. It was merely one hysterical woman bent over a child. Is there really no one around here. and he rushed to the door anticipating wolf trouble. At the absence of wolves. picking up the bright blue object.Chapter four From his chair in the back office. crying.” the woman turned and addressed the boy.” the woman calmly addressed the mother of the child. “Lego. do you think he’ll be alright until next week?” The tinge of hysteria was edging back up in the woman’s voice. “will you open wide for me?” Amidst his sobs the boy did as he was told. his bear senses rapidly surveying the scene. not even a general practitioner?” .” the woman commented. he relaxed slightly.

” He vaguely recognized her – she was fairly new to Port Ursa. admiring her thick. as if waiting for him to speak. The mother shook her head. thank you.it’s really so kind of you. and right now they were looking expectantly at Colton. She was curvy. Mr…” “Colton. yeah. clearing his line of vision and now he could clearly see the little boy’s savior. “Oh. Colton watched her bend down to retrieve it. . She was magnificent. will you get the flight charted?” he spoke to the shop assistant. “You started to say something…?” “I did? Yeah. “Jake. Her hair flowed loosely down her shoulders. The red-head made her way over to the camping equipment and picked up a sleeping bag that had been dropped on the floor. deep red with natural golden highlights. contrasting strikingly with full pink lips. Beautiful.” He glanced over at the redhead.” he began but halted mid stride. Her eyes were a piercing artic blue. curvy ass encased in hip-hugging jeans and he felt his own jeans get a little snugger in the crotch. she had broken eye contact with him and was now rising to her feet. “I have a plane you can use to take your boy to the mainland if you need it. who rapidly ushered the boy and his mother into the back room. thick. “Huh?” Colton finally said. “I have…. voluptuous curves that made Colton’s mouth water. Colton stepped forward to offer his assistance. He couldn’t let her walk out. The mother had moved. I did…” Colton turned toward the mother. that would be wonderful . An awkward silence hung in the air as the two stared into each other’s eyes. Her skin was alabaster white.

I couldn’t –” “I insist. that had his bear wanting to rip out of his skin. I work in Chicago. to halt nature’s will as it strived for his metamorphosis. The pounding in his chest grew more insistent. the multiple buttons and scanning codes were alien to Colton.really. but restrained himself.” She passed him the sleeping bag. isn’t it?” Colton nodded.” Colton moved behind the cash register. They had upgraded the machinery since the days when he’d had to work behind a register. His bear was screaming to be let loose. I’m looking up an old friend. “Not staying to explore?” . and certainly not helping his ability to recall how the cash register worked. Hi. his blood bubbling under the surface of his skin. besides her amazing figure. Moments ago he had thought it was just the false threat of a wolf attack that had him riled. “Yeah.” Colton wanted to ask who. There was something about her. A thank you for saving one of my customers. tensing as they physically prepared for the change his body instinctively knew was coming his way. His muscles became tauter. Her smile was distracting. “You know what? Have it for free. “Do you work here?” the woman looked up at him. “Are you staying at Burke’s place?” “I am – The sleeping bag’s a dead giveaway. but now he wasn’t so sure. “Just visiting.” He eyed the sleeping bag. thundering within his ribcage. It took effort for Colton to hold back the transformation. “It was amazing what you did back there – are you a medical professional of some sort?” “I’m a doctor.” “No . How long are you staying for?” “Just tonight.

Not only was it a blow to his ego. broad frame.” Colton came out from behind the counter “It’s no problem. by the way. But it was his face that Hannah knew wouldn’t leave her . “Thank you for this – much appreciated. the woman smiled blandly at Colton. The woman. well- defined body. That guy had been hot. He may not have experienced it before. Nice to meet you. she’d been able to spot a taut. “Hannah Cooper. Colton stepped forward to hold the door open for her. He was about a foot taller than Hannah. Hannah smiled to herself as she drove around town.” moving to leave.” she’d said. hanging on to his every word. “One night. a quality she always appreciated. clearly wanting to get going. I’m Colton Sterling. Colton had less than twenty-four hours to make Hannah fall in love with him. but his instincts categorically knew that the doctor making a one-night appearance in Port Ursa was his intended mate. Even under his thermal hoodie. sidled around him towards the door. but it was also damn inconvenient. It had been a while since she’d laid eyes on such a magnificent specimen of man.” It was getting awkward now.” He was racking his brain to come up with some excuse to keep the conversation going. this wasn’t usually a problem for him. “I wish I could . Colton groaned. and got a hint of her scent as she walked past. with a huge.it’s beautiful here. A luscious fruity-floral scent that almost knocked him to his knees. women were usually more than willingly flocking around him. really. looking for a suitable restaurant. In truth. He watched her get into the SUV and drive off into town. She also appeared to be completely unaffected by him.

and they had been appealing during Hannah’s student years. Until today. she caught a glimpse of herself in the rear view mirror and realized she was smirking. She just hadn’t had time to entertain the idea of a relationship.memory for a long time. It was nice. She almost wished she were staying longer. shaded by thick lashes. to know that she was still susceptible to the charm of the opposite sex. Work had come first. As she reversed into a restaurant parking lot. His face was undoubtedly handsome by any standard. she reflected. Her roommate Laura swore buy one- night stands. . but it was his wicked half-grin that definitely made her lady parts take notice. a defined jawline covered in stubble and bright green eyes. lady. which she doubted anyhow. If Colton Sterling was single. but the longer she’d gone without any intimate contact. more the idea of the idea of sex with a stranger had started to seem like more hassle than it was worth. Get a grip. dark brown hair worn a little long on top so a few strands fell casually over his forehead. It often felt like she’d completely shut herself off from the potential of having any romantic interest in the last several years. he’d be more than welcome to warm up her bed tonight. and the thought of having much-needed sleep interrupted by a man hadn’t been at all appealing.

He had turned his attentions to work throughout most of the night to try to distract himself from obsessing over Hannah.Chapter five Colton hadn’t slept. Colton paced slowly through the trees in his bear form. away from the harbor. It was still some ways off. Colton sniffed the air. He couldn’t be sure from this distance if they were naturals or shifters. possibly a small pack hunting over on the far side of the forest. feeling restless and discontent. slightly on edge. He’d ignore it for now. His own scent should be enough to deter them. Port Ursa could be a strange and unwelcoming place for the uninitiated. which was starting to glow a soft pink as the sun rose over the harbor. where the sea cliffs yielded a high population of Kittiwakes and other birds. He’d show it to Wyatt later today. going over the paperwork his lawyers had drafted for the acquisition of the fishery. not wanting to stray too far from the cabin. not wanting to risk being seen in the clearing. For a few hours all was quiet. he needed to be in position if any predators started getting curious. the most comfortable physical state for him to be in with Hannah’s nearness. It was watertight. . He stayed close to the trees. The trees surrounding Hannah’s cabin were pitch black against the rich purple-blue of the pre-dawn light. as well as small forest animals. a scent of wolf carried over. Colton increased his back-and-forth pacing. He edged toward the cabin. and he’d been here. outside her cabin ever since. he couldn’t take it anymore. Around two am this morning. He was glad that he’d come now. and waited. On the icy breeze that blew off the ocean. continuing his campaign to get the brother’s to accept the proposal. and the scent didn’t come much closer.

dressed in running gear -jogging up and down on the spot to keep warm. Colton shadowed Hannah closer. She ran slowly at first. and certainly nothing that would disrupt their ability to hear. It was instantaneously followed by another. Hannah was completely oblivious to the dangers the forest now held for her. Meanwhile. He had hoped that his smell alone would deter predators. He tried to keep a safe distance between the two of them. the heavy panting that emerged from a thirsty. Colton could hear paws slamming against the frosty ground. not naturals. All locals knew never to venture out in the wilderness without taking the proper precautions – which meant a handgun at least. and by now they would have certainly smelled him. chasing down her scent. They had come over from the north rapidly. The first attack came from the side. the distinct reek of wolf closing in. but the wolves were gaining on them. transfixed by her lycra-clad figure. Moments later she appeared in the doorway. he had a dilemma. but they were running. They were shifters. but picked up speed as she got into her stride. As he watched her. But Hannah wasn’t a local. Colton detected a strong undercurrent of human. . her scent lifted in the breeze. and Colton thought that this time it might actually work to his advantage. They had no business hunting down the scent of a human – it broke the already fragile accords completely. Colton followed in bear form – alert and watchful for a potential attack. and he vowed that once this was over Jackson’s pack would pay dearly. He watched as she slipped in a pair of ear buds and configured her iPhone. As they came closer. He smiled to himself as he heard a loud expletive. Colton couldn’t deny that this was a declaration of all-out war on the clan. But as the wolves narrowed their distance. Hannah clearly wasn’t a big fan of the cold. undetected due to the heavy bass emanating from Hannah’s phone. Colton estimated they were still about three miles away. a soft padding about as Hannah woke up and re-lit the fire. not wanting to be seen by her. Colton heard noises coming from within the cabin.

the wolf had to negate the underbrush and wild growth of the forest. or he could wait for the wolf to make its move. and he finally lay still. He could smell the rancid breath of the beast. to get the identity of the attacker. Idiot wolf. Colton had a choice. The second wolf ran alongside Colton. Colton’s mouth filling with blood. catching the full impact of the wolf’s body smacking into him. They had underestimated Colton’s willingness to make a cold- blooded kill. matching him pace for pace as they thundered through the forest after Hannah. . heading off the wolf from the side. It only slowed the predator down by nanoseconds. He decided the latter was too dangerous. Colton rose up on his hind legs. He could smell the approach of another. about five feet away. claws out. He swiped the wolf. but there was no time. Clearly they had planned the attack. Had it been any other woman running through the forest. and then attack head on. Without making a sound. He could veer off path.open jaw. flying through the air towards him. his own blood boiling with sheer rage as he heard the wolf’s saliva swirling about in its mouth. and sped up his pace to catch up with Hannah. Hannah would be wounded. drooling as he gained on his prey. Colton would have intended to injure only. but they hadn’t anticipated they’d be hunting his mate. he thought as it leapt through a break in the trees. Colton had no qualms about annihilating the entire pack to keep her safe. He held the struggling body down on the ground with his paws. Colton had the slight advantage of being on the dirt path. it was headed straight for Colton. using one of their men as the distraction. but it was an advantage to Colton. The wolf didn’t aim for Hannah. still snapping as it tried to get a jaw grip on Colton’s forelegs. if the wolf chose to leap. He fell forward. He should have waited for the transformation back into human form to take place. with his jaw clamped deep into the flesh of the wolf’s neck. yanking at the wolf’s neck as it whimpered loudly. no matter how quickly he managed to drag the hell beast off of her.

each beast waiting for the other to make the first move. As soon as Hannah was indoors he would need to warn his brothers and Joe. the wolf quickly lost patience and moved in for the kill. The creature stumbled. driving himself closer to the ground. but again. It spun around instantly. ready to finish the job. They growled at one another. razor-sharp claws extended and jaw bared open. and disappeared off into the undergrowth. swiftly lifting itself. The wounded wolf left a blood trail that Colton could have followed. he retracted back on to his hind legs. when the wolf’s fangs were an inch from his face. The old man who manned the Burke’s cabin desk was aligned with the bear clan. He needed to follow Hannah. It smacked into a tree. Colton would let him know what was happening. he couldn’t risk it. He heard the wolf lose some ground as it hit a small. and whimpered. aiming to land a blow at Colton’s underbelly. Colton bade his time. He leapt at the wolf’s side. . This wolf was smarter. shielding his torso. The wolf was too quick. to ensure that she got back to her cabin safely. slowly circling in the forest. He didn’t leap at Colton. Following her again. as were many of the Port Ursas residents. his mind whirling as to what this incident would mean for pack/clan relations. It leapt up. Colton bore down lower. he clobbered the creature with his paw. but Colton had already veered toward it. and let himself relax. As ever. knocking it off its trajectory whilst getting a good swipe into the wolf’s front haunches. He couldn’t smell any danger. with strict instructions to contact Colton if he saw anything suspicious. scattering a light dusting of dirty snow and mud into Colton’s face. Colton was able to keep a greater distance. growling ferociously at its attacker. dried up ravine. always staying true to its instincts and exposing its greatest weakness facing predators. spine first. Colton gained on it. He leapt head on.

