Being a bear shifter wasn’t the easiest thing for a woman. The ability to shift into a giant, four-hundred-pound polar bear was amazing at times, but gaining that much weight in a matter of minutes, wasn’t the most flattering ability a female could have. Emily Barre loved her clan with her entire being, but there were often times when she felt something was missing, like she didn’t quite belong. She’d already passed her thirtieth birthday and still remained single. She’d had her share of lovers in the past, other men in her clan, but they eventually left. Mates were sacred among their kind, and all shifters longed for that person or persons who would complete them.
Emily huffed out a breath and blew her hair from her eyes. She picked up her cleaning rag and resumed wiping the counter of Mack’s Bar and Grill. As far as jobs went, it wasn’t so bad. She’d gotten to know most of the regulars who frequented the place. Some of them were friendly with a smile always in place, while others sat quietly and nursed their drink in private. Everyone had a story, some good and some bad.
Emily was lonely, and even when surrounded by a room full of people, she felt alone. It was past time she found her destiny and settled down. She wanted to have cubs, to feel connected in a way she never had before. Her heart felt heavy in her chest as she looked around. Would she need to leave her home in order to find what she was looking for or was there someone here she’d overlooked? She glanced up and stared blankly at the ceiling, wondering what fate had in store for her.
She blinked a few times. It seemed like just yesterday Evan Novikov was walking her home through the snow. She had been dating the twins for a while until their mate, Katie, showed up. She had no harsh feelings toward the woman. Mates were sacred. That damn mantra played through her mind repeatedly, and Emily let it comfort her like a warm blanket. Just once though, it would be nice if she was someone’s mate. She yearned to be a priority. If she ever found him or them, she vowed to never let go.
The phone rang, startling her from her wistful thoughts. Emily took a deep breath and snatched it up. “Mack’s.”
“Emily…we need the clan. It’s an emergency, Emma’s been taken by a wolf.” Takoda Youngblood panted, sounding frantic and Emily froze, fear choking her. Poor Emma, she was a human the Youngblood brother’s had recently claimed and marked. How could a mere human defend themselves against a wolf? “Emily!”
“I’m on it.” Heart in her throat, she hung up the phone. Without thought, she raised two fingers to her mouth and pierced the room with an ear-splitting whistle. The ruckus in the bar stopped and all eyes turned toward her. “Clan emergency…Emma’s been taken by a wolf.” She sneered, and en masse her clan jumped to their feet and began stripping down.
The noise became almost deafening with chairs scraping back and the growling and snarling echoing through the bar. This was one great thing about being a shifter. Clans always stuck together. They would all march into the forest as one and take back what was theirs. If you messed with one, you dealt with them all. An arm reached out and stopped Emily as she started to strip down, preparing for battle.
“Not so fast, little sister. You stay here. I don’t think all of us are needed.”
“Damn it, Tommy. I’m not a child.” She pulled away, hating the way he always babied her in front of the rest of the clan. Most of them thought she was useless. This time, she would show them she could fight alongside them, that she was an equal.
“It’s Thomas,” he scolded, “and I think you should stay behind. It’s one wolf. I’m pretty sure we can handle it.” He pulled his T-shirt off and patted her on the head.
Before she could respond, the bar cleared out and she was left standing there, alone. Emily ground her teeth, wanting to scream. She hated being left behind. Tightening her fists, she stomped out of the bar and watched as her other clan mates stripped and headed into the forest. She wouldn’t be left behind, not again. Emily took off her clothes quickly, shivering from the cold before she let her bear rise to the surface and shift.