The Lost Slipper Page 3

After three days I finally was able to talk her through shifting back to human form. It took her a long time, and I know it must have been painful, but she was so strong. I was so proud of her, and after it was complete I wrapped her up in a blanket and just held her in front of the fire. She looked so young, maybe around fourteen, and I didn’t want to scare her with questions or make her start talking if she wasn’t ready. I just wanted to keep her safe.

Winnie. That was the first word she ever spoke to me, and it was all she could remember.

I had let her sleep in my bed with me when she was a cub, but after she shifted, I let her sleep in the guest room. I’d lie there in the middle of the night, feeling so lonely without her. There wasn’t ever any sexual attraction, to her. Male shifters can’t even get hard until their mating heat hits. No, what I felt for Winnie was different. It was a strong pull, and I didn’t know how to explain it. I couldn’t tell anyone, and I damn sure couldn’t talk to Winnie about it.

When she crawled into bed with me that first night, I pretended to be asleep. But as soon as she dozed off, I pulled her to me and held her close while she slept. I never did anything other than hold her and make sure she was safe. I never admitted how happy I was that she felt the need to be near me.

Every night she would sneak in my room, and I would hold her while she slept. After almost a week, I knew it needed to stop.

I started to get anxious if I was separated from her for too long, and when her scent started to fade from me, I tried to find ways to accidentally brush up against her and get it back on me. I was becoming obsessed and I knew it.

Peter Stockton was one of our pack’s best hunters, and I knew he had two young girls about Winnie’s age. When I asked him to watch over Winnie and protect her as he would his own family, he agreed. Gwen didn’t like my decision, but she’s young and doesn’t understand the way the pack works. He’s a part of us, and he will do his duty just as I will do mine.

I have a responsibility to protect everyone, and I can’t let myself be pulled in another direction by a lost little cub. I can’t spend my days pining for something that isn’t mine and won’t be mine. I can’t put the safety of the pack in jeopardy because I feel protective. That’s not what my life's about. My life is about duty and honor, and in order to fulfill those, I have to let her go.

I’ll always watch her, but I can’t allow myself to dream of things I can’t have. It doesn’t matter what I want. The pack is my ultimate responsibility.

Pushing away from the stream, I turn and make my way back home. One day Winnie will mate with someone and I’ll be able to move on. My wolf growls at the thought, but I ignore him.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to fill the void she made in my heart.

1 Winnie


“You okay?” Gwen looks at me with concern in her big blue eyes. I hate how much they remind me of Stone. I can hardly look at her without thinking of him. It’s not a reminder I like because each time it nicks away at my heart. No matter how many times I try to push past my feelings for Stone, I know I’m just lying to myself. Just when I think they’re gone, one small thing sends them all flooding back. I figure if I keep lying to myself enough, maybe I’ll start to believe it.

Gwen always seems to have that look on her face with me. I know she cares, but lately it’s making me feel a little pathetic. If anyone should be asking how someone is doing, it’s me to her. She just found her mate and is already expecting two little girl pups.

Gwen invited Ruby and me over to hang out and catch up. Dominic, Ruby’s mate, tagged along, and X is here as well. With both Gwen and Ruby expecting babies, their mates never seem to be far from them. The male shifters tend to hover over their mates during pregnancy. I wonder if my mate will do that. What am I saying? I don’t even know if bears mate.

“Yeah, just kind of sad. I still can’t remember anything. And I’ve been all over the place today,” I admit to her. I feel like my hormones are going crazy. Maybe it’s because my only two friends are both pregnant and it’s giving me an itch myself. Seeing them so in love and happy makes me ache for the same.

Being a bear in a town full of wolves, I have no idea if mating is different for us. But lately I’ve been trying to find out. For the longest time I tried to remember the life I had before I came to be a part of the Gray Ridge pack. But after a while I just let it go, thinking that one day it might come back to me. It hasn’t yet, and it’s been almost four years.

Now I’m back to pushing myself to remember and I still keep coming up with nothing. Even being close to Gwen, I still don’t feel like I belong, and I’ve been tossing around the idea of leaving the pack. To go where, I have no idea. College? Maybe. Something has to give because I feel like I could crack. I’m starting to think I might feel more accepted in the human world. It’s not like I even shift anymore. I haven’t since Stone found me.

“You’ll know when it happens. You’ll feel it,” Gwen tells me, reaching out to hold my hand. I know she’s talking about coming of age. Since I don’t know anything about before I came to Gray Ridge, my age has always just been estimated.

Gwen seems to think I’ll be like a wolf and won’t find my mate until I’m eighteen. Whether that’s true or not, no one really seems to know. What’s even weirder is when I talk to Stone about finding out about bears mating, he gets all awkward.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies