Authors: Miriam Becker
This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Bear It All copyright @ 2014 by Miriam Becker. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
BEAR IT ALL
turned from the chalkboard where she was writing a question and smiled. This was only her second day on the job and so far nothing had gone wrong. The school where she worked ranged from kindergarten to twelfth grade. While it was busy, it wasn’t a bad place to work. For one thing, the students and other teachers were lovely.
“What can I help you with?”
“When is the police officer coming in?” the small boy asked her. He adjusted the fake police hat on his head, his gap-toothed smile warming her heart.
“After break, now sit down and do your work.” Gemma waited until the small boy headed back to his seat before she turned back to the chalkboard. Today, some of the town’s people were speaking to the younger children about their jobs, while the older children would receive more detailed information about each visitor’s profession.
It was Gemma’s second week in town. Her home was still full of unpacked boxes and she was still living out of a suitcase. While it wasn’t the most convenient way to live, it was easy for the moment. The school gave her one month’s notice to pack up and move, so she could start her new job. If she didn’t arrive by a certain date, the school would give her job to another person.
So far, she had only taught the younger children and that was fine by her, since she didn’t have much experience teaching teenagers. The headmaster told her that the older students were currently studying for their tests, so she would only have to sit in the classroom and help when asked.
“Miss Drake, I need to use the bathroom,” said a small girl, as she pulled on her sleeve. Gemma placed the chalk down before bending to the child’s level.
“Do you know where the bathroom is, Grace?”
“Ask Miss Finch to take you then,” Gemma said, as she waved the teaching assistant over. The small, elderly lady took Grace’s hand, led her out of the classroom, and down the hall. At least the little girl asked to go to the bathroom today. Yesterday, she had to call the janitor to clean up a mess, since a little boy didn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Apparently, their last teacher hadn’t allowed them to go the bathroom and gave them detention if they asked during her lessons.
Before long, it was break time. Gemma was relieved that she finally had a chance to get a coffee, since she didn’t wake up early enough to grab one before school started. The staff room was empty, except for a man in a uniform sitting on the sofa. His head was bent over to most recent paper, but she took a deep breath and smiled. It was no surprise that the man was a bear-shifter; all the town’s police officers seemed to be.
Another benefit of this particular town was that she didn’t have to hide her true identity. She didn’t have to lie and claim that she was busy on the full moon. She could actually shift in peace. In fact, the town seemed to be inhabited solely by shifters or, at least, every person she had met so far was some type of shifter.
The scent of coffee drew her over to the small kitchenette located in the corner of the room. The first sip tasted like heaven and her body greedily accepted the caffeine. She knew that caffeine had no effect on shifters, but neither did alcohol or drugs. Although nothing liked that worked on shifters, some places illegally sold alcohol and drugs that were specifically concocted for shifters.
“I see you’re a coffee girl, then.” Gemma looked up from the magazine she was reading and smiled. The officer had refilled his cup and had decided to sit down next to her. Usually Gemma would complain about someone sitting so close to her, but this man oozed sex appeal and she didn’t want to complain.
“I like the taste.”
“I’m sure there are better tastes in the world.” As he commented, he took a sip of his coffee and screwed his face up in displeasure.
“Of course there are, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it.” Gemma smiled once more before looking down at her magazine again.
Coffee wasn’t the best thing in the world, but at least it makes me feel marginally better
, she thought.
“I’m Taylor Arrowsmith.”
“Arrowsmith, what a peculiar name.”
“So I’ve been told. Who are you, beautiful wolf?”
“Gemma Drake. I’m new here.” Although she didn’t want to, Gemma closed her magazine and turned her attention to Taylor. The man clearly was not going to stop talking until she addressed him.
“I recognized the new face. How could I forget something as beautiful as you?” Taylor’s mouth kicked up in a smirk and Gemma shook her head at him. She already sensed that the man was a player; but, it wasn’t as if the man wasn’t attractive, particularly since she had never seen someone so handsome.
The man had dark, black hair, so black that it had a blue tint to it in the sunlight. Then, to top it off he had emerald-green eyes that created a surprisingly handsome contrast to his hair. His body seemed firm under the unflattering police uniform.
“Well, like I said, I am new here.”
“How about I take you out and show you a good time?” he asked. His mouth was still in a smirk, causing Gemma to mentally confirm that he was a player.
He acts like he thinks more with the head located in his lower region than the one attached to his shoulders
, she thought. Gemma stood up, took her cup to the sink, and rinsed it out before she turned back around to face him.
“I don’t need to be shown a good time. Thank you for the offer though, Officer,” she said. Then, she left the staff room with a deep sigh. Experience had taught her that it was a bad idea to accept any man’s offer to show her a good time. She was now twenty-eight years old and didn’t feel like doing the walk of shame after a one-night-stand anymore.
