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    Grumpy Bear
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Worlds Apart - 24. Fate’s Reward

A small fleet of Humvees pulled up in front of the El Capitan Hotel on Mission Street. Four figures exited each vehicle, clad in black military-style uniforms and matching berets. The four from the lead vehicle walked to the front door while the rest of the troops waited at attention outside of their vehicles. The driver of the lead vehicle bore the name “Apollo” over the pocket of his shirt, while his lithe female companion’s shirt said “Banshee”, and the two hulking passengers from the back seat each wore the name “Ankudinov”.

Axel strode past Apollo and Susie to the front door, and pulled at the handle, finding it locked. He jerked the door a few more times, growing visibly frustrated, before Adam tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the sign taped to the door stating “Closed for Renovations. NALC use buzzer for entry.”

Susie had stood to the side watching Axel’s performance with a smirk on her face, and now she pressed the button on the speaker box with a manicured finger.

“We’re closed for renovations,” a familiar voice came over the speaker, “Please state your business.”

“The cavalry has arrived for prisoner transport, Papi Bear,” Susie replied sweetly, and the door emitted a loud buzz and the lock mechanism clicked allowing Axel to finally pull it open.

“Yogi!” Axel shouted, as Gunnar stepped out of the hotel office to greet the group.

“Hair Bear!” Gunnar shouted back, and the two briefly clasped each other by the forearm in the traditional werebear greeting before pulling each other close into a warm hug.

“You know if we hadn’t been back up in the Arctic for the last two weeks, we would have been here to lend a paw,” Axel said, still holding Gunnar by the shoulders and looking down at him earnestly.

“I know, big bear,” Gunnar said, “But we handled it bear-style.”

“You mean you don’t always need your friendly neighborhood wolves to come and pull your fuzzy butts out of the fire every time you get into trouble?” Susie asked with a smirk, before pulling Gunnar away from Axel and giving him a hug of her own.

“Let’s just say that I’ll be keeping your number on speed-dial,” Gunnar replied.

He greeted Apollo and Adam with more warm handshakes and hugs before showing them into the hotel office for debriefing.

“First,” Gunnar said, “I need you to give me a status report on the situation in the Arctic. I assume that our polar bear brothers are safe, now?”

“Indeed,” Apollo replied. “We flew the C-17 up to Ellesmere Island, but instead of hauling the peacekeeping forces directly into Corbett’s village, we landed on a glacier close to the GPS beacon being given off by Hank and Glenn from the polar bear village.

“They and the polar bears were expecting us, and we quickly organized an attack strategy. Hank covertly called the other two pairs of Atikokan bears in Corbett’s village who Axel had asked to keep an eye on suspicious behavior. Hank and Glenn were presumed dead at that point, having left in the night, and gone missing for several days, so the bears were happy to hear from them. After being briefed on the situation, the Atikokan bears prepared for the attack by secretly raiding the village’s armory, taking all live ammunition rounds, and removing the firing pins from all weapons.

“The next day, Corbett and his officers were shocked to find a fleet of Humvees rolling across the horizon in their direction, loaded with wolves and polar bears. They scrambled to form a counterattack but found themselves unarmed.

I will give them credit,” Apollo continued, “Just because their guns were useless, didn’t mean that they weren’t prepared to go down without a fight. From a weapons standpoint, we had the clear upper-hand, and could have just mowed them all down on the spot, but we wanted to end this mission with as few casualties as possible, so we engaged Corbett’s bears in hand-to-hand combat.”

“It was a good fight,” Axel said, picking up the story, “And it took us about a half-day longer to get them all under control than if we had just pulled in and opened fire, but in the end, we were able to subdue the village without a single death.”

“A lot of the credit goes to the Atikokan bears fighting for us from the inside, and the fifty-odd polar bears who joined our wolf forces,” Adam interjected. “And I’m just glad we were able to take Corbett alive. It would have been a waste of all the time and effort that Papa and I put into finding one of the Ancients if he had just ended up dead before we got a chance to find out what happened in the last thousand years to cause him to become so radicalized.”

“So, Corbett is in Lycan Council custody, then?” Gunnar asked.

