Read Novels Online Home

Home For The Holidays: A Non-Shifter Mpreg Romance by Ashleigh Lyons (1)


 

Chapter 1:

Kyle

“Happy Bone-Christmas, Kyle!”

“Adrian, please, stop calling it that.” I loudly sigh into the phone, before shaking my head back and forth. “I thought we both agreed that you’d call Halloween by its proper name this year.”

I’m standing inside the lobby of my apartment building, with my phone pressed close to my ear. I didn’t plan on having a phone conversation tonight, but it was Adrian calling, and how could I say no? Adrian Thomas has been my best friend since we were both kids, after having met on the first day of Mrs. Amy’s third grade class. He asked me if he could borrow a box of my crayons, I told him no, and that he should get a box of his own crayons, we ended up in a screaming match in the middle of the classroom, and then we both got sentenced to an afternoon of silent, shared detention...

And the rest is history.

He’s been my best friend in the world for the past seventeen years.

“What’s wrong with calling Halloween ‘Bone-Christmas’? People hang up so many skeletons! Some of them even glow! It’s literally just a spooky Christmas!” Adrian quietly whines into the phone’s speaker.

“Because absolutely no one else in the world calls it Bone-Christmas, and every time that you do, I’m pretty sure other people just think you’re talking about some made-up sex holiday.” I grimace, while taking the elevator up to my apartment. “Besides, Halloween isn’t for another two weeks, anyway. Why are you even bringing it up right now?”

“Because I miss you, and I want it to be Halloween. Duh.” Adrian lets out a low chuckle. “There’s just been way too much Alpha energy in my life, lately. I miss my favorite Omega.”

I silently smile in response to Adrian’s honesty about missing me. I miss him a lot, too. I haven’t seen him since last Halloween, which was also the last time that I made it back home to visit.

“Omegas rule. Alphas drool.” I nod to myself, as I finally reach my front door. It only takes me a few seconds to find my keys in my jacket pocket, and soon enough, I’m standing in the middle of my living room—

My tiny, little, living room.

I can still remember the first day the landlord showed me this place.

Right after college graduation, I decided that I’d rather be anywhere in the world than back home in Beckinsdale. It’s such a small town with such a small-town vibe. After spending nearly every waking moment of my young life there, I just needed to get out and stay out. And so, I chose to move to the nearest, biggest city I could find, and entirely devote myself to making the big city work for me, somehow.

And my decision totally, completely, definitely paid off...

But it also really, really didn’t.

I can’t afford more than a tiny one-bedroom, not even after putting in overtime at the office, and the rent prices only seem to get higher, year after year. Of course, I have to keep reminding myself that there’s a distinct possibility that I’ll be getting a big raise soon, and hopefully then, I’ll be able to move into a more spacious situation.

Until then, though, I’ll just keep trying to carefully navigate around my tiny living space...

I muffle one of my screams, as my leg awkwardly hits against my living room table for the umpteenth time—

And I can hear Adrian chuckling on the other end of the phone. “Did you hit your leg against your table? Again? When are you going to move out of that box you call an apartment?”

“Soon. I think I’m up for a promotion this year, and I’ve been slaving away at the office this whole quarter.” I plop down on my living room couch, with my back landing against its soft cushions. “As soon as I get that job, I’m going to put my rental agreement for this place in the shredder. Or maybe set it on fire.”

“Fire. Definitely go with fire.” Adrian’s tone is genuinely encouraging. “But why do you have to wait until you get that new job? Can’t you just move in with your Alpha?”

“Todd isn’t my Alpha.” I quietly admit the truth, as I rest an arm across my forehead.

What? But you two have been going out for like six months! He hasn’t asked about giving you a Soul-Bite yet?”

“Todd...uh...he’s...uh...” I stall, as I try to think of a way to answer Adrian’s question without revealing the whole truth....

Because the truth is that Todd has already asked about giving me his Soul-Bite.

He’s basically been asking about it ever since our third date.

And the truth is that I’m the one who’s been holding up our relationship in that department.

Because letting someone give you a Soul-Bite is a lifetime commitment, something that literally bonds your two souls together for as long as you both shall live, something that means you’re dedicated to starting a life together and dedicated to starting a family together...

And when it comes to picking an Alpha for life, I just can’t imagine making that kind of permanent decision right now.

In fact, the only decision I can see myself making in the near future is whether or not I want to order extra egg rolls with my dinner.

Now, that’s a decision I can handle.  

“Whatever! If Todd’s taking his sweet time with trying to mark you, maybe it’s time to move on. There’s nothing worse than an indecisive Alpha.” Adrian clearly scoffs on the other end of the phone. “You better make sure he’s not sleeping around on you, Kyle. I really can’t imagine any other reason why an Alpha wouldn’t try to lock you down. I swear to God, if he’s cheating on you, I’m going to murder him—”

“I know, I know, if he’s cheating on me, you’ll murder him, then find a way to bring him back to life, just so you can murder him again.” I snort with a laugh, as I reach for a Chinese takeout menu beside the couch. “What sounds good to you tonight? Chow Mein? Or Lo Mein?”

“Neither. You know I’m not eating carbs right now.” Adrian wistfully sighs into the phone. “I’m still trying to look as sexy as possible, so I can catch the eye of one Ryan James, the hottest Alpha I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“You’re still crushing on that guy? Hasn’t it been like a year?”

“The course of true love never did run smooth...” Adrian casually quotes Shakespeare, before blowing out a heavy breath. “Our love story is going to be really epic, though...when he finally...notices that I exist...”

“I thought you two hung out after work sometimes. Doesn’t that mean he knows that you exist?” I flip the takeout menu over in my hands, briefly looking over the possible dessert options.

“We hang out in the same friend group after work! It’s not the same thing!” Adrian groans. “And yeah, we talk sometimes, but he never looks at me in that Alpha way, you know? That look they get in their eye when they want you? I think it’s the same look you get in your eye, too, Kyle, when you’re drinking your iced macchiato in the morning.”

“Great. Now, I want an iced macchiato. But I don’t feel like walking to the coffee-shop down the street.” I’m groaning now, too, as I slightly shift on the couch. “And have you tried just telling this guy how you feel? I promise it’ll be a lot more effective than just waiting on him to notice you first.”

“Omegas don’t confess their feelings first! We’re supposed to wait for Alphas to come sweep us off our feet!”

“Then, I hope you’re wearing a good pair of shoes, because it sounds like you’re going to be on your feet for a very long time, Adrian.” I can tell that there’s an obvious smirk in my voice—

And Adrian seemingly picks up on it, too, since he blows a raspberry into the phone’s speaker. “Whatever! Ryan James is eventually going to notice me, and our lives are going to be so perfect together, and I’m going to pop out a million, cute little babies and you’re going to be so jealous.”

“Yeah, I don’t really know about that—” My sentence is cut short by my phone suddenly ringing in my hands...

There’s another call coming through the line.

Oh.

It’s Todd.

“Hey, Adrian? Can I call you back? Todd’s calling me on the other line.” I switch my phone to speaker mode, before Adrian can reply.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll talk to you later. See you in a few weeks, right?”

“Right.”

“Okayyyy. Byeeee. I love youuuu. Make good choicessss.” Adrian makes a bunch of kissy noises, as if he’s giving me little pecks alongside my cheeks. “Goodnightttt.”

“Goodnightttt.” I return Adrian’s send-off, before switching the phone line over to speak with Todd. “Hey, Todd! What’s up?”

“Can I...Can I come over?” Todd sounds slightly nervous, as he softly clears his throat. “I...um...that would be okay with you, right?”

“Why wouldn’t that be okay with me?” I can’t even conceal the confusion in my tone. “You’ve been over plenty of times before. Oh, did you already eat dinner? I was just about to order some takeout. You want me to get you something, too?”

“Yeah, just order me whatever you’re getting. That’d be nice.” Todd’s voice still sounds suspiciously anxious. “And you’re sure it’s okay if I come over? It’s...kind of late.”

“Todd. I like you. Please. Come over. Eat dinner with me.” I brightly smile after my words. “Please?”

“Okay. I’ll be over in a few.”

 

**

 

Todd is...

Well...

Todd’s...

He’s...fine.

He’s absolutely, perfectly fine.

There is objectively nothing wrong with Todd. Not as an Alpha. Not as a pseudo boyfriend.

I’ve been watching him steadily make his way through his own order of Chow Mein, while sparing a few glances at the glowing TV screen in front of us.

And as I silently stare at the side of his face, I know there’s no denying that Todd is ridiculously handsome.

And he’s smart. And he’s funny. And he’s the perfect gentleman...

So, why am I so bored right now?

Why do I already feel like we’ve been sitting on this couch for twenty years?

Maybe I’m just exhausted from work...

I should probably ask him to leave, before I end up passing out on the couch.

I finish up my own dinner, before softly placing the Styrofoam container down on the table in front of us. I then turn towards Todd, wearing a bright, fake smile on my face. “That was really nice, Todd. Thanks for coming over tonight.”

“No problem, baby.” Todd leans a bit closer to me, placing a firm kiss on my forehead. “I missed you, anyway. You work so much. I feel like I barely see you at all.”

“I know, I know...” I grimace, before letting out a shallow sigh. “But you know how much I want that promotion at work. And I feel like I’m so freakin’ close—”

“Kyle, why haven’t we had sex yet?”

What?” Todd’s question completely throws me out of my previous work rant, as my eyes go wide with surprise. “Todd, where the hell did that come from?”

“It’s just a question, baby. No need to get defensive...” Todd leans back further into the couch. “I just...Sorry. I’ve just been thinking. With other Omegas, I’ve never had to...wait...this long...to have sex.”

“Maybe I’m just not like other Omegas.” I openly shrug over at Todd.

“Maybe you’re just not attracted to me, either.” Todd’s response is pointed, his words ending on a sharper tone. “Maybe you just don’t want to be in a relationship with me.”

“Todd, it’s not about being attracted to you...it’s just...I told you that I was a virgin...when we first met...” I look away from Todd’s gaze, instead focusing my attention on a lamp in the corner of the room. “You said it wasn’t a big deal...”

God.

This conversation feels so awkward already.

If I had the ability to turn invisible, I’d be using it at this exact moment.

Still being a virgin at 25 is one of those things that doesn’t really bother me, but it seems to bother nearly everyone else around me. I understand that sex is a big deal and all, but it’s not my fault that I haven’t had that reckless desire to jump into the sack with any Alpha who asks me.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities throughout my life to have sex, too. I just...

Never took anyone up on the offer.

“It’s not a big deal, baby, it’s not.” Todd places his palm underneath my chin, gently turning my head back towards his own. “It’s just...we’ve been going out for six months, Kyle. Aren’t you...curious...about what I’m like in bed? Don’t you ever think about me that way?”

