A PARANORMAL BEAR SHIFTER ROMANCE
©2016 by Amy Star
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About This Book
Young WereBear Kalia is now of age to become a bride to an older WereBear from within her tribe.
This is usually a beautiful moment for any young female WereBear even though they have no say in who they mate with.
Kalia has a good idea of who might choose her as their mate but she is more than shocked when she finds she is chosen by a young warrior bear named Luke.
Luke might be handsome but he is also very arrogant and she does not seem to have any connection with him at all. She has no idea why he chose her over the other available women.
Now, Kalia has no choice but to reluctantly become the Bear's bride and whilst he might be able to please her physically, can he ever please her emotionally?
In the mountains of West Virginia, in an area so remote that it has been left undisturbed for centuries, live two tribes of werebears. Though they should have been allies, the two tribes were bitter enemies. The rift developed in a time long gone by and none of the Bears even recalled the reason for it.
In the Castien tribe lived a young girl named Kalia. She lived with her mother, younger sister, and twin baby little brothers. Like all of the girls in her culture, she was raised to one day be a good wife to one of the warriors and hunters of the tribe. She learned by helping her mother to raise her younger siblings. Her father, killed years before in battle, had been a revered warrior. For that reason, she and her family had always been held to a high standard. Her mother worked hard to live up to it and she always raised Kalia to hold herself to the same standard. It had been months since Kalia had completed her training, but she had not yet mated.
In their culture, mating was not something the females had much say in. After girls were of age and had completed their years of training in all the female arts, including cooking, cleaning, childcare, sewing, hide tanning, and pottery making, the elders chose their mate for them. When the warriors decided they were ready to take a mate, they went to their elders and asked to be mated. Then the elders met in a secret ritual where they chose the girl they thought best suited for him. On the next full moon, that warrior enters the sacred lodge, where his virgin bride offers herself to him. Neither have any idea who would be waiting in the lodge for them. They then make love, cementing the bond forged by the elders.
Kalia had been waiting apprehensively for her day to arrive. For her entire life, she had seen herself as her mother's helper and her siblings’ protector. She could not picture herself leaving their home and beginning a separate life. She had watched almost all of the girls her age enter in to their mating bonds. They had spent years together, imagining which of the boys and men surrounding them would be their mate and life partner. Her mother had always told her that it was a waste of time.
“Put your faith in the elders,” her mother told her, “do not get your heart set on one man or another.”
With those words in mind, she tried to wait patiently for her time. For months, she watched her friends begin their new lives. Each time the elders met, she waited for word to come that it was her time, but that had not happened. She was beginning to believe the elders were going to allow her to stay with her family forever.
Then, finally, on a sunny afternoon, everything changed. She was washing her brothers near the stream when she saw her mother approaching. Her mother was a lovely woman. Even at her age, she still had the light of youth in her eyes. She made everything, even hard work, seem like a sort of game. When she approached, Kalia could see that something was weighing on her mother's heart.
“Daughter,” her mother said as she took a seat at the side of the stream.
“Yes, mother,” she said, worried at what her mother could possibly be so pensive about.
“Come, I must speak to you,” her mother said, patting the ground beside her.
“I'm just cleaning up the boys. I'll be there in a moment,” she said, suddenly hesitant to hear what her mother had come to tell her.
“Leave them,” her mother said wearily. “We must speak now.”
“Is everything alright, mother?” she asked as she sat by her mother, dangling her feet in the stream.
“Yes, child,” her mother said with a forced smile on her face. She brushed a stray hair from Kalia’s cheek as she’d done when she was a small girl and knew in an instant that everything was about to change.
“Then tell me what is happening. You're scaring me,” she begged, feeling the fear creeping up in her chest.
“Though I still call you child, you are in earnest a young woman now,” her mother began, staring thoughtfully into Kalia’s eyes.
“What are you saying?” she asked, though she knew in her heart her mother had come to tell her a mate had finally been chosen.
“I'm saying that you are no longer a child. For months now you have been of mating age,” she continued, though her eyes drifted from her daughter’s face to the distant horizon.
“Yes, Mother,” she said, fighting back tears. She knew that her mother was as emotional as she was, though she was doing a better job of hiding it.
“Well, the elders have chosen your match,” her mother said without looking at her. She was glad for that, because she didn’t want her mother to see her crying like a child at the thought of leaving her family.
“But it can't be. I can't leave you. You and the little children need me,” she said, unable to keep herself from crying.
“No, we will get along just fine and you need to begin your own life. It is a good match for you. I have been assured you will be happy and well taken care of,” her mother promised. That seemed to be something that gave her mother comfort, so she tried to draw her own comfort from it.
“I'm not ready to be any man's mate,” she confessed, looking at her little brothers as they played nearby. She could not imagine a life where she did not see them every day. They were nearly six years old, but to her, they would always be babies.
“Yes, you are,” her mother said, pulling her close and hugging her tight. She stroked her hair and let her cry on her shoulder until the shock of the emotion passed. As Kalia wiped her tears, she did her best to pull herself together.
She had been prepared her entire life for this moment and she could not allow herself to disappoint her mother or to betray her years of training because of her childish fears of leaving her mother’s side. Women in her culture had to be strong and she needed to make herself face her new reality with her head held high.
“How will I know how to make a home of my own?” she asked her mother with all seriousness.
If she was going to do this, she needed to be sure she did it well. Her mother had always impressed upon her the importance of holding oneself to the highest possible standard and she had no intention of doing anything less than that as she began her new life.
