Note: These chapters are fresh out of Quinn's brain, unbetaed and unproofread. This means there are proofreading errors in the text. I have used this version for the website as a security measure in case someone downloads the book and tries to publish it off as their own. When it is live, the fully edited proofed version on Kindle, Nook, & iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, Smashwords & direct from me via Gumroad. ENJOY!
Luther ran his fingers through his lover’s night-black hair as they kissed. After six days of running as wolves, Luther was tired and sore, but he would have an endless string of empty days after the Cluiche to sleep.
It was dark and stuffy inside of the borrowed cabin Luther and Noah shared, but they did not dare open the shuttered windows. Not now. They lay together on the soft pallet, cocks straining against each other through their thick trousers and drawers. Every kiss was sweetness and wanting threaded with love and bitterness because they were almost out of time.
Luther was a beta, and Noah was an omega, and not just any omega, but the Omega of their pack. He would mate with an alpha. That was the way of things. And when he mated, his alpha mate would become the Alpha leader of their pack.
And then Luther would be nothing.
Luther teased the tip of his tongue along the seam of Noah’s lips as Noah slid his arms around Luther's waist, pulling him closer and grinding their cocks together.
The pleasure made Luther want more, even as he knew their eventual release would bring an end to their lovemaking. He wanted to freeze this moment, but he didn't have that power.
“I apologize,” Noah said.
“No. You have no need.” Luther opened his eyes. Noah's irises were a haunting blue-green that when his gift flared reflected the moonlight. Moonlight always sat in the back of his gaze, even when it was blotted out by his pupils widened with lust and maybe a little fear. Or guilt. Luther was not an alpha to be able to read his omega’s scent so clearly.
Noah had no reason to apologize. Neither of them could help what they were. “I love you.”
Noah flinched. Of course he flinched. What had Luther been thinking to say something so cruel? “I ought not have said that,” Luther pulled at the bottom of Noah’s shirt. It was simple homespun, sewn by his bearer father and two winters ago, before he had died in childbirth.
Luther took the shirt of carefully, revealing a treasure of pale, moonlight skin feathered with soft, inky hair over Noah’s chest and again painting a narrow stream from his belly to his groin.
Noah was slight of build, even for an Omega, though he ran as hard and fast as any wolf. Maybe it was the magic inside of him, a magic that had been growing increasingly rare with each generation their kind made their home on faraway soil.
Luther traced the familiar paths that made his lover squirm and gasp. He sucked at the pulse point of Noah's neck, and lower, pinching the Omega's nipple and rolling it between his fingertips until the man was squirming. He took the other nipple in his mouth and sucked until Noah moaned. Luther nibbled fine marks over Noah's chest, knowing that the tiny red marks would fade by the morning, knowing it was necessary that they faded, and wishing it was not.
Eventually, they were nude, skin to skin with the soft deer hide coverlet bunched up and damp beneath them as they rutted against each other. Leaking.
Noah said, “Want you inside, please.”
“No.” Luther closed his eyes and tried his best not to weep.
“You always say that,” Noah snapped. “Just once. Come on. Take me.”
“That's for your alpha.” But it was as much for Luther's pride as Noah’s future alpha. Alphas were meant to mate with omegas. When Noah finally did find his mate, Luther would not want to be revealed as lacking. He couldn't truly possess the man he loved, but he at least would not shame himself. Pride was a cold comfort, but it was all he had. Or at least, all he would have.
“Spread your legs,” Luther said.
He could not claim, but he could taste. And he did, taking his lovers balls first his mouth and sucking them each in turn until Noah raised his hips. And then he teased at Noah’s hole, letting the saliva pool on his tongue before pushing it inside, just a little, and then as Noah relaxed, his hips hitching, a little more, until Noah was squirming and moaning and then baking.
“Please,” Noah begged. “Luther, please.”
Luther continued, his own cock a hard rod, hot, leaking and almost painful with arousal.
Finally, when Luther could not hold back his need, he climbed to straddle Noah and take both of their cocks in hand. Luther's hands were not as large as an alpha’s, but they were large enough. The slick from their cocks and the sweat on their skins was enough. After only a few strokes, Noah let out a low, almost painful moan as his release spurted hot between them. That was all it took to send Luther over the edge.
