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Common love isn't for us
We created something phenomenal
Don't you agree?
Don't you agree?
You got me feeling diamond rich
Nothing on this planet compares to it
Don't you agree?

Who needs to go to sleep when I got you lying next to me?

- Physical, Dua Lipa

Tricia allows me to wallow in self-pity for most of the day, but when evening comes she makes it clear that I'm being ridiculous.

"You're both acting like children, carrying on this way," she says, pulling the blanket off of me. I blink against the lamplight, my eyes swollen from crying. She puts her hands on her hips. "Now come out and help with dinner or we're going to have a problem."

Sighing, I stand, smoothing down my dress, my kerchief askew; I fix it as well, glancing at my reflection. I'm a sight; red-cheeked, red-eyed. I certainly don't want to see Craig like this but with the way Tricia's looking at me I don't think I have a choice.

"What are you even arguing about, my brother won't tell me anything," she sighs, offering me a long woolen sweater. "But that's nothing new...a clam is more talkative than he is."

Sniffling, I follow her outside, the scent of the already burning fire strong on the breeze. Overhead the stars are trembling and silver; the sky a deep blue-violet.

"We aren't arguing," I reply, going into the main building to the old kitchen to help her chop vegetables. We pass through the dining room where Craig and I had been and I cringe to see the piano... remembering his teeth on me, his hands...

God, it had felt good, and I'd actually wanted it. Normally the feeling of someone touching me is unbearable because it's against my will, but being with Craig was so, so different.

"Then what the hell is going on?" Tricia plunks down an onion and begins to slice it. "You two were getting along so well, or at least I thought you were, but what do I know?"

"We were talking about Tweek -"

"Christ," she sighs, placing a hand on her forehead. "That'll do it, but he needs to talk about it. He never does."

I begin to wash potatoes so I can peel them. "He started talking about taking advantage of me," I add, "that I'm not thinking straight and I don't understand my own feelings. I'm sick of being told that, and it's always from Alphas. They always think they know better just because of their dynamic. I thought he was different."

"Kyle, he is, he's just trying to protect you -"

"I don't need to be protected from this!" I yell, slamming down the peeler. "I know how I feel... it hasn't changed, if anything it's only gotten stronger! I love him!"

My stomach drops when I hear a throat being cleared behind me, and Tricia touches my arm before turning away. "We're almost done in here, Craig. How's the fish coming along?"

He's gruff when he speaks. "Make a little more than usual, please. We'll have three more for dinner."

Her hand tightens on me as I turn to look at him as well, instantly afraid. He's still in the same shirt and jeans as before, hair mussed. I almost whine when his aroma hits me, but I swallow it. We look at each other for a long, burning second before he turns to Tricia again.

"They're just passing through the area on their way up the coast. They said they have family up there but they're running low on supplies."

"I don't think this is wise," she replies. "How can we be sure that they aren't spies for Damien? He could've sent them here."

"I questioned them extensively," he says carefully. "I don't smell ill intent on them, just exhaustion and hunger. Believe me, if I'd gotten any feeling that they had bad intentions i would've already sent them on their way."

She sighs. "Well, you normally have good instincts, but I just don't know."

"There's a child as well," he adds quietly, and any misgivings I'd been harboring disappear. I grab three more potatoes from the sack and prepare to wash them.

"We'll share what we have," I say, watching Craig until he has no choice but to look at me. He does and I smile, not wanting to nurture any animosity between the two of us. "It's the right thing to do."

The newcomers are polite but quiet as they eat their food, all of them dark-haired, except one of them, the obvious omega, has a red patch in his tresses. He hides behind bangs that fall over one eye, deferring to his Alpha over most things. The alpha is slim and very pale, his hair curly. The child, no doubt a result of their union, looks very similar to them; pale and dark-haired with large shadowed eyes.

Craig keeps their plates filled, all the while making sure he's standing between myself and the strangers; never turning his back. His scent is thick with quiet warning and it mingles with the other's conflicting scents; omega skittishness and Alpha defensiveness.

"Don't get so close to the fire, hon," the omega called "Pete" calls to the child. "Come away from there, please."

"Listen to your mama," the Alpha, Michael, adds.

The little one, another omega, obeys but it's reluctant. He goes to his mother and lays his head on the other's shoulder. "I'm tired and bored."

"I know, baby."

