The intercom overhead crackled to life as he was scrubbing out the sink. “Logan, get in my office. Now.”
The Alpha rinsed his hands at the tap, frowning at his reflection in the mirror. Being summoned by the boss out of nowhere was not usually a good thing. Especially when your boss was Russell, who was famous for firing people just to see them cry. He stowed his cleaning supplies in the closet as he passed and made his way through the racks of weights to Russell’s office door.
He could see through the window that his boss wasn’t alone in there: he was in an animated conversation with a tall blond man Logan hadn’t seen before. They laughed heartily about something, then shook hands. The blond man turned and opened the door. “Alright, Brian, I’ll keep you posted,” Russell called after him. Logan nodded as he passed, but the stranger didn’t bother to look at him. Asshole.
“Get in here, Logan,” Russell said, waving him in. The Alpha stepped inside, careful not to knock anything over. Logan’s office always looked like a tornado had just blown through, leaving paperwork, spare hand weights, and empty supplement containers in its wake. Logan nudged a few energy drink cans out of the way to give himself room to stand and waited for his boss to speak, still wondering what all this was about.
His boss sank down in his office chair, looking up at Logan with the slight smirk that was his standard facial expression. Russell was powerfully built, a walking advertisement for his gym. Almost too built, Logan thought privately: his muscles strained the seams of his clothing, like a human overstuffed chair. His hair was shaved close to the scalp, giving him a military air, although Logan knew he’d never enlisted. He looked at Logan with a smile the Alpha wasn’t sure how to interpret.
“I know your secret, Logan,” he said.
The Alpha’s heart began to pound, but he forced himself to smile. “I don’t have any secrets, sir. I’m an open book.”
Russell chuckled. “Come on, don’t play me, kid. I know you want to be a trainer here instead of a janitor. Shit, who wouldn’t? Cleaning up like some woman all day, who wants it?”
Logan forced himself to keep smiling, relieved that the man hadn’t come anywhere close to his real secret. He was used to the idiot comments, enough to let them slide. He needed the job, he reminded himself. Who else would hire him?
“You’re not wrong about that, sir,” he said carefully. He knew Russell though: he wasn’t just going to give Logan what he wanted. So he waited, wondering when the real story would come out.
“I have a little problem,” his boss said, crossing his hands behind his head and leaning back in his office chair. “I’m looking to expand the business, maybe open up a new location. I was eyeing a space in that new beachfront development down the highway, but some asshole got to it first. An Omega, running an Omega-only gym. Can you believe it?” Russell’s scornful tone made it clear that he couldn’t.
Logan thought he remembered reading something about it in the local paper. “Well, I can’t see that being a problem. Our clients wouldn’t be interested in that,” he said, glancing out the office window. All Alphas and Betas.
“It’s the principle of the thing,” Russell said, tapping a fist on his thigh to punctuate his words. “Look. I know your little brother is Omega, and he’s not a bad kid. Hell, my son Jimmy speaks very highly of him. But some of them, they’re just…”
“Just what?” Logan asked, his anger rising. He hoped it didn’t show on his face.
“Immoral,” Russell said, shrugging. “Not all, like I said. I love this town, Logan, and I want to help keep it nice. For the younger generation: my son, and your brother. Is that so wrong?”
“So you just called me in here to tell me about an Omega gym?” Logan tried to keep the irritation out of his voice.
“I called you in here to make you an offer,” Russell said sharply. “Close the door.”
Logan pulled it shut behind him, wary.
“Hear me out,” Russell said. “I want that other property for my gym. I got nothing against the guy personally, he’s just in the way. And I looked it up with the real estate company: turns out he’s starting out with a lease, but looking to buy the space within the year. That would make it a lot harder for me to get it, see?”
“And where do I come in?” Logan asked.
“I know the Omega’s ex-husband,” Russell said. “And he told me that the Omega ended up here in Bright Beach because he got his heart broken when his Alpha divorced him. Now, if that were to happen again here, well, why would he stick around?”
Logan stared at Russell, wondering if he was being pranked. “Let me get this straight. You want me to date this guy, break his heart and drive him out of town so you can buy his gym?”
“I’m just telling you what worked last time,” Russell said with a shrug. “But I figure a good looking fella like you shouldn’t have any trouble getting in his pants. Word around town is he’s been looking for a handyman to do some odd jobs if you need a way to get in. I’ll even give you some time off to work on it. Half pay, of course.” Russell gave him an oily smile.
Logan felt sick. This was what he was reduced to - doing his asshole boss’ dirty work? He was about to tell him to go to hell, but Russell spoke first.
