Beary Guarded (Polar Bliss Book 2)By: Ruby Shae
The tiny parking lot to the sheriff’s office had eight stalls, four of which were marked Reserved, and he pulled his truck into one of the labeled spots. Though he didn’t officially start until Monday, he’d been the boss enough times to know how to build a strong partnership with the rest of his team.
Food was always involved, but so was respect and common courtesy. He wanted to issue an invite to his home for the following weekend; a barbecue would be a great way to get to know the men and their families.
He walked into the office, and was surprised to find all three deputies waiting for him.
The oldest officer, John, and the youngest, his son, Jake, sat in regular clothes, playing cards across one of the desks. The third man, Chris, was completely uniformed, and stood in the middle of the room holding a steaming hot cup of coffee. Nate knew he’d been momentarily stunned by his presence, but the man quickly recovered and held out his hand.
“Hey, man, it’s good to see you again.”
He’d met all three officers on the day he’d interviewed for the job.
“Thanks, Chris,” he said. “You, too.”
“Ginn!” John yelled. “And you owe me five bucks.”
“Oh my god, dad,” Jake said, standing. “We haven’t even said hello, yet. Let’s get to know our new boss before we unleash all the crazy.”
“Oh, please,” John said, following his son. “He knew what he was getting into.”
“Welcome, Nate,” Jake said, shaking his hand.
“Welcome to Longmeadow, Sheriff McCallister,” John said, winking. “How was the drive?”
“Oh, god,” Jake mumbled.
“Not bad,” Nate said, laughing. “I made good time.”
“Yeah, you did,” Chris said, waving his hand around the room, “but John knew you would.”
Nate nodded in understanding.
The oldest officer was more than qualified to do the sheriff’s job, but he’d passed because he didn’t want to be his son’s boss, or have the added stress of being in charge for his last years on the force. Retirement was only a few years away, and the man was focused on enjoying his time off.
He looked around the room and smiled at their efforts.
They’d decorated his desk with streamers and a welcome sign, and three Mylar balloons were tied to the back of his chair. Excluding the decorations, the desk was completely cleaned off except for a blue, card-sized envelope labeled with his name.
A folding table set up on the other side of the room donned a blue, plastic tablecloth, and held several appetizers and a cake with the words Welcome Sheriff scrawled across the top.
It was the first time a new team had done anything remotely welcoming for him, and their efforts warmed his heart, confirming he’d found his new home.
“I hope you’re hungry,” Jake said. “The cake is store-bought, but my mom and Chris’ wife made the snacks, and they said not to bring anything home.”
“I’m starving,” Nate laughed.
“Good,” John said. “Let’s eat.”
Riley barely contained her laughter as she handed the customer his receipt, and wished him a nice day. Jane was sitting at the counter, drinking a hot chocolate, and playfully teasing Ridge. Her second oldest brother laughed loud enough to be heard over the hum of the espresso machine, and with no customers directly in front of her, Riley laughed, too. She loved the banter between the pair, and still couldn't understand why they were destined to be just friends.
Ridge and Jane got along better than any couple she knew, except—maybe—her best friend Jillian and her youngest brother Reid, which proved, at least in her mind, that a shifter’s innate ability to find the perfect mate was flawed. If Ridge and Jane weren't meant to be together, then perfect mates didn't really exist.
Not that it mattered. She didn’t want a mate anyway.
The bell on the door chimed, and the hottest guy she'd ever seen walked into the shop. He was about six-feet, two-inches tall, with blond hair and deep sapphire blue eyes. He had wide shoulders, muscular biceps, and thick, powerful thighs. His chest was covered in a fitted white t-shirt, and she desperately wanted to lift the fabric and check out his abs. When her gaze dropped lower, she flinched. The huge bulge in his jeans confirmed he was big everywhere, and fear raced down her spine, but it didn’t completely douse her lust.
What the hell?
She never lusted after men.
In fact, until now, she’d given up on seeing any man as anything more than a friend, and even that was a stretch. The only men she really trusted were her brothers.
What? No…he can’t be!
Underneath the surface, her bear growled, paced and tried to push her towards the man, but her human side knew better. He was a strong, powerful, drop-dead gorgeous wolf shifter, and his scent…oh god, he smelled amazing…but he was beyond pissed.
When he’d walked in the door, every woman in the place turned to look at him, but he’d ignored them all and stared directly at her. Unfortunately, the look on his face proved what she’d suspected all along…sometimes their animals made mistakes.