“Fucking dosage is still wrong,” I pant spinning the cold-water knob on the ginormous tub. Dragging my phone from my pocket, I press the doctor’s contact.
“Regal’s, how may I direct your call,” a chipper voice questions.
“Bayley, it’s Tala. I need William. My suppressants aren’t working. My heat…”
A hot flash takes my breath away.
“My husband isn’t here,” I interrupt. “I need an emergency dose of suppressant.”
“I’ll get someone to you, but the closest medic is two hours away.”
I swallow back a groan.
“Can you maintain until…”
I nod before realizing she can’t see me. “Yes. I’ll have to.”
“I’ll put a rush on it.”
“Thank you,” I wheeze before ending the call. Sliding the phone onto the counter, I pull myself over the edge of the tub and into the icy water. The water cooling me down, but the dull ache still remains in lower belly and my heart rate refuses to slow. Even after a year of safety, my heat still brings anxiety every month. The years under my father’s care hardwired my brain to dread these days. I can still smell the damp basement that was my home since I presented at puberty as I settle against the side of the tub. The disappointment written on my father’s face as he’s informed of his Omega daughter quickly turning to something else. My stomach twists at that change. I should have ran that day. I was drug home and chained to the wall and by the second day the man has a line of Alphas and Bettas to use me. Each subsequent month the line grows. Even as my minds screams with each new man violating me, my body sang with relief. Fifteen years of being hidden away most of the month only to be chained up for the entertainment of whoever had the money until one day the entire line hit their knees. The power emanating from the man takes my breath away. “Everyone out,” he whispers, and I hear the house empty. I stare at the dark leather trench of the man in front of me. “Do you know who I am, Omega?”
“Undertaker. Alpha,” I whimper, straining against my bonds. “Marrok. Ruler of all wolves.”
“Good girl. What is your name, Sweet Omega?”
“Tala Layfield, Sir,” I breathe.
“Tala,” he growls low in his throat and I cower away as much as my shackles allow. “Did your father do this to you, Tala?”
“I see. You are under my protection now. You are going to be taken from here. Kane,” the man calls and after a few moments heavy footsteps sound on the stairs. The new presence isn’t a wolf, his scent reads something strange and other. “Take Miss Layfield to the Ranch. No male is allowed within fifty feet of her other than Regal.”
The following day is a blur, strange female wolves bathing and tucking me into the softest bed I had ever experienced. An older wolf soothing me as he draws blood and examines my body. “Would you like me to help you through the final days of this heat?”
My eyes widen at his words as they dart around the room for an escape.
“Not like that, Dear,” he soothes, creating more space between us. “I can sedate you to ease you through. You will sleep right through. No urges. No fever.”
“Please,” I whisper.
Until six months ago, that is how I spent my heats, hooked to an IV drip and sleeping. When awake, I had to relearn how to function within a pack again. Then he came to me, my savior, asking me to make a sacrifice for my new pack. A treaty between the wolves and the werebears… “Bear shifters,” I remind myself mentally. “They despise the word werebears.” The treaty required a marriage between a member of the Marrok’s pack and the bear’s royal family. I was being asked to marry their prince. I had agreed almost immediately only because it was Undertaker asking me. I trusted the man explicitly and he trusted me to smooth over a decades long conflict. Soon after I found myself in Neutral land between our two lands. The bear’s prince, Braun, is a mountain of a man, standing close to seven foot tall and almost just as wide. His eyes never leaving me as our leaders worked through the details. My husband has made it as easy as he could, explaining any of their customs I may not understand. “The marriage ceremony is a couple hours long. I’m told that wolves don’t actually have anything like this.”
I shake my head.
“I’ll try to guide you through as much as possible.”
“You don’t have to worry. Your Morrok’s wife…”
“Mate,” I correct.
“She informed me of your…difficult past. I won’t touch you without permission. I won’t hurt you, Princess. I promise.”
“Wolves don’t have royalty.”
“You’re going to be my wolf princess,” he smiles.
He was true to his word, spending our honeymoon keeping a careful distance. That was until my first heat of our marriage three weeks later. When the fever hit me, he was out getting lunch. The roar that ripped through the house both scares and excites me. By the time he finds cowering in the bathroom his pupils are so dilated they are black pools.
“Braun,” I whimper.
He wordlessly lifts me with one arm, his lips sealing mine as he carried me to the bed.
The sound of wood cracking pulls me from my memories. Glancing up I find two of my guards, Seven and Dunne, standing in the doorway. The older man’s hands gripping either side of the frame holding the younger man at bay.
“You didn’t leave for work. We were concerned.”
“Oh, I…I can’t.”
“We’re acutely aware, Madam,” Seven grits.
“I have someone coming…with an emergency suppressant. I just have to hold out a bit longer.”
“Smells so good,” Dunne mutters pressing against the older man’s arms.
“Madam, I think you should…”
“I need my husband, Dunne,” I state as authoritative as I can muster. “Find him. He should be close to home by now.”
“You were given an order, Peter,” Seven grits. “Go!” A shove finally has the younger man moving.
“Are you in control?”
“With much difficulty.”
“Who are the other two on guard duty?”
“Ms. Naomi and Konnor.”
“Send in Naomi to watch over me. You and Konnor guard the perimeter. You have my permission to be as far as you need to be. If my husband has a problem, tell him you are following orders.”
“I don’t know what wolf is coming so…”
“We have a list of medic wolves. We will let any medic through, Madam.”
He lingers, his eyes darting everywhere but towards me. It slowly dawns on me why.
“Oh, um…You’re free to go.”
“Thank you, Madam,” he sighs scurrying away.
