Hard (The Bear Chronicles of Willow Creek #2)

HARD

The Bear Chronicles of Willow Creek

 

 

EMILY MINTON

and

JULIA KEITH

 

HARD

The Bear Chronicles of Willow Creek

 

BY

EMILY MINTON and JULIA KEITH

 

Copyright © 2016 Emily Minton & Julia Keith

Published 2016

 

Hard is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and events portrayed in this book either are from the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, establishments, events, or location is purely coincidental and not intended by the authors. Please don’t take offence to the content, as it is FICTION.

Trademarks: This book identifies product names and services known to be trademarks, registered trademarks, or service marks of their respective holders. The authors acknowledge the trademarked status in this work of fiction. The publication and use of these trademarks aren’t authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

All rights reserved. This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook is copyrighted material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed, publicly performed, or used in any form without prior written permission of the publisher, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution, circulation, or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the authors’ rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly. Thank you for respecting the work of these authors.

 

Cover Art and Formatting by
JM Walker at Just Write Creations

Edited by
Kenda Gaither

 Proof Read by
Emmy Hamilton

 

 

HARD

The Bear Chronicles of Willow Creek

By

Emily Minton

And

Julia Keith

 

Eli Artair thought his cousin was crazy when he decided to marry a human. When he said he loved her only a few days later, Eli knew his cousin had totally lost his mind. There’s no way a shifter could fall in love so easily, especially with a human.

He changes his mind when he meets Liza…

Liza Calder thought her sister was crazy when she married a man sight unseen. When she called a few days later to say she was in love with her husband, Liza knew her sister had gone totally loco. No one can fall in love that fast, especially with a stranger.

She changes her mind when she meets Eli…

Can two people who don’t believe in love discover it in each other’s arms?

Dedication

 

To everyone that likes their men to have a little extra
HARDNESS
!

 

Table of Contents

 

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

Willow Creek, Alabama

April 28, 2015

 

Eli

 

WALKING INTO
town hall, I look around the packed room for a seat. When my eyes land on my father, I make my way over and sit down beside him. “Hey, Dad.”

“Hey, son. So what do you think Ethan’s gonna do about Mr. Weaver’s articles?” Dad asks as he stretches out and crosses his feet in front of him.

“I don’t know,” I mumble, wondering how my cousin is going to fix the mess that he and the council created.

Willow Creek was the perfect home for shifters, until Mr. Weaver showed up nearly six months ago. He writes for a small newspaper a few towns over and had been writing articles about the local area. He came to the town council with the idea of writing an article about Willow Creek, spotlighting the Americana feeling our town has.

Even though the shifters that make up our town were nervous about having a stranger here, the town council gave him permission to write the article. They gave him interviews and even allowed him access to town records. According to them, running him out of town would have drawn unwanted attention to Willow Creek.  

After the first article was published and nothing happened, the town started to relax. Then, the second came out and tourists started showing up. I was sure the shifters in Willow Creek would be pissed about the outsiders, but I was wrong. They all loved the money it brought to their businesses, and couldn’t wait for that nosy bastard to write another article. However, that all changed when he figured out that our town was made up solely of descendants from the men and woman who originally settled in Willow Creek. 

Our town quickly went from a cool tourist destination to the possible home of a cult, a place for whack jobs to come looking for a new home. I swear, I can’t go anywhere in Willow Creek these days without running into some freak asking me to take them to the messiah. 

The Town Council President draws my attention by saying, “First order of business, we need to discuss what to do about Mr. Weaver’s articles.”

Ethan looks around the room and asks, “Does anyone have any new suggestions on how to handle Mr. Weaver?” 

“I kinda like the man. Would hate to kill him. Everything would be fine if those papers would stop printing his articles,” a coyote shifter shouts. “You never should have given him that stupid interview.”

“I had no choice but to give him the interview. If I hadn’t talked to him, he would have kept asking everyone else questions about me.” Ethan defends himself.

I know he did what he thought was right, but I couldn’t disagree more. He should have told the nosy bastard to fuck off. That’s what I would have done. 

“I think killing him is the only answer,” a fox shifter calls out, and I nod my head in agreement. 

“I could visit him at home. My scorpion could take him out in his sleep. He wouldn’t even feel that much pain,” the man next to me adds.

That sounds like a good plan to me. I’ve spent many nights dreaming up ways to kill Mr. Weaver. Most include using my claws to rip his head from his body, while a few have been filled with my bear tearing his body apart one piece at a time. 

Before I can add my two cents, Ethan says, “We’re not killing the man, and that’s an order. His death will just make things worse. What we need is to bring in outsiders that we can trust. We need to find human husbands and wives.”

Hearing his words sends a wave of anger through me that damn near has my bear rushing forth. There is no way my father and I can deal with humans living in our town. My mother was killed by humans when I was only seven. Still, I remember her as if it was just yesterday that she stood by my side. She had been running on the town’s private land late one night, well after midnight. She should have been safe, but a group of men decided to try their hands at wolf hunting. They killed my mother, cut off her tail, and left her wolf’s body there to rot. 

Doing my best to stay in control, I shake my head and say, “We could just move. I’m sure there is someplace we can go where no one has seen those stupid articles.”

“We can’t just pick up and move,” he counters, cutting off my protests.   

I respect Ethan as my leader and best friend, but still, I can’t agree with the idea of bringing outsiders here. He talked to me about it earlier, before he presented the idea to the town council the first time. I told him then, it would only lead to more problems. I still feel the same way. 

“If he does this, we will leave,” Dad says in an angry whisper. “I won’t live around humans. I can’t.”

As far as I know, Willow Creek is the only town in the United States made up solely of shifters. I’ve heard there are a few towns in Ireland and Scotland that are home to wolf packs, but that’s about it. I’m about to ask him where the hell would we go, when a panther shifts says, “I think we should use an online dating service.”

“We don’t need dates. We need wives,” Ethan insists with a shake of his head. 

He’s wrong. What we need is to run the outsiders out of our town, but I don’t tell him that. Instead, I listen to a moose shifter ask a question. “What about mail order brides? Back in the day, wives were found by looking in the paper. Can we do that?”

There is a little more talk, before Micha carries his laptop to Ethan. “Here it is, Brides Incorporated.”

I watch as Ethan looks at the laptop, all while losing hold on my anger. “If we take human wives, we give up our chance at finding true mates. Who here would be willing to do that?”

Surely, no one will be willing to give up their true mate. By doing so, a shifter is giving up his one and only shot at true happiness. It would doom your animal half to a life of complete loneliness, and your human half wouldn’t fare much better. Even my cousin couldn’t be that selfless. 

“As leader of this clan, I’ll be the first,” Ethan states, proving me wrong. 

Knowing I can’t control my beast a minute longer, I storm out of the town council building and run straight to the forest. I strip my clothes as I go, allowing my bear out as soon as I reach a thicket of trees. Once he’s in control, I let out a guttural growl and swear to him that we will never stop looking for our one true mate. 

 

Chapter Two

May 21
st
, 2015

Liza

AS SOON
as the last of the dirty dishes is in the dishwasher, I push the start button and dry off my hands. As I run the dry towel over my wet hands, my mind drifts to my sister. She’s leaving me, moving nearly a thousand miles away to marry a stranger. I’m so lost in my own thoughts, I don’t even notice Mr. Banks walking into the room, until his hand is on my arms. I try to pull away, but his hold only tightens.  

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