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Taylee Harris has been raised by wolves. Now that she’s eighteen, she is preparing to reach maturity as a wolf herself—until a mysterious incident in the woods one night leaves her unconscious and bloodied. The young man, Tavis, who nurses her back to health, tells her he is a bear…and so is she. Upon this revelation, Taylee must navigate a new world of allies and adversaries who all want to claim her for their own, all the while growing in love and adoration for her one true mate.

Age Rating: 18+

 

We Are Bear by E. Adamson is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

Summary

Taylee Harris has been raised by wolves. Now that she’s eighteen, she is preparing to reach maturity as a wolf herself—until a mysterious incident in the woods one night leaves her unconscious and bloodied. The young man, Tavis, who nurses her back to health, tells her he is a bear…and so is she. Upon this revelation, Taylee must navigate a new world of allies and adversaries who all want to claim her for their own, all the while growing in love and adoration for her one true mate.

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: E. Adamson

TAYLEE

She knew she was alone and not alone.

Even before she came to, she knew it. Once her eyes opened, they confirmed it.

The treetops were indistinguishable in the thick darkness.

She lifted her head and it throbbed. Her breath burst out of her in short, shallow gasps, though she felt as if she were digging down to her core for air.

One glance down—even that was an accomplishment, through the pulsing pain at the base of her skull—and she found she was in even more trouble than she previously reckoned.

Given that she wore nothing but a pair of underwear, she should have been half frozen. But her skin felt too different for her to register the chill.

Because it was caked in blood.

She reached into the recesses of her mind for a name, a location, any identifying information.

Nothing.

But she had escaped something. Something that was still out there. Something that thirsted for her life.

If only she could remember what

She coughed. She half-expected blood to leak from her lungs. Thank goodness it didn’t.

The fire in her head had simmered down to hot coals. Sufficient to let her get to her feet, slowly, shakily, as if she were an infant learning to support herself for the first time.

She didn’t trust herself to run. But the sounds she was only now starting to hear told her she had to.

Howling. Braying.

Right foot in front of left foot in front of right foot in front of left foot. Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot, like some warped nursery rhyme. Something her mother might have sung to her long ago.

Who was her mother?

Who was she?

Another howl, long and insistent.

Wolves.

Right foot, left foot, faster, faster—

Taylee.

She was Taylee. Taylee Harris.

Right foot—

Taylee Harris. Seventeen years old.

Left foot—

No, eighteen. Eighteen years old, as of 31st August, three weeks ago.

Howling.

It would take time to adjust to her new age. But right now, between avoiding death and remembering exactly who she was, she couldn’t give anything else much thought.

She stumbled and fell, slicing her knee on what must have been a jagged stone. Instinctively, against her better judgment, she shrieked in pain.

The sound pierced the night, stood out against the howling. A small sound. A human sound.

She hated to scream. But she did it a lot.

She couldn’t help being afraid of things.

Most things, if she was honest with herself.

The blood was pooling, she could feel it. But she had to keep moving.

Now, she was cold. The dried blood made her every limb feel foreign, but it could no longer keep the wind at bay. She limped along as fast as she could.

Was the howling fading? Could her ears have deceived her?

Very likely, they were deceiving her. She didn’t trust her ears any farther than she could throw them. In fact, this was the least she had trusted any of her senses, ever.

And only eighteen.

She could see the headlines, the obituary.

They flashed before her eyes, more painful than any throb in the head.

If she didn’t make it, if she died here, her family would have no idea—

Her family.

How many of them were there?

Three. There were three.

Just remembering them alleviated some of the fear.

Picture them all?

No, too much work for a recovering brain. One by one, then.

Father. Nathaniel. Loved chess. Sang opera beautifully even if he had to make up words that sounded Italian.

Of all things to remember.

Mother. Gretchen. Always helped Taylee with her math homework. Had recently taken up archery.

Any helpful memories? Was that too much to ask?

Right foot, left foot—she was fast now.

Maybe fast enough to make it out alive. Not unscathed, but alive.

Sister. Charlotte. Eleven. Knew too much for her age. Those eyes. Too wise. Too sad.

Oh, Charlotte. I miss you.

