Thursday, December 13, 2018

A Beary Merry Christmas by Vonnie Davis




Final Chapter of "A Beary Merry Christmas"

“Danner, do ye think a hot shower would help warm ye?” Hughen took her empty hot chocolate mug and set it on the coffee table.

“Ah … ” A sensual vision of his washing her back steamed her mind, short-circuiting her ability to speak.

“If the idea appeals to ye, I’ll wrap a plastic bag around yer injury to keep it dry.” His hands rested on his knees, his one dark eyebrow arched in expectation of her reply.

If only she could form a coherent, appropriate thought and voice it.

“Ah He has such large hands. Imagine how they’d feel soaping and squeezing my behind. Crap, I give up. My hormones just won’t allow a fitting response.

Danner simply nodded and Hughen smiled.

“Good. I’ll get ye some clean clothes once I get the scissors to cut some of the length off. I’m six-four and ye must be

“Five-six. I do have clothes back in the rental car, wherever that is. The way it keeps snowing, it’ll probably be lost until spring.”

"Ye can stay until spring kisses the Highlands." He winked and stood. “Och, we’ll make do. Never fear. I’ll take care of ye.”

He did, too. Soon her hand was wrapped in plastic. Clothes were altered and placed on the marble vanity. He showed her a stash of new combs and toothbrushes he kept for times his nieces and nephews spent the night.

“The toothbrush is wee-sized but new. Now I dinna want to tell ye what to do, but I suggest starting yer shower with lukewarm water, slowly increasing the water's temperature. It will help remove the cold, damp vestiges of yer horrific experience in the snaw.”

Somehow he’d moved closer or maybe she had. Who knew? She looked into his brown eyes. “Thank you, Hughan.” Her hand rose to settle on his shoulder and he lowered it to his heart. The organ beat strong and steady. Was he trying to send some kind of signal? 

He captured her chin with his thumb and index finger. “Dinna be feart as ye shower." His thumb slowly swept back and forth over her skin sending all kinds of twitchy feelings southward. "Much as I want to join ye on the other side of that shower curtain, I’d never force meself on a woman. I’m too much of a man fer such weak behavior. I real man kens to wait.”

Gentleman that he was, he showed her how to turn the lock. Her heart warmed as she smiled. As if she didn't know how to lock a door. Clearly he was trying extra hard to make her feel safe. She appreciated his efforts. Few men would have bothered.

He kissed first one cheek and then the other before leaving her to shower in private.
~*~*~
Warm, clean, and dry Danner stepped into a pair of insulated underwear Hughan had cut into shorts. He’d placed a safety-pin in the elastic for her to adjust the waistband. There was a pair of red sweatpants he’d also trimmed in hopes of fitting her. She jerked on the cord to tighten it so the pants stayed in place while she rolled them up twice. She unfolded the faded green Highlands College sweatshirt and tugged it over her head. A pair of his thick socks were next and she chuckled. The heel came to her calf. What did they say about men with big feet?
Girl, best not go there.
She rolled the socks down three turns. Comb in hand she stared into the mirror, ready to tackle the tangled mess of red hair.
At least her trip had taken a decided turn for the better. Spending Christmas Eve in a strange man’s cabin watching him strut around in a kilt would be no hardship. He made such a testosterone-filled sight. 

Would she remember all of this when she got home? She barely recalled the accident a few hours ago. Events were so jumbled and confusing. Exactly, what all had happened? She hoped her head trauma would allow her to remember. She didn't want to forget one minute of her time with this man.
She had to admit Hughen had a lot of good qualities. Kindness was one. Gentleness another. The degree to which he’d mourned his late wife spoke of a strong capacity to love. A character trait she found endearing. If he was a professor, he was also intelligent. And he wasn’t afraid to tackle something difficult like building this cabin.  
He was certainly a fine package physically, too. Everything about the man was appealing—muscles out the whaa-zoo, tribal tats on his chest, upper arms, and back, dimples when he smiled, and dreamy brown eyes with golden striations. All that manliness wasn’t erased one bit by the skirt he wore or the gold hoop in his ear.  
Wait.

