Home > On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(2)

On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(2)
Author: admin

It had gotten colder, and she shivered as she pulled on the T-shirt she'd brought. There hadn't been room in her small pack for her coat once she'd stuffed it with shoes, jeans, and a top  -  all of which were more necessary.

She hadn't ever actually been to O'Hare before, and it took her a while to find the right terminal. By the time she got there, he was already waiting for her.

Only after she'd hung up the phone had she realized that the Marrok had given her no description of his investigator. She'd fretted all the way to the airport about it, but she needn't have. There was no mistaking him. Even in the busy terminal, people stopped to look at him, before furtively looking away.

Native Americans, while fairly rare in Chicago, weren't so unheard of as to cause all the attention he was gathering. None of the humans walking past him would probably have been able to explain exactly why they had to look  -  but Anna knew. It was something common to very dominant wolves. Leo had it, too  -  but not to this extent.

He was tall, taller even than Leo, and he wore his black, black hair in a thick braid that swung below his bead-and-leather belt. His jeans were dark and new-looking, a contrast to his battered cowboy boots. He turned his head a little and the lights caught a gleam from the gold studs he wore in his ears. Somehow he didn't look like the kind of man who would pierce his ears.

The features under the youth-taut, teak-colored skin were broad and flat and carried an expression that was oppressive in its very blankness. His black eyes traveled slowly over the bustling crowd, looking for something. They stopped on her for a moment, and the impact made her catch her breath. Then his gaze drifted on.

Charles hated flying. He especially hated flying when someone else was piloting. He'd flown himself to Salt Lake, but landing his small jet in Chicago could have alerted his quarry  -  and he preferred to take Leo by surprise. Besides, after they'd closed Meigs Field, he'd quit flying himself into Chicago. There was too much traffic at O'Hare and Midway.

He hated big cities. There were so many smells that they clogged his nose, so much noise that he caught bits of a hundred different conversations without trying  -  but could miss entirely the sound of someone sneaking up behind him. Someone had bumped by him on the walkway as he left the plane, and he had to work to keep from bumping back, harder. Flying into O'Hare in the middle of the night had at least avoided the largest crowds, but there were still too many people around for his comfort.

He hated cell phones, too. When he'd turned his on after the plane had landed, a message from his father was waiting. Now instead of going to the car rental desk and then to his hotel, he was going to have to locate some woman and stay with her so that Leo or his other wolves didn't kill her. All he had was a first name  -  Bran hadn't seen fit to give him a description of her.

He stopped outside the security gates and let his gaze drift where it would, hoping instincts would find the woman. He could smell another werewolf, but the ventilation in the airport defeated his ability to pinpoint the scent. His gaze caught first on a young girl with an Irish-pale complexion, whiskey-colored curly hair, and the defeated look of someone who was beaten on a regular basis. She looked tired, cold, and far too thin. It made him angry to see it, and he was already too angry to be safe, so he forced his gaze away.

There was a woman dressed in a business suit that echoed the warm chocolate of her skin. She didn't look quite like an Anna, but she carried herself in such a way that he could see her defying her Alpha to call the Marrok. She was obviously looking for someone. He almost started forward, but then her face changed as she found the person she was looking for  -  and it was not him.

He started a second sweep of the airport when a small, hesitant voice from just to his left said, "Sir, have you just come from Montana?"

It was the whiskey-haired girl. She must have approached him while he'd been looking elsewhere  -  something she wouldn't have been able to do if he weren't standing in the middle of a freaking airport.

At least he didn't have to look for his father's contact anymore. With her this close, not even the artificial air currents could hide that she was a werewolf. But it wasn't his nose alone that told him that she was something far rarer.

At first he thought she was submissive. Most werewolves were more or less dominant. Gentler-natured people weren't usually cussed enough to survive the brutal transformation from human to werewolf. Which meant that submissive werewolves were few and far between.

Then he realized that the sudden change in his anger and the irrational desire to protect her from the crowds streaming past were indications of something else. She wasn't a submissive either, though many might mistake her for that: She was an Omega.

Right then he knew that whatever else he did in Chicago, he was going to kill whoever had given her that brused look.