How could she miss someone she was only just beginning to remember again?

Her family were all wolves.

But she’d never heard any of them howl like this.

Keep running. Don’t stop. Don’t even falter. Half a second, half a hesitation, and it could all be over.

If she lived through this, she would talk to herself madly for the rest of her life.

People would think she was crazy.

No one would mate with her.

No one would even try.

Not that it mattered until she could shift into her wolf form to begin with. She had never seen what she looked like as a wolf. And she was getting impatient.

How could she dwell on that at a time like this?

A crunch of crushed twigs not far behind her.

Panic seized her heart.

She whirled around. Nothing to be seen.

Her eyes were adjusting. Maybe she could trust them after all.

A bit.

Even so, she didn’t recognize this forest. Sure, she had much of her home state left to explore—whichever state that was…

Right, left, right, left, run, run, run—

She directed herself in her mother’s voice. Like something out of Mother Goose.

Right, left, right, left, run, run, run. Right, left, right, left, till you’re done.

Washington.

That was it.

Olympia, Washington.

Well, this was not Olympia, Washington.

Which meant it was…where?

No howling.

No howling. She strained her shamefully human ears. None to be heard.

The pain in her knee was subsiding, but the pain in her head was returning.

She found herself desperately wishing she could tell the time.

If she knew the time, she could determine how long it would be until daybreak.

But no stars. No moon. And no howling.

In fact, the only noises were her own thrashing through the brush, her own ragged, inconsistent breath, her own frenzied heartbeat.

Otherwise, silence.

In perfect synchrony, her left foot lodged under a surprisingly substantial bough, sending her crashing over it.

Her shin hit the branch, and in the stillness, she heard the dull crack of bone against wood.

She let out an, “Ah!” Giving herself away.

But in all this silence, who could still be trying to find her?

Too soon for that thought.

A crunch. A deep crunch, from very nearby. The crunch of leaves under a heavy, heavy foot.

Almost certainly not a human foot.

Then another. The other foot.

Then again.

And again.

And again.

Taylee could not move. Her shin stung, and her foot was caught beneath the limb. It was all she could do not to curse aloud.

The something had followed her.

The something was coming.

The something was here.

She gave a wild heave, but her weight did not shift forward. She remained.

Stuck. Paralyzed.

As if fear wouldn’t have paralyzed her enough.

Where, oh where was her wolf form?

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Now is the moment, wolf! Now is the time!

Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Show yourself! Defend yourself!

She even tried shutting her eyes and willing it into existence.

More crunching.

And she was still human.

Crunching and grunting. Shuffling. A rustling of fur.

But not wolf fur. Clearly, this creature carried itself differently than a wolf.

It was built differently.

Taylee racked her brain.

Was this an animal? A bonafide, real, non-shifting animal?

Was this how her life would end?

A growl.

Oh no.

With another heaving effort, nearly mad with panic, she turned herself partially over so at least she faced up, avoiding a mouthful of soil.

And in that simple motion, she came face to face with her follower.

A bear.

A great black bear, larger than anything she had ever seen, seeming to eclipse all the trees around it, standing on its hind legs. Towering over her, in fact.

Her jaw hung slack. Thankfully, she could not scream. But nor could she do anything else.

Anything, that is, but stare helplessly into its eyes. The glinting gold eyes it had fixed on her.

Awareness stabbed her again—awareness of her near-nakedness, her terrible vulnerability, the blood on her skin that could not have been hers. Whose it was, she couldn’t begin to guess.

All this whirled across her brain as she held the bear’s gaze. Her thoughts tore to and fro like a tornado.

The bear, still up on its hind legs, took another step closer. Taylee felt herself slump back.

And she prepared for the end.

 

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2

TAYLEE

The end.

This was the end.

Wasn’t it?

Taylee’s very brain felt as if it were trembling within her cranium, every lobe and cortex on the verge of nervous collapse. She had not taken her eyes off the bear, and the bear had not taken its eyes off her.

She kept expecting it to make another noise—to growl again, or roar.

And then, to pounce.

But nothing. So far.

In this suspension of time, she recognized two things.

