Cherished by a Bear (Mate Me book 5)

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Rob couldn’t believe it when his bear demanded he introduced himself to the raven-haired, green eyes beauty. Several times he’d see her at the gym every time his bear urged him to talk to her. It was only when she fell into his arms did he know they were mates. What shocked him more was she was a shifter too, he heard her purr. Adam had been right, the librarian was his mate.

“He mentioned you the day I found out he would not swim class,” he replied.

“I’m glad he shared his fears with you about the pool,” she said stepping back on the treadmill. It was then he realized he’d interrupted her workout. Quickly he went onto the treadmill next to her. With Marcus he focused on weight lifting, it helped keep his restless bear happy.

“His fears?” he asked, turning on the treadmill. He took a minute to admire her curvy body running before joining her.

“He told me he was afraid of the pool and only agreed to go to swim class because he thought you would stay,” she explained, her breath huffing as she spoke.

“Ah yes,” he lied, wondering why Adam hadn’t been honest with him. Myra gave him a sidelong glance and continued to run.

“Would you like to go to dinner with me?” Rob asked her, mesmerized by her graceful movements.

“I don’t know,” she replied, and his heart clenched.

“How come?” he wanted to know. If his bear was yelling mate, her animal had to be saying the same thing.

“Some things have come up with my brother. I don’t want it to spill over into my life,” she explained. Instantly he wanted to help.

“If you need protection, my brother Marcus runs Zephyr Protection.” He did not like the sadness in her eyes.

“Nothing like that, just my brother being stupid. He and I have dinner once a week, halfway between our apartments. He works for the military as a scientist in D.C.” Rob could smell her concern for her brother. Whatever her brother was up to was worrying her.

“Does he need help?”

“I don’t know, to be honest. I called him today and no answer,” she replied.

“I can see how that is concerning. If I don’t answer or call back my mother within the same day she worries,” he shared. She gave him a sweet smile, which melted his heart.

“Are you sure I can’t take you to dinner? Help you get your mind off your brother?” he offered.

“No thanks. I wouldn’t be good company worrying about him. Maybe after I hear from him we can have that date?” she asked, and he felt relief rush through his body. She wasn’t telling him no, just not yet.

“Then would you mind a gym buddy?” he countered, wanting to be around her even if he couldn’t get a date yet.

“I’d like that,” she answered with a smile. He smiled back and let the conversation fall as they jogged. As they ran he tried to place her scent. He hadn’t been around many other shifters. His small Texas town had gorillas, bears, wolves, and tigers. Since coming to White Valley he’d met dragons, jaguars, lions, cheetahs, and mountain lions. Her shifter was unfamiliar to him.

After six miles he saw her slow down and he followed suit.

“Done?” he asked, and she nodded.

“I’ll shift later and let my animal run. The treadmill is to keep her happy until dark,” she explained, and he gave her a knowing smile.

“Marcus and I shift into our bears and explore the woods behind his house. The national park offers us a sense of privacy, town does not,” he shared hoping she’d tell him which animal she was.

“That is lucky. I would love a home near a forested area. I can only afford an apartment near the library on my salary.” He could hear the disappointment in her voice.

“I’m trying to find a house for Adam and myself for that very reason. He will shift in a few years and we will need the space,” he told her, grabbing his sweat towel and wiping his face.

“I remember my first shift. All I wanted to do was run. We lived in a middle-class subdivision with no trees or woods nearby.” He saw the haunted look in her eyes and wondered what put it there.

“Mine was a bit wild. My twin brother Matt and I shifted at the same time. His bear tried to attack me and our mom had to shift and stop him,” he shared and she stared at him in surprise.

“That must have been scary,” she commented, patting his arm. His bear rumbled his pleasure.

“Not really. It was funny to see her hand his ass to him.” Rob laughed at the memory.

“Must have been nice having a mom protect you. Are you the older or younger twin?” she asked, he was concerned with her comment but let it go.

“I’m the younger by three minutes,” he answered, sipping out of his water bottle.

“Is your brother older or younger?” he asked, wanting to know her before she disappeared.

“He is five years older than me at thirty-four.”

“So that makes you twenty-nine,” he commented. She nodded and refilled her water bottle.

“How old are you?” she asked, walking toward the gym door. He panicked, seeing her trying to leave.

“Can we exchange numbers before you go? I’ll respect you for wanting space, but I’d like to text back and forth,” he propositioned, not wanting her to disappear on him.

“Okay, but only if you tell me how old you are,” she countered, and he laughed when she winked.

“Deal.” He handed her his phone, and she did the same. He typed in his contact information, adding his email.

“I’m thirty-two, I’ll be thirty-three on Christmas,” he shared, and she laughed.

“That must have sucked as a child and you had to share with your brother,” she commented. His breath caught at the sound of her soft laugh.

“I can’t say I enjoyed it, but my mom tried to separate our birthday from Christmas,” he explained.

“That is sweet of your mom. My birthday is in July,” she shared, and he immediately imagined throwing her a surprise party. The tone she used when speaking of her past was sad and a little fearful.

“That is next week,” he commented, trying to get her to reveal the date.

“I’m on the sixteenth, no special day,” she answered, and he smirked.

“Lucky you,” he murmured and paused when she stopped at a small four-door sedan.

“Let me know when you are free and I’ll take you out.” He bent down and placed a kiss on her lips. A jolt of electricity zipped through his body. Rob looked down and saw her eyes clouded over. Her animal purred and his bear rumbled in response.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist,” he told her and saw her lips spread into a gentle smile.

“I liked it,” she admitted, and he bent his head to kiss her again. This time she leaned into the kiss and he wrapped his arms around her waist. She was tall for a woman, he had to guess she was close to five feet ten inches. Her animal’s purr rumbled hard against his chest, his bear returning the sound.

“My bear likes you,” he told her when they parted.

“My lynx says the same,” Myra admitted, and he relaxed. It was uncommon but not unheard of for two different shifter types to be mates.

“You’re a lynx, That’s why I couldn’t place your scent,” he commented.

“I’m the only one in the area. Thanks for being my workout partner, but I need to head home for dinner,” she replied, and he frowned.

“Okay. let me know if you need help with your brother. I’ll text you once Adam goes to bed,” he answered and bent to place a gentle kiss on her lips.

“I look forward to talking to you tonight.” She got into her car and drove away. Rob took a moment to reflect on Adam being right about the librarian. He climbed into his car and drove to a realtor’s office. He wanted to start house hunting now that he’d met his mate. An hour later he left the office with a list of things he needed to do to start house hunting.

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