Home > On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(8)

On the Prowl (Alpha & Omega 0.5)(8)
Author: admin

"I gather you come here often," Anna said, unenthusiastically picking at a huge piece of baklava. Not that she had anything against baklava  -  as long as she hadn't eaten a week's worth of food first.

"Too often," he said. He was having no trouble eating more, she noticed. "We have some business interests here, so I have to come three or four times a year. The owner of the restaurant is a wolf, one of Jaimie's. I sometimes find it convenient to discuss business here."

"I thought you were your father's hit man," she said with interest. "You have to hunt down people in Chicago three or four times a year?"

He laughed out loud. The sound was rusty, as if he didn't do it very often  -  though he ought to, it looked good on him. Good enough that she ate the forkful of baklava she'd been playing with and then had to figure out how to swallow it when her stomach was telling her that it didn't need any more food sent its way.

"No, I have other duties as well. I take care of my father's pack's business interests. I am very good at both of my jobs," he said without any hint of modesty.

"I bet you are." He was a person who would be very good at whatever he decided to do. "I'd let you invest my savings. I think I have twenty-two dollars and ninety-seven cents right now."

He frowned at her, all amusement gone.

"It was a joke," she explained.

But he ignored her. "Most Alphas have their members give ten percent of their earnings for the good of the pack, especially when the pack is new. This money is used to ensure there is a safe house, for instance. Once a pack is firmly established, though, the need for money lessens. My father's pack has been established for a long time  -  there is no need for a tithe because we own the land we live on and there are investments enough for the future. Leo has been here for thirty years: time enough to be well established. I've never heard of a pack demanding forty percent from its members  -  which leads me to believe that Leo's pack is in financial trouble. He sold that young man you called my father about, and several others like him, to someone who was using them to develop a way to make drugs work on us as well as they work on humans. He had to kill a number of humans in order to get a single survivor werewolf."

She thought about the implications. "Who wanted the drugs?"

"I'll know that when Leo tells me who he sold the boy to."

"So why didn't he sell me?" She wasn't worth much to the pack.

He leaned back in his chair. "If an Alpha sold one of his pack, he'd have a rebellion on his hands. Besides, Leo went to a lot of trouble to get you. There haven't been any pack members killed or gone missing since you became a member."

It wasn't a question, but she answered him anyway. "No."

"I think maybe you are the key to Leo's mystery."

She couldn't help a snort of derision. "Me? Leo needed a new doormat?"

He leaned suddenly forward, knocking his chair over as he swept her off of her own and stood her on her feet. She'd thought she was used to the speed and strength of the wolves, but he stole her breath.

As she stood still and shocked, he prowled around her until he came back around the front and kissed her, a long, dark, deep kiss that left her breathless for another reason entirely.

"Leo found you and decided that he needed you," he told her. "He sent Justin after you, because any of his other wolves would know what you were. Even before your Change, they'd have known. So he sent a half-crazy wolf because any other would have been unable to attack you."

Hurt, she flinched away from him. He made her sound special, but she knew he was lying. He sounded like he was telling the truth, but she was no prize. She was nothing. For three years she had been nothing. He had made her feel special today, but she knew better.

His hands, when they came down on her shoulders, were hard and impossible to resist. "Let me tell you something about Omega wolves, Anna. Look at me."

She blinked back tears, and, unable to resist his command, raised her eyes to glare at him.

"Almost unique," he said and gave her a little shake. "I work with numbers and percentages all the time, Anna. I might not be able to figure the odds exactly, but I'll tell you that the chances that Justin picked you out to Change by sheer chance are almost infinitesimal. No werewolf, acting on instincts alone, would attack an Omega. And Justin strikes me as a wolf who acts on very little else."

"Why not? Why wouldn't he have attacked me? And what is an Omega?"

It was evidently the right question because Charles stilled, his former agitation gone. "You are an Omega, Anna. I bet that when you walk into a room, people come to you. I bet complete strangers tell you things they wouldn't tell their own mothers."

Incredulous, she stared at him. "You saw Justin this morning. Did he look calm to you?"

"I saw Justin," he agreed slowly. "And I think that in any other pack he would have been killed shortly after he was made because his control is not good enough. I don't know why he was not. But I think you allow him to control his wolf  -  and he hates you for it.