“Oh yeah,” Susie replied. “That old bitch won’t be spreading his hate anytime soon. We ended up taking Corbett and his ‘leadership’ crew to Calgary to stand trial, along with Frode and his co-conspirators in the planned murder of Erik and Max in Atikokan. The rest of the exchange program bears in Atikokan who were not involved in the murder plot were sent back to Ellesmere Island to join their village again.”

“What’s going to keep them from attacking the polar bears again now that you’re gone?” Gunnar asked with concern.

“We did a little creative reshuffling,” Apollo said, picking up the tale again. “The first being that the polar bears have moved into the village with the brown bears, and Hank has been appointed the interim village leader for the foreseeable future until he is certain that the two races have learned to co-exist peacefully. The rest of the Atiokoan bear pairs from the exchange program are going to remain there as well to help Hank keep the peace among the two factions.

“The second round of reshuffling will occur after the spring thaws. Axel and I spoke with Supreme Alpha Taylor, and we felt that the exchange program was still a good idea, we had just exchanged with the wrong tribe of bears. So, after getting a crash course in English from the brown bears, Nukilik and nine other polar bears are going to be relocating to Atikokan in place of Corbett’s crew.”

“We’ll have to tell Siku,” Gunnar said excitedly. “He’ll want to take a trip back home again for the arrival to welcome his polar bear brothers, if he isn’t too busy with his new job, that is.”

“New job?” Axel asked. “Fishing with the humans didn’t work out for him?”

“Oh, it worked out,” Gunnar replied. “It worked out even better than expected, but I’ll let Siku help explain.”

“So where is the big bear?” Adam asked. “I’ve missed him!”

“Siku and his mate Shivay are on the second floor with Mike in the minimum-security wing, speaking with the captive bears who we have slated for rehabilitation instead of sending them to Calgary with you for trial and imprisonment.”

“Are you sure that’s wise?” Apollo asked as the group headed to the stairs. “They were still active participants in a decades-long crime ring.”

“They were forced into that life by a corrupt Kodiak and had little choice if they wanted to survive,” Gunnar said. “Now that Colt the ringleader is dead, they have an opportunity to turn their lives around. These are the ones who didn’t participate in the assault and rape of Shivay at the ill-fated party. Those ten are up on the third floor in our maximum-security wing, and they’ll be the ones going back to Calgary with you.”

“What about the ones who participated in the attack on the fishing boat?” Susie asked suspiciously.

“Well, a few of those were part of the group who raped Shivay,” Gunnar explained as they reached the second floor, and began walking down the hall to the large suite where the minimum-security bears were all gathered now, “So they’re up on three with the rest. As for the other six, we’ve decided not to press charges, since as attempted murder goes, it really was a pretty feeble attempt.”

They reached the doorway to the suite and saw that the living room furniture had all been pushed out of the way, and twenty bears sat on folding chairs in a circle, drinking coffee and talking calmly. At one side of the circle, Siku, Shivay and Mike sat together, facilitating the discussion as Charlie, the ever-present orange cat, sat upon Siku’s shoulder and looked on.

“Group therapy,” Gunnar whispered to the wolves and bears in the hallway. “It’s been working well so far. A lot of them have some pretty sad backstories. A few of them just had plain old bad Papas and weren’t raised properly as Cubs, but the rest are veterans of the twentieth century wars and conflicts… World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq… They all served, fought, and survived, coming home with a lot of baggage and guilt. Somehow, they all ended up in San Francisco and fell into Colt’s web, turned from soldiers into prostitutes, drug dealers and petty thieves.”

“No bear should be forced by another into prostitution,” Axel bristled, raising his voice slightly, and the discussion within the room suddenly went silent as the assembled bears turned to look at the observers in the hallway.

Gunnar cleared his throat before stepping into the room in front of the small uniform-clad group,

“Ahem. Sorry to interrupt your session. I was just giving a tour to these representatives of the North American Lycan Council.”

“Axel! Adam!” Siku said happily and stood up, walking to the middle of the circle where the big bears met him with warm hugs and even warmer kisses.

“Are those Kodiaks?” one of the bears in the group asked. “What are they doing here?”

“They are indeed Kodiak,” Siku replied, “And they’re here because Axel here is a Councilmember, and Adam is his Cub, Assistant, and Council Archivist all rolled into one sexy package.”

“So,” the bear continued, “Not all Kodiaks are corrupt bullies like Colt?”