She glared into the mirror. 

Wait just a gosh-darn minute! Her heartbeat gonged in her ears as her scientific mind took over. 
The bear wore a gold wedding band. 

So did Hughen. 

The bear had gold in his brown eyes. 

So did Hughen. 

She swallowed her apprehension and it was audible in the tiny room. The bear wore a golden earring. 

She glanced at the locked bathroom door and scowled. So . . .  did . . . Hughen. She'd been taught never to believe in coincidences. 

Had she been so out of it with all that happened, she imagined he was a bear? A memory opened her mental door and sauntered right in. 

She’d seen a bear change into a man.
Oh, my God!

Her legs trembled and she grabbed onto the edge of the vanity while the memory played out in her mind. The bear had held her close as if she were a treasured object, not his next meal. He’d carried her here. Here to this cabin. Then right in front of her, he’d morphed into a naked man and not just any naked man—Hughen.
A shape-shifter? 

Nah!

Couldn’t be. 

Hadn’t Mrs. Campbell, who owned the Bed and Breakfast where she'd stayed last night, gone on and on about Scotland being a land of enchantment and wondrous magical happenings? The old inn keeper had shared stories of witches and wee people and animals that were angels in disguise. At the time Danner has chalked Mrs. Campbell's fantasy leanings to tourism at its best. Now …
Now she needed more rational thinking and less wayward supernatural thoughts. True, shape-shifters were relevant in mythology and literature, as well as movies and TV shows. Hadn’t she and her younger brother watched every rerun of “The Incredible Hulk” when they were kids? She’d loved Michael J. Fox in “Teen Wolf.”

“No. No, now. This can’t be.” She straightened and looked in the mirror at her bruising forehead. All this had to be a result of bashing her head on the steering wheel. What she really needed to clear her mind was a full tumbler of Hughan’s whisky.

She slapped the comb on the marble. Whisky! The bear’s breath reeked of whisky! She couldn't unlock the door fast enough. 
She stormed to the great room and found Hughan stirring a pot of something.

“Feel warmer?” He smiled. “I’ve made carrot soup for supper. We’ll have it with a shrimp Caesar salad. I’ve got plum pudding me sister-in-law dropped off yesterday. It’s her Christmas treat and I’d love to share it with ye.” He studied her, his smile dimming. “What’s wrong?” 

“Do it!” she barked.

The spoon slowly lowered to the stovetop. “Do what?” His dark eyebrows dipped into a “V.” 

“Shift into a bear. Show me I’m not crazy.” If her shape-shifter theory was off the mark, she hoped they could laugh about it eventually. Or that he didn’t throw her out into the storm rather than spend Christmas Eve with a nutcase. 

Hughan kept his eyes focused on her. “Bear willna hurt ye. He’s crazy aboot ye, so he is.” He approached her slowly. “So am I. We just met, but I feel I ken yer character. ‘Tis why I’m going to entrust ye with something that has to remain a secret, just as it has for over a thousand years. Too many people will get hurt if ye divulge what I’m about to show ye.” 

Oh, dear God. 

My suspicions are correct. I can hardly breathe. 

Her heart beat rampant in her ears like a tympani drum. “I understand, but as a scientist, I have to watch the process.” She clasped and unclasped her hands, ignoring the pain her actions wrought. "I have to witness it. Dissect the methodology of the transformation." 

“I have your vow of secrecy, then?” The set of his face bore no tolerance for a broken promise. 

“Yes. Your secret will never pass my lips. Who would I tell? I work with people run by facts. They’d never believe me.” Her breathing had turned rapid. With any luck she wouldn’t faint. 

Items of clothing whispered to the floor. Slowly, yet quickly, he changed into a large bear. She fought to keep her eyeballs in her head. 

This was wrong, so wrong. One species could not change into another. And yet she’d witnessed it. 

