"It's okay. You're safe here." Luc's voice rolled over him like a gentle wave.
"I'm trying." He started to shake a little. He blinked, trying to see. There was fog everywhere and no matter where he looked, he couldn't look around it.
"Your heart is racing." Luc held on tight.
"I can't see."
He felt Luc's nod. "Me either."
"Really?" He barked out a laugh. "Damn. That sucks."
"You didn't know? It's easier when I'm a cat, but Jonny sees a lot for me."
He didn't think it would work that way for him. He wasn't sure it could, for a bear. He'd never known a blind bear. Hell, he'd only met one other shifter like him. That bear hadn't been interested in being buds.
Bears could be solitary.
Him, though. He was a friendly guy, right? Jovial? Decent. Hardworking. A good bear.
But a blind bear. Who needed a blind bear?
"Duke. You called down?" A new voice intruded, deep enough to vibrate down in Dakota's toes.
"Thanks for coming up, Cord. I appreciate it." Duke sounded... relieved.
Dakota rumbled softly, curious, but mostly caught in Luc's touch.
"Not a problem." The voice moved closer, the deep, heavy scent of bear hitting him.
His nostrils flared, and his eyes searched, trying to see. Big. The guy was big; he could see the outline.
"This is Dakota," Duke murmured.
"Dakota?" The man squatted in front of him and Luc. "Oh, what a perfect little bear."
"I wish." His nose was working hard, the scent of the big male amazing.
Someone not Luc touched his cheek. "I'm Cord."
"Hi." He shivered, leaned toward the touch as Luc chuffed softly, backed away.
"Hello. I hear you're going to be my cabin attendant. This is good, as I'm... tactile. No one gets my sheets soft enough."
"I'll do it right." He needed a job, so badly. "I'm a quick learner."
"I bet you are." The big hand stayed on his face, a callused thumb rubbing his cheek. "My cabin is only about eight hundred square feet and most of it is my den. Pillows and bed and such."
Dakota's breath matched the touch, so gentle, so sure and not scary at all. "Not too much glass, hmm?"
"Nothing but the overhead light."
He rumbled happily. He wasn't tall. That wouldn't be an issue. Unless he was dancing with a broomstick or something, which he'd never done before.
"Even my dishes are unbreakable. Last time I went bear during dinner and decided to take a nap on the table, they started sending me old fashioned enamelware."
Dakota surprised himself by cracking up, clapping happily. "You do that, too?"
They weren't like the wolves. Bears came when they came. So did naps.
"I do. They'd sent this warm fry bread. With honey."
A low sound bubbled up in his chest, raw and deep. Honey. He loved sweets. Loved them. "I think that's cheating."
"I know, right? I mean, berries and cream I could have stayed awake. Carrot cake. But honey?" Cord took his hand and pulled him upright.
He stood and he could see around his fog that Cord was vast -- wide and tall, broad. Shaggy, too, with longish hair. Dakota had the strongest urge to touch. His hands shook with it, his belly taut. It was confusing, fascinating.
"Come and have a wander with me, little bear. You can just settle in tonight."
He looked back for Luc, but he couldn't see, and it was Duke who murmured.
"Go on, now."
Dakota nodded, letting Cord take his hand and lead him off, out through the kitchen, where the smell of bread made his belly rumble. Oh. Hungry.
His hand was placed on Cord's huge arm, patted gently. He held on; he didn't have to worry about being dragged.
The noises started to fade as they walked, heading out into the nighttime air. The smell of bread stayed, though. Maybe Cord had brought some with them.
His belly growled and rumbled, making a terrible racket.
"I got us bread. I have honey butter that the kitty chefs made me. It stays soft." That voice vibrated along his spine.
"Honey butter." His bear was right there. Right there.
"Can you wait, little bear? Until we're in my den?" So sweet. Cord was being so sweet.
"I can. I...I've never been an attendant before. Someone will have to tell me what to do."
"Duke says the head of hospitality will work with you tomorrow."
"Okay. I'll do a good job.”
“Of course you will.”