Amidst the smell of oil, grease and hot metal, Rey could clearly scent an Alpha. She stopped her work on the undercarriage of a stolen BMW and scooted further underneath the car, hoping that they wouldn’t detect her in return.
She hated Alpha’s, their aggressive entitlement and arrogant superiority twisted her stomach and always left a sour tang in her mouth.
She avoided them at all costs.
They really did seem to think they were the god’s gift, like anyone should be happy and honoured if they so much as looked at them, and should be panting at their feet if they wanted them.
Not her, she’d rather fucking die.
The sort of Alpha that turned up here, at Unkar’s chop shop, were not the sort that would take no for an answer… although, that was true of most Alpha’s in her experience.
So she lay still and silent, counting the seconds as they passed slowly by, until the sound of heavy feet shuffled to a stop by the car.
“Knot-head’s gone, Iti-rā,” Korso rumbled and Rey let out a sigh of relief.
She wriggled out and sat up, grasping Korso’s offered hand to get her to her feet. He was huge for a beta, and he looked out for her a bit, having no love for Alpha’s himself - for some reason, Alpha’s saw his size as some sort of challenge, despite his designation.
“Thanks,” she said as she wiped her forehead on her sleeve, “The usual?”
Korso grimaced, “No, you’re not going to like this, but we’re going to have a double shipment next week.”
Rey groaned, “Fuck.”
Next week, she would be off for her heat. Unkar hated her having time off as it was, and if there was a double shipment in, he’d dock her pay twice what he normally did, as if he thought she was having a bloody holiday. At this rate, she’d be working off her debt to him for the rest of her life... she was so screwed.
There had been numerous times she had seriously considered skipping out and leaving for good, but if you didn’t have somewhere safe lined up once your heat came around, you were well and truly fucked, literally and figuratively. She had never been brave enough to try it - one thing she liked less than working for Plutt, was the idea of being caught out somewhere unfamiliar when her heat arrived.
Even so, something had to give… it was a gordian knot, she didn’t like the term for obvious reasons, but it was apt. If only she could find some sort of loophole or think creatively, she may find her way out of it...
It was a problem she had long fretted over, but a workable solution had never revealed itself. Despite the seeming impossibility of it, she still spent the morning racking her brains, turning the problem over and over, looking at it from every angle, until an idea finally came to her... what if she didn’t untangle this knot? What if, like Alexander, she could just cut through it?
The idea made sweat prickle across her skin and her stomach roil, but perhaps it was worth a shot.
For once, she took her lunch break instead of working through it, and jogged to the parade of shops a few blocks away so she could check out what the charity shops had to offer her.
For her plan to even be put into action, she had to get into The Dark Side, and there was no way she’d be let in there if she turned up in her usual outfit of ripped jeans and a t-shirt. Along with hoodies, that was what her wardrobe consisted of, so she needed something else.
As an unmated omega, she didn’t go out much, she went to work and went food shopping and that was pretty much it.
That was how she kept safe.
The idea of going to a club, much less this near her heat, was almost terrifying, but it was a whole week away and she was only going there to try and get a meeting with Mr Ren, Plutt’s boss. Hopefully she would be straight in and out, maybe half an hour tops, she’d be fine .
The shop she went to first was run by a woman named Maz. She was tiny and eccentric but very friendly and Rey felt comfortable enough around her to ask for her help.
Maz raised her eyebrows at Rey’s request, (Rey only ever really bought jeans, mens t-shirts, hoodies and books) but led her to a rail of dresses and helped Rey find one in her size. She was a little doubtful about how low the neckline was and how short the skirt but once Maz pointed out she could wear black tights to cover her legs and leave her hair loose to cover her neck, (Maz was an Omega too, so she understood Rey’s concerns) she thought it should be okay.
Even Rey could see that the dress was nice, made of a soft material in navy blue, with long sleeves and a scalloped V neckline. The skirt flared at the waist, which would make walking easy, (Rey hated how tight skirts made women have to take small steps), and the skirt of this would mean she could run easily if she needed to.
The dress was worn, a little bobbled in places but no one would notice that at night or in a dark club.
She thanked Maz profusely as she left and dived into the Pound shop for tights and some boot polish before high-tailing it back to the garage.