Her scent was viscerally intense due to the run. Hannah looked pleased and tired as she slowed down her run into a gentle jog. wiping perspiration from her brow. Finally. . She paused at the front door. they looped around back to the cabin. The pain was physical as he fought his bear who was demanding to claim her immediately. Colton had to force himself to back away from her. and smelled like the sweetest perfume to Colton’s nostrils. blissfully unaware of how much danger she’d been in only moments before.

’s garage was on the seedier side of the small town. he was probably just as eager as she was to get them signed. she spotted the garage up ahead and slowed the SUV to a halt a couple of yards away. She made a mental note to tell Laura to spend her next summer here – Port Ursas may be cold and wild. Hannah followed the road until the traditional wood cabins became sparser.C. giving his appearance a slightly hungry. She glugged down a coffee which tasted like rocket fuel. Turning a corner. Car tires were piled up in the lot.Chapter six B. It had been too long since she’d last seen him to recognize his gait or posture. wishing that she and Brad had kept in touch a little so that their first meeting in over ten years wasn’t on the subject of divorce papers. Once she got nearer she could tell that the figure was definitely Brad. malnourished look. and were replaced by corrugated metal constructions and white-board homes that were falling into disrepair. it was going to be an awkward conversation. Still. Hell. but its male population more than compensated. she felt slightly apprehensive as she exited the car. She could see a shadowy figure moving around inside. . just hadn’t gotten around to it nor had a pressing need to get the marriage annulled. She didn’t believe for a moment that he’d mind. and as much as Hannah was curious about how Brad was doing after all these years. and like her. removing the floppy locks of his childhood. Hannah was partly dreading this. along with an assortment of rusty car parts. an oil- stained t-shirt clung to his sinewy muscles. but couldn’t ascertain whether it was Brad or not. courtesy of the old man at the cabin reception. The charming high school all-star had grown taller and leaner. His hair was shaved into a buzz-cut.

Just finished my residency.” “Nice to see you.” .” “You a doctor now. “last person I expected to walk in here. shit.” Brad turned and busied himself with a kettle. Own this dump. so. it’s Hannah. Finally. “So. And you – how are things going?” “Good. causing it to ride up. Brad. doing well?” His eyes raked over her every inch of her.” “Likewise. “Can I help you?” He hardly looked in her direction.” “That’s great. exposing a rock-solid six-pack and a monstrous bruise covering the left side of his torso. you know. or something stronger?” “Coffee would be good.” Brad wiped his hands on the base of his t-shirt. “You look great Hannah.” he turned to look at her. “Yeah. tired more than anything else. Brad. Hannah Cooper.” He jerked his head up so fast he almost whacked it on the hood. “Hi Brad.” “Yeah. I take it you’re not here just for a visit.” he ushered her toward the back room of the garage. his attention focused on the contents of a popped car hood. “Well. “want a coffee. It gets pretty busy during tourist season – fixing up skidoos and flashy cars that can’t hack the roads here. then?” “Yes. Unless you’ve discovered a passion for bird watching or salmon fishing since I last saw you. Got a pretty sweet set-up here.

Hannah almost jumped out of her skin.” she murmured. that’s all. huh?” Hannah detected a tension simmering under the surface of his jovial tone. Brad had his back to her. screeching loudly.” The kettle boiled. sorting out my life.it just seemed like a good time. as you know – and I thought it might be time to get it annulled or something? My lawyer will handle everything.” Hannah winced at the silence that followed. “I was actually wondering if you could help me with something?” “Sure. It’s not that . I just need you to sign the papers.” she extracted the papers from her bag.” “Well – we’re still married. “No. She was regretting the request for coffee. “Thanks. holding out the steaming cup toward her. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Brad. “You getting married or something?” Brad asked. “No. “No messing around.” Something stopped Hannah from mentioning the inheritance. shoot. eventually.” she hesitated. not here for sightseeing. trying to work out how best to approach the subject. the last cup had clearly already put her on edge. exactly. You know. that kind of thing. “I’ve got them right here. “I just didn’t want to take up any more of your time than necessary. I’m sorry Brad. spooning instant coffee into mugs. . so she couldn’t gauge his reaction.” He shrugged. graduating. but she no longer knew him either. “Right.

” Hannah nodded. shame really. Now he was gone. you’re here now.” he said softly. She wondered what he was like. “Do you remember that road trip? It was wild. as an adult. “Not really. neither of them had been anywhere near ready for the commitments of a marriage. There was an awkward silence.” “Do you have plans for tonight?” He persisted. after you left.” he shrugged. Hannah returned the smile. but Hannah wasn’t sure why. even after all this time? She doubted it. “What about dinner?” He continued. When they’d parted it had been on good terms – and Brad had seemed as happy to see her go as she was to leave. . really shitty stuff.” Brad smiled at her.” “Well. Animal attack.” Hannah was stunned. Did you hear that Matt died?” “What?” “Yeah. The last recollection she had of Matt was him yelling out to the echoing vastness of Death Valley. Was it painful for him. not really knowing what to say next. Camping in the Rockies. Hannah warmed at the use of his old nickname for her. I’ve lost touch with most people. “C’mon Hannah Banana. bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand.” Hannah hesitated. He’d strayed from the subject of the divorce deliberately. “You see anyone from school?” Brad asked. A couple of years ago. “I need to get back. “I really only planned on being here for one night. head thrown back. “Did you see him much after school?” “A bit. “we roomed together for a while.

“Great!” They finalized the details. taking a step backward and smiling at Brad brightly. and Hannah inhaled his scent. and you’ll be free of me forever.” “And I’ll definitely have a look at those papers. Whatever it was. then a nice dinner catching up with her soon to be ex- husband was no big deal at all. It would be nice to catch up. See you Hannah Banana. She broke the hug first. . “get them signed. I guess we could. He hugged her tightly as she left. Regret? She couldn’t really say.” There was an odd look in Brad’s eyes. If it meant getting the divorce papers signed. Hannah insisting that she drive to the destination rather than have Brad pick her up – she wanted to keep it strictly professional. but she couldn’t decipher what it was.” he grinned.” “Yeah. no. It was so strange and familiar all at the same time. “Well.” That sealed the deal for Hannah. it unnerved her and Hannah was happy to step out into the natural light of the garage parking lot and hurry back to her car. “See you later.

till he understood why she was being hunted. “do you know her?” “No. nor did he want anyone else tracking her – that would be his responsibility. Or if that’s even the truth. Wyatt. “not for sure. see what’s going on.” Colton wasn’t ready to divulge to the group that Hannah was his mate. “No. “We’ve got a problem.Chapter seven “Shit.” “Who is she?” Wyatt enquired. Their offices were secure.” Joe reassured Colton. “We need to find out who she’s visiting. he knew Wyatt was just being cautious. “you did the right thing. “Did you get an identity on the second shifter?” Joe asked. . I didn’t ask who. and until he better understood his own feelings. We should keep an eye on her. I’ll keep an eye on her – but I want Jackson’s pack watched as well.” “It’s the truth. Not really.” Wyatt argued.” Colton was on the defensive. “I’ll speak to Drake. It was something he wanted to keep quiet for a while. She’s a doctor – in town looking up a friend. but when it came to the safety of Hannah he didn’t want to take any chances. I had to stay with the woman. but Colton hadn’t wanted anyone overhearing their discussion.” They’d gathered in Joe’s apartment. Trust me. staffed entirely by clan associates or bear shifters.” Joe nodded.” Tucker ran his hands through his hair.” “Fine.” “Colton – you don’t know that. see if he’s willing to divulge pack information.

As soon as they were outside. Colt. whatever you want to call it. I want us to be prepared when he does.” Colton spun round to face him. you’re contact point. He wanted to get on the road. come on. Tucker shadowed Colton as they left the building.” “Yeah. don’t give me that bullshit. He sounded determined and strong. first time I met her.” “Oh. but observing his features more closely. out of earshot of Wyatt. he was obviously tired. “Tucker. But I think she’s my mate. he came up and walked next to him. I know Jackson – he’ll get impatient and break soon enough. get a team together and start tracking Jackson’s pack. . the real deal. All info goes through him.” “What?” “My mate – my one true partner. They all knew that Wyatt would soon be taking over the clan. Keep it spread out and below the radar. What’s the deal with that? “You’re imagining it. “about the girl. Wyatt. “Be careful – if it gets out that he’s aligning himself with us . Joe was becoming more insistent he step down as the years passed. but Wyatt had always been a bit reticent to take up the leadership role. it was his sworn duty. you keep close to the woman. Find out what her story is. He wouldn’t be able to evade it for much longer. She came into the camp shop yesterday. I know – there will be hell to pay.” murmured Tucker. “You’re lying. brother.” Colton looked over at Joe. go find Hannah and make sure she was safe. thought Colton. You know more than you’re letting on. But the alliances are going to emerge soon – this cold war can’t last forever. “I don’t know her – at all.” Colton was getting agitated. What’s going on?” “Jesus. Got it?” The brothers all nodded the affirmative and started to disperse. nice and easy.

“How do you know?”

“I can feel it, bro. I just know.”

Tucker raised his eyebrow as if he wasn’t quite convinced by his
brother’s words.

“Believe what you want, I don’t care – but I need to find her, so I’ll see
you later.” They had reached the parking lot and Colton opened the door to
his car, getting in without so much as a backward glance at his brother.

“Don’t do anything stupid!” Tucker shouted at the departing vehicle,
and then cursed quietly under his breath.

Colton pulled up at the reception desk. Leaning out of his window he
gave the door a sharp knock. It opened instantly.

“She here?”

“Nope. Not back yet,” replied the old man.

“I’m driving up.”

Colton got back behind the wheel and continued his way up the dirt
drack, his tires crunching in the frost. He pulled up outside Hannah’s cabin,
smiling at the fading smoke still drifting from the chimney. Hannah must
have overloaded the fire something fierce to have it keep going this long.

Colton desperately wanted to shift, to see if anyone had been sniffing
around while she’d been gone. In human form he could usually pick up the
faint scents of wolf, but his sense of smell wasn’t nearly as strong as when
he was in bear form. It was too risky though; Hannah could return at any
moment – seeing a bear roaming outside her cabin and a stranger’s vacant
truck would most likely terrify her.

He checked his phone. No news yet. Slipping it back in his pocket,
Colton heard the sound of Hannah’s SUV approaching. He prayed that he
was going to be able to persuade her to spend the day with him, in order to
protecting her, and to fulfil his own selfish desire of having her, in the not
so distant future, in his bed.

Chapter eight

Hannah was surprised to see a truck parked up by the cabin. As she
cut her engine, she was even more surprised when the driver’s door opened
and the hot guy from the camping store emerged. He wore a North Face
jacket over a plain white t-shirt and low slung jeans.

“Hey.”

“Hey yourself,” Hannah replied.

An awkward silence followed, Hannah waiting for the guy to explain
what he was doing outside her cabin, a few miles up from the main road.

“Colton – from the Outfitter’s.”

“I remember who you are.”

He shifted on his feet, and jammed his hands into his pockets.

“Just checking to see if everything was okay up this way. Er…How’s
the sleeping bag?”

“You do that for all your customers?” Hannah hoped she looked
skeptical rather than flattered. She ignored the slight fluttering in her chest.

