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Excerpt- Hers to Call

Simon Jacobs now believed in destiny. It was as much
a part of him as his heritage, a gift no doubt from his mother. His father
would’ve brushed the sentiment aside, telling him his bear would lead him in
all things. In this case, either of them could’ve been in the right. His bear
had chosen its mate, and whether or not fate had put her in his path was
irrelevant at this point. Five years ago, hell, maybe even a year ago he’d have
dismissed any talk of destiny. He’d wanted to believe he had control in all
things, but it had taken a simple glance at Calita Wright, and just a small
hint of her scent for his bear to rip that delusion from him.

He sighed, his body buzzing from just the memory of
that day. He’d come to Selena’s diner on a whim, searching for something sweet.
He had spotted a woman as she talked with his cousin’s wife Selena, their heads
bent together at the counter. His bear had rumbled, tightening his body with
power until half the patrons had turned to him, their gazes curious. Calita’s
soft voice had reached his exceptional hearing and yearning clouded his mind.
Only the iron control he asserted over his bear had kept the creature from
bursting from his skin and rushing to her side. For her safety and his sanity,
he’d left the diner that day.

But, he had come back.


And prayed fervently, sending
thanks to the gods his mother and her people had worshipped.  He and his bear, waited. Waited and plotted
on the best way to secure their mate. Bears were nothing if not patient, and as
the alpha, he had more patience than most. His bear had grown impatient with
his pace, but Simon wouldn’t be rushed. Not when he saw flashes of fear in
Calita’s gaze when she thought no one watched her.

Watching her skitter away from
people, Simon had worried at first that she had an issue with shifters. But,
he’d come to find out that Calita shied away more from the humans. Especially
the males.  Her nervous glances, the
little flicker of her tongue as she moistened her lips, he catalogued it all.
His mate was a little skittish, no doubt about it. But eventually, he would
have her, he held no doubts about that either.

Last night he’d decided that his
bear was right, it was time to make a move on his mate. It was one of the
reasons he’d picked the comfortable booth he currently occupied, instead of the
one nearer to the back of the diner in which he normally sat. He sipped his
coffee and flipped through the Sunday paper, his hooded gaze watching the human
wife of one of his bears.

“Mornin’, Alpha.”

“Good morning, Selena.”

“You gonna say something to her
today?” Selena settled a hand on her generous hips and gave him a sly look.

“You keeping a calendar I don’t
know about?” He folded the newspaper and laid it on the table.

She smiled. “You been in here for
dinner two weeks straight, hiding in that back booth, watching my girl.” She
wiggled her eyebrows.

He stifled his smile. Nosy bears.
Calita was the first human to catch his eye, so he understood their
fascination. Mating with humans was no strange thing, yet as alpha, it had
always been believed he’d mate with a shifter. He’d grown up in a time where
humans in Bear Ridge were rare, and it was rarer still for them to interact
with each other. He’d never once considered a human for his mate. But, his bear
had chosen, and that was that, so he gave it no second thought. He knew his
clan would be the same, so he allowed them their fun.

Now that a new treaty with the
humans was in place and the immediate threat of government interference in
their town gone, his bears deserved it.

Behind Selena’s light banter,
concern for her friend lurked in her dark brown eyes. Her gaze roved his face,
searching for something. “Calita’s not like…”

He inclined his head. “She’s your
friend. I understand, Selena.”

“I mean no disrespect, Alpha.”
She paused, her gaze lowering.

“She’s been hurt.” It wasn’t a
question. Calita had a natural wariness that told more than words could.

He’d figured out some months back
that his mate had been through something. It was the only reason he’d been able
to leash his bear for so long. Impatient though they were, the two of them were
in agreement that hurting their mate was out of the question.

Selena sighed. “Some, but that’s
for her to tell.”

“When have you known me to
mistreat a woman?”

She let out a hard breath.
“You’re right.”

“I’m always right.” It was an
automatic answer, his bear prickling at the thought of someone thinking Simon
wouldn’t take care of their mate.

She lifted her hands and barked
out a laugh. “Fine, I’ll leave it be. Besides, another week of you tiptoeing
will earn me a hundred dollars.”

He had to laugh at that. “The
sheriff know you up in here gambling?”

“You let me take care of the
sheriff.” She winked, a twinkle in her eye at the mention of her mate. Her face
straightened, and her gaze drifted to the door. “Speaking of Calita.”