Michael sets aside his plate to regard Craig. "Thank you for your generosity. It's much appreciated."

"We'll put together a bag for you to take along," Tricia says, beginning to stack the plates.

"Oh, no, you've already been so kind," Pete says, lifting eyes that are bright from the flames. I can see pride in them, too; it's obvious he's not comfortable taking what he considers charity. "Darling, tell them they don't have to do that."

Michael puts an arm around him and pulls him close, a simple gesture I've never seen displayed between a couple like this. There's nothing aggressive about it. He speaks softly to the omega while their child clings to them.

Looking up, Michael is firm when he speaks for them. "We'll only accept your kindness if you allow us to give you something in return. My mate and I insist."

Craig nods before feeding the fire. "I'm not opposed to keeping things even and fair, but just know we aren't giving in order to take. You're welcome to what we have."

The child begins to whine then, clearly worn out and becoming fretful. He crawls into Pete's lap and buries his face in his mother's chest.

"He can sleep in one of the rooms over there," Craig offers. "They're close and clean."

"Would you like that, Firkle?" Pete asks, combing his fingers through the child's hair. "You don't have to go if you're scared... you can stay here with us."

Michael kisses Pete's temple. "He'll be fine. Come on, let's tuck him in."

Pete joins Tricia and I as we do the dishes, withdrawn as he dries the plates. I can't help but gaze at him, deeply intrigued about where he's come from, his relationship with his Alpha... I've never seen anything like it, like them.

"Where are you all from?" I ask, handing Tricia a pan to rinse. "Have you traveled far?"

Pete shrugs, his smell changing to slight fear. It makes me want to whine, reassure him that I mean no harm and that I'm merely curious. He sighs softly.

"We've traveled from the Florida region. The ocean is different down there. Warmer. Clearer."

"I'd never seen the ocean before a few weeks ago," I reply. "I grew up near the mountains."

Pete looks up, eyes veiled by his bangs. "There's nothing here, though. Why did you let your Alpha bring you here?"

I flush. "I don't have an Alpha. We're just..." I trail off. "I really don't know what we are to each other."

"Hmm." Pete gives me a look before turning away to take up another plate, and that's when I see the scar on his neck; an obvious old bite, white and pink, pearly almost. I gasp and almost drop the forks I'm washing.

"Kyle?" Tricia asks, but she sounds faraway. "Are you okay?"

"Y-yes," I manage, looking away when Pete turns back. I have to fight the urge to look in his eyes, to try and find the emptiness in them that I'd seen in other Bonded omegas. I had to be seeing things, though. Pete seemed so coherent, almost outspoken in some ways; certainly not mindless and being controlled.

None of this makes sense.

"I'm sorry," Pete says suddenly, and his voice is his own, as are his eyes. They have to be. "I wasn't trying to be rude, I just saw the way he watched you and I assumed. It's the same way Michael looks at me when he doesn't think I'll notice."

Grabbing the counter, I can't help myself now. "Did he force you to Bond? Did you have a choice at all?"

He blinks, clearly confused by my questions, not to mention my desperate intensity. He looks at Tricia before answering slowly. "Of course I had a choice. I've wanted to Bond with Michael since we both presented... in fact, he wanted to wait, but i didn't see the point. There's no one else for me."

"And you can still think for yourself? He doesn't... control everything you do?" I ask.

"I defer to him because I want to, but when I have something to say, he listens," Pete replies, giving me an odd look. "He provides order for me, and structure, as well as protection... we take care of each other. Why?"

I place a hand on my forehead, my perspective blown wide at what he's saying. Everything I've seen is contrary to what I'm hearing, and I'm not sure i can accept it so easily. I have no idea what is real, what's expected... my whole worldview is being challenged, and in an instant.

"Is he okay?" Pete asks Tricia.

"I'm sure he is, just give us a few minutes, I think. Go outside and tell them we'll be done shortly."

Pete leaves then, but not before giving me another perplexed look. Tricia continues washing up. "Michael said they have wine to share," she says cheerfully. "Why don't you grab some of the nicer glasses, huh? We'll make it an occasion."

I obey, but I still feel removed, the smooth wine glasses cool under my fingers. "I don't understand any of this," i say faintly. "They're Bonded but he's still... he's still a person. I didn't think it could be like that."

"I didn't either," she replies softly. "I mean, I'd heard that it could be, but I thought it was just gossip. It's nice though, don't you think?"

