Authors: Sloane Meyers
Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance, #Fiction, #Paranormal, #Polar Bear, #Werebear, #Adult, #Erotic, #Shifter, #Mate, #Sexy, #Forever Love, #Ice Bear Shifters, #Grandmother, #Co-Worker, #Clan, #Girl Next-Door, #Dishonor Wishes, #Appealing, #Supernatural, #Escaping Somewhere, #Life Changes, #Attraction, #Plans, #Chance
James looked up at Alexis, whose eyes were wide as she covered her mouth with her palms. He took one last long, deep breath before continuing.
“Alexis, will you marry me? Will you be my lifemate?” James asked, as he opened the little black box to reveal a large marquise cut diamond. He almost couldn’t bear to look at Alexis’ face for fear that she would be laughing at him. But he held her gaze anyway, telling himself to be brave and own the moment.
She wasn’t laughing. She was crying. Happy tears rolled down her cheeks as she started nodding her head, and James felt a flood of relief and happiness wash over him.
“Yes,” she finally managed to say through her tears. “A thousand times yes!”
James grinned and jumped up to slide the ring onto her finger, then he picked her up and swung her around in his arms.
As he set her back down on the ground and kissed her deeply, the clouds in the sky started sending down large, white snowflakes. The beautiful flurries swirled around the couple against the backdrop of gleaming mountains and fiery-hued leaves. The moment was perfect.
Montana in the fall truly was nothing short of magical.
A few days later, Alexis chewed her fingernail nervously as she sat in the passenger seat next to James. She knew that biting her nails when she felt anxious was a bad habit she needed to kick, but she wasn’t sure how to deal with the flood of emotions filling her right now. She had been over the moon with excitement when James asked her to marry him, but as they drove back to her townhome from the airport, she was beginning to wonder what would happen if his clan didn’t like her. She would be meeting them in just a matter of hours: the plan was to go back to Alexis’ place so she could unpack, do a load of laundry or two and take a shower, and then head out to James’ cabin. Alexis would pack an overnight bag so she could stay there tonight.
She knew enough about shifters to know that the clan members, and particularly the alpha, had to approve any potential lifemate before that person would be formally accepted into the clan. James assured her that his clan was going to love her, but she didn’t know how he could be so sure. She was human, which was already a mark against her. And she didn’t have much to offer the clan. She wasn’t rich, and she didn’t have any special talents of which to speak. She knew how to work hard, which was a big asset. But that was about it. What if they laughed in her face when James introduced her?
Alexis tried to tell herself that she was wasting her time with worrying. James knew her well, and he knew his clan members well. If he felt confident that she would be accepted she should trust him and take his word for it.
Alexis sighed. Easier said than done.
* * *
Alexis’ nailbiting only grew worse as James pulled his car up to the large group of cabins just outside of Glacier Point. Lights twinkled in the windows of almost all of the cabins, but James pulled right in front of a cabin that was fully dark.
“This is it,” he said. “Home sweet home.”
He hopped out and ran around to open Alexis’ door for her. Alexis stepped slowly out of the vehicle, looking around cautiously as though someone might jump out of the shadows at any moment and tell her to go back where she came from.
James sighed and gave her a little push. “Come on. No one here bites.”
Alexis walked mechanically toward the door of the cabin. There was a small front porch, and she quickly hopped up the two steps and waited for James to find his keys. He let her in and flipped on the lights, and she took in the cabin with appreciation, forgetting for a moment to be worried about what his clan members were going to think of her.
The cabin had an open floor plan, and the large front room flowed without interruption from the living room to the dining room and kitchen. James had simple but well-coordinated decorations, mostly in muted shades of gray and yellow. The small kitchen table looked like both it and the four chairs surrounding it had been hand-hewn. A large rug covered the floor of most of the living room, adding a pop of warmth to the room.
“This is so cute,” Alexis said, as she surveyed the simple paintings on the walls.
“Thanks,” James said. “I’m not sure that ‘cute’ was exactly the look I was going for with my bachelor pad, but I’ll take it. It’s better than ‘awful,’ anyway.”
“It was a genuine compliment,” Alexis said, then chuckled. She followed James to the bedrooms. There were three. One was significantly larger than the other two, and had a large walk-in closet as well. The closet was mostly empty, and Alexis grinned over at James when she saw it.
