Loaded for Bear (Bear Country Grizzlies Book 2)(45)

By: Layla Nash & Callista Ball

Rosie sauntered up, slapping a dish towel against her palm, after sending the drunk off with his son. The snow blew in as soon as the door cracked open, and Tate shivered. He really hated snow. The bartender planted her fists on her hips and leveled a “no messin' around” look at him. "Spill, Tathan."

He shook his head, fighting a smile. He'd never told her what Tate was short for, so she started guessing it was like Nathan and Nate. Tathan and Tate. He rubbed his forehead, suddenly too tired to play games. "Just a bad time of year, Rosie. A couple of rough anniversaries I don't want to think about. Whiskey takes the edge off."

"What kind of anniversaries?" Rosie pulled a few bottles of beer from the cooler and slid them down the bar to a waiting customer, never looking away from him. Despite the joking and flirting, Tate knew she worried about him. He believed she genuinely cared, regardless of whether or not he let her get in his pants. They were both mountain lions in a town run by bears, so he'd always felt a connection with her. If there was anyone he would admit it to, it would be Rosie.

"Well..." He almost spilled the beans on Paris. Just as the whiskey encouraged him to whisper Monique's name, that he'd loved her in the city of lights, the door to the bar blew open once more and a cold blast of air froze him to the stool. He turned in time to see a young woman, bundled up and carrying a small child, tumble into the bar.

Rosie blinked, then said, "Sarah Jane?" in a disbelieving voice as she hustled around the bar to the shivering young woman.

Tate stared, his heart in his throat. The young woman, wild-eyed and red-cheeked from the storm, looked familiar, though he couldn't say from where. The mountain lion sat up to take notice as well, static running through his veins. Maybe she was more than familiar. Either way, Tate didn't trust her. Didn't trust her or himself.

He returned his attention to the whiskey as Rosie and the girl spoke in low voices, and the little one she carried started to cry. A metallic, chemical smell clung to the air around the girl and reminded him of some work he'd done a long time ago for the DEA. She smelled like meth and everything that went into making it, which meant the girl smelled like trouble. He took a deep breath and pushed away the memories, of Paris and the DEA and everything that came before Bear Creek. Some things were best left in the past.