Axel sighed and pulled an empty chair into the circle.

“It’s certainly possible, given our size and our nature,” Axel replied. “But with the right influences and friends, we can become great protectors instead of horrible tyrants.”

“These other two aren’t bear,” another in the group replied, scenting the air around Apollo and Susie, “I’d swear that they were…”

“Wolves,” Apollo said, finishing his sentence for him. “I am Apollo, General of the Council’s 1st Infantry Peacekeeping Forces and Alpha of the Chicago area pack. Susie is my Colonel and Beta.”

“Ahem,” Susie said, giving him an elbow in the ribs.

“Uh, and my mate,” Apollo added quickly, turning pink.

“So, are you here to take us to Council prison?” another bear asked nervously.

“Some of you, yes,” Susie replied, “But according to your jailor Gunnar here, apparently none of the bears here in this room are coming with us. You’re all to remain here to be rehabilitated.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” the bear replied, dipping his head and closing his eyes to stop the tears from falling.

“Don’t thank me,” Susie said, “You have Siku and his mate, and Gunnar and Mike to thank. If it was up to the wolves, you wouldn’t see the light of day again for the next hundred years, but these bears and tiger see some potential in the lot of you that Apollo and I cannot.”

“It’s your brothers up on the third floor who will be coming to Calgary to stand trial,” Apollo said, and the assembled bears looked around at each other, understanding why ten of their number had been unaccounted for since they all arrived here following the incident on Thanksgiving.

“I think now is just as good a time to tell you all what your rehabilitation will entail,” Gunnar said, moving to the center of the circle. “It was Siku’s idea, and my resources that have made it possible.

“You all know by now that Siku came here to San Francisco in a search for his mate and to work as a commercial fisherman for the Coastal California Seafood Company. When Siku left Canada and began his journey of self-discovery, he spent the first few months living with me and Mike in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and working on a boat in our fishing fleet.

“Well, as of today,” Gunnar continued, “Coastal California Seafood Company is now a subsidiary of Papa Bear’s Fisheries… My company. I’ve bought the business and have added three more boats to their fleet. Thanks to your actions, there is a human fishing crew who know of the existence of were-creatures. It made sense to bring them into the fold as allies. You will all be trained alongside Siku and your human co-workers and will learn the ways of the sailors and fishermen. You will learn an honorable trade, one in which bears excel and leave your lives of prostitution and crime behind you.

“However, this is an offer and not a command. I will give you a choice. If you do not wish to take me up on this offer and join my fishing fleet, you are welcome to leave the City, but you will be on probation and must accompany Apollo and Susie to Calgary and live under the watchful eye of the Council. As long as you behave yourselves you won’t be imprisoned, but you will not be entirely free either.

“Now, by show of paws, who wants to stay in San Francisco and become a fisherman?”

All twenty bears raised their hands sheepishly while looking down at the floor and not at each other, voting their own conscience for the first time in years and not basing their choice on the group. After a few seconds they all looked up again and smiled around the circle, seeing their brothers’ choices and knowing that they would all remain together in the new adventure that waited in store for them.

“Very good,” Gunnar said. “We’ve seen your current living conditions outside of this hotel and quite frankly they’re not up to the standards to which werebears should maintain for themselves. After your former companions are taken to Calgary, consider this hotel to be a halfway house of sorts instead of a prison. You will help to conduct repairs to correct periods of neglect and keep your personal spaces clean, and in return you will be allowed to save your wages from your day jobs as fishermen until a time that you are able to secure new and better living arrangements for yourselves.”

“Sir,” one of the bears said, raising his hand again, “Colt forbid us from forming… romantic relationships with each other because he thought it would cause jealously amongst each other when we were conducting business with clients. Would we be allowed to live and share a space here with another bear as… as Mates?”

Gunnar smiled and nodded his head.

“I think that if you have found your true mate among the brothers assembled here, that you should be allowed to live your lives together in peace, and your combined resources will enable you to find your forever homes even sooner.”

Several pairs of bears locked eyes with each other, and it was quite obvious to Gunnar who in the group were excited to finally have the chance to live freely as mated couples.

“Now if you’ll excuse us,” Gunnar said to the group, “We have to go and take care of your less fortunate brothers upstairs.”