“Nope.” Colton smirked at her.

“Well, the sleeping bag was great, thanks.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” he hesitated, “actually, I was kind of concerned
about wild animals up this way. They get pretty active this time of year,
bears come out of hibernation and there’s slimmer pickings for wolves.”

“Seriously? They hunt this close to the town? I’d never had thought
that. Thanks for the tip.” Hannah was slightly taken aback. Before she’d
gone to sleep last night she’d thought she could hear howling but assumed
it was dogs or a few wild coyotes.

I’d say I’m a more skilled at dealing with heart attacks and car accidents than wildlife issues. “Scaring you really wasn’t my intention. but behind it lay pure wilderness. “Yes.” “No. backed by miles of rugged forest. The ‘town’ was more of a thin line of houses and restaurants that followed the track of the bay.” Hannah smiled. then?” Hannah laughed. It was true. She couldn’t quite figure out if he was flirting with her or just being friendly. I was on a run earlier – deep in the forest without thinking. I went straight after high school and never left.” . yeah – and you’re really not that close to the town. “about eight years. She shivered. “They do. It’s better to know than be unpleasantly surprised. I’m glad you told me. It’s where I went to college. on her run yesterday she’d gotten more of a feel for the layout of the place. Hannah’s cabin may have only been a short ride from the main road. I’m just a bit rusty is all.” “So. okay – it’s been a long while. “How long have you lived in Chicago?” “Good memory. Sorry.” She raised her eyebrow at him. and then med school. Just typical behavior for a city dweller. She hoped for the former.” “I grew up in Montana.” Colton corrected her. a little rusty on your wilderness etiquette. what an idiot. but considering this was an excursion to get her husband to sign divorce papers. it probably was better if he was just being hospitable.” Colton seemed to find this amusing. “What?” “Nothing.

barely blinking an eye. The initial part of the drive took place in silence. plenty. In the car with Colton. just trying to keep warm. She did. no matter how bizarre some of the answers might be. It wasn’t as if she didn’t have questions to ask.” “Sure.” Colton nodded. close enough to smell his subtle aftershave and admire the strong forearms and capable-looking hands as they maneuvered the steering wheel with ease. but Hannah was more than capable of being straightforward and professional. she was used to asking strangers all kinds of intimate. I’d like that. “What are you doing for the rest of the day?” “Not much. I hope it stays that way. personal questions.” “Do you want to take a ride?” When Hannah didn’t respond he continued. I guess.” “I’ll be careful – I promise.” Hannah tried to keep her tone causal. and as hard as she was trying to remind herself .” Colton walked toward his truck. Hannah found herself tongue-tied. it felt different. Now she was in such close proximity. Those on the receiving end rarely felt comfortable divulging information. and held the passenger door for her. As a doctor. but she couldn’t help the small flip her stomach did at the idea of spending the day in the company of easily the sexiest man she’d seen in a very long time. She knew nothing about the man except that he was most likely manager of a camping and outdoor goods store and obviously lived in Port Ursa. “Well. “I can give you a tour of the place. She didn’t have any professional interest in him. I guarantee that I don’t know enough of its history to bore you rigid – and I’ll do my best to keep you warm. “C’mon.

” “Wait. My dad used to own the camping shop. “So. Colton Sterling. He must think she’s an idiot. dry mouth.” He beamed. I do. her body was reacting as if it was a first date. My brothers and I run it now. I was born here. but definitely evident from the well-fitting cut of everything he wore.this was just a casual outing at the benevolence of a local. and a couple of other businesses here. how long have you lived in Alaska?” It was the best she could do.” “Is he retired?” “Dead. He and his brother’s must own the entire chain. “All my life. “You must like living here then.” “I’m so sorry. She really needed to get a grip. He was a good man. Don’t get me wrong – the winters can be hard. repeatedly pushing her hair behind her ear. and then consciously trying to stop doing that. Nice going. “Thanks. There was nothing remotely flashy or ostentatious about him. You own…?” Sterling. but the clothes he wore exuded wealth – subtle. I’ve seen Sterling Outfitters in Chicago too.” “Sterling Outfitters. he had told her his name while she was shopping in a store called Sterling Outfitters and she hadn’t put two and two together. She did a mental checklist of the symptoms. the silence had started to become awkwardly long.” “All across Canada and the lower 48 states. slightly accelerated heartbeat.” Hannah groaned inwardly. but I like the untouched .you own the store?” “Yes.

” “You’re not getting me on a dirt bike – I’m a doctor. His crooked grin was deliciously wicked. rather than car horns blowing and drunken revelry that made up the chaotic symphony of noise she usually slept to. he took a sharp turn up a small road and parked up outside a large parking lot. I travel a lot though. The lot held a variety of outdoor sports equipment – from snowmobiles to dirt bikes and even a few jetty boats. . so that makes it easier. “Please tell me you’re just running an errand?” Hannah moaned. she thought. Hannah rolled her eyes at his retreating back and then followed.” “Okay. a guided tour by an adrenaline junky. a sign reading ‘Kodiak Rentals’ hanging above the door. in the seedier part of the small town. It backed onto a small office.” He walked ahead.” “I can see that. Hannah hadn’t quite made up her mind about Port Ursa yet. She’d enjoyed getting to sleep with the sounds of nature surrounding her. but you will.” Colton smirked. still looking straight ahead. Still.” As soon as he finished the words. she had briefly imagined what it would be like to be properly married to Brad – living here. “You don’t yet. Great. I mean. The wilderness and privacy. It made him look sort of devilish. Maybe if I was stuck here I’d have a different perspective. I see more injuries from motorcycle accidents than I have hot dinners. leading the way to the office.wilderness of the place. I’m afraid not. I’m not getting you on a dirt bike. Just because of the situation. “What’s that supposed to mean?” “Patience – just trust me and you’ll find out soon enough. the quiet of the place was nice.” she hoped she wasn’t offending him. “Nope. under the potential threat of being attacked by a wolf or bear every time she went for a run. and the privacy.

” “Good. leaving him in just the plain white t-shit. but the girl just returned her look with a suspicious stare.” she paused and looked over at Hannah before continuing. See you later.” she pulled out a drawer and handed him a key. “Yeah.” “Sure. Lori?” “Yeah.she certainly wasn’t complaining. Anything that’s not booked up today. “on business. Outside Colton located their snowmobile and went about affixing wheels to its base. Clearly she didn’t take kindly to Colton hanging out with strange women she didn’t recognize.” “Can I get you anything. and Hannah smiled to herself.” Hannah tried to smile at the girl as they departed from the office. He was more built than she had originally assumed. Lori. and she walked gratefully into the warmth. Hannah couldn’t begin to imagine how a retail owner managed to achieve that level of physical perfection. if she were a sixteen-year-old girl. as compact as granite. “the back’s clear so you can drive right out. “Your dad out. He casually chucked his jacket aside. . Hell. Hannah was stunned that he didn’t seem to be absolutely freezing. a skidoo. she’d already be head-over-heels in love with Colton Sterling. who couldn’t be more than sixteen years of age. but then quickly became transfixed as she saw the muscles on his back ripple in motion as he worked. every part of his torso appeared to be solid muscle. There was a very pretty girl sitting behind the desk. Not that it mattered . Not much snow for a mile or two though – take a wheel kit. He held the door of the office open for her. Colton?” She shot him a coquettish eyebrow raise.” “Thanks. Take number six.

carving figures of eight into the snow. and had nothing whatsoever to do with the feeling of Colton’s rock hard six-pack emanating intense heat under the pressure of her fingers. Hannah clasped tighter. “Are you ready?” Colton asked. The icy wind whipped at Hannah’s face. trying to shield herself from the worst of the cold. The trees reduced in number. Colton effortlessly weaved around the few pine trees that crossed their path. his profile turning so he was an inch away from her face. lifting her loose hair up and off her shoulders. “Just hold on – it’s going to be fun. leaning into the turns so that Hannah had no choice but to mirror his movements. convincing herself it was just out of necessity. Soon the forest ground of rock and soil gave way to a light sprinkling of snow that got denser the further they travelled away from the port.” The snowmobile shot off across the snow. I promise. warm and reassuring. and before long there were wide flat plains of thick snow. She drew in closer to Colton. “No – not if you’re going to massively speed up!” He just laughed in return and revved the engine. and he held one of his hands over hers. The small jumps were unavoidable in such a light vehicle – even with two passengers. .Chapter nine The drive up the dry mountain path was bumpy. Hannah held on tightly. and slightly terrified of looking down at the snow machine’s rapid progress. though Colton stayed in perfect control of the machine. smooth and fast.” “Famous last words.

In the next moment he sped up. being outdoors in such epically magnificent surroundings was life-affirming. glinting like diamond dust in the sunshine. As the wind changed direction. The view left her breathless. It was like he was his own personal furnace. After they had been driving for a while. Hannah held on tighter. Hannah reluctantly acknowledged that she was in safe hands. They reached the top at full steam. With trembling legs. the powder showered them both. charting his direction to the precipice of the mountain. she stopped being so anxious and let the exhilaration of the experience take over. For someone that had spent the majority of the last six years closeted in a hospital rarely seeing daylight between intensive shifts. steep incline. but the heat that emanated from his body was intense. It was just in time. and without looking back at Colton she edged closer to the drop. Ahead of Hannah and Colton lay an empty expanse of ice-blue sky. to say the least. Pines whipped past them. traversing the final hump by flying inches of the ground and came to an abrupt halt. Hannah stepped onto icy snow. her hands reaching closer together across his waist. It was like he was suffering from a high fever – except there was no sweat or perspiration that would lead her to confirm that diagnosis. and Colton repeatedly accelerated. the population of Alaska wouldn’t feel the cold the way she did. “There’s a place I want to take you – up the top. tired from the exertion of tensing into the body of the snowmobile. We’ll stop there for a bit. . getting the vehicle up the final.” Colton now drove straight. The normal internal acclimatization process ensured that people adjusted to their surroundings. but this was ridiculous. She had noticed a little before. The edge of the precipice suddenly dropped off a few feet from their stop. arching waves of powdery snow in the wake of their track. sending huge. Colton must have felt her body relax.

most spectacular of all.” “It’s my pleasure. Thanks.” “You’re quite the tour guide. The various bays of Kodiak Island stretched out miles below her. and about seven hundred miles on your right. softly. “Careful. fresh air that tasted almost sweet this far away from pollution and the general. watching a small smile soften his features. but do you really need the business revenue?” She’d made the lame joke to hide the swell of pleasure that erupted in the pit of her stomach. and she could see nothing but the tops of pine trees. “This is really amazing. “That’s the Gulf of Alaska. Then. but she’d believed him when he said it was the first time he’d done this. but when you say it like that…” “I know.” It really did. Knowing that this wasn’t part of a well-rehearsed . Hannah took it all in.” Hannah looked at him sideways. She had actually thought that this was where he routinely brought women to impress them – not that she minded – it was dammed impressive. the huge vastness of the rippling ocean. It makes the world seem so small.” Colton had come to stand next to her. Russia. Maybe I’ll start charging after this. “Well – you’re my first customer. breathing in the cold. I’m impressed.” “That’s crazy – I know we’re close. Colton. leading to the North Pacific Sea.” he called. She looked down. “On your left is Canada. She was so mesmerized by the view she hadn’t been aware of his approach.” “I’m flattered. myriad smells of urbanization.

