Target: BillionBear: BBW Bear Shifter Paranormal Romance

Target: BillionBear

 

By Zoe Chant

 

© Zoe Chant 2015

All Rights Reserved

 

         Chapter One

 

 

 

His habit since waking up in that private hospital room without any memory had been to count up every scrap he’d learned.

In those early days, nothing had seemed familiar except constant pain. Even his name had been difficult enough to hang onto through the haze of painkillers, but at least he knew this much: he was Jameson Worth Danbridge III, born in Boston, Massachusetts, son of Jameson Edward Danbridge II (deceased), mother Eleanor Worth Danbridge (also deceased), brother Charles. Stepmother, Elizabeth Cannon Danbridge—his champion.

That was all he knew until the night his room was invaded.

James lay staring at the ceiling under the drug-induced cottony cloud, not quite awake or asleep, when noises and shouting in the hallway murkily caught his attention.

Then his door banged open, and a big guy with dark hair, wearing expensive clothes, burst in and charged toward the bed. A couple of big orderlies thundered in behind him, and caught his arms as the guy yelled, “Jay, I’m here!”

Head pang
. Did Jameson know that voice? “Who are you?”’

“Shit!” The guy lunged furiously, teeth bared, then made a violent effort to get free. “
Fuck
, I
fucking-A
do
not
believe you don’t remember me. It’s
Charlie
.”

“No,” Jameson had to say.

“You have to leave right now, sir. No visitors allowed. Doc’s orders,” one of the orderlies gritted out as they tried to muscle the well-dressed guy out.

“Fucking Beth! This is
bullshit!
Jay—I’m gonna kill—”

“We’re calling security,” a nurse said from the doorway.

The guy named Charlie snapped one arm free in a fast martial arts move, slammed one orderly into the other one in a jiu jitsu throw, and stalked toward the bed again. “Jay, get your head out of your ass! I swear I’m gonna murder that two-faced—”

Jameson struggled to sit, head pounding.

The nurse snapped, pointing at one of the bleeping monitors, “Look at his heart rate—do you want to
kill
him?”

“I’m his brother! If anybody’s going to . . .” Crash! Over went one of the steel carts, and an orderly yelled, “Shit!” Above that Charlie’s enraged voice rose, “ . . . it’s going to be
me!
Now let me at him!”

Beep-beep-beep
! went the heart-rate monitor.

Two new orderlies appeared and all four dog-piled Charlie, the nurse standing between them and the bed, her arms wide as if she were about to throw all her 102 pounds into a full-body takedown on him.

Charlie was muscled through the door, where security guys in gray grappled with him. Before he was dragged off, Charlie shouted over his shoulder, “Jay, I fucking swear I am coming back for you—”

The door shut, and the guy’s curses and threats receded down the corridor as the nurse clicked the IV, and soothing calm closed over Jameson like soft water.

When he woke next, a woman sat at his bedside, petite, with sleek blonde hair pulled up into a chignon above a thin, sharp-boned face. She wore stylish clothes. She looked like she was his age, or at most a few years older.

“Oh, my dear Jameson,” she said in a soft, sweet high voice. “Do you remember me? Your stepmother, Beth—your greatest champion. How do you feel?”

“Thirsty.”

She moved at once to the side table to pick up the water glass with the straw, which she held to his lips. A waft of expensive perfume made his stomach stir uneasily.

“Is something wrong?” she asked.

“Perfume.”

“What? Oh, poor darling. My
Caron Poivre
— never thought anyone would find it anything but heavenly . . . I’ll move over here, how is that?” She shifted the plastic visitor’s chair to the far corner. “I was
so
worried when they told me your horrible, selfish brother was here pestering you. Deliberately trying to drive you into a relapse. If not worse. The nurse told me your blood pressure rocketed sky-high.”

“He said he’d come back for me,” Jameson said.

“So he
did
threaten you!” She shivered, watching him anxiously.

“That was a threat?”

Beth sighed. “I hate to be the one to tell you. And the doctors did say, no traumatic facts until your memory returns. I’ll just say this much: your darling father recently died, while you were traveling. He left his company to you, and you tried to hurry back, but your plane crashed. Your brother is angry that he didn’t inherit, and, well, to put it delicately, he would be just as happy if you didn’t recover.” She paused, looking anxious again. “Some are afraid that he wants to make sure you do not recover. Is that too much to bear?”

His head ached. He closed his eyes. “No. Yes. I don’t know.”

“Well, I have an idea. I’m going to get you out of here, and send you to a private rehabilitation retreat, where you will be
perfectly
safe. A good friend of mine is a therapist at Tranquil Breezes, and will look out for you. It’s a beautiful place, very private, and very secure. And on the opposite coast, so your brother will never find you to plot against you.”

“Sure.”

“Great!” she said brightly, and to the nurse, “I’ll see to everything.”

He sank under the cotton cloud, and when he woke, he was in a different place, under the care of neatly dressed, dark-haired woman of about forty, who introduced herself as Dr. Marlo Evans, but then insisted he call her Marlo. “I will be your therapist,” she said. “I’ll also be working with your new doctor when you’re ready for physical rehab.”

His room afforded a view of a lake and trees, and he had nothing to do but sleep under the influence of the soft, cottony drugs, eat, look out the window, do a little therapy—he could scarcely put two thoughts together, but it was mostly about his lost memory—and slowly, one at a time, glean facts.

