by Cowboy Rider
It happened simultaneously. Pain bloomed in my shoulder. A sturdy wrist pressed steadily under my nose. Panic threatened at the edge of my consciousness, but I took a deep breath. This was as it was meant to be. I’d memorized Jamie 3:12 for exactly this purpose. The breath also gave me a whiff of the alpha’s scent. I recognized him: Terry, third son of a small cobbling family. He’d been invited, and, by my vague recollection, courteous in his acceptance. His scent token had been a soft silk number and the accompanying note handwritten on heavy paper, but it was bold for him to go first. Still, he wasn’t hideous and he’d always been kind, if a bit standoffish, so I opened my mouth and held his wrist between my lips. No teeth. Not yet.
His disappointment at my restraint was palpable, but what had he expected? That I’d know we’re fated to be together from my first real whiff of him? As if. Alphas, I swear.
I kept my grip on the padded bar that left me sprawled on my stomach on the mounting apparatus and tried not to think about the many many dozens of eyes on us. On me, really. Terry could worry about himself. I was, naturally, naked. I’d been torturously prepared for this night, plucked and tucked and shaved and adjusted. I’d complained loudly about the treatment, a tradition almost as old as coming out balls themselves, but now, with the eyes of Society taking in every inch of my bare form, a part of me felt grateful. Though I’d never tell Mother that.
The slick head of Terry’s cock teased against my entrance. The servants charged with preparing me were incredibly thorough, so I was deliciously slick, and the slide and anticipation had me loosening my grip on the bar. Another slide of his cock against my straining folds and I let my hand fall free and widened my legs. It felt good, felt amazing, but if he thought I was going to hold onto him before he even thrust in, he had more arrogance than sense.
He slowly pushed into me, and even with the preparation I could feel the exquisite stretch. Yes. His thrust was steady and surprisingly gentle given his earlier behavior, but his tusks dug more deeply into my shoulder. I held back a smile of triumph. He could pretend to be unaffected for everyone but me. He blessedly seated himself inside of me then paused, giving me a moment to adjust to his girth. The stretch, the fullness, was fantastic. Even the prickle of awareness of the gazes on me, some assessing, even more lustful, was exhilarating. One of the alphas who took me tonight would likely be my mate. It wasn’t required, of course not, but only especially sought after or finicky omegas kept looking even after their coming out ball. After all, what was the point if you’d already invited all of the eligible alphas? Betas, I supposed, and I had no problem with omegas mating with betas, of course not. It just wasn’t for me. I’d always imagined myself mating with an alpha. Their tusks were, on the whole, bigger, their bodies were generally thicker, and what omega didn’t love a knot? Well, the beta and omega attracted ones, surely. Which wasn’t me. Except… Except for epsilon_ghost. He was a beta, as most people were. And every time I saw a message from him my heart jumped into my throat. We’d even met once, an awkward encounter at an out of the way coffeehouse. It’d been an entirely unsuccessful attempt on my part to squash the crush I’d had on him, and how often did one’s internet friends happen to live in the same city besides? Unfortunately he was gorgeous, with tusks as long as an alpha’s, a round, sturdy body and brown eyes that made the green of his skin all the more verdant.
Terry’s bite tightened even more, the pain bringing me back to the moment, as I involuntarily clenched around him. He was really going at it now, with thrusts that shook the sturdy mounting apparatus with each impact, driving himself into that most pleasurable patch within me with each beat. I reached up and threaded my fingers into his curly hair. He was doing a good job, and it did feel phenomenal, so he deserved at least that.
Though filled with a hundred or so people, the room was silent save for the sound of our hips slapping together. Everyone wanted to hear if we’d make a sound, if this coming out ball would spontaneously transform into an engagement party. If I could, I would tell them not to worry about this one. Terry was in the running, especially with the way his knot was beginning to swell and press up against me so deliciously, but if I accepted him as my mate, it’d be a well-reasoned decision made in a few day’s time.
He reached a hand down to stroke my cock, a small number compared to his or even those of betas, but sufficient for mounting with some creative positioning. Some omegas didn’t want to be stroked during their coming-out mountings, didn’t want to come at all, too afraid the pleasure would draw undue sounds from their lips. I wasn’t one of them. I liked pleasure, liked feeling good, and had spent enough time in my own company to be confident I wouldn’t make any sounds I ought not in the passion of heat. The invitation had discreetly said as much. If he was stroking me, it meant he was close, and even just that awareness raced excited tingles down my spine. Yes, Terry was definitely in the running.
His skill was expert, I noted distantly, as pleasure flooded my brain. Perhaps his family had sprung for a high-end alpha trainer after the disaster of his older brother. It’d make sense. Being known as the cobbler who disrespected omegas would be bad for business, if nothing else.
The orgasm built steadily and he tipped me over with practiced ease. I finally bit down on him, not hard, not drawing blood, but enough to leave a mark for him to show. He deserved at least that much.
My release triggered his own. The only sign of it was his trembling hand that collected my spend and the last tightening of his jaw that finally drew blood. My release would be artfully spread on his pocket square and displayed proudly in his suit pocket if he wished to continue his attempt at courting me. I had no doubt it would be. His knot locked us tightly together, almost painful in its girth, but that was pleasant too, in a way, grounding me after the overstimulation of my orgasm. His breathing was heavy after the exertion, but not pointedly so. Good. He was forward, but not stupid.
My own position in Society was somewhat complicated. As the first son of the country’s premier clothing merchant who had the ear of the King, I was emphatically not nobility, but neither was my position adequately encompassed by commoner. The more open minded of the nobility had sent polite excuses in response to Mother’s invitation to tonight’s festivities. The less open minded ones had not. And then there was the rumor. The Viscount of Trumador was here. Not just nobility, but proper royalty. Twenty-seventh in line to the throne, and at that point why even bother counting, but royalty was royalty and that mattered. If it were true. Ella, my retainer, had excitedly gushed about it right before I was brought out, but I had my doubts. Not that the sweet beta girl would lie to me, of course, but the Trumadors were notoriously reclusive. Even in the post-digital era, very few people knew what the young viscount looked like, though he was about my age, if memory served. That was probably it, the mystery and excitement going to people’s heads. We hadn’t even bothered inviting anyone that high ranking, and no scent token had been submitted for him. It was unthinkable that a member of the royal family would crash the coming out ball of a random merchant omega.
And yet, whispered a small part of me. I squashed it ruthlessly. And yet, it repeated, the mysterious alpha is said to be very kind and handsome. You could do much worse.
I was saved from contemplating the matter further as Terry pulled out and a warm rush of his come and my slick flowed down the inside of my thighs. I didn’t turn to look, but I knew he was holding his marked wrist aloft to the gathered watchers. I’d attended a few of my friends’ balls, mostly affairs smaller than this one, so I knew the drill. And I’d seen movies, besides.
An attendant placed a gentle hand on my shoulder and quickly but dispassionately cleaned the stinging wound in my shoulder. I suppressed a smile of triumph. Some omegas never reach blood draw at all, and I’d done so on my first knot.
After the attendant hurried away, it again became a waiting game. Second mounting was a tricky beast. If an alpha was confident he could surpass Terry, it made sense, as it would put him at the top of the list before I became completely overwhelmed by the mounting haze and unable to remember which knot went with which alpha. If he wasn’t so sure, however, then he’d be eliminated from my prospects entirely, save rank and practical considerations, as I knew for a fact I had better options. And I had set the bar rather high with Terry, held his head in place as he mounted me and even marked him, though faintly. So I suspected I was in for something of a wait.
I was proved wrong when tusks just barely missed Terry’s marks and a wrist was shoved impatiently under my nose.
I took a deep breath through my nose and only barely restrained myself from wrinkling it. Donatien had to be invited, as the son of one of Father’s sometimes-partner sometimes-rival in the clothing trade, but I’d always despised him. I considered keeping my mouth closed, refusing him, but then I’d never hear the end of it from Father, and, well, a part of me was curious. Alphas made a sport of collecting marks from omegas they’d mounted and displaying them proudly and Donatien had a wide array of them. While some omegas took that at face value, I and others had my doubts. Some claimed they were artificially enhanced or even self-inflicted. So I was curious. As lightly as possible, I closed my lips around his wrist, and he immediately thrust his cock completely inside me. It was years of training that kept me from crying out at the rough treatment. That hurt. Oh, that was low, trying to force a sound from a green omega. It wasn’t unheard of, of course, but that was the type of thing one used as an excuse to one’s parents after one had moaned for an unsuitable alpha, not something to strive for. I considered releasing his wrist right then and putting a stop to it all on principle alone, but only it did feel rather good after a spell, being used so roughly. I was discovering all kinds of things about myself tonight. Regardless, I’d never hold onto or mark him, and I’d certainly never make a sound for him. Donatien was the worst kind of alpha, domineering and cruel, the kind that Gander would say was only good for his knot.
Speaking of, it swelled quickly and, with no preamble, Donatien was spilling within me and locking us together. A shocked murmur arose from the previously silent crowd as he still ignored my hard cock in favor of leaning heavily over my bare form as if he’d lasted more than a few minutes. The sound faded into a shocked silence as the moments ticked by, his knot deflated, and he pulled out.
I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw the affronted expressions of the partygoers at the edge of the crowd and had to suppress another vindicated smile. And that was the other reason I hadn’t refused him. I knew there was a real possibility of him making an ass of himself, and that could only mean good things for the business and myself. Totally worth a few minutes of subpar mounting.
Another gentle hand, another careful cleaning of the new wound and the old one for good measure, as the few minutes difference hadn’t allowed it to heal yet. Another wait. The room seemed to hold its breath and I forced myself not to fidget as seconds turned into minutes. Third place wasn’t generally strategically important, but after Donatien’s bungling, the bar was famously low, and it’d be telling who chose to mount me next. Anyone who was too rough would seem like a brute, but too gentle would feel weak in comparison. It was a tricky conundrum, and I didn’t envy the alphas trying to navigate it. That knowledge didn’t make the waiting any easier.
Several long minutes later I nearly forgot myself and sighed with relief when I felt the body heat of another alpha radiating behind me. The bite was on my other shoulder, a bold move but one I appreciated with how sore the first had become. A wrist was placed gently under my nose, and I just held in a frown. Hayden was the second son of a wealthy tech family, handsome and well-liked by just about everyone, and rumor had it his younger sister had caught the eye of the grandson of a duke. So when I’d received his scent token, I’d thought, or perhaps naively hoped, that something had been amiss in the transportation. Scent tokens weren’t just for an omega to be able to identify our suitors during mounting, though they were, but also so we could begin to rule out alphas based on their scent alone. I’d always thought it ridiculous, I mean, what does an alpha’s scent have to do with whether we’d be well matched?
Now, unfortunately, I understood. Still, I thought perhaps I could acclimate, so I opened my mouth and took his wrist between my lips.
He circled his cock at my dripping entrance only once before thrusting home with just the right amount of force, right within the sweet spot of not too rough but not too gentle. I felt the bite of his tusks in my shoulder as I clenched around him, and they tightened more as he began to stroke my cock. I twined my fingers into his hair. Tania, but he was superb at this. He pulled out only slightly before thrusting in again, then quickly worked up to a steady rhythm pounding into my g-spot. It would’ve been perfect if my stomach hadn’t been rolling from his scent. I tried to focus on the pleasure of his hand and cock working in perfect tandem but I just… couldn’t. Keeping my hand in his hair I let his wrist fall from my lips. A few people murmured their surprise as I kept a hold on his hair, as this wasn’t common, but it did feel incredible, and this was my party. I deserved some amount of indulgence. He removed his wrist from my line of sight to grip my hip and drive into me more firmly. My orgasm soared like a gull on the breeze as my stomach settled and I was left only with pleasure. The release was reminiscent of a summertime firecracker, fast and somewhat underwhelming but still reasonably satisfying. Hayden pulled out soon after, still hard, and released my hip. I let go of his hair and he stepped back towards the crowd, once again leaving me alone to wait.
Well. This was awkward.
But it wasn’t long at all before another alpha stepped up to mount me. Jameson, first son of a glass manufacturer. Efficient with calluses that felt wonderful on my cock.
Then came Gareth, third son of the shipping magnate, hard and fast and almost brutal but with an attention to my pleasure that was explosive in its intensity.
Then Korroy, only son of a tea manufacturer, light and teasing and drawn out.
Then Jasper, second gems.
Yasar, first salt.
Peter, fifth ice.
Wait, what? Mine, Alpha, Mine. I tried to push through the mounting haze and force my brain to work. I couldn’t place the scent over the drumbeat of Mine, Alpha ringing through my head and the pleasure threatening to overwhelm my senses. Had I really and truly lost it? Had I taken too many knots? Was I losing it? Would this be the rest of the evening, my silly omega instincts screaming at me that every alpha was my mate? It didn’t hurt that this alpha’s cock felt phenomenal, driving into me at just the right angle to hammer into my g-spot. I tasted blood in my mouth and realized I’d bitten down hard to keep any noise from spilling from my lips, even though a large part of me wanted to. But what if he was unsuitable? Or mean? Surely he must have been invited to be here mounting me, but my family took engagements very seriously. I’d never live it down if I moaned for a mystery alpha. The slapping of our skin was the loudest sound in the world. For a moment I thought I heard the alpha grunt lowly, just in my ear, apparently going unheard by the partygoers. I must’ve been imagining it, especially as the chant of Mine, Alpha, grew into a battle cry. That was a fantasy. No one moaned at a stranger’s coming-out ball.
My orgasm snuck up on me, and a whimper stuck in my throat as I felt the alpha spill within me in response and his knot lock us together. Should I look back at him? I needed to know who my alpha was. But I couldn’t. Not with everyone watching. I felt his chest heave against my back and reveled at his closeness. The fabric of his shirt felt nice on my bare skin. I tried to study the color of his shirt sleeve out of the corner of my eye, some primal part of me unwilling to let him go just yet. It was yellow. I had to remember that.
His knot deflated and he gingerly left me, his tusks sliding free from my flesh at the same time as his cock. I forced my stiff fingers and jaw to unclench and release him with an unreasonable amount of reluctance.
The next alpha did not smell like mine. A part of me wanted to refuse him, but the logical part of my brain reminded me that his family dealt in silks and admonished me that if I was going to refuse someone on the basis of not being my mystery alpha, I should’ve just moaned for him and gotten the whole ordeal over with.
I lost count of how many more alphas mounted me after that. I focused instead on keeping a white-knuckle grip on yellow as my faculties all deserted me. I allowed myself to be soothed by the taste of my alpha’s blood still on my tongue.
I roused slightly after a long time of nothing. It seemed I had taken every eligible alpha at the party, a somewhat desperate image that I hadn’t meant to project, but in my endless mental chanting I had forgotten about my plan to tap out sooner. Come and slick coated my lower lips, ass, insides of my thighs all the way down to my ankles. I was covered in sweat and blood and fully exhausted. My alpha’s shirt was yellow. Strong arms wrapped me in a fine silk robe and carried my limp form into my elaborate bathing rooms. I was placed gently on a cushioned seat and I heard water being run.
“You took many alphas tonight, Master Braxton. More than any omega has in recent memory,” murmured the soothing voice of Father’s valet Liam.
A warm, damp cloth started by wiping down my forehead. I kept my eyes closed through the soothing gesture. More water running, the cloth working its way down my nose. A pause.
“Master Braxton, did you draw blood?”
I nodded blearily. “Yellow,” I forced my rusty voice to croak.
Liam resumed his ministrations. “Hm, I did not see any of your suitors display a bloody mark and I had feared that you might not have found a mate. Dare I hope that is not the case?”
I nodded again. “Yellow…”
Then I understood what he’d said. My alpha hadn’t displayed my mark. He didn’t want me. Tears began to slip down my cheeks.
“Oh dear. None of that Master Braxton,” he hushed me with a practiced ease, wiping my tears as they fell. “I’m sure he only meant to preserve your decorum. Rather courteous, when you think about it.”
With a Herculean force of will I blinked my eyes open to stare at him. But my alpha hadn’t shown off the mark I left on him. Was he ashamed of me?
“You’re all right, Master Braxton. Will you tell me which one?”
I blinked at him. “Yellow,” I murmured.
He smiled softly and began wiping down one shoulder with a clean, damp cloth, being extra gentle around the mounting marks. “That’s an odd name, Master Braxton. I don’t remember him on the roster. You don’t have to tell me. I’ll find out soon enough, eh?” He switched to the other shoulder.
I whimpered as he ran the cloth over my alpha’s mark; it was particularly deep. I wished he was here. I wished I could curl up into him and fall asleep safe. Maybe he’d even give me his knot again. Yes.
I woke up to the feel of the warm cloth methodically cleaning the inside of my thighs. I shifted as I woke.
“Shh,” Liam soothed. “It’s all right, Master Braxton.” He was working his way up to my fucked-out cunt with firm strokes of the cloth on my slightly furred, sensitive flesh. I shifted again and widened my legs to allow him better access. He used gentle fingers to push the lip of my manhood aside so he could clean the crease where my thigh met my cunt. The careful touch was a shock in itself after hours of flesh pounding into me and I sucked in a breath.
Liam chuckled under his breath just behind me. “It’s all right, Master Braxton, it’s just us. You needn’t be quiet on my account.”
I whimpered as he repeated the movement on the other side. Tania, that felt good.
He chuckled again. I’d always thought him handsome, in an untouchable, dignified way. He’d been Father’s valet for as long as I could remember, always impeccably dressed and much too busy to concern himself much with a young, spoiled omega. His salt-and-pepper hair was closely shorn and his skin was a pale green, indicative of the fact that he’d never worked a day in the sun. He swiped a gentle bare finger through my ruined folds. “You did enjoy yourself, didn’t you?” he murmured pensively, amusement coloring his polished accent.
I burrowed my head in my folded arms as I nodded.
“And you’re hard again.” He gingerly stroked my straining cock. “Do you need me to take care of this, little omega?”
I let out a needy whimper and nodded again. I’d had many childhood fantasies that began like this, the handsome beta taking “anything I need” to wicked conclusions. And rather than feeling sated, my night’s escapades made me ache to float on that sea of pleasure once more.
“It’s all right, Master Braxton. I’ll make it all better.” Firm fingers, unmarred by calluses but strong and nimble, gripped my sensitive flesh and stroked confidently. I whined and widened my legs even further.
“What a good little omega,” he breathed. “You took so many alphas tonight, little one. You deserve this reward.” He worked me steadily with practiced motions. It felt so much different, focusing on my pleasure, on just feeling good, with my hole still drooling come but otherwise empty. That knowledge made me clench, but for the first time tonight it was around nothing. I ached with it and I keened with the ache.
He twisted his wrist when he reached the head and I cried out softly. I needed to come. I began bucking my hips, silently begging for my hole to be filled.
His grip tightened, bordering on painful, and I whined as my orgasm still evaded me.
“You are a vision, Master Braxton,” he breathed reverently. “Do you need to be filled? Need an alpha in your cunt to come?”
I whimpered pathetically, lifting my hips, the primal part of my brain not understanding that my alpha, and in fact no alpha, would be here to knot me.
His zipper was loud as he lowered it and didn’t stop his movement on my needy cock, now weeping pre but refusing to come. He sighed. “Very well. I promised your father I’d do everything in my power to help you with this, and I’ve always served this family to the best of my ability.” His cock rested at my entrance as his hand on my cock slowed to a torturous crawl. “Is this what you want, little omega? One more knot to round out your night? One where you can be as loud as you please?”
A knot? How…? I nodded desperately despite my confusion. I needed to be filled.
As he pushed slowly into me he explained in an increasingly strained voice. “Many beta men like your father refuse to hire alphas. I’ve been on scent blockers for a very long time. But they don’t stop me from doing this.” He thrust in hard that last remaining inch and I moaned. It should’ve been impossible for his cock to feel like anything at all after all the knots I’d taken, but it felt incredible as the other alphas’ come slicked his way.
His groan was the distant roll of thunder. It was matched by the roll of his hips as he thrust inside of me. “So tight, Master Braxton. Such a good little omega for me. Are you going to come for alpha?”
I whimpered with pleasure, matching his torturously slow thrusts with my own needy bucking. I wanted to come. I wanted his knot.
I could hear the smile in his voice as he retreated again. “That’s right, you are, aren’t you? Such a slutty little omega, taking all those knots, teasing all of those poor, poor alphas with your gaping, sopping cunt. All of their breeches were tented by your third knot. Most of them were only barely restraining themselves from rubbing themselves in anticipation.”
He thrust in hard, drawing a cry from my lips as the bitterness of pain only heightened my pleasure. His hand was still on my cock but no longer stroking me. Instead, he was holding firm at the base, delaying my pleasure. I tried to buck my hips into him, renew that delicious friction on my cock, but he held me firm with a sadistic chuckle.
“I had no such restraints,” he rasped into my ear. “I stood in the balcony, in the shadows and watched as you took knot after knot, with my hand on my cock, knowing I’d have you just like this in due time.”
A part of me jolted in surprise. He’d planned this? But the larger part of me, the part that was currently at the reins, was turned on at the thought of this dignified man masturbating to the sight of me at an important Society event. I moaned helplessly. My cunt clenched down hard as he withdrew again.
“You want alpha’s knot, don’t you, Master Braxton?” He took the point of my ear into his mouth and sucked.
My hips spasmed uncontrollably under his bulk. Fuck, I couldn’t take much more of this pleasure.
He released my ear to murmur in it. “What was that? I didn’t quite hear you.”
I whined as he stroked my cock again, just once, just a tease.
“Hm? I didn’t catch that.” He was clearly teasing me, but also seemed to be willing to let this go on indefinitely if I didn’t answer him.
“I want—” I cut off with a long, low moan as he thrust in hard right against my g-spot.
“You want something, Master Braxton? I live to serve. Please tell me, what is it you want, little omega?” The cruel smile in his voice was everything a good servant should not be, but I couldn’t find it within me to care.
“Your knot.” I bit out desperately, knowing this begging was beneath me, too far gone to care.
“Oh, what a good little omega you are, Master Braxton. Taking alpha’s cock, begging for his knot. Such a good little knotslut. Of course I’ll take care of you.” I felt his cock jerk in perfect timing, releasing into me as the knot at the base of his cock began to swell in earnest. “Such a good little omega, Master Braxton. You’re going to make your alpha very happy. Now, come for alpha.”
Said in that authoritative tone, I was unable to do anything but comply. I came on a low whine, my body convulsing under his with a force I didn’t know I possessed. He held me firm, his body heavy on mine. Why didn’t I realize he was an alpha sooner?
“That’s a good little omega. Your cunt is squeezing me so tight. Holding all of my come inside, all of the come you’ve taken tonight. Just lay here with my knot filling you up just the way you needed. Then I’ll finish cleaning you up and get you into bed. How does that sound, hm?”
I nodded blearily, my sore body relaxing by degrees. Sleep sounded nice, even if my alpha couldn’t be here. My body finally felt sated and I left out a sigh of relief.
The last thing I heard before I was claimed by sleep was Liam’s murmured, “You’re going to make your alpha very happy, Master Braxton.”
───※ ·❆· ※───
I awoke to several hundred missed messages. This was not particularly uncommon. The night of award shows often resulted in a flurry of messages that I skimmed if I had time. The night Garen had broken up with his boyfriend had seen a similar effect: advice, commiseration, mostly-joking offers to do the ex bodily harm, and other expressions of support. But while they had all been waiting for me on my machine, they had not been aimed at me or about me. Until now.
Ignoring all of them, I quickly sent out a message.
fandubcon: I FOUND MY MATE
dogs_should_vote: stb congrats!!
I winced. I probably should’ve expected that. They were my friends, but this was embarrassing. I bit my lip and typed out a reply.
fandubcon: we’re keeping it pretty quiet for now. contracts and such. you know. I’ll tell you as soon as I can
bowler_enthusiast: tell us EVERYTHING
bowler_enthusiast: did you mark him? did he mark you? can I come to the wedding?
harpies_might: the gossip mags are saying he didn’t draw blood the entire night but he took more knots than any recorded coming out in the last decade
I winced again. I trusted my friends, and hiding something like who my father was would’ve been nearly impossible, but sometimes I regretted that so much information was so readily available.
fandubcon: a gentle omega never bites and tells /;)
bowler_enthusiast: we should’ve sent @epsilon_ghost
bowler_enthusiast: you know to be our man on the inside
paisley_wearing_fuck: stb I can’t believe you won’t spill
paisley_wearing_fuck: cruel and unusual
paisley_wearing_fuck: did you at least enjoy yourself
fandubcon: you know I did. I’ve only been dreaming about taking the knot for years
bowler_enthusiast: do you know what I mean about the quiet being weird
fandubcon: sort of
fandubcon: I had been to a couple so I was expecting it
fandubcon: and honestly after the first few knots I was so far gone I wasn’t really thinking about anything else
harpies_might: did you know that scholars now think that the bit about being completely quiet in scriptures was a part of the literary tradition of the time known as “going off”
paisley_wearing_fuck: that’s cool. but it’s not really like religious at this point
paisley_wearing_fuck: I’d feel like a whore if I moaned for someone that wasn’t my mate
My cheeks heated at the memory of my wanton behavior last night. That felt like an entirely different person.
epsilon_ghost: I was pinged
bowler_enthusiast: oh I was just saying we should’ve sent u to braxs co
bowler_enthusiast: he found his mate but won’t tell us who
fandubcon: you could’ve come, you know. I sent an invite
fandubcon: it was a whole thing
fandubcon: I even promised not to spill coffee on you this time
epsilon_ghost: hold on reading up
epsilon_ghost: finding your mate is huge
Something twisted in my stomach at his words. But what did I expect? Him to declare that I was wrong and he was actually my mate? We’d only met once, and I didn’t like betas. I’d just have to get over this silly crush.
fandubcon: thanks :)
epsilon_ghost: @bowler_enthusiast not on your life. watching my friend be molested by a bunch of brutes isn’t my idea of a good time
fandubcon: harp aren’t you in omaha
harpies_might: wow way to dox me brax
harpies_might: are you racist against nebraskans now
fandubcon: no I just meant that you wouldn’t have come regardless
harpies_might: just try and stop me from coming to your wedding
fandubcon: I wouldn’t dream of it
bowler_enthusiast: is it true the vis of trum was there
bowler_enthusiast: IVE CONNECTED THE DOTS
fandubcon: I really doubt it
bowler_enthusiast: OS THAT WJY YOYRE BEING SO SECRETIVE
fandubcon: you’ve got to use actually sentences babe
bowler_enthusiast: YOUR MATE IS THE VISCOUNT OF TRUMADOR. IS HE HOT? CAN HE REALLY DO MAGIC?? WHY DIDN’T YOU MARK HIM??
harpies_might: IF YOURE GOING TO BE ROYALTY LEGALLY YOU HAVE TO TELL US OR ITS ENTRAPMENT
paisely_wearing_fuck: I will fistfight these other chicklefucks to be your best beta if you’re getting married at the palace
fandubcon: but no
fandubcon: it isnt
fandubcon: I didn’t even see him
fandubcon: I’m pretty sure it was a rumor
paisley_wearing_fuck: oh :(
paisley_wearing_fuck: I’ve heard he’s hot
fandubcon: I thought you werent into alphas
paisley_wearing_fuck: im gay not blind or stupid
I glanced at the time and cursed. I shoved the monitor away and rolled out of bed. Doing so, I heard the crumple of a piece of paper and cursed again. I ruffled through the sheets until I found it. An elegantly crafted note, written by a skilled hand. It read, simply, Let me know if there’s any way I can be of additional service, Master Braxton. It was signed with Liam’s practiced signature. My cheeks heated again. What I remembered of last night had been pleasurable, but I wouldn’t be repeating it. I couldn’t quite bring myself to regret it, but I knew that I would not have done so were I not still recovering from the mounting haze.