I nod slowly, hazy; my heart a slow throb in my chest. In the distance, over the rushing water in the sink, I can hear the rumble of Craig's voice outside and it's like thunder settling through my bones, calling to me.

I spend the rest of that strange evening nursing dark red wine and watching Pete and Michael across the fire; the way they speak to each other, touch each other; smile and regard one another. The ocean, the beach, the stars, everything else fades away as I try to understand.

Craig and Tricia loosen up from the wine, laughing and trading stories with Michael, Pete occasionally chiming in but mostly leaning on his Alpha and staying close. Michael kisses him often, looking at him in a way that makes my chest feel hollow with want.

I realize with painful clarity that I want what they have more than anything, the desire so deep it feels like a knife twisting in my stomach. I whimper softly and sip my wine, but I'm quiet as the night wears on, and I find myself drifting, watching the waves roll in over and over; losing myself until I'm being jostled awake, and Craig is smoothing the hair from my face before lifting me into his arms.

I cling, resting my head against his chest, hand fisted in his shirt. "I think i had too much wine..."

He laughs softly before carrying me to my room, where Tricia is there to receive us. Through a haze I'm helped into bed where I fall fast asleep, curling into my blankets.

That night, I'm visited with terrible nightmares, the first ones I've had since being brought to this place, and when I gasp awake I'm moist with sweat and I'm trembling. I sit up slowly and see Tricia asleep in her bed across from mine, the curtains open to let in the milky, soft moonlight. Gathering up my sweater, I pull it on and stand, weak-legged as I try to orient myself.
I'd seen Damien in my dreams, his fearsome red eyes, the way they flashed when he was angry or ready to take me, hurt me, and I can see now that his fury and his desire are wrapped together until they're interchangeable. Perhaps he can't even tell the difference anymore, and that's why he's so willing to use violence towards me. Maybe in his mind, love and rage are the same; strong emotions he can't control but make him feel powerful. Unstoppable.

The room feels like it's closing in after such dreams, and I grope to throw the door open so I can break away, my bare feet carrying me to the beach where the fire still glows softly; orange and red turning the smoldering wood to ash. The sea is roiling but the sky is clear, deep like the water and scattered with points of salt that sparkle.

I walk slowly to the water and take deep breaths when the cold water passes over my feet, sharp, and I become aware of the heat gathering low in me, that feeling from before, and I can't fathom it because I've been taking my suppressants, but still -

"It's nice to know I wasn't the only one having trouble sleeping," a weary voice speaks from behind me, and I turn to see Craig there. He's watching me and I can see the hints of red slow-growing in his eyes, and they're similar to the fire dying down. "Sorry, I shouldn't be happy about your misfortune."

"I had a dream, about Damien. Figures if I had a nightmare he'd show up," I mutter, looking back toward the sea. I feel flushed despite the cold winds passing over me, and I open my sweater; the bite making its way under my frail dress.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

I shake my head. "I'd like to talk about anything else, actually."

"Understandable." His voice sounds nearer now but I don't turn around. "I shouldn't have let you drink so much wine, but truth be told i didn't want to stop you from enjoying yourself."

I shiver, because that possessive note he assumes sometimes is there in his voice, and with anyone else I'd snarl and bite, but I crave this from him; this guidance, this seeming protection - even from myself.

"I wasn't enjoying myself," I reply, a snap in my words. "I was trying to understand something."

I can feel him very close now, his heat, his aroma, and I drop my arms to my sides, allowing my sweater to fall slightly from my shoulders. He growls softly behind me but it might as well be right next to my ear.

"Understand what?"

"Pete and Michael, they're Bonded. Did you notice that?" I almost moan when Craig's warm breath meets the back of my neck, and I lean my head slightly forward, exposing myself. "And Pete wanted it... he asked for it."

Hot, gentle hands slide down over my neck and to my shoulders, helping my sweater to fall further, and I lean back to feel Craig's hard chest against my back. I sag, allowing him to hold me up, assisting me with his strength. I turn my head to feel soft kisses being pressed to the curve of my throat, my nape.

"The result of a Bond is  predicated on the intent," Craig murmurs, nipping me like he had before in the dining room. I sigh, baring my neck more, subliminally offering myself to him.

Please, please... just don't stop. Not this time.

