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Bear’s Runaway Bride (Runaway Shifter Brides #3)
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He’s meant to hunt her.
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“Please, please, I’ll do anything you ask, anything, I swear to ya!” the man wailed. “Jus’ don’t tell the boss you found me. H-how much is he paying you? I’ll double it. Triple it, even!”
The man was lying on the floor, blood dripping from his miserable head, with a gaping wound across his shoulder. Unfortunately, the idiot had tried to run from Javi, which meant the bounty hunter had to shift into bear form to grab his prey.
And sometimes, the bear version of Javi had a mighty bad temper. Especially when dealing with wolf shifters. Their nasty smell and long noses just made Javi angry in the most inexplicable way.
Not that he’d ever try to explain it to himself. He didn’t care. He’d been at this job for twenty years and learned that the most important thing to do was remain unattached and temperamental. It scared the shit out of any shifter he was hired to capture.
“I’ve heard this speech before,” Javi growled. “And I don’t care. Now, shut the hell up and wait quietly for your Alpha to arrive. Unless you want me to make sure both of your arms match?”
Javi grinned wickedly at the weak little man. Sure, the man could have made an attempt to shift, and then Javi might have had a real fight on his hands. But the human body was too weak to sustain a shift without seriously draining his energy supplies.
The man whimpered but shut his mouth and sagged against the wooden pole Javi had tied him to. Splinters stuck out at all angles and probably stuck the guy in his back, but Javi didn’t care. This warehouse had been the best one he could find on such short notice. He never made a delivery in the same place twice, and he sure as hell made sure none of his clients knew where he lived. Everyone who was anyone in those parts knew what to do if they needed to get ahold of Javi. There was no way he’d let his enemies know his home base.
Javi was the kind of man some might call a “silver fox.” He had close-cropped gray hair and a full beard. His jawline was as chiseled as if a Renaissance artist had carved it from marble, and his dark amber eyes held domineering energy, the kind that told strangers not to fuck with him.
He was tall, six foot four, with smooth, tanned skin and bulky muscles. The kind of man women daydreamed about, even when they wouldn’t admit it. Javi knew that, too, and used his charm and good looks to his advantage when he needed a fun night. Which wasn’t very often—without love in the equation, Javi often wasn’t all that interested.
The man was a bounty hunter. He didn’t run with his clan of bear shifters, or any clan for that matter. Instead, he had struck out on his own, tired of being surrounded by idiots, and made a rather good life for himself with his bounty hunting business. Those he hunted were terrified of him, and those who hired him were in awe.
It was the perfect life for Javi.
Just then, his sensitive ears picked up a sound from the front of the old warehouse. Someone had opened the door.
With a wickedly excited grin, Javi turned back to his captive, whose ears had also picked up the sound.
“Looks like we’ve got company,” Javi grinned.
The man shrank back, and terror flooded his gray eyes.
“Have you heard the news?” Amma Tucker’s best friend, Geneva Roland, rushed up to her and demanded. Geneva was a husky girl, with more than just the normal bear fat on her bones. She had a terrible habit of eating everything she could get her hands on, even when food was at its sparsest in the dead of winter, and it showed on her bones. Amma loved her all the more for it, though, because Geneva couldn’t have cared less what anyone thought. Even her own mother, who insisted that Amma would marry and Geneva would be left an old maid, mateless and cubless for the rest of her life, if she didn’t lose some of the weight, and soon.
“What news?” Amma asked. She plucked the last blackberry from the bush and dropped it in her basket, then wiped her purple-stained fingers on the torn white cloth she’d layered outside her dress in an effort to protect it.
Not that it really mattered, though. The dress was already three hibernations old, and no one in the clan had money to spare for a trip to town and some cheap shopping. So instead, they reused what they could until it was completely worn through, and then they’d hunt down some spare cloth somewhere and make something new.
“Bernard Mowsley is coming to town,” Geneva whispered. She kept her voice hushed, even though they were in the middle of the forest and there wasn’t a soul around to hear them, as if Bernard’s arrival was some big secret.