The future of the Bearwalker clan lies in Marin's past...
Marin, Guardian of the Bearwalkers, has destroyed the devil bear and saved his ravaged clan. But unless he finds another clan to join with his own, and provides an heir to the Guardian line, their survival is still in jeopardy.
Marin knows that something else is in trouble: his relationship with the clan's human Protector, Lindy. As she and Marin delve into the diary of his human ancestor to discover the truth about his past, they struggle to find a solution to their dilemma:
How can Marin reconcile the worlds of human and bear to protect his clan without giving up the human woman he loves?
Being followed by a black bear in Wisconsin's Northwoods was the inspiration behind Lori Johnson's fascination with the lore and natural history of these beautiful creatures, and the impetus behind her first book, People of the Bear.
After earning a Biology degree from Valparaiso University, she combined her love of nature and writing to publish numerous nonfiction articles in local and national magazines. She lives in Illinois with her husband, daughter and a menagerie of pets.
Explore Lori's world of black bears at www.lori-johnson.com
Thick, white flakes of snow swirled in sweeping arcs as if inside a newly shaken snow globe. Through the circle of light cast by the back porch bulb, soft white crystals shimmered, beckoning. It was the perfect kind of snow for a romantic evening walk through a wintery forest. If only...
Lindy Anderson took another sip of wine and sighed. What was the saying? So close and yet so far? She set the glass on the kitchen table and walked to the door of the guest bedroom. Just as she had every night for the last two months, she turned the knob and swung the door open a crack.
Pale light fell in a solitary beam to penetrate the darkness of the room. The illumination fell across his body on the bed; he was motionless but for the shallow rise and fall of his chest. He slept deeply, on the edge of unconsciousness, and unaware of life going on around him. Unaware of her life. What should have been their life. It was so unfair. Instead of sharing their first winter together, he had succumbed to the forces of nature that ruled the creatures in this northern wilderness and sunken into the sleep of bears.
"Oh Marin," she whispered. "I had such high hopes..." Her thoughts drifted back to that autumn day when he had pulled her onto his lap and confessed the truth that he'd kept hidden from her. Though he was part human and it made his man-body strong, his true nature, his true body, was a bear, and it was stronger. It was ironic that after so much struggle to understand and accept his humanity, nature had forced it down and buried it deep beneath the force that demanded hibernation.
Marin growled softly in his sleep, drawing her attention back to his slumbering form. His eyelids flickered briefly and his lips drew back, revealing gleaming white canines. Beneath the blanket, his massive paw twitched as if tickled by some unseen thing. He was a huge bear, but nestled as he was beneath layers of covers, he seemed so benign and helpless.
"Are you dreaming, Marin? Or is it a nightmare haunting your sleep?" He certainly had enough reason to have nightmares. He had been kidnapped and beaten, tormented by the truth of his impure ancestry, and then threatened by an intruder who had forced him from his own clan. Even now, when peace had been restored and his kin had begged for his guardianship once again, he faced the daunting task of finding another clan to merge with his own and restore their dwindling numbers. God only knew what problems that would bring to him. And to her.
Lindy's hand rose to her chest to trace the outline of the wooden medallion hidden beneath her sweater. Though it weighed only ounces, it carried the weight of an entire race's survival. The Bearwalkers were increasingly threatened, not only by human poachers and by the encroachment of human civilization on their forest, but occasionally by members of their own kind, too. The medallion was a symbol of the Protectors, the humans who knew about the mysterious shape shifters, and who had sworn to protect them. It was a promise that meant more to her than anything else in her life. Anything except for Marin.
She gazed fondly at the sleeping form, remembering the feel of his human body as he had cradled her in his arms. When she had taken him in after his clan cast him out, he'd adapted to human ways remarkably well. The hesitation and anxiety he'd felt quickly faded away, as had his fear of intimacy with her. For the first time in his life, he'd experienced love and sex in his man-body and discovered that it was so much more than he could have dreamed. She knew then that his heart belonged to her, yet the truth remained that his soul would forever belong to his clan. Though she hated sharing him with the other Bearwalkers, it was a sacrifice she knew she must accept to keep him in her life.
She would do anything for this beloved man, and make any sacrifice. But something more troubling loomed before them still, and she had no idea how to face it. For as much as she loved him and accepted his bear nature, the question remained: how would they build a life together when his world lay in the wilderness and hers was here?
She sighed heavily and softly closed the door. "We'll find a way, my love," she whispered. "We'll find a way."