Omega Challenge Read Now

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! 

Chapter 2 - Noah

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.

The gathering before the Cluiche had a festive air. Moonrise had come early afternoon, which meant the first challenge would begin as soon as twilight. Large tables have been laid out, keeping with food and jugs of cold coffee, lemonade, and well water.

Nine packs had sent leaders to oversee the Cluiche. They sat in heavy, roughhewn chairs in a semicircle around the Blood Rock. Noah was the only omega of the group who was not mated. Other omegas sat with their alphas, or more often than not, with their children on large blankets near the large tables of food.

Behind Noah, to his left stood Luther, his bodyguard and lover, and to his right Horace, the alpha who “advised” Noah until Noah had chosen or was claimed by his mate.

“My son Raymond has chosen to enter the Cluiche to bring honor to our pack,” Horace said.

Noah nodded. Horace had planned for Raymond and Noah to mate for years, though he’d yielded in public to Noah’s insistence that he have the opportunity to travel to the Cluiche and meet some alphas of other packs.

“Raymond will ask for your hand, after he has proven himself stronger than the others.”

Noah's gut ran cold. Though Horace always followed the letter of their laws, there was something overly rigid in his execution. He knew the intricacies, and played them deftly, but the spirit escaped him. Or at least that's how it always seemed to Noah. Horace was supposed to protect and guide him, but Noah had never truly felt safe with the older alpha or his son.

There are aspects of character more important than strength when choosing a mate,” Noah said, a bit recklessly.

Horace put a hand on Noah's shoulder and squeezed. His grip was just short of painful.

Noah turned his head towards Horace’s hand. He was missing a fingernail on his left, index finger. It had always been that way, a layer of shoe leather skin covering the indentation where the nail should have rested.

“Many aspects of character are shown through challenge,” Horace said. He loosened his grip, but he didn't move his hand.

One by one, alpha challengers approached the Blood Rock. Some were young, barely passed their first rut, their faces either serious or stiff with false bravado and as they sliced silver knives over their palms and bled onto the rock while saying the formal words to enter the Cluiche.

The young ones would likely be eliminated early during the trials of strength. There were older alphas too, most unmated, as those with mates were warier of risking death during the second and third day of the contest.

Some, Noah recognized from his own pack or from the packs that neighbored his own. Others were strangers.

Noah wished he could enjoy himself. He should have been excited about the possibility of meeting his true mate, but all he felt was lost. He loved Luther, and maybe if he had only been an ordinary omega, him and Luther might have had a chance. But Noah wasn't ordinary. His responsibility to the pack had been drilled into him from a young age, before his omega scent had blossomed.

From then, Noah's duties had grown even more constraining. Whoever mated with him would become the alpha of the Heart’s Blood Pack. Their children would carry on the line, and provided he bore an omega, the cycle would repeat. The knowledge that he had no real choices made Noah fragile inside.

Worse, if he didn't choose a mate…

A hand over his mouth. Another on his throat, pulling him back. A tongue, licking him not and wet on his ear as Noah struggled to breathe, to fight, and even though he tried to shift and snap, he wasn't strong enough.

Luther had saved him.

Noah had wanted Luther before that night, but after the beta had saved him, Noah had found the courage to tell Luther how he felt.

Luther made him feel safe. Luther made him feel wanted. And unlike with the others, Noah knew it wasn't because of his scent or the possibility of power. What alpha could offer Noah that?

And yet, this morning, Noah had ended it. Or at least he’d tried. He hated himself for being too weak to make the break clean. The longer he and Luther prolonged this, the more painful it would be for both of them. If Noah could find an alpha who wanted them both, but no. Alphas were possessive, and even if his mate accepted Luther, he would always view Luther as less. And eventually, Luther would come to resent that, and Noah.

Better to end things.

The rock was red and rust-brown with fallen blood when the stranger approached.

He was large, blonde with a scruffy beard and a patch over his left eye. His right eye was gray. He wore a wide brimmed cowboy hat, riding shirt and dungarees. Even from a distance, even through the smell of blood, this alpha’s scent was powerful. Noah felt something inside of him stir, like a vibrating banjo string only he could hear. To his embarrassment, his cock thickened.