Her mother smiled and nodded, brimming with pride. She knew then that she had done just what her mother had needed her to do, accept her future. “You have long been part of making everything here work so smoothly. You know everything you need to about having a home of your own. It is time now for your sister to take on your role here so that she can learn and prepare of her own mate.”
“She won't like having such work to do,” Kalia laughed.
Her sister was only three years younger than her, but she and her mother had always babied her. Even as a small child, she was a lovely girl. She was rambunctious and rebellious in every way, while Kalia was dedicated and steady. In the sadness after her father’s death, she and her mother often doted on her as a distraction from their mourning. As a result, they had never put much of the burden of their work upon her and she liked it that way. She preferred to run wild.
“It is not a choice. It is her duty just as it was yours,” her mother said, with determination on her face. Kalia had never seen her mother look so stern where Mali was concerned. It was almost comical and Kalia looked forward to seeing how that would play out.
She and her mother sat in silence for what felt like an eternity. They were both doing all that they could to savor the time that they had left together. They watched the boys play and listened to the water ripple past them. When Kalia did look at her mother, she found her gazing back at her with a mixture of pride and sadness in her eyes.
“I'm frightened, Mother,” she finally said, needing her mother’s reassurance.
“I know, but this is the natural way of things. It's how I met your own wonderful father and you know how happy we were together,” her mother said, now with a genuine smile on her face. She always got that look on her face when she spoke of her own mate. She was mated with Kalia’s father and fell immediately in love with him, as he had with her. They had spent every day of their lives together in complete and total happiness. They were truly partners and Kalia always nurtured the secret hope she would have a mating bond like the one that her parents were lucky enough to share. The elders had truly known what they were doing when they matched her parents and she had to have faith that they would do the same for her.
“Yes, Mother,” she said with a nod.
Her thoughts drifted to which of the eligible warriors might be waiting for her in the lodge when the ceremony commenced, but it was impossible to even wager a guess as to who it might be. She sighed and resigned herself to the knowledge that she had no control over what partner she might have, but she could control how she faced that future and she would do so with hard work and bravery.
“And more importantly, he gave me all of my beautiful children,” her mother said, smiling at the boys as they splashed in the stream.
“Will I be with child very soon?” she asked in shock.
Though cubs were the main purpose of the mating ritual, the realization she would soon be a mother to children of her own had never really crossed her mind until that moment. She thought back to how her mother had glowed as her belly grew with each of the younger siblings that she had carried. No matter who her mate was, she knew with absolute certainty she would be a good mother and that children of her own would bring her untold joy.
“If you are very lucky,” her mother said, patting her arm.
“What if I am not pleasing to my mate? What if he does not want me?” she asked, because she needed to know. To be the best possible mate, she knew she needed to please her mate in every way.
“You are sweet and kind, not to mention smart and a hard worker. You are the kind of mate they all dream of finding when they walk in to the sacred lodge. He would be a fool to be displeased with you,” her mother said, a little indignant at the possibility that a man would be anything but happy to have her daughter as their mate.
“What if he is not a man I would want for my own?” she continued, knowing that this might be her last chance to ask such a question without being judged for it.
“You must put your faith in the elders. They do not make their decisions lightly. They think of true compatibility. Open yourself to their choice of you and I am sure you will come to love him as I loved your father,” her mother said confidently.
“Yes, Mother,” she said, unsure it was possible for anyone to be what her parents had been to each other.
“Now, we have a lot of work to do before the full moon, don't we?” her mother said, rising to her feet and helping Kalia up.
“Yes, ma'am,” she said, thinking of the many things she needed to accomplish and to teach her sister before she left for her own home.
“Go and fetch me the satin fabric from the cedar chest. We need to get to work on your ceremonial robe,” her mother said, always practical.
The robe that the virgin girl wore in her mating ceremony was to be a labor of love, created by the girl and her mother as a symbolic last rite of passage. It was a garment meant to be something that represented the girl and her heritage to her mate, as well as something that gave her the confidence to go boldly to him in the sacred lodge.
“Will we have time to finish it?”
She realized there were only five days until the next full moon. There was barely enough time to do anything, let alone something detailed enough to show her full sewing talent to her mate and she wanted to be sure when he first saw her, he was pleased with her physically, as well as with the skills she would bring to their household.
“Of course. With both of us to work on it, it will be done in no time,” her mother said, though she looked a little wary herself.
“Yes, Mother,” she said as she headed towards their cabin.
It was within sight of the creek and should have taken her only a minute to reach, but she walked slowly, savoring the way that her feet knew the path so well. She wondered if she would ever feel so at peace in the home she would share with her mate. When she reached the cabin, she headed for her mother’s room in the back and began to root through the cedar trunk for the fabric that her mother had instructed her to grab, when she heard a strange sound coming from the attic above her.
She crept up to the attic, which she and her sister had always shared as a bedroom. There, she found her sister crying on her bed, her head buried in her pillow.
“Why are you in here all alone crying?” she asked, sitting down on the bed beside her sister.
“I heard what mother said to you,” she said, raising her tear stained face.
“That's no reason to be so mournful, dear,” she said, wrapping her arms around her crying sister.
“Yes it is. You will go off to your new life and I will never see you again,” she sobbed.
“That isn't true. There isn't a place in the whole camp that is more than a 15 minute walk from here,” she said, though she had shared her sister’s fear.
She needed to comfort her little sister. She was the person she loved best in the world and she could not allow her own nerves to make her sister sad. Her joyful sister needed to stay that way and she could not allow that to change, no matter what else did.
“Everything will change and you know it,” Mali cried, her eyes swollen from crying.