About Big Bear, Little Bear
Author: Julia Talbot
Word Count: 20500
Page Count (pdf): 83
Date Published: January 25 2017 – 3rd edition
Publisher: Evil Plot Bunny
Series name and number: Midnight Rodeo 2
Ben Ursa has been out of the Midnight Rodeo game for a while, recovering from a terrible head injury. When he comes back, he finds a whole new place in the pecking order, his trained horses in high demand.
He also finds rodeo clown and grizzly shifter, Ozzie, who rejected him for being too young before. Now Ozzie thinks he’s just right, even if he is a little black bear. Can Ben really recover and become Ozzie’s mate, or will his family scheme to keep him “little bear”?
Ben watched Ozzie work the crowd, the clown dancing and wiggling, lumbering about the arena like he was physically slow.
Ben knew better. He knew bears and Oz could attack in a split second.
Just like last night.
He’d dared to try and touch, to make an advance—which, okay, he knew was totally stupid. They weren’t wolves, but they had their hierarchies, their rules, and grizzlies were at the top of the food chain, no question.
Ozzie was older, bigger, more experienced, but Ben had grown so frustrated at all the tiny steps to see if Oz was interested that he’d dared to push in, took a deep kiss and taste.
His head was still ringing from where Oz had boxed his ear.
Stupid, he knew, but Ozzie was… everything. Everything good and right and fine. Ben, though, he was just a little bear.
“Don’t be a stupid head, kid. You’re not ready for a real bear.”
Ben was worried that what Oz meant was, “I don’t want you. Go away.”
Still, he admired, waiting for his turn to ride.
Ozzie was solid as a boulder, with a quick smile and eyes the color of liquid chocolate. The broad chest protected a huge heart, Oz generous and loving. Smart.
Rocket walked by, the little cheetah winking at him. “You’re staring, baby doll.”
“I… Does it show?”
“Yeah. Little bit. It’s okay, baby doll, just… Sometimes a man wants to chase you, huh?”
Ben gave the skinny, blond bullrider a look. “You chase everything.”
“Yeah, but I never catch nothing. It’s a thing. You’re up soon. You think I’d be able to wrestle the steers? I could use the cash…”
“They’re so much bigger than you…” It wouldn’t work, it couldn’t. Rocket only had balance and speed. This was a leverage and timing game. That and you had to know horses for bulldogging.
“Yeah. Still, I can rope okay.”
“Stick with roughstock events. It’s a rare bird that’s a genuine all-around.”
Like Raven Walkingman. He was the king of the cowboys in their world.
“Yeah. Good luck today, huh?”
“Yeah, it sucks to be in a slump.” He’d been in one for months. It was a good thing he had amazing horses.
He waved to Rocket, then headed toward the back, going to get Holmes, Patch, and Bing. There was a ruckus in the back, a couple of the hellhounds loose, bothering the horses.
“Hey!” he roared. “Y’all get out of there, right now.”
He wasn’t sure which cowboy insisted on bringing the beasts, but he was going to tell Thackery that if whoever it was couldn’t control them, they had to go.
These horses took years to raise, to train. It wasn’t like they were demons forced into bull form.
He stormed into the corrals, snarling low, and one of the hellhounds turned on him, going for his throat. His fist slammed down on its head, knocking it clean out before the next one came for him.
And the next.
And the one after that.
By the time the fight was over he was exhausted, bitten more than once, and so damned tired.
Tired enough that when the last hound went for the horses instead of him, he never saw the horse rearing up, never braced for the razor sharp hooves that landed on his skull and drove him into the ground.