Noah quickly averted his gaze. He took a gulp from a glass of lemonade he had been holding, and then, still feeling thirsty, he drank the last of it down.

Luther grazed his fingers over Noah's neck, a seemingly absent touch, but one that grounded Noah. He didn't dare look at the beta. His face was hot. He loved Luther, and this sudden attraction was a betrayal of the promises he’d made himself.

If only the alpha would leave. But no, he took his place in line behind another pair of alphas preparing to shed their blood and enter the Cluiche.

The stranger had a scar running from his hairline down his temple and beneath the eyepatch to the center of his cheek. Noah's sight flashed. He saw young, female omega wolf snapping her teeth. The edges of her muzzle splattered with blood.

Noah blinked. In his moon vision, the alpha’s scar was a shimmering silver line.

Noah swallowed, wishing he had more lemonade.

The alpha approached the rock. “This is where I bleed for the challenge?”

Horace was quiet, and Noah scented fear on him.

Fear?

“Yes,” Noah said. The vision was beginning to fade, thankfully, but he couldn’t push away his attraction.

In one fluid motion, the stranger swiped a silver dagger over his palm. Squeezing his hand tight, he let three drops fall on to the stone. “I am Arthur, son of Marion,” he said, giving his family line and no pack affiliation.

A mutt.

Odd considering his youth and obvious physical strength. A small pack would have wanted an alpha and accepted him unless he had some deeper problem of disposition or character. Or maybe he was entering the Cluiche with the intention of proving himself so that he might join one of the packs here?  

The stranger, Arthur turned to leave.

Horace said, “Wait.”

The stranger turned back around. He cocked his head. “Yes?”

“Show us your eye. Under the patch.”

Horace didn't have the sight. He hadn’t seen the scar shimmer, had he?

“The Cluiche is open to all,” Arthur said. “Pack or no.”

Noah leaned towards Horace and whispered, “He’s right. There’s no reason to embarrass him this way.”

Horace said, “Show us your eye, mutt.”

Arthur reached up and taking the patch in a tight, almost white knuckled grip, yanked it down. Where Noah had expected to see a hollow space, scarred and sewn over, instead the eye was amber. A wolf’s eye with the pupil rimmed in red and a line of white through the center following the path of his scar.

Noah's breath caught. Around him, the others went silent.

“You are forsworn,” Horace said and spat at the ground.

“My mother gave me this eye,” Arthur said.

“You betrayed her then,” Horace said. The scent of fear on him sharpened.

“Betrayed? I was barely quickened when the Grey Ridge pack forced this mark upon her.”

“Grey Ridge. Was that not your pack, Horace?” Horace had joined their pack when Noah was a child. The pack was four days run away, near Independence. Noah knew little of Horace’s life before his becoming a part of their pack.  

“I am of Heart’s Blood now.”

Arthur smiled. “As I grew, she said it sometimes hurt her to look on me as I so resembled my sire. Is this true?”

“How should I know? This mutt and his lies are none of our affair. He sows dissention for his own advantage. The faster he is gone, the better for us all.”

“Forsworn or not, I have shed my blood and must stay to the end of the Cluiche. Cast me out, and you risk becoming forsworn yourself. Is that what you wish?” Arthur locked eyes with each of the pack leaders, pinning them in his forsworn gaze. Noah was last. The attraction that had been simmering inside of him flared. His cock was hard now. He wanted to bury his nose in the alpha’s scent and…

No.

Noah forced himself to look away. Warm summer breeze tickled his face. It didn't change the alphas sent or the growing desire Noah felt for him. But at least, without looking, he could try and get himself under some measure of control.

Noah had never believed in true mates. Love was something built over years and with effort. That was what his father had always told him. It was what he and Luther shared. This feeling, this attraction, had to be something else. Maybe it was an odd manifestation of his gift.

“His words are true,” Noah said, still looking at the ground.

One of the other alphas, a stocky, light brown woman with bear claw scars on her right forearm, said, “That is law. The forsworn will leave after.”

“Then we have no choice,” Horace said. “Until this is done.”