Get in touch with him.repertoire made her feel slightly giddy and light. It can get a bit weird after a while.” Hannah laughed out loud.” “Don’t – this is meant to be an awe-inspiring wonders of Alaska trip. more than a little amazed that he managed to get a signal up here.” “Stand a bit further back – just in case. I need to know what’s going on. “Yeah. Heard from Joe yet? Okay. They’re tracking. He took it out and checked the screen. “Getting dizzy?” he asked. and walked back toward her.” Hannah watched as he hung up abruptly. “It’s okay. but the silence was absolute.” “Good. consider me inspired. Colton walked a few paces off. “I can imagine that. “I’m okay. top of the mountain…Shit. . She stepped back from the edge. and Colton’s voice carried easily across the breeze.” Colton’s phone buzzed in his pocket. She really didn’t want to listen to the conversation.” Hannah shivered. fine…near Old Harbor. “Sorry – I need to take this. I don’t want to frighten you. your perspective gets confused – you can start to feel like the oceans right in front of you and could just step out onto it.” Hannah nodded.

” he slipped the phone back into his pocket. Fine. Hannah guessed he was in a hurry to drop her off. She assumed that something from the phone call had irritated him. his turns sharper and more efficient than his previously languid driving. or made him anxious. From her perspective behind Colton she could really only see a sliver of his profile.” Hannah eyed him wearily. “Okay – just punch me in the stomach if I go too fast. “Everything okay?” She asked. “You ready to get back?” “Sure. She felt pretty content as the scenery flew by. would you even be able to feel it if I did? Hannah clasped him more tightly this time. but she didn’t mind. They did go faster. Not that she’d ever forget this afternoon.” “Happy to go a bit faster?” “Within reason. the strong line of his jaw. When she looked down at the steering wheel his hands were gripped tightly. “Yeah. Just a delivery I’m tracking. It was a shame. . many nights to come. she’d really enjoyed their afternoon together. and this was likely to be the last she’d see of Colton Sterling. which seemed more tightly clenched than on the way up. the wind’s icy blasts nothing to her whilst she was comforted by her own personal heater.” Hannah smiled to herself at the last remark. The memory of his dangerous good looks and rock-hard physique would be something that would keep her warm on many.

especially when Colton was clearly taking an interest in her. Torn. driving in from the forest rather than the main road. would jeopardize that.Chapter ten The wolves were on their trail. This afternoon had been agony for him. The pack had tracked them from the shop. as well. It was likely that whoever she was seeing was the missing piece to this puzzle. There was now a perimeter around her cabin made up of the clan members that Colton trusted most – Tucker included. Colton sped up. without being able to do a thing about it. but he needed to get her to safety as soon as possible. A few of the clan were now setting their sights on detaining one of the wolves. and getting some much-needed information. When they reached Hannah’s cabin. At least for the time being. Colton cut the engine. which would be fine. They hadn’t known that the clan had been tracking them in turn. . He hadn’t wanted to ask who she was visiting in town. and kept their distance as they made their way up the mountain. Hannah’s hands slid down from his waist. He didn’t want to frighten her. Otherwise. If anything happened to Hannah he would never forgive himself. if let rule. so it was preferable that he ignored his instincts and stuck to his job. he just couldn’t comprehend why suddenly a pack of wolves would be so intent on hunting her down. That should have been warning enough to stay away. and he felt the loss of their coldness pressing into him. spending the day immersed in her delicious scent. as long as they didn’t get to him and Hannah first. Colton accelerated fiercely. being so close to Hannah. because he was meant to be protecting her – his physical reactions. She would be safe there. determined that the pack would once again be reminded why they needed to respect the Sterling Clan. Hannah hadn’t bought it up herself and so he felt that it would be impertinent for him to do so – but time was running out.

and Colton stopped her. Hannah was silent. It was nice to have her clinging on so tightly. “Um. “Like I said. it was a pleasure. “I was actually wondering if there was something else I could show you – if you have the time?” Hannah looked taken aback. He revealed two small pistols and a pack of about ten cartridge sets. “is a Ruger Redhawk forty-four magnum. But it’s good for .” “You want to give me a gun?” Hannah spoke slowly. this is the best protection I can provide you with. Colton.” She made a move as if to open the passenger door. and Colton once again regretted the speed at which he’d had to go. easily straps to the body.” he picked up one of the pistols. “Thanks for the ride. You can keep it on you all times while you’re here. sure. whatever. Most dependable model in its class. but it had also made the journey a lot shorter than he would have liked. “I know this is a bit strange – but consider this wilderness training one-oh-one.” They were sitting in his truck having just pulled up in front of her cabin. Short of giving you a shotgun. or you can keep it in a purse.” Colton reached behind his seat and brought out a canvas covered bag. You’re not. This. As long as I’m not taking you away from anything?” “No. Hannah looked a bit shell shocked. “Yeah.” “Same here.

” “I wouldn’t know how to fire one of these anyhow – really.” “This is where target practice comes in. Against the animals. I can show you. killed by rogue wolf’ headline got out?” .” “I’m not sure about this. “I didn’t want to frighten you – but I do. It won’t necessarily kill a bear. How many more nights are you staying?” “Just the one. carry. He was about ten times more deadly than most weapons.” Hannah quipped. but you have to be careful around here. especially when they’re in the woods. rather than one who inflicts it. When he got his hands on those wolves he was going to make them pay – where it not for them he could have spent today charming her and casually flirting – a far more effective way of getting a woman’s attention that gifting her goddamn firearms. Most adults.” “Do it for the town? Can you imagine what effect it would have on our tourism if a ‘beautiful young doctor. well perfect – you just need to keep it till tomorrow. It’s just a way of life for people around these parts. it will slow it down or scare it off.” “You don’t think it’s a bit weird – you giving me a gun?” “It’s weird – I know. “I don’t actually know how I feel about this – I’m kind of a person who tends to a gunshot wound.” “I get that – really I do. I’m much more likely to shoot myself in the toe. but it also might save your life. then. if you want. usually. but it will a wolf – even if you miss vital organs.” “I didn’t notice you carrying anything.protection. Colton wanted to laugh.” Colton’s words sounded hollow even to his own ears.” “Okay.

still within view of the cabin so that Hannah would feel safe. He cleared his throat. now release. “Okay.” he deadpanned.” Hannah nodded. “Okay. The act of touching her. They walked a bit farther into the forest. But know that you are one strange man.” “I get that all the time. his body frantic to be in hers. She laughed a little. would definitely be gone by now. He took a step back. aiming it at his chest by accident before he lowered it for her. pull the trigger. if she’d had any to begin with. He felt his bear tugging at him.” . the smell of her hair that gently brushed past his face in the breeze made him rock hard. desperate to mate her. and see how we do. Colton was pretty sure that all romantic intent. was like electricity shooting through his body. She was driving him crazy. To be honest. great – good position. use both hands…raise it up. I’ll try. but reluctantly. look down the sight…” Colton stood behind her. Colton decided to drop the details and just get her comfortable with pulling the trigger.” He slowly and carefully took her through the motions of loading the cartridges and then unlocking the safety latch. gently lifting her arms to the right height. “Okay – let’s just focus on a tree. but at the same time looked hugely skeptical. avoiding the chance that she might back up into his groin and feel his longing. At last she took the pistol from him. She was damn divine. “Right. “It’s got a rubber grip. even over a substantial amount of layers. the Redhawk is always pretty smooth. so that should help with recoil. Colton Sterling.

tough and capable – largely because they tended toward the helpless and incapable.” Hannah went up to the tree and inspected the bark. The shot was a good one. her cheeks and nose reddened by the drive. They shot multiple rounds. She wasn’t bad at all – if it came to it. Take a look. He found her straight talking and her obvious intellect refreshing. “Nice.” Colton was bemused. Colton didn’t say anything. Hannah’s face looked alive and beautiful.” “Did I? How can you see that?” There was a very faint groove in the tree where the bullet landed. sending napping birds fluttering out of their nests. You got it in the trunk. but Colton felt that in genuine emergencies and high-risk situations. . Too late Colton realized that the human eye probably couldn’t see it that well. She may not like to ride too fast on a skidoo. The more she aimed and fired. the more Colton relaxed. Colton had a history of dating women who liked their men big. sometimes they didn’t. and the bright blue of her eyes shimmered with excitement. For someone who didn’t want to shoot anything she was a pretty enthusiastic student. The gunshot echoed throughout the forest. Hannah would be able to handle whatever was thrown at her. “want to try again?” “Yes!” She bounded back over. he was pretty confident that she could protect herself. “I did! I did it!” “Yep. sometimes they made their mark. Far more comfortable picking out a pair of shoes than unblocking a sink – but Hannah wasn’t like that. “You get used to knowing where a mark lands.

” Colton dropped the subject. Colton recalled the question that he’d needed to ask. “I can’t.” Hannah stopped and looked up at him. exposed skin there. “I doubt it. and also for deceiving her – trying to get information from her that she clearly wasn’t comfortable divulging was making him feel like a schmuck. “Yes. and gave him a small smile. by the way?” “Just a friend. For her it was goodbye. “Who are you visiting here. Otherwise. I’ve got some business to attend to.” She sounded disappointed. and for Colton it was the start of a frustrating night and morning following her but keeping his distance. I would have loved to. As they walked slowly back to the cabin.” Great. . “Are you doing anything tonight – I wondered if you would have dinner with me?” Colton asked. “Maybe next time you’re in Port Ursa. “Someone I might know?” Colton cursed himself for sounding so desperate. Dusk settled in. they had no choice. eyes. The clan would tail her if she left the cabin tonight anyway.” He sounded pitiful even to his own ears. the small silver necklace that nestled at the base of her neck right in the dip of her collarbone that made him want to kiss the delicate. Colton forgot whatever it was he was going to say as he took in her lips. and Colton felt confident enough in her ability to stop the lessons. really.

only to take her back to Chicago where the likelihood of her return. would fade more every day.” He smiled his crooked half-grin and took a step back.” . Instead her head ducked away. or that she would even remember Colton at all. “Bye Colton. Fucking damn whatever universal power presented him with his one true mate. “see you. and she took a step back. Hannah. He bent down toward her slowly. hoping that they would rise to meet his. transfixed by those welcoming lips.

There was a fire roaring away in one corner of the room. She was still kicking herself for moving away from him at the last second when they said goodbye. Her own insistence that she stay a maximum of one night had been put on hold by Brad. what his brothers were like. He was dressed in a black suit and a tie. it was likely that Brad would be ten minutes late. how he was running such a successful chain of stores at such a young age – he couldn’t have been more than a few years older than her. she noticed. and the softly playing music. the cozy leather. He’d gone to a lot of effort. She was already falling for him. dark brown stuffed-chairs. and if her memory served her correctly. and was clean-shaven. He looked quite nice. but she found herself frustrated that she didn’t know more about him. She was gazing out of the restaurant window when Brad approached. too. Too easily. She wanted to hear about what it was like growing up here. She was about ten minutes early. She knew she wouldn’t have stopped anything. homey and warm. Not only that. and combined with the low-level lighting. but partly because that kiss would have most likely led to more. the atmosphere was romantic and intimate. she knew if something started with Colton. Hannah found herself wishing she were here with Colton tonight instead. She rose to greet . She couldn’t be totally sure. Right after Colton left she’d taken a hot shower. Colton Sterling just wouldn’t leave her headspace.Chapter eleven She’d found the restaurant easily. She sipped slowly at her glass of wine. and from her experience men weren’t usually the ones to put the brakes on intimacy. She’d moved out of the way partly because she was nervous. The restaurant was nice. when clearly a cold one would have been more beneficial to her current mood. she’d want to stay longer – no way would one night be enough time with that body. but she thought he might have been about to kiss her.

