Home > Not My Kind of Hero

Not My Kind of Hero
Author: Pippa Grant


Chapter 1

Maisey Spencer, a.k.a. a single mom who can’t stop second-guessing all her life decisions

This is fine.

Everything’s fine.

I have it all under control. Three days from now, we’ll think back on this, and we’ll laugh until we cry.

Just like we have about a dozen other things in the past few months.

“Mom, it’s a bear. What do we do about a bear?” Juniper, my sixteen-year-old daughter, punctuates the sentence by crawling onto my back and clinging to me for dear life.

For one glorious moment, I high-five myself. We’re bonding! She’s forgiven me for uprooting her and moving her from the only life she’s ever known in Cedar Rapids to Wit’s End, my uncle’s old hobby ranch in Hell’s Bells, Wyoming.

I was right.

This is exactly the fresh start we both need.

Champagne! Party balloons! Celebration!

Junie loves me, and once she starts school and makes friends and we get settled here, she’ll forget she initially didn’t want to come, and everything will be fine.

Moving truly was the solution to all our problems. We’re home free.

The bear lifts its head and looks at us.

Happy feelings all gone.

Maybe this isn’t our year to be happy.

Or our decade.

“It’s outside, honey. We’re safe. It won’t get us.”

I shift, adjusting her on my back so I can grab her legs and make this teenage bonding moment more ergonomically correct. My back isn’t as young as it used to be.

Especially after childbirth, I hear my own mother say in my head.

“The window is open!” Junie screeches.

“There’s a screen.” I don’t think I’m screeching back.

I think I’m being calm.

I am the competent, confident voice of this will all be okay reason.

The bear squints at us with murder in its eyes, and okay, yes, now I’m shrieking.

Junie squeaks out a terrified noise and tries to climb onto my shoulders.

The bear snorts in our direction, then goes back to eating—something.

“Shut the window!” Junie yells.

The bear lifts its head again.

I reach for the windowsill, and something twists in my lower back.

Not today, old lady body, I grunt silently to myself. My baby girl needs me.

Okay, I need me too. And I’m not that old. I was practically a child bride, and Junie came along shortly thereafter. And I’m in good shape.

But the bigger point—she’s right. We should have glass between us and the beast. And the bear is a bigger threat than any back twinge.

Plus, if we intend to live here as happily as I used to when I would visit as a kid, I probably need to figure out how to deal with bears.

“Oh my God, Mom, can it go through the glass? Is that a black bear or a brown bear? What’s it eating? Why is it here? Why did you move me to a place where I’ll get eaten by a bear?”

Awesome. The window won’t budge. “It won’t—ungh—eat you—argh—on my—oof—watch. Not today, baby girl.”

“Mom. Quit calling me baby girl. I’m not a baby, and I don’t want those to be the last words you ever say to me!”

I heft all my weight into making the old wooden window scoot down in its frame.


I can fix this. I can. The past sixteen years of my life were dedicated to Junie’s dad’s handyman business.

Yep. Sixteen years.

I practically rolled off the delivery table, kissed my newborn baby on the head, and said, Hand me a drill—you’ve got some loose boards in this shelving unit over my hospital bed.

The final episode of the sixth season of Dean’s Fixer Uppers aired on the Home Improvement Network not all that long ago. We spent this final season pretending everything was fine, despite the divorce proceedings going on for the entirety of taping, plus some other things that I don’t want to talk about.

But the point is, I’ve fixed hundreds of sticky old windows.

I know how to do this. I’m competent. I’ve been doing it for a long time. Great track record and all that.

But this one will not move.

Apparently much like my relationship with my daughter.

“Okay. Okay. We’ll fix this a different way.” Have I mentioned that my heart’s basically in my throat? I’m only playing brave on the outside and trying a lot of distracting self-talk on the inside so I don’t make Junie’s freak-out worse.

Did I know we might see bears if we moved here? In theory, yes.

Did I think it would happen within a week?

No. Freaking. Way.

And definitely not fifteen feet out from the old ranch-hand bunkhouse on the other side of the ranch, which is still way too close to the house that Junie and I will be living in, at least until she graduates from high school.

She wraps her arms tighter around my shoulders. “What’s it eating?”

“I don’t know, sweetie.”

I sound like my own mother, grunting as I dig my phone out of my pocket, keeping one eye on the bear, who’s not coming closer but who also isn’t leaving.

Can bears climb fences? Will it eat the neighbors’ cows? Is that a brown bear or a black bear? Actually, where’s the small herd of cows that Uncle Tony’s tenant says were left behind?

Is this a murder bear?

Did it murder Uncle Tony’s cows?

My I don’t know, sweetie is really I’m not going to tell you that that’s a cow carcass right outside my window.


A dead cow.

That was not on my research list for what we’d need to know when moving to a ranch.

But it’s clearly a problem for today.

Right after the live wild animal.

“Bear bear bear,” I mutter as I balance my daughter on my back and keep one eye on my phone search and one eye on the bear happily chowing down.


Ew, bear. Just ew.

If this is its normal diet, that thing must have the immune system of a god.

“Cougar!” I say triumphantly as my internet search identifies a bear’s natural predator.

Kind of.

This website says bears this size don’t really have any natural predators, but if they do, this is my best shot.

“Mom!” Junie tries to grab my phone, and since she’s taller than I am, with longer arms, she nearly succeeds. “Don’t you—”

Before she can finish her sentence, I hit play on the YouTube video I’ve just found and dial the volume all the way up.

A lilting tune starts, and then a total silver fox starts talking. “Men, do you have trouble getting it up in the bedroom? I used to, too, until I found—”


“Skip the ad!” I shriek at my phone. “Skip the ad!”

Junie and I are twisting and turning in the end room in the bunkhouse, which is getting hotter by the minute.

She’s trying to take my phone while still clinging to me like she’s small enough for piggyback rides.

I’m trying to skip the damn ad.

As I’m twisting and turning, I catch sight of the bear staring at us through just the screen window.

Why is the bunkhouse on ground level and not elevated?

Why why why?

This murder bear will eat us both in our sleep before we’ve made it a full two nights here.

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