Fae-ted to the Bear - Harmony Raines
Chapter One – Elise
Elise’s stomach bubbled with nerves as she stood in the reception area of the Wishing Moon Bay Hotel.
After her brother, Karros, came home last night and announced that he’d freed Flora from their arranged marriage so that she could marry her shifter mate and avoid being banished from the fae realm, Elise had decided to make her own bid for freedom.
As the milestone age of forty approached with no sign of her ever finding a man to settle down with, one of her grandmothers had become very vocal on the need for Elise’s parents to step in and find a suitable husband for their daughter.
They’d been in contact with a dating agency that specialized in matching single fae men and women. Despite Elise’s objections, they had filled out various questionnaires on Elise’s behalf and arranged to meet with someone from the dating agency.
Emboldened by her brother’s actions toward Flora, Elise had grasped the opportunity to tell them she would find her own husband or else remain single.
Her parents hadn’t been impressed and an argument had ensued. Unable to get her parents to understand she didn’t want to marry for the sake of marrying, Karros had eventually taken her outside for some air while everyone cooled down.
She loved her brother. Karros was loyal and true and always fought in her corner.
So when he told her Flora’s mate was related to Ivan Kelts, the head chef at the Wishing Moon Bay Hotel, he’d agreed to come with her to ask for a large favor. Elise, who had always worked to fulfill her dream of owning her own restaurant, wanted to train as a chef under Ivan.
And now, here they were, against their parents’ wishes, in the Wishing Moon Bay Hotel reception area.
Her heart ached for her brother, who could barely make eye contact with Flora or Aiden. However, that didn’t stop him from asking them to help Elise. Perhaps he thought that getting them to help Elise fulfill her dream was the least they could do since he’d given up on his own happiness for their sake.
“Do you think there’s a chance Ivan will say yes and let me learn from him?” Elise asked.
“I don’t know, Elise.” Flora glanced awkwardly at Aiden. “You’re a fae.”
“And so are you.” Elise lowered her head, not really understanding Flora’s meaning.
Aiden stared over her shoulder at something. However, before she turned around to see what had captured his attention, the bear shifter beckoned to Elise and Karros. “Shall we go somewhere private and discuss this?”
“Sure.” Elise bobbed her head. Discussing it meant they thought there might be a chance. Didn’t it? “Karros.”
“Coming.” Her brother hesitated for a moment, his eyes lingering on Flora for a moment longer than necessary.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered as they followed Aiden and Flora through a door toward the kitchen. Not that she knew the layout of the hotel, but the smell of aromatic food wafting over them gave it away.
“For what?” Karros asked.
“I shouldn’t have let you come with me. I know how you feel about Flora. Seeing her with another man must break your heart.” She slipped her hand into his.
“I wanted to come.” He smiled down at her, his eyes filled with barely contained sadness. “When I see Flora so happy with Aiden, it just reinforces the knowledge that I did the right thing.”
“In letting her go?” Elise slowed and stood on tiptoes, kissing her brother’s cheek. “She doesn’t know what she’s missing.”
He smiled sadly. “On the contrary, she does.”
“You’re going to have to let her go.” Elise sighed. “Now that you’ve seen Flora, why don’t you go home?”
“Not yet.” He shook his head. “I expect Mom and Dad are already trying to marry me off to someone else. I’m going to stay here for a while. I’ll treat it like a vacation.”
“You never know, you might find yourself a shifter mate all of your own.” She arched an eyebrow. “Can you imagine how Mom and Dad would react?”
“Not well.” He glanced at Flora and Aiden who were waiting for them at the end of a corridor. “But when I see how happy Flora is with her shifter mate, I’m not saying it would be a bad thing. Can you imagine having a mate? You don’t have to worry if you’re compatible, you just know.”
“I’m not exactly looking for a husband or a mate.” She patted him on the shoulder. “But I do wish you would find a mate, so I know you are going to be