“Just a minute,” Axel said, standing up. “Shivay, could I have a word with you in the hallway?”

Shivay looked at Siku, and the polar bear gave him a smile and a nod. He knew that this bear was one of his mate’s closest and dearest friends, but he was still a Kodiak, and his very presence made the tiger a bit nervous.

Axel ushered the tiger to the end of the hallway and around a corner, out of earshot of the bears and wolves who waited patiently for him to join them before heading to see the prisoners on the third floor.

“So, tiger,” Axel said, looking down at Shivay sternly. “You are the one who has captured my friend’s heart.”

Shivay looked up at the big, tattooed Kodiak bravely and nodded silently.

“Before I give you my approval,” Axel continued, “I just need to know one thing. Tell me tiger, do you love him?”

Shivay saw a tear falling down the bear’s face as he asked, and he realized that underneath the tough exterior was a kind-hearted soul who only wanted what was best for his friend.

“Sir,” Shivay replied. “I love him with my whole heart. I wish for nothing else but to spend the rest of our long, long lives together, and if Shiva and Odin will allow, the rest of eternity together as well.”

“That’s all I needed to hear,” Axel said, wiping the tears away from his face with the sleeve of his uniform. “You take care of that big bear and keep him happy.”

Shivay nodded and impulsively wrapped his arms around the bear’s muscular torso, pulling him into a hug. Axel hugged the tiger back and then quickly straightened up.

“You get back to your man and help fix the scrambled brains of that group of bears,” he said. “I expect to see you at all the big gatherings, especially Atikokan in a few months when the other polar bears arrive from the Arctic!”

“We’ll be there sir,” Shivay replied, “I even may bring my father along. He’s gotten quite accustomed to the werebear way of socializing amongst friends over the last week!”

Axel tipped his head back and let out a hearty laugh.

“I think you and your father are going to fit in just fine!”

****

Axel caught up with the rest of the small group on the stairs to the third floor and stopped in his tracks as he looked ahead at the figure sitting on the landing.

Sitting and blocking the top of the staircase was a bear, not very large, with black fur and a dazzling U-shaped blond marking on his chest. He was holding a large cup of coffee between his two front paws and lapping at it contentedly with his long tongue while eyeing the group on the stairs.

“I’ve never seen…” Axel said, “Is that?”

“He’s a sun bear,” Gunnar confirmed. “He’s been the manager of this hotel for years and has also been living under Colt’s thumb. Count him among the bears who are happy that asshole is gone for good.”

The sun bear set his coffee cup down on the floor next to him as gracefully as can be done without thumbs, and quickly shifted back to his human form, which was a short but muscular man of southeast Asian descent.

“Are you Vietnamese?” Adam asked cautiously, “Indonesian?”

“I am originally from Borneo,” the man replied, pulling on a robe that was laying on a chair next to the spot where he had been sitting on the floor and picking up his coffee again. “I came to San Francisco in 1963 when my jungle home was destroyed during the battles between the British army and the Indonesian forces in Kalimantan between the North and South sides of the island.”

“For years, he was the phantom voice of the speaker box at the front door of the hotel,” Gunnar explained, “Acting as hotel manager and keeping any riffraff out of the building.”

The man sighed.

“Yet, Colt and his minions were the worst riffraff of them all and I could do nothing to keep them out. It was only because of my smaller size and Asian human appearance that Colt mostly left me alone. I did not fit into the big, muscular, All-American male stereotype which he wanted to convey with his harem of male prostitutes. I was but the humble gatekeeper for his stable of powerful brown bears to come and go with their clients over many, many years.”

“What is your name, honorable one?” Apollo asked.

“I am called Izz,” the sun bear replied. “And I am pleased to meet such fine bears and wolves to whom Gunnar has introduced me since rescuing me from my bondage and giving me a new purpose.”

“Izz has been in charge of the security here in the maximum-security wing,” Gunnar explained, “And will remain to be a house-Papa to the bears in the group on the second floor for as long as they need to remain here until they get on their own two feet.

“After our bears are rehabilitated, we will re-open the refurbished and restored El Capitan Hotel to the public, and Izz will stay on as the hotel manager once again.”

“Only this time,” Izz added, “The front door will be open to all guests and the hotel will be a respectable establishment once more.”