Plutt gave her a suspicious look as she stuffed her purchases into her locker, and for a moment she felt guilt prickle over her skin, as if he somehow knew what she was planning. He worked her like a slave, but he was the only family she could remember.
It wasn’t long before the guilt gave way to resolve though - yes, he had adopted her, but as he liked to say, ‘ nothing in life is free’ and that included his care of her.
No, she was going to do this, and she would be burned before she felt regret over leaving this life behind.
If her plan worked, that is.
It probably wouldn’t.
Little was known about the enigmatic Mr Ren, or rather, Rey and the people she worked with, knew very little about him.
All she knew for sure was that he was a ruthless man who ruled over his going concerns with an iron thumb and an unpredictable flash point.
Rey had no idea where his base of operations was and she wasn’t going to ask Plutt. The only concrete location she knew he frequented, was a club called The Dark Side. She knew this, because she had overheard Plutt complaining to Teedo that Mr. Ren always met him somewhere else and he couldn’t otherwise get into the club. (Mr. Ren never set foot in the garage himself, he always sent underlings if the need arose).
Although it was Monday, Rey decided to try her luck - it seemed unlikely that Mr. Ren would conduct business on a weekend, and this way, even if she was unsuccessful, she could do some reconnaissance which would help her when she next visited.
Before showering, Rey polished her scuffed boots, buffing out as many marks as she could, then relaced them with some black ribbon she had lying around to make them look more feminine.
The black tights were opaque and made her feel a lot happier about how short the skirt of the dress was. She left her hair down as Maz had advised, it felt a little strange and the tickle of it brushing her neck made her slightly jumpy at first but she got used to it.
Rey had very little makeup - there never seemed any point in wearing any to work, but she did have mascara and a copper coloured eyeshadow which she dabbed on with her fingers, finishing with some lip balm that had a slight tint to it. Hopefully it would be enough.
Just prior to leaving, she applied orange oil balsam over her scent glands. It stung and itched but it was a trick Maz had told her about that masked an Omega’s scent. Maz made it herself, adding it to wax so it didn’t melt away when applied to the skin. Rey was never without it now, the balsam and her suppressants were the things she splurged on, the luxuries she relied on to navigate her way through life comfortably and safely.
She flung on her biker jacket and beanie, took a deep breath and left her tiny apartment. Her other indulgence in life, was her motorbike; she had rebuilt it from scrap and it looked like shit, but it was faster than it appeared and manouved like a dream.
This was when she felt the most free, when everything slipped to the back of her mind and it was just her and the dark night. The sound of the wind and the purr of the engine never failed to put a smile on her face.
Rey parked up around the corner from The Dark Side, taking her beanie off and stowing it inside the seat, before shaking out her hair. She didn’t bother with a helmet, if she crashed she planned on either getting up and walking away or dying because hospital was not an option.
Shoving her hands in her pockets, she nervously walked around to the entrance of the club. There were a few people waiting to go in and she joined the queue, ignoring the scornful stares of the other women, who in her opinion, were dressed like hookers. It was an opinion she kept to herself.
The Alpha bouncer raised a skeptical eyebrow as he looked her over, “Over eighteens only, honey.”
Rey stood her ground and tried not to glare at him as she said evenly, “I’m twenty three, actually.”
She handed him her ID, and once he had peered carefully at her photo and her, he stood back, nodding reluctantly as he tested her ID for authenticity, “All right, little one. Are you on your own?”
“I’m meeting someone inside,” Rey answered truthfully, though she couldn’t see how it was any of his business.
The man grunted and handed her ID back, stepping aside so she could enter and pay her ticket. To her surprise, the beta at the counter told her it was Ladies Night, which meant free entry and a free glass of ‘bubbly’.
It was dark inside the club, everything was painted black with accents of blood red which made it a little oppressive, though at least some of the walls were mirrored making the space feel less like a cave … but it reeked of Alpha.
For a moment, Rey stumbled to a stop a few paces inside the doors, her senses overwhelmed. The most crowded place she went was the supermarket, where the air was kept cold and filtered.
The conflicting scents made her dizzy and she swayed over to the nearest seat she could see, pulling out a stick of tea tree balm and rubbing it under her nostrils before taking careful shallow breaths.
She looked around, worried someone had noticed, but she couldn’t see anyone staring at her and she carefully breathed a small sigh of relief, then stood and looked about her.