Todd then moves even closer to me, close enough to rest his hands at the sides of my waist. “I think about you, that way, all the time, Kyle. I think about what you taste like—”

“Stop.” I hastily wiggle away from Todd’s grip at my hips. “I don’t...I don’t want to talk about that tonight.”

“What’s wrong with just talking about it, Kyle? Are you embarrassed? Why does it make you so uncomfortable—”

“It doesn’t make me embarrassed! It doesn’t make me feel anything!” I throw up my hands in obvious frustration. “And there are just a billion, trillion things that I’d rather talk about than sex. Okay?”

“Okay...it looks like there’s something else we need to talk about, anyway...” Todd’s response is somber and low. “Kyle, I think we should break up.”

“What the hell? Are you seriously breaking up with me because I won’t sleep with you?” I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs, but I manage to keep my voice down. “Is that really all you wanted from me? Sex?”

“I’m not breaking up with you because you won’t have sex with me. I’m breaking up with you because you don’t want to have sex with me. Like. At all.” Todd nods along with his own assessment of our relationship. “Kyle, you won’t even send me nudes. I’ve never even seen you with your shirt off. It’s like you don’t want to let me get close to you, physically, ever...and if that’s really the case...then I’m thinking that you probably won’t let me Soul-Bite you, either.”

“You don’t know that!” I scoff, before folding my arms across my chest. “You don’t know what I want!”

“No, Kyle. I think you’re the one who doesn’t know what you want.” Todd deeply exhales, as he moves to stand away from the couch. “You should give me a call though, when you figure everything out. You’re a really great guy. But right now, I think I just need something more—”

Sexual?” I offer up a suggestion for the end of Todd’s thoughts.

Real. Kyle. Something more real.” Todd bends to give me a light, parting kiss on my cheek. “And I hope you find something more real, too. I hope you find an Alpha who you really want to be with.”

“Just...go. If you’re going to go, just go.” I dismiss everything Todd says to me, as I curtly wave goodbye.

I don’t want to hear another word he ever has to say.

Todd turns to leave in perfect silence, his shoes not even making a sound as he steps across my apartment floor...

And just like that, he’s completely gone.

Another one bites the fucking dust.

I’m getting pretty damn tired of this cycle. Meeting an Alpha. Going out for a few months. Them eventually breaking up with me because I don’t beg for their cock.

Is every Alpha in the world just naturally impatient?

Or am I just not worth the wait?

I glance over at Todd’s still unfinished order of Chow Mein...

And somewhere, in the immense quiet of my apartment, I can hear myself begin to sniffle and sob...

Fuck.

What’s wrong with me?

Why can’t I just be with somebody? Why couldn’t I have just been with Todd?

Why couldn’t I have just given him what he wanted?

Sure, I may have been bored out of my mind a time or two, but he would’ve been a good Alpha.

I can’t believe I somehow fucked up yet another relationship.

I try to pull myself together by distracting myself with whatever’s on TV, which happens to be something about housewives in designer dresses, fighting each other inside of a fancy restaurant...

But all I can think about is Todd’s uneaten Chow Mein.

He walked away from that Styrofoam plate, the exact same way he walked away from me and our relationship.

The Chow Mein must not have been that good.

I guess I wasn’t that good, either.

I shift until I’m lying face down against my couch cushions, while my tears still stream down my face.

I’m going to die alone, and I should just accept it.

I stay in that same position on my couch, long after the women on TV stop fighting each other, long after the late-night news recap of the day, and long after the 3AM infomercials blare through the television’s speakers...

I stay on my couch long enough to see the sunrise reflecting off the TV screen itself...

And by the time I’m able to convince my legs to actually head for my bedroom—

It’s time for me to go back to work.

I groan all throughout my morning routine, taking a quick shower, brushing my teeth, washing my face, making sure to take my heat suppressants. The last thing that I need after yet-another-bad-breakup is falling into an entirely preventable, entirely embarrassing heat, right in the middle of the office.

Even though my workspace is pretty omega-friendly, it’d still take time out of my day having to hurriedly jerk myself off in the office bathroom or something.

Jerking myself off.

I bet Todd would’ve loved to see that, some proof that I had sexual desires.

Even though I’ve definitely, always had sexual desires.

I just...

Didn’t really feel that way about Todd.

Or any of the Alphas I’ve been with so far.

In fact, there’s only one Alpha that I’ve ever really felt anything sexual for...

But I’ve only seen him a few times in my dreams.

He’s gorgeous, with chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes. His muscles are ripped and hard, which is in perfect contrast to the softness he exudes whenever he’s holding me in his arms. I’ve even heard him speak my name, a time or two...

But maybe that was just my subconscious trying to get me to wake the hell up.

I shake the nonsensical thoughts out of my head, as I walk out of my apartment, hastily making my way downtown towards the office.  

Dreams aren’t real.

That perfect, gorgeous Alpha isn’t real.

And maybe Todd’s right. Maybe I do need to work on finding something real in the waking world.

I finally push those thoughts out of my head, entirely, as I turn into the nearest pastry shop, hoping to pick up a coffee and bagel for breakfast.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

**

Chapter 2:

Ryan

Fuck.

I had that same dream again.

The one that features that same, beautiful Omega, with his brunette hair and cinnamon-colored eyes...

It’s always the same pattern, too. He’s lying his head on my chest, his fingers intertwined with mine, and I can tell that he’s fast asleep. I always take a moment to look down at him, and in that moment, I always see the same thing: he’s obviously pregnant with our child.

Sometimes, I just let him sleep. Sometimes, I try to wake him up, wanting to call him by his name...

Even though I have no idea what the hell his name even is.

Not that it matters. Whenever I try to wake him up in my dream, that’s when I wake up, instead—

And then, I’m right back in the real world—

And the Omega is completely gone.

Although, the worst part of the dream is what happens after I wake up, when I find myself stuck with a bad case of morning wood.

Waking up and needing to masturbate isn’t my usual M.O., but whenever I have that dream, it’s like I can’t fucking help myself.

I want him, and even though he’s not real...

He still feels real to me.

Which is a complete mindfuck, since it makes dating nearly impossible. I didn’t start having these dreams until a few months ago, but nearly right after the first one, just the thought of having sex with another Omega made me feel a little sick to my stomach.

It felt like I was cheating on my mate

Fuck. This is so fucked up.

I stay in bed, as I quickly stroke my cock, my thoughts solely focused on the Omega from my dreams...

I think about someday making him mine. I think about how good it’s going to feel, seeing him with my Soul-Bite on his neck, I think about how ecstatic I’m going to be to hear his voice for the first time, to hear what he sounds like when he laughs, to see his smile lighting up his beautiful face...

And I’m coming, sooner rather than later, my body quietly shaking against my mattress.

I take a minute to catch my breath—

Before hopping out of bed and heading straight for my bedroom closet.

I hurriedly pull on my work uniform, which consists of a lime green, dark slacks and an even darker top, and a cap that clearly reads: Peterson’s.

I work at the only coffee-shop in Beckinsdale, a job that I pretty much lucked into as soon as I first moved here.

I ended up in Beckinsdale after my life fell apart in the city. And when I say fell apart, I mean everything that I cared about or worked towards was out of my life within six months, flat. I’d dropped out of college to pursue a business idea with my roommate, and everything was going perfectly, until one of our investors noticed that someone had been dipping into the business’ bank account on a regular basis. At first, I’d accused the investor of hurling around dangerous, false accusations—

Until one night, my roommate tearfully confessed to me that he’d been swiping money out of the business’ bank account, to pay for his Beta girlfriend’s expensive taste in restaurants, shoes and wine.

And with that, the business was dead in the water, unable to recover from its reputation of being corrupted by one of its very founders.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I’d also been dating an Omega around the same time. We’d been together for about a year at that point, and I’d expected him to stick around, even while times got tough for me and the business. However, I ended up finding out the hard way that my boyfriend wasn’t in love with me...

He was just in love with the life that he thought I could provide for him.

He left me as soon as I told him that the business had gone bust.

And that’s when I’d decided to hit the road. I jumped into my car and just drove and drove and drove, not stopping until I felt like I was a million miles away from the city that crushed my dreams and broke my heart...

Which is how I ended up in Beckinsdale.

The small town was so welcoming and inviting, completely unlike the vibe in the city. It didn’t take long for me to make friends, or to learn a majority of the residents’ names and family relations. Beckinsdale just felt like home, nearly from the first minute I’d stepped across its threshold.

Of course, I still have grand plans for someday getting back on my feet and taking the city by storm. I don’t know how long I’ll be in Beckinsdale, but I figure when I’m truly ready to leave, I’ll be able to tell. There’s been something in my gut since I got here, something that’s keeping my feet glued to this place, like I’m waiting on something...

Like I’m not supposed to leave until something else happens.

I just have no idea what that something is.

I shrug at my own thoughts, before I grab my car keys off my dresser, and head out to work for the day.

**

 

I’m standing behind the Peterson’s cash register, with my fingers lightly tapping against the wooden counter below. We won’t be officially open for a few more minutes, and I’m waiting for the final go ahead from management before I make any first moves.

I take a few seconds to peer around the coffee-shop...

It’s funny because it doesn’t look like we’re a coffee-shop, at all. With the sheer amount of Halloween decorations lining our walls, we actually look like we’re a seasonal Halloween store, instead. There are several, skinny skeletons in nearly every corner of the room. There are witches riding broomsticks, their green figures hanging from the coffee-shop’s ceiling. And there’s various amounts of leaking, neon ooze, climbing down our breakfast display counter, too.

Apparently, the owners of the shop, The Petersons, just really love the holiday. They’re also locally famous for their annual Halloween Bash, a party I haven’t had a chance to attend, just yet.

As I’m taking in the sights of the witches and skeletons, I can feel someone brush past me. I look back down to see Adrian, with a wide grin already plastered on his face. “Good morning, Ryan.”

Adrian, Adrian, Adrian.

He’s the exact kind of Omega I would’ve gone for, once upon a time. Cute. Funny. A bit of a brat, but never in a spiteful way.

He’s been super sweet to me, since the first day I was hired on as a cashier. I figured out he had a crush on me, fairly quickly, once I noticed how often he stole glances at me when we both worked the same shift.

At first, I had no interest in him because I was still heartbroken over my ex. Now, I have no interest because of those goddamn dreams.

If the timing was different, I definitely would’ve given Adrian a real shot...

But I think it just wasn’t meant to be.

“Good morning, Adrian.” I return his joyful expression, before leaning against the counter. “You ready for the morning rush?”