I glanced around the room to find my favorite suit pressed and ready for me, and my favorite breakfast: quail eggs, french toast, and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. This was likely Liam’s doing as well, and the gesture warmed me. A look at the clock told me, however, that I didn’t have time to savor it any longer. I let nothing linger on my tongue as I ate, prioritizing speed over all else. I didn’t want to be late. Undergarments, breeches, blouse— shit I don’t have time.
Thinking quickly, I scooped up my waistcoat and shoes and dashed towards the door in my stocking feet. A few of the servants called after me, but I disregarded them, throwing open the door of the waiting town car and spilling inside with a panted, “Drive!”
The moment was shattered as Harold turned serenely towards me and smiled that grandfatherly smile. “Good morning, Master Braxton. Are you quite all right?”
I huffed and tossed a wayward strand of hair out of my face. “Just fine, Harold, but today is my first day at the library, and I don’t want to be late. So if you would, with all due haste, please.”
He did not, as I had hoped, turn towards the steering wheel and floor it. Instead, he raised an eyebrow and looked significantly at the unfastened seatbelt at my shoulder, like he had nearly every day of my life.
Sighing heavily, I reached for the buckle and fastened myself in, just suppressing an eye roll, because I was officially an adult after last night.
Sweet Tania’s blessing, he finally turned towards the wheel and began to drive, at an admittedly brisk pace. I shrugged on the waistcoat, laced up my shoes, and was just putting the last finishes on my eye shadow as the car pulled to a stop at the doors of the library. I glanced up at the imposing building but stayed seated until Harold rounded the car and pulled open my door. I took his offered hand, stood, straightened my waistcoat, and took a steadying breath.
“Dashing as ever, Master Braxton,” he noted with a smile.
I nodded curtly, squashing my impulse to dive back into the safety of the car. “Thank you, Harold. You know my schedule?”
“Yes, Master Braxton. I’ll be here at five o’clock sharp.”
“Excellent.” With a dismissing nod I headed towards the large, intricately carved oak doors.
The royal library was a, currently slumbering, behemoth. The tall, tinted windows protected the records within, and the spires, which held ancient and modern transmission equipment alike, seemed, from here, to skim the clouds that floated lazily overhead. Soon the wide eyes would gleam with the interior lights, but not yet. Not now. This was not the first time I had been in the royal library before it officially opened, but it was my first time as one of its librarians. All through university I had snuck in one of the back entrances by bribing the techs with sweets that I promised not to let near any of the precious records. I loved this library in all of its forms: bright and bustling, braced against the driving rain, open late into the night, but this, in the hush that blanketed the world as the first tendrils of sunlight wrapped around its spires, had to be my favorite.
I waved my access badge in front of the scanner with a small thrill and slipped through the door, entombing myself inside the echoing hall. I took a moment to relish this first of many, and made my way towards the front desk to receive my first assignment.
Staccato, nearly frantic, heel clacks met me before I reached it, and cold, firm fingers were grasping my forearms. Juliette was beautiful, if you were into betas, tall and regal and normally extremely put together. Today, though there was nothing outwardly amiss, there was an unsettled look in her eye that had me on high alert.
“Braxton,” she exclaimed, nearly breathless, already hauling me along in whatever direction she had planned. “Jessica is sick and Harry is on paternity leave and Gertrude won’t be here until noon and you’re here early, but that’s precisely what we need because I have to be leading the sunrise salutation in five minutes, so I need you to man the desk in the royal wing.” Words spilled from her mouth in a torrent, as she towed me along towards a section of the library that even all the sweets in Chicago couldn’t get me into.
I nearly skidded to a halt right there in the middle of the hallway in my shock, but years of training had me pushing it aside and keeping pace with the harried head librarian.
It was all, technically, the royal library. Access was restricted so that no one without official business (or strategically applied baked goods) could enter. But official business was easy to come by this close to the university, and people from all walks of life managed to find themselves sprawled across large drafting tables or paging through delicate manuscripts or reading old digitized logs. But the royal wing of the royal library was another story entirely. Access to anyone other than royalty and apparently nonroyal librarians was strictly limited. I’d never been allowed even a peek, and now I was going to be manning the desk without any supervision. A heady prospect.
She ushered me into the restricted area and gave me an abbreviated tour of the desk, but well, for all of its significance, it was just a desk. I told her as much before reminding her of the time and she darted out the door without a backwards glance.
After all of that excitement, all that was left was to sit on the rather tall stool and look competent and friendly. As I waited for the adrenaline to ease, I took stock of my surroundings. It looked remarkably like the rest of the library, but my fingers itched to explore the untraced tomes. Instead of doing that, keeping in mind that this could be some kind of test, I turned my mind towards last night. Towards my alpha. His identity was not any more obvious to me than it had been last night, and I passed the time by planning my afternoon once I’d gotten home. I’d have to tell Mother and Father, of course, but as they were both betas, they could only be of so much help in my search. I’d have to revisit the scent tokens I’d been sent to identify him, and hope he was suitable. Despite my behavior with Liam last night, no other alpha would do. If I made a non-optimal match, well, Mother and Father would simply have to forgive me.
I was yanked from my reminiscence as a familiar face, nearly obscured by a large stack of books, caught my eye. I tried to be discreet as I looked closer. It wouldn’t do to offend anyone here, but especially not someone royal. But as I looked again, I knew for sure that it was him, epsilon_ghost. I froze as my brain furiously tried to make sense of the situation on one hand and on the other chose that moment to remind me, in excruciating detail, of exactly how good my alpha’s knot felt.
I could tell the moment he spotted me, but instead of saying hi or even waving, he paled and rushed in the opposite direction. I frowned, tempted for a moment to ask him what he was doing here, when it occurred to me maybe he wasn’t supposed to be. Choosing between my new, hard-won job and my longtime friend-crush was an impossible ask. Perhaps I was better off not knowing.
I didn’t have much longer to contemplate it as the desk was soon inundated with royalty, all with various highly specific requests and short patience. I suspected a few weren’t even interested in my reply, but simply trying to get the measure of the library’s newest hire. It was a difficult position to get, and while I was competent and loved this library and had studied hard for years to get the requisite qualifications, I knew that my real advantage was the favor Father had called in, making me all the more determined to prove myself worthy of it. I answered their questions, professionally rebuffed a few flirty alphas, and pulled up resources, not with ease, per se, but without much noticeable strain, and by the time lunch rolled around, the crowd had mostly dissipated and the remaining requests seemed to be made in earnest.
My lunch was delivered by a mousy-looking omega, and came with two distinct notes. One was a quick missive from Juliette apologizing that my first day was so hectic, and stating that she normally wouldn’t ask this but would I mind terribly working the desk during my lunch break? The claim was belied by the basket of condiments situated next to the bookmarks. I didn’t mind. It wasn’t like I had lunch plans. The second held only a time and a place: seven o’clock, top of the astronomy tower, and signed by epsilon_ghost. I tried and failed to squash the silly smile that sprung to my lips. So he wasn’t angry at me. Probably. Being hefted off the top of the astronomy tower was always a possibility. I ate my lunch quickly and carefully, mindful of both archival and attire mishaps, and the afternoon rush carried me through to the rest of the day.
As I floated down the grand staircase to the entrance I noted that today had not been what I’d been expecting. I hadn’t even gotten a tour, though it wasn’t as if I needed one. I turned the day over in my mind, safely buckled, as Harold smoothly navigated us home.
At the door, Father’s flushed and somewhat manic face greeted me. “Braxton!” he exclaimed, stopping me en route to my room. He looked excited, and I tried to squash the warring exhaustion and annoyance. “Where have you been all day, pumpkin?”
I blinked. “At the—”
He waved me off. “Nevermind that. Lysander, come here, tell him what you told me!”
An impeccably dressed footman – Father’s house had no other kind – stepped forward, holding a handheld screen for my viewing. On it was a scene of the outside of our estate, seemingly last night if the long line of finely dressed people was any indication. The scene was awash in a sickly green indicative of night time photography. Lysander began to explain, “I was manning the gate last night, making sure everyone had the appropriate invitation.”
I gasped as, more finely dressed than I’d ever seen him, but undeniably epsilon_ghost stepped up to the gate, holding out a handheld device. He’d come? I frowned as Lysander spoke to him instead of letting him through, transferring the frown to him in question as he paused the video.