“Looks like you need some help filling this,” she said.
He laughed. “I hope you have a lot of clothes.”
“Not really,” she said. “But I’m sure we can find something useful to do with the space.”
Just as they walked out of the master bedroom to go see the other two bedrooms, a loud knock sounded at the front door.
“James? You’re back?” a deep voice called from the other side of the wood.
James crossed the living room in several long strides and threw the door open.
“Tyler!” James said, pulling a tall, muscular man into a big hug and clapping him on the back several times. “Good to see you, man.”
“Good to see you, too, buddy,” Tyler said, then gestured in Alexis’ direction. “This must be Alexis?”
“Yes!” James said. “This is Alexis. My soon-to-be-lifemate.”
“No shit?” Tyler said, reaching over to shake Alexis’ hand. “You agreed to marry this guy? You must be very brave.”
James rolled his eyes, and Alexis just smiled. “Nice to meet you, Tyler,” she said.
“Nice to meet you, too,” Tyler said. “In all seriousness, I’ve heard great things about you. Welcome to the clan. We’re always excited to have another smiling face around.”
Alexis breathed a sigh of relief as Tyler’s words warmed her heart. She started to relax a little bit for the first time since their flight had landed back in Glacier Point. At least she had one vote of confidence. Tyler’s excited voice broke into her thoughts.
“Dude, have you talked to anyone since you got back?” Tyler asked.
James shook his head. “No, why?”
“Christine had her baby! Three weeks early according to the doctor, but the little bugger is doing great,” Tyler said.
“What?” James said. “Are you serious? I leave for a week and I miss that? Was it a boy or a girl?”
“Boy,” Tyler said, “They named him Grant. He’s adorable, but of course no one is surprised by that, given his parents’ good looks. You want to come see him? Neal said to bring you by as soon as you got back, as long as it wasn’t too late.”
Alexis glanced at her watch. It was only 7 p.m., but it was already pitch black outside. The winter darkness was definitely on its way.
“Alexis?” James asked. “Want to go meet the newest little Northern Lights bear?”
Alexis widened her eyes in surprise. “I would love to, but do you think his parents want a stranger showing up to gawk at their newborn baby?”
James smiled at her. “You’re not a stranger anymore. You’re my future lifemate. You’re one of us, now.”
Alexis smiled shyly. “Okay. If you really think it’s okay.”
Tyler spoke up, adding his opinion. “James is right. Neal and Christine will be excited to meet you. And you’re one of us now.”
Alexis nodded uncertainly, but followed James and Tyler out to the cabin next door. Tyler knocked softly and a voice called from inside for them to come in.
“Look who finally decided to come home,” Tyler said, giving James a playful punch as they walked into the cabin, which had a similar layout to James’ cabin.
Alexis stood back as James gave his alpha a hug. But James didn’t let her hang back for long.
“Neal, this is Alexis. I’ve asked her to be my lifemate—with your permission of course. Alexis, this is my alpha, Neal. Over here on the bed is his lifemate, Christine.”
Neal stepped forward and Alexis stretched out her hand to shake his, but he swatted it away and pulled her into a hug instead. “Nonsense. You’re one of us now. We’re big huggers in this clan. Welcome to the family.”
“Thank you,” Alexis managed to squeak out. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
“Does this mean you approve of my asking her to be my lifemate?” James asked.
“Yes,” Neal said with a smile, then winked at Christine. “We’ll take anyone brave enough to put up with James.”
Tyler laughed loudly at this, and James rolled his eyes.
“What is it, ‘pick on James day’?” James asked as Neal and Christine joined in with Tyler’s laughter.
When they had all regained their composure, Christine called out to Alexis. “Come give me a hug, dear,” she said. “And don’t mind these boys and their silly jokes. They’re always trying to see who can come up with the biggest insults.”
Alexis felt like her heart might explode from happiness and relief as she leaned over the bed to give Christine a hug. “Thanks. It’s very nice to meet you. And congratulations on your new baby.”
“Oh, yes, the baby.” James said. “Where is he? I can’t wait to meet the little guy.”
Neal gestured to a bassinet in the opposite corner of the room. “He’s sleeping for once, thank goodness. Go on and take a peek.”
Alexis followed James and Tyler over to the bassinet, and they all leaned over to look in at the perfect little face of Neal and Christine’s newborn. Grant was sleeping with his lips pursed and half-open, and he made sweet little chortling sounds every now and then.