His best thinking was always early morning, before he took his meds. The worst late at night after his last dose, when he never remembered falling into bed.

Marlo asked a great many questions in their therapy sessions, but it wasn’t until lately, when the physical pain was largely gone, that bits of memory would float up, adding to his scarce pile of facts. His instinct was to hoard them. He still didn’t know why. Maybe his evil brother would find him if he talked? Maybe someone else?

The days slipped by until one night, very late, some instinct deep inside him caused him to waken, and lift his head.

Moonlight shone in the two long windows, a milky pale blue behind the gauzy curtains. As he gazed at them, thinking the squares reminded him of crosshairs, a masculine silhouette moved slowly from right to left, and then back again.

He froze, watching as one of the silhouette’s arms began working along the edge of the window.

Alarm flared, waking him more fully than he’d been since he first landed in the hospital. He tried to rise, but dizziness nearly overwhelmed him. He caught himself painfully on the edge of the nightstand, then hit the button in the console that he’d been told was for emergencies.

With his other hand his flicked on the light—which meant the silhouette promptly disappeared.

A nurse appeared at the door. “Someone’s outside. At the window,” he said.

Her eyes widened, and she vanished, yelling, “Call security!”

He sank back onto the bed as the world revolved slowly, hitched and revolved, hitched and revolved. In the distance, running feet, voices. Outside more voices, and beams of light strong enough to overcome the weak nightstand light.

“Gone,” a man’s voice.

“Better report the breach . . .”

The voices faded.

After a time, Jameson slid back into sleep, and the next day, when he went to his therapy session, Marlo took him by surprise. “They think it might have been your brother sneaking around on the grounds. They didn’t catch him, but the security camera caught his license plate in the parking lot.”

Jameson winced, wishing his brain didn’t feel weighed down by that blanket of cotton-wool.

Marlo said, “Your stepmother is very concerned, as you may imagine. Beth suggested that maybe a change of air would help in your recovery, which in turn enables me to investigate a pet project. She even suggested a change of name, so that your brother cannot find you. She offered her own name. Wherever we stay, I’ll register you as James Cannon. You can relax, without any obligations or worries, and if you wish for something to do, you may pose as my cameraman.”

“Why do you need a cameraman?” he asked. As always, his mouth felt dry, and his throat was hoarse.

“Because one thing I learned during my early research days is that most people, if presented with someone from the media, will talk without reserve. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame.” Marlo smiled with knowing confidence. “But wear your white coat and present yourself as a doctor doing research, and they shut up, their first question of course about themselves. Do I think they’re crazy? Why am I asking them? Human beings are predictably selfish,” she finished with a sigh. “But I am looking for the . . . outliers, the meta humans. And there’s a place with a very recent sighting . . .”

As so often happened, he sank under the cotton-cloud again, and lost the rest of her words as he stared into space.

The next day, Beth arrived herself to see him off.

“I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing journey,” she said sweetly, reaching up to peck him on the cheek.

He found himself holding his breath against her perfume. Then she smiled and handed him a thick envelope. “Here is your spending money. Go ahead. Tuck that into your suitcase, while I duck into your bathroom.”

He zipped the envelope into the side pocket of his tote bag, which looked brand new—never used. Had someone bought it? Nothing was familiar, clothes, shoes, watch. He didn’t have a cell phone; as he blinked slowly at the tiny table in his room, he reflected that this was the first time he’d noticed that lack.

Beth came out of the bathroom, bringing with her the scent of his hand soap. “There,” she said brightly. “Well, I had best be going. Have a lovely drive. Marlo promises to report your progress to me every night. Your job is to rest, relax, and be sure to take your meds.”

He agreed, thanked her, said goodbye, and stretched out on the bed in his usual fog.

That night, after dinner, he went into his bathroom and stared down at the three bottles of pills. As he reached for the first, a weird sensation somewhere inside his chest seemed to arouse, and a distinct voice said inside his mind:
No.

He blinked at his reflection, shrugged, and decided it was a figment of his imagination, or maybe a bit of one of his frequent nightmares coming in for an early strafing run.

Strafing run?
He shook his head, shook out his pills and swallowed them—and within fifteen minutes that thing inside him roiled up so hard that next thing he knew he was crouched before the porcelain throne puking up the insides of his toes.

He shook hard as he moved to the bed and collapsed.

The next morning, before they departed, once again he reached for his morning dose out of the bottles, and heard the voice again:
No
.

Reflexively, he chucked the pills back into the bottle. When he packed up his razor, toothbrush, and toothpaste, he hesitated over the pills. He knew Marlo would ask if he was taking his meds. And he might even need them—it might be too early to quit. He vaguely remembered the doctor, right before Beth showed up, reminding him earnestly about his meds. So he swept up the bottles and put them into his kit.

He hated that cottony feeling—as he stared into his reflection, he knew he really wanted to test his recovery on his own, med-free.

Yes
, the voice inside said.

“Jameson, are you ready?” Marlo’s voice came from outside the door.

He grabbed his stuff and left the room.

 

Other books
Desert Wind by Betty Webb
Indian Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs
One Thousand Brides by Solange Ayre
Through the Looking Glass by Rebecca Lorino Pond
Jingle Hells by Misty Evans
You're Still the One by Janet Dailey, Cathy Lamb, Mary Carter, Elizabeth Bass
Midnight Rose by Patricia Hagan