It has been a crazy month! And I'm not going to lie, I was totally derailed by Omega Challenge. I actually read a whole new book on plotting with the hope of finding my way back into the story, and thankfully it's worked because things are FINALLY coming together.
What does this mean? I plan to have the zero draft done on Monday, so that it can be edited and go out for preorder customers on 9/22.
Omega Challenge will be live about 4-5 days later on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Google, Smashwords and etc. I will also be putting up free chapters through this week.
(I'd have had Chapter 5 up today, but I need change the name of one character to something I actually like.)
Here's the opening of Chapter 4:
As Luther walked away from Noah, it was all he could do to hide how his heart was breaking. He gripped the empty glass and walked towards the picnic tables, but truly, he was searching for the forsworn alpha. Beta senses weren't as acute as either omegas or alphas, but Luther knew Noah in a way few betas could ever claim to know an omega. He knew the man's taste, his scent, and the way his skin flushed just before he came. He understood his lover’s desires, and when Noah and Arthur had locked gazes, the fragile foundation of lies Luther had built his heart and hopes on began to crumble.
Noah would find an alpha mate, and while the two years Noah and Luther had been lovers would stay in Luther's heart, sparkling in its beauty and cutting in its edges, Noah would move on.
But even as Luther forced himself to acknowledge these facts, he had made a promise to himself to protect Noah with his very last breath, and to ensure his lover's happiness. Which meant, he needed to have some choice words with Arthur.
The forsworn alpha sat with his back against a tree, cross-legged, holding a plate full of food on his lap. He was at the edge of the clearing, and alone.
Still holding Noah's glass, Luther quickly bridged the distance between them. “Arthur, is it?”
The alpha looked up. “Did Horace send you, or did you come on your own?” he asked. His expression was bland, but when he said Horace’s name, even with Luther's weaker beta senses, he smelled the alpha’s fury.
“What is your business with Horace?”
“He betrayed my parents, and he gave me this mark.”
Of course, the forsworn would attempt to show discord. The forsworn were never to be trusted. They skulked around the edges of legitimate packs, stealing, occasionally murdering, and always unfaithful.
Luther said, “You must think me naïve and a fool.”
“I think you understand what it is to want something you cannot have.”
Luther's skin went cold. How had the stranger guessed about Luther and Noah? Or maybe, he was just playing a game. “Whatever feud you have with Horace, Noah is not part of it.”
“Noah? So that's your omega's name…”
“He is not mine.” No matter how much Luther wanted Noah to be his, no matter how much he wanted to believe that shared confidences, kisses, and moments of ecstasy could change the essential order of things, Luther would not lie. Especially not to one who wore the mark of a liar. Especially one who looked out through the eye of a traitor.
Arthur said, “I have no interest in taking a mate. How long has Horace been part of your pack?”
Though Luther had walked over to the Alpha specifically to warn him off of Noah, the alpha’s immediate disdain for Noah made Luther's hands clench with anger. He wanted to punch the man. Even forsworn, Arthur had managed to draw Noah in somehow, and his only response to such a precious gift was to say he had no interest in a mate. Luther wanted to break the man's teeth.
“Fourteen years,” Luther said. “He is an asset to us. Noah's alpha father trusted Horace with his life.”
“And the man is dead now,” Arthur said, his lips twitching upwards in the mockery of amusement. “Unsurprising.”
“I will tear your lying tongue from your mouth!” Luther’s wolf growled in his chest, making the words hot and rough. Luther was not fond of Horace, and certainly despised Horace’s son, but for better or for worse Horace was pack, and this mutt had no business speaking ill of him.
“Lying tongue?” Arthur said, baring his teeth. “I thought it was my lying eye.”
Cluiche law was the only thing that kept Luther from challenging the mutt and gouging his flesh from his bones.
“Noah's bearer dad died in a rockslide, and his alpha father thereafter, of grief.” Any thoughts Luther might have had about the alpha’s handsome features had been scoured by his own rage. Noah still woke at night, stifling his sobs in his pillow. Luther wished he could erase his lover’s grief, but he could only help the omega bear it, to the extent Luther was allowed.
For a second, Arthur looked taken aback. “I am sorry,” he said, placing the mostly empty of food on the ground beside him. “It must have been hard for your omega.”
“He is not mine.”
“As you say.”
“It was hard for Noah,” Luther said.
Why was he still speaking with the forsworn alpha? Luther had accomplished his goal of warning the alpha off. Now, he should leave.
