Cherished by a Bear (Mate Me book 5)

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Over the next two weeks, Myra only saw Adam if he was with his aunt and her baby. They would talk and she was happy he started checking out books. When she offered the second Harry Potter book, he told her no.

“I want to wait until my dad says I can read with you. He is going to sign me up for a program here,” Adam explained.

“Here is the list of programs for your age. They all start next week,” she replied, handing Ellie the pamphlet.

“Thanks, Myra. Do you have school year programs too?” Ellie asked.

“Yes. We love coming into the schools and doing projects. I came into Mrs. Lowman’s kindergarten to help with a storytelling unit,” she shared.

“I remember the Three Little Pigs opera her class performed. I loved it.” Ellie smiled and Myra laughed.

“It was fun. I’m trying to find more authors to come and teach writing and drawing classes,” Myra told her and smiled when the baby she was wearing opened her eyes.

“She is beautiful.” Myra ran a gentle finger on her sock-clad foot.

“Thank you. She has been the most amazing addition to my life. Well, her and her dad,” Ellie shared. Myra saw out of the corner of her eye Adam hop from foot to foot.

“Would it be okay if Adam and I read together in the book nook? You can sit and play with your daughter and still supervise us. Adam mentioned his dad didn’t like that we read in the park. I never wanted to make him feel uncomfortable. I thought the park would be a safe space with so many people around.” Myra had felt awful after their time together. Joy pointed out her blunder, and it horrified Myra. She’d only been thinking of making Adam feel better.

“Sure. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about you from everyone in town. Georgia vouched for you too,” Ellie replied, and Adam jumped for joy.

“Thanks. Come on, Adam, we can read for about twenty minutes, that is how long I get for my break,” Myra explained and Adam hustled over to the book nook. He grabbed a beanbag chair and dropped into it. Myra laughed along with Ellie.

“I think he missed you. You know he doesn’t have a mom, right?” Ellie asked her, Myra nodded.

“The first day we spoke. He explained why he didn’t want to go swimming,” she answered and Ellie gave her a surprised look.

“He did?”

“Yes. I wanted to know why he would not tell his dad he was here,” she replied.

“Hmm, Adam has been silent since they moved here last summer.” Ellie put her daughter down and let her crawl over to some blocks.

“Moving is hard on a child. We moved twelve times before I turned eighteen,” Myra explained. Books had been her escape from parents moving around for her father’s job with the government.

“I sense a deeper understanding than the usual pity,” Ellie replied. Myra saw the understanding look in Ellie’s eyes and shook her head.

“I’ve been in the same apartment when I moved here six years ago to take this job.”

“Where were you before?”

“I spent a year in my college town, but before that, I lived with my parents in Stringfellow. It was a small town in Montana. My dad was stationed there for work before he and my mom died.”

“I’m so sorry,” Ellie told her with unshed tears in her eyes.

“All in the past. I have an older brother Ricky and we see each other regularly,” Myra answered, pushing away unwanted emotions. Her parents died over five years ago, she’d learned to live with the sadness.

“Let’s read,” she cheered and settled in her own bean bag chair next to Adam.

The next twenty minutes flew by and Myra reflected Adam’s feelings when he groaned.

“Can we read again?” Adam begged and saw Aunt Ellie smile.

“We can come back on Friday,” Ellie replied, and Myra shook her head.

“I am off Friday and Saturday this week. I work Sundays once a month and this Sunday is mine,” she explained, seeing Adam’s eyes fall.

“Would you like to have dinner with us?” Ellie asked. Adam grabbed her arm and jumped up and down.

“Please and you can finally meet my dad. He promised he would only work half a day on Friday,” Adam shared, and Myra paused.

“I don’t know. I’m supposed to be meeting my brother for dinner. He hasn’t confirmed yet,” she replied.

“Then take my number and let us know when you do. I think you will be good for Rob and Adam.” Ellie handed her a piece of paper with her number on it.

“Thanks. Have a good night and I promise not to read ahead,” she told Adam. The look of disappointment in his eyes almost broke her resolve.

“I want you to meet my dad. I know you are his mate. Please come to dinner,” Adam begged, wrapping his arms around her waist, giving her a tight hug.

“I promise to text Aunt Ellie tonight if I can come,” she promised, and he nodded.

