Little bear comes into his own.
Ben Ursa has been out of the Midnight Rodeo game for a while, recovering from a terrible head injury. When he comes back, he finds a whole new place in the pecking order, his trained horses in high demand.
He also finds rodeo clown and grizzly shifter, Ozzie, who rejected him for being too young before. Now Ozzie thinks he’s just right, even if he is a little black bear. Can Ben really recover and become Ozzie’s mate, or will his family scheme to keep him “little bear”?
“Man, the bullfighters all have their panties in a wad. I hope to hell they settle it out.” Ozzie wiped makeup off his forehead, growling a little at Thack’s assistant, January.
“You and me and the boss and the big boss and every other creature here, sir.”
God, the wee little brownie was adorable. Such a cutie, with his little square glasses and his tiny soul patch of a beard.
Ozzie wanted to hug January and lick him, maybe. Definitely sniff him. Ozzie reined in his bear tendencies, which could crop up at the least convenient times. His desire wasn’t even sexual. More teddy bear like.
“So, tell me about the next venue,” Ozzie said. Their next stop was at a brand new arena.
“It’s near Santa Fe, sir. A charming arena with adequate facilities and a fabulous local pool of talent. They’re… surprisingly active there.”
“Are they? Good. We need more talent in the timed events.”
“Yes. Yes, I believe Ben Ursa will be rejoining us. Mr. Thackery is very pleased.”
Ben? Ben Ursa?
Poor kid. Ozzie remembered him well, and not only for his name, which was as bad as Osbourne McMahon. Bear Son of the Bear. Ben Ursa was Grizzly Adams meeting Latin.
“They get his brains all unrattled? Last time I saw him, he was in a bad way.”
“That depends on who you ask. January, I need the manifests for the drivers.” Thack nodded to Ozzie as January scrambled.
“Oh. Poor kid. But he’s good to ride?” He had to admit he’d had a thing for Ben, but he’d ignored it, waiting for the kid to be more confident. Hell, he felt like shit over it because the night the kid had gotten hurt, Ben tried to make a move on Ozzie, which he rebuffed.
He wanted Ben to be all grown-up first.
“He’s got a hard head.” Thack shrugged. “Shit, man, you know the kid is terrible at his job. He trains the best horses, though.”
“He does.” Good hazing, roping, and bulldogging horses were worth their weight in gold in their business. Worth enough to give a bad bulldogger a job. “I’ll have to stop by his trailer and say hi.”
It would be good to have another bear on tour again. Someone who understood about naps and salmon. Mmm. Salmon. He did love that stuff. Honey, too.
“He’s in the big black trailer with the bear painted on it.”
“Good deal.” He’d drop by on his way to get some food. Wave. Sniff some.
Thack nodded. “Good show, man.”
“Thank you.” Ozzie loved his job. He got to play on his natural bearish clumsiness and be a smart-ass at the same time.
Thack smiled, and Jesus fuck, that was creepy. All teeth and horns. Demons. Scary like whoa sometimes.
Ozzie waved and headed to see the little bear. Wow. That trailer was nicer than his. Way nicer.
Little Ben had family with money, with land, with amazing horses. Talk about a bear with a silver honey spoon in his mouth.
Ozzie grinned. Of course, the kid had also been hurt so bad a few seasons ago that he had to learn how to walk all over again. That meant the kid had grit. Determination.
He knocked on the trailer door, the little bear’s voice ringing out. “Coming!”
Ozzie tried to peer inside, but the window by the door was too small to get a good view.
The door opened up, bright button eyes shining at him from Ben’s smiling face. “Oz!”
“Hey, buddy.” Oh, look at that. Ben looked so much better than he had last time Ozzie had seen him.
“Come in. Come in. I just got here.” Ben was little for a bear, but a solid, broad shouldered man with a shock of pitch-black hair. He looked healthier, the skinny and pallor wore clean off from when he’d been hurt.
“Thanks. Thack said you were back.”
“I’m trying to be, yeah. It was touch and go.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re better, kiddo.” Man, the inside of the fifth wheel was amazing, a big kitchen and a huge platform bed visible in the back.
“Have a sit.”
The place was like a rolling condo—someone’s momma wanted to assure her cub was comfortable and safe.
He didn’t even have to move dirty clothes off the built-in sofa before he sat. “Nice place.”
“Yeah. Momma Bear. You know.”
“I do.” He’d met Ben’s mom. She was something else.
Ben blushed, head ducking, and Ozzie saw the scar, heavy and thick against his scalp. Damn.
“Hey, my mom still packs my lunch when she comes to visit. Smoked salmon tea sandwiches,” Ozzie said.
“I like smoked salmon. Lots. You want a beer?”
Ben nodded. “I got a six-pack. You’re off work, hmm?”
“I am.” He settled back, just—Man, it was nice to have another bear around, the scent familiar. Comforting. He forgot, sometimes, how alone he felt. Seeing Ben reminded him how much he’d liked the kid, too.
Little Ben brought him a beer, settling down across from him, all grins. Such a cutie. Really, Ozzie felt a little pervy around Ben. Just a little. Ben was gentle, peaceful, not a bit of growl in him.
Ozzie grinned. He had a lot of grr. A lot of grizzly.
About the Author:
Julia Talbot lives in the great Southwest, where there is hot and cold running rodeo, cowboys, and everything from meat and potatoes to the best Tex-Mex. A full time author, Julia has been published by Samhain Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, All Romance eBooks and Changeling Press. She believes in stories that leave a mark, and that everyone deserves a happy ending, so she writes about love without limits, where boys love boys, girls love girls, and boys and girls get together to get wild, especially when her crazy paranormal characters are involved. Find Julia at @juliatalbot on Twitter.
For more information on other books by Julia, please visit her official website: