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Glacier Bear Buns: A BBW Bear Shifter Menage Paranormal Romance Novella (Bear Buns Denver Book 2) by Sable Sylvan (1)

Chapter One

Monday

The opening night of Bear Buns had been a success, but behind the scenes, things had been chaotic. The club was short-staffed, with the costume and makeup department working double time to make sure every shifter was costumed perfectly, with glitter to match. There weren’t enough bartenders, and the DJ had barely been able to last through the six-act set without taking a break. Things may have looked perfect on the outside, but things at the Bear Buns strip club had been anything but perfect.

All this, the theater manager, Melissa Miles, noted down on her tablet. It was her first day on the job. In fact, she’d been hired mere hours before. She’d called the meeting so that she could hit the ground running and ensure any of these complaints were dealt with by Friday night.

“And were there any other complaints?” asked Melissa, looking up at the staff that was gathered in the club’s main dance hall. All the dancers and all the people who worked in the back of the house and the front of the house were sitting at the tables that, on Friday night, would be filled with adoring fans. Right now, everyone sitting there just looked exhausted. It was no wonder that the meeting’s trays of donuts and samovars of coffee had been drained by the equally drained members of the Bear Buns family.

A woman raised her hand. She was wearing all black, like all the other stagehands, but had curves more like Melissa’s than the toned bodies of the other stagehands.

“Hi, I’m Renee, Renee Crumb,” said Renee. “My question is kinda silly. You know what all of us need, but…what do you need, Melissa?”

“What do I need?” asked Melissa with a laugh. “I’m sorry, what?”

“What do you need? What can we do to make your job easier?” asked Renee. “You’re handling hiring. You’ll be filling in when needed, from working the ticket stand to serving drinks. You’ll be attending all the rehearsals. You’ll really do all that on your own? Couldn’t you use some help?”

“What I need is for everyone to continue to work hard and come to me with any and all complaints,” said Melissa. “Don’t play coy. I don’t want to have to pull your complaints out of you. This isn’t a nightclub and I’m not buying you all drinks to get in your head and figure out what’s wrong. The more honest you are with me, the better I can run this club. Remember, the only way we can make our customers happy is ensuring that all of y’all are happy, too.”

“Got it,” said Renee.

“You’re excused,” said Melissa. “Remember, last Friday was just opening night. It went great, even though we faced the problems we faced. However, that’s a double-edged sword. It means that this Friday, we’re going to have an even bigger turnout. I guarantee it. That means we’re going to have more women to please, and we’re going to have to hustle even harder. If you need anything, and I mean anything, from a special brand of bottled water to oil for the poles, you come to me. Is that clear?”

The room answered with a chorus of yeses.

“Okay. Now, let’s get this show on the frikkin’ road,” said Melissa.

Everyone got up from their chairs and went to their respective places. Renee took one look back before going backstage. Was Melissa going to be able to manage the crazy world of Bear Buns all on her own?

Melissa looked around the main hall and took notes of locations on the tablet. She’d need to come up with code names for the sites. That way, it’d be easier to direct staff in case specific areas needed more attention. They couldn’t very well have a show where, say, an entire swath of tables received no lovin’ from the strippers. What would happen if one of the bars ran out of mixer? They’d need to have a system in place to ensure the show ran smoothly.

The main stage of the Bear Buns club was really something else. There was a white carpet with swirls of black and gray mixed in, resembling white marble. The tables and chairs were rose gold, with cream cushions. The tables were sturdy, with tops that had been treated to look like marble, and even the stripper poles were rose gold. It was very hip, chic, modern, Millennial, but would it go out of fashion next season? Melissa took a note to remind herself to brainstorm that so she could plan ahead, either getting the club new trendy décor, or getting the club some more classic decor. She’d have to consult with the Seattle branch to see about their thoughts on the matter.

“It’s really something, isn’t it?” asked a voice.

Melissa turned. Standing behind her were two men, one with blond hair that shone blue and gray in the light, the other with black hair that also seemed to be gray and blue in spots. It must’ve been dyed, treated. They were wearing jeans with shirts reading ‘Bear Buns’ over the chest.

“It’s a nice space, but the decor may be a bit…modern,” said Melissa tactfully. “I’m going to have to crunch the numbers and see if we can afford the proposed yearly remodel.”

“Yearly?” asked the other man. “More like quarterly.”

“Quarterly?” asked Melissa, crossing her arms. “Really? What makes you think we’ll be able to make that kind of dough?”

“You’ve never worked in this industry before, have you?” asked the first man, looking over Melissa. Melissa had the curves that belonged in the club, which belonged in his arms, but she was dressed primly and professionally. There was no way that this corporate cutie knew how to hang loose.

The man’s inner bear growled. The man was a werebear, but he may as well have been a wereboar, as he was acting downright pig-headed. It didn’t take a genius to see that this woman wasn’t just curvy but filled with a fiery passion. The bear could use some of that fire in his life.

“I can’t say I have,” admitted Melissa. “I assume you have? I’m sorry. I don’t think I got your names.”

“Hudson, Hudson Aquilo,” said the first man, who had lighter hair.

“And I’m Neil, Neil Bering. We worked back at the Seattle club, as extras, you see,” said the second man, who had slightly darker hair. “We filled in whenever a pair of bears didn’t make it backstage in time for their set.”

Neil looked over Melissa and agreed with his bear that the woman seemed to be the one he’d been looking for all this time. There was something in her that sparked a fire inside him. He wasn’t used to feeling that fire. He’d felt its embers brush up against his soul before, but he’d never felt the kindling burn and roar up into a bonfire. This wasn’t lust. He’d felt that toward many of her kind before, curvy BBWs, none of whom had ended up being the missing piece of his ménage. His loin stirred for this woman, but something else also stirred. His heart raced as he thought about what all this could mean.

“And from what you’ve seen, of Bear Buns Seattle and Denver, you think we can afford quarterly remodels?” asked Melissa. “What the heck could strippers make?”

“There are three big stages. The Twelve Dancing Bears always use the main stage. The two side stages are used by the other dancers, for other shows and for private parties. Those can hold a hundred people each. Then, there are the six smaller stages, which can handle fifty people each. That’s where our newbie dancers learn the ropes. All kinds of shifters dance there. They don’t rehearse with us. They just practice on the poles and show up for shows. The ones that are good enough at dancing get promoted and get to join one of the bigger shows,” explained Neil.

“People who buy tickets to the shows held on the big stages don’t have to pay a drink minimum, but the people who see the smaller shows have a three-drink minimum to meet, so they basically buy tickets that way. You went to the big show, right?” asked Hudson.

“Right,” said Melissa. “Wait, how did you know?”

“Heard through the grapevine,” lied Neil.

“Three hundred ticket sales go to the club, with probably around nine hundred sets of drink tickets getting sold,” said Hudson.

“Nine hundred sets? I thought you just said there was only room for three hundred people in all the smaller dance halls combined,” said Melissa.

“There is, but people don’t stay all night,” explained Neil. “The Twelve Dancing Bears is a three-hour show, whereas ladies can go to the smaller stages and stay for as long as they want…”

“…Or for as long as they can pay,” said Hudson. “Most people spend all their money on a few lap dances and leave within an hour.”

“Okay, so how does the math turn out?” asked Melissa.

“I can’t do the math in my head. It’s about forty thousand a night in terms of raw seat ticket and drink ticket sales,” said Neil.

“…And that doesn’t count merchandise sales, extra drink sales, and time spent in the cocktail rooms,” said Hudson. “At Bear Buns, instead of champagne rooms, we have cocktail rooms. Every set of stars gets their own room. We split the profits with the club. The club takes half, then the two of us split the difference.”

“Holy heck. That’s a lot of moolah. How much does time in the cocktail room cost?” asked Melissa.

“An ungodly amount,” said Neil.