“Ehh. I’m not too worried about it. People don’t seem too interested in caffeine, the closer we get to Halloween.” Adrian’s response is rhyme-y and singsong. “I don’t really get why that is. Maybe everyone just stops needing coffee? Because of all the excitement around the Halloween Bash?”

“Are you going to that this year?” I ask the question, while moving my hands to my sides.

“Are you kidding me? I go every year! It’s the most fun thing this town ever does.” Adrian chuckles lightly, before he reaches for his phone in his pocket. “And plus, my best friend comes into town every year for the party. I don’t get to see him so much, since he moved away after college. But he’s really awesome!”

Adrian takes a few seconds, as he scrolls through his phone’s screen...

And then he beams up at me, with an excited expression. “Here! See! This is a picture of me and him last year. We dressed up as each other. We thought it was really funny, but it’s possible that we were just drunk off our asses.”

Adrian holds the screen up closer to my face—

And as soon as I see the picture, my heart begins to wildly race in my chest.

It’s...

It’s him.

The Omega from my dreams, standing next to Adrian, in the flesh.

He’s even more beautiful than I’d ever imagined.

I subtly take in a deep breath, as my lungs struggle to simply breathe. “I...you two look...uh...”

“I know. It was super dumb. But it was still hella’ fun.” Adrian conspicuously winks over at me—

And my mind floods with so many questions that I can hardly contain them in my throat. “Is he...um...when your friend comes for the party...does he bring his boyfriend with him, too? What I’m asking is, are people supposed to bring dates or?”

I try to cover up my real question with another question, hoping that it’s not so obvious that I’m asking about whether or not Adrian’s friend is single.

I don’t want to come across like a creep.

And I don’t want to hurt Adrian’s feelings, either.

“Ha! That’s funny. You think Kyle has a boyfriend.” Adrian loudly laughs, while placing his phone back in his pocket. “I love the guy, but that Omega can’t keep an Alpha to save his life, not even if they were handcuffed to him by the wrist. I keep trying to give him blowjob tips, but he won’t listen to me. Too bad. I’ve heard from pretty reliable sources that my blowjobs are to die for...”

Adrian bats his eyelashes over at me, before continuing on with his words. “But no, he won’t be bringing a date to the party, at least as far as I know. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring a date to the party...if you were planning on going...the whole town’s invited, you know.”

After Adrian’s response, it takes nearly all of my strength to restrain myself from jumping with joy.

Adrian’s friend is single.

My Omega is single.

I somehow keep my composure, as I turn to face Adrian again. “The whole town’s invited, huh? That sounds cool. I might drop by.”

“Can’t wait to see you there.” Adrian gives me one, final, flirty grin—

Before we both hear the front door being unlocked by another employee, the rattling of their keys taking us out of our shared conversation.

“It’s showtime.” Adrian playfully runs his fingers along the counter, as if he’s playing a grand piano—

Before he heads back to his workstation, taking his place at the register that’s a few feet away from mine.

 

**

 

After work, I walk around town with my mind in a foggy haze...

He’s real.

How the fuck is he real?

But maybe I’m just imagining things.

Maybe I’m just so desperate for the Omega from my dreams that I’m mistaking him for someone else—

But even as the thought pops into my head, I can already tell that it isn’t the truth.

This isn’t a case of mistaken identity.

Adrian’s friend is mine, or at least he’s supposed to be.

I’d heard about the concept of fated mates while I was growing up, but it was classified as an old wives’ tale, something without any science or substance. Because typically, you’re supposed to feel free to make your own decisions when it comes to choosing a mate, and your heart is supposed to be free to choose whomever it wants to fall in love with...

But being fated is different.

Being fated is something entirely against your own will. It doesn’t matter if there’s someone else already in your heart or in your bed, when you find your fated mate, no one else can ever compare. It’s supposed to be a magical moment, something straight out of a fairytale, when a fated pair first cross each other’s paths...

Like true love’s kiss on steroids.

And being fated would definitely explain the persistent, vivid dreams of an Omega in my arms...

A sudden chill then comes over my body, as my feet seemingly freeze in place on the sidewalk.

The dream.

It wasn’t just my Omega and me.

He was pregnant. Each and every time.

Fuck.

Am I ready for that? Am I really ready for a family?

I’m barely just now putting the pieces of my own life back together, getting comfortable in my job, and trying to figure out a workable game plan for my immediate future.

Could I actually handle a pregnant Omega right now?

But if we’re truly fated...I guess I don’t have much of a choice...

Unless...

Unless I were to skip the Halloween party, entirely.

Just because we’re fated, it doesn’t mean that we have to meet at the Bash. And, now that I know that he’s actually real, I could always track him down at a later date, maybe when I’m more stable with my lifestyle, maybe when I’m back on my feet and living lavishly in the city...

I could find him, somewhere down the road, when I’m able to be the best Alpha that I can be.

I nod along with my own thoughts, as I slowly take the stairs up to my apartment, my mind still occupied by the concept of trying to avoid fate.

And by the time I reach the front door of my apartment, I’ve officially made up my mind.

I won’t be going to the Halloween Bash this year.

It looks like fate will just have to push us together in some, other way.

 

 

 

Chapter 3:

Kyle

“Kyle! You sober slut! Get the fuck over here!” Adrian is eagerly greeting me from his front door, his arms held open wide. “Get over here and hug me, you asshole!”

“You’re throwing a lot of insults my way for someone who claims to love me so much.” I laugh, as I move into Adrian’s embrace, holding him tight to my chest.

“I’m sorry! You know how I get when I’m excited!” Adrian jumps in place, his arms still firmly around me. “I love you so much! I missed you so much!”

“I love you so much and I missed you so much, too.” I smirk, as I pull away from our embrace. “Now, please tell me that you actually fixed up your spare bedroom this time. If you tell me that I’ll be sleeping on your couch again—”

“Nope! I actually fixed up the spare bedroom, just for you.” Adrian nudges me in the shoulder, before he reaches down for my suitcase, taking the handle into his palm. “Come on, come on. The faster we can get you in for the weekend, the faster we can change into our costumes for this year.”

“Yeah, what, exactly, are our costumes this year?” I follow Adrian further into his apartment, making sure to close the door behind me as I step inside. “You said something about them being the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life?”

“That was an understatement.” Adrian shakes his head, before he dashes off to his bedroom. He’s back within a few seconds or so, now holding onto an oversized, yellow piece of fabric, that looks like it’s supposed to be the sun—

And in his other hand, he’s holding onto a simple pair of sunglasses and a visor.

I tilt my head to the side, as I look back and forth between the sun costume and the sunglasses. “Uh, Adrian? I don’t get it.”

“Oh, right. It’s really only funny once I get the makeup on and everything...” Adrian wistfully sighs, as he pushes the sunglasses up over his nose. “You’re supposed to be the sun, and I’m supposed to have sunburn. Get it? You burned me.”

“Oh...uh...” I take a cautious pause, before offering Adrian a slight shrug of my shoulders. “And that’s supposed to be...really funny?”

“Okay! Fine! I’ll level with you here.” Adrian takes a few steps closer to me, while he adjusts the visor in place on his head. “These weren’t our original costumes. Originally, we were supposed to go as a ketchup bottle and a mustard bottle—”

“Ha! That’s hilarious!” I interrupt Adrian’s words with an enthusiastic thumbs up—

But he ignores me, completely, as he continues to speak. “But then I found out that Ryan might be coming to the party, so I actually have to look as hot as possible? Like, I have to look so hot that he decides to give me his Soul-Bite in public. Which means, that I can’t really commit to the goofy costumes this year, and I know that’s super shitty of me and I know that I’m being a bad friend—”

“I get it, I get it. It’s fine. No worries. I’m willing to sacrifice our Halloween tradition for the sake of your epic love story with Ryan James.” I smile as I take the yellow fabric out of his grip, pulling it into my own. “And besides, I can make this work...maybe. Okay, maybe not. But I’m still going to go put it on right now, and then we can head over to my parents’ house.”

“Are you sure you’re ready for the nth degree from Mr. and Mrs. Peterson?” Adrian slightly grimaces in my direction. “You wanna’ go over a few questions first?”

“Go for it.” I hold the yellow fabric up to my chest, trying to imagine how it’ll fit on my frame. “Do your worst.”

Adrian clears his throat, before taking a step closer to me. “Kyle Matthew Peterson.” Adrian’s voice is now lighter, as he attempts to imitate my mom’s typical tone. “You are a single, 25-year-old Omega! What the hell? Where the hell are my grandbabies?”

Mom.” I take one small step towards Adrian in return. “As you know, I’ve been working very hard on my career, because you raised me to take care of myself and to not just depend on some Alpha for everything. And due to your expert parenting and naturally loving nature, I’ve been able to make a life for myself in the city, with what looks like a promising promotion on the horizon.”

So? Why are you telling me about your work life? Where are my grandbabies, Kyle?” Adrian raises an eyebrow as he responds. “Please tell me that you’re at least dating someone now.”

“I’m...working on it. You’ll have grandbabies. Soon. Probably.”

“Good. Good answer.” Adrian drops back into his normal voice, before giving me a thumbs up. “Okay, now, let’s talk to your father—”

“Oh, come on. You know my dad’s way easier to handle than my mom. All he cares about is if I have enough money to make it through the week.” I chuckle, while folding the sun costume over my arm. “I think he’d pass out if I ever asked him for money, even though he’s the richest guy in town. He’s always been so...cheap.”

“Except when it comes to the Halloween party. And then suddenly it’s like, he remembers that he’s basically a millionaire?” Adrian laughs along with me, his hands going towards his own hips. “You still grew up in that mansion, though, cheap daddy or not.”

“Yeah, yeah...” I wave off Adrian’s words, before heading towards my designated bedroom. “Lucky me. Kyle Peterson. The Prince of Beckinsdale.”

“Welcome home, my prince.” Adrian widely grins at me—

And I prominently flip him the bird in return.  

 

**

 

Adrian was wrong about me growing up in a mansion.

I didn’t grow up in a mansion.

I grew up in a mini-mansion.

Although, I realize that it’s still the biggest home in Beckinsdale, by far.

And while I was growing up, it was the loneliest home in Beckinsdale, too.

I didn’t have any siblings, so I didn’t have a group of built-in playmates running around beside me. And my dad was always at work, so I’d hardly see him, except for around the holidays. My mom kept herself pretty busy, too, leading all of her social groups and moving through life with her infamous, busy-bee attitude.

And that’s why I’m so fucking lucky to have Adrian Thomas in my life.

He saved me from being the rich-kid-outsider, by pulling me into his friend groups and forcing me to go to literally every house party ever thrown in our neighborhood. Adrian never really cared about who I was, or my last name, always treating me like I was just another person, just another friend of his from school.