As if the animal knew her quandary, it extended a front paw for her to touch. The fur was both bristled and soft. She fingered the gold band on the diget and flicked the hoop in its ear. There was a wildness about its odor and yet there was a whiff of lime and sunshine much like the aftershave Hughan wore. 

She walked around the animal, studying every feature. It had all the traits of a fully-developed bear. Or in her world of academia, a carnivoran mammal of the family Ursidae. They were classified as caniforms or doglike carnivorans. She was looking at a brown bear species. 

Astounding. 

Two creatures co-existed in one body.

This was so alien to all she knew. And, yet, proof stood in front of her. And it was … fascinating.

“Shift back, please.” She sat to observe every change and alteration as the man returned.

Hughan stood before her—naked and presumably comfortable with it for he didn’t move. His eyes pierced hers as if studying her for any fear or revulsion. “Do ye have any questions of me?”

Oh, she had a million. “Does it hurt?”

He shook his head. “Nae. Well, perhaps a second or two when I first inhale as a bear. When me systems are adjusting to the new size.”

She nodded. That made sense. “Have you been this way all your life?”

“Aye. I ken me other half was there, but bear-shifters doona shift until around twelve, or so, when we enter adolescence and hormones flood our bodies.” 

“Is your whole family—“ 

“Most of us. Aye. Not me mum. Da’s mutated gene ran strong and all three of their sons are shifters.” 

He reached for his kilt and wrapped it around him. Her girly bits sulked. What a shame to cover the Yuletide log. Danner rolled her eyes. Her hormones were being more naughty than nice.  

Behave. 

Hughan kept watching her. "To ease whatever concerns ye have, we can talk more while we eat. I thought we’d sit on the floor and have our meal at the coffee table in front of the fire.” He donned his stockings and boots, then reached for his sweater. "I just need to ken ye're nae scared of me. 'Tis verra important ye're comfortable with me dual existence." 

"I'm not afraid of you." The words tumbled out before she was aware they resided in her heart. Memories of the bear gently carrying her to safety at this cabin anchored her trust. "I don't think I'm afraid of your bear either. If he was going to harm me, he'd have done it out on the icy mountain at my wrecked car." 

Hughan smiled and exhaled a gush of what she suspected was relief. "There's something ye need to ken about our combined species. While it is the human half that commands the majority of control and facetime, it is the bear half that chooses the human's mate." 

She shook her head in disbelief.  "Now you're stretching things." 

"'Tis true, Danner. Bear chose ye for me. Somehow he ken ye were coming and how important ye could be to me. He was in a state of extreme anxiety about ye all af'tanoon. He sensed ye were in trouble. So ye needna fear him. Ye are his choice for me." 

Danner silently replayed the words Hughan just spoke. "I can't believe I'm going to say this, but Bear sounds absolutely sweet." Almost as sweet as the kilted man in front of her. A spark of happiness swept across his handsome face like a shooting comet. 

He took her uninjured hand and kissed it. She sighed at his tenderness. His cheek rubbed against hers and she almost purred.  

“Me Christmas present, so ye are. I’m glad I won’t be spending the holiday alone in this cabin. I’m beyond happy ye’ll be by me side to celebrate.” 

A warmth spread through her. This was a man she’d enjoy getting to know. Maybe she'd change her flight back to the States so she could stay a little longer. Classes at the University didn't start until the third week of January.  “I’m glad, too,” she whispered. Her hands slid over his chest and he enveloped her in his arms. 

His head lowered and a sexy-as-hell grin spread just before his lips teased hers. “Where’s the bloody mistletoe when ye need it?"                                                        
~ The End ~


What do you think? Did she stay longer? Forever, perhaps?


 Thank you for reading my segment of our free Christmas reads. I do love writing bear shifters.  Please follow me on Amazon at https://tinyurl.com/ybguqjgh to keep up with my new releases. 

WAIT until you see what RE Mullins has in store for you tomorrow! You won't want to miss the next story. Merry Christmas, everyone. 