She hadn’t needed to tell him.
His bear rose and Simon closed his eyes as their mate’s scent reached him. The
warm fragrance of cream and honey hit his senses, and hunger assailed him.  The familiar sound of her footfalls reached
him next, and both he and his bear went on alert. It was rare to see her in the
diner before lunch, but there she was. Her long legs, and thick thighs encased
in a pair of fitted jeans that did wonders for her ass. The simple, no nonsense
V-necked blouse clung to her, outlining her full breasts. He was entranced, his
gaze following her as if by compulsion. His body buzzed, and his head spun with
need gripping him.

Not now, she’ll be ours soon. He placated his bear, pushing down on
his power.

Simon’s gaze traced her face,
seeing the signs of a sleepless night in the dark circles marring the brown
skin under her eyes. His jaw clenched and his grip tightened on his coffee cup.
He wanted to walk up to her, demand she rest and let him take care of her.
Instead, he could only follow her march towards the kitchen with his eyes. Her
long black hair was tied at the nape of her neck, twisted into one of those
nonchalant buns she liked. He’d only caught one glimpse of her hair down, and
the image was burned into his brain. Her cocoa skin was smooth and unadorned.
No make-up, no jewelry, nothing to detract from her natural beauty. 

Her heart shaped face was serious
as her eyes occasionally looked up and darted across the diner. She had a wary
way about her. That look a deer got in its eyes when it knew the hunter was
close. That momentary flare of panic that widened the eyes and kept the body on
alert. He wondered, not for the first time, what his mate was running from.
He’d given her time to settle in, but from the rumble leaving his throat, his
bear was done with waiting. Selena chuckled and touched his shoulder as she
left him.

Simon thought on it as he sipped
his coffee. His mind wondered back to why she’d come in so early. He didn’t
usually see her. Not that he came to breakfast every morning, he had work on
the ranch that kept him busy most days. There were some days, though, when he
had a hankering for the pastries Calita made…that and he craved the sight of
her. He came often enough that it had raised the town’s interest, even though
he wasn’t the only one drawn into the diner by the pastries and desserts Calita
made. Bears who almost never left their dens and bears from miles away had
started making the trek to Selena’s diner.

But, he would admit…

He’d given himself away from his
first glance of Calita.

And now everyone in town was
betting on when he’d make his move. He shook his head and waved down a waitress
to order a dozen more of the croissants with lemon jelly to go. He’d hide them
in his office and hope his second in command didn’t sniff them out before the
day was done. 

The small diner was starting to
get crowded as the patrons of the small hotel next door trickled in. Most of
those patrons would be headed out to his ranch once breakfast was done. Watson
Ranch was a big tourist draw for their town and he was extremely proud of that.
It was a reminder that he had work he needed to be doing. But taking his mind
off his mate was harder with each passing day. Calita was a mystery he was
intent on solving. He thought it best to wait until the shadows left her eyes,
but a year in their small town and she still seemed tense and uneasy. Obviously
waiting would get him nowhere with this particular problem, so he needed to take

Besides, if he didn’t say
something in the next couple of days his Beta threatened to do him bodily harm.
Gavin wanted to win the money from the pool. Simon shook his head. He liked
seeing his bears happy. Even if it was at his expense.


The kitchen was busy, the loud
noise music to Calita’s ears. The staff was small, but efficient, good-natured
insults were tossed back and forth in easy camaraderie. The diner where she now
worked was small and a far cry from the fancy restaurant in Chicago where she’d
been executive chef, and she got far more enjoyment from it because of that.
Selena had hired her to take over the kitchen, but she’d felt more comfortable
assisting her friend, getting a feel for the place. She didn’t want to…no
couldn’t, deal with the extra responsibility when she’d first arrived. But
recently, even though she kept the schedule of a line cook, Selena had moved
all responsibility over to her. Calita’s lips quirked up into a smile. They
were both obstinate, she would continue pretending to be a regular kitchen
employee, and Selena would steadily defer decisions to her until she caved.

 The breakfast crowd was coming in steady
streams, and Calita was happy she’d come down earlier. She should’ve been
upstairs trying to get more sleep before her shift, but she’d found that
working helped keep the demons away. Remnants of her nightmare flitted across
her mind. Her hand lifted, pressing against her shirt, just under her bra, her
habit of rubbing the spot, reflexive. She needed to feel the scars that were
proof of nightmares made real, it was compulsion.

The kitchen door swung inwards
and her best friend since middle school sauntered in, a mischievous smile
covering her face. Calita jerked her hand from her chest and changed her gloves,
going back to work on her dough.

Cali shook her head. “I don’t
trust that look in your eyes, Lena.”

“What look?” Her friend leaned
against the stainless-steel table Cali worked at.

She waved her spoon at her
closest friend. “That look, the smug one you’re wearing.”

Selena waggled her neatly arched
eyebrows. “Someone has an admirer.” She fluttered her lashes, her voice rising
an octave.

