Emmy listened, slowing her breaths so she could keep an ear out through the rain. Tonight, something definitely didn’t feel right. She scooted as deep as she could into her corner of their nesting room, clutching Lilah’s teddy bear, and wrapping Pepper’s thick quilt around her. Wincing when she twisted her wrists. She checked the thick gauze around them and tucked a finger in just to peak. With a soft tug, it came away a bit, exposing a bite that was starting to scab. Good, she didn’t need to check the others. She got them all at the same time. So if one had stopped bleeding, then they all had. In her head she saw a flash, Brock panting, teeth on her wrist trying on her scent glands and any where else. Her body didn’t work like normal Omegas, maybe this was just something she was incapable of doing, too.
A muffled ‘boom’ startled her still. She swallowed, crawling over the other nesting spots, keeping the bear in her hand, scenting it when she got to the window. Omegas didn’t like windows in their nests, or rooms this big, but this whole thing was uncommon anyway. Uncommon but beautiful. Some people would say what they were doing was illegal; packs were not allowed to form. But here they were taken care of. Here, they took care of one another, protected one another. What the hell was wrong with that?
Squinting, she pressed her head to the cold glass. There was too much fog outside, the splattering on the window further obscured her view. She walked over to the door and opened it as quietly as she could, not wanting to wake them all.
It was a huge space holding two cal king beds, their bookcases that mostly had fiction and romance along with old classics like Goosebumps, and their huge TV on the wall with their bluray player, that they used for Netflix and all that. She looked at Pepper and Lilah tucked together in their bed. Teri, Helen, and Veronica lay far apart in their own with just an arm or foot touching one another under the thick blankets. Emmy’s lips pressed together, brows furrowed with concern. They were all still here.
Boom! Emmy gasped at the sound. Was that a van?
For the past few days all the Alphas were on edge, snapping, simmering with aggression that they could all feel it. Made them all tread quieter, talk softer. Maybe she was just being paranoid. She was always a little more sensitive than the other Omegas because, out of all of them, she was the only one wide awake in the middle of the night. Helen was the least bothered by everything, save for the first few weeks here. Built like a female Alpha, blonde locks, she looked perfect. In the beginning, she tended to lord around. Emmy made a point to show her how to be the right kind of Omega. How to talk the right way, how to respond the right way, how to move the right way. Eventually she quieted. Seth helped her.
Then she heard footsteps outside. She couldn’t tell if it was more than one. Then a thought terrified her, what if they were all leaving them?
She rushed over to her bed, “Lilah, Pepper! Wake up.”
Lilah groaned. Pepper’s eyes slitted open, “What?” her voice was thick and sticky.
“Something’s wrong. We’re all still here.”
“So what? They’re giving us a rest for a change,” Lilah said.
“No, but… Has any of them been by at all? I keep hearing noises outside. We should go look.”
“You look,” Pepper tucked herself further around Lilah, while Lilah nuzzled her nose into Pepper’s wrist. “Not like Brock is gonna punish you if you get outta line.”
Blindly, Lilah reached out for Emmy’s hand and scented her wrist, “Hurry up so you can come back to bed, it’s cold.”
Emmy looked around for a moment. A car door slammed and an engine rumbled to life. No. She bolted down the hall, the stairs, bounding around the living area until she ran out the back door to the winding driveway. There was a van and it was already almost out of view. Immediately, she calmed when she found Brock at the end of the driveway.
“Brock,” she grinned, jogging over, and hugged him from behind. He reached around to hold her, pulling her to face him. She took a big whiff of her Alpha. Fresh tree branches and salt. Everything was fine she was safe, but there was something in his scent, it felt sharper in her nose, “Baby, what’s wrong?”
Brock leaned back and grinned, she reached up and scratched the scruff on his chin, he nuzzled into her touch, “Nothing gets past you, sweetheart. That’s what I like about you.”
That word annoyed her. Liked. He wanted to mate her, been trying for years, but none of them ever took. She wanted to be mated. He took care of her. He treated her better than any of the other Alphas treated their Omegas.
“Change. Big change, sweetheart,” he looked down and Emmy wondered if he was gonna kiss her, instead he reached down and fingered her necklace, tracing the chain that hung just above her collarbone. He stopped his thick fingers just above the name she used here: Ever. Here, she had two names. They all did. If an Alpha wasn’t home and someone called, they were all instructed to give their name as “Ella” and all Alphas were “Charles.” It was safer that way.
“But’s it’s bad change, isn’t it? Who was in that car? Where are the other Alphas? Why are you all alone out—”
He gripped her neck, “What’d I tell you about asking too many questions?” And let her go.
She looked down, “I’m sorry,” and cleared her throat. “I was just worried all the alphas were leaving us.” Emotion burned in her chest, “I thought you were leaving me,” her voice broke, and tears welled in her eyes. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tight, she instinctively scented him again. It failed to completely comfort her.
“I’ll never leave you, Ever. Understand?”
They pulled apart. Brock thumbed the wetness away from her eyes.
“Say, you wanna go into town?”
Emmy perked up, “Really?” She hadn’t been in years. None of them were allowed. Pierce’s orders. Another thing, he hadn’t been by in months now. “Are we all going tomorrow?”
“No. No, now. You and I,” he emphasized. “We. We’re going.”
Emmy looked down. Why now? It was dark. Everyone was asleep. Pierce said that they could only go into town if they were bonded, or if they all went together as a group. That hadn’t happened with any of them yet. She kept all her questions in. It was already too soon that she asked too many questions. She’d seen him go at it with the other Alphas. There were plenty of times it was close to getting ugly, but the aura that Brock gave off was enough. If he wanted to, if Emmy goaded him enough, he could break her in one punch. She was lucky he had enough control. There were a few times, usually Helen, and sometimes Pepper an Alpha had to put them in their place with a slap or even a Bark. Brock never did that to her, she was lucky.
He looked down at her bare feet, “Shit, you don’t have shoes!”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”
“It’s OK, sweetheart,” he looked back to the house for a second, like he was checking for something. Then he leaned down and lifted Emmy up, settling well under her knees, so close to his other failed mating bites.
Brock walked on, “Babe, reach into my right pocket”. Emmy thought about where she should reach, before she acted. She pulled out a roll of hundreds, e yes wide, that was a shit-ton of money, “If we get separated, I want to go get yourself together and get to Sorghum. I’ll find you,” he was huffing, carefully going around trees and over what was on the ground until the land leveled out.
They passed an area with a permanent grill, a sign she didn’t get to read and a table with benches. So, they were in the park adjacent to their cabin now. She looked out and could see the few lights of the town twinkling.
“Separated? Why would we be--?”
A hard scent hit her nostrils, like concrete and lemon. Brock set her down, “Babe, I need you to run.” Emmy didn’t move.
“I’m beggin’ you.” He looked like he was about to cry for a moment, before he hardened his face and ordered her to “go.”
Emmy ran. Looking behind her she saw Jack gaining ground on her. Brock jumped him as they rolled on the ground. Jack’s fist connected with Brock’s cheek. She felt it force in her own head. Jack could kill him. But Brock was stronger. Then why was he so scared? “Go!” Brock choked out, and socked Jack in the chest.
Emmy ran, wincing as rocks cut into her feet before she finally hit the expanse of wet grass. Her feet lost purchase on the slick ground. Blindsided, she laid there for a moment before her body sprung back up. She had to help Brock. She needed to get to a police station now.