SHIFTER: Holiday Novella

Welcome to December! So excited for the Holidays this year. I have a new shifter story coming out and I hope you will enjoy the bittersweet nature of it. It will be available in KINDLE UNLIMITED (KU). The first new story that I’ve put in KU in over a year. I’ll have the AMAZON link within the next week..

SHIFTERHolidaBookCover1

DESCRIPTION:

Caitlin and Gabe have each been broken in the last year.

For curvy Caitlin, it was her heart when her loving spouse passed on from a terminal illness. Already a widow and only twenty-three years old. Seeking a way to mourn privately, she decides to move away and spend a year elsewhere, seeking peace and quiet, so she can recover. Anticipating she will likely never find a new mate.

Gabe has just finally gotten the green-light from his doctor. Since his car accident from a year ago, resulting in a near-paralyzing injury and damn near killing his inner bear, he’s worked hard and tirelessly to recover physically. Now that he has the okay to pursue his need for sexual intimacy and relations, he is eager and hungry to find a new lover.

Their worlds connect and each has to better understand the other’s recent challenges they’ve gone through, before their own love can take bloom.


CHAPTER ONE

.: CAITLIN :.

I’d had enough. I slammed down on a table with my fist, managing to capture everyone’s attention in my dearly-departed, Father’s bar.

My inner bear was downright cranky.

Grumpy.

Had been gruff all day long.

“We’re closed! We did last call an hour ago. Go home!” I yelled, my patience getting the best of me. I needed this day to end, and soon.

A few of our remaining patrons grumbled and mumbled at me. The usual bullshit. But, they started to rise from their seats. None wanted to cause a change, a shift, knowing damned well I would, if needed be.

Sam stepped out from behind the bar counter. “Come on ladies and gents, it’s been a long day for the boss-lady. Time to head home to your spouses and beds,” he said, cajoling them out of the bar. Knowing full well that half the town had been at my husband’s memorial earlier that day.

Sam, my bouncer-slash-bartender had the physique of an ox but the kindly nature of a koala bear. He had a way with the drunk, miserly and disorderly, thankfully.

A few moments later, the place was cleared out.

I sighed, taking a deep breath and leaning against the counter. I pushed my hand through my long, strawberry-blonde curls and grabbed a light green bandana. I used it to capture my hair and pull it back from my face. With the AC broken again and another record hot day, I was sweaty, tired, and miserable. Pale-skinned and freckled, warmer weather had always been hard on me. Anything over eighty-five degrees was uncomfortable for me and my plump, curvy physique.

“Why don’t you head home boss. I’ve got this.” Sam said as he began to load up the dishwasher.

“Nawh, ain’t fair. Thanks though, Sam,” I said.

“You sure?” He asked, a concerned look on his face.

I paused, noticing his concern. “Do I really seem that bad?” I asked, an edge of weariness in my voice.

“It ain’t my place to say so, but you need to take a day or two off for yourself. Everyone in town knows you have suffered a loss. It’s only normal to need time. Time to grieve…” He said softly and gently, compassion burgeoning in his voice.

I sighed, felt the tears prickling behind my eyes, trying to push their way out. “Truth is, work is what’s keeping me sane right about now. I just can’t think about it Sam. Alright? I just can’t…” My voice trailed off as I struggled to maintain my composure and not break down in front of my favorite and best employee.

Sam saw the shimmering tears in my eyes. He looked away, not wanting to draw attention that he’d noticed. I was a proud woman, and I hated appearing weak to others. He knew this very well about me. Just like my Father, rest his soul.

I took off my cotton top and wrapped it around my waist. All I wore now was a much-loved pair of work jeans that hugged my hips and ass perfectly, and a soft chemise halter-top that allowed my skin to breath in the hot air.

I quickly busied myself cleaning, sweeping and mopping. An hour later, the place would be closed and it would be nearing three thirty am. I’d walk out to my truck with Sam, who escorted me every work-night to ensure my safety and he’d dutifully wait until I pulled out of the parking lot. I’d have a smoke while my truck idled and warmed up.

I would turn on the truck’s CD player and listen, again to his favorite song. Then I’d head home, taking the long way. Just like that song. The drive would help me work through facing the awful emptiness of my apartment before I arrived.

Some nights, I’d considered just sleeping on the cot in the backroom of the bar. Especially tonight. The night of his memorial. I’d gone to it and then straight to work, afterwards.

Much to everyone’s surprise. Even my own.

Numb didn’t even begin to explain how I felt. I’d been grieving his death for a year now. Ever since the day he was diagnosed. Inoperable brain cancer.

It was a shame too. One of the smartest, most intelligent men I’d ever known. I’d never understand what it was that he saw in me. But he had. From the day we had met, we’d been near inseparable. Right up to the bitter end.

Until today. His body now a pile of ash in an urn.

Five years we’d been together before he got ill.

That’s what I got for having a human mate.

Others had warned me, but I’d been young and completely in love. I had no regrets. Was grateful I’d gotten to love him and be loved by him.

I sighed and peered out at the starry night. No clouds. The stars twinkled and the moon was nearing full. Somehow, it made me feel a bit better to know he was up there now. Up there with the stars. There was some comfort in knowing he no longer suffered.

