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 3 - Arthur

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.

Arthur spotted the blood rock quickly. Nine chairs had been set up around it, one for each of the pack leaders, and around each chair stood on, or sometimes more other shifters.

Shifting his canvas rucksack over his shoulder, Arthur walked down the rocky slope into the clearing. The ground was uneven, and as he walked, tiny stones shifted beneath his feet with clattering and dust. There were at least nine packs here. Wolves were naturally territorial, and unless there was a deep attraction between an alpha and omega of different packs, each stuck to their own.

Good. If most were strangers to each other, they would not note another stranger.

A group of alphas of varying ages from adolescents and full adults stood in a rough line in front of the Blood Rock. Arthur took his place behind the others. In front of him stood two adolescents. One, a rangy, sandy hair young man with light brown eyes set too close together looked as Arthur took his place in line and dropped his bag onto the ground.

“Are you here for the Cluiche?” the adolescent asked.

“Yes.”

Another young man with thick brown hair and a hawk-like nose, laughed and said, “Why else would he have stepped into this line?”

Unfortunately, neither the friend’s mockery nor Arthur’s silence curtailed the adolescent’s interest. He held out his hand. “James.”

“Arthur.”

James smiled. His front teeth were filed to points. He likely meant it to be intimidating. Arthur was unmoved.

James asked, “What are you going to ask for as your boon, if you win?”

The throat of the man who had betrayed him. Not that Arthur had any true assurance that killing Horace would set Arthur’s forsworn eye back to its natural state.

James continued, “The Omega of Heart’s Blood is in need of a mate.”

“I have no interest in claiming a mate.”

“But you would be Alpha of the Heart’s Blood.”

Arthur had no response to that, so he stayed silent.

“You’re the quiet sort.” James inclined his head towards the patch Arthur wore over his eye. “Did you get that scar in battle?”

Arthur was silent.

James’ friend elbowed him in the side and whispered something. A few seconds later, James said, “I meant no offense.”

“None taken.”

The group moved forward. Arthur picked up his bag and slung it back over his shoulder.

James and Peter went back to speaking to each other, their voices low and words punctuated by animated gestures. Arthur wondered what it would be like to be so open and carefree. Arthur always held a part of himself back. Among humans, his wolf made it impossible for him to settle for more than a season. He rarely made friends, and never for long.

It was worse with his own kind. Being a mutt set him apart, and he could only hide his forsworn eye until he shifted. The eye meant he would never mate. His mother had passed the mark on to him, and he would pass it on to any children unless he managed somehow to redress the wrong which had caused it. Imposing that burden upon an innocent child would be cruel.

Peter, and then James, stepped forward and gave their names and bled onto the rock. This close, the air smelled of blood, pine, and a musty dampness from the nearby lake. And something else. A hint of licorice and the sweet lemon cakes from the bakery he had lived behind for a few months when he was a boy in a gold rush town near San Francisco.

Arthur’s nose twitched as tried to find its source. He stepped up to the rock. The scent of blood, lemon, and licorice grew stronger. It came from an omega in one of the wooden chairs.

This was the Omega in need of a mate. As Arthur glanced over at the man, a shiver of arousal passed over him. The omega had night dark hair that fell like liquid ink to his shoulders. His eyes were like the California sea.

Dangerous.

He was flanked by an alpha and a beta. The alpha was stocky and gone a bit fat with a thick crop of grayish brown hair and eyes like flat gray stones. The beta was handsome, square jaw and muscular with walnut brown skin and hair and eyes the exact brown of a Bitternut Hickory. The sort of man Arthur might dally with in different circumstances.

Swiping the bloody blade over his palm, Arthur said his name, “Son of Marion.”

The scent of lemon, licorice, and blood mingled, and to Arthur's shame, he became aroused.

Arthur averted his gaze. He was a mutt, and forsworn besides. This omega would only cause him trouble.

The wolf’s claw he wore around his neck grew warm like a stone that had been resting on banked coals. It had never reacted this way before. Arthur hesitated. Was Horace near? The omega was too young, the alpha…

Arthur instinctively looked at the alpha’s hands. There was nothing unusual about his right hand. His left was obscured by the chair.

