Bearing Your Soul

A shy BBW who’s been burned by love + a sexy veteran bear shifter + a family code of silence = one sizzling hot romance that defies all odds!


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Curvy receptionist Teagan Jones tells herself she’s happy with her life. Sure, her boss is a little sleazy, but it’s nothing she can’t handle. And sure, her last relationship was a disaster, but she’s just fine with being single. Then stunningly gorgeous ex-army captain Ashton Marshfield walks into her clinic, and turns her life upside down.

The second Ashton lays eyes on Teagan, he knows she’s his destined mate. There's just one problem – his family’s always told him that shifters can’t be mates with humans. How can he explain their red-hot chemistry to himself once he finds out she’s not a shifter? Can Ashton and Teagan break every rule they’ve ever known for the sake of love?


This is a scorching hot standalone BBW bear shifter romance. No cliffhangers!




Teagan couldn’t stop the impressed whistle of breath through her front teeth when they arrived at Ashton’s townhouse. It was on a tree-lined avenue in the wealthiest section of town—the buildings were uniformly beautiful, made of redbrick and white pillars, with small, ornate gardens. The leaves were beginning to turn, which lent the street an almost golden light, even in the dark of the evening. For the first time this evening, it struck Teagan that Ashton wasn’t just anybody: he was a Marshfield, born into the kind of wealth and privilege that she couldn’t even begin to imagine. Of course he’d have a swanky pad like this.

He’d carried her shopping for her the whole way back to his house, refusing to let her lift a finger. They’d made easy conversation, but Teagan wondered if he too could feel the strange undercurrent of heat between them that sometimes bubbled to the surface—for instance, any time their eyes met, she had to quickly look away, for fear that she’d make a very undignified lunge for him, and send her groceries flying all over again. The few times she’d caught his eye, he’d looked almost startled, as if he too couldn’t quite believe the magnetism between them.

Ashton opened the door to his townhouse and led her inside. “Here we are,” he said over his shoulder as they emerged into the biggest and most luxurious kitchen Teagan had ever seen. Everything was shining chrome or black marble, the dark hardwood floors shining softly under the downlights that dotted the ceiling.

“I’ll grab you a clean sweater, as long as you don’t mind wearing one of mine,” Ashton said, turning to her after he’d finished loading her groceries into his fridge. “Feel free to take a seat in the meantime. I won’t be long.”

Teagan swallowed as she wandered out of the kitchen and into the living area. A luxurious-looking couch lined one wall, big enough to seat a family of at least ten. A white mantelpiece framed a fireplace, though it was empty for the moment. Her feet sank into the rug that covered the floor. Teagan had never been surrounded by so much evidence of wealth. She felt a little out of place here—okay, a lot out of place. Her childhood home, filled with her mother’s vast collection of small, slightly creepy porcelain dolls and dust bunnies running wild, couldn’t have been more different.

Walking to the fireplace, Teagan picked up one of the framed photos that rested on it, looking down at the four smiling faces looking back at her. They must have been Ashton’s family—they all had the same coloring as him and similar features, their white, even smiles wide and happy. The kind of smiles that somehow spoke of summers spent on yachts in rolled-up chinos and winters skiing in Aspen; cable-knit sweaters and expensive polo shirts and black riding boots.

“That’s my older brother, Rex,” Ashton said from across the room, apparently having entered while she was distracted. He walked over to join her. “And my sisters, Carrie, Paige, and Lucy.”

Teagan was a little embarrassed at having been caught looking at his things, but Ashton didn’t seem at all offended. His siblings were all just as gorgeous as he was, though Teagan thought she saw a hint of something in Rex’s eyes that she didn’t like—a kind of ruthlessness that was missing from Ashton.

Moving her gaze along the mantle, her eyes fell on a photo of Ashton himself. He was smiling and wearing a gray dress uniform, a sword in one hand and a feathered helmet in the other. The flag stood behind his right shoulder.

It was clearly Ashton, but a much younger Ashton. There was a kind of light in his eyes and boyish enthusiasm that was now, if not missing, then dampened.

“That’s me, when I graduated from West Point,” Ashton said, apparently guessing what had caught her eye.

Teagan stared at the photo. He looked so… dashing. “You went to West Point?”

“Graduated second in my class,” Ashton said, with a touch of pride in his voice.

