The Right to a Bear's Arms (A BBW Shifter Romance) (Wolf Rock Shifters)

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Table of Contents

Introduction

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

 

 

 

Introduction

 

 

The
tall, elegant woman known as Annette Barber walked into a bank in the town of Terrence on a busy weekday afternoon, her sleek black hair and large sunglasses giving her an air of quiet mystery. Aside from a glance by the occasional man out running errands and casually interested in attractive women, she remained mostly unnoticed by the locals going about their daily routines. Her flowing dress was cinched at the waist, her lean form evident under the waves of fabric. Over her shoulder was a canvas satchel which contained nothing but some photo identification and a bank card.

After sizing up the bank’s employees, she
approached the friendliest-looking teller that she saw, a broad, white-toothed smile plastered on her own face. Within minutes she had extracted every cent from an account for which she supplied all necessary paperwork and identification to prove that she was in fact the woman she claimed to be, a woman whose name she’d chosen only a year earlier.

The bag she carried
as she left the building was suddenly more valuable by far than anything she’d ever owned. As she walked out of the bank, she found herself peering around at passersby, fearful that they would know what she carried. But all seemed fine. No one, she told herself, was out to get her. No one cared where she went. Except for one man, and he wouldn’t be walking down Main Street anytime soon, if ever again. She was free now.

A few blocks
away, the town’s border greeted her and miles of dense woods began. It was there, concealed among the trees, that she removed her dress and stuffed it into the bag. Her shoes and Annette Barber’s identification were left under a pile of fallen leaves.

 

No one saw the black panther that slipped away, leaving the town and its residents behind forever.

 

 

One

 

“Bye, Mom. And don’t worry. I won’t end up dead in a ditch,” said
Colson, giving the plump woman before him a hug before getting into his immaculate red pickup truck, his luggage on the passenger seat next to him.

“Don’t forget to call every week,” she said, “and make sure your cousin pays you properly.”

“I will,” he said, grinning. His mother always treated him as though he was still six years old and, while part of him enjoyed it, he always wished he could remind her that he had grown into rather a strong, independent young man. At six-foot-four, Colson found that there was little in the world that threatened him. Add to that the fact that he was a bear shifter and he enjoyed a life mostly devoid of conflict.

Mostly.

He took off down the road, driving slowly to appease his mother until he was out of sight, and then accelerated to the maximum speed he could sustain without guaranteeing himself a pricey speeding ticket. The truck was Colson’s pride and joy, with its powerful engine and enough upgrades to satisfy any man. It had cost him all his savings and paying for anything outside of gas, food, and possibly the odd beer, wasn’t advisable. So obeying traffic laws seemed like a decent plan, albeit a boring one.

The flat
landscape of his home state looked more beautiful than usual under the rising sun, but it was the distant mountains that Colson was looking forward to. It had been years since he’d seen them and he’d always felt the most at home among the rocky peaks. He wondered if this had to do with the bear in him, but he knew the answer perfectly well: of course it did. It was his inner animal that craved the outdoors; the smells, the ice cold creeks. And even on the odd occasions when he found himself enjoying a fight, it was his bear that dictated his actions and that gave him strength.

Colson
drove for several hours, cranking out old-school albums by groups that sang about traveling and being wild, young and free. These were his ideas of the perfect shifter anthems; representations of the dichotomy between animal and human, freedom and duty.

T
he music churned out through the speakers which had been worth every penny he’d paid for them, and he told himself that life couldn’t get much sweeter than this. A solitary ride to begin a new life in a beautiful locale. A solitary life, of course. But he could deal with that later.

 

***

 

Zoe’s breathing grew deep and controlled as she emerged from the woods after her lengthy run. She wrapped the dress’s flowing fabric around her and tied the long belt at her waist, which was now significantly softer and thicker around than it had been a few hours earlier. Regaining her balance after her spring on four paws, she stumbled across the road towards the bar which she’d only spotted a few minutes before, looking back towards the woods for any signs of a pursuer. If she had one, she knew that he’d in all likelihood be far behind her, hunting a taller, thinner woman with black hair. Only the dress she wore, which was a non-descript neutral blue, would be likely to draw any comparisons.

But
no one would mistake the woman who’d been conducting business at a bank in a town miles away for the curvaceous redhead who was now about to enter a seedy bar, presumably simply looking for an afternoon beer.

Even her eyes had changed colour, from a rich chocolate brown to
a sort of pale green. Her entire face was now a different shape than it had been; less lean and long, although it was still angular, and striking in its way. Her nose was small and delicate, her cheekbones high, and her upper and lower lips protruded in a manner which made her look slightly pouty. When she smiled, though, she became approachable.