” “Um. She was pleased that his attitude had changed – it almost tempted her to tell him about her plans to open her own practice. or perhaps deliberately misreading her signals. but she didn’t want to be a mood-killer before their dinner even started.” Hannah never really drank more than one glass or two.” “That’s confident – why not?” Hannah put the menu back down.” “Thank you – nice suit.” “Not desperate to get back to the city yet?” . and it’s amazing to breathe actual fresh air – it’s been a long time. Brad dove in and kissed her on the cheek. “How are you liking Port Ursa so far?” “Loving it.him. Hannah. Brad must be doing well to frequent this place. Sure. “We should order a bottle. They were pretty steep by small town standards. She was impressed – his garage may not have looked like much. He eyed her glass of wine. “I come here a lot – do you mind if I order for you? I’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’d like. seemingly pleased. but he was obviously working hard to keep it profitable. holding out her hand. okay. It’s so beautiful.” He smiled at her and sat down. He ordered wine from the waitress as she handed them dinner menus. “You look amazing. but not before she’d seen the prices. Mistakenly. The Brad she’d known had been a bit of a slacker.

” Brad looked up at her. I’m married remember?” Brad smiled at her to show he was joking.” “How’s your family?” “They’re good – I haven’t seen them in a while. well. . not desperate – it’s just work that I need to be back for. “So. She took another sip of wine. hoping the waitress would return to take their order. She was absolutely positive that Brad had zero interest in attempting to reconcile their relationship. and dad almost as often. “No. then share a few stories of the good old days over a couple beers and burgers. and Brad gave the order. Hannah regretted bringing it up – family was always a bit of a sore spot for Brad. I spoke to your sister when I was tracking you down. You know what she’s like.” “She’ll come along. otherwise I would have extended the trip. She knew better than that. but the comment threw Hannah. I know. Hannah laughed.” “Oh. I haven’t seen her much. but Hannah ignored them. “Just a matter of time. shutting that line of conversation down. The waitress arrived. but I still speak to mom about once a week. along with a lemon sorbet desert. sign the papers. Hannah had really been expecting a casual working dinner. Small alarm bells started to go off. his eyes meeting hers in an intense gaze.” “Yeah. seafood soup as an appetizer and pan seared trout and Lobster brisket as an entrée. you dating anyone in town?” “No.” Hannah smiled. “Seriously though. She hadn’t been prepared for any extravagance on Brad’s part. the right woman must have escaped me – I’m not big on the dating scene.” Brad looked away.

after so long. “Nice stuff. then?” Hannah could detect a slight edge to his voice. and I don’t think I’ve slept a full eight hours in about six years. “It’s really nice of you to take the time to meet me – I appreciate it.” He gave her a tight smile. tell me about medical school – was it all it was cracked up to be?” “Honestly? I loved it – every minute. like she didn’t trust him not to come along one day and take half of her assets. It was the perfect time to tell him about her plans. but it’s been worth every second. thank you. Anything else would be borderline deceptive. exhausting. interested in getting a divorce. Keeping my options open. but she still didn’t feel comfortable telling him. If she told him now about the plans to open her own practice. “Sure – everyone I’ve met. “I’m going to wait and see.” “Right. It was hard work.” “Other locals been friendly. It was sweet.” Brad nodded. “More wine?” “I’m good for now. looking satisfied as he took a deep gulp. backbreaking.” “And what now?” Hannah deliberated. his mother and the guy in the shop couldn’t thank me enough. . It would sound crass. Port Ursa’s is a pretty friendly place. No firm plans yet.” He poured a glass for himself. she would need to explain about the money. She was also mildly embarrassed. I helped a kid in a store yesterday. and then he would understand the reason she was suddenly. So.

“I thought about you. A lot.” Hannah almost choked on her wine. It was a pretty rapid conversation change. when she had purposely come into town to obtain a divorce. mainly .” “Sure. “don’t worry about it. liked him a lot. Their marriage had been a bit of a joke to begin with.” “It wasn’t like that Brad. “Did you ever think about me at all – during those years?” Hannah was taken aback by the question.” “Brad . It smelled mouthwatering. I don’t expect you to have given me a second thought. and she stumbled over her answer. too.” The waitress brought their seafood soup. sure – I often wondered how you were doing…” the sentence trailed off into silence. but Hannah wished they hadn’t ordered three courses. She didn’t understand what Brad’s deal was – they had been apart for so long. “Well…of course. Now it was almost like he was taking her out on a date. yes – we were. “Not as much as I thought about you. you and I.” “When we were in high school. but it had been a typical high school romance – a little bit intense at times.” “I know what you’re going to say. We had a connection. She had cared for him. “You must think a lot about Matt. I loved hanging out with you.” “It was more than that. we had some really fun times.” he interjected. Brad’s version of their relationship was not hers. and they’d barely given the false marriage a shot.” Hannah tried to keep the topic on safer ground. But we were good together. You were busy.

If you’re not going to give me a logical explanation for all of this. but it had been an immature. “So.” “Bullshit. listen – I want you to give us a shot. I know it’s rude – but I need to be out of here on a flight tomorrow.” “I wanted to! I just didn’t want to get in the way of your career.” “I haven’t stopped thinking about you since you went off to college. calm down. I’m sorry to hurry you. She had no idea why this was happening. I’ve been thinking about it. you’re really not going to sign the papers .” Hannah knew he was lying. You didn’t contact me once in all that time.because Brad had been the first guy she ever slept with. Nothing more.” “What?” “Hannah. Brad? After I came to see you yesterday? This is insane!” Other diners were starting to look around and Hannah lowered her voice.” “Brad.” “No. or what exactly was going on in Brad’s head. I’m mad as hell at you right now. I’m leaving.” “When exactly did you think about this. and now we have an opportunity. sweet relationship.even if there’s no way in hell that I’d be willing to give this another shot?” “Hannah. We never gave the marriage a chance. “Brad.” . We worked well together. but she had heard enough to be absolutely furious at his behavior.” “Don’t. We should really discuss the divorce papers. “You haven’t thought about this at all.

My.” “No. She felt crushingly guilty. doesn’t it?” Hannah paused. that’s all. Go. She instantly tried to pull it back. I just want to get on with my life.” Reluctantly he released her.” “I want to get on with my life too – and I want you in it.” “Don’t patronize me. Had she left him because she knew she couldn’t support the both of them? Perhaps. it’s not like that. “Brad. Hand. “How much do I owe. pushing her hair back from her forehead in frustration. Now. “Are you kidding me?” “Hear me out . . but his grip tightened. I’m leaving – how much?” “It all comes down to money. not really sure whether it was true or not. Really. I’ll pay . Hannah grabbed her purse from the back of her chair.” Hannah sighed.” “Let. what do you mean?” “The reason you left me – because you thought I’d be a hopeless drop out. Brad’s hand reached out and clasped hers. “Excuse me? What’s that supposed to mean?” “Nothing. Of.” Hannah lowered herself back into the seat. come on Brad. roughly?” “Hannah – you’re being hysterical.

Colton Sterling.” Brad stood up.” Although the words were almost a growl. Once again his grip was too tight. She hadn’t expected this to get so out of hand.” Hannah nodded and walked toward the exit. “Let go of me!” He didn’t. forcibly. enraging her. “I’m sorry Brad. locking her in his grip completely. you’re hurting me!” “Get your hands off her.” Brad gabbed her arm as she prepared to walk toward her car. He hardly seemed to feel it. I don’t want that. “Let’s get out of here. listen to me. Using the grip he had on her arm he yanked her against him.” She spun around. “Hannah. deep and ominous. I want us to be together!” She didn’t bother arguing with him this time. . pulling her up to his chest. and he grabbed her other arm. She struggled but he was incredibly strong. her head spinning. The cold air hit her like a slap in the face as she entered the parking lot. and the voice came from behind Hannah. “Hannah. Clearly he was in no mood to be reasonable. leaving a wad of notes on the table. “Wait. “Ow! Brad. With the other arm she shoved against his chest. she recognized it. His grip tightened.

He wasn’t going to rise to someone like Brad. Enough is enough. “I said get your hands off her. “Mind your own fucking business. Brad barely glanced in her direction. He was a volatile enough creature as it was. their current leader. He ran the local garage. leave it Brad. and risk turning the standoff between the pack and the clan into an all-out war. Hannah had obviously done something to make Brad angry enough to attack her.” Hannah took Brad’s distraction as an opportunity to remove herself fully from his grip. Hannah was the target of wolf attack because somehow she was married to one. Clearly the relationship had turned sour.Chapter twelve “Fuck off. this is between me and my wife. It all made sense to Colton now. he was an integral part of Jackson’s pack – Simon.” “No!” . Colton would have recoiled. “You heard her. and this time he released her.” Hannah’s voice was firm. take her home and make sure she was safe. without adding fuel to the fire. She shoved at him. go home. Sterling.” Colton kept his tone even. Colton just wanted to get Hannah out of there. He was looking Colton up and down.” The word was viciously spat out – but even if it hadn’t been. and was reputed to be a nasty piece of work. “Brad. His wife? Colton recognized Brad Crawford. considered Brad his pet lackey. Worse. his fists clenched at his sides.

but may not have ever seen it done in a rage before.” continued Brad. Hannah would know about his shifting abilities. He dropped onto all fours. Brad. Brad laughed. leaning back onto his haunches. shielding her as best he could should Brad decide to shift.” Colton stepped in front of Hannah. it wasn’t safe. If she were married to him. his suit tearing to shreds as his body doubled in size. Seems like you’ve been paying a lot of attention to my wife. He was about to turn. more than a normal man’s should. He growled at Colton. She clearly had no idea about any of the pack politics that she was inadvertently at the center of. “Don’t do it Brad. he deserved to be put in the ground. “Get to the truck. staring dumbfounded in amazement at her husband. Brad let out a growl. “Come on. and Hannah backed away. ready to attack. A large part of him was desperate to destroy Brad – his pack could have killed Hannah the morning she went running. Brad’s voice had come out feral. He was about to shift. For a human. “Calm down. Colton froze. “I heard you had the pack tracked. Shit. elongating into a snout. With one last glance at Hannah who was standing at the far end of the lot. “Jackson’s not happy.” Colton tried to pacify him. and ended in an almost imperceptible growl. Colton. Colton . it could be lethal.” Hannah looked at Colton in bewilderment. It was inhuman. walking in the direction of her SUV. Too soft to take me?” Colton didn’t say a word.” Colton spoke to her as calmly as he could. his facial features becoming sharper. But he didn’t want Hannah around to see this.

then leapt back to his feet to attack again. Brad now aimed at Colton’s underbelly. he could live. In his primal form. Brad’s tail lowered between his legs. and he leapt forward. He didn’t want to give him the same chance this time. but now at least he knew who was responsible – and he had a strong hunch that . bypassing Colton and running of into the night. Blood seeped through Brad’s fur. Colton clubbed him aside. Brad howled and then whimpered in pain. at Colton’s side. sliding across the ground. a whimper escaped him. Brad may deserve everything that had come his way. and Colton bit at his hindquarter. He lunged again. but still he kept coming. jaws open.especially in front of Hannah. Colton lowered himself on fours. Brad lunged at him. He would ask Joe to call a clan meeting tomorrow and discuss the situation. Colton saw the fear flash in the wolf’s eyes. He was still furious. was no match for an angry Kodiak grizzly bear. a tearing sound that shook the foundations of the restaurant. salivating. equally matched by his own. Colton recognized him as the Wolf he’d attacked in the forest. the one who had gotten away alive.transformed. he was done. but now the adrenaline had flown from his system. protecting himself. He swiped again at Brad. wanting to tear him limb from limb for threatening his mate. Colton was thankful that he hadn’t had to kill the man. He still didn’t understand the motive behind the attacks. He lusted for Brad’s blood. and he roared. He made a move as if to attack Colton again. this time his claws raking down the side of Brad’s body. Brad slammed onto his back. Colton was relieved. but as he retracted back onto his haunches. If he stopped now. trickling onto the parking lot. Colton knew Brad’s fury would be insatiable. His body reared upward. the restraint that he’d tried to show had fallen away. but there were better ways to settle this than more bloodshed. A wolf. staying low on the ground. even one as ferocious and feral as Brad.

