The breeze that blew into the estate was a relief from the hot summer days. The draping fluttered back and forth due to the breeze. The marble floor was clean and spotless with artfully crafted rugs placed around. A man wearing a long red silk tunic with a hemmed instita stared out of his terrace. The wind fluttered through his brown hair and ruffled his tunic. He leaned his hands on the white stone railing. The bracelets he wore slipped down to his wrists where they pressed against his flesh. They were gold plated with intricate designs carved in them, a symbol of wealth and status. He didn’t like wearing them.
Bright blue eyes stared at the expanse of land around him. The family estate was large and the land around was owned by his father. His family had held it for many generations. The estate was well kept by its servants and slaves. Antonius Edward Stark did not enjoy the splendor of the estate. He much preferred the world outside of his home and even the confines of his room. There were too many eyes all around the estate wondering where the dominus’ son was going or what he was doing. There were too many hands offering to help, too many ears and voices.
Here in his room he could do as he pleased. He could avoid the visitors that arrived to see his father and even his father himself.
“What troubles you today,” Tony looks away from the green fields and faces the familiarity of his room.
His mother is there sitting on a plush chair. Her hair falls in dark waves, the color like his own. Jewels adorn her neck accenting the bite that marks her as a taken omega. She has golden bangles on her arms. Her fingers are bare except for a golden ring. The stola she wears is a dark green with a maroon limbus that adds depth to her brown eyes.
Tony joins her in the opposite chair. He tries to give her a fake smile, but she sees right through it. Even if his mother is hardly at the estate, when she is she spends her time in Tony’s company. She reassures her only son and comforts him against the harshness of her mate.
“Nothing mother, I simply find myself deep in thought, like always.”
Maria hums. She knows her son has a problem of over thinking a situation. It was his omega nature, but even so Tony has always been timid. When Tony was truly carefree he could be quite loquacious. Howard’s nature as an alpha does nothing to better the situation for their only son. If anything, Howard makes Tony self-conscious and question his own choices more often than not.
“Ah Antonius, I have told you many times, your thoughts will continue to plague you when no one utters a word.”
Tony knows where the conversation is heading. He gets up from his chair to pace while his mother drones about his self-esteem. He knows she means well, but at times he just does not want to hear anything. He wants to deal with it himself or ignore it all together.
“I know how you are, but you must remember that your father is an alpha. He is harsh in his affections with those he cares for. He is afraid of showing his caring side, that is why he seems cold. Gods above thank that they blessed us with you. I prayed each day for a child blessed by the goddess of fertility and she gave me you, my sweet son.”
Tony goes back to staring out of the terrace. His mother’s words wash over him like iced water. He knows that what his mother says are simply words. He knows that she expresses herself in such a way. He loves her dearly. Her voice continues but Tony is not listening anymore.
“Thank you for your company, but I’m tired. I think I will retire early,” Tony excuses himself turning around to face his mother.
Maria wears the same frown, but it slightly lifts to show her son a caring smile. She gets up off the chair and walks forward. Maria kisses both sides of Tony’s face. She lifts his chin with a delicate hand and looks at his doe blue eyes.
“Do call me if you need anything, I love you.”
Tony gives her a smile, how can he not, “I love you too.”
Maria gives him a final kiss on his forehead before she sees herself out of his chamber. Tony lets out a sigh and glances out the large stretch of land. He can see the slaves picking grapes from the grape vines. He can see the horses in their stables. Tony can see someone approaching the estate on a steed. He does not have to see clearly who they are because he knows of only one who would visit this day.
Tony brings the drapes forward to shut his balcony from any unwanted stares. He sits upon his plush bed. A knock comes to his door and Tony is hesitant to ask who is there.
“May I come in?”
Tony relaxes at the familiar voice and gets up to open his door. A shock of strawberry red hair is the first thing he sees as his lady in waiting enters the room.
“I saw your mother leave your room.”
Tony closes the door behind her. Pepper makes herself comfortable in his room.
“I hope she didn’t give the servants too much trouble,” Tony sits in the chair his mother had vacated earlier.
“No, I think she called for a stroll out in the gardens.”
Tony rubs his temples, “And have they announced who is heading up to the estate?”
Pepper shook her head, “No, one of the slaves went out to meet with whoever it is.”
“It’s Tiberius,” Tony answers looking down at his lap.
Pepper stills from rearranging Tony’s books on his desk. She turns around slowly, “He’s back?”
“I know he is. I don’t need to have a sixth sense to know when everyone is in a hurry to fix and polish the estate to its new gleaming glory.”
“There could be a visiting delegate or general from the war.”
“I hope so.”
Both omegas remain quiet for some time. Pepper distracts Tony by asking him about his latest ideas. Tony is thankful for the distraction. He moves to his desk as Pepper peeks out through the draping to see what was happening at the rest of the estate. Pepper frowns when she saw who had dismounted.