He grimaced and tugged anxiously at his collar. “Your father asked that I be, ah, discerning of who I allowed entry that was not on the official guest list.”
I turned to Father, still flushed and beaming, with a glare. “You what?”
His smile faltered. “Is it so wrong to want my heir to be well matched?”
The earlier frustration, the extremely long day, and years of Father’s high-handedness swirled in a potent concoction in my gut. “Well matched? Need I remind you, Father, that no matter that His Majesty might deign to grant you audiences on occasion, we’re commoners. There’s no lower status for me to stoop to.”
He flinched at the reminder, and a swell of satisfaction rose up within me. “I just wanted you to be happy, but—”
“Oh, like I would’ve been happy with my best friend? The one person I cared enough about to send an invitation to?”
“But that’s what I’m trying to—”
“No.” I was nearly shouting, my voice echoing in the wide hall. I turned on my heel and stalked back to the door.
“Where are you going?” Father asked, bewildered.
“When will you be back?”
“When I get back.”
“Oh now you’re interested in my social life? Of course. It figures.”
I whirled back around and pointed a glaring finger at him. “‘But pumpkin’ nothing. I was going to tell you that I had found my mate last night, but given that you clearly have no interest in what I want, I guess you’ll just find out with everyone else.” It was impossible, some rational part of my brain insisted. No matter what I’d asserted earlier, I did have some status in Society, and whilst working people might form mate bonds without any contract negotiations, I didn’t have that luxury. Still, the part that was still furious at Father’s actions delighted in the sight of his face crumpling at my words. I’d have to come back, apologize, smooth everything over, but that was for later. I threw open the door and stomped out.
The bus ride was almost exactly nothing like being ushered around by Harold, but it had the distinct benefit of not reporting back to Father, and for now that was enough. I turned the music in my headset up louder than recommended and stared out at the darkening city, waiting for my thoughts to settle. One thought kept replaying in my head: I wish epsilon_ghost was my mate. I wanted it with a fervor that surprised me. I meandered towards my next stop, the one that would bring me to the astronomy tower, and cursed as I saw the bus pull away just as I rounded the corner. It was early. I would be late for our meeting. I considered messaging him, but then, why hadn’t he messaged me? Perhaps he wanted to keep this analog.
Another distinct difference was that no matter how much of a hurry I was in, the bus traveled at exactly the same speed. I was nearly vibrating in my seat by the time the bus pulled up to the stop, flying out the door with a hastily bid, “Thank you!”
I rushed up the first few flights of stairs, then took the next couple at a hurried trot, then steadily climbed, then trudged up the seemingly infinite steps. By the time I burst through the door at the top of the tower, I all but collapsed. Well, that was one way to work out my anger.
“Woah!” Strong hands enveloped my upper arms in safe warmth, steadying me. I blinked up at epsilon_ghost. He was unfairly handsome, backdropped by the Milky Way, with his hair somehow perfectly coiffed and his tusks glinting in the low light confined to the small circle by the doorway. I gaped at him like a simpleton. He released me and took a large step back. I missed his nearness immediately.
“I’m” –I gulped down a haggard breath and tried again– “I’m sorry,” I said, unsure where to even start.
His eyes roved over my form, his eyebrows furrowed. “You’re sorry? What—” His eyes changed, then, as some understanding that was beyond me dawned. “You don’t know,” he murmured to himself. He took a step forward and reached like he was going to cup my cheek, but dropped his hand instead. “Brax, do you hate me?”
I furrowed my brow in confusion but answered on instinct, “Never.”
I hadn’t noticed that his shoulders were tense until I saw them loosen. As handsome as tense!epsilon_ghost was, relaxed!epsilon_ghost was easily ten times moreso. I barely restrained myself from swooning. He nodded once, then gestured to a large blanket laid out on the rough asphalt of the roof.
I moved to follow him without any conscious thought, but looked up at him in question. “Ep—”
“Please,” he said, his voice weary and ground deep, “can we just— not? Just for tonight?”
After the day I’d had, that sounded lovely. I nodded and laid down on the blanket, doing my level best to train my eyes on the truly magnificent view of the stars instead of the commanding man standing over me. He laid down as well, squeezing his large frame on the edge of the blanket so there was at least a foot between any part of us. I forgot to think about the stars at all as, with a trembling heart, I slid my hand over and tangled his fingers with mine. A low rumble emanated from him as he clasped my hand in his large one. I glanced over at him in question and he nodded quickly, once, his eyes holding some strange glint that I didn’t understand.
I meant to hold in the dreamy sigh that welled up in my chest, but I must have failed because his hand tightened on mine for a moment. I kept my eyes trained on the sky, which, again, was truly breathtaking, as I worked on scooting closer until my side was pressed firmly against his. He turned towards me with an amused raised eyebrow.
I flushed, sure my face was turning the color of the hillside on a sunny spring day. “Cold,” I murmured.
He nodded his assent even though the night barely held any chill in it.
I forced myself to study the galaxy’s structures. It was mostly effective at keeping my thoughts from straying to the feel of my alpha inside me, or worse, wondering what epsilon_ghost’s knot would feel like. Except he was a beta, and betas didn’t have knots. Right. Maybe if I kept repeating that, it would squash the growing heat in my core.
Another low rumble from epsilon_ghost, and he was hauling me closer until my head was pillowed on his chest and my arm was flung around his middle, holding tight. He flinched for a moment and I looked up at him in question, but he shook his head softly and held me tighter.
Yes. This was right. This was safe. This was where I was meant to be.
I roused as the pillow underneath my cheek jostled slightly on a chuckle.
“We fell asleep,” epsilon_ghost’s sleep-drenched voice croaked good-naturedly.
I nuzzled in closer with a grunt. Maybe we could just fall back asleep.
“No such luck, Brax. You’ve got work in the morning and so do I.” He sounded as regretful as I felt at this news, and his arms didn’t move from around me.
I held onto him tight, memorizing the feeling of his body pressed close to mine for a second more before I nodded and released him.
I sat up and looked at him, still laying on the soft blanket beneath us. “Ep— I—”
He sat up and cupped my cheek in his large, warm hand. “You’ve met your mate, Brax. I can’t, I won’t take that from you.” His eyes were sad as they stared into mine, his voice barely a whisper.
I nodded, feeling my heart break as I did so, dislodging his hand. “Meet me here again tomorrow night? Or, well” –I glanced at my watch– “tonight?”
He sighed and closed his eyes for a long moment, seeming to fight some kind of battle. “Yes,” he breathed into the hush of the little hours of the morning. “Yes, I’ll meet you.”
I nodded, my heart in my throat. “If you don’t want—”
“No,” he interrupted, smiling sadly. “It’s not that. I want. More than anything.”
I swallowed past a lump in my throat and stood. “I should go.”
He didn’t say anything else, just nodded and watched me with wide eyes as I backed towards the door and fled down the stairs.
───※ ·❆· ※───
I couldn’t sleep. No matter how many breathing exercises I executed, how many sheep I counted, how many soothing soundscapes I played, sleep wasn’t coming for me again tonight. I could still feel epsilon_ghost’s solid weight next to me when I closed my eyes, and it grew sharp claws that eviscerated me.
After hours of trying I rolled out of bed, threw on my waistcoat to guard against the chill, and crept into the sitting room, where we kept the box of scent tokens. No time like the present. I opened it and, despite the careful wrapping, was immediately hit by the scent of dozens of alphas. None of them smelled like mine, but then, that made sense, as they all mingled together I might not recognize his scent. I pushed the box away from me, picked up the first one, and looked at the attached tag. Ingas, not mine, and I remembered him, at least in a vague, fuzzy way. Not my alpha. I carefully wrapped the scent token, placed it back in its designated spot, and picked up the next. Gregor, not mine, though I didn’t remember him. I pulled out a notebook and noted it down. Terry, not mine; Jameson, not mine; Yessir, not mine. I worked my way through about half the box before the heat finally got to me. I could feel slick seeping into my silk pajama pants, and I took off my waistcoat and rolled up my sleeves.
Wait. That smell. Mine.
I picked up the last token again and sniffed it. Not mine. Maybe I was just losing it? I went back a few more tokens. Still not mine. Maybe I had jostled one of the ones I hadn’t gotten to yet. I plowed ahead. Not mine, not mine, not mine.
Tears of tired frustration hovered ready to strike at the edge of my vision as I placed the last token into its spot. None of them were my alpha. Or I had missed him, somehow. And on top of it all I was now insatiably aroused.
The door burst open and a servant came in and called back into the hallway, “He’s in here!”
Footsteps approached at a fast clip and Father emerged into the doorway before slumping slightly. “Oh, thank Tania,” he muttered.
I blinked up at him. “What’s going on?”
He crouched down next to me and wrapped me in a tight hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay.” He pulled back and gave me a watery smile. “I’m so sorry, pumpkin. I was inconsiderate and it hurt you. I won’t let it happen again.”
I nodded and hugged him back. “It’s okay, Father, I know you care for me.”
His smile grew and wavered like a wave ready to break before he turned his attention to the screen he held in his hand. “Can I finish telling you the news?”
I blinked at him. “There was news?”
