Beary Guarded (Polar Bliss Book 2)By: Ruby Shae
On his daily visits, sometimes Nate sat at the counter and didn’t leave until he’d sipped his entire coffee, and sometimes he ordered, exchanged a few pleasantries and left. On the days when he sat at the counter, he made small talk and tried to get to know her, and each time he left, she felt another piece of the giant wall around her heart slowly crumble away.
Today, he held a small wrapped box, and she immediately recognized the paper from the candy shop. He’d successfully pried the name of her favorite confection out of her, and she knew the box held twelve pieces of chocolate covered maple crème candies.
The gesture warmed her heart, and she didn’t try to hide her smile. She looked up, determined to agree when he asked her out the next time, and frowned. A slim woman with short brown hair had blocked his path to the counter, and dared to touch him. A low growl threatened to escape, but she stifled the sound, and got back to work. Nate could talk to, or flirt with, whomever he wanted, and she couldn’t do anything about it, but she couldn’t look away either.
“Hiya, sheriff,” the woman said, placing one hand on his forearm, and the other on his chest. “Are those for me?”
Nate grabbed the wrist of the hand on his chest, pulled it off him, and dropped it like a piece of garbage.
“Considering I don’t know you,” he said, firmly, “I’m going with no.”
“How about we get to know each other over dinner?” she said.
He grabbed her other wrist, and pulled it away with the same amount of irritation.
“Sorry, but I have plans,” Nate said, stepping around the woman.
“Well, maybe some other time,” she called after him.
He turned back toward the woman and sighed.
“No,” he said, simply. “I’m taken.”
Riley felt her cheeks redden, and looked down as excitement raced through her. Nate couldn’t know yet, but the woman was a notorious gossip. News about their budding relationship would spread like wildfire and he’d be labeled as a lover of scarred, fat girls forever.
“Good morning, beautiful,” he said.
She resisted the urge to cringe, and looked up into his deep blue eyes.
“Good morning,” she said, glancing at the woman slipping out the door. “You shouldn’t have said that. She’s a big-time gossip.”
“Good,” he said. “I want everyone to know you’re my girl.”
“Nate…” she whispered, glancing around the tiny shop.
Luckily, they’d reached a lull, and the place was mostly empty. Ridge brushed past them and started restocking the coffee prep bar, and she appreciated the few moments of privacy the gesture allowed them.
“Look, beautiful,” Nate said. “You may not be ready to admit it yet, but you are my girl. It doesn’t matter how long you resist, or how long it takes for you to trust me; nothing is going to change the fact that we’re meant to be together. You’re mine, but the good news is, I’m yours, too, and I want everyone to know it.”
She wanted to believe him, but her ex was nice at first, too. He’d said and done all the right things until he was tired of playing his game, and then he’d nearly destroyed her.
Your ex was evil…and he wasn’t your mate.
No, he wasn’t, and yet she’d still allowed him to take so much. How could she be sure the same wouldn’t happen with Nate?
Nate is not your ex…nor is he anything like him.
In the face of the truth, she was still nervous, but she was also tired of being afraid.
“Okay,” she whispered.
“Okay?” he questioned. “Does that mean you’ll have dinner with me tonight?”
“Yes, I’ll have dinner with you.”
Behind Nate, Ridge pumped the air, and she giggled at his silent support.
“Ridge is happy,” she said.
“Damn right,” Ridge called over his shoulder.
“Not as happy as I am,” Nate said. “I want to cook for you, but I still don’t have any furniture, so how about The Bear’s Den? Do you like that place?”
“Does she?” Ridge laughed.
“Ridge!” she squealed.
“I’m shutting up,” he said, pushing half-way through the employee’s door. “Right after I call Ryker.”
Her brother disappeared into the back, and shook her head.
“Sorry about that,” she said. “The Bear’s Den is one of my favorite places.”
“Great,” he said. “What time should I pick you up?”
They decided on a time, and then Nate gave her the box of chocolates and went back to his office. She’d ended up sharing the treat with her brothers and Jane in order to quell their ooey-gooey teasing, but she didn’t care.
She had a date with a wolf—her mate—and she was looking forward to it.
“No red meat?” Nate asked. “Ever?”
The information boggled his mind, and yet, in his eyes, it only made Riley more special.
“Well, not ever,” she laughed, “but most of the time. I’ll eat it if I don’t have a choice, but I’ve always preferred chicken. It drives my brothers crazy, especially on nights when it’s my turn to cook. They have to put up with my horrible cooking, and my chicken.”