Pepper turned to Tony. Tony opened a journal where he wrote up lessons he heard from philosophers or from the Senate when he visited the city. Along with his lessons he had drawn out the stars he sees in the night. They say that the stars are the Gods themselves blessing the people with light even in the darkness. Tony thinks that the stars are something else much like their sun.
They waste time together talking of less trifling matters. Their ease only lasts a moment. Someone knocks on Tony’s door disturbing the serene aura of his chamber. Pepper steps forward to open the door. A slave wearing a short plain grey tunic bows before Tony in respect. Tony has reminded the servants and slaves that do not have to bow to him, but they do not listen.
“Master Antonius, you are wanted in the main room. Dominus has brought a guest and wishes to speak with you.”
Tony’s mood sours. He can feel his chest constrict, he almost forgets to breathe. His breathing does not come back calm as relaxed as before instead it is hurried and rushed. Pepper tells the servant that she will accompany Tony in a moment. The door shuts and breaks the spell that befell the young omega.
“It’s alright; I will remain at your side. We will see what your father wants and leave.”
Pepper’s voice grounds Tony in the moment. He takes in a deep breath and tries to relax. His breathing comes back to him. Tony nods, agreeing with Pepper but not trusting himself to speak just yet. They wait a moment in his chambers before stepping out. Tony leads while Pepper walks at his side.
The walk to the main chamber is short. There are slaves standing at the side waiting for any order from their dominus. Tony reigns in his composure to that of indifference as he reaches his father and the tall figure of Tiberius.
Howard sees Tony and does not greet him like an alpha should greet an omega. He stares from where he is standing and that is the only acknowledgment he makes. The servants bow their heads. Tiberius stands from where he is sitting and gives a short bow as he steps forward.
Alphas are not allowed to touch a high standing omega without consent from their family. He only stands a couple of inches away, but it is much too close. Tony tries to steel his face at the smell of burnt leather makes its way to his nose. Compatible alphas always smell different to the omega that they are fated to. Tiberius does not smell appealing to Tony. Tiberius is tall with a muscular figure hidden behind his army regalia. His legs are thick, and his hands are large they could crush Tony’s head. He would be an attractive man, but Tiberius always has a fake smile on his face and dark eyes that Tony cannot read.
Tiberius inches his head forward to catch Tony’s scent. Many have told Tony that his scent is exquisite. Whenever Tony asks someone how he smells they refuse to say. It is not common to tell an omega how they smell. Omegas must take a compliment they are given without question.
Tony lets Tiberius take in his scent. Howard stares at them from where he is standing. Tony cannot read his father’s expression.
Tiberius gives Tony a smile, but it does not meet his eyes, “You look as lovely as the day I went off to battle two moons ago.”
“Thank you,” Tony clears his throat. He can feel Pepper still standing beside him and it is the reassurance he needs. “You said you would come visit once you triumphed over your enemies. I see that you kept true to your promise.”
Tiberius stood taller, Tony’s height barely met his chest. The compliment boosted the Alphas ego, after all he was trying to win Tony over. Tiberius reaches inside of his tunic and pulls out a necklace. It was gold with a red jewel adorning it. The jewel was beautiful.
“I hope this is not too forward of me but when I saw this in the marketplace I knew I must gift it to you.”
Tony looks to Howard. He does not know if he should accept the gift or not. A gift was not given nor accepted unless both alpha and omega accepted each other’s feelings. Tony felt his stomach churn as Howard gave a small nod. Tony tried to swallow as he looked back to the necklace and Tiberius.
“It is lovely, thank you.”
The words were enough confirmation. Tiberius stepped forward and walked behind the omega. The alpha took in a deep breath as he could scent Tony easier from their proximity. Tony did not avert his gaze from his father. His father stared back, his eyes just as cold as ever. He drank his wine from his glass without breaking eye contact.
Tony tried not to flinch when he felt the coolness of the necklace fall on his neck. Tony tried to still his beating heart when he felt a finger brush the back his neck. He tried to ease himself when the hand lingered far too long on his back even when the necklace was attached. Tony did not want to show his father any emotion. He looked away to gaze at the statue of their house goddess, the goddess of war.
Tony let out a slow breath as Tiberius stepped in front of him. It ruined Tony’s line of sight to the deity that was supposed to bless their house.
“The jewel sits perfectly upon your chest. I will bring you more gifts for you, you should be cherished.”
Tiberius wanted to step forward, but he stood like the soldier he was and turned his attention back to Howard. They both started talking as if Tony was not there. The omega did not know what to do with himself. He was not dismissed so he could not leave. He fidgeted with his hands. Pepper grabbed his hand to stop him and led him to sit on a chair. The alphas were in deep discussion of attacks made in the south and the army’s strength. They talked about Howard’s past victories. Tony did not look at them. He brought a hand to the necklace. He held the jewel in his palm. Red and gold, the colors of his house. He always liked the combination but looking at the necklace up close he wanted to yank it from his neck and throw it. The necklace had been beautiful when he saw it but now there was a deeper meaning to his acceptance of the jewelry. Tony wanted to disappear now that he was forced to choose his fate.