Susie stepped forward to embrace the sun bear.

“It may be a few decades too late,” she said, “But I formally welcome you to the family of were-creatures here in the Americas.”

After leaving Izz in his position at the top of the stairs, he turned back into his sun bear form and continued manning his post, sipping his cup of coffee, carefully balanced between his nimble paws.

They turned the corner and saw five of the Sturgeon Bay crew, all in bear form, sitting at regular intervals down the hallway guarding the doors behind which the ten captives were held.

Upon seeing the uniform-clad Axel and Adam, along with General Apollo and Colonel Banshee, the five bears transformed into their human forms and picked up robes to go and speak with the group.

“Ach,” Dom said, “Does this mean that our stint as prison guards is finally to an end? We’re a week overdue to get back to our fishing boats at home and resume our normal day jobs after all!”

“And the North American Lycan Council appreciates your efforts,” Apollo replied with a grin, “We’re taking them in pairs under heavy wolf-lycan guard via Humvee back to our C-17 to be transported directly to Calgary.”

“Where did you manage to land that behemoth airplane of yours this time without being noticed?” Gunnar asked.

“Naval Air Station Alameda,” Susie replied with a grin. “If the humans aren’t going to use it, there’s no good reason why the lycans can’t come and go under cover of darkness.”

Alameda?” Gunnar said in surprise, “That airstrip hasn’t been repaired in almost twenty years! How did you manage the landing?”

“Papi Bear,” Susie said with a laugh, “Last week we landed on a fucking glacier! That plane can handle a little broken concrete without so much as a wobble.”

“And thank Odin for that,” Adam commented. “I may have gotten to the point where I don’t need to get doped-up on orpin rose to fly anymore, but if I had to deal with a rough takeoff or landing, I’m not going to be held responsible for my bear’s actions!”

“Show me what we’re dealing with, prisoner-wise,” Apollo said, getting down to business. “What security measures have you taken?”

“See for yourself,” Dom replied, opening the one of the doors where a morose bear sat in a chair, watching TV. He had a steel collar padlocked around his neck as well as a series of shiny chains and shackles connecting his wrists and ankles, preventing him from shifting or even moving about with more than a shuffle.

“Very good,” Apollo commented. “I’m surprised you were able to find the appropriate restraints so easily and quickly.”

“Not as surprised as I was, Laddie,” Dom replied. “As it turned out, all I had to do was take a little walk to the S&M supply store down the street and they had everything we needed to turn these bad boys into compliant boys. The store owner offered to throw in an assortment of leather whips and cat-o-nine-tails for free, but I assured him that the restraints would be humiliating enough without needing to add any additional corporal punishment to the mix.”

Apollo grinned and pulled out his walkie-talkie.

“All units, we are ready to begin prisoner transport. Please proceed to the third floor in five groups of four to assume custody of two prisoners per group.”

“That’s our cue to head back to the house in Sea Cliff and pack our bags,” Dom said to Gunnar, “We have a flight to catch back to Green Bay in four hours, and fish to catch back home on Lake Michigan tomorrow morning!”

“You and your guard crew go on back now and meet the rest of the bears and Cubs getting packed up,” Gunnar said, “I’ll collect Mike and say goodbye to Siku and Shivay. I have one last surprise for them.”

****

After the prisoners were loaded into the Humvees and on their way to the C-17 hiding in plain sight on the runway in Alameda, and the last of the bears were back in Sea Cliff packing for their own flight back to Wisconsin, Gunnar and Mike sat with Siku, Charlie and Shivay in the hotel office.

“Are you sure you can’t come back to the house to say goodbye to the crew before we all have to leave?” Mike asked.

“We’re still responsible for the twenty bears upstairs,” Siku explained, “Izz can’t do everything. We need to go and get them dinner and have one last evening counselling session before we go home for the night.”

Gunnar nodded.

“Speaking of going home,” he said, “That brings up what I wanted to talk to you about before we leave. We haven’t formally discussed your future, but I assume that you’re going to want to stay here in San Francisco?”

“Yes,” Siku replied, looking at Shivay, “Even though he has resumed working remotely from home, his job is still here in the Bay area. He has done too well to consider abandoning it prematurely before he is forced to conceal his age.