The omega took an almost frantic gulp from his lemonade. He was looking at the ground. Arthur scented his interest, which only made things worse.

The beta glared at Arthur and shifted closer to the omega, brushing his fingers briefly over the omega’s neck. The omega relaxed, just a touch. These two were close. Friends, perhaps lovers.

Interesting.

Arthur squeezed his hand tightly and let his blood fall.

The claw grew hotter the longer he stood. Horace was close.

Arthur opened his palm and licked the wound. His spit would slow the bleeding and help it heal. Better to leave quickly. He’d be able to find out more about Horace from the other entrants later. Before he had to shift and they all shunned him.

At the edge of the group, as was usual for a Cluiche, sat a beta with a large, leather bound book and quill pen. She would offer him his token to wear for the contest. Arthur shifted his pack and turned towards her.

“Wait!”

The voice had the rough, richness of age.

Arthur stopped and looked back. “Yes?”

The heat from the claw was almost painful.

“Show us your eye. Under the patch.”

It was not a question but a demand. The alpha knew about his forsworn eye. Arthur's blood sang with the hope of vengeance. It was all he could do not to demand a challenge now. But he had bled onto the rock, and the rules of the Cluiche meant he had to maintain his peace until the three days were over. Otherwise he would be twice forsworn.

But even as the rules of the challenge prevented him from leaping forward and sinking his teeth into Horace’s neck, it also meant Horace could not challenge him or cast him out.

And when Arthur won, he would be able to ask one boon. And then, he could rectify how his mother and he had been wronged, and whether or not he lost his forsworn eye, he could ensure Horace would lose one if not both of his.

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

The omega leaned to Horace and whispered something. It was a shame this omega and Horace were so close. Even as Arthur stood within a short leap of his goal, the omega distracted him.

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

No point in keeping the secret anymore. It would come out soon enough anyway. And if Arthur confirmed what Horace suspected, he might then reveal something of himself.

Arthur reached up and pulled the patch down.

The omega's breath caught.

“You are forsworn,” Horace said. He spat at his feet, but even as he made this gesture of disdain, he would not meet Arthur’s gaze.”

Guilt.

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

“You betrayed her then,” Horace said, his voice resonant but the scent of fear and guilt sharpened as he spoke. One of the other alpha leaders’ nostrils flared.

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

The omega’s gaze flitted to Horace, and his eyes widened. “Grey Ridge. Was that not your pack, Horace?”

“I am of Heart’s Blood now.”

Horace was rattled. 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 made a show of catching each of the leaders with his gaze. Horace his pupils were wide and slightly and forehead sheened with sweat.

Then Arthur made his first mistake. He should not have looked the omega in the eye again. But he did, and the desire that had been simmering inside of him, mixing with his own bloodlust, flared hard. He wanted to taste the omega’s mouth, feel the Omega's cock against his own, to watch those lips part as he came and…

No.

Thankfully, the Omega averted his gaze.

“His words are true,” the omega said, his gaze fixed on the ground again.

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

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

Arthur pulled the patch back over his eye, turned towards the beta and took his token, a light brown patch of fur on a thin leather meant to be worn around his neck. A Cluiche was hardly a safe affair, even when one wasn’t forsworn. Alphas were injured during the contests, and sometimes they died.

As Arthur walked away from the Blood Rock, the others shifters gave him a wide berth. They would not mingle with him now. He was, as always, alone. But he would win this. And when he did, he would have justice. Or at least revenge.

It was cold comfort, especially as the scent of lemon and licorice lingered in his memory. The omega was close to Horace, but even if Arthur hadn’t revealed himself, he would have avoided the man. His scent was a dangerous temptation.

For a moment, Arthur’s mind flitted to the beta. Were they lovers? An image of the pair of them, naked and entwined, made Arthur’s cock stir again.

Arthur blinked, trying to push the fantasy aside. So close to his goal, he couldn’t allow himself to become distracted. No matter how pleasant such a distraction might be, if only in his own mind.

Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds

QMDIRECT

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