“Look. I know it sounds a little shady, but you wouldn’t be doing anything really bad,” he said. “And if you pull it off, you get what you always wanted. I like you, Logan, and I want to give you a chance. Not many employers would hire a guy who almost went to jail for assault, but what can I say? I got a good heart.” Russell grinned, and Logan’s stomach lurched. “Of course, if you’d rather keep scrubbing toilets all your life, well, that’s certainly a choice you can make. It wouldn’t be mine… but then again, I didn’t fuck up my life like you did, either.”
Logan’s fists had clenched instinctively, but he forced himself to relax. Russell didn’t miss the gesture, and he smiled. “Come on, Logan. You know what the right choice is.”
Russell could be an idiot in a lot of ways, but he had a certain instinct for finding people’s weaknesses. Didn’t all trainers? And he had hit Logan’s squarely on the mark. Of course he didn’t want to be a janitor forever. He missed his old life. And it didn’t take a genius to figure that out. What was one random Omega over a chance at redeeming himself?
“I’m not saying I’ll do it,” he said carefully. “But I’ll go meet the guy.”
Russell chuckled. “Oh, you’ll do it. I remember how you were back in the day, kid. Anyone who can score that many touchdowns in one game can handle one little Omega.”
Logan forced himself to smile. “That was a long time ago.”
“Once you’re a trainer, you’ll get your old self back. But in the meantime, make sure those toilets are scrubbed good. Some of the boys have been missing the target, if you know what I mean.” Russell gave him one last smile before turning back to his computer, a sign that the conversation was over.
Suppressing the flare of anger he felt, Logan went to go get the mop.
* * *
That night, Logan ran through his own workout in record time; one of the very few perks of working at the gym was free access to its equipment after hours. He showered, savoring the hot water as it poured over his aching muscles. Then he locked up and drove home.
The little cottage he’d inherited from his grandparents was dark, the palm trees in the yard rustling softly in the night breeze. He was a few streets away from the ocean, but he could hear the muffled roar of the waves and smell the salt in the air.
He could hear his little brother Holt laughing, but when he opened the door and saw the cause of his laughter, the Alpha's smile faded. Jimmy, Russell’s son and leader of the local gang of juvenile delinquent shitheads, smiled insolently up at Logan. "Hey there, bro."
“Hello Jimmy," Logan replied, not bothering to hide his displeasure. "Holt, time for dinner. Say bye to your little friend."
His brother shrugged apologetically, but Jimmy stood up without being told twice. "Think about it, man. We'll talk later." With another insolent smile, Jimmy let himself out. The screen door banged shut behind him.
“I thought I made it clear that I didn't want that kid in our house," Logan said. The little shit was trouble, and the last thing this family needed was more trouble.
Holt shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "He wasn't here long. We were just talking about a project for school."
The video game paused on the screen and the total lack of any books or papers made Logan doubt it, but he sighed. "Holt, I don't want to police what you do, but I don't want Jimmy around. That kid is no good."
"It's not what you think," Holt said defensively. “He doesn’t… like me. Not like that." His brother's cheeks reddened. “We’re friends. And he doesn't even care that I'm an Omega."
Logan had his suspicions on that front, but he didn't want to push too hard. "Look. If you see him at school, that's fine. Just no hanging out beyond that, ok?"
"Ok," Holt said sullenly, slumping deeper into the couch cushions. He reached for the remote and clicked to the History Channel, signaling that the conversation was done.
The Alpha sighed and opened the fridge to start dinner. Of all the things he'd expected in his life, becoming the legal guardian of his Omega little brother was never high on the list. Yet here they were. All things considered, it was not a hard job: Holt was a good kid, and Logan tried to respect that by giving him his space. But he could be naive too, like all teenagers, and that's when Logan tried to step in. Not to mention that as an Omega, Holt was extra vulnerable, although he hated to be reminded of that fact.
Logan had tried to help there too, running Holt through workouts designed to help build strength. The Omega would never be as big as an Alpha, of course: genetics made that impossible. But even at 17, he was the size of many Betas. That helped keep some of the harassment that more petite Omegas faced at bay.
Logan piled a plate with a chicken breast, brown rice, and broccoli, their go-to weeknight meal. As he slipped it into the microwave, he thought more about Russell’s proposal. Could he really go through with fucking up some stranger's life, just to change his own? He knew from raising Holt that life could be hard enough for an Omega. Did Logan have the strength to make it harder for someone?
His gaze fell on the back of his brother's head, his brighter auburn hair so like their mother’s. All of this was for Holt, he reminded himself. The shitty janitor job, the nagging, the focus on good nutrition and workouts, everything. And if he could meet Russell’s terms, it would help Holt more.
If he was being honest with himself, he knew he needed a change. This was his life, and this would be his life forever unless he did something about it. Who was this Omega stranger to him? Nobody. And it’s not like Logan would hurt the guy physically. He would just set up a little fake flirtation and see where it went from there.
It was really nothing personal. He’d just waited so long for a chance, he couldn’t afford to let it pass by.