Twenty-three years old and already a widow.

And now, a somewhat wealthy one too. His life insurance policy had been a surprise. He’d bought the most coverage he could since his employer had great benefits. Now that I was set for life, financially at least, I was thinking about selling my Father’s bar and moving. Or maybe I’d just close it up in case I ever wanted to return? Or ask Sam if he wanted to manage it in my absence?

Going somewhere. Somewhere far from here. Somewhere I could take my time to mourn and heal, privately.

CHAPTER TWO

.: GABE :.

Several months later…

I lunged forward, just a few more stomach crunches and I’d be done. My personal trainer eyed me, barking out encouragement as I struggled to finish. It was the week of Thanksgiving and I wanted to get in some extra exercise to counter all the delicious food over the upcoming weekend.

“Man up, Gabe! Even my biggest lady clients can complete sets faster than you!” Tina yelled, hovering nearby, monitoring her other client.

I cursed under my breath but secretly loved my strict and sassy trainer. She’d been in the military and it showed. The woman was a drill sergeant. Merciless. Hence why I’d hired her. My bear didn’t liker her so much. I did…

She was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I kept my eyes centered on the arrangement of holiday decorations that had gone up recently, thinking to myself with each lunge how I couldn’t believe it was that time of year again. It’d come up so quick.

Or had it?

In some ways, it had. In other ways, not so much.

Done with the sets, I lay there, panting, dribbling in sweat and felt my heart racing. It was good to be back in the swing of things. I’d forgotten how good a great workout made me feel.

It’d been a year since the car accident. A year since the surgery. A year of physical therapy and training. Each passing day, I got better and better. Back to my former self. A miracle, considering I’d almost died and if it hadn’t been for the very skillful hands of a neurosurgeon, I’d be paralyzed too.

Don’t think backwards, keep moving forward, my inner bear grumbled. Keeping me focused. He’d damn well near died and left me for good from the injury.

I sat up and reached for my water bottle. Glancing around the gym, my gaze rested on the same curvy body I’d been admiring from afar. I’d noticed her in the last week. Either she was new to the gym or new to the area. Perhaps both.

Either way, I admired her feminine, voluptuous, curvy frame. Her cascade of strawberry-blonde curls were pulled back in a bun-like ponytail and she was working out hard on an elliptical, her workout gear damp with sweat. Her pretty face flushed red from exertion.

I was working up the courage to meet her and introduce myself, somehow. Now that my worrisome thoughts about my recent physical challenges were subsiding, day after day, while I mended and made a full recovery, my libido was coming back to life. Thank god.

Just walk over and say hello, my bear taunted. I think she’s a shifter…

Be quiet! I snapped back.

It had been a long year of next to no sex. Just me and my hand. Solo-sex. And only once my doctor had okayed the very personal habit. I’d learned an entirely new level of restraint as my need to pump and grind was on pause until my back was strong enough to handle the basic, physiological need of sex.

Tina peered in the direction of my gaze. “She’s cute. Wonder what team she plays on?”

I sighed. “You like to believe everyone plays on your team, don’t you?” I teased.

Tina grinned. “Even when they don’t play on my team full-time, many like to play part-time,” she said, then winked and patted me on the back. “I’m an equal opportunity admirer. Shall we make a bet?”

Although I didn’t usually make a sport of betting on bed-games, I needed a bit of encouragement. I was, in fact, getting back in the game, as it were.

‘Why not? It would be harmless fun?’ my bear taunted.

“Okay, you’re on. My bear agrees.”

“Good, glad he does. One week. We each have one week to make our move,” Tina taunted. “Luckily for me, I get to change clothes in the same dressing room as she does, so get your game on.”

“No fair, no fair…” I said, sighing again.

Just the thought of her stripping out of her damp workout clothes, her skin glistening from sweat, all rosy-pink and flushed…

Before I knew it, I felt that old familiar twinge. My cock coming to life.

I looked away before my awkward state got any worse and caused some embarrassment. Right at the moment, I felt like a fourteen year old having a hard time getting my boner under control. I couldn’t help it though, she was truly sensual and appealing. I loved bigger, curvier women.

Sadly, most of them came to the gym to slenderize away their amazing curves. A personal war and vendetta that the media had made of women’s bodies. It was a shame, all these sexy women not realizing just how many men found them attractive, just the way they were.

One I didn’t encourage or approve of in the least. One that I very much frowned upon, knowing the damage it had done and heartache created, for my own little sister, a beautiful plus-sized woman. Like me, she’d inherited the blue-eyed, dark curls of the Irish. Unlike me, however, she also inherited a buxom frame. One that she’d loathed and hated for most of her adult life.

I sighed out loud. It was time to get in a shower and head out. I couldn’t quite muster up the courage just yet to strike up a conversation with her. Besides, she was still very much in the middle of her workout. I’d wait until I could interact with her when she wasn’t huffing and puffing and sweating.

Any man who wasn’t a Neanderthal knew that a woman liked to have some semblance of composure when being approached by a potential suitor.

 

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