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A billionaire bear shifter longing for his forbidden love. A brilliant inventor, unable to control her temper. When these shifters from warring families fall for each other, will the feud tear them apart?Billionaire architect Cabe Gabel has something missing in his celebrity-studded lifestyle. When he returns to his hometown to cheer on his nephew in the Christmas Shifter Games, Cabe comes face-to-face with his childhood friend and first love, Megan McPhee. The problem: Megan’s family has been at war with the Gabels for generations. Can Cabe defy his family’s heritage for his lost love?Megan McPhee has a thriving business and a loving family, but she never forgot her first love, Cabe Gabel. When she sees him again, she vows not to let this second chance pass them by. But when their families' past threatens the couple's rekindled love, will Megan’s temper get in the way of what she truly wants? Christmas with the Bear is a standalone paranormal romance novella in the “Bear Shifter Games” series, set in a contemporary world filled with unexpected wonders, magic, and suspense. If you like steamy romance, muscle-bound shifters, and Christmas magic, you’ll love AJ Tipton’s breathtaking book.Buy Christmas with the Bear to get in the holiday spirit today!
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Copyright © AJ Tipton 2015 The right of AJ Tipton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (or other similar law, depending on your country). All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author, except in cases of brief quotations embodied in reviews or articles. It may not be edited, amended, lent, resold, hired out, distributed or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s written permission. Permission can be obtained from email@example.com
This book is for sale to adult audiences only. It contains substantial sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which may be considered offensive by some readers.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and incidents appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is purely coincidental.
All sexually active characters in this work are 18 years of age or older.
Cover art photos provided by BigStock.com, Morgue Files, Flickr.com, and Upsplash.com.
Created with Vellum
With each step towards his childhood home, Cabe’s stress headache increased in intensity. He juggled the grocery bags in his hands, each step treacherous on the ice-covered sidewalks. Cabe sighed. Neighbors called out to him from their front stoops as they shoveled freshly-fallen snow and he worked hard to keep a friendly smile fixed on his lips.
It’s good to be home, he reminded himself.
Changes to the neighborhood since he was last home kept drawing his eye. The Andersons had finally taken down the tree which had threatened to flatten their house. A family of otter shifters had moved into the old Beaker house, and installed a pond in their front yard. Three otter children slid and chased each other across the pond’s frozen surface, their claws clicking against the ice. They stopped and waved tiny paws at him as Cabe passed, and he nearly dropped his groceries when he automatically raised his hand to wave back at their cuteness. They laughed and scampered away, already forgetting him.
Cabe usually didn’t make the long trip home for the holidays from California, but this year was different. He’d left in the middle of designing an interconnected system of treehouses for a bear shifter named Sterling Rainbow, a ridiculously wealthy pop star. It just wasn’t coming together the way Cabe had hoped. There was something missing, something in the design that made the elaborate, million-dollar treehouse look like a toy rather than the peaceful sanctuary Cabe had originally envisioned. All of his recent projects felt the same: lacking inspiration, lacking passion. What happened to me? When he was a kid, he'd been a fountain of new ideas, and had cared so deeply about his work and everyone around him.
Perhaps too much, he thought, remembering his best friend and major crush, Megan McPhee. He looked around, half-hoping, half-fearing he would run into her in these familiar streets. Everywhere he looked he saw memories of her: Megan climbing the Anderson’s tree, Megan's blond hair streaming behind her as she raced him down the street; Megan's sad, closed face when he said good bye to her for the last time.
Focus. If I'm going to find inspiration for a dream house, it's going to be here, he thought, clutching the groceries closer to his chest.
He eyed the buttresses along the sides of the mini-castle owned by the Miller skunk shifter family, the tips of the building covered in snow, and tilted his head.
Maybe if I incorporated the gothic style…
“Cabe?” His brother, Emile, poked his head out of the house on the far side of the block, yelling down the street. “Cabe! Where are those eggs?”
Cabe squared his shoulders. His design problems were just going to have to wait.
“Coming!” he yelled down the street.
He could feel Emile’s scowl from six houses down, and he picked up the pace. If his brother didn’t get these groceries soon, he feared Emile's shouts might shake the house to kindling.
I guess Grandpa's not home, Cabe thought. Grandpa Frank Gabel would never allow Emile to scream out the front door like that. Frank's signature growl could make everyone in a two block radius stop their misbehavior on a dime. He's probably out at the gym, or out stalking the McPhee family, Cabe thought with a sinking feeling in his chest.
Frank had lost his eye in an all-out brawl with Carl McPhee, Megan's grandfather and the patriarch of the McPhee family, the Gabel family's long-time rival. Ever since that incident, Frank was obsessed with staying in strong fighting shape for whenever those "lying, black-hearted McPhees" ever started trouble again. The whole thing just made Cabe tired.
"Walk faster!" Emile bellowed from down the street.
"I'm coming, you nutbar," Cabe said in a low voice he knew his brother wouldn't hear from so far away.