"If the omega wants it, and the Alpha too, then it builds a connection between them the way it's supposed to, but if the omega is forced, their mind shuts down as a way to protect itself." His arms wrap around me now, pulling me flush against him, and I can feel his cock hard against my backside. I push against it, wanton and so hungry I'm panting, mouth deliciously wet.

Craig is kissing my nape now, down and over the place between my shoulder blades, and I sigh, that molten need rising in my core, and the slick is dripping between my thighs. I can smell myself, my arousal, and I can smell his intent; ravenous to claim and mark what he considers his territory.

"You told me i only wanted you because you're kind," I gasp, my sweater being pulled from my arms now to be discarded on the sand. I'm standing there, feet sinking into the wet beach, my thin dress the only thing between myself and Craig's body; his tensed, coiled muscles. "You told me i didn't know what I wanted, but you understand now, don't you? You have to."

Gathering my hair, Craig kisses behind my ear, soft when he speaks, and my stomach dissolves with anticipation so potent it's all I can do to stay on my feet.

"I've wanted you like this since the first time we met," he murmurs. "That first morning in the garden... that moment I saw the bewitching redhead holding his roses and looking at me with those wide green eyes...I smelled your scent and I knew, and I had to stop myself from climbing the gate to get to you."

I giggle, delirious as I turn to face him, and I find myself looking into his eyes, and I'm lost, lost, so beautifully, wonderfully lost for a moment until he's cradling my face with his hands. "I wish you had," I whisper, letting him tilt my face to look up at him. "I wanted you to, and I wouldn't have stopped you, even then."

Growling softly, he's gentle at first when he kisses my lips, but soon he's wild, nipping my mouth, licking into me to taste me, and our tongues slide together. I sigh low in my throat and I want to tell him I've never been kissed this way before, and I'm sure i never will be again unless he's the one that's doing it -

I cling to him, my hands crushing his shirt, and I just want to feel him completely against me; no covering, simply bare; skins sliding and slick and hot.

I want him to take me right there, under the moon, the stars; the salt resting in our hair as the ocean roars its angry but mesmerizing song. Whimpering, I break away long enough to speak, and my voice is nearly a sob as I let all of my guards down at once, and I come to him naked and devoid of any pretense. "I love you...I just love you so much, Craig. I've loved you for so long."

"Shhh," he whispers, and he lightly kisses my cheeks, my mouth. "You don't need to cry... not when I love you, too. You can feel it, can't you? Every time I look at you... I'm just reminded of how much I need you, how much I want you. Just you."

My eyes fill with tears and I laugh brokenly. "How can you say something like that and not expect me to cry?"

He kisses me again, deeply, but he's smiling when he pulls away. "Tender heart...I was so afraid that Damien would try to ruin that part of you, but I'm starting to see that's impossible."

I sink into him then, his nearness, and I'm floating through a dim, star-filled euphoria until he's speaking close to my ear, his hands reaching to cup my ass, pulling me up against him.

"What do you want, Kyle? Tell me."

I feel drunk, and I have to wonder if some of the wine is still lulling me, so it takes me a moment to answer. "This, what we're doing. Anything you want."

He sighs, pulling away and leaning his forehead against mine. His fingers sink deeper into the plump skin of my backside. I lean against him.

"Please, just... put it into words what you need from me. Don't you want to do that? Just open up and say exactly what's on your mind?"

I consider this, though his scent and arousal are making it hard to think, not to mention the fact that he loves me, oh, he loves me....

I swallow, pushing a hand under his shirt to feel his skin. "I want you...I want you the way I've been taken in the past, but... is it wrong that I want you to make love to me? I want you to hold me down and fuck me, but that's what Damien did, so doesn't that make it wrong?"

He shakes his head, reaching to pull up my skirt, exposing my skin to the wind, the spray of the sea. "If you want it that's all that matters... it's your decision, Kyle."

Sighing, I begin to unbutton his jeans but I lose my nerve, despite the fact that I want this so much I feel crazed with the desire. I stop, holding my hand to my mouth, my lips pulsing from being kissed so hard.

"I don't know, Craig. The only thing I know about sex is doing it when I don't want to... I'm not sure how I'm supposed to act when I actually crave it, but I do. With you. That's all I know for sure."

"Here," Craig says, taking my hands and sinking down onto the sand, bringing me with him. He cradles me close and I calm, breathing him in and listening to the waves, and when he kisses me again, I willingly lie back and allow him to cover me, his body heavy and making me feel so safe.

