USA Today Bestselling Author
Skye Mac Kinnon
Last night, we became one, the lines blurred between our minds for just a moment, but the echo of it is still vivid in my memories. I want to feel that again, and if I have to chain them all to my bed. That actually sounds like a pretty good idea.
The Fates like to play with our lives. They’re not malicious, just bored. But that also means that sometimes, we have to take our destiny in our own hands and defy the Fates.
I will do anything to save the bear shifters from extinction, even if that means going against the will of the most powerful beings in the universe.
Because the bears are no longer just friends. They’re family.
Protected by Bears is the second book in the Claiming Her Bears series, a post-apocalyptic reverse harem. Prepare for strong alpha males with a trace of vulnerability, an epic quest, Viking beards, very steamy scenes, Scottish landscapes, Celtic mythology and a post-apocalyptic setting.
Previously published as Polar Fates.
Isla and her bear Alis are more aware of each other, the shifting is easier and her mates are as loving and protective as can be. They’ve settled quite nicely on this Island, into a home of their own. Isla has bonded with the Alpha Torben and she has also fallen for Húnn, Ràn, and Finn as they settle into their new relationship. Fellow shifters Arnold and Bertram (Bertie) have not only been gracious hosts, they also know how to get supplies from the trading ships that come periodically. An abandoned battery factory with lots of inventory are their currency and they are shrewd negotiators.
This book opens with one of those trade ships arriving. It’s not only the supplies they obtain, but a strange woman sets them on a quest for a portal on the island. Apparently the Fates messenger has a sense of humor.
This is a favorite scene.
There’s nobody to be seen when we reach the beach. The sun is setting to our right, turning the gently lapping waves a beautiful shade of orange. The trading ship is anchored far out and there’s no boat in sight. It doesn’t look like anyone will be coming from the ship, but maybe they’re late.
Torben looks like he’s anticipating a threat. He’s in a defensive stand, ready to shift any second. The other bears are similar, except for Húnn and myself. I trust Alis to come out and shift us if the need arises. She can shift faster than the guys, but it’s her doing the shifting, not me. All I do is open my mind to her and let her take over. It still goes against all my instincts, but it works. And if I expect her to let me have full control while we’re human, I better give her the steering wheel when we’re a polar bear.
I chuckle to myself. Yup, we’re a polar bear, occasionally. Life is strange.
“Yes, it is,” a melodious voice says behind us, making me jump. It’s the girl from earlier, as I predicted. She looks the same, except that her green eyes are glowing now. Like cat’s eyes that are hit by light. Creepy.
Torben takes a protective stance in front of me. Silly man, I know how to protect myself. I can feel Alis watching, close to the surface, ready to jump.
“Thanks for coming,” the girl says, looking at us curiously. That makes her even creepier. She looks at us as if we’re strange, unusual, even though she’s the one with the glowing eyes.
“Isla, would you mind calling off your bears?”
“They’re not mine to call off,” I reply coldly, but I notice that Torben’s claws retract at my words.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure they are,” she laughs brightly. “Just because only one of them is bound to you doesn’t mean the others don’t belong to you.”
“How do you know that?”
“Isla sweetie, I know a lot more than you think. And feel free to voice your suspicion to the others. They can’t hear your thoughts like I do.”
Stunned, I steel my mind, doing the same that I usually do when I try to keep out Alis.
“Not working,” the girl says cheerily and I glare at her.
“What suspicions?” Bertie asks quietly.
I sigh. “That she’s one of the Fates.”
“Before you all faint from shock – no, I’m not one of the Fates,” the girl giggles. “I’m only their lowly messenger. Servant, if you like. Lover, occasionally. Have you figured it out yet?”
Dumbfounded, we all stare at her. I was right, she’s not a normal girl. She’s definitely not the age she seems to be. And probably dangerous.
“Have we figured what out, exactly?” I challenge her and Torben shoots me a proud glance.
“Why you’re on Inchbrach. Why this island is special.”
“I’m sure you’re going to tell us.”