knowing that living in this part of the world had its own. It had never been truer than tonight. And lust. He marched across the parking lot. He pulled on a pair of jeans and a thermal. Rage would become fury. it took a while for the climaxed emotions to become right-sized again. passion would become a ruling hunger. There was nothing but silence in the empty parking lot. He opened the passenger door for her. In truth. . or wait to listen to what she might have to say. unconcerned that he was stark naked . and dug through a duffle in the bed of the truck for one of the spare sets of clothes he always carried with him. Colton swiftly transformed back into his human form. but not tightly. Whatever emotion Colton felt prior to shifting. I’m taking you home. and stood naked in the half-light of the crisp night sky.the physical manifestations of his inner lust and fury clearly evident. always intensified once he was in bear form. ignoring shoes and a jacket.” Taking her elbow firmly. trying to quash his emotions before he faced Hannah. Then he slammed it shut. white hot. he walked her to his truck. and carried on eating their fresh Alaskan fish. “Get in my truck. and waited as she got in. The inhabitants of Port Ursa knew when to stay indoors and mind their own business. The restaurant clientele would have heard his roar. They would both be brought to justice by the clan. Intensified to the point of physical pain. unique set of hazards. it looked like Hannah was too shocked to say anything at all. He felt fury. He didn’t meet her eyes.Brad was in this with Jackson. pricking at his skin. When he shifted back.

and ambitious. It would kill him. but it wasn’t his place to criticize her. But he was struggling to think of the right words. Though the more he thought about it. would have ever been doing with a loser like Brad Crawford. intelligent. and didn’t trust himself not to bad mouth her husband. He was a notorious flirt. Did that mean that the feelings were the same for her? Or could a shifter know his true mate. As they drove. Once dressed. and this was Hannah’s first visit. that Hannah knew about the shifter community. love her with everything he had. Colton felt that would be inappropriate. Colton couldn’t actually be sure. Even after all that had happened tonight. Brad had also been living in Port Ursa for a while. If she’d been married to Brad. She’d been through a lot tonight. abruptly putting the truck into gear and setting off for Hannah’s cabin. Maybe part of the problem between the two of them was Hannah’s revulsion toward shifters – but Colton didn’t want to believe that. He felt so strongly toward her. then surely she would have known that he had certain abilities. but it wasn’t a surprise – it was exactly how he would have expected Brad to treat a woman. Clearly they were estranged or something to that effect. He didn’t understand their relationship. He’d seen Brad around town with many different women – come tourist season it was practically a different woman every night. something reassuring and kind. rightly or wrongly. hands clasped tightly in her lap and staring straight ahead. Seeing him manhandle her tonight had set Colton off in a fury. he climbed into the driver’s seat. Colton didn’t trust himself to speak. He glanced over at her. . He was also assuming. He wished that he knew more about how the mate bonding process worked. and she not ever return the affection or passion? He wasn’t sure. She had looked absolutely terrified. sexy as hell. He knew he should say something. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what a woman like Hannah – bright. Hannah was sitting stock still in the seat. and recalling her expression after she’d watched Brad shift.

hot. but in her experience it was never true: there was always a percentage of possibility. sexy. It was lovely that people thought so. into a huge. shredding his clothes like the Incredible Hulk.Chapter thirteen Even when the engine was cut. That had been . But. holding it open waiting for her to get out. the laws and rules that she loved – chiefly because there was such limited grey area. suddenly manifested itself in her reality? She walked unsteadily to her door. He looked completely normal. the practiced. and what was impossible. Hannah didn’t realize that they’d arrived at her cabin. It was black and white. She exited the car cautiously. Had the fresh air gotten to her? Had high levels of oxygen. She couldn’t count how many times a medical intervention had caused results deemed to be a ‘miracle’. seemed laughable now. she questioned her sanity. All the things she’d thought him to be only hours ago. and that Colton was warm. and Colton exited the car. Looking up at him. Hannah’s entire perception of reality felt like it had just been liquidated. given her strange hallucinations? Was it some intense and acute psychosomatic thing where thinking that her husband was threatening and underhand. human. no matter how small. It defied the purest laws of science. solid and big and cuddly like a bear. But a man turning into a wolf or a bear before her eyes? That was completely. She could feel the heat from Colton at her side – even though he wasn’t touching her. What she’d just witnessed wasn’t physically possible. categorically impossible. He was wearing clothes. like a wolf. principled laws that she’d based her entire career on. “Hannah?” Colton was standing by the passenger door. terrifying grizzly bear. divided into what was possible. She hadn’t noticed that he’d put them back on. The fact that she’d seen him transform. as opposed to the usual carbon monoxide she must have inhaled everyday living in the city. Normal. It had happened. that could weigh in a person’s favor.

familiar motions taking over while her brain scrambled itself at high speed. Her wolf-husband. she sat down on the bed. The thought made her feel queasy. She had assumed he was going to come in. She didn’t want him around her ever again. then the energy that would be required would be astounding. explain what the hell was going on. Brad. Wine. and her body unable to move. She nodded at his request. .” She was momentarily confused by the request. “Lock the door. till it clicked. She double bolted it. she thought. closing the door when Colton made no move to come in. and toasting to her future. Hannah fumbled for her keys as they reached the door. No wonder he felt hot. He might come back. There was a bottle that she’d placed in the cooler the evening she’d arrived.another thing. Brad just didn’t seem stable. Staring at the empty fire grate – her mind commanding her to get up and light it before she froze to death. if someone was going to physically transform into another shape entirely. and the totally out-of-the-blue notion that they should be together made Hannah half furious and half frightened. Not really knowing what to do. Well. Not because of his seeming ability to transform (which she still doubted was wholly real). Hypothetically. And unstable people were dangerous. the bizarrely intense heat that constantly emanated from his body. Hannah didn’t think she’d ever needed a drink more in the entirety of her life. Her body was on autopilot. but the guilt trip. she recalled. Colton must walk around with a ball of nuclear fusion residing in him. “Hannah?” Colton was standing at the doorway. but it didn’t appear to be his intention. It had been purchased to honor the moment when she obtained the signed divorce papers from Brad. the grabbing. the metal screeching from lack of oil. it was redundant now. she’d imagined pouring a glass.

That reluctance was fast fading. to Hannah it hadn’t been a lie. Colton’s truck was out there. but any personal subjects hadn’t really been brought up. It then occurred to her to wonder why he hadn’t spoken in the car. Tomorrow she’d be leaving Alaska. She didn’t believe that Colton was that petty. She tried to focus her mind on analyzing who and what exactly he was. And his junk. She walked over to the window. pure unadulterated desire rippling through her. She could make out his shadowy . Every movement her body made. buff and muscled hard-body that had walked across the restaurant parking lot. urging herself on. she had considered it business rather than pleasure. they’d had a few moments since meeting that potentially could have led to something more. that vision jolted her. and she knew without a shadow of doubt that she would regret not sharing a bed with Colton Sterling for a long. Perhaps he thought she had lied to him about the business meeting. Even then. that resembled more of a gulp. seemingly at will. but perhaps Colton got the wrong idea? She dismissed that. the end goal to try and reach a sense of normalcy. the beautiful. Clearly the fact that Colton could transform into a bear. Was it? Yes. long time. all she could think about was the naked body. she quietly congratulated herself. but it didn’t work. It was she who was suffering extreme shock – why hadn’t he said a word? She was certain that it wasn’t the revelation of the fact that she was married. If anything. had absolutely no negative draw on how desirable she found him. Drawing aside the curtains she looked out.hanging out all over the place. One sip and she felt able to light the fire. it was the opposite. and her mind drifted to Colton. Another sip. The man was extremely well hung. Certainly nothing that would have led her to reveal that kind of information. as her world was erupting into madness. Why the hell hadn’t he come inside? Earlier she had been reluctant for anything to happen between them. She laughed at herself. But.

making sure Brad didn’t return. With one last gulp from the wine glass to fortify herself.figure inside the cab. Her world had been turned inside out tonight. then he was going to do it from inside of her cabin. If he was going to be her protector. She grabbed the coverlet off the bed. Hannah wanted Colton Sterling for as long as she could have him. To hell with precaution and regrets of tomorrow. He was standing watch. with her. Hannah’s stomach flipped. hell no. Oh. she stepped out of the cabin and walked toward Colton’s truck. and wrapped it around her. .

still unsure as to what she truly wanted. “Please come inside. “Do you want to explain what happened back there?” Hannah asked eventually. She might be somebody else’s wife.” Colton placed a hand on the small of her back. waiting for her to speak. “No.” She had started shivering on the walk up to him.Chapter fourteen Colton heard her approach before she knocked on the window. Colton wanted to take her in his arms and share his body heat with her. but Hannah Cooper was his mate. “Are you sure?” “No. He felt himself harden against his jeans. He held back. “You’re cold. He opened the door. He led the way back to the cabin. “Can I get you a drink?” She asked. . and wrapped the cover she was wearing more tightly around herself. Her cheeks were flushed. Colton didn’t say a word. moving her closer to the fire.” After a few minutes by its open flames she shed the coverlet gratefully. and he was tired of trying to fight the chemistry between them.” He nodded. and her eyes were still wide and uncomprehending. He was going to come inside anyway.

and I never saw Brad again. I thought as his wife. Your husband is also a shifter. I didn’t know what he meant. It was a spur of the moment. about it always being about the money.” “What do you mean?” “Well . The moment we got back from the road trip.” “No.” Things were starting to get a lot clearer for Colton.” “I came to get divorce papers signed. “I’m a shifter. I went off to college. you would have known. I did not know that. when the summer was over.” “Oh. and I want to open my own practice. to protect my assets should he ever come looking for me. I recently came into a large inheritance. Part of an old clan that’s lived in the Port Ursa’s territory for years. Before we left the restaurant. My lawyer advised that I find Brad and get a legal divorce. but then I guess you already knew that.” “What?” “I didn’t know that. fun and reckless thing that we felt like doing.” she repeated herself.” she hesitated. “Did Brad know about the inheritance?” “No. I married Brad the summer we graduated from High School. In Vegas.there was something he said. I can’t really . If Hannah was the beneficiary of an inheritance. But his behavior was so strange – wanting to get back with me.” “No. Till yesterday. “I didn’t realize. looking up at Colton as if waiting for him to clarify what the hell he was talking about. then that could be why Brad and the pack were hunting her down. “not that I’m aware of.

was completely typical of the Brad he knew. Colton could be patient. His acute hearing easily detected her accelerated heart rate. I don’t know.” replied Colton. The heat of the room seemed to intensify. . The behavior that Colton suspected Brad of. take this at a painfully slow place. He had never smelled anything like her. blood pounding in Colton’s body as he drowned in the dilating pupils of her blue eyes. It just doesn’t seem like him. She didn’t move away this time. She was wearing a simple blouse. Her breath was coming in perceptibly shorter gasps as Colton bent his head down toward her.figure out why. Those perfect rosebud lips.” Colton didn’t say anything. He averted his eyes from her chest. enjoying her obvious reaction to him. just to get Hannah to beg for him when the time came. “Why do you ask?” “It’s nothing. somehow. he knew about the money. as if she had been made perfectly. Hannah had known Brad as a High School student. just for him. “I’m leaving tomorrow. those flushed cheekbones. Just stay away from him. that behavior would be out of character. one that would have been commonplace on anyone but Hannah. Studying her.” Colton took a step toward her. and met her gaze. It was a face he would never forget.” “I know. He ran his thumb along her jaw line. He let his lip gently graze hers. trying by any means to get that money coming his way. Her breasts filled it out to the bursting point. He leaned in and breathed her scent. Unless. He did it again. and Colton could see her nipples pebbled beneath the cotton fabric. and the small smattering of freckles that bridged her nose.