He nodded and pulled up the video again. My stomach turned in knots as I saw again epsilon_ghost being stopped at the gate, but it continued playing this time. He rolled his eyes and removed something from his pocket. Seeing it, Lysander bowed and allowed him to pass.
I looked at Father questioningly, who was once again nearly vibrating with excitement. “The Viscount of Trumador!” he whispered, nearly giddy. “I don’t know how you managed to draw him here, but you should accept his proposal immediately.”
I blinked. I looked at Father. I blinked again.”Just because he attended doesn’t mean he’s proposing,” I heard myself say distantly.
“Oh but he must be, though, to attend an omega’s coming out ball? Tell me you’ll say yes.”
I glanced at the box of useless scent tokens. “My mate…” I murmured.
His face fell. “Oh, of course, you said— but I thought perhaps—” he floundered, clearly having thought I had lied to him but unwilling to say so.
I shook my head. “He— he mounted me, but I didn’t recognize his scent. He’s mine, Father,” I whined imploringly.
Father didn’t understand, not really, but he nodded and ran a soothing hand down my back. “It’s going to be okay, pumpkin. You’ve already checked the scent tokens?”
I nodded, the waterworks from earlier threatening to make a full comeback.
“Okay, well, we’ll ask Liam to make a list of the alphas who mounted you, and check them against the tokens you received. Whichever ones didn’t send in a token should be quick enough to track down and viola, there’s your mate.”
My face flushed at the mention of Liam but the plan was a solid one and I nodded again, leaning into him.
“I’m so glad you found your mate, pumpkin,” Father murmured, leaving a kiss on top of my head.
I nodded drowsily. “Me too.”
A thought occurred to me, startling in its intensity. “The Viscount of Trumador is an alpha.”
Father nodded, a frown of confusion on his lips. “Of course, why—”
I didn’t hear the rest of his question as I lost consciousness.
───※ ·❆· ※───
I woke to an unsettling quiet that in the city only occurred in the driving rain of a summer storm. I was in my room. It was dark. I blinked, rubbed my eyes with one hand, and woke my machine with another. One message from Father. Several from epsilon_ghost. One from dogs_should_vote. I opened Father’s message first.
Father: Hi pumpkin! 🥰 It seems like the last few days has been hard on you. 😭 Do not fear, I have called the library and explained that we are working on your mating contract, but you will be back tomorrow. When you wake, please come to the blue sitting room; Liam was able to narrow down your potential mates. Love, Father
I ran a hand through my hair and blew out a breath. Wow, okay. I looked at the time and blinked in surprise. I had slept the entire day and well into the night.
epsilon_ghost had sent several messages, but something was wrong when I tried to read them. Oh shit. We were supposed to meet. I opened my chat history with him and frowned in confusion. All that remained were two words:
epsilon_ghost: im sorry
I didn’t understand, but something deep within my chest started to ache. I opened my last message.
dogs_should_vote: hey brax, I usually don’t do this but whenever you see this message could you let me know you’re okay? im with epsilon_ghost and hes really freaking out
I messaged him back immediately.
fandubcon: hi yeah im fine I just kinda passed out because I didnt sleep last night? is epsilon_ghost ok?
dogs_should_vote: he told me to tell you hes fine but honestly… he’s not. its pretty rough and I’m not sure what to do
fandubcon: are you with him? where are you?
dogs_should_vote sent me the address of the Trumador estate and I cursed. Right. Because he was— epsilon_ghost was—
I grabbed my consciousness by the scruff of the neck and held on tight. I couldn’t pass out again, not when epsilon_ghost needed me.
Ollie, my brain chose this moment to remind me. The Viscount of Trumador’s name is Ollie.
I shoved my legs into the first breeches my hand landed on, slipped on a pair of shoes, and swung on a long overcoat. Now was not the time for a fashion statement. A small part of me whispered that showing up in a disheveled state to a royal estate might not be prudent, but I shoved it away. Ollie needed me.
I ran towards the front door, my footsteps thundering in the empty hall.
As my hand reached the door, I heard Father’s voice behind me, “Pumpkin?”
I whirled around to face him, breathing heavily with my exertion and worry. “Father, my friend— he needs me. I can’t—”
He was lit by the chandelier in the blue sitting room behind him, glittering crystals freckling his profile on the dark hallway. “But pumpkin—”
“Father, please.” My voice cracked. I needed to be with Ollie, now.
Father surveyed me for a long moment, then nodded. “Go put on matching shoes, pumpkin,” he said softly. “It’s going to take Harold a few moments to pull the car ’round front.”
I glanced down at my feet and grimaced. I dove towards him and wrapped my arms around his middle in a quick embrace.
He let out a quiet oof and returned the warm gesture. He used gentle fingers to tilt my chin up to him. “Go do what you need. Liam and his list will be here when you return.”
I nodded and ran back to my room to change.
───※ ·❆· ※───
I hadn’t known Harold could drive quickly. But when I arrived at the Trumador front gate, it was almost too soon. The manor – and the expansive building could only be characterized as such – was large and imposing, and the fiercely driving storm chose that moment to send a crackle of lightning streaking behind a spire to momentarily illuminate the looming structure. To my somewhat bewildered surprise, Harold pulled easily through the front gate, and right up to the front stoop, where a footman waited with a large umbrella. They had been expecting me?
I didn’t have time to think as I was ushered out of the car and into the dry opulence of the manor’s entryway, then quickly up a set of marble stairs, down a grand hallway, through a maze of doors and passageways, and finally into a lavish set of rooms.
Ollie looked up as the door closed behind us. His eyes were bloodshot, his face was green and puffy, and a mountain range of used tissues sketched around his hunched form. He blinked at me for a moment and then buried his head in his hands again.
“You shouldn’t be here,” he whispered.
The words and the ragged tone of his voice vied for top billing of which broke my heart more. I took a step towards him with my arm outstretched. “I— I don’t understand. Something is wrong. Please let me fix it.”
He shook his head sadly. “It’s me. And apparently there’s no fixing me.”
My mind was blank for several long moments as my heart thudded loudly in my ears. I drew in a noisy breath over the sound and tried to project a calm I could not feel. “You’re sick?” I took another step towards him, my hand hovering over his hunched shoulder. From here I could feel the heat radiating off of his torso, covered as it was by the stained yellow shirt he wore unbuttoned over another more casual blouse.
He looked up at me, at that. Began shaking his head. Stilled. “I don’t need your pity.” He glared at the footman who still stood unobtrusively at the door. “I told you to tell him I was fine.”
A look like that might’ve sent a servant in Father’s house urgently on some very important task across the estate, but this one simply glared back. “But you’re clearly not, Ollie. He deserved to know.”
Ollie shot up from the bed and stalked to the window to stare out at the furious rain. “He has his mate to get to. He shouldn’t be worrying about me.”
“Bullshit.” The word was out of my mouth without consultation from my brain.
Ollie whirled around to look at me, his gaze that of a cornered animal, his arms held out as if he’d have to dive for an escape at any moment.
I strode towards him until I was right in his face and poked a furious finger into his firm chest. His indrawn breath was drowned out by my steadily building tirade. “I am so fucking sick of everyone deciding what I want for me. ‘Oh the poor little omega can’t possibly know what he wants, he can’t want to be mounted, he can’t want his friends to be at his coming out ball, he can’t want to be with his best friend when he’s hurting.’ It’s all the same bullshit and it’s all fucking infantalizing. I am not some fainting maiden, thrown about by dastardly alpha manipulation. I’m doing what I want, on purpose. And you’d all fucking know that if any of you bothered to ask me.”
His eyes darkened with anger but he didn’t back down, or even raise his voice. “I don’t need to ask, because you can’t want what I do, Brax. So just leave it.”
I flattened my palms against the solid planes of his chest and shoved, causing him to stumble backwards slightly. “Stupid.” Another shove. “Pushy.” Shove. “Alphas.” His back was pressed firm against the large picture window and I stood toe to toe with him, my hands still pressed against his chest. “I can’t? Fucking try me, Ollie.”
He looked down at me like I was asking him to euthanize the family pet. His hands were warm and gentle as he gathered my hands in his own and held them like the finest china. “Fine,” he said, voice scraped raw and uneven. “What do you want, Brax?”
That look did little to douse the angry flames licking at me. He was still deciding for me what I wanted, and I hated that more than anything else.
“This.” I hauled myself up and him down with a firm hand on the back of his neck. The kiss was not a gentle thing, full of heartbreak and tusks and still-simmering rage, but it was perfect. It was my first kiss, I noted finally, and drew in a startled breath at the revelation.
That thought had me drawing back and looking up at him with shocked eyes as the pieces began to fall in place.
His eyes were wide and panicked, pleading even as I stared at him dumbfounded. “Brax, I’m so sorry I shouldn’t have— I knew you would hate me but I just had to— You were laid out and there were other alphas taking you and I just had to—”
“Mine.” The growl came from a place I had not formerly known I’d possessed deep within my chest.
He stopped his tirade, panting slightly. “What?” he whispered breathlessly.
The lightning chose that moment to boom overhead, illuminating the tears glistening on his cheeks. I stepped directly into his body, pressing myself against him everywhere I could. “Mine,” I repeated, looking up at him with defiant eyes, daring him to say differently.