Teagan bit her lip a little, trying to figure out how to word her next question tactfully. “But… your family—I mean, I know your family is pretty big in the business world. I would’ve thought you’d study something more…”

“Money oriented?” Ashton didn’t sound offended, just gently amused. “Rex got his MBA from Penn, and Carrie did Law at Harvard. But the younger son always goes into the army. My family is kind of… traditional.”

Traditional. Teagan thought she liked the sound of that. After her chaotic upbringing, with her mother going from one husband to the next with barely a pause in between, traditionalsounded just fine.

“Anyway, enough about that—here, I got you a new sweater.”

Teagan smiled gratefully as she took the sweater from Ashton’s hands. She hesitated a little as she remembered she didn’t have anything but a tank top and bra on underneath, but Ashton, seeming to sense the problem, quickly stepped back.

“I’ll just go change too,” he said with a smile. “I think I may even have got the worst of it.” He gestured to the chocolate splashed over his tank.

Teagan bit her lip in embarrassment. “I’m sorry about that,” she blurted. “I hope it didn’t burn you—”

Ashton waved her apology away. “It’s no problem. Nothing I can’t handle.”

Then he flashed her his devastating smile once more, and disappeared back into the bedroom.

Teagan fumbled with the zip of her jacket, clumsy in her haste to get out of it. What was she doing here, really? Flirting—and doing an absolutely terrible job of it—with the scion of one of the richest families in America, who probably didn’t see her as anything more than a plump girl he felt sorry for after jogging into her on the street. Teagan felt a blush burning her cheeks as she yanked Ashton’s sweater on over her head. What was I thinking? Whatever connection she had imagined was just that: imaginary. It was silly, she thought, but she couldn’t help but be a little humiliated by the way he’d left the room so quickly when she’d wanted to get changed. Of course, Ashton was a complete gentleman and would never have taken it as an excuse to peek at her, but still, Teagan wondered if it was just that he really didn’t want to see her strip off. By the time she’d finished with Ben, she had started wearing a baggy t-shirt to bed every night just to hide her body. She should have known Ashton wouldn’t want to see her either.

I should go. Teagan didn’t even want to stop to pick up her groceries from the fridge. Shoving her stained jacket under her arm, she made a beeline for the door, too ashamed of herself to even thank Ashton for his kindness.

He must have heard her footsteps as she hurried down the hall, however, because she heard him call out, “Teagan?”

She paused, her hand on the handle of the front door. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks as a swell of loneliness rose inside her. But she knew she didn’t belong here: men like Ashton dated models and sports stars, with long golden hair and tiny asses. That was the kind of woman who belonged in this apartment. Not her.

“Teagan, where are you going?”

She half-turned to see Ashton had popped his head around the far end of the hall and was looking at her quizzically. From the small slice of his shoulder that was visible to her, Teagan guessed that—Lord have mercy—he hadn’t even put on a shirt in his haste to come see what she was doing.

“Thanks for your help, Ashton!” she said, quickly turning back to the door and trying to keep the quaver out of her voice. “You’ve been really nice to me, and I promise I’ll get your sweater back to you… somehow. But I better go now—”

“Wait, Teagan,” Ashton said, emerging and coming down the corridor toward her.

Turning, Teagan felt her knees go weak. No, he wasn’t wearing a shirt. And yes, he was every bit as sleek and muscular as she guessed he would be, his shoulders bulging, abdomen a tight grid. His track pants sat low on his hips, and it was all Teagan could do to drag her eyes back to his face.

“Don’t go—you can’t go,” Ashton said, standing in front of her. He seemed to mentally check himself. “I mean, of course you can, if you want. But… I had been hoping you’d stay, so we could talk about things. For a short time, at least.”

Teagan closed her eyes, drawing in a long, slow breath. With Ashton this close, it was hard to do anything at all that didn’t involve sliding her fingers over the long lines of his body, feel the hardness of his muscle beneath her hands. Beneath her lips. Somehow, his very presence seemed to be muddling her head, making it impossible to think, talk, breathe

“I’m sorry if I said something that made you uncomfortable,” Ashton said. “It’s just that I—Teagan, you must know—you must have felt it too—”

“Felt it?” Teagan blinked, looking up into his face. “I don’t—I’m not sure what you mean.”

Ashton’s eyes as they looked down into hers were as deep and as blue as the vast expanse of the ocean. “I think you do,” he said softly, raising a hand and running his thumb gently over her cheek.