The bar
was called “O’Flanaghan’s,” although a few errant, missing letters made it look more like “O’Fanaan’s.” It sat in what seemed like the middle of nowhere along a long stretch of country road. No other buildings were in sight in either direction. It seemed like a perfectly stupid location for a drinking establishment, Zoe thought. One could only reach it by driving, which seemed inadvisable at best, or return home by stumbling along for miles in a drunken stupor since taxis were non-existent in this part of the country. But the dozen or so cars in the lot indicated that the clients were of the first sort: slightly irresponsible drivers who were no doubt escaping from some aspect of their mundane lives to spend a few sad hours in an establishment that smelled of liquor and air fresheners.

It would be the perfect spot to look f
or help from a lonely man. Those were always the easiest to manipulate, after all.

The dark o
f the room hit Zoe as she pulled the building’s door open, her pupils dilating as they attempted to adjust quickly to the change in light. The sound of men talking and pool balls colliding met her ears before she could focus visually on the scene before her.

She stepped barefoot
towards the bartender when she could make him out to her left. Carefully she extracted a ten-dollar bill from her satchel, hoping the man serving drinks wouldn’t notice the large wad of cash in the bag next to the identification which would accompany her through the next phase of her life, or her lack of shoes, for that matter.

“A beer, please,” she said, smoothing her hair as she sat
down on a tall stool, taking in the room and its inhabitants.

The bartender, a middle-aged man with tattooed arm
s and laugh lines, thrust a bottle at her. It was a generic brand that an old high school friend who spoke French used to call “pisse de cheval,” or “horse urine.” This was an accurate name for the stuff.

“Here you go, sweetheart.
This one’s on the house. You look like you’ve been through the wars.”

Zoe smi
led at him.

“I suppose I have, in
a manner of speaking,” she said. “Thanks for the beer.”

With that, she got up and walked away, having no intention or desire to make friends.
She was a good actress, and had a way of making people trust her as she had with the friendly bank teller, who’d asked no questions before handing her thousands of dollars. But she knew that it would be a bad idea to engage in conversation with a barkeep who could identify her to anyone asking questions later.

As for friendship, Zoe had resolved to provide her own to
no one, but she wanted above all to seem non-threatening and normal, though she was anything but.

She’d known, as the tall raven-haired beauty
called Annette, that she was an attractive woman; young, vital, intelligent. Now, in the body of the voluptuous redhead which was her own natural state, she felt less threatening to the male species. Men wouldn’t eye her as a sexual object, but perhaps more as a potential friend or sister.

This
, she thought, was perfect; the last thing she wanted was to be hit on. And yet she knew perfectly well that, model body or no, she could flirt with and flatter a man to get what she wanted. That, she hoped, included a ride to somewhere far away from this place.

Grasping the
beer in her right hand, she made her way to a table in a dark corner, making sure to give herself a view of the door and the room at once. Her only goal was to find her potential ally as quickly as possible, and with his help, to get as far away from what had been her home as she could. For that she’d need wheels.

Two
rough-looking men were playing pool several feet from her table, and the abundance of empty bottles next to them indicated that they’d been at it for some time. Zoe assessed them rapidly: they would each be too drunk to be a useful driver, but on the positive side neither would register her presence, and indeed neither seemed to care about much aside from their current, sloppy game.

Another man sat at the far end of the bar, looking half-asleep,
bedraggled and dirty. Still another, younger man and what appeared to be his strung-out girlfriend occupied a table about fifteen feet from the pool players, seemingly in the midst of a quiet argument.

As Zoe’s eyes wandered and took
in the other customers, she heard the two pool players begin to raise their voices.

“You moved
the fucking cue ball again, ash-hole. You can’t do that,” said the first, the beer causing a newfound speech impediment which would no doubt clear up by morning, if he made it home in one piece.

“No, I didn’t. You’re making shit up now because you’re sick of me taking all your cash.”

“I’m shick you your crap is what I’m shick of,” said number one, a middle-aged man with sweat stains under his arms, as he lunged at his friend, who could have been his brother for all the physical similarities.

As the awkward figh
t broke out, both men staggered around, taking swings at one another. Zoe smiled to herself, thinking how real-life fights always looked so different from the clean, crisp ones you saw in movies where a fist hitting a face sounded like the tidy ring of two pool balls colliding. In reality, it was a lot of soft-sounding flesh hitting other flab, more like a slapping brawl than anything else, and two drunks made for an amusing choreography of clumsiness.

The two pool players threw their punches, half of which seemed to miss, just as a
third man emerged from the corridor that housed the washrooms. Unlike the other two, he looked sober, young and strong.

Not to mention incredibly sexy.

That, thought Zoe, was unfortunate.

A tight white t-shirt stretched across his muscled chest, revealing broad shoulders and
pecs that begged to be pawed. What a creature he was.

“Sober and strong
,” thought Zoe, wondering how to get him over to her table. “He’ll do.”

But just as Mr. Sexy
-pecs walked towards the bar, his eyes caught sight of her. He seemed for a moment to focus entirely on her face and as he did so, one of the fighters swung and missed his opponent, landing a blow directly in the t-shirt-wearing young man’s stomach. This didn’t go over particularly well, in spite of the fact that it was no doubt weakened by the excess alcohol in the fighter’s bloodstream.

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