By the time Cabe kicked open the door and entered the living room, the house where his brother’s family lived with Cabe and Emile's parents was already in disarray. Papers from Emile’s latest legal case were still scattered across the living room floor from an earlier tantrum. Pillows were strewn down the hallway, and his parents' yoga mats and accessories were in the middle of the dining room. Cabe found his nephew, Ralph, sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor on top of a towel, stirring a powdery mixture that had splattered equal parts onto him, on top of the towel, and into the bowl in his lap. The eight-year old's focus was entirely on the task at hand rather than the scene echoing from the living room.
Cabe’s parents, Joyce and Allen, lay opposite each other on the sofa, legs draped over each other’s laps as their heads lounged against piles of frilly pillows. Emile stood over them, his fingers halfway shifted into bear claws.
“What do you mean you’re both vegan this week? I told you I was making quiche for lunch. Quiche has eggs. Eggs!” Emile's claws clenched and unclenched and he kicked at the bottom of the coffee table. It was made of stone and didn’t budge, which, Cabe thought, was a very good thing, as tiny dents along the side showed where Emile had attacked it before.
Joyce waved a hand vaguely in Emile’s direction. “It’s all right, honey, we’ll just eat whatever.”
“No! If you’re vegan, you can’t just eat whatever. Or are you not vegan?” Emile’s voice rose to a dangerous pitch.
Allen closed his eyes and settled deeper into the couch, putting his hands behind his head and letting out a long sigh. “Yes, we’re vegan. You should have seen this documentary on the telly last night about how they treat those chickens. Just awful stuff.”
The telly? Cabe rolled his eyes. They must be marathoning British TV again. Cabe took the groceries into the kitchen, sliding food into the refrigerator and cabinets, knowing but not caring that Emile would insist he put the items in ‘the wrong place’. Cabe had long ago given up on trying to keep Emile happy, or keeping track of his parents’ latest whims.
Once Cabe’s hands were empty, he crouched down on the kitchen floor next to Ralph, giving the boy’s shoulders a little squeeze.
“What have you got there?” Cabe asked the boy.
Emile’s voice was getting louder from the living room. Cabe wanted to cover Ralph’s ears so that the kid wouldn’t hear, but the kid didn’t seem fazed by it.
“I’m cooking.” Ralph stirred the mixture in his lap. “Dad says I’m in charge of the crust for the quiche.” He stirred so enthusiastically, a small cloud of flour shot up from the bowl.
Cabe smiled. "That's awesome, kid." Cabe loved how Ralph was so unlike the rich clients Cabe worked with every day: Ralph never hid how much he adored something. Cabe had spoken to his nephew over Skype a bunch of times, but it was different to be with him in person.
“This is going to be the best quiche ever. When I grow up, I’m going to be a chef! Or an astronaut.” Ralph waved the spoon in the air like a baton. “Or...a space chef! Astronauts need food, don’t they?”
“They do.” Cabe didn’t have the heart to tell Ralph that his culinary efforts that morning may be wasted. On the other hand, Cabe figured his parents were more likely to give up being vegan before Emile would let go of a meal plan.
“Why don’t you just use the stand mixer? It’s faster,” Cabe said, one eye on the living room. His parents hadn’t moved from their comfortable positions on the couch, but Emile was beginning to pace so quickly he was on the verge of starting to jog. Cabe gave his brother two minutes, top, before he started throwing more pillows.
Ralph shook his head. “No! Chef Fromage on TV says that stirring with a fork helps add fluffiness to the crust. When you use the mixer, it loses character.”
It took all Cabe’s effort not to laugh at the serious expression on Ralph’s tiny face. Maybe he’ll be a space chef after all, Cabe thought.
Cabe ruffled Ralph’s hair as he got to his feet. “You would know better than me,” he said.
In the living room, Emile had finally reached screaming pitch. “How could you not tell me you were changing your dietary habits? I moved in here to take care of you, and this is how you repay me? By withholding necessary information? How am I supposed to make sure that you don’t kill yourselves if you don’t tell me everything that’s going on?”
Joyce's forehead creased. “Son, you can live wherever you want. So long as you’re happy.”
Cabe took a step back, eyeing his brother. The last time their mother used that tone with him in high school, Emile threw the cordless phone against the wall.
“Ugh!” Emile cried. “You’re impossible! You’re all impossible!” He made a sweeping gesture which seemed to encompass his lounging parents, the living room, Cabe, his son, and the universe in general. Cabe debated stepping in, but long experience from childhood had shown him that trying to get in the middle of his family’s clashes never ended well.
“What dulcet tones do I hear?” a rich voice said from the top of the stairs leading toward the second-floor bedrooms. Cabe let out a sigh of relief. Thank the gods, the expert has arrived.
Emile turned toward his husband, Jeff’s, voice, and pointed both hands at his lounging parents. “Them! They’re vegans now! Vegans!”
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