Bearly Healed:Pacific Northwest Bears

By: Moxie North

Chapter 1

There were worse ways to travel. On a bumpy bus, the back of a broke down motorcycle, hell even a wagon being pulled by a disgruntled donkey. None of these were even close to the luxury of flying in a private jet. Cassie knew this, part of her even accepted it. The deep down part that thought it was totally kickass that she was laying on the long couch of the plush cabin. Her feet propped upon pillows. A cold beverage at her elbow delivered by a very nice flight attendant named Monica.

Who the hell named their kid Monica? That wasn’t a nice thing to think. Again, something she knew but didn’t want to admit. She had reduced the number of emotions in her usually vast repertoire to pissed, snarky, really pissed and morbidly depressed.

Life was sweet, at least it had been. She lived in an amazing house with her best friend Effie and Effie’s husband Dax. Dax wasn’t just her legal husband; he was also her mate. Dax was a shifter, as in he could turn into a cougar. Effie was human, although the way she explained it she was mostly human now. And just a little bit shifter. Which made sense she guessed. Shifters lived longer than humans. No one would want to be married to someone that always looked half your age or worse, younger.

Her best friend in the world had found a man that worshipped the ground she walked on. Literally. She was his one true mate. The one soul meant for him in all the world. She was his beginning, his middle, and his end.

Cassie didn’t understand it. Couldn’t get how someone could put every one of their own selfish desires aside for someone else. She’d grown up in a mismatch family of her mom, her aunts, some random cousins and lots of “uncles” that she was in no way related to. Her family was a mess of drunks, losers, layabouts, and generally useless people.

She was pulled from her family not for any horrendous abuse, but from neglect. Too many adults that didn’t care if a four-year-old had food. Or whether a six-year-old had a bath in more than two weeks. Cassie was the kid that always smelled bad at school. Her clothes were dirty, her shoes were too small, and she was always hungry.

Those years made Cassie the fighter she had grown up to be. Except now, there wasn’t any fight left in her. She was down before her accident; now she was sunk.

Three months back, Effie and Dax had headed off to the Washington peninsula to meet up with the Rochon family for Christmas. They said it wasn’t a good idea for her to go. She didn’t mind; she had big plans to party it up with her girls from the roller derby. Which she did. Then she hit the late night party with the crew from the tattoo shop where she worked.

It got a little fuzzy after that. She remembered tequila. A lot of it, then nothing. Apparently she had given her keys over to a friend that assured her and everyone else they were good to drive. Jesse had a few drinks, but police said speed was a bigger factor in her accident.

Since she had no memory of the accident, she only knew what others told her. They hit a telephone pole. She was pinned in the car for over an hour before they could cut her out. Her friend Jesse had a broken wrist and some serious bruising.

Cassie, though, had been hurt worse. She’d read the medical report once just to make sure she understood what she was being treated for. The report stated head trauma, severe enough that she was in a medically induced coma for almost two weeks to let the swelling in her brain go down. While she was out, they’d removed her spleen. Apparently, you don’t have to have one of those to live.

What had it ever done for her anyway? Although now she was sporting another scar that ran down the middle of her torso, from the bottom of her rib cage to below her navel. Oddly it was one of the rare spaces she hadn’t chosen to get a tattoo since she figured eventually her bad eating habits would catch up to her, and she didn’t want some cute tattoo all stretched out. Now it didn’t matter, the red line down her stomach was physical and metaphorical like she’d been split down the middle.

She’d fractured her ankle, which normally was just an inconvenience. She also tore some ligaments in her other knee. Which meant even when she woke up she couldn’t walk with crutches. She had been wheelchair bound for months afterward.

Those wounds would heal without any outward signs. There was one injury, though, that there was no hiding. The scar that swooped from her hairline down the right side of her forehead and down past her eyebrow to her cheek. Eighty-four stitches to close the cut. Eighty-four stitches that even after they were removed could be seen. A long red jagged line down her face that couldn’t be covered no matter how much makeup she caked on.

Cassie hated that line. It felt like it was a blinking arrow pointing everyone’s attention straight at her.