Beary Overdue (Polar Bliss 1)
after that was her choice, but the man had done more than his duty.
    Despite his lack of emotion, and his desperate desire to return to single status, his generosity hadn’t been lost on her. Still, she would have given it all back if Reid had asked her to stay.
    He hadn’t.
    She’d left town seven years ago and never looked back.
    Until today.
    A week ago, Fred passed away and she’d been called home by his estate manager to carry out his final wishes. She’d taken off an entire week from work, but the process had been easier than expected. She’d already signed the necessary papers, and she’d sorted through her mother’s things years ago. The only thing left was the viewing.
    In five days, she would say a final goodbye to the man who had put up with her for two years—even though it would have been easier to send her away—and then return to her normal life.
    The man had done his best, and luckily, she’d had Riley, Reid and their brothers to fill some of the void.
    The siblings had lost their parents in a hunting accident when the oldest was only eighteen, but Ryker had fought to keep his family together. In an effort to prove his stability, he’d opened Polar Bliss with his inheritance, and the four of them had been together ever since.
    She’d spent many afternoons doing homework in the corner with Riley while watching Reid and his brothers behind the counter, and when Riley started working there at sixteen, Ryker had put her to work, too. He hadn’t paid her, but he’d given her a place to belong when she’d felt like she didn’t have one.
    Another smile crossed her face when she remembered Ryker’s insane “no coffee” rule. They could smell the beans, there was no way around that, but she and Riley weren’t allowed to drink the brew until they were eighteen.
    Unexpectedly, Reid wouldn’t break the rules, not even for her, but she expected that had more to do with kissing, and less to do with following his brother’s impractical mandate. They’d shared many kisses after he’d sipped the liquid heaven, and she’d loved the taste of his coffee flavored lips.
    The memory gave her courage, and she opened the door and got out of the car. Flurries fell from the sky, and landed on her coat and hair, but they melted on contact. The salt from the road crunched under her shoes as her feet moved her toward the busy building, and her heart raced in excitement.
    She was going to see Reid again, and though he would never belong to her, she couldn’t hide her elation. Her feet carried her faster, and before she could prepare to see him again, her hand was on the door.
     
    ***
     
    Reid Holland sucked in a deep breath, cracked open one eye, and winced at the bright light heating his face. The room was dark except for a single ray of sunlight peeking through the closed blinds, and the pain in his head went from a dull ache to an explosive throbbing in a matter of seconds.
    He closed his eyes, and tried to remember the night before as he smoothed his hand over the other half of the bed.
    Empty.
    Empty was always good, but that didn’t mean he was alone. He covered his eyes with his forearm, took a deep breath and listened. The scent of a woman’s perfume lingered on the sheets, but other than his own breathing, no other scents or sounds filled the room.
    He slowly rose, escaping the sun’s path, and sat on the edge of the bed. His clothes sat in a neat pile on the floor, and the night before slowly came back to him.
    Another woman, another night of nameless, emotionless sex, and another failed attempt to fill the vast abyss left after losing his mate.
    His bear growled beneath the surface, but he silenced the animal. Even now, seven years later, the primal part of him wanted to hunt her down and force her to accept him. Luckily, his human side had control.
    For the most part.
    He trudged to the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet and found the bottle of aspirin that seemed to be a regular part of his

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