“Come on,” said Melissa. “The more info I have, the better I can do my job.”

“You think we should tell her?” Hudson asked Neil with a grin.

“Well, if we don’t, then how will she be able to rent us out?” asked Neil.

“I’m right here, you know,” said Melissa with a frown. She put a hand on her hip, and they could tell she was serious.

“Ten thousand an hour,” said Neil. “We can take girls in there for free. Most of the bears do that regularly, but we’ve never done that.”

“Wait, what?” asked Melissa. “Come on. You’re joking, right?”

“Nope,” said Hudson. “That’s part of why people come back week after week. A chance of winning time in the cocktail room with us, well, that’s a gamble they’re willing to take, and worst-case scenario, they still get to see us shake our bear buns.”

“Oh, right,” said Melissa, taking notes. “I saw four girls get taken to the cocktail rooms. Two were taken from the VIP area, but two were random women from the general audience.”

“You saw four?” asked Hudson. “Not six?”

“I got to the show late,” said Melissa. “I didn’t see the first mountain bears set, nor did I see yours. I did catch the surprise proposal the mountain bears gave Christiana. That was something else.”

“What makes you so sure you missed our set?” teased Neil.

“Trust me, I’d remember you two,” said Melissa, taking notes.

“I’m sure you would,” said Neil.

“Not like that,” said Melissa, looking over Neil. “I mean…I just…ugh, never mind.”

“What did you see at Bear Buns then? After all, we’re the only beasts worth seeing at this zoo,” said Hudson.

“Truth be told, I rushed in to see the show, late, and didn’t get a chance to see anything but the gift shop on my way out,” said Melissa.

“So, Christiana, Chad and Barrett didn’t take you to see the cocktail rooms?” asked Neil. He was referencing the Himalayan mountain bears who had been put in charge of hiring, finding Melissa the same way they’d found their shared fated mate, Christiana, the club’s chef.

“Nope,” said Melissa. “Would you mind showing me around?”

“Not at all,” said Hudson.

Neil led the way, and Melissa walked behind him. Hudson walked next to Melissa, his hands brushing against hers. Melissa could feel Neil’s heat. Wasn’t he supposed to be a glacier bear? Weren’t glaciers supposed to be cold? Neil wasn’t making her feel cool and collected at all.

“Wait,” said Neil. “Before we show you what’s behind this door…you need to make us a promise. Agree that you’ll owe us a favor.”

“Uh, excuse me?” asked Melissa.

“Just one favor,” said Neil. “Come on. Don’t you want to see what’s in the room?”

“Fine, fine, I’ll owe you a favor,” said Melissa. “Just show me the room.”

Neil and Hudson led Melissa to the central stage area and down into the corridors leading to the cocktail rooms.

“We’re in the process of rebranding these as dessert rooms,” said Hudson. “The three stages are connected by corridors. There’s one central backstage area for the three stages. Each of the corridors has four cocktail rooms. This one’s ours.”

Neil opened the door reading ‘Glacier.’

As soon as Melissa entered the room, she felt a chill. She wrapped her arms around her body for warmth. The interior of the cocktail room was decorated to look like an ice palace. There was a big bed in the center that looked very uncomfortable, made of what had to be blue and white plastic modeled to look like a bed chipped out of ice. On top, there were fur skins, and Melissa was sure they wouldn’t be soft enough to make the plastic bed comfortable.

“Hey, can we…cash in that favor?” asked Hudson.

“Here? Now?” asked Melissa, looking around the room. Were they really about to suggest what she thought they’d suggest?