Up close he was even more impressive; she could feel his energy licking lightly over her like a snake tasting its prey. Anna kept her gaze fully on the floor, waiting for his answer.

"I am Charles Cornick," he said. "The Marrok's son. You must be Anna."

She nodded.

"Did you drive here or catch a cab?"

"I don't have a car," she said.

He growled something she didn't quite catch. "Can you drive?"

She nodded. "Good."

She drove well, if a little overcautiously  -  which trait he didn't mind at all, though it didn't stop him from bracing one hand against the dash of the rental. She hadn't said anything when he told her to drive them to her apartment, though he hadn't missed the dismay she felt.

He could have told her that his father had instructed him to keep her alive if he could  -  and to do that he had to stick close. He didn't want to scare her any more than she already was. He could have told her that he had no intention of bedding her, but he tried not to lie. Not even to himself. So he stayed silent.

As she drove them down the expressway in the rented SUV, his wolf-brother had gone from the killing rage caused by the crowded airplane to a relaxed contentment Charles had never felt before. The two other Omega wolves he'd met in his long lifetime had done something similar to him, but not to this extent.

This must be what it was like to be fully human.

The anger and the hunter's wariness that his wolf always held was only a faint memory, leaving behind only the determination to take this one to mate  -  Charles had never felt anything like that either.

She was pretty enough, though he'd like to feed her up and soften the stiff wariness in her shoulders. The wolf wanted to bed her and claim her as his own. Being of a more cautious nature than his wolf, he would wait until he knew her a little better before deciding to court her.

"My apartment isn't much," she said in an obvious effort to break the silence. The small rasp in her voice told him that her throat was dry.

She was frightened of him. Being his father's chosen executioner, he was used to being feared, though he'd never enjoyed it.

He leaned against the door to give her a little more space and looked out at the city lights so she'd feel safe stealing a few glances at him if she wanted to. He'd been quiet, hoping she would get used to him, but he thought now that might have been a mistake.

"Don't worry," he told her. "I am not fussy. Whatever your apartment is like, it is doubtless more civilized than the Indian lodge I grew up in."

"An Indian lodge?"

"I'm a little older than I look," he said, smiling a little. "Two hundred years ago, an Indian lodge was pretty fancy housing in Montana." Like most old wolves he didn't like talking about the past, but he found he'd do worse than that to set her at ease.

"I'd forgotten you might be older than you look," she said apologetically. She'd seen the smile, he thought, because the level of her fear dropped appreciably. "There aren't any older wolves in the pack here."

"A few," he disagreed with her as he noted that she said "the pack" not "my pack." Leo was seventy or eighty, and his wife was a lot older than that  -  old enough that they should have appreciated the gift of an Omega instead of allowing her to be reduced to this abased child who cringed whenever he looked at her too long. "It can be difficult to tell how old a wolf is. Most of us don't talk about it. It's hard enough adjusting without chatting incessantly about the old days."

She didn't reply, and he looked for something else they could talk about. Conversation wasn't his forte; he left that to his father and his brother, who both had clever tongues.

"What tribe are you from?" she asked before he found a topic. "I don't know a lot about the Montana tribes."

"My mother was Salish," he said. "Of the Flathead tribe."

She snuck a quick look at his perfectly normal forehead. Ah, he thought, relieved, there was a good story he could tell her. "Do you know how the Flatheads got their name?"

She shook her head. Her face was so solemn he was tempted to make something up to tease her. But she didn't know him well enough for that, so he told her the truth.

"Many of the Indian tribes in the Columbia Basin, mostly other Salish peoples, used to flatten the foreheads of their infants  -  the Flatheads were among the few tribes that did not."

"So why are they the ones called Flatheads?" she asked.

"Because the other tribes weren't trying to alter their foreheads, but to give themselves a peak at the top of their heads. Since the Flatheads did not, the other tribes called us 'flat heads.' It wasn't a compliment."

The scent of her fear faded further as she followed his story.

"We were the ugly, barbarian cousins, you see." He laughed. "Ironically, the white trappers misunderstood the name. We were infamous for a long time for a practice we didn't follow. So the white men, like our cousins, thought we were barbarians."

"You said your mother was Salish," she said. "Is the Marrok Native American?"

   
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