There appeared to be two floors; on the ground floor the bar curved along one wall, there were seating areas raised a few steps above the currently empty dance floor, with two raised podiums with poles.
As it was still early, the music wasn’t too loud to make conversation and there were groups of people sitting and chatting, others standing or sitting at the bar.
She assumed that Mr Ren would be in a VIP area or something, but wasn’t sure what that would look like or where that would be, so she skirted around the room to reach the bar, standing as far away from the other patrons as she could as she took off her jacket and set it on a stool next to her.
From her new vantage point she was able to get a better look at the people sitting in the various circular seating areas surrounding the dance floor. It didn’t help much as she wasn’t entirely sure what Mr Ren looked like.
Her eyes were drawn up to the second floor balconies, as she studied them she noticed that the stairs leading to them was manned by a bouncer standing in front of a velvet rope. So it looked like she needed to go upstairs then.
“On the house, sweet thing,” said a voice behind her and she jumped slightly, turning to see a champagne flute being put on a napkin in front of her by a smiling beta.
Rey felt herself blush a little, “Uh, no, thanks - I’m driving,” she explained awkwardly.
The man clicked his tongue, “Too bad!” he glanced down the bar then back at her, “You look like you need something, how about a lemonade instead?”
Rey’s lips twitched a little and she consciously tried to relax her shoulders, “That would lovely, thank you.”
“No problem!” he grabbed a glass and filled it with lemonade, “So, what are you doing here on a Monday night, if you’re not drinking?”
Rey shifted a little uneasily at the questioning, but couldn’t see too much harm in it, “I have a, err, meeting… with Mr. Ren, is he on the second floor?”
The man’s eyebrows lifted and he gave her a careful look as he lowered his voice, “He’s upstairs, but are you sure about that meeting, honey?”
Rey’s mouth went dry and she took a sip of the lemonade before answering, “Unfortunately, yes, I’m sure.”
He frowned but nodded, “You’ll need to finish your drink before you go up and unless you have an appointment, Marek may not let you up anyway.”
Rey took another sip of her drink and nodded, “Thanks.”
The bartender left to go and serve another patron and Rey tried to psych herself up as she finished her drink. This meeting may lead to her freedom from Plutt, or at least a better situation than her current one. She could do this , all she had to do was sound reasonable and not freak out.
She approached the stairs as confidently as she could, breathing shallowly. She had briefly considered lying and saying she had an appointment, but was fairly certain that would be a bad idea. The bouncer looked her over as she approached, his expression unimpressed.
“I need to speak to Mr Ren,” she said as firmly as she could.
The bouncer snorted, “I doubt he needs to speak to you though, shorty. Go back to the bar.”
Rey dug her fingernails into the palms of her hands as she looked back at him flatly, “I work for Unkar Plutt, Mr Ren will want to see me.”
“Never heard of a Plutt.”
Rey felt like kicking him, she was not going to be put off that easily, “Plutt works for Mr Ren. If you don’t believe me, fine, but just go and tell Mr Ren and if he still doesn't want to see me, I’ll leave.”
He eyed her for a moment, then rolled his eyes and spoke into an ear comm Rey hadn’t noticed, “Hux? I got a girl here asking to speak to Mr Ren about a man named Plutt? Apparently she works for him, and he works for Mr Ren.”
Rey couldn’t hear the reply and the man’s expression didn’t change as he nodded.
“Small, beta,” he answered, leaning closer to inspect her, he shrugged, “Not ugly.”
Anger and embarrassment brought blood to Rey’s cheeks and she folded her arms, willing her face to remain still and not turn into a scowl.
“Yeah, all right,” he signed off and looked at her, “He’ll see you. You need to leave your jacket and phone with me, then head up. Someone will meet you at the top of the stairs, be polite.”
Rey gave up trying not to glare and handed him her jacket, “Phone is in the pocket.”
He checked, nodded and stood aside, undoing the velvet rope for her to pass him. She straightened her spine, took a steadying but not too deep breath, and started up the stairs.
It was a quiet evening at The Dark Side and Kylo had just been catching up on emails, before his meetings started later. Although this wasn’t his main base of operations, this was where he met associates he’d rather keep at arms length. He had a stake in the club and consequently they pandered to his every need.