“I understand,” Arthur pulled the patch back over his eye before turning away. As he walked towards the food tables, the wolves in his path parted around him.

Only after his scent had faded some did Noah allow himself to relax. His gift acted strangely sometimes. This attraction had to be another manifestation of it. Even if Noah was to have a true mate, he could not mate with an alpha who was forsworn. It would be a betrayal not only of his love for Luther but also of his pack and everything he had been raised to value.

More troubling was Arthur’s baiting of Horace, and Horace’s fear. Noah hadn’t thought much of Horace’s life before joining his pack. But he and Arthur clearly had a history. Noah had always had faint sense of distrust towards Horace. Maybe his gift had been trying to show him something. Or maybe it was, as he’d always assumed, merely a distaste for the man’s ambition and designs to mate Noah with his son.

“Luther, our Noah seems parched,” Horace said, taking the empty glass from Noah as though he was a child. “Perhaps you could refresh his drink?” He handed the glass to Luther. The empty nailbed on Horace’s index finger looked dirty in the sun.

“Noah?” Luther said.

“Yes. Please.” Had the beta smelled his attraction to the forsworn alpha? They had two nights, and though Noah had made no promises, he felt twice a blackguard to turn away from the man he loved with such ease. Noah could not bear to meet Luther’s gaze. “It would be much appreciated.”

“Of course.” Luther’s tone was flat, though Noah smelled his anger.

Noah grabbed for Luther’s forearm as he started to step away. The beta’s arm was warm and solid. Everything he wanted. “Thank you.”

Luther looked down at him, and the anger smell eased as their eyes met. “Always.” His voice was soft, like a promise. “Whatever it is you need.”

Noah opened his hand. After the beta had left, Horace leaned close and whispered, “Stay away from the forsworn alpha.” His coffee scented breath tickled warm and damp against Noah’s ear.

“He scared you.”

“Your reaction to him scared me. I don’t know what he did to earn that mark, but he is forsworn, and you… I smelled it on you. Control yourself.”

Noah’s chest tightened. He would never betray himself or his pack by engaging with the man, especially considering how awkwardly his own wolf had responded to the alpha’s scent. But he had been interested. The moment his eyes had locked with Arthur’s, the desire had washed over him like hot rain over his fur. The memory of the alpha’s scent still made his mouth feel dry.

But he wasn’t weak. Even if he didn’t love Luther, he wouldn’t turn his back on his responsibilities.

Horace really did think him a child.

“I have no intention of engaging in any way with the forsworn,” Noah said.

Something of his annoyance must have revealed itself in his scent because Horace gave Noah some space. “I had only meant to offer advice, as is my duty.”

“Consider it offered,” Noah said shortly. He stood and holding his arms out in front of him, stretched.

Another group of entrants lined up in front of the rock. Raymond stood at the back of the group. He was stocky, like his father, with light brown hair and a cleft chin. When his turn came, he grinned up at Noah as he said his name and swiped the blade over his palm. “For victory,” he said, squeezing his blood onto the rock. “And our future.”

Noah shivered.

His plan for coming here was to find an alpha mate so as to avoid Raymond attempting a claim. The forsworn alpha, and Horace himself, had distracted him. Now though, hearing Raymond’s vow, Noah realized how little time he had left to save himself.

You've been reading Omega Challenge. This book will be available for preorder starting on 7/27 (and there's a really good reason for this!)

Comments:

2 Replies to “WIP – Omega Challenge – Chapter 2”

  1. I've only read this chapter and I must say I am intrigued. Good God, it's a good thing my library is electronic so I can carry it with me. I have a feeling it's about to get even bigger. Looking forward to the 27th so I can preorder this. I need to find out what happens next.

    1. I'm so excited! One warning, when I wrote chapter 3 (just finished last night,) I realized that there was more dialogue between Arthur and Horace, so I'm going to be reworking Chapter 2 to reflect this and posting an updated version tonight. I'll also be posting Chapter 3, so keep your eyes peeled!

      Pop by the Susi Anniversary Party tomorrow at 1:30pm (or later, just look for the posts) and you'll be able to grab the preorder and participate in some fun giveaways with me!

      Q

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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.

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