Eventide of the Bear

By: Cherise Sinclair

Life had cut that trail short.

In the main room of the tavern, females were scattered here and there, each surrounded by a group of males vying for attention.

Ben tried to pull away. “It was—”

“You were wonderful.” Sarah rubbed her breasts against his arm and clung tighter. “Now that I’m living in Cold Creek, I hope to see more of you.”

Did he act as if his brain was located in his dick? She didn’t like him any more than he did her. “I’m afraid I’m pretty busy.”

“Oh. Fine.” Pouting, she looked around. “Can you take me over to the healer?”

Of course, Ben thought cynically. The god-touched—cahirs, healers, Cosantirs, and blade-mages—were popular with the females. Vicki, a werecat who’d been born human, labeled status-hunting females as guppies. No, groupies. “Sure thing.”

Nodding at friends, he escorted her across the room to Donal who, as usual, had several females vying for his attention, all of whom had males trying for theirs.

Gathering nights were a type of sexual war.

“Donal, this is Sarah.”

She gave the healer a blinding smile. Her cheeks were reddening as her arousal rose again.

Donal nodded to her, then glanced at Ben, expecting more.

Ben shrugged. By Herne’s antlers, he had nothing more to say. The female took, didn’t give, the mating had been empty. Her only interest was in taking down a high-status male.

Donal’s head tilted slightly before he nodded, getting all that Ben hadn’t said. The healer was no fool. He motioned to the bar. “The Cosantir’s looking for you, Ben.”

“Donal, it’s good to meet you.” Sarah moved closer.

“And you.” With a smile, the healer put his arm around another female’s waist. “Excuse us, please.” He moved toward the stairs with his choice.

Hissing under her breath, Sarah latched onto Ben’s arm again.

Demon-guts, now who could he dump her on? He scanned for prospects. Good thing he was taller than everyone in the room. He spotted Wesley, a good-looking cat shifter—and a coveted cahir—and escorted her to him.

“Hey, Wesley, this is Sarah. Sarah, Wesley is a cahir from Canada. He’s here to study killing hellhounds with Shay and Zeb.”

“Oooo, hellhounds. You’re so brave,” she cooed and ran her hand up the young cahir’s arm.

Wesley’s chest expanded. He tossed Ben a superior look as if he’d won a fight for the brunette rather than having her dumped in his lap.

Cubs. Perhaps in a few more years, the young, overly-testosteroned male wouldn’t see everything as a competition.

Feeling more weary than amorous, Ben threaded his way through the crowd to the bar. The sexual dance was all fine and well, but he’d already had three females, and face it, as a male grew older, the obsessive lusts of a full moon diminished.

Calum was behind his bar, as usual. Although lifemated, the guardian of the North Cascades Territory still monitored the Gatherings. This male was more protective and conscientious than any Cosantir Ben’d met in his extensive early travels.

“A beer?” Calum was already drawing a glass.

“Thank you.” Ben settled himself on a bar stool, content to wait. Building a Guinness couldn’t be hurried. “Have you need of me, Cosantir?”

“Aye.” Calum set the beer in front of Ben. Almost as tall as a cahir, leanly muscled, black haired, the Cosantir had level gray eyes that would flash to black with the power of the God. “A bear is raiding the human campgrounds located just inside the territory border.”

“Is it our concern? The humans have their police—forest rangers or such—to deal with animals.”

“They do. Apparently, this bear breaks into bear-proof containers and opens car doors.”

“Interesting.” Ben watched the dark beer’s foam dissolve. Many bear-proof containers required manipulating a key-like device. No matter how clever, a bear didn’t have fingers. But Calum wouldn’t bother him if a human vagrant was the culprit. “You think we have a feral shifter?”

Calum shook his head. “I can tell there is a shifter in the area, but a feral would eat the humans, not their food. It’ll take some time to get there. Can you accompany me after moonset?”

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