A Lion Shame (Bear Creek Grizzlies Book 3)

By: Layla Nash & Callista Ball

Bear Creek Grizzlies Book 3



Chapter 1





Tate





Tate sat at the bar and nursed a glass of whiskey, trying his best to ignore the commotion behind him. Rosie's bar had gotten busier and busier as Bear Country Tours took off and more tourists moved through the town, drawing the locals in as well with promises of additional revenue. And new faces to hit on.

He made a face and focused on the liquor as one of the local girls, only a few years out of high school and facing a lifetime of working on her daddy's farm, sidled up to him and batted her eyes at Rosie behind the bar. She asked for a diet Coke and Tate wanted to slam his face into the bar. It wasn't that the girl wasn't pretty — she was. But that was all she was. She hadn't been anywhere and maybe wanted to change that, so she was eying him like her ticket out of the small town. He'd just be a way to get to the big city for that girl, or maybe a meal ticket if she didn't want to work. Tate wanted more from a relationship, and since he wasn't going to find it there, he wasn't interested in any of it. Not even for a night, since it wouldn't be fair to the girl.

Rosie eyed him as she slid the girl her drink and told her to scamper away home before last call, otherwise Rosie would call her mama, and then the bartender leaned her elbows on the scarred surface of the bar. "Okay, handsome. Spill. You're glummer than a colt in the gelding barn."

He snorted, glancing up only enough to tip more whiskey into his glass. He'd convinced her to get the good stuff, finally. No more of the bullshit rubbing alcohol those cowboys called whiskey. No taste. "Nothing to worry about, Rosie."

"I could put a smile on your face, darlin', but since you've turned everyone else down this week, I don't think I'll put my ego on the line." Rosie took away the bottle, though.

"You sure about that, sugar?" Tate winked at her and Rosie laughed, waggling her eyebrows.

She gave him a good look at her ample cleavage in response, and Tate nearly snorted his drink through his nose as he tried not to laugh. Rosie was a grade-A cougar, in every sense of the word, and if Tate hadn't enjoyed her company so much, he might have taken her home. But he didn't want to ruin their friendship with sex. So he heaved a dramatic sigh and half-stood from his stool to reach over the bar, retrieving the bottle of whiskey she'd tried to hide. He refilled his glass. "Oh, Rosie. You'd love me and leave me. I'm not sure my heart could take it."

"It's not your heart I'm worried about," she said under her breath, moving away to shout at one of the drunks who tried to fish his keys out of the bowl near the register.

Tate chuckled into his drink, pretty damn certain he knew what she was thinking, and shook his head. It had been a long couple of months since he moved to Bear Creek after his half-sister Zoe nearly got killed by her mobster boss. And since Zoe had shacked up with Simon, Tate's battle buddy from too many years in the French Foreign Legion, Tate didn't exactly like hanging around their house. Zoe being pregnant only made it worse, since it left absolutely zero possibility that she hadn't slept with Simon and they only read poetry to each other in bed. Tate really didn't want to think about his little sister getting it on with anyone, even his buddy. Especially his buddy.

Tate made a face and swirled the whiskey in his glass, debating whether he wanted another burger. It was too damn cold and a snowstorm had been blowing for hours. He didn't have to walk far to get to the apartment he rented over the hardware store, but he hated every second of being outside. He was a mountain lion, not built for deep snow. He was the desert kind of mountain lion. He liked sun. Lots and lots of sun. So it would be a long winter in this frozen town. He'd taken over the business side of Simon's tour company, greeting the tourists when they reached town and arranging their transport up the mountain. The roads were too treacherous in winter to send the tourists up the mountain on their own, so Tate did the honors.

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.

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