By the time Adrian and I get to my parents’ place, they’re already much too busy to have a proper conversation with me. My dad’s somewhere in town, working on securing the necessary alcohol for such a grand festivity, and my mom only has time to spare a quick kiss on both my cheeks, before directing me to help the volunteers finish setting up the lights outside. She also gives Adrian a disappointed headshake, as she looks his outfit up and down. Adrian decided that the best way to show off his “sunburn costume” was to go shirtless to the Halloween Bash, and even though he made it sound like a spur of the moment decision, I could tell that he’d been working out...

Honestly, in all of our years of friendship, I’ve never seen Adrian work this hard at something, especially not when it comes to getting an Alpha’s attention. Adrian has always been blessed with both good looks and a superb set of flirting skills, so he’s never been without a guy on his arm for too long.

I briefly wonder what the real reason is behind Ryan’s mysterious disinterest in my best friend.

Maybe the guy already has a boyfriend?

Or maybe Adrian’s just not his type?

Whatever the reason is, I hope the Alpha’s cured of it by the time of the party.

Maybe then, Adrian can start wearing a shirt again...

“Come on. Let’s go get these lights up.” I grab a box of orange and black lights from the living room table. “How will people know it’s the Halloween Bash if they’re not immediately, temporarily blinded as soon as they see the house?”

“True, true. If the decorations aren’t burning my corneas, how will I know I’m in the right place?” Adrian grins beside me, as he picks up a box, too. “Hey, at least you lucked out on talking to your parents, right?”

“Is it really luck? Them being too busy to talk? Or has that mostly just been my entire life?”

“Oh my God. Poor little rich boy, Kyle. Save your angst for Thanksgiving. I refuse to feel sad for you on Halloween.” Adrian playfully rolls his eyes, as he heads off towards the front of the house. “Oh! What a sad life you’ve led! Being wealthy! The pain you must feel! What an awful, unfortunate situation—”

“Fuck off, Adrian.” I’m laughing, as I move to walk beside him, with us both now heading in the same direction. “This is why I only come home once a year.”

Adrian snorts with a laugh, too, and it’s so loud that it echoes off the living room walls—

Before he finally steps over the front door’s threshold.

 

**

 

It’s barely 9PM—

Adrian is drunk as hell—

And I’m watching him spin in delighted circles, perfectly in time with the blaring music.

I’m sitting on a couch in the corner, next to some of our old high school friends. It’s extremely awkward, since everyone is already bonded or married or about to hookup for the evening—

And I’m just solely focused on the apple juice in my shot glass.

I never cared too much for drinking, especially at parties. Maybe it’s just my Omega instincts, but it always seemed a little too risky to let my guard down when there are a bunch of Alphas in the vicinity. Even though it’d never happened in Beckinsdale, I’d heard about poor Omegas being bonded against their will, with an Alpha forcing a Soul-Bite on them while in an inebriated state. It seemed like it’d be the worst kind of hell, being bonded with someone when you initially had no choice in the matter...

And so, I try to keep the odds of that happening to me at a minimum, as I continue to quietly nurse my own “drink.”

Adrian spins my way only for a brief second, to snap another picture of us on the couch. Adrian then squints down at his phone, before giving me an overdramatic pout.  “Oh my God, Kyle! Smile! At least pretend like you’re having a good time!”

“I am having a good time!” I cautiously shake the shot glass in my hand. “The apple juice this year is crisp and delicious!”

“You know what? We’re changing things up this year.” Adrian offers me a devilish grin, before he grabs a passing Alpha by the back of his costume. The Alpha turns around to face Adrian, but Adrian immediately points over towards me...

And the Alpha gives me an approving nod.

This guy is cute enough. He’s dressed as an old-school Greek, complete with the white toga and crown made from green leaves.

I move away from the couch, heading towards the stranger, shamelessly offering him a twirl in my ridiculous sunshine outfit. “You like?”

“I do. I like it. You’re as bright as the sun, baby.” The stranger lightly laughs—

And it causes me to give him an honest smile in return.

Oh.

He’s funny.

Maybe this party isn’t going to be such a bust, after all.

“Okay! I’m gonna’ go get another Bloody Mary. Don’t forget to invite me to your wedding!” Adrian shouts at the both of us, before he’s making his way across the dancefloor, headed right back to the bar.

“You’re Kyle Peterson, right?” The stranger reaches towards me to gently rest his hands on my hips. “I think I graduated a few years before you.”

“Yeah. It’s me. Kyle Peterson.” I nod along with the stranger’s words. “I’m just back home for the Halloween party. I come home every year for it, since it’s like, the only thing that happens in Beckinsdale.”

“Hey. Come on, now.” The stranger flashes me a dazzling smile, as he begins to sway our hips in time with the party’s music. “Beckinsdale isn’t so bad. You just have to know where to look.”

“Maybe you’re right...” I return his smile, with just as much brightness. “So, what do you do in town? For work?”

“I work for your father. Doesn’t everybody?” The stranger laughs again, as he pulls me closer to his chest. “I’m on one of his construction teams.”

“Oh, so that means you’re good with hammers and drills? Stuff like that?”

“Yeah. And it also means...I’m pretty good with my hands...” The stranger’s hands dip lower and lower, until they’re firmly pressed against my ass—

And I can feel heat beginning to rise to my cheeks. “Sorry...if it seemed like...I wanted to hook up tonight or something...I’ve...I’ve never done anything like that before—”

“That’s not a problem, baby. There’s always a first time for everything.” The stranger bends his face down towards my neck, gingerly grazing his teeth against my skin. “Besides, you’re way too fucking pretty to not have a Soul-Bite. Holy shit. How have you not been marked yet?”

“Really? You just met me and you’re thinking about marking me already?”

“Really? You just met me and you’re already thinking about me marking you?” The stranger’s laugh vibrates against my skin...

And it sends a pleasurable shiver down my spine.

I think about what it would be like to try with this Alpha.

To try having sex.

To try being in a proper relationship.

To try wearing his Soul-Bite on my neck, for the entire world to see.

Even if it ended in utter catastrophe, it would at least be something real. I can finally say that I tried with someone.

I pull a bit of bravery from somewhere deep inside of me, just enough to turn my head towards the Alpha’s own, just enough to offer him a gentle kiss on his lips—

But the kiss never happens—

Because he’s suddenly being forcefully pulled off and away from me.

Standing in his place now is a furious Omega, his anger obvious behind his eyes. “You fucking slut! How dare you go after my Alpha!”

Your Alpha?” I look back and forth between the stranger and the Omega, my expression probably ranging from shock to horror and right back to shock. “Oh. I thought he was...single...”

“You’re a fucking liar! You knew he was my Alpha! And you just wanted to fuck him! You fucking slut!” The Omega screams at me again, and this time I realize that their words are slurring into each other...

Fuck.

They’re drunk.

How the hell am I supposed to reason with a drunk person?

I take a few steps away from the Omega—

But they instantly follow me, their hands balled into fists at their sides. “Oh, what? You think just because your mommy and daddy own this town that you get to fuck whoever you want? You spoiled brat! It’s about time somebody kicked your ass!”

“I...don’t...I don’t want to fight you—”

“For the first time in your fucking life, Kyle Peterson, you’re not going to get what you want—” The Omega’s fist is already flying towards the side of my face, and I defensively wince in response...

But the hit doesn’t make any contact with my skin.

Instead, I hear the punch land with a soft thud against what sounds like...clothing fabric?

I open my eyes to see someone standing directly in front of me, protecting me from the drunk Omega’s attempted onslaught.

Oh.

It’s another Alpha. 

“Do we have a problem here?” The stranger’s voice is dark and deep—

And for some reason, it’s making me weak in the knees.

What the hell?

I try to pull myself together, not wanting to be such a stereotypical Omega, falling hard for the first Alpha who comes to my rescue...

But the wobbly feeling in my knees refuses to go away.

“Yeah, we have a fucking problem. Kyle Peterson is a slut!” The Omega fearlessly yells up at the stranger. “Move out of the fucking way. This has nothing to do with you.”

“If you try to hit him, again, it will have something to do with me.” The stranger keeps his voice steady and calm. “And why, exactly, are you calling him a slut?”

“You didn’t see him! He was dancing with my Alpha! He was going to fucking kiss him!” The Omega loudly whines between their words. “That’s so fucked up!”

“It sounds like, if your Alpha was dancing with someone else, your problem isn’t that someone else. Your problem is with your Alpha.” The stranger slightly tilts his head to the side. “You might want to take this up with your mate, and not with innocent people at a party.”

“Ugh! Whatever! Go fuck yourself! Both of you!” The Omega whines again, before stomping off in the opposite direction...

And I let out a deep, grateful sigh. “Thank you! Thank you so much. I think that guy was seriously trying to fuck me up.”

“I’m sorry. I should’ve got here sooner.” The stranger responds, as they turn to face me, directly. “Something told me you might be in trouble.”

“...What? Something told you I might be in trouble? What’s that supposed to mean? Oh. Wait.” I look the stranger up and down, eyeing his Halloween costume. He’s wearing a purple, glittered masquerade mask, with a regular white t-shirt and jeans. “Are you supposed to be some indie-comic superhero or something?”

“Baby...” The stranger’s voice noticeably lowers a register, as he momentarily pulls down the mask on his face. “It’s me.”

“It’s me...?” I repeat his introductory words, as I stare up at the stranger—

The very, very, very handsome stranger—

And something inside of me feels like it’s snapping into place.

Oh.

It’s you.

Images from my dreams quickly flash behind my eyes.

An Alpha holding me in his arms.

Always holding me in his arms.

Like he’ll be holding onto me for the rest of our lives.

“Alpha...?” My question comes out quiet, as my gaze remains on the stranger. “But...How? Have I not been drinking apple juice all night? Am I just super fucking drunk right now?”

The stranger laughs, before pulling his mask back up over his face—

And I reach out my hands to help him adjust the mask’s material, taking a few seconds to lightly stroke his cheek with a knuckle or two.

The stranger then takes my palm into his own, as he firmly kisses the backs of my fingers. “Do you want to get out of here? Maybe?”

“Yes. Please.” My answer comes out quick, while I take a step closer to the stranger. “Please. Before that guy comes back with his gang of friends or something.”

The stranger laughs again, as he takes me by the hand, and leads me through the riotous crowd.

 

**

 

Chapter 4:

Ryan

I had no fucking intention of going to the Halloween Bash tonight.

My only plans for the evening included cooking up a nice steak and catching up on a few of my favorite TV shows.

While waiting for my pan to heat up, I couldn’t help but notice the zillions of notifications coming through on my phone, courtesy of Adrian’s Instagram account.

The first few pictures were fine, just Adrian and Kyle getting ready for the party. I thought it was cute that Kyle was dressed in a silly sun costume, and I thought it was even cuter that Adrian and Kyle still planned out costumes they could wear together.

