Home > Saved by her Bear (Black Ridge Bears #3)

Saved by her Bear (Black Ridge Bears #3)
Author: Felicity Heaton

 


Chapter 1

 

 

Knox moved swiftly through the valley, following the edge of the mountain south, remaining far away enough from Black Ridge and Cougar Creek that he wouldn’t draw the people he was hunting there. He wasn’t sure whether they had made it to the valley yet, wasn’t sure if they were still on their way here, but he was sure of something.

Wherever they were, he was going to intercept them and deal with them.

He sprinted through the dense pines, moving as silently as he could manage, not wanting to make his targets aware of him. Stealth was key until he knew what he was dealing with. Moving quietly wasn’t an easy feat for him though. At six-five and a good three hundred pounds of muscle, every damned stride he landed felt as if it was shaking the earth and alerting the occupants of the wintry forest to his presence.

For once, being a bear shifter was a bad thing.

He wasn’t fleet-footed like the cougar shifters at the Creek, moved with about as much grace as his animal counterparts, thundering across the uneven snowy terrain.

His senses scoured the route ahead of him, seeking signs of life that weren’t animal. If he detected anything, he would slow to a crawl, would slip through the undergrowth with stealth. Right now, he just wanted to get as far from the Ridge and his twin brother as possible, ensuring that the people who were after Cameo, Lowe’s female, didn’t find her.

Gods, he was going to have to thank Cameo for shooting the human male, stopping him from firing at either Lowe or himself. He knew how much courage it had taken her to do such a thing, had seen how shaken she was by the fact she had killed a man. Lowe would take care of her. He would convince her she had done the right thing and it had been that man or them.

He was also sure Lowe would be able to convince the female not to leave Black Ridge. As little as Knox liked the thought of settling down with one female, he could see his brother was in love with her and needed her by his side.

As his mate.

His thoughts strayed to a pretty bartender and a night two years ago.

Knox growled as his right boot snagged on a root and he stumbled forwards, arms flailing, barely keeping his balance as he fought to find his stride again. He didn’t want to settle down. It was the bachelor life for him.

He almost tripped again, huffed and slowed his pace just a notch, because apparently thinking and running was too complicated for him. He jogged past Cougar Creek, checking the occupants with his senses, detecting only shifters and the humans he knew as Ivy and Gabi. No trace of intruders.

Saint, his alpha, would send word to the cougars about their visitors once Lowe returned to the Ridge, warning them to be on their guard.

Knox paused by a tree and pressed his left hand against it, closed his eyes and scented the cold air. It burned his lungs, the chill of it swift to sap the heat from his skin now he had stopped.

He glanced in the direction of the Creek, thinking about the other night when Saint had dragged him to a damned wedding celebration just so he could see the pretty little cougar female, Holly. A female who was now Saint’s mate.

His thoughts strayed to what he had said to his alpha.

That he didn’t want to be next.

Saint had found his fated female. Lowe had found his.

It wasn’t the life for Knox. He liked things simple. No strings attached. No weight around his neck.

Lowe’s words echoed in his mind, pointing out that it had been two years since Knox had chased a female.

He shoved his brother out of his head and pushed onwards, stalking through the trees, his mood blackening with each step. So what if he’d had a period of abstinence? It didn’t mean anything. Maverick had taken over handling the supply runs into town while Knox had been busy at Black Ridge, helping out with the cabin repairs that needed to be done in the short summer months. A lot of the cabins had needed repairs at the same time, and it had given him no time to get away from the Ridge before winter set in.

He glared at the dusting of snow that covered the ground despite how dense the evergreen canopy was above him. He liked winter about as much as the next bear, should have been asleep right now, curled up under a mound of furs on his bed, not running around in the freezing cold.

An icy breeze swept around him, worsening his mood as it slipped numbing fingers into any gap it could find in his weatherproof black jacket and trousers.

“Damned things are meant to be top of the line,” he muttered as he tugged the bottom of his jacket down, trying to stop the wind from getting under it.

Knox focused back on his task as he neared the trailhead, slipped into stealth mode and silently approached the small patch of snow where several vehicles were parked. He didn’t recognise a few of them, in particular a small car and a red SUV, both of which had snow covering them. Not recent arrivals then.

He crouched and moved through the trees just above the cars, gaze scanning them, and stopped when he spotted a blue pickup truck that didn’t have a flake of snow on it. He eased down the slope, slipping from tree to tree, approaching the vehicle. There were boot prints in the snow around it and the tracks looked fresh, undisturbed by the wind.

He sniffed and growled low when he scented humans. He couldn’t tell how many had been in the truck, but it had definitely been more than one.

The only other recent arrival was a black Ford F150.

Maverick’s truck.

The tension cranking his muscles tight eased a little at the sight of it and the thought that Maverick and Rune had made it back to Black Ridge. The humans would be no match for the two big bears if they strayed near the Ridge. He breathed a little easier knowing they were on hand should something go down, fear for his brother and Cameo fading, allowing him to focus on his mission.

Knox peered off to his left, back into the trees that covered the rolling terrain of the valley between the trailhead and Cougar Creek. He moved back that way, keeping low, and investigated the treeline. All of the snow was undisturbed. Whoever had come this way hadn’t headed towards the Creek.

He spotted Maverick and Rune’s trail to his left up the slope and wasn’t surprised to see they had chosen the high path. It allowed them to reach Black Ridge without going near the cougars. They must have reached the Ridge before he had left, or somehow he had passed them without noticing. It was possible. As much as he hated to admit it, he had lost himself in thought from time to time during his trek to the trailhead. The two bears could have easily gone unnoticed by him if they had been at a good distance. Their faint scents wouldn’t have triggered a sense that he was in danger, pulling him out of his thoughts.

If he had smelled humans though, he would have been laser-focused on his surroundings in a heartbeat.

He swung his gaze back towards the pickup.

Which way had the humans gone?

He focused again, reaching out with his senses and straining to hear something at the same time. All he could feel and hear were animals. The scent of the humans was fresh though, meaning that they had been here recently. Maybe within the last fifteen minutes. Thirty tops.

He broke cover and moved to the truck, placed his bare hand on the hood and glared at it. The engine was still warm.

Knox checked all around the vehicle, trying to figure out how many he was dealing with by investigating the boot prints. The snow was a mess, which made it impossible to tell. He huffed, his breath fogging in the air, and turned in a circle, scanning the snow further afield, trying to spot which way they had gone.

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