He undresses me slowly, carefully, pulling my dress off and tossing it aside, and when I'm naked before him he looks at me with that glow in his eyes. I lie still and he grips my waist, sliding his hands up my sides while kissing my stomach, making me writhe against him. He sets his teeth to my skin and I still, tangling my fingers in his hair.

"Let's go slowly this time," he whispers, reaching between my thighs to feel the slick wetness there, his fingers gentle when they slide over my entrance. I groan, arching, but he isn't aggressive when he enters me, opening and teasing.

Oh, I've never been touched like this. Normally when Damien fucks me it's quick, with very little preparation... if I'm slick it's entirely accidental and to make things easier for him, but Craig is touching me like I'm precious, like I deserve to feel good.

I'm moaning and it sounds hungry, needy, like I'm a thirsty slut and I suppose I am for him, but I try to overlook my shame. "Please keep going," I murmur, flushed. "That feels so good...I like it."

He kisses my forehead and slides another finger in, and I become even wetter, and I'm hiding my face against his warm, fragrant chest. I whine and he doesn't shush me, doesn't tell me to quiet down, and soon he's touching that place inside of me that Damien has manipulated before. I stiffen, pressing myself closer to him.

"There, there," I beg, my sight hazy. "It always feels like I'm about to come apart when I've been touched like this. I love it...I hate that I do, but it's so good..."

"Oh, baby," he nearly sighs, capturing my lips now while he continues to stroke that place, and it isn't long before I'm coming apart, my cock stiff and there's even more wetness between us. I groan, looking away and hot-cheeked, but he holds me tight against him, praising me; voice filled with affection and obvious love.

I relax, lying back against the sand to see the stars, and they feel larger somehow; closer. I'm dazed, drifting, and it's all so beautiful i can barely stand it. There's something waking up in me, and I'm sure Craig can sense it, smell it, and I'm afraid because I've been trying so hard to keep it from coming.

"My heat, I can feel it," I say softly. "I think it'll be starting soon, regardless of the suppressants."

He tongues at the soft skin between my thighs, the wetness there, and grabs my legs to part them a little more. He licks at my come, my slick, and it's so intimate that I'm not sure how to respond, opening up and trying to catch my breath.

"I'll help you through it if you want," he murmurs, licking along my pubis and up my belly. "I know it can hurt if you don't have relief... that's what I've been told, anyway. I don't want you to hurt."

"But I could get pregnant, right?"

"Yes, it's a very real possibility."

"And if that happens, then what? Are we going to settle down and play house?"

Becoming playful, Craig bites one of my nipples and makes me yelp. "Maybe. Wouldn't you like that?"

I want to be annoyed but he's so sweet when he kisses across my collar bone, up over my neck, and then we're kissing so deeply i fall into my mind and drift on tides that are gorgeous and so dreamy i almost forget my worries entirely.

"That isn't fair," I say faintly when he finally sets me free. "I can't think straight when you do that... or anything. You shouldn't be allowed to touch me when we're attempting to have a conversation."

"Not allowed to touch you? Are you trying to kill me?" he asks, nosing against my throat glands and breathing deeply. "I didn't think you were capable of being so cruel, Kyle."

"Oh, please," I reply, trying to push him away but it's a weak attempt at best. "So you'd want to have children with me, just like that?"

He looks at me without an ounce of mirth on his face. "Of course. I'd love for us to have a family together."

I'm immobilized by this direct response, and I stare at him. "You... you really mean it?"

"Kyle, why would I lie about that?"

"I have no idea... it's my experience that Alphas lie all the time."

"Well, I'm not other Alphas," he growls, biting my neck harder before leading my hands to his jeans. "Wanna help me out?"

Cheekily, I turn my nose up. "I don't know. Do i?"

A soft growl. "Kyle..."

The fire gives its last dying gasp before it collapses completely, sending sparks into the air and making me start; clinging close. He chuckles lightly and gathers me to his chest, fingers running over my backbone and making my skin tingle.

"Why don't we go inside, huh? To my room?"

Nuzzling him, I smell under his jaw, where his wonderful scent is strongest. "Spend the night in a strange Alpha's room unchaperoned? Sir, what kind of omega do you take me for?"

Tugging one of my curls he laughs again. "Oh, hush."

