About Home for the Howlidays
Author: Julia Talbot
Word Count: 47000
Page Count (pdf): 196
Series: Dead and Breakfast
Date Published: 12/01/2020
Publisher: Turtlehat Creatives
Heat Rating: 3 Rainbows
File Types available: pdf. mobi. epub
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Bear shifter Tanner loves his B&B and his adopted family of vampires, shifters and more that come with it. The problem is that all of his friends are finding their mates, and he’s still alone. And lonely.
When a kindly truck driver drops spirit bear Kody off in Colorado with his three orphaned bear cubs, he has no memory of his old life and no idea what he’d going to do to keep his cubs alive. Then he finds the Dead and Breakfast Inn and asks for work. He thinks Tanner is the kindest man he’s ever met, and both Kody and Tanner immediately know this is where Kody is supposed to be.
Kody keeps having visions that someone is coming for him, though, and even as Tanner tried to help Kody settle in, he knows he has to figure out what the threat is and make sure it can’t hurt Kody, or his new babies. Can the crew at the Dead and Breakfast pull off a holiday miracle in time for Kody and Tanner to find the love they both need so much?
Tanner Weiling stood on the ladder out on the porch of the Dead and Breakfast Inn, freezing his big old bear butt off. The snows were up to an elephant’s ass, let alone his, and he was outside. Why?
Because it was on Carter’s list for him to put up lights the day after Thanksgiving, which was today. That was why. The bouncy kitty was hanging shit inside, saying Tanner had more insulation than he did.
Somehow, he had a feeling that Carter was saying he was packing on his hibernation weight. Not a good thing to tell the boss, who was now shivering and trying to get icicle lights to stay on hooks that already had icicles on them.
“Dammit.” He banged his hand on the gable. “There had better be hot tea with honey and flapjacks for me when I get down from here.”
“Pardon me?” The softest voice sounded, seeming to wrap around him. “Do you need help? I’m looking for work to trade for a little milk and some sugar.”
He glanced down under his arm, which was kinda tough, and spit the clip out of his mouth. “Hi! Uh, I didn’t hear you drive up.” The man was… oh, he was so pretty, with white-blond hair, almost reddish at the tips. Tanner expected him to have pale eyes, too, but they were so dark they were almost black.
“I’m Kody. I’m happy to work. I don’t mind the cold.”
“I’m just old and lazy.” Tanner climbed down the ladder, noting that Kody came to about his chin. “Nice to meet you, Kody. I’m Tanner.” His nose worked, his bear telling him Kody was also a bear shifter.
“Pleased to meet you.” Skinny. This little bear was bony, the patched coat hanging off him. Even with that, his hand was warm when he shook Tanner’s proffered one, so the cold must really be easier for him.
“Back at you. So did you say you were looking for work?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll trade work for milk and sugar. I don’t need a lot, maybe half a gallon of milk and a cup of sugar? I’ll work for the rest of the morning for it.”
Milk and sugar. Huh. “Well, we have plenty of that, but it’s not worth a whole morning.” Fallon would give him hell for hiring someone without knowing anything but their name, but Tanner trusted his gut. “How about you help me string these lights?”
“No problem.” The little bear scrambled up the ladder, agile and quick, getting right to work like he was made to do this.
Wow. Like a circus bear. Not like a huge, dense grizzly at all. He directed, and the job was done in probably a third of the time as it would have taken him, the whole big wraparound porch and the ground floor windows of the tower done.
“That looks so nice, Kody. Thank you. Would you like to come in to warm up?” Tanner asked gently. He would make some breakfast. The poor baby looked so hungry, and milk and sugar just weren’t going to do it.
A look of pure longing crossed Kody’s lean face, but he schooled it. “I’d love to, but I can’t today. Maybe there will be work tomorrow? I can do lots of basic things, and I learn quick.”
“I would like that. Will you come early?” He was the one up then usually, even though with the cold he just. Wanted. To sleep. Dammit.
“I will. I can come early and work hard.” Kody smiled at him, so sweet. “Thank you. So much.”
“Let me get that milk and sugar for you.” He padded into the house, moving swiftly to the kitchen to grab a half-gallon of milk and a cup of sugar. That should keep Kody until tomorrow when Tanner would have a care package ready for him.
“You’re a good bear. Thank you.” Kody peered inside from the door. “What a nice den. You must be proud.”
“You can come in, if you want.”
Kody stepped back. “My boots are all muddy, but thank you.”
Tanner didn’t point out his gross puddles all across the floor. Glenda was going to kill him. She used to take off the winter months, but now she could catch a ride with her mate, Yardley, who wasn’t worried about a little snow on the road. Gargoyles feared very little.
“Here you go,” Tanner said, going to hand Kody the milk and sugar after stuffing it in a tote bag. Carter, his manager, was all about reuse, reduce, recycle. “Can I give you a ride anywhere?”
“No. I’m close enough to walk. Thank you though. Very much.”
He didn’t frown. He didn’t, though anywhere you could walk around here was his or one of his partners’ land. “Well, you be careful. It’s cold.”
“It is. Have a lovely day. Enjoy your pretty lights.” In a flash, Kody was moving, scrambling through the snow like he was native to it.
Tanner watched him go, something in him responding to Kody with a weird, fluttery warmth in his belly. He shook it off, sighing. He still had a lot on his honey-do list today, and Carter would be up around noon to check things.
His manager was mated to his business partner, a vampire, and it had affected his schedule a lot. They were managing it much better now, but there were still some issues.
Mostly involving unexpected biting and the periodic noises from upstairs that sounded like someone was dying, but that was to be expected.
“What happened? Where did all this mud come from?”
“Uh-oh.” Glenda was in residence early, and she sounded pissed, her deep, crypt-lid-banging voice accompanied by her hair snakes hissing and snapping. “No idea. Going to get the roof Santa from the shed. By-ee.” Tanner fled.
He had a lot to do, but he would make sure to save some of it for Kody. Somehow, Tanner knew it would be important.