“There’s a beta downstairs requesting to see you, Mr Ren,” Hux said as he came to stand in front of the table behind which Kylo was sitting.
Kylo looked up at Hux, and raised his eyebrow in question.
Hux shrugged a little, “I don’t recognise her, neither does Marek, but she says she works for Plutt and needs to speak to you.”
Kylo frowned and closed his tablet, “There is no female employee listed on Plutt’s books,” he stood, feeling slightly curious and walked up to the balcony to see.
A girl stood with Marek, her body language tense, she looked out of place in the club, her outfit reserved and finished off with flat army boots. He felt his lips quirk slightly in amusement.
“Let her up,” he told Hux as he seated himself once more.
Hux nodded and went to meet her at the top of the stairs.
As the girl approached, Kylo studied her further; she was thin, too thin, with a tiny waist and barely there breasts. Her long brown hair was loose and wavy, surrounding a face with wide eyes and a small nose above sweet pink lips.
Her scent was strange, it tickled and itched his nose with the smell of oranges, but underneath that was something delicious, like hot sunshine on bare skin, mint and honey… he felt a thrum of something electric ripple over his skin and he heard her give a tiny gasp before she shook herself a little and came to stop a few feet from him.
This was no beta.
Why hadn’t anyone else noticed? Now he was aware of the two different scents, it was overwhelmingly obvious, it was mouthwatering.
They were both silent for a moment as they studied each other, but she dropped her eyes quickly.
Hux cleared his throat behind her and her eyes darted back up, “Err, Mr. Ren, thank you for seeing me.”
Kylo nodded, “You wish to talk about Unkar Plutt, Miss-?”
She shifted on her feet, “Miss Sannds.”
He was interested that she didn’t move any closer to him, or hold out her hand to shake. Hux seemed a little suspicious but he didn’t think he’d worked out that she had somehow covered her scent with another. Scent masking was frowned upon, almost illegal, no legally procurable perfume or the like was sold that could do that.
“I was not aware that Unkar Plutt had a female employee, Miss Sannds,” he flicked his fingers to Hux, indicating he could leave, then gestured for her to sit down.
She perched on the edge of the curved sofa, still several feet away, “My first name is Rey, people often assume it’s a male name.”
Kylo nodded absently, he was more concerned by the fact that Plutt had not informed him he had an omega working for him. An unmated omega.
“You have five minutes to explain why you are here,” he said as he watched her carefully.
Her eyes widened but she gave him a tight nod rather than wasting time protesting.
“I work for Plutt, I owe him,” she bit her lip, “He adopted me when I was five, brought me up, but, well, he kept a note of everything I ever cost him, which I am now working off, but…” she blushed, a hint of anger and resentment made it through the fog of orange, “He continues to increase it over every little thing and if I,” Kylo watched as her hands clenched on her knees, “I just don’t ever see how I can get away from him… so, as you’re his boss, I wondered if you could take on my debt and I’d work for you? I know you don’t do charity, I work hard, I’m one of the best mechanics around and I don’t get into trouble…” she trailed off, sounding miserable and her shoulders sagged in defeat.
Kylo realised he’d been leaning towards her as she spoke and now leaned back, casually spreading his arms along the back of the seats, “And if I were to do this for you, what would be in it for me?”
He kept his voice as casual and disinterested as possible.
Her head came up and for a moment she looked him in the eyes, a startled look on her face as if she hadn’t considered he’d want something in return.
“I… I…” she stuttered, darting her eyes away from his and all over the room, as if looking for inspiration.
Kylo folded his legs in front of him, “I’ll take your debt, if you give me your next three heats.”
Her reaction was not what he had expected. She gasped and shrank away from him, looking utterly terrified, the spike in her scent was unpleasant as she jerked to her feet and backed away, shaking her head.
“No, no, I...” she took a shuddering breath, obviously trying to get herself under control, then shook her head again, “Sorry to have wasted your time.”
And then she was walking swiftly away from him, not quite running but almost, dodging around Hux at the top of the stairs.
Hux looked his way questioningly, wanting to know if he should stop her, but Kylo shook his head, and the redhead made his way over to him instead.
“Find out what you can about her from Plutt, her name is Rey.”
Hux raised a pale eyebrow curiously and Kylo felt the corners of his lips curve very slightly, “She’s an Omega.”