“Class, I would like to introduce Officer Arrowsmith. He will be talking to you about his job today,” Gemma said, as she introduced Taylor. Unfortunately for her, Taylor was the one who she ended up talking to her class. She couldn’t help but think that it would be interesting to hear what Taylor said though.
Taylor couldn’t believe the new beauty that had arrived in town. It was the first time he’d seen her and he had seen every available female shifter in this town. His life was lacking some serious action at the moment. As a rule, he never slept with someone more than once, since doing so usually created unwanted attachments. As a result, the only women left in town were ones that he had already slept with, were gay, or were married. Now, Gemma had arrived and he decided that it was his mission to get her in his bed, and hopefully soon.
“Sorry, must have zoned out...” Taylor shook his head before turning to the class. For the last two hours, he had answered question after question and explained the basics of his job for the small children. It was a nice change to actually feel needed for once. Usually, he was on patrol in the squad car, picking up drunks, and keeping a lookout around the local bars.
“How long have you been an officer?” Gemma asked quietly.
“Nearly seven years. I entered the Academy because my father was a police officer, too. I wanted to be just like him.”
“Does anyone else have any more questions for Officer Arrowsmith?” Gemma stood from her chair and smiled at the class. Taylor noticed that the entire time he spoke to the class, she had a smile on her face.
“I’ll be leaving then,” he responded when, at last, there was silence it the classroom.
Gemma walked with him to the door and reached out to shake his hand. Instead, he kicked his lips up into his classic smirk and reached out to pull her into a hug. He felt her stiffen against him before gently pushing away, a small glare on her face.
“I’ll be seeing you soon, Gemma.”
“If you think so,” she said, as she winked at him, closed the door, and left him staring at a blank, white door. So far, Gemma was the first woman who hadn’t reacted to his charms or advances.
When Taylor thought about it, he couldn’t believe that this amazing woman was stopping him from trying to get her into his bed.
Maybe she really isn’t willing
, he thought and shook his head, as he headed back to his squad car.
Gemma placed the last of the dishes in the cupboard and stepped back to survey her handy work. She finally managed to unpack the kitchen and she only had the bathroom, living room, and bedrooms left. At least she’d made an effort to take things out of the boxes, unlike the time before last. Her second home was littered with boxes and she was living off paper plates because she couldn’t bring herself to unpack, knowing she wasn’t going to be there long. She was right though, since she was only in that home for a month before she was told she to leave. Her landlord told her it was because they had another tenant that needed the home, but she knew it was because she was a shifter. She was evicted at some point from every home since college. The world was supposed to be about equality, but, in her experience, as soon as something different appeared or as soon as something caused fear, then equality was thrown out of the window.
She hoped that this town would be different, since there were more shifters here than in any other place that she had lived. She was just settling down on the sofa with a cup of coffee when the doorbell rung. She put the cup down on the floor before opening the door.
“Taylor, what are you doing here? How did you know where I live?”
“I’m a police officer, Gemma.”
“So you tracked down my address?”
“Well, I wanted to see you. I wanted to see why you were so busy and why you wouldn’t allow me take you out,” Taylor said, as he leaned against the doorframe, a smile on his handsome face.
“A bit stalker-like don’t you think?”
“I was leaning more towards romantic.”
“Why are you here then?”
“Well, I was hoping to take you out for a drink, and then maybe show you the best thing about this town.”
“What is the best thing about this town?”
“Me.” Taylor licked his lips before winking at her.
“Seriously? Have you nowhere better to use that line?”
“It usually works.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not someone who hooks up with random men. Go find someone else to use that terrible line on.” Gemma stepped back and went to close the door, but Taylor blocked it with his foot.
“Why doesn’t it work on you?”
“I don’t sleep around. I prefer to be wined and dined.”
“Well, can I wine and dine you then?”
“Try me again tomorrow night. I’m busy,” Gemma said, as she smiled at him again. Then, she slammed the door closed before he had the chance to put his foot in the crack a second time. She returned to her sofa and her cup of coffee, wondering what Taylor saw in her. She was just a plain, boring woman and the only thing she was good at was teaching. She shrugged to herself and turned the TV on. While she hadn’t unpacked everything, she had gotten a good start; so, she settled in to watch
Law & Order
until she felt tired.
Taylor stared at the closed door with a frown. It was the first time since he’d moved to this town that he had been rejected by an available woman.
Maybe I’m losing my touch
, he thought. He laughed at himself over the ridiculousness of such a thing, as headed back to the police car. He knew that there was no way he was losing his ability to pick up woman. Gemma just wanted to be wined and dined, as she clearly stated during their brief encounter. While he had never attempted to wine and dine a woman, he was sure he could succeed.
As he walked away, his cell phone started ringing. “Hello?” he answered.
“Taylor, I’m home alone, why don’t you come over?” a feminine voice breathily whispered over the line. Taylor screwed his face up in confusion, as he tried to place the voice to the face.