Melissa had to admit that the glacier bears were handsome. Dead handsome. They had thick muscles rippling through their thin shirts. They were dominant, but wasn’t that just the male equivalent of sassy? She was a sassy woman. Made sense she’d be attracted to similarly ‘sassy,’ dominant men. They had deep voices that seemed to get deeper when they were talking to her in private. They’d obviously taken a shining to her, treating her to a private tour of the club. It would be a bad decision to succumb to her lust on her first day on the job. Melissa wasn’t the kind of woman who made bad decisions. For the glacier bears, for the chance at being claimed as their fated mate, would she make an exception? After all, she had come to Bear Buns hoping she’d maybe, just maybe, find true love…

She’d barely met them, and she knew she shouldn’t be so ready to accept them that way, but…

“Yeah, here, now,” said Neil.

“Okay…what exactly do you want from me?” asked Melissa.

“Accept Renee’s offer to be your assistant,” said Hudson.

Melissa and Neil both did a double take. What the heck was Hudson suggesting and why?

“Huh?” asked Melissa. “Why?”

“Because you’ve got your work cut out for you, Melissa,” said Hudson. “I know that you’re new to the strip club world, but Renee isn’t. She might look like a greenhorn, but she’s another transfer from back at the Seattle club. She knows her shizz.”

“And you think I need the extra help?” asked Melissa. “Trust me. I can handle everything here by myself. I don’t need help.”

“Great. Then it shouldn’t be a problem teaching Renee the ropes,” said Hudson. “After all, somebody should know how to do your job in case you ever have to call in sick. Who watches the watchmen?”

“More like who manages the frikkin’ theater manager,” said Melissa. “Okay. You got me. I did say that I’d owe you a favor. But this is your one favor. Got it?”

“Got it,” said Hudson.

“Now, if you two will excuse me, I need to go check out the rest of the club…and you two need to get to rehearsal,” said Melissa. “Chop chop.”

Melissa left the cocktail room and exited to the main hall of Bear Buns. The cocktail room had reminded her of an ice hotel, but what had transpired in that room left her feeling hot and bothered. Neil and Hudson had a way with women. That much was certain. Apparently, Melissa wasn’t immune to their charms. That had to be it. Surely, she’d feel that chemistry with the other dancers, and of course, the feelings would fade in due time. After all, she was here to work, not play, and definitely not to play around. All she needed was a nice ice-cold virgin cocktail to cool her down…

* * *

“What the heck was that?” Neil said to Hudson once he saw Melissa exit and head toward another area of the club.

“You heard her,” said Hudson. “She has no clue what she’s doing.”

“You don’t think she can do a good job?” asked Neil.

“No, I mean, she has no idea what she’s doing to us,” said Hudson. “I could barely hide my erection. I had to flip it up into my waistband.” Hudson adjusted himself. He was still rock hard.

“So why the heck didn’t you cash in the favor for something sexier?” asked Neil. “You could’ve asked her to hang out with us, get dinner outside the club, anything but that.”

“Think with this head, not the other one,” said Hudson, tapping his dance partner on the head.

“How the heck is pairing Melissa up with Renee going to help us confirm that she’s the—” started Neil.

“Don’t finish that sentence,” said Hudson. “Don’t think about that right now. Who knows if she is or isn’t? One thing is for sure. First, Melissa’s smart and sassy, but she’s not from our world.”

“The shifter world?” asked Neil.

“Or the stripper world,” said Hudson. “She needs extra help, whether she’s too proud to admit it or not. Her pride doesn’t change shizz. I was serious about Renee needing the experience, too. She’s a smart girl. She should be moving up the ladder, at least to an assistant stage manager position. Secondly, if Melissa has help, she’ll have more free time.”

“More free time to spend with us,” said Neil. “I think I see what you’re getting at.”

“All we have to do is play it cool,” said Hudson.

“But we can’t ice her out,” said Neil.

“Just wait until this Friday,” said Hudson. “That’s when we’ll have our chance to show her we’re seriously into her. Right now, she probably thinks that we’re just looking at her like she’s a piece of meat, but you and I…”

“…We know she’s so much more,” Neil finished. “Got it.”

“And our first order of business is getting our bear buns to the studio before they become raw, whipped, and spanked bare buns,” said Hudson.

“If Melissa’s doing the whipping and spanking, sign me up,” said Neil.

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