“And, I have much work to do with Captain Ron to expand the fishing business and turn these bears into a proper fishing crew. I foresee staying in San Francisco for many years to come.”

“Besides,” Shivay added, “Even though my father is leaving tonight to join you and the rest of your bears in Sturgeon Bay, I cannot leave my mother completely alone. My sister and her husband have decided to take their cubs back to India and take our grandparents with them. If Siku and I don’t stop in to visit her from time to time and keep her connected to something outside of the four walls of her big, empty house, I fear what kind of monster she may yet become.”

“You’re a good son,” Gunnar said, “Not everyone would forgive their mother for trying to murder their mate so easily.”

“Meow!” Charlie interjected.

“Or for murdering their mate’s soulmate either!” Gunnar added with a nod to the orange cat.

“I didn’t say that I forgive her,” Shivay replied. “I simply need to keep an eye on her to make sure she grows no worse. One or two Sunday dinners a month should suffice.”

“Well, since you both have your roots firmly planted here in this City,” Gunnar said, reaching into the satchel next to his chair, “You may as well have the place to live that you both deserve. Officially, that is.”

“Gunnar, you can’t,” Siku said.

“I can, and I did,” he replied, placing a folder of paperwork on the desk in front of the polar bear. “My real estate agent sent this to me overnight. All it needs is your signatures, and the house in Sea Cliff is officially yours.”

“It’s too much!” Shivay exclaimed.

“Nonsense,” Gunnar replied. “Consider it my gift to celebrate your mating bond. I have a feeling that the lycan world is going to see great things from the two of you!”

“Meow!” Charlie interjected again.

“My mistake,” Gunnar said with a grin. “The three of you.”

Siku took the pen from his friend’s hand and signed the paper before handing it to Shivay and giving him an encouraging nod.

Shivay looked at Gunnar one last time, giving him a final moment to change his mind before signing his name below his mate’s.

Charlie leapt from Siku’s shoulder and pressed her paw into the fresh ink left by her soulmates, and when she removed it, her print was left behind on the paper as well, overlapping the signatures of the bear and tiger.

****

It was late in the evening before Siku, Shivay and Charlie were able to leave the twenty bears at the hotel in Izz’s care and return home.

Our home,” Siku said with pride as they pulled into the driveway.

“I still think it was much too generous,” Shivay said, as they opened the front door and walked hand-in-hand into the foyer, “But if it makes your friend happy, then I will humbly accept.”

The house was now empty once again, but walls still seemed to hum with the energy that the bears had left behind.

Charlie leapt from Siku’s shoulder and ran across the foyer and up the stairs.

“She’s claiming her spot in the middle of the big bed, again,” Shivay chuckled, “Our little soulmate lives quite the charmed life!”

Siku took Shivay by the hand and led him through the living room to the big bay windows.

“Look before you, my love,” Siku said, standing behind his tiger with his arms wrapped around him as they looked out at the bridge, cliffs, and sea, illuminated by moonlight, and accompanied by a million pinpoints of light as the sky was filled with twinkling stars. “We live a charmed life as well. Fate has looked upon us with favor and has given us her reward. I don’t know yet what we’ve done to deserve this, but as long as I have you, I will always be happy with whatever may come my way in our life together.”

Shivay turned to face his bear, and as green eyes met ice blue, their lips met, sealing their bond to face the future together.

Forever.

Copyright © 2021 Grumpy Bear; All Rights Reserved.
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Grumpy Bear's Werebear Tales

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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A very entertaining wrap up of the various threads of the plot.  As always, Apollo and Susie  were a pleasure to see.  Axel and his surprise gift was great, as well as the planned rehab of the bears.  I was very pleased to  see the addition of a sun bear to the bears in SF.  SF has been a focal point of Asian immigration, and it seemed unusual not to find Asian bears in the population. The expansion of Axel's company to the Pacific and the renovations to restore the hotel will probably mean Mike and Axel will visit Siku, Shivay and Charlie often. I am happy that Shivay will keep close to his mother to protect the rest of the world from her evil. As for the promised surprise, I am patiently waiting.

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What an absolute treat! This was such a lovely chapter. 

I'm already in love with Izz. Do I smell the MC of the next book? Me thinks so. 

I'm still putting proverbial money on it. Ezekiel and Nameer!! Bring it on, Grumpy!

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