Kiwi Bear 1 - Adam

This week's 'Extra! Extra!' is the start of a shifter novella I've been writing for fun. A free read for you - and the next two or three parts will follow each week until I publish it with this cover. Hope you enjoy!

                               Kris Pearson - cover, Sniffing Her Out

 

Adam Malone sniffed the air and let his kayak drift in the evening silence. The scent of a woman wafted just above Lake Taupo’s shimmering surface. A young woman. He turned his head, sniffing again. Yes, there she was—female, fertile, and with waves of fear mixed into her signature pheromones.

Why was she here? Why was she spooked? And more importantly, who was doing the spooking?

He took another deep, slow sniff. The grassy aroma of raupo—the Māori name for the luxuriant ‘bullrushes’ as many Kiwis called them—entered his sensitive nostrils.

Water-smells.

Bird-scents.

And again that enticing female fragrance. Delicate. Delicious. Calling to the male in him. It was more than time he found his mate and gave the world a few cubs. His lodge at the compound had been designed for family life—but so far, no family. And as the oldest of the brothers, he should set the example. He knew this, but finding his mate was proving harder than expected. Could it be her?

Adam’s senses were naturally heightened even when he was in his human form. He turned his head again, breathing deeply and quietly, parting his lips to draw the air in over the receptors on his tongue, listening with such attention that he also heard the approach of the ripples that soon slapped against the side of his sleek black kayak.

She was over on the far right where the trees grew closely tangled, and so was whatever was frightening her. He slid his paddle into the lake’s glassy surface, flexing his huge shoulders to silently turn the small craft. Then he began a swift journey across the stretch of open water.

The lake at dusk was surely one of the most beautiful places in the world. The lights of the tourist township of Taupo twinkled in the far distance against the threatening bulk of Mount Tauhara—the dormant volcano that rose more than a thousand metres above sea level. Adam had enjoyed the challenging hike up its steep slopes only a month earlier with his brother, Dex. The trees had echoed with birdsong, and the eventual spectacular view from the highest point had included several other majestic volcanoes.

Tonight though, he’d be keeping low. Low, quiet, and alert.

Her scent grew richer and his blood flowed south, pleasurable but distracting. He’d hungered to find his mate so he could lie with her and watch her belly swell with his first cub. Longed to claim her and provide her with a home and affection. Surely somewhere the right female craved his body and his company? So far though, every contact had led to disappointment, and each woman he’d trusted had been shocked by his secret. Dismayed by his size and dominant nature. Frightened when he revealed his true self.

This woman’s perfume called inexorably to his bear, but he’d been wrong before and wouldn’t risk another frustrating disaster without being very sure.

Then he heard her over the background noise of lapping water and drowsy bird-calls. Grunts of exertion. Hisses of anger. A howl of distress. His protective instincts surged to the surface, and he drove the paddle deeper and faster until the kayak swooped past the raupo to one side of the beaching area. It was as much cover as he was likely to find, and he noticed it also sheltered an old white dinghy. Was that what had caused the larger ripples?

Now, nothing could keep him away. Her scent had him rock-hard, and his bear was on the very point of growling a challenge to whoever was hurting her.

Adam clamped his teeth together and tried to ease his cock into a more comfortable position inside the constricting wetsuit. His bear was too close to the surface, threatening to burst out and take over. He spared a brief moment of concentration to suppress the raging animal who was attempting to invade his muscles and reshape his body into the towering, snarling, clawed predator that lived beneath his skin.

The scuffling and grunting grew louder. Another waft of her delicious scent arrived—musk and salt and warmth. Adam swallowed. His mouth watered. And then the unmistakeable clanking of a chain reached him. Had someone confined her? Were they trying to lay claim to a woman whose scent aroused and deeply interested him? Haste took over from caution and he dragged his kayak well clear of the water, lunging forward and crouching, his tall form moving swiftly under the snagging branches of manuka and kowhai. A dozen steps forward. A pause to listen again. A man’s voice this time, cursing horribly. Adam turned slightly to the right and scrambled up a steep bank.

Damn but he could do with his thick pelt for protection against those branches, and his claws for better purchase on the jagged incline… But no, he held the bear back, knowing it would frighten her.

And now her scent was strong. He licked his lips, breathing her right in, taunted by the rich female nectar that floated on the still air. He smelled the man, too. A smoker, wearing clothes that hadn’t been washed for several days. Maybe the escaped prisoner the police were searching for?

In the darkening gloom he caught sight of the old poacher’s shelter—lit by the dance of a flashlight that stilled as he drew nearer. If the man had brought her here to this lonely place and chained her, he no doubt planned to harm her. Adam’s blood raced, his brain smoked, and a fierce tension snaked all through him as his protective instincts roared to life. Whoever she was, he’d save her and see where it led. He hastened toward her, navigating the long grasses and forest regrowth with care, determined to retain the element of surprise.

The shelter was doorless, and in the light of the large flashlight—now set on its base and casting illumination up to the rough ceiling—Adam saw her for the first time.