all he’d wanted to do was discover intimately the rest of the body that drove him to distraction. He drank in the view for a moment. He undid it more carefully this time. The friction caused by their closeness wasn’t helping him slow things down. hungry for release. but didn’t touch her. lightly. Colton couldn’t wait any longer to undress her. Their bodies molded to one another in a perfect fit. bringing his body closer still. She was delicious. Hannah slid her arms around his back. He didn’t have the patience to undo her buttons. he ripped the blouse apart. and then slowly unzipped the fly. deepening the kiss. noticing the almost pearlescent whiteness of her chest. was heavy. his tongue emulating what he would eventually be doing between her thighs. down to her knees. He kissed her. He dragged his lips away from hers. From the moment he’d laid eyes on Hannah in Sterling Outfitters. drawing her closer to his body. and Colton wrapped his arms around her. Their breathing. Her lips parted in wanting. pressing his erection against the lower part of her stomach. . Starting slowly. He took a step closer. revealing Hannah’s full breasts wrapped in a white lacy bra. Colton could feel his ball sack starting to tighten in anticipation. Hannah’s chest rose up and down rapidly causing the buttons on her blouse to stretch even more. He had already thought of a million different ways he wanted to touch her. and the shirt hung open. what he was going to do when that perfectly rounded ass was within his reach. As their kiss deepened. the space between them vanished. With complete ease. her mouth tasting like honey and cold Artic air. Colton fingered the button on her jeans. She moaned softly against him. and he increased the pressure. in perfect unison. the softness of her stomach. Hannah was moving against him. The buttons cascaded across the wooden floor. He tugged the jeans down over her thighs. Colton wanted to take his time.

sliding his fingers over the satin and finding the damp patch between her thighs that was waiting for him. and firmly lowered them back down. . Colton slipped his fingers under the satin. drawing him down closer. Colton gently took each foot in his hands. tracing its shape with his tongue. the other cast in shadow. silken layers of her entrance. Without warning Colton picked her up in his arms. flooding his waiting palm. He smiled against her lips. Hannah entwined her fingers through his hair. Without pausing. As he did so. allowing him to take more of her breast in his mouth. her hair splaying outward as her head landed on the pillow. Hannah clenched onto him. her body jolting slightly at his touch. He unclipped her bra. their nipples tight and hard. Hannah started to pant against him. moving her hips against the rhythm of his fingers. He bent down. Her body was lit by the fire. Colton removed the rest of her blouse. loving the feeling of it becoming engorged against his finger. driving him on till she cried out softly. He flung her down. almost ejaculating at the sight of her heavy breasts coming loose. “I can’t wait to taste you. removing her jeans completely and discarding them on the floor. He softly rubbed her small bud. licking her cupid’s bow.” Her body jolted more forcefully this time. Hannah. gently sucking on the dusky pink buds. He kneeled up on the mattress. carrying her pressed against the length of his body to the bed. He kissed her again. Hannah moved her legs up toward her body. one side glowing. tenderly. bending her knees. Gently moving his lips against hers. he trailed his hand between her breasts. groaning deeply as he found the soft. taking her breast in his mouth. He reached down further still. down over her stomach till it reached the top of her panties.

“I know. .” He smiled at her wickedly.” she whispered softly. “Don’t hide from me. and he wouldn’t take all that he wanted. He wouldn’t give her what she wanted. Not until she begged.” “You’re not undressed. as if he was denying her a gift.

He moved one of his hands upward. the sound reverberating within her body. There was something about Colton. suddenly. and she would not only let him. She knew what she wanted. probably his animalistic nature. . moving his body between her legs so that he was kneeling facing her. He moved closer. He removed them. She called out his name as she came. Hannah felt her abdomen flutter in response. He clenched her thighs tighter as he licked at her wetness. and Colton groaned softly. gazing down at her nakedness. Colton gently parted her thighs. He was still for a moment. time was always of the essence. not permitting her to close them. and then gently sucked on her clit in a languid rhythm.Chapter fifteen Hannah could see the bulge pressing against his jeans. Hannah was the more dominant partner. her muscles involuntarily contracting in pleasure. knowing that this man could do anything he wanted with her body. and trailed a finger lightly down the lips of her core. but every touch would be sheer ecstasy. both hands clasped on her thighs. thick length inside her. Colton leant down onto his forearms. He gazed at her wet panties till Hannah blushed. His tongue explored deeper inside her. She wanted desperately for him to remove them. Colton tugged gently at the satin and the waistband elastic snapped in his hand. in sexual situations. to have his hard. It was exhilarating. Typically. Hannah felt a hot flush spread from where his finger was touching to the rest of her body. which made her feel as if she were completely dominated. The next moment he softly licked upward between her thighs. Hannah could feel another orgasm reaching up within her. and as a doctor often on call. and without her realizing what he was doing. waves of blackness washing over her till she didn’t know where or who she was. and Hannah could feel his breath tantalizingly close to her skin.

He stepped out of them slowly. And tonight. pulling and kneading at their softness. Without trying.” Colton murmured against her back. his cock found her warm pussy. His torso was incredible. undoing the top button and then letting them fall to the floor. his breath coming in heavy gasps. his thickly muscled biceps and shoulders looked like they had been carved from marble. He was an incredible creature. The contours of a well- defined six-pack made Hannah gasp. He leaned back. you’re amazing. He knelt again on the mattress and yanked her back down. Colton stood up. and then burying his fingers into her wetness. “Hannah. coming to rest on her ass cheeks. riding the thin line between insatiable pleasure and pain. thought Hannah. He flipped her body over. pushing her backside up toward him. making room for him. Hannah clenched her vaginal muscles around his dick. She had spent years in medical school studying the human form – and here it was at its apex. One of his hands moved downward. He removed his jeans. Hannah watched as he removed his shirt. The most perfect example of masculinity. as he leaned forward and cupped her breasts in his hands. his erection rock solid jutting out at her. he was hers. feeling the ribbing of his length against tightness of her channel. He grabbed them firmly. till she could feel his erection against her bare skin. He pushed in gently. as Hannah moved her body closer to receive him inside her. she’d never seen anything to equal him. Hannah moved upward on the bed. . skating over her hipbones. wet and waiting for him. and yet part animal. pushing her body to its limit. With heavy lidded and sated eyes. gently moving over her clit as he thrust in and out of her. He was huge. trailing his hands down the sides of her body.

The sensation made her body tremble. crying out. “Please – Colton. all at the same time. please!” He slammed her body into him. and Hannah couldn’t hold off the inevitable. slowly regulating. scream out. He came with a cry. it’s heat soothing the loss she felt at the absence of him within her. she tried to hold back and to come with him. their breathing once again in sync. Hannah felt another orgasm approaching. making her gasp out. Hannah moved her hand downward. their sweat melding them together where they touched. his body falling against hers. dropping down onto one side of the bed and pulling Hannah toward him. his movements were speeding up as he searched for release. she could feel his grip on her intensify as if all his muscles were spasming. an animalistic sound that grew louder and louder. Colton moved. They lay still for a while. wanting to be fully aware when he emptied himself inside her. But it was too much. she wanted to cry. pushing back into him. and Hannah felt a bolt of otherworldly pleasure shoot through her. She came again. She bit down on the pillow. Hannah tried to widen her legs. his low. covering his with her own. as he spanned his hand across her abdomen. he started to pant. . laugh. “Did I hurt you?” Colton spoke. wanting her body to take everything his could possibly give.” His hand continued to stay resting on her abdomen. Colton sped up his movements. “Mmmm… not at all. His body was frantic. her back against him.” “Good. She nestled into his body. soft voice breaking the silence.

though based purely on your physical appearance. We don’t usually come up against prying doctors. I wanted you the moment I saw you. “Well. genetically – so I’ve always been this way. “Okay. before leaning back. “You know. “I just don’t understand it. to be honest – I don’t either. what do you want to know?” “What is it – how do you do it?” Hannah knew he was smiling.” “It was the same for me. “that I don’t really know.” . she pictured those sharp incisors that made him look so devilish. “Tell me about being a bear. I wanted this. He kissed her lightly there.” Hannah laughed. then inhaled the scent of her skin. if that makes sense. and leaned back closer into him. we heal rapidly.” Hannah gasped as he slid his fingers inside her.” “Not my winning personality?” “No. It’s inherited.” he started to move his hand lightly in a circular motion between her thighs while he spoke. I think I can hear it now. “that’s just a bonus. you smell like you were made for me. But it feels entirely natural – sometimes my bear feels more natural than my human form.” Colton laughed gently against her bare shoulder.” “No. it doesn’t!” Colton gently bit her shoulder.” “Yeah.

.” Hannah sighed with pleasure.” He continued to move his fingers gently. . sliding them in and out of her. “We only have tonight. “Again?” She asked. her head feeling light and floating as he drew out the waves of pleasure rushing though her body. “I see.. feeling the unmistakable hardness against her back. hoping that dawn was a long way off. and Hannah flooded with wetness again.

“Where did you get good coffee?” She asked. Are you leaving on the four o’clock?” “Yes. “Well – right now I’m only choosing to remember the good parts. The percolator was churning away in the kitchenette. The coffee around here is appalling. and sat on the bed next to her.” “I take it I’ve met another caffeine addict?” “The biggest.” . and last night was amazing. while Colton stood at the sink washing cups.Chapter sixteen Hannah awoke to the smell of fresh coffee. “I have to go and care of a couple of things.” He bought two steaming mugs over.” “It really is. not wanting to move from the warmth of the bed. We thrive in the medical profession – always an excuse.” “It certainly was. Hannah sipped the coffee gratefully. “I get this stuff imported – comes straight to the Oufitters.” He leant over and kissed her softly on the forehead. Morning. I got some horrible stuff from the supermarket.” She smiled at him sleepily. You’re my hero. “How are you feeling?” He asked. “You’re awake.” “Morning.

briefly. Picking up his phone he dialed Wyatt’s number. He wanted a chat with Brad. He restarted the engine. and rinsed his cup out under the faucet.” Hannah took his hand. For everything. preferably in a sound proof room with no observers. I want a word with him. Colton eventually rose from the bed. “Where have you been?” Wyatt didn’t bother with the preliminaries of polite greetings.” “I’ve been trying to get through to you all morning. Colton drove to the main road. He kissed her once. Hannah covered herself up with the duvet. “I’ve been better. but it didn’t reach his eyes. Wyatt’s with him. “Is there anything I can do to extend your trip? Anything at all? Say the word and I’ll do it. tasting of coffee and sex. and sped off to the Sterling warehouse down by the port. taking in Colton’s slightly disheveled state. Tucker was waiting for him at the entrance.” “No. She didn’t want to let him go.” Joe hauled him in last night after your call. They didn’t say goodbye to one another. We’ve got Brad here.” Colton hung up. Where’s Brad?” “In the back. and walked him to the door. Keep him with you. “but thank you. He smiled at her.” “Good. “With Hannah.” Colton nodded.” . and then cut the engine. “You alright?” He asked.

” Brad rolled his eyes. They all nodded in respect as Colton made his way to the back room.” “I told your brother’s everything I know.” Colton sat down in the chair opposite Brad. “Can I get a coffee?” “Nope. Colton could smell his fear. “How is she?” he asked Colton. There were a couple of clan members dispersed throughout the space.” Wyatt sighed. Good. I’m sure you’ve got plenty to discuss. a glass of water in front of him on the table. Colton nodded. Wyatt stood in the corner. “He says it was all Jackson’s idea. “She’s leaving.” . making his way into the building. Now you can tell me. But she’s okay. Brad continued to look at the table. trying to appear nonchalant. Colton’s guess was that he still hadn’t healed from the night before. His eyes were shadowed. The man wouldn’t make eye contact with him. patiently waiting for Colton’s arrival. Brad?” Brad looked up at him.” “Great. staring stonily at the table top.” He shut the door firmly behind him. then the recovery process would be slower. He wasn’t fooling anyone. “Is it true that Jackson’s behind this? I find that hard to believe. “You been telling my brother’s fairytales. “I’ll leave you two. waiting for shipments to come through. Brad was sitting on an office chair.” “Jesus. Not till you start talking. If he hadn’t been able to sleep properly.