The release washed over Luther like the wind rippling the grass over the plains. He fell beside Noah on the deerskin and just held the omega close.
They kissed, and he tasted himself and Noah and sweat. Noah ran his fingers lightly over Luther's hair.
Noah said, “I love you too.” His tone was resigned. “Every time we do this, I can feel you hurting.”
“I know how it must be.”
“The Cluiche begins tomorrow. And at the end of it, I will choose an alpha to mate.”
Luther had known this, it had hung over his spirit and heart for weeks, but to hear Noah say it with such finality was like being punched.
“We have two more nights.”
“It hurts me too, knowing this is the end. I cannot let–.”
Yes, you can.” A hand gripped the inside of Luther’s chest, squeezing out his breath. “
Noah swallowed. In the darkness, his eyes were more moonlight than blue now. “What good will two more nights do for us? We know how it all ends.”
“I love you,” Luther said again, trying with those three words to hold back the inevitable. “Let me hold you. Please. Even if it hurts.”
“I need to choose a mate. If not, Raymond will claim me and none will challenge him.”
“Let me hold you.”
“Hold me,” Noah said, and his eyes shut as he laid his temple against Luther’s sweat-slick chest. “Until tomorrow.”
“We have two nights.”
“We have tonight.”
Noah pushed himself closer, laying an arm over Luther’s side. He didn’t say anything else.
They made love again as false dawn painted milky light over the too-clear sky. But when the true dawn came, Noah pulled away. “You deserve better, Luther.”
“I have no interest in better. I want you.”
Noah looked down at his hands. He was shaking. His lashes glistened with unshed tears. Luther wanted to take Noah into his arms and comfort him. Hold him, kiss him and pull him back down onto the deerskin.
“We have two nights,” Luther said, stupidly. He was a dog, grasping at scraps, and yet, he couldn’t help debasing himself. He hated himself for his hope.
“If I find an alpha, I’ll need to be faithful.”
“If you don’t, tonight, then…”
Noah nodded. “If I don’t, then I’ll be here.”
Hope was cruel. And yet, Luther was grateful for the scraps it offered.
One more night.
The Cluiche was hosted by a relatively new pack who had claimed territory deep and high up in the mountains, near a small lake they called Pine Creek. Noah had never been so far from his home, but he liked it here. He liked how none had questioned his request for a cabin alone with only his bodyguard, and how the alpha of the pack had looked Noah square in the eye when asking what they needed, instead of ignoring him in favor of Horace.
Arthur tipped his hat down low and hunched his shoulders as he walked down the slope in human form towards the Cluiche grounds. He had been traveling roughly northeast since his mother's death two winters ago, searching for the man who had betrayed them. Now, he was so close he could taste it.
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.
After the last alpha had shed blood on the rock, Noah was expected to mingle with the wolves of the other packs. This sort of glad-handing always made Noah uncomfortable, even when he wasn’t expected to find a mate. Worse, Luther hadn't come back. Noah spotted him at the edge of the clearing, beneath the tree, sitting with the forsworn alpha.
As forsworn, other wolves expected Arthur to lie, so he made a point of only speaking the truth. He might hide some facts in his silences, but he never told outright lies. Arthur had been honest when he told Luther he preferred betas. His life was complicated enough without allowing himself to think of mates and families. A quiet, uncomplicated fuck swept away unattainable dreams. A man knew where he stood with betas. Even another alpha could be fun, if combative. But omegas… Omegas came with complications.
Though Angus had assured Devon that the explosives near the Pine Creek Lake settlement were meant to be a distraction, Devon didn’t like taking that risk. Especially now that he knew his true mate was a part of this pack. Though Zeke's pack seemed foolishly comfortable with allowing young alphas and omegas to have free access to each other, Zeke didn't seem damaged by it.
Zeke woke coughing. Devon pounded on his chest. It was still dark and freezing. The underwater river had spat them out in a knee-deep rivulet at the mouth of a cave. How far had it carried them? But after being pulled underwater, Zeke couldn't remember anything else. He couldn’t have been under that long. Otherwise, he’d have died.