Confoundingly more tears fell from his eyes. “Brax, please don’t joke about that, you’re already in contracts with your mate and I don’t think I can bear—”
I fused our mouths together again, and smiled in triumph as he melted under me, hauling me impossibly closer to him, holding me tight. Yes. I pulled back only enough to murmur against his lips, “Mine.” I’d say it as many times as I needed to until there was no doubt in his mind.
“Brax?” he whimpered. His eyes still held that hurt and that confusion. That wouldn’t do at all.
I used my free hand to wipe tears from his cheeks. “You’re my mate. I didn’t know your scent, but I knew you were mine. I tried to whimper for you but my voice broke.”
His arms tightened further around me, locking us together in a nearly bruising embrace. Yes. “Mine,” he whispered brokenly, and the sound sent a shiver of pleasure through me. Yes.
He turned us so his body was between me and dogs_should_vote. “Taylor, please make it known we’re not to be disturbed. My mate and I need privacy.”
I could hear the smile in Taylor’s voice as he bowed and opened the door. “Yes, my lord.”
“And Taylor?” Ollie called.
“Yes, my lord?” He hesitated at the threshold.
“Thank you.” A thousand unsaid words hung in that statement.
Taylor heard all of them. “It’s what friends are for, my lord.” The door closed behind him with a definitive clunk.
Ollie turned towards me, his breathing ragged. “Say it again,” he requested desperately.
I kissed him again, forcing myself to be gentle, and spoke the word against his lips: “Mine.”
His breath stuttered like the build up to a sob but he pulled back and reverently cupped my cheeks in large hands. “Yes,” he answered me. “Yours.”
I closed my eyes as tingles erupted under my skin at his words, a big goofy smile breaking onto my face.
“And you,” he murmured, his voice turning from heartbroken bewilderment to silky seduction, “my darling mate, are mine.”
I reached up to hold his large hand more firmly against my cheek, nuzzling into it to better cover myself in his scent. “Yes,” I answered, half distracted by the smell of him. “Yours.”
A growl rumbled deep in his chest, something I felt more than heard as we still pressed tightly to each other.
“You’re wearing too many clothes,” he noted, doing nothing to rectify the situation. He smiled at me, self-assured now, every bit the alpha I’d always dreamed of.
I smiled up at him. Tania, but he was handsome. “As are you.”
Questions floated in the air, but they were a few grains of sand against the tidal wave of desire that swelled between us. I kissed him again, my fingers glancing off the fine-wrought buttons and skating over rich fabrics desperately. He returned my fervor, hands skimming over the bottom hem of my shirt until he could hook a hand underneath it. I was already nodding, granting him access, granting him anything within my power to give. We should separate, some logical part of my brain argued, so that we could shed our clothes and be skin to skin at last. But the past two days – Tania, had it really only been two? – suddenly felt like a lifetime apart and no amount of logic could separate me from him. His hands were large and warm against the bare skin of my torso. I hadn’t known I was cold there until it was relieved by his warmth and I wanted more with a gnawing fierceness.
I pulled off my coat with arms arching behind my back, pressing the length of my body into his as I continued to kiss him voraciously. As the last of the garment slid free, he reached out and pinned my wrist together like that, holding me against him as he bowed over me. I whimpered, confused, desperate. Trusting him, but wanting to feel his taut skin under my hands and do my own exploring.
In answer, he trailed his mouth down the curve of my jaw to suckle on my neck. The scrape of his tusks might’ve been painful, were he any other alpha, but it was only exhilarating under his careful attention. By the time he reached my ear to trail his tongue teasingly over the ridge, I had entirely forgotten I had ever had any issue at all, nearly boneless in his sure grip. “Mine,” he whispered, then followed it up with a stinging nip.
I nodded eagerly in agreement. Yes.
A murmured word from him and our clothes disappeared, leaving nothing between us. The shock of it, the murmur of “royal magic” from some far-away part of my brain, threatened to pull me out of the mounting haze entirely, even as I moaned at the feeling of his bare flesh on mine.
He wrapped a large, firm hand around our cocks and stroked surely, and all thoughts of rumors and heritage were conquered by pure want. I arched into him, hands still immobilized in his grip. My hips bucked wildly into his, needing more, needing everything.
I didn’t realize he was moving us until I felt the back of my knees hit the large, finely dressed mattress. His hand left our cocks, then, and, still sticky from our combined arousal, wrapped around one wrist. He held my wrists steadily in both hands for a minute, then, kissing me breathless as I whined at the change in sensation and rutted against his pelvis. He moved my arms in front of me before again holding them in one large hand. I couldn’t even rut against him, then, and I pouted at him forlornly.
He only smiled at me, handsome and assured and murmured, “Do you trust me?”
I nodded emphatically, sure of that even as the mounting haze confounded my ability to think. “Always.”
His smile was sweet and awed as he raised my arms up over my head, then began pushing them back and the angle began to strain my back. I blinked at him.
“Let go, my mate. I have you.” He looked over me, his body still pushing me backwards steadily.
I fell, holding onto his restraining hand for security, and landed on soft down and well-made fabrics.
He smiled at me and climbed over my body, slotting himself between my already parting legs and frotting his cock against mine once, twice. His hand still held mine, pinning me firmly into the mattress so I was laid out before him. I whined again at the friction, needing more, needing him inside of me.
I realized I had said as much when I felt his chuckle rumble through me. “Not yet, my omega. I refuse to hurt you.”
I bucked against him again, harder, demanding. I was made to take his knot. He wouldn’t hurt me.
His eyes darkened and his hand tightened on my wrists painfully. He crushed his lips to mine, drawing a nick of blood from my lips with his sharp tusks, but that only made me rut against him more desperately. “Mine,” he insisted raggedly as he drew back slightly. “Always.”
Yes. Yes. He felt so good, his weight grounding me, his cock hot and hard and dripping into my needy skin, his tusks slightly pink with my blood. Yes.
He started down my body, leaving a stinging nip at my collar bone, then looked up, his eyes smoldering. “That means mine to care for, too. You’ll leave your hands where I put them.”
It wasn’t a question, not with the tone of dark command it was said in, but I nodded anyway, wiggling against him to feel my cock brush against his taught, round stomach. Another stinging nip, and he released my hands, moving down until his face was hovering over my dripping cock. He blew a cool stream of air over the wet head and I tried to lift my hips for him in offering, but he instead moved lower. Sounds spilled from my lips, now a whimpering plea, without any conscious decision on my part, and I watched him desirously as he knelt between my spread legs. Firm hands lifted my thighs up and out, until my drenched hole was bared to him and the cool night air. He stilled for a moment, adjusted so his forearm still held me firmly open, then trailed a gentle finger lightly through my folds contemplatively.
I gasped, my back arching off the bed even as my hands stayed exactly in place. “Please,” I rasped, finding my voice suddenly. “Please, epsilon, Ollie, alpha. Please. I’m yours. Please take me.”
His eyes darkened impossibly further at my words and he looked up at me, teasing exploratory finger still nestled lightly in my folds. Holding my eyes and making sure I watched, he drew his finger from me and took it into his mouth, savoring the taste of me on his tongue. “Yes,” he said eventually. “Mine. Mine to do what I want with.” He shifted again until his mouth hovered inches from my held-open hole. “And what I want right now is this.”
I had a fleeting worry about sharp tusks and sensitive flesh, but I dismissed them out of hand. This was Ollie, my alpha. He wouldn’t hurt me. I felt myself stretched even wider, my hole held open by something long and unyielding. His hands were on my thighs so—
I threw my head back with a long groan as his tongue began teasing paths around the edge of my cunt. His tusks. His tusks were holding me open as he ate out my needy hole. He continued his meandering licks until I couldn’t take it anymore. “Ollie,” I snapped. “If you don’t put something in me I swear—”
His head popped up, tusks and tongue leaving my straining flesh entirely, all smirks and self-satisfaction. “You’ll what, my dearest mate? Moan and writhe for me? Drip more slick out of your sopping hole?”
A part of me wanted to lurch up and use a harsh hand in all that luscious hair to haul his mouth to mine and wipe that smirk off his face. But my hands stayed where he’d left them and I settled for a scorching glare. “No,” I bit out. “I’ll tie you down and ride your face until you’re soaked with my slick and begging me to stop.”
His eyes darkened more and the grin fell from his lips. Suddenly, he was back over me, one large hand once again securely pinning my wrists, the other between my legs, shoving two fingers – large, alpha fingers and oh it had only been two days since I was used so thoroughly, so completely – into my sensitive hole. “Is that so?” he murmured, holding my gaze with a self assured intensity.
I cried out at the intrusion. It was everything I had wanted and too much and not enough simultaneously. I forced myself to hold his gaze. “Yes,” I gritted out.
“Be careful of what you demand, my mate,” he murmured, running his tongue along the curve of my jaw, collecting the sweat that had gathered there. “I might just give it to you.”
He pumped harshly into me, forcing my body to open up around his intrusion, his smile widening as the sounds of the thrusts became more obscene and I grew more slick under the attentions. I gripped his hands with mine again, holding on, moans falling from my lips as I widened my legs to give him better access.
