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BEARly Mated to the Grizzly (Bear Clan, 2)
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I’d once been a great dancer. A ballerina. But an injury ended my career, had me longing to go back in time, had me loathing the city and the very profession I’d once loved.
So, I decided to get away from it all, go out in the middle of nowhere to clear my head, and focus on what was important. Things were going great until a bear was at my back door, trying to get in. And it ended with me wielding a knife for protection and realizing it wasn’t just any bear, but a shifter who claimed to be my mate.
Strong and powerful, his very presence had me questioning my entire existence. The mating was fast and furious, potent and real. It was everything I ever wanted, and everything I never thought I’d have.
It was all wrapped in one whirlwind, insta-lust experience. But could I give myself over fully to Maddix? Could I truly leave the city and the life I’d always known behind?
Could I do it all for the promise of love from one possessive, territorial bear shifter who would do anything to make me happy?
Because if there was one thing Maddix made very clear, it was now that he had found me, he wasn’t letting me go.
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This was better than sex, or so I assumed given the fact I’d never actually had sex. But I could imagine the pleasure I felt right now was how fucking would be … just sweatier, or maybe not.
I closed my eyes and danced to the music, ballet my life at one point and time.
It had been until I’d lost everything to one horrible moment, one second of fate.
I focused on the music, on my moves, even though agony screamed through me. I was fluid, like water, like air. Nothing else mattered.
Too bad my career was over and all I had left of my ballet profession was a busted ankle and a dream that would never turn into something more.
Too bad my days were spent teaching others the art, my passion, knowing I’d never be able to live the dream they were experiencing. I was bitter, and I hated that I’d become like that. I hated that the spark of life had left me, that I was this jealous has-been that longed to be someone else, to go back in time.
That wasn’t my life now.
And I needed to accept that.
The music ended and I stopped, opening my eyes and slowly uncurling my body from the graceful position.
Across from me was the mirror that went from one wall to the end of the other. The woman staring back at me was dressed in all black, my leotard, my tights, even my shoes the same dark color. My hair was tied in a severe bun, dots of perspiration lining my temples as I breathed heavily.
I’d been dancing for the past hour, trying to get to my happy place, the one moment in time where nothing else mattered.
I turned away from my reflection and looked at the empty room. I could remember vividly being in a room just like this, dancing, training professionally.
That seemed like a lifetime ago now.
My ankle screamed in pain, but it did every week when I danced, when I rented out the room so I could dance for this one hour, relive my past glory days.
I sat down and started untying the ribbon on my shoes, pulling them off and tossing them aside. I rubbed my hand over my ankle, which was starting to swell. The injury I’d sustained had done some serious damage, worse than the doctors had originally thought.
I’d made a beautiful jump one night during a performance, but the landing had gone wrong, sending me to the floor. It had cost me everything.
No more ballet.
No more career.
That happened a year ago, the healing pretty much done, but I would always have lasting damage, always have this pain.
The doctors had frowned upon me coming here every week for this hour to practice, but it was not something I was going to give up. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that being in the city, surrounded by all the memories of what I once had, didn’t eat away at me.
“I’m sorry, Allison, but with an injury this bad, and the lasting effects, there’s no way we can keep you on at the dance academy as a performer. It wouldn’t be fair to you, or anyone on the waitlist. I hope you can understand.”
I thought about the last thing my instructor had told me right before I resigned as a performer. Even thinking about that now, all this time later, broke my heart.
But I supposed there was a silver lining to it all. I might have lost my dancing career, but I’d secured a teaching position at the studio as a replacement opportunity.
My friends, who ran in the same dance circles, were also a constant reminder of what I didn’t have anymore.
Maybe teaching would help get my mind off things?
I snorted at my inner thoughts.
I was a glutton for punishment.
I just needed to get away for a little bit, to clear my head, to give myself a break.
I packed up all my stuff, changed my clothes quickly, and left the dance building. Winter was on full blast in the city, the wind whipping around like little knives being thrown at you. I hailed a cab and shut the door behind me once I was in the backseat.
“West 23rd and 18th, please.” I looked out the window as the taxi driver pulled into the traffic. Although the holidays were last month, the city was always packed with tourists and the hustle and bustle of everyone trying to get where they were going as fast as they could.
I sat back and for the next twenty minutes watched as city life flashed by.
When the driver pulled up to my apartment building, I paid him and climbed out, hurrying into the building as the frigid temperatures bit at every exposed piece of skin. Once inside, I shut the door and leaned against it, staring at my tiny apartment, one that was slightly depressing because of the lack of décor, and because I was alone. Not even a houseplant to keep me company.