Cali shook her head. It was a
good idea for her to leave men alone for a while. But, that would explain the
feeling of eyes on her she’d felt when she was walking through the diner a
moment ago.

“What’s new? Ms. Thang keeps them
panting after her.” One of the waitresses waited at the window for her order.

“It’s not me, personally. I’m
sure it’s because I’m new here.” Cali set down her spoon and dumped her dough
onto the pastry mat, avoiding Selena’s eyes.

“Yeah, okay.” The waitress
grabbed her tray and closed the pickup window with a laugh.

Calita chanced a look at her
friend and noticed she still wore her smile. “You’re up to something.”

Selena shrugged, but arched her
eyebrows. The smile on her face dropped when she got a good look at Calita’s
face. “What’s happened?”

“Nightmare.” She raised her hands
as Selena gasped. “I’m handling it.”

“If you need to talk.”

“Really, Lena, I’m fine, I just
need…” she shook her head. “You’ve given me what I needed.” She whispered. “A
fresh start, a place where I finally feel safe. Give it time.”

 She looked around, not wanting the others to
hear the strain in her voice. Selena touched her shoulder and nodded. Calita
kept herself from flinching from the touch. With the nightmare fresh on her
mind, she was anxious, skittish. But she noticed since she’d come to Bear Ridge
that people did that a lot.


She’d finally trained herself not
to flinch.

Yay her.

 She puffed out a breath and pushed down the
need to escape her friend’s probing stare. 

Selena cleared her throat. “Is
that why you’re down so early?”


“You’ve gotten, what, three hours
of sleep, tops.” Selena brushed a hand over her hair.

“I’ll be fine. I’ll go upstairs
and take a nap before I start the desserts for dinner. Besides, you’re lucky I
came down. The pastries for breakfast are low anyway.”

“Well, you know bears.”

She nodded. Another thing she was
learning since being here, the appetite of bears. Wasn’t life funny? Shifters
had come out to the public decades ago, and she didn’t think she’d met a single
one until she’d come to Georgia.

“Don’t you want to know who it
is?” Selena asked, changing the subject.

Calita sighed, wishing her friend
had changed it to something else. “I do not.”

 Though, she was a little curious. The men
around this town were hunky to say the least. She didn’t know how she felt
about dating a shifter. She’d arrived at the town wary, thinking they would be
dangerous animals, but the human she was running from had scared her way more
than that possibility. From day one though, the gentle bears had made her feel
safer than she had in a long time. Even through their curiosity, they’d given
her space. They passed along compliments on her cooking, or gossip about town
and its people, all the while never intruding into her personal space. It had made
her feel welcome.

Selena leaned over the counter
and opened the pickup window, jarring Cali from her thoughts. Her best friend
pointed to a man sitting alone at the booth directly across from them.  Calita’s nape tingled, her body tightened and
her breath stalled. Her eyes collided with a set of onyx ones. Heat flooded her
cheeks, her stomach did a lazy flip and her body awakened. Who was he? She
blinked to break contact. A mocking smile tilted his full lips and he raised
his glass of juice in a toast. How had she missed a man that fine?

My God.

He couldn’t be real. His Native
American heritage was stamped on his face. High cheekbones, hollowed cheeks and
a squared jaw gave him a rugged look that pulled at her feminine core. Curly
hair flowed to his shoulder in wild disarray, along with rich dark skin that
told her he was Black as well. Thick eyebrows lowered over those dark eyes as
his heated gaze roved her face. Feminine awareness and a healthy dose of
self-preservation had her moving out of view of the window. All that restrained
power crackling around him, Lord…just a look at him had Calita’s hormones
bouncing around her body. Her hands shook as she went back to kneading.

Who was he?

Not her business. She couldn’t
afford the promise of heat in his eyes.

Selena laughed outright. “So, you
want to know his name?”


She shook her head no, still
unable to speak. She was shaken, but not in a bad way.

Selena laughed. “Simon’s a great

Feminine sighs met that
statement. Cali narrowed her eyes at the staff. The town’s alpha. She’d heard a
fair amount of stories about him and they did nothing to prepare her for the
dominance that radiated from the man. 


That was a better word for it.
She turned to the sink and washed her hands to give herself a moment.

“That man is a God,” someone

“You ain’t never lied.” This from
one of the prep chefs.

“Thank you for disrupting the
kitchen,” Cali accused.

Selena shrugged her rounded
shoulders. “If you don’t want him, I can think of at least a dozen women who’ll
take him off your hands.”

Bawdy laughter had her rolling
her eyes. “Whatever. You can leave now.” She turned back to the table.

“Make him work for it, Cali.”
Another waitress said floating past her, tying on an apron.