One: she had been attacked. Bitten, by a bear with crazed eyes. Eyes that burned with a hunger she had never known.

Two: this bear was not her attacker.

Terrifying as it was, this close up, it was not the bear that had sunk its teeth into the skin around her collarbone and then tried to do worse.

So, who, exactly, was this bear?

All this memory recovery—about herself, her family, a bear—was exhausting.

Taylee could sense her energy seeping out as she and the bear held their eternal locked gaze. Objects wavered: the bear, the trees, the black expanse of sky.

In another moment, a cloud ballooned over her brain, and she slipped under.

TAVIS

She smelled both familiar and unfamiliar.

How did that work?

He was trying to pinpoint the precise mix of scents, the way a human might try to detect notes and undercurrents in a fine Cabernet. And for the first time in as long as he could remember, he was failing.

In fact, he might say he was having a bear of a time of it.

He smirked. That is, his human smirked; bears couldn’t really do that, but he appreciated his own sense of humor in either form.

The closer he drew to this injured girl, though, the clearer it became that this was no laughing matter.

He saw the way her foot caught under the twisted limb, the way she tried to cover herself despite how badly she was shaking. How the thin cotton clung to her hips.

He raised himself on his hind legs for a more thorough inspection of her condition, but then she turned, and their eyes met—Are you crazy? He could already hear Ervin hissing.

Never let that happen, never make eye contact, never!—and he recognized a fear more palpable than anything he had ever come across in a human being.

A malicious bear—or wolf—would have preyed on that fear, used brute force to silence it.

He had seen his fellow bears—and wolves—submit to that tactic time and again, when their animal urges got the better of them.

Whereas his sole urge, to his surprise, was to take care of her.

Obviously, she couldn’t understand his desire. Not by the look of her eyes, round with fright, shining like dimes.

She hadn’t screamed, but that was only out of exhaustion, a dry voice box.

Before he could act, she promptly fainted. That was probably for the best. She needed to heal, and he needed to get her to a place that would allow her to heal.

He dropped onto all fours and ambled up to her, cautious not to place a paw anywhere one of his claws might scratch her. He could see the mark at her collarbone. She had already been hurt.

He carefully nuzzled her shoulder. Even with blood on her skin, she was soft. And he could still make out the almond shape of her eyes, the sweep of her short black hair across her cheek, and the bangs across her forehead.

It was time to move.

He nudged her onto his back and headed out by a different path than the one that had brought him in. No use to risk being spotted.

***

Tavis wondered how he must look, trying to carry an unconscious, bloodied girl into his walk-up. What might he be accused of?

It was easier to hold the limp weight of a body in bear form. But he had shifted back at the edge of the forest, just before crossing out onto the roadway. Behind a bush, out of the sightline of any passersby.

Granted, at that hour, any passersby might have chalked it up to seeing things, or too much to drink.

Still, he wasn’t about to take the chance.

Thank goodness dawn was still a way off.

He lived alone. Even Ervin lived with his girlfriend now, but Tavis had been something of a loner most of his life.

He got a lot of flack for that from the guys.

Sure, he brought a girl home every so often, but nothing substantial ever came of it.

Never before had he brought a girl home under these circumstances.

He spread her on the wood floor beside the TV console and put a pillow under her feet. Then, another pillow, for good measure.

If he recalled anything about reviving people, it was that their feet had to be elevated.

He checked her pulse constantly, borderline obsessively. On her wrist, on her neck.

He brought a bowl of lukewarm water to her side, sprinkled in a pinch of salt, and used a rag to dab at the blood that caked most of her body. He tried to scrub gently.

Of course, it was easier to be gentle in human form.

Under the blood, he discovered, her skin was a lovely shade. Like an olive. It had a golden glow to it.

He gingerly brushed the hair back from her face and rubbed off the red in smooth strokes.

As he did this, it occurred to him how rough and bloody the rag had become. So, he tossed it aside, took off his shirt, and used the hem.

His body temperature was naturally high.

He wasn’t the most toned guy in the world—a little scrawny, said Ervin, who was a real dumbbell-lifting nut—but it had never bothered him.

And he was usually alone, so he didn’t see the big deal.