"You should not be ranked last in your pack." His hands slid down her shoulders until he held her hands. Oddly that felt more intimate than his kiss had. "An Omega wolf is like the Indian medicine men, outside of the normal pack rankings. They had to teach you to lower your eyes, didn't they? To submissive wolves, such things are instinctive. You, they had to beat down.

"You bring peace to all those around you, Anna," he said intently, his eyes on hers. "A werewolf, especially a dominant wolf, is always on the edge of violence. After being shut in an aircraft with too many people for hours, I came into the airport craving bloodshed like a junkie craves his next fix. But when you came up to me, the anger, the hunger left."

He squeezed her hands. "You are a gift, Anna. An Omega wolf in the pack means that more wolves survive the Change from human to wolf because they can find control easier with you there. It means that we lose fewer males to stupid dominance fights because an Omega brings a calmness to all those around him. Or her."

There was a hole in his argument. "But what about earlier, when you almost changed because you were so angry?"

Something happened to his face, an emotion she didn't know him well enough to read, except to know that it was strong.

When he spoke it was with visible effort, as if his throat had tightened. "Most werewolves find someone they love, get married, and spend a long time with their spouse before the wolf accepts her as his mate." He dropped her gaze and turned away, walking across the room and giving her his back.

Without the warmth of his body, she felt cold and alone. Scared.

"Sometimes it doesn't happen that way," he told the wall. "Let it rest there, for now, Anna. You have been through enough without this."

"I am so tired of being ignorant," she spat, suddenly hugely angry. "You've changed all the rules on me  -  so you can damned well tell me what the new rules are." As abruptly as the anger had come, it was gone, leaving her shaky and on the verge of tears.

He turned and his eyes had gone gold, reflecting the dim light of the room until they glowed. "Fine. You should have let it be, but you want truth." His voice rambled like thunder, though it wasn't very loud. "My brother wolf has taken you for his mate. If you were nothing to me, I would have never allowed such abuse as you have suffered since your Change. But you are mine, and the thought of you hurt, of being able to do nothing about it, is an anger that even an Omega wolf cannot easily soothe."

Well, she thought, stunned. She'd known he was interested in her, but she'd assumed it had been a casual thing. Leo was the only mated wolf she knew. She didn't know any of the rules. What did it mean that he said his wolf had decided she was his mate? Did she have a choice in the matter? Did the way he aroused her without trying, the way he made her feel  -  as if she'd known him forever and wanted to wake up next to him for the rest of her life, though she'd known him only hours, really  -  was that his fault?

"If you had let me," he said, "I'd have courted you gently and won your heart." He closed his eyes. "I didn't mean to frighten you."

She should have been frightened. Instead, suddenly, she felt very, very calm, like the eye in a hurricane of emotion.

"I don't like sex," she told him, because it seemed like something he ought to know under the circumstances.

He choked and opened his eyes, their bright color giving way to human dark as she watched.

"I wasn't enthusiastic before the Change," she told him plainly. "And after being passed around like a whore for a year, until Isabelle put a stop to it, I like it even less."

His mouth tightened, but he didn't say anything, so she continued. "And I won't be forced. Never again." She pulled up the sleeves of her shirt to show him the long scars on the underside of her arm, wrist to elbow. She'd made them with a silver knife, and if Isabelle hadn't found her, she'd have killed herself. "This is why Isabelle made Leo stop making me sleep with whatever male pleased him enough. She found me and kept me alive. After that I bought a gun and silver bullets."

He growled softly, but not at her, she was pretty sure.

"I'm not threatening to kill myself. But you need to know this about me because  -  if you want to be my mate  -  I won't be like Leo. I won't let you sleep around with anyone else. I won't be forced either. I've had enough. If that makes me a dog in the manger, so be it. But if I am yours, then you damned well are going to be mine."

"A dog in the manger?" He let out a gusty breath of air that might have been a half-laugh. He closed his eyes again and said in a reasonable tone, "If Leo survives tonight, I shall be very surprised. If I survive you, I'll be equally surprised." He looked at her. "And very little surprises me anymore."

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