I almost forget to grab my sweater before we run to his room, laughing behind our hands, giddy and carefree. He lets me in and the door is barely shut before he's taking me into his arms again, and I'm being pressed against the wall, naked and shivering under his hands.

"They're so hot," I say, kissing each of his fingertips in turn. "I like it."


I nod, tugging at his shirt. "I want them all over me."

He snickers. "And here I thought you might be shy."

"Like all those retiring omegas you've been with?" I ask, only half-kidding.

Turning me, he backs me toward the bed until my legs hit the edge and I fall, flush against the coverlet, arms up and he's looming over me, watching me with that heated expression again; consuming me before he touches me.

I suck on my finger, the slick thick between my thighs again, and I look at him with all of my lustful, filthy thoughts floating to the surface. I spread myself and he breathes in my aroma, eyes becoming even more red; twin flames in the dimness. He begins to strip, pulling off his jeans, his underwear, until he's as naked as I am. My gaze falls over him, every muscle and slope, the flat planes of his stomach, and down to the thickness between his legs. My eyes widen.

He crawls onto the bed and covers me again, looking into my eyes before he leans to kiss softly along my jaw, hands reaching to take my wrists to pin them over my head.

"You want me to hold you down?" he murmurs, biting my shoulder.

I nod. "Yes, please. Sir."

"You don't have to call me sir."

I groan, writhing and twisting beneath him. "What if I want to sometimes? Isn't it my choice?"

"Petulant thing," he growls, biting harder before swiftly flipping me onto my belly, and he's kissing down my neck, my back, along my vertebrae before he reaches my backside, one hand spreading me as the other keeps my hands in place.

"Ah," I mouth, arching and presenting instinctively, thighs spread, and then I can feel his wet mouth, his hot tongue licking my opening, sneaking into me, and he's eating me out like I'm a meal laid before him.

I almost cry because it feels so good, and I want to be shy to be so open, but God, I don't want him to stop, I never want him to stop, and i arch more, opening wider; pressing back against him.

"So sweet," he murmurs, swiping me with his tongue, teasing. He nips the insides of my thighs and I cry out, hiding my face in the bed.

"Please," I gasp, not even sure what I'm begging for. "Oh, please, Craig... please, please..."

He fucks me with his tongue again, deep, and I squeak. "Please, what? Tell me what you want... tell your Alpha what you need from him."

I sigh. My alpha... why does that sound so satisfying coming from his mouth? I lay my cheek against the warm comforter, breathing heavily and trying to keep my thoughts together.

"Fuck me, please," I whisper. "Please, Alpha... and do it hard."

"Oh, my omega likes it hard? I would never have guessed..."

Flushing, I smile. I drift for a moment until I feel his hardness against me, his thick cock, and I can scarcely catch my breath before he's pushing in, no, shoving, and my mouth opens wide; eyes closing.

I had always imagined we'd be gentle and slow the first time but this is so much better; the way he withdraws only a little before shoving back in, and his hips are pressed so hard against my ass, and I'm pushing back against him, trying to match his rhythm....

I'm speaking words I've never said before, filth, begging him to fuck me until I can't walk or think, and he gives it to me so good; deep, so deep, and I can't form coherent thoughts, only knowing that i want more. I want it all. I want to be fucked until I'm screaming and I do, loud and primal and letting out all the frustrations I've kept locked inside.

"Harder, harder, so much harder, deeper...Alpha, please, please... give your omega what he needs... yes, yes..."

"Jesus, Kyle," he snarls, bending to bite my back, over and over, never breaking skin and I'm whimpering softly. He becomes still for a moment, panting quietly next to my ear, and we just lie together; him warm and heavy on top of me, and I beneath, twisting to fit and match him -

And we do, i can hardly understand how well we blend together; cock deep, the curve of my back and ass meeting the lines of his belly, his hips. We're unmoving for a while, panting, and he shifts on occasion to open me deeper, wider, and I'm exquisitely, mindlessly full; his aroma all over me and lulling me into a beautiful soft complacency.

I begin to purr, lifting to nuzzle him, and he bites my ear.

"I love when you do that," he says roughly.

I purr louder, wanting to tease and please him at once. "Good, because you'll be hearing me do it a lot... it's your own fault, you know."

"Well, I guess I'll just have to live with that, won't i?" He laughs but it's tremulous, moving again, pressing hard against my ass before drawing back; he thrusts in again, hitting that lovely little spot and making my toes curl.