Even touching this girl’s skin, which felt as though she had been out in subzero conditions for hours on end, didn’t turn him cold.

If anything, it made him warmer.

After finishing her face, he tilted her head to the left, toward him. He had read once that tilting an unconscious person’s head might revive them.

Might not. But might.

The sky was lightening through the long narrow window. Seeing her came more easily now.

Aside from the blood, she had sustained some cuts and bruises, including a nasty scrape on her knee from what must have been a fall.

On her breasts, he used the lightest touch. Mercifully, no skin was torn there; they were mostly just bloody.

It crossed his mind that he didn’t know where all this blood had come from, or whether it was even hers. But he didn’t want to think about it just yet.

When he reached her lower half, he didn’t do anything with the underwear she had on.

That would be the final step.

Instead, he balled up his shirt, dipped it into the salt water, lifted her right leg, and began to clean the inside of her thigh.

A stir. A groan. A kick.

“Oh!” Tavis jerked backward, dropping his shirt, landing on his rear end with a thud.

She was too weak to move any more aggressively, but he was so caught off-guard he could only watch as she turned her head back and forth.

“What the—?”

Her voice came out croaky, like a frog’s.

“Don’t panic.” He put his hands out, as if she would attack him in the state she was in.

“Where am I?” she rasped. “Who are you?”

Wow. Alert, those eyes made him straighten up.

“It’s okay. You’re safe.”

“You didn’t…” She swallowed, what looked like very painfully. “You didn’t answer either of my questions.” She tried to prop herself up on her elbows.

“Don’t,” he admonished, easing her back down. “You’re very weak.”

Answer me.”

“I’m Tavis.” He sat cross-legged. “Tavis Orson. I found you in the woods and brought you back to my house. It’s only me here. Everything is fine.”

He didn’t actually know that last bit for sure, but he had to encourage her.

“Are we near Olympia?”

“Olympia?” She’s from—oh, shoot. Could she really be from…? “We’re in Oregon. Not too far from the Washington border. I’ll take you home, I promise, just as soon as you’re healed up.”

“I want to go home now.”

For being so drained of strength, she sure was insistent. “Oh, no. You’re in no condition. Did I mention you were passed out?”

“Well, of course I was, genius. Otherwise, I would have remembered meeting you and coming here.”

“Let alone,”—he gestured down toward her feet—“covered in someone’s blood.”

She looked down. She drew her knees up, planting her feet on the floor. They seemed to become aware simultaneously that she was all but naked.

“Sorry.” Tavis blushed and twisted around. “I was trying to clean you. I’ve got a blanket right here.”

He pulled a throw blanket off the sofa and arranged it over her. “I do have to finish, though.”

She groaned and let her head fall, only to snap back up. “Does this mean you touched my boobs?”

He wished he wouldn’t keep blushing. “I was very respectful. I’m a feminist.”

“Sure, you are.” She turned her head away and craned her neck a little, only to curse under her breath and resume her prostrate position.

He held the sole of her foot and lifted her leg, and she yelped. “Sorry, sorry.” He set it down and ran the shirt along the outer contour of her calf. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Not if you hurt me, you don’t.”

“Look, would you rather I’d left you there to die?” He glanced up sharply. She kept her head on the floor, facing the ceiling, but he saw the coldness of her eyes and hated himself. He knew he messed up. “I didn’t mean—”

“Thank you.”

He paused. “What?”

“Thank you for saving my life.” Her voice had a hard edge to it, but she wasn’t being ironic. “Do what you need to do. I owe you.”

That last phrase sat heavy in his eardrums. I owe you.

“You—that’s not what I mean.” He continued his cleaning, moving to the other leg. “You don’t owe me. Although, you could tell me your name.”

“Taylee.”

“Do you…have a last name?”

“Are you the FBI?’

“Fine, fine.” To his surprise, he had to bite down a chuckle. “And you live in Olympia. How did you end up way down here?”

“I don’t know. The last thing I remember is a bear. A big black bear.”

Oh. She remembered him.

“It was scary.”

“Was he?”

She rolled her head toward him. “How would you know it was a he?”

“Well.” He gulped, oddly self-conscious. “To be fair, the bear was me.”

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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