The Bear's Hired Mate: A Paranormal Bear Shifter Romance

THE BEARS

HIRED MATE 

PARANORMAL BEAR SHIFTER ROMANCE

 

 

AMY STAR

 

 

Copyright
©2015 by Amy Star

All rights reserved.

 

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About This Book

 

“She was willing to be hired for anything, anything at all...”

 

Curvy Jane Arnold was a small town girl who had moved to Las Vegas to start a new life. Only problem was, she was dead broke and desperate for a job. Any job.

 

Vincent Mezzanote was a powerful billionaire bear shifter with a huge business empire based in the City Of Sin. He was a man full of opportunities along with dark secrets.

 

Now Vincent is recruiting a new personal assistant and Jane has been invited for an interview. When she arrives Vincent is stunned.

 

Not because she is perfect for the job, in fact she is far from it. But because he can tell from her scent that she is the mate for him.

 

Now Vincent has to decide, does he hire her as his PA or does he hire her as his mate?

 

Or does he do
BOTH
?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                           
CHAPTER ONE

C
HAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

It was official; Jane Arnold was not attractive enough to manage to secure a job at a dentist’s office in Las Vegas. That had to be an all time low on the rejection scale, to be called “not the right type” for welcoming patients for root canals. One might think, based on the latest in a series of similar rejections, that Jane was horribly disfigured, perhaps even troll-like in stature, or even of the unwashed miscreant variety. Although Jane was generally a pretty positive person – especially about her looks – the last string of interviews made her question the beauty she always took for granted. She checked herself out in the mirror across from her in the waiting room of her final job interview and she was finding it harder and harder not to be critical of a body that she generally liked.

 

The woman staring back at her in the mirror was perhaps taller than the general public liked their women. Standing at five foot ten, Jane had never been a shrinking violet. In addition to her height, Jane was also blessed (cursed?) with the curves of a 1950’s pin-up. Her cup overfloweth and her pencil skirt restrained a butt that could have been a body double for Kim Kardashian. Jane finished the look with a tight cardigan and red lips. She had always thought she was a Sophia Loren-type but the past week of being told that her body “wasn’t quite right” for jobs had her rethinking her entire look.

 

Jane had been so convinced that the City of Sin was going to be the perfect place for a curvy girl with a retro bent that she risked her entire life savings and the scathing criticism of her mother to come to Las Vegas to finally strike out on her own. It had taken her an entire year to save up the money for the trip. Jane had picked up extra shifts at a diner in addition to her day job running the office of Sandpoint Idaho’s biggest car dealership. Her mother, Grace Arnold, had once been the beauty of the town and now seemed to think that criticizing Jane was her life’s purpose.

 

Grace wasn’t supportive of anything in Jane’s life. A waifish redhead, Grace found Jane’s bulk to be unbecoming and at the tender age of eight, suggested her chubby daughter consider a diet. For the next sixteen years, Grace had made it her life’s purpose to shape Jane into a replica of herself. Constant jabs at Jane’s weight, curves, and height, started early but when Jane began to develop a love of art and retro style, Grace took every chance to nag her about those as well. When Jane had reached the age where the rest of her high school friends were graduating from college and striking out on their own, Jane took a look at her life and realized she needed to escape as well. It was either that, or, be buried under her mother’s distaste for the rest of her life. Jane was too young to stare down that bleak road for long. For the next year, Jane scrimped and saved, polished her resume and spiced up her wardrobe in preparation for the great week of job interviews. She’d pinned all of her hopes and dreams on twelve interviews for managerial positions Jane thought herself more than qualified for. She’d thought it was going to be a piece of cake.

 

Now, sitting at her last interview of the week, Jane was preparing herself to turn the rental car around and use the last of her savings to buy the return bus ticket back to Idaho. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but it was nothing compared to the ear-beating she was going to receive from her mother. Jane sighed and caught a glance of herself in the mirror again. The woman who reflected back now looked dejected, in addition to being horribly disfigured and troll-like. It was the sadness in her own eyes that snapped her out of the funk, though; Jane had never been a doom and gloom kind of gal. She was a sunny daisy in the face of all her mother threw at her. Las Vegas didn’t have her beat, yet. Jane sat up straight and fixed her lipstick as tattoo machines buzzed faintly from the room beyond. Jane didn’t know a thing about tattooing or tattoo parlors in general but she was going to kick ass at this interview nevertheless and finally stake her claim in Las Vegas.