Their friendship must be something really special.

The next few pictures were more worrisome, with photograph after photograph of Adrian’s shot glasses and empty martinis. It looked like Kyle had been nursing the same shot glass throughout the night, but it still tugged at something in my abdomen to imagine my Omega recklessly drinking at such a large party.

The final picture is what triggered something deep in my bones. Adrian’s eyes were bloodshot red as he posed next to Kyle on a couch, and Kyle looked so...

Alone.

I think it woke up the Alpha in me, thinking about Kyle potentially being all alone at that party, with Adrian completely unable to help him if anything were to go wrong.

I still tried to ignore the feeling though, even as I distractedly burned my steak, even as my shows played on my TV in front of me, while my mind was a million miles away...

Eventually, the tugging in my stomach just became too severe.

It was like I could feel that he was in danger—

And I needed to make sure that my Omega was okay.

I absolutely needed to.

But fuck.

I still wasn’t sure I was even ready to be Kyle’s Alpha.

Which meant that I had to find a way for him to not actually see me at the party. I had to find a way for us to not see each other, at all...

But where was I going to get a costume this late in the game?

For a few minutes, my mind raced back and forth with potential costume ideas—

And that’s when it came to me.

I still had a masquerade mask that I’d accidentally swiped during preparation for Peterson’s, when we were first decorating the coffee-shop for the Halloween holiday. It wasn’t much of a costume, but it was going to have to fucking do.

I scrambled through my dresser drawer for the mask, and once I found its soft strings, I pulled them across the back of my head, and sprinted out the front door of my apartment.

 

**

 

Seeing Kyle in person stripped me of all the air in my lungs.

My Omega is breathtaking.

Even from halfway across the room.

When my body remembered to take in a breath or two, I could feel myself already moving towards him, my feet taking on a mind of their own. And by the time I arrived at his side, his posture was noticeably defensive...

And that’s when I saw the asshole standing in front of him, with his fists balled up near his waist.

Since it was another Omega, I knew that I wasn’t going to hurt them. An Alpha going up against an Omega is rarely a fair fight, and I didn’t need my reputation in town to become something sour.

All I needed was to get this asshole away from Kyle—

And thankfully, the other Omega went away without too much of a verbal fight.

When I turned back to look at Kyle, the air escaped my lungs again, and it was incredibly hard to get out any words. I still manage to speak, apologizing for not being there for him sooner, and attempting to introduce myself...

Although, I wasn’t sure how to tell him that I was his Alpha.

I figured it’d be easiest to take off my mask and let him see for himself, since I’d assumed we’d both been having the same, prophetic dreams...

Or maybe we hadn’t been.

Maybe Kyle wasn’t my Omega, after all, and he was just going to think that I was some kind of creepy stalker.

But I was still willing to take that chance.

As soon as I got my mask down far enough, I could tell that Kyle recognized me, as his eyes instantly lit up with something bright behind them.

That same, instant brightness, felt like it was lighting me up from the inside, too, so much so that I started to have visions of pulling him closer and marking him in front of absolutely everyone—

But I suppressed the fleeting visions, as I decided to calmly ask him if he wanted to leave the party with me, instead...

And I could feel my heart nearly explode with excitement when he actually said yes.  

 

**

 

Kyle is currently giggling, as he runs his fingertips along my jawline.

We’re lying down in my bed, side by side, still dressed in our respective Halloween costumes for the evening.

I’m finding it harder and harder to not touch him in return, but since he hasn’t invited me to properly explore him just yet, I simply rest my hand alongside his waist.

“How...the hell? How is this possible?” Kyle giggles again, his fingers now moving down towards my neck. “You know, I’ve really never been drunk before. Am I drunk right now? Am I just vividly hallucinating all of this?”

“You. Are. Not. Drunk.” I smirk over at him, before shifting my frame slightly closer to his own. “Also, you are way more stunning in person. Those dreams didn’t do you justice.”

“And you are like...perfect...” Kyle’s words trail off between us. “You’re like...a male model...had a baby...with a Greek God...is your dad Zeus or something...?”

I laugh—

And then there’s suddenly a question burning up through my throat, moving so fast I’m unable to stop it. “Kyle, can I kiss you?”

“Yes.” Kyle gives me a light smile in response, his fingers splaying against my skin. “You can kiss me. Please. Kiss me.”

I pull my mask completely away from my face, before I bend my head down towards him, pressing a bit of my weight into his side at the same time...

And then my lips are gingerly pressing into his own, as my hand moves up towards his hair, with my fingers playfully moving through it...

And I swear I can feel the earth moving underneath us, too.

It only takes seconds for me to realize that I’ve never had a kiss like this before.

It then only takes a few more seconds for me to realize that I never want to kiss anyone like this, ever again—

I never want to kiss anyone who isn’t Kyle.

The realization is nearly dizzying, with my mind losing focus on the kiss as I begin to envision an entire life built with my Omega, like I’m suddenly able to perfectly see our future, where we’ll live, what we’ll be doing, the names of all of our children...

Nothing has ever felt so incredibly right.

I break away from the kiss, wanting to ask Kyle if he’s feeling the same way, wanting to make sure that I’m not all alone in my blissful imagination—

But as soon as I move away from him, he lets out a deep moan, following it up with an obvious wince. “Fuck. What the fuck? Fuck.”

“Is that a good ‘what the fuck’ or a bad ‘what the fuck’?” I grin, as I stare down at him.

“Good. So fucking good. Too good. How the fuck is anything that good? I’ve never felt...I’ve never...” Kyle stops his own sentence short, as his eyes now go wide. “Oh. Fuck. Fuck!”

“What? What is it? What’s wrong?” My tone is lined with concern, as I absentmindedly stroke Kyle’s cheek. “Are you alright, baby?”

“Sorry, I’m sorry...but I think...I think I’m going into a heat.” Kyle groans underneath me, his face turning away from mine. “Which shouldn’t even be fucking happening. I took my heat suppressant this morning.”

“Heat suppressants may not always work around me, baby. I’m your Alpha. You’re supposed to want me.”

“Yeah, but that’s only after an Omega gets a Soul-Bite, not before. Why would I be so affected by you right now when we’re not even bonded—” Kyle’s sentence cuts off again, as he shudders and lets out another moan. “God. This is so embarrassing. Kill me. Just kill me.”

“Is it...is it okay if I help you...get through...your heat?” I murmur through my question, my attention still solely focused on the Omega below. “Or would you rather...um...be alone—”

“I’ve...never had any help before.”

“Oh? You’ve never gone into a heat around an Alpha before? You just usually handle them by yourself?”

“No, I mean...I’ve never had any help before...ever.” Kyle brings an arm up to his face, now effectively hiding his expression behind it. “I’m...a virgin.”

“Oh...Oh.” I nod to myself, before sweetly kissing Kyle’s exposed elbow. “Would it be okay with you if this is our first time? Or would you rather wait and try to make it more...special?”

“More special? You mean like when I’m not dressed in a sun costume?” Kyle chuckles underneath me, his hips wiggling against me, too. “No, Alpha. It’s not losing my virginity that I’m worried about. I just...I just want it to be good for you...but I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.”

“That’s okay. It’s your first time. Don’t worry about making me feel good. Let me worry about making you feel good, instead.” I beam down at Kyle, before moving down towards his abdomen, my hands reaching to pull down his comical, bright yellow leggings...

Which, in turn, proceeds to pull the entire outfit off of him, as well.

He’s not wearing any underwear, and it’s like he can read my mind before I even ask the question. “The fabric felt too uncomfortable rubbing against my boxers. And it wasn’t like anyone could tell that I wasn’t wearing anything underneath the costume. So...I just...went commando.”

“Such a reasonable, sexy Omega...” I smile back up at him. “Did I already mention how sexy you are?”

“Alpha...” Kyle whines, before turning his face into a nearby pillow. “You compliment me way too much...”

“It’s not my fault that you’re amazing, Kyle.” I playfully scoff, as my hand firmly wraps around his already hardened cock. “It’s not my fault that you’re perfect.”

Kyle seemingly opens his mouth to respond, but all that escapes his lips is a soft moan...

I then wordlessly use my thumb to spread a generous amount of his pre-cum all around the head of his cock and his shaft—

Before I begin to pump his cock with my fist, steadily jerking him off, as I stare down at his frame against the bed-sheets. “How does this feel? Is it alright?”

“Good...yes...” Kyle’s reply is choked out between his repetitive moans. “Alpha...”

I gradually increase the speed of my hand, my motions picking up as my grip on his cock gets slightly tighter, as well—

And Kyle instantly responds with a squirm, his hands soon bunching up the bed-sheets into his palms. “Alpha...wait...I’m...I’m too close...I’m not going to last...I can’t...”

“I know, baby, I know.” I keep my hand moving at the exact same speed. “But just because you come doesn’t mean we’re done, okay? It doesn’t mean we’re going to stop. If you need to come, you should come.”

Nearly as soon as I’m finished speaking, I can feel Kyle’s cock throbbing a bit harder in my hands...

And I make sure that his slit is facing his navel and chest, as his cum spurts out of him, covering his own skin. I then let go of his shaft, entirely, as I quickly bend down towards him, pressing my tongue into his skin, purposely trailing it along every bit of Kyle’s cum, shamelessly lapping it all away.

“Alpha...Alpha...” Kyle’s fingers find their way to my hair, and I can tell that they’re still shaking from his recent orgasm. “Please.”

“Please what, Kyle?” I look up at him, attempting to keep my expression as innocent as possible, even as a bit of his cum dribbles down my chin. “What do you want me to do?”

“Inside me. Please.” Kyle’s breathing is only getting rapider, a surefire sign that he’s fully under the spell of his own heat. “Please, Alpha. I need you.” 

“Don’t worry, baby. I’m going to take care of you.” I smile back at Kyle, before reaching deep into my jeans’ pocket. If I’m lucky, there’ll still be a condom somewhere inside. Carrying around condoms in my pocket isn’t a recent habit of mine, but it’s something I used to do all the time, just to be on the safe side.

Even though I want to be inside of my Omega more than anything, I still can’t forget about the other part of those, recurring dreams...

And I still don’t think I’m ready for fatherhood just yet.

I nearly shout with joy when my fingers touch on a condom, and I cheerily pull it out of my pocket. I then swiftly pull off my shirt, before pulling off my jeans and boxers with just as much swiftness.

My desire to be inside Kyle is going from a want to a need, and I hurriedly roll the condom down my cock, while Kyle continues to groan underneath me.

“Alpha...faster...why are you taking so long?” I can clearly hear the pouting in Kyle’s question. “Don’t you want me?”