Or maybe the forsworn was trying to lull Luther into complacency. Forsworn were notorious liars.
Luther didn’t know what to think. This alpha was surprisingly direct. He made baseless accusations, yes, but he didn’t try to twist them when they clearly fell on deaf ears.
It was all very strange.
Luther had never conversed with a forsworn wolf, especially not one with only one eye and not both turned. It would have made more sense for Arthur to try and take advantage of Noah's obvious attraction to him, but instead, the alpha remained relentlessly focused on Horace. And Luther smelled no deceit on him.
“You can sit if you are going to stay. It is easier to talk if I am not straining my head upwards. The eye isn’t catching.”
Sit casually with a forsworn? It seemed wrong.
“Or stand and loom if that is easier.”
Arthur wasn't intimidated by Luther, and why should he have been? Luther was large for a beta, and he knew himself to be a vicious fighter and protecting what he loved, but the alpha had already made it clear he had no interest in Noah, which meant Luther really ought to take his leave. And yet a certain curiosity compelled him to stay.
Luther sat, cross-legged, taking care to leave a good amount of space between himself and the alpha just in case the alpha lashed out in some way.
Arthur took a final chicken wing from the plate and tore off a strip of the meat. “So, how is it in your pack? Omegas must mate with alphas, or they are cast out?”
“Only Noah. He is the son of the pack Alpha, and the alpha he mates with will become the Alpha of our pack. For now, Horace serves as a sort of advisor.”
“Or ruler. I suspect he’s not going to be easy to step down from that power.”
Luther wanted to argue with him, but the forsworn alpha was right. Luther had often wondered what would happen if another alpha besides his son Raymond, who Horace would be able to manipulate and control, mated with Noah and took the spot as pack leader. Horace would have to accept it, wouldn’t he?
Arthur said, “My mother was an omega. My father's parents wanted him to mate with a male omega and not a female, as the offspring of males are more likely to possess certain traits, the sight, dowsing, the – –”
“We’ve seen the same in our pack,” Luther said. Noah's sight was more often burden to him than a gift, but it also gave him power within the pack. If nothing else, Horace had been forced to bend to Noah’s will about the Cluiche, and his finding a mate there.
“But my mother and father were in love. They mated in secret, and only Horace knew.”
“What happened?” Luther asked, leaning forward to listen in spite of himself. It may have been a pack of lies, but the alpha's hands were clenched as he told them, and his scent revealed only anger and truth.
“Horace and my father were friends, but also rivals. They always wanted the same thing, or at least that's how my mother told it to me. My father was alpha, and Horace wished to be alpha, but he was not quite strong enough. Maybe that was all there was to it. Maybe Horace laid his trap solely for love of power, but maybe it was something more. She only told me to stay clear of him, after. He promised her that if they mated, he would have the pack come together and do the rituals to remove her forsworn eye, but she ran instead. Sometimes, when I was younger, I hated her for that.” Arthur shrugged. “But she wasn’t the one who deserved my anger. Horace did this to us. And for that, I will destroy him.”
The tendons in Arthur’s neck jutted out as the scent of his fury filled the air between them. Then, he closed his eye and took a slow breath in an exercise of discipline that was in its way more frightening than his anger. When he looked up again, the right side of his mouth quirked upwards. “As I said, I have no intention of mating with your Omega. If I were to pass my time with anyone in this gathering I have met so far, you are much closer to my ideal.”
Luther froze. So this was how the alpha intended to divide them. It made almost no sense, however. If Arthur wanted to truly create a rift within the hearts blood pack, he would take advantage of the obvious attraction between himself and Noah and at least attempt to make a claim. Instead, he was expressing interest in Luther?
“It isn’t a trick. I prefer betas. An alpha in my position can’t afford a family, let alone a pack. And you smell good.”
Luther said, “I smelled your attraction to Noah.”
“Then you should smell my attraction to you as well.”
The worst of it was, Luther did find the forsworn alpha attractive. With his eye covered, the alpha’s muscular physique, powerful line of his jaw, a contrast to the slight plumpness of his lips and the soft waves of his hair just begging to be pulled free and have fingers tangled through it, all were both dangerous and inviting. What was it about Luther that made him want only what he shouldn’t have?
Read more of Omega Challenge Chapter 4 here.
And if you've missed the first two chapters of To Save and Defend His Omega, check them out here.