Accepting the Bear Excerpt © Josette Reuel
Rogue sat on the front porch swing. The plantation style house was huge and she loved the wraparound porch. Everything here was so different than her apartment in Tennessee. Trees and bayou stretched out, she could only assume for miles, in all directions. The noises of the bugs and animals, the wind through the branches of the trees, lulled her as she pushed the swing back and forth. Slowly rocking as her mind furiously tried to digest what had been said in the kitchen.
Not only Al, who had met the man that had brought them here, but Nat and herself too. These gorgeous, tall, broad, muscled men thought that the three of them were their mates. It was too good to be true. It was one of her favorite books come to life.
Most would respond like Nat with total disbelief. However, Rogue had always believed in the supernatural and the possibilities that were in the universe that human beings typically didn’t know or understand. Growing up with a free-spirited mom and with a name like hers, Rogue Marie Phenix, you had to see the possibilities in life. She thought back to her and the girls’ trip to the cemetery. She had made a wish. She was grateful for finding the Book Worms, for having found friends like Al, Nat, and all of the other girls on their page, but at twenty-nine years of age, it wasn’t enough. She dreamed of a man and a family.
In recent years she had taken her life into hand. A cancer scare will do that to you. She no longer waited for the right time, but took life by the horns and rode that bull full-tilt forward. That is why she had planned this trip with Al and Nat, why she was planning a trip to Europe, and why she had begun classes for a degree in IT Administration. She had goals and she was going to reach them.
But, Destiny could be a fickle bitch and it appeared she had other ideas. In the form of a six foot three inch bear of a man, with startling green eyes that seemed to see straight into her soul. She could say to hell with Destiny and her ideas, but between his size, those eyes, short brown hair that begged for her fingers to run through it, a five o’clock shadow, his southern and French accented drawl, and the tattoos, Rogue was already in lust enough to agree with just about anything that man wanted.
Malkum was intense and maybe a bit volatile. When she had agreed with Nat’s initial response that this had to be crazy, his reaction was immediate and violent. When he had pushed his chair back and stood, Rogue’s breath had hitched at the sight of all those muscles.
Damn it. I’m supposed to be figuring this out, not thinking about him.
At that moment, the man in question stepped out the front door and onto the porch. Malkum walked to the edge of the porch and gazed into the bayou, she couldn’t fathom what he saw that she couldn’t. He shook his head and sighed as he leaned against a porch post and glanced over at her.
“Alvena said you need space, but I have a weird feelin’ in my gut. I’m not sure it’s safe out here,” he rumbled, and then stared off into the bayou again. “The bayou around my house is normally secure, but things are different now.”
Malkum came up to her and reached out his hand. He just stood there holding his hand out and waited. She gazed up into his deep emerald eyes and placed her hand in his. He pulled her from the swing and she stumbled into his chest. The man was a foot taller than her and she had to crane her head way back to look into his face from this angle. The strong jaw clenched and his nostrils flared.
“Can you humor me, chère? I’ll let you have yer space as long as it’s inside.” His fingers slid up her arms and gripped her at her biceps.
She felt him push her backwards. He set her to the side and strode a few feet down from her. He peered around the corner of the house to the other side of the porch. He stood stiff and watchful.
What the blazes in hell? The man was driving her insane. They had said that he was her mate, but he acted as if he wanted nothing to do with her. Out of the three girls, she was the one who would jump into this mate business with both feet — she had signed up on that Internet dating site after all — and this man seemed to have less interest in her than the slug she saw slowly moving across the porch step.
Rogue’s temper flared and she stormed over to where the insufferable man stood.
“Now, you see here,” she said as she stabbed him in the chest with her finger. “One, don’t ever set me to the side like some object or child. Two, I have been takin’ self-defense classes and I can take care of myself. If you would think back, Nat and I protected the three of us just fine on our own. And, three, there is no way…”
A thump sounded and then she heard something metallic roll across the wood of the porch floor only seconds before Malkum had her up in his arms and was racing down the porch on the side of the house. He leaped from the top of the steps leading to the back yard just as a loud boom shook the earth. Rogue could hear shouts and gunshots sound from behind her. Malkum clutched her tightly to his chest and the world bounced with the strides of his steps. Everything was happening so quickly that she couldn’t quite catch up and figure out what was happening.
Malkum slid to a stop on a dock, just steps away from the water of the bayou that spread out behind the house. He set her down in a small motor boat and jumped in after her. He quickly had the motor on and was turning the boat out onto the water.
“Wait,” she croaked out.
Malkum kept steering the boat and watching where they were going while glancing behind them.
“Wait,” she screamed. “What the fuck is goin’ on? We need to go back. I need to help Al and Nat.”
A gunshot rang out from behind them and she heard a bullet hit a nearby tree just as they turned at a bend in the waterway.
“Malkum? My friends?” she pleaded.
He reached up to caress her cheek and gazed into her eyes.
“They will be okay, chère. Kai and Charlie will protect them.” He turned his eyes back to the trees and vegetation.
Rogue heard things slipping into the water. She shivered and wrapped her arms around her waist. The man was like a beautiful marble statue and he was listening about as well as one too. She watched as he turned down a split in the waterway and sped forward. The sun shone off his hair, adding highlights of gold and red to his dark brown locks. She sighed. Yeah. Destiny’s a fickle bitch.