She sighs. “Yes, but only because I have better things to do than babysit a horde of bears. The Ladies want to see you and Inchbrach is the place you’ll get to do that. There’s a portal somewhere… but telling you where wouldn’t be any fun!”
She laughs brightly and runs off, leaving us without looking back.
“What just happened?” Húnn asks, just as confused as I am.
“Well, we either met a deluded young girl or a servant of the Fates. Take your pick,” Arnold says drily. “I never heard of them taking on servants. I always thought they work alone.”
“So you knew about them before this?” I ask, my mind spinning.
“They’re a legend, but so are werewolves and werebears. I tend to keep an open mind about it all, even if some of it doesn’t turn out to be true. There’s usually a grain of truth in every fairy tale.”
“He’s very wise like that,” Bertie says lovingly and puts an arm around his partner’s waist. My heart warms at the sight of those two lovers. One day, I want to be like them. Except that I’ll have four bears to cuddle, not just one.
“So what do we do now? She spoke of a portal, any idea what she could mean?” Torben asks our hosts.
“No clue. We’ve never noticed anything unusual while roaming the island. But then, we’ve not exactly been looking for portals. I didn’t know such a thing exists.”
Torben frowns. “From tomorrow, we’ll search the island. Arnold, Bertrand, do you have a map we can use to assign areas? And Isla, you should try and ask Alis if she knows anything about portals or even whether the Fates really have servants.”
“There’s a map but it’s not very accurate. It’s from before the Drowning, but we’ve marked the current coastline on it.” Bertie sadly shakes his head. “I can’t believe this used to be a village far away from the sea. I’d never have thought…”
“None of us did,” Arnold comforts his partner. “I think people would have looked after our planet much better had they known what the Drowning would do.”
They had a portal back in Arcadia, but not for the Fates, just for the Gods. Most of them dwelled on Earth but sometimes they disappeared through the portal and wouldn’t say where they went.
Alis is back and this time, her sadness doesn’t overwhelm me. I didn’t even notice that I’d let down my barriers. Maybe it was that girl with her strange mind-reading abilities.
“What did it look like?” I ask aloud before noticing that the men don’t know what I’m talking about. “Alis says she’s seen a portal before,” I explain.
A marble gate, two big columns with a shimmering ethereal fabric in between. Like silk, but magical. It was always guarded and us humans weren’t allowed to get close. But even from the distance it looked both beautiful and dangerous.
It felt strange, like it was trying to suck you in.
I can almost see her shudder. If it worries Alis, then it should warn us all to be careful.
Everything seems to be spiralling out of control. When did the world become so complicated? I’ve only just got used to bear shifters existing – and being one of them – and suddenly there’s Fates and Gods and portals. And girls with glowing eyes. This time it’s me who shudders. I’m glad creepy-girl is gone. Although she ran off and didn’t take a boat back to the trading ship, so is she still on the island? Or did she disappear through the portal?
“We should follow her tracks,” I suggest. “If she went through the portal, that will save us having to search for it.”
“That would almost be too easy,” Torben mumbles but he doesn’t challenge me. I know it’s not the best idea ever, but better than just randomly searching the island.
“Ràn, you’re our best tracker, go with Isla and see what you can find. The rest of us will be back at the house.”
Skye MacKinnon. Claiming Her Bears: The complete series (Kindle Locations 2466-2521). Peryton Press. Kindle Edition.
Once they find the portal, only Isla and two of her bears are brought through it. They quest the fates have in mind is emotional and dangerous. The outcome means the bear shifters would once again be able to have offspring.
A strange and mysterious tale, with plenty of danger and sizzling heat.
5 Contented Purrs for Skye!
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Skye MacKinnon is a USA Today & International Bestselling Author whose books are filled with strong heroines who don’t have to choose.
She embraces her Scottishness with fantastical Scottish settings and a dash of mythology, no matter if she’s writing about Celtic gods, cat shifters, or the streets of Edinburgh.
When she’s not typing away at her favourite cafe, Skye loves dried mango, as much exotic tea as she can squeeze into her cupboards, and being covered in pet hair by her two bunnies, Emma and Darwin.