“So beautiful. So impatient.” I smirk down at Kyle, before spreading his thighs wide enough for me to move in-between them. I then take his legs and wrap them around my waist, before moving my hand down to my own cock, and carefully aligning its head with Kyle’s hole...

And I let out a moan myself, when I feel how incredibly wet he already is for me. “Fuck, baby. You’re so wet.”

“Sorry...” Kyle quickly apologizes, even going so far as to slightly move his hips away from me—

But I bend down further towards him, using my chest to keep him in place against the bed. “You don’t need to apologize for that. Ever. I love that you get so wet for me. It means you really must want me.”

“I do...I do want you, Alpha...” Kyle now pushes his hips up against me, before grinding them back towards my cock. “Please. Inside me. Alpha.”

I give Kyle a tender kiss on his forehead, as I slowly begin to push inside of him, stopping once I can feel the head of my cock starting to stretch out his virgin hole. “Are you alright, baby?”

Kyle wordlessly nods in response, as he grinds down against my cock, yet again.

I take his nod and grind as an unspoken green light, and continue pushing myself inside of him, inch by inch. I don’t stop until I’m bottoming out, with the full length of my cock filling his tight, little hole, completely.

I stay in place inside of him, waiting for another green light before I start to move—

And I get my green light in the form of Kyle tightening the grip of his thighs around my waist, before pulling me down by my neck for an open-mouthed, sloppy kiss.

“Move.” Kyle quietly whispers the instruction once his tongue is out of my mouth, his attention now going towards my bottom lip. He gently bites down against it, before whispering the same instruction again—

And I happily obey my Omega’s command, starting to move inside of him at a controlled, steady pace.

I push and pull my cock inside of him, pulling out far enough to reach the head of my shaft, and then pushing my entire length right back in. I repeat the same style of thrust, over and over, with the only change eventually being my speed, as my body starts to feel like it’s on auto-pilot—

And I find myself needing to come, sooner rather than later.

I bury my head into the crook of Kyle’s neck, as my hips thrust into him with a sense of finality, my cock now pumping my cum into the condom wrapped around it.

I then try to catch my breath as I pull away from him, moving to rest beside him on the bed. “Fuck...Kyle...you are...something else.”

Kyle smiles as he shifts closer to me, before resting his head against my chest. “I can’t believe I just lost my virginity to a guy I just met at a party. Adrian’s going to be super proud of me.”

“You’re talking about Adrian Thomas, right?” I ask the question while trailing a finger down the nape of Kyle’s neck.

“Oh. You know Adrian?” Kyle turns his face up towards me, now wearing a worried expression. “Please don’t tell me that you two have slept together before. Oh my God. If Adrian finds out we slept with the same Alpha, he’s never going to let me live it down! He’s going to make us go get matching tattoos to commemorate it or something, oh my God—”

“I haven’t slept with Adrian. I promise. We just work together.”

“Ah, so you work at the coffee-shop, too?” Kyle offers me a wide grin, before dipping his head to give me a quick kiss on my chest. “So...Mr. Masked-Mysterious-Alpha...when you go to work...what...uh...what’s the name...on your nametag? I just realized that you haven’t told me your name.” Kyle chuckles under his breath, as he gives my chest another kiss.

“Ryan.” I move my hand from the nape of Kyle’s neck to his shoulder, my fingers still trailing along his skin. “Ryan James, technically, but customers never call us by our full name, anyway, so I’m not sure why we even include it on the nametags—”

I find my hand soon trailing along the air itself, as Kyle is no longer anywhere near my grasp.

He’s already pulling his costume’s leggings back on, as he repeatedly shakes his head back and forth. “Nope. No. No. I did not just do that. I did not just do that.”

“Kyle? Baby? What’s going on—”

“Don’t! Do not call me baby!” Kyle’s costume is firmly back in place, as he subtly adjusts the fit around the waist. “Look, I’m sorry, okay? This was a mistake. Obviously. Maybe I was just drunk—”

“You weren’t drunk.” My words come out absolutely frigid. “Why would you say something like that?”

“Okay, fine! I wasn’t drunk! But I obviously wasn’t in my right mind, either, because I would never, ever have slept with you if I knew who you were.” Kyle brings a nervous, shaking hand to his forehead. “Shit! Why the fuck would I sleep with someone without even knowing their name? What the fuck? What’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing’s wrong with you, Kyle.” I move away from the bed, until I’m standing in front of him, my hands reaching out for his own. “We’re just...fated. Listen, I know Adrian has a crush on me, and that might make things uncomfortable, at first, but—”

“A crush? You think Adrian just has a crush on you?” Kyle moves his hands completely away from mine. “He’s been talking about you for an entire year! Whatever he feels for you, it has to be more than a crush by now. And I can’t believe I just...I just...”

“You can’t believe you just what? You can’t believe you just fucked me? And you liked it?”

“I should’ve never touched you...” Kyle’s voice sounds broken and weak. “We’re not fated, Ryan. We’re not anything. We were both just...really horny...but I should’ve known better.”

“What the fuck, Kyle? How can you say we’re not fated? Didn’t you recognize me from your dreams?” I try to keep my voice calm, even though it’s getting more difficult by the second.

I can’t fucking believe what I’m hearing right now.

“Dreams aren’t real, Ryan. And just because you look like some hot guy I saw in my dreams...it doesn’t mean...anything...” Kyle takes in a quiet sniffle, and it seems like he’s about to start crying at any second. “What’s real is how Adrian feels about you. And whether or not you feel anything for him back, it doesn’t matter. You’re supposed to be off limits. It’s just like...Omega Code.”

“You’re really going to choose your friend over your mate? Kyle, please. We’re supposed to be together—”

“I have to go.” Kyle begins to head for the front door—

But I quickly step in front of his path. “Kyle. No. Don’t do this. Don’t deny what we are to each other—”

“Ryan, we’re not anything to each other besides an enjoyable, albeit regretful one-night stand.” Kyle offers me a barely-there smile, as he gently pushes his way past me. “Have a good night, okay?”

And that’s the last thing Kyle says to me, before he’s successfully walked out the door—

And before he’s successfully smashed my heart to pieces inside of my chest. 

 

**

 

Chapter 5:

Kyle

“You look guiltyyyyy.” Adrian is sitting on the edge of my bed, offering me a cup of coffee. “Did you hook up with someone last night?”

“No.” I casually lie to my best friend, as I pull the cup into my own hands. “I just...um...left the party early...and came back here to sleep.”

I silently pray that Adrian didn’t make it home early last night, so that he won’t catch me in my lie...

Please, please, please...

“Oh, so that’s why you’ve got that guilty look on your face. You feel bad for leaving your best friend all alone at a party.” Adrian grins over at me, before letting out a breezy laugh. “It’s okay, Kyle. I forgive you. I actually ended up going on a late-night hayride with some people from work.”

“Is late-night hayride code for group sex or something?”

“What? No! I literally went on a hayride!” Adrian pouts, as he playfully hits me across my shoulder. “You should know by now that I am completely celibate. I want my first time with Ryan to feel like the first time, if you know what I mean...wait...do you know what I mean? Have you swiped your V-Card yet?”

“No.” Another lie, and this time I can feel something twisting hard in my stomach.

Lying to Adrian is so unnatural to me that it’s almost starting to make me sick.

It just feels so...wrong.

But what the hell am I supposed to do about it? Tell him the truth?

There’s no possible reality where me telling Adrian that I slept with Ryan last night is going to result in anything not disastrous.

Besides, it was just one time and it was a mistake. Do I really deserve to lose my best friend over an Alpha I may never see again?

I’m still scheduled to head back to the city by tomorrow morning, anyway.

And then I can leave this total nightmare behind me...

Hopefully.

Adrian pouts at me again, before letting out a loud sigh. “So, neither one of us got laid last night. What a bummer. I don’t think Ryan even came to the party, either. Which means I looked all hot for nothing...But whatever. Maybe he stalked my pictures online.”

“Maybe.” I innocently shrug, while taking another sip of my coffee. “What’s on our itinerary for the day, by the way? Please say pancakes.” 

“Pancakes are always on the post-Halloween itinerary. We’re not barbarians.” Adrian chuckles, as he stretches out his arms. “But first, we’re gonna’ stop by the coffee-shop.”

“The coffee-shop?” My heart races behind my chest, as anxiety pours into my rib-cage...

What if Ryan’s working there today?

I can’t see Ryan again...

I just can’t.

“Why are we stopping by the coffee-shop? We’re already drinking coffee, aren’t we?” I try to make my questions sound as nonchalant as possible.

“I’m just stopping by to pick up my paycheck. I got distracted by the whole Halloween thing, and you coming to visit...I dunno. It just slipped my mind, I guess.” Adrian blows out a raspberry, before he moves away from the bed. “It won’t take more than 5 minutes. I promise. Then, we can go stuff our faces full of deliciousness. Well, you can stuff your face. I’ll probably just have one or two...you know, because I’m still trying to avoid carbs and all...”

“Really? You’re going to let your crush on Ryan James ruin another one of our Halloween traditions?” I now move away from the bed myself. “First, no funny costumes and now, you’re not even going to eat an irresponsible amount of pancakes with me?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I’m a bad friend! I know!” Adrian grimaces, as he nods along with his own words. “But it’ll all make sense once you see the guy. Trust me. He’s worth it.”

“Whatever you say, Adrian.” The growing knot in my stomach gives off a violent twist, and I subtly wince through the pain. “Come on. Let’s go get the coffee-shop out of the way. I’m starving.”

“Aye aye, captain!” Adrian jokingly gives me a stern salute—

Before he makes his way out of my bedroom, entirely.

 

**

 

As soon as Adrian and I cross over the Peterson’s threshold, I spot Ryan working at the counter...

And he looks...just...

He looks...

He looks so...

Good.

I can feel a mounting desire lightly running across my skin, something that’s urging me to get closer to him, something that’s urging me to offer him my neck for a Soul-Bite...

I suppress the invasive thoughts, as I move to a back corner of the coffee-shop, not wanting Ryan to see me, at all.

I take a seat at the table that’s furthest away from the counter. I then pull my phone out of my pocket, as I begin to scroll through the most popular news headlines and top tweets...

While I’m dutifully scrolling, the coffee-shop seems to utterly disappear around me.

I begin to think that this whole, impromptu coffee-shop visit may not end up being such an awkward experience...

“Kyle. We need to talk.” I recognize Ryan’s voice immediately—

And I look up to find him standing extremely close to my chosen table. “No, Ryan. We don’t. There’s nothing to talk about. Please just—”   

“You can’t just push me away. I’m your Alpha. Whether you like it or not—”

“And you can’t just say shit like that! You can’t just say you’re my Alpha. I didn’t choose you.” I keep my voice low as I mostly hiss my response through gritted teeth. “And no, I don’t think that just because we had the same wet dreams about each other that it means anything! Because it doesn’t!”