Her long hair was sable-dark. Her eyes shone huge and outraged. She wore the bottom half of red bikini, but her generous caramel-coloured breasts were naked, and their dusky nipples were tightly peaked in the chilly air. Each was way more than a handful, and they bounced and swung as she twisted and slashed with a length of chain at the grasping hands of an unknown man as he attempted to reach out to fondle them.

The bear boiled and struggled, desperate to be free, but before he lost all control, Adam gave a mighty yell and charged straight into the shelter. It took only nano-seconds to realise that those hands belonged to an opponent nearly as tall and broad as himself—a formidable fighter.

They rolled together in a deadly clasp, pummelling and punching, hauling on hair, dragging at clothing, inflicting damage however they could. The girl joined in by lashing the chain at her attacker, but her aim was thwarted by one end of it being fixed to the wall.  

Adam saw whirling stars as the flashlight crunched down on his cheekbone. His bear would no longer be restrained and snarled thunderously—bursting out of his tough neoprene wetsuit as though it was tissue paper, and exposing razor-sharp teeth and deadly claws.

The fight was over in seconds, but not before the woman had seen him in all his Grizzly glory and fainted dead away.

                                                         *

Atarangi felt warm, strong hands touching hers and removing the chain from her grasp, but she dared not open her eyes and look. The terrifying monster must still be there. She hadn’t heard it move away, but why would her attacker suddenly show a gentle side like this? And how was he in any shape to release her? He’d looked bloodied and broken, lying there on the floor.

That had absolutely been a bear. A bear out of thin air. A gigantic brown bear that towered at least eight feet tall. New Zealand had no bears, and certainly none that roamed free. Could it have escaped from a zoo?

She trembled as the memory of it invaded her brain again. Fierce and frightening beyond anything she’d ever seen. She’d smelled its warm furry scent, seen its terrifying teeth and claws, been astounded by its size and ferocity. Surely she’d gone mad?

“Are you feeling better?” a deep voice asked.

Atarangi opened one cautious eye. The voice belonged to the most welcome man she’d ever seen. A handsome bare-chested, brown-haired Adonis with bulging biceps and a strong rippling torso. Where was the bear?

Her gaze flicked around the shelter. Everything seemed back to normal. She heard the rippling of the lake. The soft breeze through the treetops. The last of the evening chorus from sleepy birds. “There was a bear,” she stammered.

The man shrugged. “There’s only him.” He prodded a big foot at her captor, now lying crumpled beside her on the floor. “And me. I’m Adam.”

He bent and fastened the free end of the chain around the wrist of the man on the floor. “He’s not going anyplace soon,” he confirmed. “But we’ll just make certain.” Then he picked up her red bikini bra and dangled it in front of her as she sat there still in shock. “You’re plenty tempting enough without showing me those as well,” he added with a grin.

She groaned, and made a grab for it. God, he’d seen her ginormous boobs and was still smiling? Then she remembered how rough hands had snatched at her bikini ties right after she’d stepped out of her flip-flops on the shore. The first man must have been hiding there, waiting to steal the dingy.

“I’m Atarangi,” she said, trying to cover herself with the inadequate scrap of fabric, sure she was blushing, and not knowing where to look—except she very much wanted to look at him. “My T-shirt’s in the boat.”

“I’ll get it,” he said, giving her some merciful privacy to untangle straps and get the stupid thing the right way around so she could juggle her big tits into it and tie it up.

“Can you walk?” he asked, eying her bare feet on his return. They were smeared with blood and stung horribly from the scrabbling, dragging resistance she’d put up against the man trying to haul her up the rocky incline

“Not sure,” she said. “But I’ll manage somehow.”

He shook his head. “Or I’ll carry you. My lodge is only half a mile away.”

Atarangi rolled her eyes. “Have you seen the size of me? I’m not exactly portable.”

He extended a hand to help her up, and inspected her once she stood there quaking and embarrassed.

“Beautiful,” he said, raising his head and taking a deep breath—almost as though he was sampling her.

She saw his nostrils flare slightly. “Too fat,” she retorted. “A big strong Māori girl who weighs a ton.”

“Beautiful,” he repeated. “Beautiful hair, beautiful eyes, a body a man could get lost in.”

“Yeah, right.” She compressed her lips. “I’m glad he didn’t anyway,” she said, trying to hold back tears and aiming a kick at the man on the floor. “Ow!” she yelped as her toes connected with his ribs.

The man called Adam crouched again and cradled her foot in his hands. Such big warm hands, gentle and soothing. She clutched at his head to keep her balance, and buried her fingers in his hair. Thick and silky on top. Closely cropped at the sides. As smooth to stroke as cats’ fur.

And what a magic view below that! Broad shoulders and a long hard back; the waistband of his jeans pulling low as he squatted, giving her an enticing glimpse of his trim butt.

“You can’t walk in that state,” he said, releasing her foot, and standing.

“I don’t have to walk far.” She closed her eyes, hating her statuesque build. “And you can’t carry me.”

“Watch me,” he said.

                                                                 *