23 comments:

Margo Hoornstra said...

***sigh*** Oh yes she stays. Wouldn’t anyone? Thanks, Vonnie. Merry Christmas.

Chele m said...

Wonderful. Merry Christmas and I know she stayed longer. went back , resigned and then came home to Scotland <3 forever <3, I would

RE Mullins said...

I'd stay out there in the Highlands of Scotland with my very own bear shifter. Thanks for a great story.

Rolynn Anderson said...

No question. She stays. She got picked by a bear, after all, AND a lovely Scottish fella...two for one! Is Hughan ready to take one ring off and replace it with hers? My imagination says: Yup and Ho, Ho, Ho! Great story, Vonnie!

Brenda Whiteside said...

She stays! She gets whatever legally she needs to teach there and she tutors.

Jannine Gallant said...

Really sweet ending to your story. Thanks for the Christmas cheer, Vonnie!

Vonnie Davis said...

Merry Christmas to you, too, Margo. I think she stays, too.

Vonnie Davis said...

I would, too, Chele. Love a man in a kilt.

Vonnie Davis said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the bear shifter story, RE. I had another story half finished where the two people in the car actually got a room at the inn and thought, no...I'm doing something different. EVERYONE did something different. Don't 'cha love it? Has anyone stayed in a room at the elusive INN yet???

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks, Rolynn. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the read. Merry Christmas, hon.

Vonnie Davis said...

Brenda, she could teach English as a second language. What I heard spoken in Scotland was a far cry from Americanized English. So, so lovely. Simply brilliant as they say instead of cool or awesome. Merry Christmas to you.

Vonnie Davis said...

Jannine, I kept this read squeaky clean for your mother. I wanted her to enjoy every part of the story. I hope she did.

Alison Henderson said...

How lovely. This was the first shifter story I'd ever read, and I confess to being curious how you would handle it. Of course, you did it brilliantly.

Diane Burton said...

Of course, she stays. You handle the shifting so easily. I loved that the bear picks the mate. Cool. Such a great story, Vonnie. Each of our stories is different, as different as the writer. Loved your last line. I knew you couldn't hide your humor.

Alicia Dean said...

Awwww....beautiful story, fabulous ending. He's soooo sexy and kind. Love it, Vonnie, thanks for the entertainment!

Vonnie Davis said...

Dear Alison, some authors only mention the animal within, it's angry or fearful emotions and perhaps a smidgen of the animal revealing itself with one exposed claw or fur on fingers or feathers on the back. I didn't know any better when I wrote my first shifter book for I'd never read any. This is how my creative bent took the idea. I have an actual change and describe how I imagine it would work. Other authors may have the human leap and then as an animal. We all do it differently just like the Roses all do their Christmas stories differently.

Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks, Diane. Isn't it great how our individual creativity branches in so many directions with twists and knots. I'm still snickering over HOW Rolynn's mind took INN and made SINNERS out of it. It wowed me and I'm so darn jealous of how she did that.

Vonnie Davis said...

I love your words, Alicia. Thanks. You'll be receiving a longer, more in depth version of this as title one of a holiday series--"If the Fates Allow."

Christine DePetrillo said...

Sigh... reading this was the best part of today.

Vonnie Davis said...

You're a teacher, right? My oldest son is an 8th grade Language Arts/Social Studies teacher. He calls me after a rough day and I make him laugh. I'm his long-distance stress relief. I'm glad I provided some for you. Hugs.

Leah St. James said...

Sighing here too! Awwww...what a great ending! Of course she stayed. And she somehow got a position at the local university, and off they went to their HEA. :-) BTW, I love this line: "It will help remove the cold, damp vestiges of yer horrific experience in the snaw.”

Thank you for a great story, Vonnie!

Vonnie Davis said...

You're very welcome, Leah. I'm thrilled you liked the story. Hugs.

Alicia Dean said...

Yay, Vonnie! Can't wait! Let's hope the fates are kind. :)