 

Satisfied, Jane looked more closely at her surroundings. The name of the parlor was Midnight Ink. The waiting room had walls painted in a warm dark blue – so blue they were almost black –and the rich color was studded with actual crystals that shone white and clear blue. Black velvet curtains tied with silver accents framed the windows that looked out onto the thriving Mezzanotte Casino. The whole effect was a sort of luxurious den of iniquity. Beyond the matching velvet curtains was the actual tattoo studio. Craning her neck, Jane could see that the space was done with creamy ivory walls with gallery-style art hanging all around. She was heartened to see that a few of the selections were tattoo-style pin-up girls. Perhaps she’d saved the best interview for last, she thought pleasantly.

 

Hearing the resounding thud of boots hitting the tiled floor, Jane sat back up and straightened her skirt. She watched as the largest man she’d ever laid eyes on escorted out the previous interviewee. The interviewee would probably be considered a tall man himself in normal circumstances but walking next to the blonde giant, he appeared to be almost petite. The blonde man in the shit-kicker boots wasn’t just tall – he was big all over. Muscles strained against his plain gray t-shirt and his hands looked to be the size of dinner plates as he said goodbye to the previous interviewee. Turning to Jane, a broad smile lit his face and he extended a hand to her.

 

“Hello, my name is Xavier. I’m one of the artists here at the Midnight Ink location. Vincent had to step out for a phone call so I’ll be starting your interview.”

 

Jane smiled dumbly as she shook Xavier’s huge hand. When Xavier raised his eyebrows, Jane remembered to respond - she had to nail this interview. “Nice to meet you. Xavier, my name is Jane Arnold.”

 

“Nice to meet you Jane, please follow me…”

 

As Jane and Xavier passed by Vincent’s office, Vincent’s nose twitched in recognition of a scent. It was a fleeting sensation and after it passed, he was tempted to step out of his office and try to track it down. But the voice on the other end of the phone kept him tethered. Vincent pulled a hand over his face as if scrubbing it would make his burgeoning headache go away.

 

He’d been dragged into a phone meeting about a recent break-in at the edge of Clan territory. The neighboring Werebear Clan, Corvino, hadn’t gone to much trouble to hide their scent so Vincent’s father, Vincenzo, a.k.a. the head of the Mezzanotte Clan, figured it was a case of not knowing where the border between territories was drawn. Vincent figured after 200 years in the continent of North America, the Corvino Clan knew exactly where their territory ended but he kept silent. The break-in resulted in nothing more than a raid of a liquor cabinet and Vincenzo was now trying to rationalize that it must have been a group of underage cubs looking for some fun. But something in Vincent’s gut told him there was more to the raid.

 

Vincent was trying hard not to speak during the meeting. Lately, if he spoke out about something in the committee meetings, Vincenzo would assign Vincent to look into the problem. Ostensibly, it was to afford his eighty-year-old son the opportunity to get his feet wet solving some of the real problems in the Werebear community. More often than not, it was turning into situations where Vincenzo would simply solve the problem before Vincent could, thereby discrediting his son. Or, sometimes, during a debriefing, Vincenzo would end up second-guessing every choice Vincent had made in getting to the solution. He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. But when his father started to say that the incident was so harmless as not to merit contacting the other Clan, Vincent lost his patience and couldn’t help but jump into the fray, despite the unpleasant consequences.

 

“Father, with all due respect, I think we would want to know if any of our cubs were committing crimes, much less committing them on another Clan’s territory. According to the contract between Clans, we have to report something like this.” Vincent’s eyes rolled heavenward in the empty space of his office. Now he’d done it.

 

Vincenzo’s voice broke the silence of Vincent’s comment, deep and cool, “Well my first son, apparently you’ve found time in your busy schedule to read over the Clan’s legal documents. Perhaps you’d like to carry out this task to the letter of the law?”