Cali swept everyone in the
kitchen with a stern gaze. Chuckles met her look. “Disrespectful, the whole lot
of you,” she teased. “Back to work. I’m not talking about this.”

She shook her head and promptly
ignored them. She couldn’t shake those dark eyes though. Upturned at the ends,
mysterious, and heated, his gaze would haunt her. Selena left the kitchen
laughing, and Calita’s hands shaking. She puffed out a breath when finally, the
others lapsed into busy silence.

Simon…yeah, she wasn’t ready for

#Writing Prompt Wednesday 7/3

Hi guys! It’s Wednesday and time for another writing prompt. My picture today is super simple, but I heard the sound of it as soon as I saw it. Though there are no people in this picture, I couldn’t get past the sound, so my scene focused on that. Who is hearing the sound? are they irritated, anxious? Is the sound soothing to them, or a source of stress? What scene comes to mind for you. 

For me, the sound would be grating, a reminder of tasks undone. Just one more thing to add to my character’s list. Writing can be so personal sometimes, a little piece of you slipping into your characters as you write them. I myself am feeling overwhelmed, so it was only natural I would write a character who would feel that way as well. 

As always with my writing prompts, it’s lightly edited, and off the cuff as it came out of my head. Take a peek and let me know what you think. 

She flinched.

Every time a drop of water hit the sink she flinched again.

She was in no immediate danger and yet, her nerves were
strained nearly to their breaking point. The last customer had left her diner,
and now the only noise in the place was from the incessant leak dripping from
her kitchen sink. She was supposed to get it fixed last week, but…

Money being what it was, she’d be lucky to fix it this
month. The town was damn near empty at this point, the only residents left
could hardly afford to eat out. She should just take the money. It’s not like
she had anything holding her to this town, or this diner for that matter. She
chewed her lip. Her grandfather would roll over in his grave at the thought of
her giving up the family business. But she’d never had any attachment to the
place other than him. And now he was gone.  Aubrey stared out into the dark night, not
seeing the empty downtown streets, but rather her beleaguered reflection. What
was she doing sticking around?

She asked herself that a lot, but every time she went to
pick up the phone, something stopped her. Not yet, it said. Just a little while
, it whispered. Why she listened to that voice she couldn’t say. It
whispered to her to get ready. For what? She didn’t know, but her body was
tense, and a sense that all around her would change dragged her stomach down to
her toes. Wheeling the mop bucket over to the far corner of the diner, she
sighed. Best to get on with it. Pride wouldn’t let her leave for the evening
without cleaning the place. Her diner may be small, and the leather seats in
the weathered booths cracking in some places, but no one could call it dirty.



Aubrey’s hands shook as she gripped the mop and dragged it
out of the water, plopping it onto the floor. Why was she so nervous? She
started humming, hoping to block out the sound of the drip. Her shoulders ached
as she backed her way through the diner, stroking the mop across the worn



The sound of the water dripping still intruded. She started
singing an old song her grandfather worked to when he’d manned the kitchen in
the back. The rhythm of it soothed her, not so much that her stomach had stopped
fluttering, though. A crack of thunder sounded directly outside her diner and
she gasped, standing erect. Lightning flashed and a shadow of a man hovered
just outside the diner window.

She screamed, dropping the mop. Shit, shit, shit. She stood
in place staring at the window, but the shadow was gone. Because…yeah, it was
just a shadow. Still, her heart raced and her breaths came out in short
panicked bursts.


Aubrey spun on her heels, screaming. There was a man standing
less than five feet away from where she stood. He didn’t make any moves, just
cocked his head and watched her. The white dress shirt her wore was open to the
top of his chest, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His fitted slacks, made him
look so out of place in her dinky diner. She sucked in a breath and moved a
step back.

He held out his hand. “Are you ready?”

Oh God, was she dead? She was dead. The man was gorgeous, chiseled
cheekbones, full lips and almond shaped eyes that glowed hazel. His jet black
hair was long in the front, tousled over his forehead. Him being an angel would
explain a lot. She slapped her hand against her chest, frowning as her
heartbeat thundered underneath.

“I’m not dead,” she whispered, more to herself than him.

He frowned, lowering his hand. “You don’t…no one
prepared you?” He cursed and turned his back to her.

She eased back towards the backdoor, taking small silent
steps while his back was turned. If she could just…

He whipped around, one if his eyes now glowing green. “I’m
sorry, but I don’t have the luxury of time.”

His hands moved in a circular pattern until lights danced
around his wrists. Mesmerized, she stopped moving.

“Again, I’m very sorry about this,” he whispered, just
before everything around her went dark. 

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