Dunking my head beneath the water, I contemplate moving to my nest. “Braun has probably messed it up again,” I think surfacing. “He hates it when I steal his clothes.”
“Hey girl.” A light hand covers mine on the edge of the tub. “Is this okay?”
I nod, splashing water on my face.
“I can smell why Trent and Pete came running from the house,” she smiles. “You smell like pure sex.”
“It is one of the side effects of being sedated, according to my doctor. It makes my pheromones stronger. It could be as long as another year before they’re low enough not to affect every male within a two-mile radius.”
“I’ve read all the information we have about Omega wolves when I was assigned to you. Unfortunately, we are underinformed. I read something about needing touch during this time.”
“My ma…husband’s touch is the best,” I sigh as her fingers comb through my hair. “I do crave touch.”
“What about a nest.”
“Braun destroys it about once a week.”
“Don’t you need…”
“He doesn’t understand that.”
“Maybe if you…”
“I’m an Omega,” I interrupt. “It’s the bottom of the wolf totem pole. We learn to take what we can get. We learn to keep our mouths shut because we’re nothing.”
“You are more than an Omega wolf now. You are our princess. Our Ursus.”
“Actually, most of you call me lupus stultus.”
Her fingers pause in their combing.
“Yeah, I have Google Translate. I know what that means.”
“Stultus ursi,” she mutters. “You can’t pay attention to those who want to keep the past alive. We need a change. We need to stop fighting. Your marriage is going to heal a deep wound.”
“I wish I could believe that.”
“There is a wolf incoming.”
“Good nose,” a new voice comments. “I’m surprised you can smell anything over that one’s pheromones.”
“To the rescue,” he smiles. “Got ya a low dose sedative and high dose suppressant. First, we need to get you into something dry and your nest.”
“I’ll get you some dry clothes,” Naomi states.
“Preferably something of her mate’s,” Graves calls.
“I don’t have a mate,” I mutter. “I have a husband.”
“Does he help you through your heats?”
“He destroys my nest. Unless I’m in heat, he doesn’t touch me. He leaves me with my guards constantly especially during my changes. He doesn’t want to see my wolf. That’s a whole part of me that he just ignores.”
“There is no rule book for interspecies relationships,” he sighs. “You’re strong. You’ll figure it out.”
“Look at you,” I smile. “My favorite Beta rebel being all responsible.”
“Amazing what being mated does to a man,” he grins.
“Will this work,” Naomi asks holding out one of Braun’s dress shirts and a pair of my shorts.
I nod pulling myself from the tub.
“Get out Wolf Boy.”
“Do bears have a thing with nudity?”
“I have a thing about an unknown wolf around my vulnerable princess,” she smirks shooing Graves from the room.
“Where is your nest,” he asks.
“Far closet,” I peel my wet jeans down my legs.
“I’ll work on that for you.”
I wake early the next morning to find Braun asleep in the floor in front of my nest, one hand spread wide against my stomach. The suppressant having kicked in tramping everything down to a dull ache deep in my lower belly. My fever completely gone, the only heat emanating from the area our skin contact. Reaching out hesitantly, I sweep a few loose strands of hair from his face. His dark eyes immediately opening to stare at me.
“Isn’t the bed more comfortable for you, Big Man?”
“I’ve been told I need to be more available for my wife,” he rumbles, his fingers flexing and relaxing against my stomach. “And to leave her nest alone.”
“Naomi,” he huffs. “Unlike your wolves, our underlings can speak their minds regardless of whether we want to hear it or not. I expect the same from my equals.”
“Okay,” I mumble.
“I’m talking about you just so you know,” he chuckles, his hand moving to cup my cheek.
“I’m not your equal, Braun,” I huff. “You don’t believe that. I know that.”
His eyes narrow in confusion. “Explain.”
“Don’t do this.”
“I said explain,” he growls.
“You’re not my Alpha, that won’t work on me.”
“I’m not trying to be your Alpha. I’m trying to be your husband.”
“My husband lets his people call me the stupid wolf every time I make a mistake.”
“I can’t fight your battles for you. My people will never respect you if I do.”
“Your people will never respect me because their prince does not respect me.”
“I don’t understand you,” he growls.
“You don’t try to understand me. You just try to force me into your culture with no respect to mine. You love to call me your wolf princess but you want to hide the fact that I’m a wolf.”
“What do you want? To run through the center of town as your wolf?”
“I want my husband…” I choke on a sob.
“Tala? What…” His thumb wipes at the tears on my cheek.
“I was told I would never have a mate. I thought…I thought maybe someone outside the Packlands would…” I trail off, my eyes on the floor. “I want a mate,” I whisper. I never admitted that fact to anyone before and it feels like the words hang in the air between us.
“I don’t know how to be a wolf mate, Tala.”
“I don’t know how to be a bear’s wife but I’m trying.”
“Do you know how disrespectful for a mate to never meet each other’s other halves.”
“No. Now I do,” he sighs. “What else?”
“I need touch more than just during heat. I need more than sex during my heat.”
“So, I’ve been told. I’m sorry. Those wolf pheromones of yours wreck me,” he sighs. “I lose control of my other half. I don’t mean to be another one who violates…”
“You’re not anything like those mangy mutts,” I growl, wrapping a hand around his wrist. “I just need more.”
“I can try. What else?”
“It can wait until later,” I sigh. “You look exhausted. Go to bed. Get a few more hours of sleep.”
“If you want me to.”
He nods pulling me from the closet.
“One more thing,” I murmur as he settles us into the bed. “Alphas have been ripped apart for disturbing their Omega’s nest.”
“Can you at least use my older stuff?”
“I just need your scent,” I mutter burying my face against the side of his throat.
“We can do that,” he murmurs, his hand sliding up and down my side.