“He’s so small and perfect,” Alexis said.
“I agree,” James said. “Look at that little angel face. Congratulations, guys.”
Neal and Christine beamed and thanked Alexis and James.
“We should get going and let the new parents rest,” Tyler said. “But be sure to let us know if you guys need anything, okay?”
Neal and Christine both nodded, and then waved their goodbyes, telling Alexis once more how happy they were to meet her.
As soon as they were outside of the cabin, Tyler gave Alexis and James a little push in the opposite direction of James’ cabin.
“Where are we going?” Alexis asked.
“Ryker’s cabin,” Tyler said. “Everyone else is hanging out there. Time for you to meet the rest of the crew.”
Alexis felt another little wave of nervousness roll over her, but she didn’t protest. If the alpha of the clan liked her, then she didn’t have much to worry about. When Tyler opened the door to Ryker’s cabin, she saw she didn’t have anything to worry about, anyway. Just as James had promised, everyone loved her. She truly felt like she had an instant family. The only problem was going to be getting all the names straight.
She met Tyler’s lifemate, Kat and their cub, Alyssa; Ryker and his lifemate, Kenzie, along with their twins, Hope and Calum; Eric and his lifemate Delaney, and their cub Avery; Alan and his lifemate Hannah, and their cub, Elliot; and Seth, the other member of James’ original clan who had survived the Blizzard attack with him.
Every single one of the clan members gave Alexis a giant hug and welcomed her to the clan without reservation. And they all expressed excitement when they learned that James had asked her to be his lifemate.
A few hours later, as Alexis and James walked back to his cabin, he gave her a playful poke in the side.
“Well,” he said, “Was I right or what? I told you everyone was going to love you.”
Alexis smiled over at him. “You were right. And I’m glad you were. But I’m still baffled at how welcoming they all were. I mean, it’s really sweet of them, but they barely know me.”
James gave Alexis’ shoulder a squeeze as they walked up the front steps to his cabin.
“They know good people when they see them. And you’re good people.”
James unlocked the front door of his cabin and stepped aside to let Alexis inside.
“So, our little tour of the cabin got interrupted,” he said, with a joking smile. “I never got a chance to ask you whether you thought you could tolerate the place. What do you think?”
Alexis looked up at him coyly. “It seems decent, but I have to test out one thing before I make a final decision.”
James raised an eyebrow. “Really? What’s that?”
“The master bed,” Alexis said, starting to saunter toward the bedroom. She looked over her shoulder to give James a devious grin, and he matched her with a devious grin of his own.
“Well, we better check it out then,” he said.
Alexis shrieked as he ran toward her and lifted her off the ground, then jumped, launching them both onto the bed with a giant bounce. He growled that sexy, low growl of his as he pulled her in for a kiss.
“Come here, you,” he said, and then covered Alexis’ mouth with his. They kissed passionately, rolling back and forth on the bed in a tangle of limbs and lips, both eventually kicking off their shoes in the process. After several minutes of kissing, Alexis couldn’t hold back any longer and reached to pull off James’ sweater. Not to be outdone, James started pulling her sweater off at the same time, and soon they were both laughing as they tried to unscramble the web of arms and sweaters they had created. As soon as they were free of the sweaters, Alexis reached for the button on James’ jeans. She slid his jeans off, and he grinned over at her as he started unbuttoning her jeans.
“If I have to take mine off, you have to take yours off, too,” he said.
“I guess fair’s fair,” Alexis said. They continued their kissing marathon in their underwear, and Alexis felt the sweet, tingling flutters of pleasure that James’ lips always gave her. When she couldn’t take the anticipation any longer, she reached down and began to pull off his briefs. He matched her move for move again, pulling her panties down and off, and then quickly unclasping and sliding off her bra.
They lay down side by side on the bed for a moment, facing each other and catching their breath. Alexis looked down at James’ large, hard penis, as it stood erect, happily free from the confines of his clothes. She sighed with satisfaction and reached down to stroke it gently, enjoying the stiff, strong feel of his shaft. He moaned slightly and closed his eyes for a moment at her touch, then reached up and stroked her face.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said. “So perfect. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Thank you for accepting me for who I am. You’ve brought joy back into my life when I had just about given up hope of ever being happy again.”