“Thanks, Myra and for what it is worth, I agree with Adam.” Ellie patted her hand and gathered Ava leaving the library.

“He seems attached to you,” Joy commented, coming up beside her.

“That is what I am worried about. He just told me he thinks his dad is my mate,” she shared walking around to gather loose books sitting around the book nook area.

“Who is his dad?” Joy asked, straightening pillows and stuffed animals.

“Robert Zephyr. He is a bear shifter who moved into town last summer.”

“Damn, I saw him at a school function with Ellie Zephyr. I thought they were together,” Joy mentioned as they went back to the circulation desk.

“She is married to Marcus. That was her daughter Ava playing with the stuffed animals and blocks,” she explained, sitting to check in books.

“Then I say go for it!” Joy announced, patting her arm and giving her a massive smile.

“I’ve been looking for my mate and we’ve been to several Mate Me events together. Nothing happened, and all the women there threw themselves at him. My lynx wanted me to go over to talk to him. I refused, not wanting to be another desperate woman added to his rejection list,” she shared seeing the time on her computer. Her shift at the library was over and she had a pile of laundry at home with her name on it.

“See you tomorrow Joy,” Myra said, gathering her purse and heading out for the day.

Myra walked into her two-bedroom apartment ten minutes later and screamed. Laying on the floor of her kitchen was the head of a bloody pig. Attached to it were the words:

You’re next if Ricky doesn’t give me what he stole. -Viper

“Damn it Ricky!” she swore and dialed his phone. It went to voicemail She tried three more times before leaving a voicemail.

“Ricky you asshole. What did you do that Viper is sending bloody pig heads into my apartment? I tried to leave everything Mom and Dad were a part of behind. If you bring Viper and his goons to my town, I’ll kill you myself,” she growled into the phone. She hung up and tossed her phone onto the counter. After a minute she took a photo and then spent the next forty-five minutes cleaning up the mutilated pig. All the while she thought back to her five years stuck in Stringfellow. Viper had been a constant visitor at their home, demanding her father rush his research. Myra shuddered, remembering they had subjected her to “helping”. She’d fall asleep in her bed one night and three days later she would wake up with scars. Then one night she pulled an all-nighter and dragged into her father’s lab for testing. To cover up the scars, she’d been going to a tattoo artist known for coverups. Her favorite was the large snowy owl on her thigh, covering one of her biggest scars. The majority were on her back and thighs because they were the easiest place to hide the damage her father inflicted on her until her eighteenth birthday. She escaped to college and never went back home.

The potent smell of her cleaning supplies drove Myra out of her apartment and to the gym. Stepping into the gym she sighed, here she could run off her troubles. It was too risky to shift in broad daylight, and her lynx was angry. She was just as angry. How could her brother get mixed up with Viper after everything that happened to her and their parents? Putting her earbuds in she pressed play on her workout playlist then started up the treadmill. Letting the music pull her away she forgot about the painful experiments and focused on being safe.

“Excuse me?” came a deep voice from behind her. Myra turned to look, catching the most amazing blue eyes, and tripped over her feet. Unable to catch her balance, she crashed into a solid wall of muscle. The man’s arms caught her in a warm embrace that sent tingles across her body.

“Are you okay?” he asked, setting her on her feet.

“Yes,” she breathed out, reaching to take out her earbuds.

“I’m sorry to startle you, but I had to say hello,” he explained and Myra blinked. Why was Rob Zephyr talking to her? He was wearing black workout shorts and a white tank top. His hair up in a bun at the back of his head.

“Why?” she asked and realized his hands were still on her waist.

“My bear and I have wanted to meet you for a while now. I saw you at a Mate Me event and here at the gym,” he told her, and her lynx purred. Mate! His chest rumbled in response and they stared at each other in surprise.

“Oh,” she whispered, and he finally released her.

“I’m Rob Zephyr.” He held out a hand.

“Myra Juleston,” she replied, shaking his hand.

“You wouldn’t be Miss Myra the librarian?” he asked, rubbing his thumb across her hand.

“Your son and I have struck up a friendship these past two weeks. Your sister-in-law Ellie brought him by a couple of times. Today we read some of the second Harry Potter book,” she shared.

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