Some people could cook; some could cook well; Chef Nevena Nolan could flat out burn. While she’d graduated from one of the top culinary schools in the world, her grandmomma had taught her how to cook; school had taught her how to play the game.
She minded her own business, stayed out of shit, and kept her opinions to herself as she worked her way up through the French brigade system. Her station was spotless, her dishes had the southern grandmomma seal of approval. She never mixed business with pleasure. Of course, she’d never been tempted to…until she bumped into an Italian chef who knew his chocolate, his wine and his way to a woman’s heart.
On a sabbatical from his executive chef position in one of Europe’s finest restaurants, he gave her plus size curves a second, third, fourth and fifth glance, gave her taste buds an adventure, and gave her hope that women like her could get HEAs. After he’d gotten what he wanted, he left her with a broken heart, a ruined reputation and a baby.
Down, but not out, Nevena kept her head up, took her apprentice chef, and kept it moving. When she’d healed enough on the inside, she and her best friend bum-rushed their way into one of Atlanta’s hottest restaurants and won over its owner.
Winning over the crowd of regulars who all seemed to have “aire” describing their net worth, they called her on her shit but they treated her like she was family. Knowing she had to spread her wings, they sent samples of her food to the owners of an upscale resort in Alaska.
Once in Alaska, she discovered another group of people who considered her family, her complete ignorance about wildlife, and a man who made her heart beat in triple time. She knew she could love him. Her daughter did love him and her best friend encouraged her to jump on him and ride him into another Ice Age.
Sheriff Dominic Kenai was an Alaskan grizzly shifter. He was also the law in Arcticus, Alaska. If you didn’t count what he did to people who fucked with his territory, there was zero point zero crime. Despite the new resort going up and the increasing number of tourists coming in, he was determined to keep that record intact.
An alpha male with simple tastes, all he wanted was good coffee, peace and quiet, and a willing woman every now and then. And then he met Nevena and his bear went crazy. Determined to win her over, he took his time so that she could heal. He’d show her that he wasn’t like other men; he was better. He had the whole territory in his corner, along with Nevena’s daughter, her best friend and her brother. Now all he had to do was prove to her that loving him wasn’t a mistake.
Flashing the two bricks of kuugiaq at Antarctica to add to his tab, Dominic was about to exit when the dulcet voice of a human woman stopped him cold. Of its own will, his body made its way to that voice, curious about the woman it belonged to. Being a local store as opposed to a supermarket, Dominic didn’t have to hunt long to locate her and when he did all he could do was thank the Creator. A big male, he appreciated a big female and there was a whole lot to appreciate on this woman—both up and across…and front and back.
The woman was on the other side of six feet and two hundred pounds. Of course, he didn’t get to see as much of the ‘whole lot’ as the woman was bundled up pretty good. Still, that didn’t stop him from undressing her with his eyes. She had mocha skin that was without blemish, sparkling eyes, kissable lips, and had an afro that proclaimed pride. All he could think was that her African ancestry and his Alutiiq ancestry would look good combined in their offspring. He wasn’t being a bragging bastard, he was simply using logic. Considering how cute her cub was who didn’t have his genes, there was no way the children they had together could be anything less than stunning.
Dominic damned the cold weather that made it necessary for her to wear so much. Next, he damned the laws that made it necessary for her to wear clothes at all as he wanted to see her on her back, against any flat surface, on her front…wearing nothing but him, his scent, and a look of adoration. While he could’ve spent all day looking at that woman, the tinkling laugh of a child drew his attention.
Dominic didn’t need shifter senses to know that the little girl belonged to her. Everything about the way they interacted proclaimed it louder than any words ever could. This woman was danger to anything that made the mistake of thinking it was going to threaten her cub. Ms. ‘She Would Look So Good Draped on Top of Me’ might be human, but something told Dom that she had a lot of bear ways about her.
Dom took a deep breath filled with a mouthwatering scent and turned to face the woman who was going to be his. Oh, Creator. His soon-to-be mate was tempting a half a store away. Up close she was absolutely stunning.
All woman, she held her ground like she was seven feet tall and three hundred pounds. He couldn’t help but smile at the fact that even if she matched those stats, he was still bigger. His bear rumbled in his chest acknowledging her scent, which was more of a turn on than anything he’d ever scented. Not a hint of male was on her letting Dom know she was available. Good, he wouldn’t have to kill anyone. If her cub hadn’t been with her, Dominic would’ve spread her out on the checkout and buried himself deep in her body.
“Why are you looking at my mommy like that?” her cub asked.
“Because she’s beautiful,” Dominic answered truthfully.
Taking a step closer, he looked in Nevena’s eyes and introduced himself properly.
“I’m most pleased to meet you,” he damn near purred.
“Pleased to meet you too,” Nevena said after catching her breath.
Oh, you most definitely will be pleased, he thought. Dominic couldn’t help but smile upon hearing that catch in her voice and scenting the faint trace of her interest. It was a damn good thing she wanted him because she was his the moment he laid eyes on her. Now all he had to do was convince her. Of that, Dominic had no doubt as he excelled at many things and getting his way was at the top of that list.