The Bearfield Baby Heist

By: Jacqueline Sweet
a Bearfield story

Part I

Fake It Til You Mate It

Danny and Sarah are perfect for each other, only it might take a shifter conclave and devious maneuverings for them to realize it.

Chapter 1

The bakery looked like an earthquake had shook it to pieces. Flour clung to the floor in mounds like fallen snow. A broken jar of homemade strawberry jam dripped down the wall. Two of the giant oven paddles were snapped into kindling.

And Mina Brooks had no one to blame but herself.

“Maybe you should go home, boss?” The voice belonged to Mina’s assistant, her right-hand woman, her Gal Friday, whose name was actually Saturday Johnson.

Mina looked at the destruction and gritted her teeth. Her hands had done this.

“No way, girl. I can get the hang of this.” Mina opened a cupboard with the gentlest of touches. “I’ll make some muffins. Some banana molasses muffins. They’ll be amazing. We haven’t served these in like a month and the customers will freak out.”

Mina bent over, her breath exiting her in a whoosh. The baby bump pushed on her diaphragm like a cannonball. She was nine months pregnant and refused to stop working. She grabbed the muffin tray—it was industrial sized, perfect for making four dozen muffins at a go—and just at that moment, her little bundle of joy twisted and kicked within her. Mina’s fingers flexed and grasped at the muffin tray, twisting the stainless steel into a pretzel.

“Mina, I say this as a friend and as the person who has to clean all of this up: Please go home.” Saturday smiled at her with kind eyes. It almost made it worse. She was so reasonable. So calm under pressure. She’d only been at the bakery a few months, but the woman was already an indispensable part of Mina’s life.

There were times, Mina knew, that she hated Saturday. She wasn’t proud of it. She tried to pull the feelings apart and see what was at the root of them, but she knew what it was. Saturday was younger than her. She was competent and selfless. She was pretty in a statuesque way that Mina never would be. Mina was all curves—even more so now—her body was rounded swells and strong calves and forearms thick from kneading dough. Whereas Saturday was built like Serena Williams.

Working with her was like seeing the better version of herself from the universe next door.

Not that it mattered. Saturday was nice as could be. She was working to pay off her student loans. And nine days out of ten, Mina thanked the gods for Saturday’s help.

It was just that today was not one of those days.

“That little bear cub inside you is going to wreck this place, boss.” Saturday said. Her accent was all East Coast. “Go home, let Matt take care of you. I’ll get this place cleaned up and I’ll send you some cherry scones.”

Cherry scones. Just the words were enough to make Mina’s mouth water and to make her little cub roll over inside her. The little one had inherited her mate’s sweet tooth, that was for sure.

“Don’t you dare send me scones. I’m already as big as a house. If you send me them, I will eat every crumb and lick the plate clean.” Mina protested as she removed her apron and chef’s hat. She knew she had to go—every time the little one kicked, her strength grew tenfold. It was a miracle that she hadn’t ripped apart the plumbing or severed a gas main yet.

“I’ll send two bags then,” Saturday laughed, taking the chef hat from Mina and popping onto her own head, where it looked perfect. “You need to take some time off. You don’t want to have your kid here in the bakery, do you? Seriously, it’ll all be under control. I have help coming in soon. We’ll keep things running just like you do. No one will even know the difference.”

As far as Mina was concerned, that was the problem.

It was almost two years since she’d first come to Bearfield. On the run from some very bad men, one of whom was a mobbed-up ex-boyfriend, she’d crashed her car, been arrested, met her mate, and fallen in love in less than a day.

Her life since had been like a hurricane surrounding the world’s coziest bed. And in that bed was her husband, the man of her dreams, her mate, Matt Morrissey. Did he have flaws? Of course. Who doesn’t? Matt could be a little lazy. He liked sleeping in. He got crumbs all over the house. And sometimes he turned into a bear.

Also By Jacqueline Sweet

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