Melted By The Bear(10)

By: Amira Rain

The green-eyed man’s complexion suddenly went from lightly tanned to virtually white, and he spoke through gritted teeth.

“I suspected it was you who-”

“Whoa. Whoa, brother. I didn’t say I’d done it... I said if I were a conspiracy theorist. Which....” The shorter man shrugged. “Nah.”

The taller man spoke through gritted teeth once again. “I should kill you right now. I should-”

“You won’t, though. You’re too softhearted. But nonetheless, I think I will take my leave now. Much to do and much to plan. Have fun with your little frozen woman. Or fun resisting her, I should say.” Raising his brows, he glanced over at me, then made a low whistle. “With those curves of hers, doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy. Especially since I know you’re going to be keeping her close, probably right in your own house. Best of luck, though, brother.”

With an obviously phony smile, the shorter man clapped the taller man on the shoulder, then strode right by him and began heading north. The taller man didn’t stop him, just watched him go, scowling. The bears still in a ring around the clearing had also shifted into human form by now, and they let the shorter man pass, though scowling at him just like their leader.

The shorter man seemed intent on pushing his luck.

Once he’d gotten just a short distance beyond the clearing, he turned and began walking backward, cupping his hands around his mouth to make his voice carry. “I want this nation, Cormack. I want all this land to be mine, for my people, and I’m not leaving. I’m just going to sit back and wait for the prophecy to unfold.”

The taller man, who I now knew with certainty was Commander Blackthorn, began striding north, toward his brother, with a low growl rumbling in his chiseled chest. But after only a few steps, he came to a stop, seeming to think better of a chase.

With his strong jaw clenched, he then turned and began striding south, speaking when he passed me without even looking at me. “We’re heading back to the village, and I expect you to follow.”

Mind reeling from everything that had just happened and everything I’d just heard, I did follow him, kind of to my surprise. I definitely wasn’t used to being ordered around.

I didn’t follow him in the truest sense of the word, though. I walked alongside him, with his men flanking us at a distance, most of them hidden by the trees. Despite his coldness, I was still grateful to him for saving my life from his brother the shadow bear, but no way in hell I was going to literally follow behind him on his heels, like a dog might. I may have been a little dazed by the events that had just happened, and a whole lot confused by some of the things that had been said, but I still had my pride and dignity, so I attempted to look him in the eyes when I spoke, even though he didn’t even glance at me.

“Thank you for saving my life.”

“I didn’t. My brother wouldn’t have touched a single hair on your head. He only charged you to irritate me and make me tackle him so he could try to injure me and cry self-defense. In fact, if my men and I hadn’t stumbled upon the two of you, my brother would have likely escorted you back to the village with a warning for you to never leave again.”

I wanted to ask why, but we’d now left the clearing and were walking over a short stretch choked with sticks, rocks, and other debris, requiring me to focus completely on my feet and not tripping.

Not long after we’d cleared this patch of rough terrain, Commander Blackthorn caught the eye of a man a short distance to his left and tilted his head to the south in some seeming unspoken command. The man on his left immediately shifted into bear form and began charging off south, and all the rest of the men shifted as well and followed him, leaving Commander Blackthorn and me walking through the woods alone now, and in silence.

I had so many questions. I had what felt like a million of them. I got that my thawing process had been started accidentally, or rather, purposefully, but not by the people who were eventually supposed to do it. I got that this was somehow bad, because it was the “tenth year,” whatever that meant. I got that Commander Blackthorn was supposed to resist me for some reason. I just didn’t know why; why any of that was.

I also had no clue what Commander Blackthorn’s brother had been talking about when he’d mentioned “the prophecy.” I didn’t recall hearing anything about any prophecy before being frozen, and being that I didn’t have even the slightest amnesia, I was sure nothing had ever been said to me about it.

Commander Blackthorn didn’t appear as if he was in the mood for any questions, though. Still wearing his earlier scowl, he marched with his gaze straight ahead and his jaw clenched. His brother had accused him of being “softhearted” but he sure didn’t look like it to me. He looked like he was the opposite. He even looked like he was the kind of man who could be cruel, no matter what Jane at the hospital had said.

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