“Are you seriously trying to say that you didn’t feel anything last night? Not even during our first kiss? You’re telling me that shit didn’t rock your world?” Ryan scoffs, before resting his palms flat against the coffee-shop table. “That Omega at the party was right about you, huh? You really are a liar.”

“You have no idea what I am because you don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me.” My anger comes through in my tone, as I rise away from my seat at the table. “Just stay the hell away from me, okay? Please. Adrian’s all I have—”

“Ooh, you two are talking about me? I like this. I like this a lot.” Adrian is beaming at the both of us, with his hands excitedly clasped together. “So, it looks like you two have officially met, but I’m still going to introduce you to each other, properly. Kyle, this is Ryan, my super sweet Alpha co-worker—”

Adrian nods over at Ryan, before smiling back over at me. “And Ryan, this is Kyle, my super sweet Omega BFF. He’s also extremely single, so if you have any cute, single Alpha friends, please give him their numbers. Like. Right now. Today.”

“Perfect introduction, Adrian, as always. I love it when you make me seem like a spinster.” I laugh at Adrian’s typical bluntness, even though the situation in the room still feels way too tense.

“It was nice meeting you, Kyle.” Ryan keeps his gaze focused in on my own. “I gotta’ get back to work. I’ll catch up with you two later, maybe.”

“Later.” Adrian cheerily giggles as he repeats one of Ryan’s parting words, before he conspicuously watches Ryan head back to the front counter of the shop...

Adrian then turns his head towards me, as a wild smile spreads across his expression. “Do you see what I mean now, Kyle? Do you see how perfect he is? Just. Holy fuck. I would let him bend me over a table and fuck me in front of everybody. Wouldn’t you?”

“Ehh. He seems...alright.” I’m lying again, as I blow out a shallow breath. “Typical hot guy Alpha, yeah? I don’t see how he’s any different than the rest. Why do you like him so much, anyway?”

“Whatever, Kyle! You don’t have to understand our love. You just need to buy us a pricey wedding gift, which I know you’ll be able to afford with your big promotion.” Adrian waves his paycheck back and forth, in front of my face. “Speaking of you and your fancy city job...are you buying the pancakes this year or what?”

“Why would I buy the pancakes? I’m your guest! And you literally just got paid!” My tone is incredulous, as I firmly shake my head.

“Ugh! Fine!” Adrian groans, before he heads towards the front door of the coffee-shop. “But next year, when you’re all super rich and classy, you better buy me like a trillion pancakes.”

“Why? Do you plan on eating carbs next year?” I follow behind Adrian, as we walk out of the coffee-shop, side by side.

“Oh yeah. Ryan’s definitely going to ask me out by then. Please. How long do you think the man can resist me?” Adrian laughs, and it bubbles up through his throat—

And the twisting in my stomach comes back in full force.

I think about telling him the truth as we turn around the corner, our feet still in perfect sync as we make our way down the block...

How long could Adrian truly be upset with me?

It was an accident.

I never would’ve touched Ryan if I’d known who he was.

I open my mouth, wanting to encourage the truth to stumble out past my lips—

But the words never make it through the air.

Instead, I continue my pace beside Adrian, willingly pretending as if everything’s fine...

As if nothing’s changed between us, at all.

 

**

 

“15...15 pancakes down...that has to be a record, right?” I groan in pain, as I lay my head down against the breakfast diner’s table. “15 chocolate chip pancakes eaten back to back...”

“Actually, no. When we were in sophomore year of high school, you ate 20.” Adrian shrugs, before taking another small bite of his second pancake. “Maybe your stomach is getting smaller or something.”

“I don’t think that’s a thing...I don’t think stomachs get smaller—” I pause my own correction of Adrian’s understanding of anatomy, as I let out another groan. “Why...Why do I always do this to myself? Why can’t I resist the siren call of post-Halloween pancakes?”

“Oh, please. Like eating 15 pancakes is even going to change your waistline. You know, some of us weren’t born with a fast metabolism, Kyle. We actually have to work out.” Adrian jokingly narrows his eyes over at me. “I wish I could eat 15 pancakes and not gain 20 pounds, but I wasn’t blessed with those goddamn Peterson genes.”

“Uh huh...” I squint in return, my gaze focusing in on Adrian’s remaining stack of pancakes. “So, are you going to eat all of those? Or what?”

“Oh my God, Kyle! You have to stop!” Adrian moves his plate entirely out of my reach, before bursting out into a laugh—

And I laugh right along with him—

Before our shared laughter is interrupted by my phone loudly ringing out from my pocket.

I quickly pull my phone out on the table, before a frown replaces my previous sense of mirth. “Oh. It’s work.”

“Boo. Send it to voicemail.” Adrian rolls his eyes, as he leans back into the diner’s cushioned seat. “You’re basically on vacation. You shouldn’t have to deal with that bullshit.”

“Yeah...but it might be important.” I deeply sigh, before sliding my finger across the screen, choosing to accept the call. “Hello? You’ve got Kyle Peterson.”

“Kyle...” It’s my supervisor, and it sounds like his voice is slightly shaking...

Is he nervous?

Why would he be nervous?

“Yeah? Is something going on, Mr. Vernon?” I keep my response calm, as I glance out the diner’s over-sized window. “Do you need me to come in before tomorrow?”

“No, Kyle. It’s...I...” Mr. Vernon seemingly hems and haws, before he’s able to find his verbal footing. “Kyle...I’m sorry to do this over the phone. You’re one of the best employees I’ve ever had...but I’m going to have to let you go. Effective immediately.”

“...What? I’m sorry? What’s happening?” I can feel the color leave my face, entirely, as the room suddenly feels chilly and cold. “You’re...you’re firing me? Over the phone?”

“It’s not up to me, Kyle! If it was up to me, I’d keep you around. Hell, I’d even put you up for that promotion...” Mr. Vernon lets out a slow exhale. “But...it’s not up to me. Things are just...being restructured. We don’t have enough wiggle room in the budget right now. Only essential personnel will be remaining with us throughout the next quarter. You’re free to apply again in six months, though. I’d be happy to have you back on the team, once everything’s settled into place—”

“Please, Mr. Vernon. You can’t be serious. Please, please, tell me you’re not serious—”

“I’m sorry, Kyle. I wish there was something I could do...” Mr. Vernon sighs directly into the phone’s speaker. “I know you’re back home for the weekend. I’ll just make sure that when the workers clean out your desk, they send everything over to your apartment. I’m sorry things had to end this way, Kyle, I really, truly am.”

“I’m...pretty sorry, too.” I try to keep my voice steady, even as I can feel the sting of tears forming behind my eyes.

Fuck.

I’d worked so fucking hard.

And for what?

All those sacrifices I’d made, all those office friendships I let fizzle out, all the weekends I spent at the office instead of hanging out with my boyfriend-at-the-time...

I’d given nearly every piece of myself to this company...

And this is how I’m being repaid.

“I’ll...see you around, Kyle.” Mr. Vernon awkwardly coughs on the other end of the line.

“I’ll...see you around, Mr. Vernon.” I hang up the phone as soon as I get out the words, and I let my phone fall with a thud against the diner’s table.

“Kyle? What’s wrong?” Adrian hastily moves away from his seat across from me, as he urgently comes to sit directly beside me. His arm soon wraps around the back of my shoulder. “What happened?”

“I just lost my fucking job.” The words don’t even seem real to me, even as they’re leaving my mouth. “I’m...unemployed...I guess.”

“Oh.” Adrian takes a slight pause, before offering me a dead serious look. “So, I guess it’s a good thing that I’m picking up the check, then...”

Adrian slyly grins after his phrase—

And I make sure to nudge him, hard, in his side. “It’s not funny, Adrian! Fuck, I worked so hard for that promotion—”

“Yeah, you worked way too hard. You can’t tell me that you were actually happy there.” Adrian softly leans his head against my shoulder. “And who cares if they let you go? You’ll be able to find a new job in no time. You’re super smart and super resourceful, too. You’ll land on your feet, okay? You always do.”

“You promise?” I swallow down the urge to weep in public, as I settle against Adrian on the diner’s couch.

“Yeah. I promise.” Adrian beams up at me, before moving his head away from my shoulder. “Kyle Peterson, you’re going to be absolutely fine.”

“I don’t believe you.” I frown back at Adrian, unable to stop a trickle of sadness from coming through my tone.

“You never believe me! But I’m still always right!” Adrian chuckles, as he reaches across the table, pulling his stack of pancakes over to my side. “You’ll be fine, Kyle. I super, duper pinky promise. Now, I’m going to allow you to finish my pancakes, only because I think it might make you feel better.”

“Oh, no. It’s definitely going to make me feel worse. I’ll probably pass out after I eat this...” I slide the plate closer to my knife and fork. “But...thank you. For being here for me.”

“Duh. I’m always going to be here for you.” Adrian casually licks a bit of errant maple syrup off of his fingertips. “You’re my brother from a richer mother.”

“Oh crap! My parents!” The realization hits me, while I’m picking up the end of my knife. “What the hell am I going to tell my parents? Adrian, without that job, I won’t even be able to make rent on my apartment this month. I’m not just unemployed...I’m homeless...too...”

I’m no longer able to keep myself from crying in public, as the tears spill down my cheeks with the force of a sudden waterfall. “Oh my God. My life is over. I have nothing. I don’t have a job. I don’t have an apartment. I don’t even have a boyfriend. I don’t have anything except these pancakes, and they’re not even mine.”

“Again, you have me, which means that you might not have a job, or an apartment, or a boyfriend...but you definitely have a place to stay. Indefinitely.” Adrian smiles back at me, before resting an elbow against the table. “And don’t freak out about your parents. We don’t even have to tell them about the whole job thing. We can just say that you decided to...come home...for the holidays...”

“Home for the holidays...” I sniffle a bit, as I return Adrian’s smile. “That’s a fun way of saying that my life’s headed in a downward spiral.”

“It’s not that bad. Okay, well, yeah, it’s pretty bad. But how much worse could it get?” Adrian gives me a comforting pat on my shoulder. “That’s the good news in all of this. I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

The current smile on my face reverts back into an unending frown—

As I quietly sob through the rest of my breakfast.

 

**

 

Chapter 6:

Ryan

It’d been two weeks since I’d last seen Kyle—

And I hadn’t had a dream about him since.

However, the dreams had seemingly been replaced by something much, much worse.

Every morning, as soon as I woke up, I found myself reaching out for Kyle...

Reaching out for the Omega who’s supposed to be in my arms...

And every morning, when I once again realized that Kyle was nowhere to be found...

That’s when the pain would start.