I tried to chase him down.” Brad huffed and then continued. I got a call from my sister . Then I see you . one night I was in the pub with Jackson. “It’s the truth! Look. not able to meet Colton’s eyes. I start telling him about my wife. and he tells me that we should get that money. and he was starting to sweat under the collar. how the hell was I supposed to know you were protecting her?” . Found out her uncle had died. I thought it was weird. you know how women like to chat.” “That’s not how it was! That other wolf was Steve Webb.” “That’s funny. You’re pissing me off more every second.last week. and then his. Jackson had asked him to hunt her. “You wouldn’t understand. Hannah’s mom started talking about Hannah opening her own practice. Did you know that Jackson was going to have her killed?” “No!” His voice had gone up a couple of octaves. “That wasn’t the plan. You sold your wife out. Can I get some coffee now?” “Brad.” he continued sullenly. I didn’t know he was gonna try and hunt her down. I owe Jackson quite a bit. “There’s nothing to understand Brad. Hannah. She bumped into Hannah’s mom in the supermarket.” Brad looked at the table.a dammed grizzly. I remember you being in the forest that morning. She said Hannah had been calling. find out what was going on. That was the plan. tearing across the forest after her. He said I should try and get back together with her when she arrived. so I asked her to do some investigating. continue the goddamn story. asking about me. Hannah hadn’t contacted me since forever. When I picked up her scent. “So.

Colton slammed a paper file down on the desk. It was starting to dawn on him that he didn’t really have much left to loose. it was how many. of his pack members stayed loyal. I thought we could give it a shot. I just thought…well. Seriously.” “Or what?” The habitually cocky tone to Brad’s voice was back. large chunks of their business.” “Shut up and sign them. Jackson’s got me on a leash. if not most. He’d already betrayed Jackson. Colton?” Brad smirked at him. He threw a pen onto the table. their cars. “You sign them. watching as it rolled toward Brad. I’ll pay off your loan to Jackson. Brad crossed his arms and leant back in his chair. But I want you out of Port Ursa on the first flight tonight. He’d heard rumors about Jackson’s occasional side- line as a loan shark. “The divorce papers.” “Why? You think I’m competition. “I don’t care if you don’t believe me.” . Maybe we could make it work out.what the hell were you thinking?” “I needed the money. I should have known better.” “Then why wouldn’t you sign the divorce papers? Her life was in danger at that point . It’s the truth. He believed Brad was telling the truth.” Colton corrected. “Sign. in cash. Colton didn’t deign to reply.” “You and Hannah have been getting friendly.” “You should have behaved better. he owned their homes.

“Stay here and you’ll get your money. Once the papers were signed. Brad sighed. Under Jackson’s rule. he would be a wanted man in Port Ursa. and a goddamn plane ticket. Colton called Tucker in. asking him to withdraw funds from his personal account.” Brad nodded. . Better he walk out of here under the protection of the bear clan than take his chances with the pack. a coffee. Colton rose from the table. After what he’d told Colton and the others. He knew he was getting a generous deal. As soon as the ink touched the paper. and reluctantly picked up the pen. betrayal meant death. Tucker asked no questions.

and this time without an iPod and with a gun holstered at her waist. the lessons in Colton’s wilderness 101 were paying off. but Brad would most likely have had to dealt with it all alone. so moved that he would go to this much trouble for a one-night stand. being what he was. A scrap of lined office paper fell to the floor as she flicked through. and had his brother’s to help with that. Colton had obviously embraced his nature and grown up all the stronger for it. She felt pleased with herself. stretching out her cramping legs with each step. She recognized the penmanship before she read it: I’m sorry for everything. much further than she’d gone yesterday. She took her time walking to the cabin door. it took a few moments for her to register the contents. He might have been wild and impulsive. She smiled at the words. with nothing but her name scrawled across the front. Hannah felt profoundly grateful. each page signed and initialed by Brad Crawford. Her divorce papers. I hope you make more of a success of your life than I’ve done with mine. There was the guy she’d known in High School. but the boy back then had always had a good heart beneath it all. he hadn’t even expected a . Opening it. She’d been for a long run. she noticed a paper-wrapped parcel leaning against the door frame. Brad. Getting closer. even stupid sometimes.Chapter seventeen Hannah returned to the cabin exhausted. by dropping them off undetected. She felt sorry for Brad. She also knew that Colton was behind all this. Clearly. It couldn’t have been easy growing up.

flicking his car keys in agitation. But in this case. when she finally had the papers in her possession. Hannah ran the shower.” “Yeah. It’s what made him such a successful businessman. but she would never regret meeting him. all the foundations in place to start a new life and open up her own practice. looking out over the navy blue of the Alaskan ridge. circling back to the warehouse. to feel vastly different.” They turned and made their way up the coast. you’ll see her again. “Not really.” “Come on Colton.” “You really believe she was your mate?” Tucker asked. she had everything that she wanted now.is.thank you. Colton jammed his hands in his pockets. It doesn’t matter now. small or large. “I know she was. There weren’t many men left like that in the world. and they both had their coat collars up against the icy cold. we do business in Chicago. there . I know. She had expected this moment. unsure what she would do for the rest of the day till her flight departed. He was one in a million. She had completely fallen for him. The wind had picked up following the balm of the morning. Colton Sterling was rarely at a loss. So why did she feel so hollow? “Are you alright?” Tucker and Colton stood at the water’s edge. she acknowledged. Whatever problem he’d ever faced. and the next few months would need to be dedicated to getting Colton out of her mind. work his way around it. he’d always found some way to apply an action – to negate the issue. come up with various strategies.

and he didn’t want to take any risks when it came to her safety. .was nothing he could do. The old man that worked reception at Burke’s cabin was standing at the entrance. and then tore off across the warehouse lot to his truck. But I got my boy filling in for me. I sent her to Sally. it was a hub of activity. He’d done everything in his power to ensure that Hannah could fulfill her dreams. “Where is she now?” “Said she was looking for a realtor. ready to lose his temper with the man if she hadn’t. didn’t take the pain out of losing her. He’ll look out for her. But helping her leave. a new shipment of supplies had just come in – the spring and summer imports were always greater to account for the tourist season.” “Hannah was looking for a realtor?” The old man just looked at Colton like he’d lost his senses. “Hannah left already?” Colton asked him. Almost the entire clan was working today in some capacity.” “What?” The old man looked surprised. hit his brother on the back in jubilation. and he repeated the information for Colton again. slowly. Jackson was still out there. “Nope. flipping through papers on a clipboard. She’s extended the cabin for a week. When they reached the warehouse.” Colton nodded his thanks. “That’s what I said – yeah. It was the right thing to do. and what he found that he wanted to do. giving her what she wanted.

then at least he would know that he’d done everything he could to keep Hannah in his life. He slammed on the breaks of the truck. He didn’t want her leaving the island without Hannah knowing how he felt. Even if she didn’t feel that same way about him. He could see Sally’s distinct ‘Ursa’s Real Estate’ branded car heading toward him. and hurried back to the truck. . She looked surprised to see him. “You okay Colton?” She asked. She’d never seen a Sterling behave so oddly and impassioned. “Where’s Hannah.” Sally waved at him uncertainly as he dashed back inside the car. then it was worth him saying something. They might all be as good looking as the devil. I left her at the Bayview Drive property to have a think. Colton had never come so close to losing his patience. hoping that Colton didn’t put off her prospective buyer. Colton felt like he’d been given a second reprieve. but they were reputed to be a bit of a cold and controlled bunch. thanks.” “Great. He hoped that her looking in the area for real estate meant that she was considering some kind of summer home. winding down the window. I thought she was with you?” “She was. He eventually stormed out with a vague notion of their whereabouts. He jumped out and flagged her down. It took an overly long conversation with Sally’s assistant for her to divulge the information of Hannah’s current location. Sally shrugged and continued her drive back to the office. if that was the case.

and from the back porch. an endless vista of forest and mountain. Bayview drive was situated on a much higher level than the port. A thirty-four-acre lot. signage and imagining the whitewashed walls when she heard a truck pull up behind her. took her breath away.” “What are you doing here?” Colton asked.Chapter eighteen It was perfect. “Hannah?” She turned. “Well…can I just caveat one thing. like. Colton was exiting the truck. “Hey. but having him arrive now. mentally designing the footpath. which would need a good lick of paint.” “Okay. staying around.” Colton crossed his arms. She knew she’d be seeing him again soon enough. It was charmingly built.” “Please don’t think this is me. She was gazing at the front of the house. She smiled. unexpectedly. with a garage. hoping for something more. before I continue?” “You can. He didn’t look particularly pleased by her words. a traditional wooden frame. His displeasure made Hannah hesitate before continuing. but the overall construction was sturdy. from the front of the house she could see the winding roads all the way down to the water. the views were epic. . More than enough room to meet her needs. greenhouse and studio attached. As a nice addition. waiting for her to continue.

Like I was constantly searching . there should really be a local practitioner…and maybe. How he couldn’t go to the doctors because the road was closed. He was a large part of the decision. after I got the papers . never. “Really?” He fought hard to keep the grin off of his face. about your scent. impulsive feelings she had for him that even she didn’t understand. “I thought it was a load of crap. My entire life I have never been content. really. I’m so grateful. Around you. it wouldn’t do much good to be dishonest about it.” “Go on. by the way. You call to me.” “Well. my bear wants to break free. Hannah. “I was thinking. “Okay. Happy. On the other hand. better to go where I’m actually needed.which. Until I met you. thank you. always. And Hannah was most definitely lying. the kid in the store. She knew nothing about shifters. the crazy.” He rolled his eyes at her. I was thinking about the time we met. It was a big fat lie. head-over-heels. It’s everything about you.” he continued when Hannah didn’t reply. yes . each shifter has one true mate. to tell you truth. Hannah sighed at him. trying to find the words that could convey her interest in Colton without revealing the truth of her feelings. she certainly wasn’t aware of their ability to hear when someone was lying.” “And I didn’t come into the decision making process at all?” “No!” Hannah paused. You call to him in a way that I don’t understand. but she didn’t want to put him under pressure. “let me tell you this. for a town this size. in a way I don’t understand. She was hoping if she moved here they could start dating – but she didn’t want it to seem like she expected anything. In the stories of our clan – going back over centuries. Sorry I should have said that first.but content. What I said earlier. And it got me thinking that actually. than to a city where everyone is already well provided for. She kicked a pebble on the ground with her shoe. it’s more than that.

demanding and loving kiss. I don’t think I can find peace without you Hannah. Read them for free with Kindle Unlimited.the realization that if I left. You can also access the other books in the Kodiak Island Shifter Series from the Amazon Kindle store. I will be in love with you always.” Hannah stood stock still. I would spend the rest of my life trying to get back to you. THE END I hope you enjoyed this story. this morning . no matter what you feel about me. And I’ve finally found it. aware of the breeze making her hair dance around her face. Kodiak Island Shifters: Wyatt (The Bear’s Flamingo Bride) Kodiak Island Shifters: Tucker (Military Bear’s Mate) *Available Aug.for something that would temper the restlessness in me. knowing that for the rest of her life. it’s you. He wound her hair up in his fist. “It hit me. the smell of the salt air being carried up from the coast. “I love you too. 2016* .” Colton strode over and took her in his arms. holding her face up to his as his lips descended on hers in a passionate. this right here would be burned into her memory as the best moment of her life. Colton. I’m in love with you.” she whispered.

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