“Do you want that, little omega? Alpha giving you everything you ask for, no matter how much it’ll hurt, just giving you everything and taking care of you?”
He was still hovering over me and the cool air of the room raised gooseflesh on my exposed skin. I arched up into him, trying for more contact. I blinked up at him. He was so handsome, his body felt so right on mine. “Yes.”
“Or,” he rasped, pausing to swirl his tongue around the sensitive point of my ear, “do you want to beg? Ask for everything you might fleetingly want, knowing I’ll take care of you, knowing I’ll only give you what you can handle?”
I whimpered, shifting my hips to meet his thrusts now. “Yes.”
He chuckled, deep in his chest, gazing down at me with a fond expression. “Such a good omega. So handsome. So spirited. So mine.”
“Yes.” His. His omega. His mate. His love.
“What do you want, my mate?” Three fingers now, and I didn’t remember that happening, pumping steadily into my hole which still ached with the need to be filled further.
Another concern was more pressing, though. “You,” I whispered, looking up into forest-path brown eyes and meaning it with every part of my being. “Please, close, now, I need—”
“Yes.” He moved so that his entire torso was pressed into mine, nearly dwarfing me on the soft mattress. His weight, not all of it, but enough to feel his sturdy presence, pressed furred flesh into mine and I nearly purred with pleasure at the sensation. His hands did not lose their previous positions, the one on my wrists still holding firm and the one between my legs fucking me steadily open. His dick pressed hard and hot against my pelvis, and mine into his in kind. His head fell to my neck, licking and sucking at the flesh there. I tilted my head as far as I could in this position to give him better access, baring myself to him in submission. “So sweet,” he murmured into my damp skin, his soft lips dragging deliciously against my flesh. He moved down further to my shoulder and stilled entirely, all 4 fingers lodged halfway in my cunt.
I whined high in my throat and wriggled, trying to urge him on with words that wouldn’t materialize. He backed up a scant few inches to look at my face and I could see him swallow hard as his gaze was fixed on my shoulder.
Something was wrong. Ollie shouldn’t have that look on his face, not right now, not ever. He looked back at me, hope, anguish, disbelief, confusion, all flitting across his face in quick succession. He swallowed again. “What’s this?”
I tried to clear more of the mounting haze from my brain so I could answer his question. “Ollie,” I whispered. “What?” I followed his gaze to my shoulder, where I’d painstakingly inserted spacers into his claiming marks. My face flamed. “Yours,” I said.
He withdrew his fingers from my cunt and I whined again, bucking my hips to rub my cock against him. His smile was indulgent as he used his teeth to tear a wide bandage from around his wrist. His wrist was unmarred, almost unheard of for adult alphas, save for two harsh punctures with spacers in them.
I blinked up at him before a smile spread over my face, wicked and possessive and gleeful. “Mine,” I said, wriggling against him more.
He nodded, his nearly-feral grin matching mine.
He was so handsome, so hot and solid against me. I bucked under him some more, not to dislodge him but to feel more of that delicious friction. “Alpha,” I gasped, unable to hold off the mounting haze any longer. “Fuck me.”
He shifted his hips and then he was there, the heavy weight of his cock at my drenched entrance and I moaned. He held still until I opened my eyes in question, then slowly thrust home, holding my gaze with his.
Intense. It was the only word my head could hold as his cock forced my body to open around it, sliding heavily against my impossibly sensitive flesh. His hand pinning both of mine firmly above my head. His chest pressing mine solidly into the soft mattress. His gaze holding mine with heated reverence as he claimed me, body and soul.
I couldn’t say how long it was before his pelvis rested against mine, but when he did we both let out low moans. His gaze caught on his marks on my shoulder and he leaned down to begin laving them with his tongue, imprinting the scars into my flesh, marking me as his. The bite of pain was exquisite, making me writhe in his grasp, urging his hips to move with my own. He complied, pulling back slightly before thrusting harshly within me. He was everywhere, above me, within me, around me, and I buried my nose in his neck, taking in as much of his scent as I could, drowning in sensation.
I didn’t realize I had my mouth on him until I heard his moans redouble as my teeth pressed against sensitive flesh. I jerked my head back, an apology poised on my lips. No alpha would countenance a claiming mark there. His hand, large and firm, held my head before I could pull back any farther, though, holding me to his neck. His thrusts were harsher now, and I gasped as he adjusted his angle and hit that brilliant spot within me.
“Please,” he said raggedly, still holding me to him. “I’ll take any mark you want to give me. Don’t stop. Please.”
I tugged at my arms in his grip but he held me firm.
“If I’m going to mark you,” I growled finally, my lips dragging against his skin, “I want to hold you while I do it.” I clenched down hard around his cock and the slowly inflating knot to punctuate my point.
He released my hands and I immediately wrapped my arms around him, running my hands along the smooth planes of his back. “Next time…” he muttered, a clear attempt to sound forbidding.
“Yes,” I agreed heartily, then bit down on his neck.
He let out a shout and his knot filled quickly in preparation for his climax. I moaned as his pace became erratic, almost brutal, the ridge of his knot catching on each inward and outward thrust. One final thrust securing him within me and the angle, the pressure, the slickness around my cock, sent me tumbling over the edge with him. The taste of blood filled my mouth, and as we struggled to catch our breaths, I couldn’t suppress a smile.
───※ ·❆· ※───
Despite what we’d declared during our lovemaking, there was quite a bit to be done once Ollie and I finally left our cocoon of his rooms to tell our fathers what we had done. Mine was naturally ecstatic, and I thought perhaps it had more to do with the joy in my eyes than the title. Though the title certainly didn’t injure matters. Ollie’s father was less so, but kind. He seemed to be coming around as the days wore on, especially as he learned I spent my days in a position at the library instead of languishing in my father’s wealth. Apparently the aging duke valued industriousness.
So we needed to be discreet for a while as everything was arranged. Apparently, marrying royalty, no matter how distant, was quite the ordeal. Who knew? Most people, probably, including me, when I wasn’t in a mounting haze. That was the reason I wasn’t stopping Ollie in the middle of the library to lay a kiss on his lips. Instead I only admired the just-this-side-of-conspicuous-ly high collar he wore and the fine cut of his breeches over his ass as he carried a large stack of books. My, er, admiration flared as he bent to set them on the desk he’d been using for research and I bit back a sigh.
“— and we’ll need to recatalog all of the shelves in the East branch after the latest acquisition. Master Braxton, are you listening to me?”
My attention snapped back to Juliette who stood nearby, a haphazard stack of papers clutched in her hand. “Yes, ma’am,” I answered dutifully. After I had given a few carefully worded suggestions, Juliette had handed over the coordination of staff and tasks to me. It was a rewarding responsibility, and one I was proud to excel at. None of which could make me tear my eyes completely from Ollie’s still bent over form as he organized the desk.
Her gaze followed mine to Ollie and her frown deepened in concerned lines. “Master Braxton,” she said, her softer tone somewhere between concerned and forbidding, “I know as a newly mated omega you may be wondering after what might’ve been, but I must insist you remain professional in your tenure here.”
My face heated at the rebuke as I turned my gaze to her face. “Yes, ma’am. I apologize.”
Ollie was there, then, standing tall in front of the reference desk. Juliette and I both dropped into bows as we noticed him. The scent of him radiated off of him despite the several feet separating us. He’d stopped taking scent blockers, and I was normally overjoyed. Now, however, I could do without the surge of lust I felt while standing next to my boss.
“How can I help you, my lord?” I asked, taking care to say the title in the same tone I used to say “alpha” when he mounted me. If I was going to suffer, it wasn’t going to be alone, dammit.
His eyes darkened predictably and I suppressed a small smirk. Juliette glanced between us with her eyebrows drawn. “My lord,” she began uncertainly, clearly torn between propriety and protectiveness over one of her staff.
He glanced at her and gave her a smile. “I apologize for the interruption. You needn’t concern yourself on our account.” He reached over the desk to briefly squeeze my hand, flashing my mating mark to only her via the flowing sleeve of his blouse. Oh, he was good. I found myself getting impossibly hotter.
Juliette gasped as she understood, her gaze shifting between us.
“It will be announced soon,” he said, his voice low despite the mostly empty library and this being the restricted royal wing. “But in the meantime we’d appreciate your discretion in this matter.”
Juliette floundered for a moment. “I— of course, my lord.” She cleared her throat as she looked at me. “Ah, Master Braxton?” She stumbled over it for a moment. Subtle she was not.
My smile was tinged with amusement despite myself. “Recatalog the East Wing, got it. I think we should call in Sicily for that, don’t you think? You know how they love a perfectly arranged shelf.”
“I— yes, right as always, Master Braxton.”
I turned my gaze to Ollie, who still stood patiently. I inclined my head in a look that was just barely insubordinate, but the three of us were the only ones who would see. That, too, darkened Ollie’s gaze. Still, he spoke as bid. “We’re to dine later,” he said, not a question.
I held his eyes for a second too long before dropping my gaze in a farce of subordination. “Yes, my lord,” I answered.
As I felt the first rumblings of his growl echo through the bond forming between us, it sounded like forever.