It always started in the same place, right in the center of my chest. And then, throughout the day, it’d find itself blossoming out around my body, shooting down towards my abdomen, slowly stretching itself across my shoulder blades...

At times, it ached so much that it almost felt like the pain had somehow wrapped itself around my very soul.

And there was no getting rid of the pain, either, because it wasn’t something on the surface—

It was something that lived inside of my bones, buried deep under my skin.

I’d heard about this kind of pain before, but I thought that it was only reserved for widowed Alphas and widowed Omegas, mates who felt they’d lost their other half much too soon.

So, why am I feeling this same pain? I didn’t lose Kyle much too soon. I’d never even had a chance to have Kyle, at all. I never even had a chance to mark him as my own mate.

Everything just feels so fucking unfair.

I wince through another round of pain, as I finish ringing up our last customer for the night. I’ve gotten pretty good at hiding the true depths of my ongoing agony, plastering on a fake smile when necessary, and using my sick days when I can’t manage to get out of bed.

Adrian soon sidles up beside me, as he playfully pops open my cash register. “Looks like another great day at Peterson’s.”

“Looks like it.” I nod in response to Adrian’s words, even as another bout of pain begins somewhere behind my knees. “Sorry about ditching you yesterday, when I was supposed to help you close up shop. I think I had food poisoning or something.”

“Oh, that’s totally fine. I was happy for the work. I love living with Kyle, but sometimes when I come home early, he tries to make me watch these educational documentaries on Netflix. It kinda’ makes me want to scream.” Adrian beams over at me—

And the pain in my knees momentarily dissipates. “Wait...what? Living with...you’re living with Kyle?”

“Yeah...I thought I told everyone...Kyle’s staying with me for the rest of the holidays...” Adrian hums underneath his breath. “Oh! That’s right, yeah. I did tell everyone. Except you. I think you were out sick that day or something. Actually...you’ve been out sick a lot recently. Are you doing okay?”

“I’m fine...I’ve just...had a bit of bad luck. My immune system is just...out of whack, maybe.”

“Ugh. I know exactly what you mean. My allergies go batshit crazy during the fall.” Adrian pouts, before closing my register back up. “But if you really are feeling better, you should consider going out with us tonight...Tony, Kyle and I, are gonna’ go get dinner and maybe see a movie or something, too.”

Adrian leans a bit closer to me, as he whispers his next phrase. “I’m actually playing matchmaker between Tony and Kyle. Tony’s a super cute Alpha, who’ll be here for a few months while he finishes working on his thesis about blah, blah, something, something, blah, blah. I almost died of boredom the first time Tony tried telling me about it, but Kyle’s eyes lit up like it was the 4th of July. Those two just get each other, and if my master plan works out, they’re totally going to do each other, too.”

Adrian then grins back up at me, before he leans forward against the counter. “So, Ryan. Are you in or are you in? Help me get my single best friend into a healthy, long-term relationship? Please? All you have to do is nod along with whatever Tony says, and maybe also endure at least one educational documentary.”

Tony.

The pain in my bones is replaced by a growing fire.

I remember that Alpha.

He’d come in a few days ago, telling me that he personally didn’t drink iced macchiatos, but he wanted to pick one up for a sweet Omega who he’d met earlier in the week...

Which I now know was my Omega.

That asshole had me make a drink that he could bring back to my Omega.

I try to calm the burning in my bones with a flurry of rational thoughts.

Of course, Tony didn’t know that Kyle was mine. Of course, the Alpha hadn’t meant to be malicious in any way, and I’m sure he truly just believed that Kyle was single—

Especially since Kyle is still lacking a Soul-Bite on his neck.

I try and I try, but even with all the rationality in the world, the rage still builds inside of me. I’m thankfully able to hide it in my tone, as I finally respond to Adrian’s invitation. “That sounds...fun. Yeah, I’ll come. What time are you guys going?”

“Right the fuck now.” Adrian points finger guns in my direction, before he moves to open up his own cash register. “As soon as we finish closing up. We can go meet them at the restaurant. I think Tony said that he wanted to go to Bill’s Place? Which is super expensive, but he’s paying so whatever.”

“Sounds good.” My response comes through slightly gritted teeth, as I return my attention to the coffee-shop’s counter...

Tony.

That asshole.

He’s taking my Omega to the most expensive restaurant in fucking town.

I wonder if he’s trying to buy his way into Kyle’s pants—

And the pain returns to me in full force, as I think about Kyle in another Alpha’s bed, their bodies twisting against the bed-sheets...

“Hey. Are you sure you’re okay to go out tonight? You look like you’re about to throw up.” Adrian’s tone is filled with concern, as he begins to pull off his apron.

“Yeah. I’m fine. Promise.” I shake my head, while I’m simultaneously trying to shake off the thought of Kyle being intimate with someone else—

And then I start to move through the close-out list, as we get ready to lock up for the night.

 

**

 

Adrian and I are both standing outside of the restaurant, waiting for someone to open the very locked door.  

It’s chillier than usual, with the autumn air filling my lungs with its frosty bite. I look over at Adrian, and I can see that he’s shivering in the weather. He’s severely underdressed for the season, just wearing a thin t-shirt and fashionable leggings. I take a minute to slip off my jacket, before casually offering it to him with a nod.

“Here.” I move a little closer to Adrian, as I continue to hold out my jacket.

“Oh...Are you sure?” Adrian seemingly hesitates to accept the clothing, even though an obvious shiver runs through him again. “Won’t you get cold, then?”

I smile over at him, before placing the jacket directly over his shoulders. “Yes. I’m sure. Besides, I’m an Alpha. I run warmer than you, anyway.”

“Well, in that case...” Adrian smirks up at me, while he adjusts my jacket against his skin. “Thank you, Alpha.”

“Yeah. Anytime.” I momentarily return Adrian’s expression—

Before a young woman opens the restaurant’s door, while wearing a dazzling smile on her face. “Sorry about the wait, gentlemen. We didn’t realize that you two were on the list for the evening. However, your dinner host, Mr. Russo, assured me that you two are to join him for dinner at once.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s fine. We both almost froze to death, but it’s fine.” Adrian’s response is filled with sass, as he makes his way past the young woman. “Come along, Mr. James, let us join Mr. Russo and Mr. Peterson for tonight’s festivities.”

I can’t help but laugh at Adrian’s subtle mocking of the pretentiousness of the restaurant, but I also make sure to hastily follow his footsteps inside, not wanting the young woman to lock us out for a second time tonight.

When we finally reach our designated table, Tony and Kyle are already chuckling loudly about something, their merry conversation in full swing.

I immediately notice that Tony is dressed to the nines, wearing a designer suit that I used to own myself, and would only pull out for an important business meeting or two.

Kyle isn’t as dressed up as Tony, as he’s just wearing a pale blue, oversized sweater and a pair of matching blue jeans. He looks like a man who regularly chooses comfort over style—

And I smile to myself, as I realize it’s just another thing about Kyle that makes him the perfect Omega for me.

I take my seat beside my Omega, as Adrian takes the seat across from me—

And Kyle’s eyes go wide, once he notices my presence at the table. “Ryan...? But...? Why...?”

“Because I invited him! Super last minute, I know, I know. And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but the guy obviously needed a night out. He’s been sick for like, two weeks.” Adrian pouts in Kyle’s direction. “Can he stay and eat with us? Please? At least that way I’ll have someone to talk to while you two discuss...I dunno...hemoglobin...in the...field of...uh—”

“I think, what you’re trying to say, is homogeny in the field of neural structures.” Tony grins over at Adrian, before he turns to face me, directly. “It’s from my thesis. I’m basically just looking at why we are the way we are. Why are Alphas more inclined to physical violence? Why are Omegas typically more inclined to verbal problem solving? And why, do some of us, look positively irresistible when we wear cerulean sweaters?”

After the indirect compliment, Kyle offers Tony a subtle smile—

And I feel like flipping over the entire table.

Instead, I keep my composure by picking up a menu, pretending to read what the restaurant has to offer. “Your thesis sounds fascinating.”

“Yeah, Kyle seems to think so, especially. These two can talk about this shit for hours.” Adrian chimes into the conversation, now picking up his own menu, as well. “You two should probably get a room. And then you could talk about it, all night long.”

Tony lets out a quiet laugh—

And I have visions of strangling him over an appetizer plate.

Again, I attempt to remind myself that none of this is his fault, and as I’m struggling to breathe through my rising, Alpha anger, I can feel the distinct press of a fingertip trailing along the outer edge of my thigh...

I look down to see Kyle’s finger swirling along the fabric of my work slacks.

He keeps his focus on the empty wine glass in front of him, even as he continues to repeat the small motions alongside the thread.

It takes me a moment or two to figure out that his repeated motions are purposeful, and it seems like he’s...

Like he’s spelling something out...

I wait for his motions to start up once again, and this time I pay close attention to the way his fingertip drags up, and slopes down, and drags back up once more...

Oh.

I think I’ve finally got the message.

Kyle’s letters are being spelled out in the exact, same pattern:

C A L M D O W N

But wait...

Why is Kyle telling me to calm down?

Have I not appeared to be calm so far?

I don’t think I’ve raised my voice at Tony, nor have I been rude to him since I sat down. I quickly scan the rest of the table, taking note of Adrian and Tony’s facial expressions—

They don’t seem to be too concerned about me, as both of them are looking over their respective menus.

So, why is Kyle telling me to calm down, unless he can...

Unless he can...feel...me.

But...that isn’t possible, is it? How would Kyle be able to sense my inner emotions without a Soul-Bite?

We’re not bonded...

Are we?

I don’t know how to respond to Kyle’s completely correct accusations about my emotional state, but I still answer him, using his own chosen form of communication. I trace my fingertips along his thigh in return, pressing against the fabric of his jeans:

M I N E

Kyle only takes a moment to process the letters that I’ve traced into him, before he replies with another message of his own:

Y O U R S

Kyle then moves his hand away from me, completely, as he reaches for the edges of his menu. “The wagyu steak here is pretty good. My family used to come here all the time and it was always super delicious.”

“That looks like the most expensive thing on the menu...” Adrian hums in a low tone, before his face visibly brightens. “I’ll take it!”

Adrian then sets his menu down, as he looks across the table towards me. “What about you, Ryan? What are you going to have?”

“I’m...I...” I’m still in utter shock after Kyle’s last, wordless message, my thoughts unable to focus on anything else in the world. “I’m...going to go to the bathroom. I’ll be...right back.”

I shift away from the table—

But I suddenly hear another pair of footsteps coming to stand beside me. “I’ll go with you.”

Kyle’s face is expressionless, as he stares up towards me...

And I silently nod down towards him in response, before heading off to the nearest restroom.

 

**