Beary Christmas Book 3
Allison Timms doesn’t have a place to call home, not really. Since running away from foster care at a young age, she’s been moving from place to place, job to job, atoning for the misdeeds of her youth. Her hope is that one day, she’ll land her dream job and finally be able to stop running.
This Christmas, she’s determined to make her wish come true – if she can make it up to the swanky lodge and convince the wealthy resort owner he needs her mad skills. She failed to factor in the Christmas Eve snowstorm making the mountainous route so treacherous – or the possibility that she might go careening over the edge.
Ben Blackwell enjoys a simple life. He lives on the land that’s been in his family for generations, grows the finest Christmas trees this side of the Rockies, and is a master craftsman by trade. He wants what every bear shifter wants – to pad along peacefully in the forested mountains he calls home and, fate willing, have a mate to share it with.
But life is rarely simple. Someone is trying to get their hands on his family land, and the right woman is proving elusive – until she crashes into his backyard. Literally.
Could Allie be the one he’s been waiting for? Or is she working with his rival to destroy everything?
Her stupid eyes had been playing tricks on her again. Without her glasses, she’d seen only a vague shape lumbering about as a dark blur. Her addled mind had automatically jumped to the last thing she’d seen before she passed out—the massive black bear. Of course, that was ridiculous. Black bears didn’t tend fires and they certainly didn’t rescue women from cars and carry them in strong arms against hard chests through the snow to cozy cabins.
I must have hit my head harder than I thought.
Allie peered into the mirror and checked out the bump above her left brow. It didn’t look bad enough to induce hallucinations, but what did she know? Her analytical brain churned, devising several reasons why her mind could have conjured such fantastical images.
Lack of sleep. Lack of food. The power of suggestion. She’d passed at least two “caution: bear crossing” signs on her trek up the mountain. Not long before she’d gone off the road, she’d seen a sign advertising Christmas trees for sale, a sign that had a big smiling black bear in a Santa hat. Plus, she couldn’t discount the effect of the abject fear that came from sliding off the road in the middle of nowhere during a snowstorm and knowing no one would notice for days.
Those things, combined with the skull-jarring bump, made it perfectly logical that she’d imagined the things she had. Right?
Get a grip, Allie, she told herself in the mirror, and focus on the things that are real.
Like the fact that she was in a cozy cabin with a roaring fire, delicious smells that had her mouth watering, and a ruggedly handsome, well-built man with lustrous black hair, amazing brown eyes, and a warm, easy smile that did funny things to her insides.
The reality of the situation hit her. She was in the middle of nowhere, with a tall, dark, kind, handsome stranger who’d rescued her from a perilous situation.
Just like the heroines in the books she loved to read.
A tiny thrill went through her. She probably should have been more concerned than she was, especially since she’d left her phone in the car. She wasn’t. In fact, she felt oddly… safe.
That, too, was most likely a result of minor head trauma.
Nevertheless, she smoothed her sweater—a soft dark green cable knit chosen for comfort—and tried to arrange her hair so the swollen lump wasn’t as obvious.
Her rescuer was waiting for her when she emerged, looking even more handsome. And bigger. He had to be well over six feet. Broad shoulders. Trim waist. Powerful legs. Her own personal sexy lumberjack hero.
His deep brown eyes regarded her with concern. “Okay?”
She blinked and realized she’d been staring. “Yes, much better, thanks.”
“Do you feel up to eating something?”
She looked at the tray he held. On it, a bowl of thick, hearty-looking soup. A plate of freshly baked bread with a scoop of whipped butter. This fantasy kept getting better and better.
Reality check, Allie. He’s just being nice. Contrary to personal experience, there are decent people in the world.
The nausea she’d felt earlier had abated somewhat. Perhaps eating something would help.
“I do, if it’s no bother.”
His features relaxed and he smiled. He really had a lovely smile. “No bother at all.” He carried the tray over to the sofa and set it down on a sturdy coffee table that looked as if it had been made with logs. In fact, everything in the cozy cabin looked as if it had been made with logs.
“Did you make all this yourself?” she asked.
“The stew, yes. The bread, no. My sister’s the baker. She keeps me well stocked in bread dough so all I have to do is pop it into the oven.”
He clamped his lips shut and looked away as if saying so had embarrassed him. She found it oddly attractive and sweet.
“Good to know,” she said, “but I was actually talking about the furniture.”
He grinned sheepishly and scratched the back of his head. His muscular arms flexed and pushed beneath the plaid flannel he wore. “Oh, that. Yeah. Lots of wood around here, and I like to work with my hands. I’ve got a workshop out back.”
Apparently, he was pretty good at it, too. The craftsmanship was impeccable. Each piece fit together seamlessly.
A completely inappropriate and surprising vivid vision of what he else could do with those hands popped into her mind. Clearly, she was still a bit delusional. But it was a good delusional. She decided to silently appreciate it while she could.
She brought a spoonful of soup to her mouth. Flavor exploded across her tongue as diced meat, potatoes, and root vegetables melted in her mouth. “This is delicious.”
“Glad you like it.”
His voice was deep and low, almost rumbly, but smooth and velvety, too. Very soothing. He took a seat in one of the large armchairs adjacent to the sofa, then poured amber liquid from a bottle into two glasses and handed one to her.
“Honey whiskey,” he explained. “Figured you could use a drink too.”
He was right. She could.
When his gaze rose again, his eyes seemed to glow—surely it was just the reflection of the flames. He blinked and the effect was gone just as quickly. His eyes went back to that warm, deep brown and his shoulders lifted slightly with an easy, masculine grace.
She took a sip. The whiskey was smooth, with a touch of sweetness.
“I found you unconscious in your car and brought you here.” His words echoed in her head, evoking vague, dream-like memories and the sensation of being cradled against a warm, fragrant rock-hard chest.
“How far is my car from here?”
“A few miles.”
“You carried me a few miles?”
He shrugged again. Said nothing. Her eyes roamed over the broad shoulders, powerful arms, muscular chest that couldn’t be concealed by a simple cotton t-shirt over soft flannel. The material hugged the contours; her imagination filled in the blanks.
Her eyes moved back up to his. He was watching her checking him out. There was no smug smile. No arrogant smirk. He just sat there and let her look her fill.
Embarrassed, she turned her attention back to her stew. “Is my car damaged?”
“I don’t know. It was snowing heavily. I’ll go back and take a better look in the morning. Getting you somewhere warm and safe was my priority.”
Something in her chest shifted. She’d never been anyone’s priority, ever.
She cleared her throat. “I didn’t even thank you, did I? You must think I’m a horrible, ungrateful person.”
Now, it was his lips that quirked. “I don’t think that at all. I think you’re a woman who found herself in a difficult situation and needs some time to process. That said, driving alone up a mountain during a snowstorm in a front wheel drive sedan wasn’t the best example of planning I’ve ever seen.”
Offense tried to take hold, but it couldn’t because he was right. It hadn’t been snowing in the valley when she’d left, but she should’ve thought to check the weather before she left.
She blew out a breath. “I’m sorry about this. I don’t imagine I’ll be able to get roadside assistance tonight, but I’ll be out of your hair first thing in the morning.”
Copyright © 2022 Abbie Zanders.
Written by Abbie Zanders.
All rights reserved.