 

 

Vincent studied Vincenzo’s wording. It seemed to indicate that this would be a task he’d criticize Vincent for later, rather than try to beat him to the punch. Despite the inevitable criticism, Vincent sighed and said, “Of course, Father, I would be happy to intercede on this issue of Clan relations.” After the formal response, Vincent punctuated his stupid act with an eye roll. He really had to stop making more work for himself.

 

Vincenzo’s jab at finding time was in reference to Vincent’s truly packed schedule. Vincent was damn jealous of those Werebear cubs and their nights of drunken debauchery. He couldn’t think of the last time he’d had a night out on the town with the guys, much less a night in bed with a woman. Vincent clicked off the call as his father finished doling out a few more tasks to other committee members, including Vincent’s younger brother, Valente, who happened to be the owner of the Mezzanotte Hotel and Casino.

 

The perspective that Valente possibly had a fuller plate than Vincent didn’t help matters much, not when Vincent was drowning in all of his commitments. Vincenzo wanted Vincent to sell his business to Xavier. As the owner of five high-end tattoo parlors across the city of Las Vegas, Vincent wasn’t exactly a lazy man. He’d found the art as a young cub from the Native American tribes in the area. Once the Hoover Dam brought water, and air conditioning brought comfort to the sweltering temperatures of the Nevada desert, Las Vegas became a boomtown of gambling and luxury. The Mezzanotte Clan staked their claim early and in the 1960’s Vincent had just reached full bear status and was itching to start something of his own. Thus, Midnight Ink was born. Vincent rode the high of tattoos as they became more and more popular, eventually opening his five shops and banking over a billion dollars in savings as he did so.

 

Now, Vincent only tattooed at Midnight Ink and he’d handed off a lot of the day-to-day grind to Xavier, which had alleviated some of Vincent’s stress in the beginning. But now, as he took on more and more leadership jobs from his father, and still tried to maintain tattooing five days a week, Vincent was having trouble keeping everything in check. To add insult to injury, his shop manager had just quit. Vincent decided it was time to find a new manager who could organize his life.

 

But so far, the interviewees had been duds. They were a combination of under qualified artists trying to get their break in a big shop and Werebears that Vincent strongly assumed were spies for Vincent’s father. The artists were out of the question. Vincent had made that mistake in the 90’s and ended up with a PR nightmare on his hands and more than a few cover-ups (the shop manager had offered to ink illegally in his off time). On the other hand, if Vincent hired any of the Werebears, even Midnight Ink would no longer be a place of refuge from his father.

 

The human sitting down the hall with Xavier was his last chance. He needed to hire someone today.

 

Checking the time, Vincent decided he could take a minute to review the woman’s resume. Her name was Jane Arnold and she was most decidedly not a tattoo artist. She didn’t have a degree, but she had at least three jobs as manager at various offices and stores. Most notably was her position as manager of the one of the largest car dealerships in Idaho. Taking on Midnight Ink would be a piece of cake compared to the amount of people she had to deal with at the dealership, even with Vincent’s leadership schedule thrown into the mix.

 

The fact that she was a human wasn’t an issue. The electronic information, like email and online documents she’d be dealing with would never directly mention that the Clan was really the Italian American faction of the Werebear community. Anything on a computer was too easily hacked and long ago they’d made the decision to keep anything electronically transferred devoid of specifics regarding the ancient race. Once she’d gained their trust, they could talk about letting her in on the secret.

 

It’s not like an entire Clan of Werebears could exist in a single city without being noticed without letting a few humans in on the secret. The average Werebear could live for up to 300 years. Mated Weres could live for almost 500 as mated bears generally died together. It was only the rare circumstance that one lived on without their mate.

 

Vincent pulled Jane Arnold’s documentation together into his folder and then picked up his iPad and iPhone, slipping the latter into his back pocket after double-checking that he was on vibrate. He didn’t want to ruin his chances of hiring this woman. In fact, after looking at her resume, Vincent was tempted to let Xavier vet the girl sight unseen and just offer her the job. Sighing, Vincent knew he would never be comfortable hiring someone without shaking their hand first. Maybe it was his Werebear instincts, or maybe it was just that he was getting old enough to be old fashioned, but Vincent needed direct contact before giving someone a job. Judging by his bank account, the formality had served him well so far.

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