"God, you're good at this," I murmur, mouth and lips wet.

"I'm not gonna last much longer," he replies, resting his cheek against my back.

I laugh coquettishly. "We'll just have to do it again, won't we?"

"All night, I think."

I sigh, enjoying the feeling of my slick sliding down my thighs, the scent sweet and mingling with his aggressive musk. The fire is building, growing out of control in my bones, but we have time... time enough, anyway.

I push back and he takes this as a signal to move, and he's slamming into me, over and over until my mind is nothing but color and light, and he's growling loudly as he comes hard, filling me with so much warmth, and I'm pliant and boneless under him -

At the end he bites my shoulder viciously, but not hard enough to break skin; making me rear back against him, and he takes a hold of my hair, licking and teasing the column of my throat. It feels possessive and raw and real, and I love it...I want him this way, this is my choice, and I refuse to apologize for or turn away from my desires.

I finally feel free, and when we finally come back to ourselves I don't hide myself when I turn and he takes me into his arms, kissing me, stroking me, and I open myself to this; heart, soul, spirit. I accept him and what he has to give, because I want it so much, and so genuinely.

"I tried so hard to behave," he mumbles after a while, sounding slightly sleepy. I'm resting my head on his chest while he plays with my hair. Our aromas fill the room along with the scent of sex, and it just makes me want to do it again.

And again.

"Why? What good ever came from people behaving?" I ask, sliding a hand to touch his cock, curious and wanting to explore. He sucks in a breath.

"I'm starting to think you might be a bad influence," he replies, placing his hand on mine to help guide me; easing my hand along the shaft.

"Oh, and that's a bad thing?" I ask flippantly, squeezing him gently.

He can't speak for a moment. "God, no. Do you hear me complaining?"


God help me but I never knew sex could be this good.

We do it again and again, and every time I think I'm too tired or it can't feel good anymore, I'm surprised that it does; only seeming to get better. Craig slips inside me or fucks me with his lips, his tongue, and I'm falling again; dropping like a stone into a pool without a bottom.

We do it slow, fast; aggressive, careful, and by the end, when the sun is starting to rise, I'm sticky with sweat and our arousal, sore and throbbing between my thighs, and I'm aching from bites and being held tightly, but Jesus, I'm riding a high -

I'm nestled under his arm and tucked to his side when we finally lose the last of our energy, and I'm dozing as he kisses my head, my temple; hands threading through my sweaty curls. My nails scape across his chest, through the dark hair there, and I have to fight the urge to reach down and cup his cock, coax it back to attention. I bite my lip imagining it.

"You have that look on your face again," he murmurs, startling me.

I look up, trying to clean up my thoughts. "I don't know what you mean."

"Oh, you know exactly what I mean. You wanted to do it again."

"Don't you?"

"Kyle, of course I do, but I have to drink something. I'm dehydrated." He snorts. "I can only wonder why."

Stretching long, I curl against his side like a cat before sitting up to gaze down at him, so beautiful in the morning light, even with the shadows under his eyes, his messy sex-hair. I begin to feel aggressive and I want to grab him, remind him that he's mine, but I hold back, my hands flexing against my thighs.

"Maybe we should get up," I suggest, rising and enjoying the feeling of his eyes on me. I don't dress, purposely leaning across the table in front of the window to pull back the curtain. "The sun's almost all the way up. What do you think?"

He doesn't reply and I glance back at him. He's staring at me but he doesn't seem to be listening. Bending deeper, I present myself, spreading just a little.

"Craig, are you listening to me?"

When I look back again he's already up and coming to me, hands tight and gripping my hips, and I'm presenting, already slick, when there's a knock at the door. He groans, leaning to touch his forehead to my back.

"Figures," he mutters. He pulls away and I reach to grab a blanket, wrapping it around myself. Craig pulls on a robe, giving me a look before answering the door.

"Craig, can you get the fire started? I wanted to give our guests breakfast before they went on their way," Tricia says, still sounding fatigued. Sticking her head in, she waves at me. "Good morning. You want coffee?"

I nod, sharing a glance with Craig.

"Tricia," he says, rubbing his neck. "Don't you have any questions for us?"

She blinks, yawning lightly. "No, why would i?"

I come over to Craig, standing closer than usual, very aware of my nakedness beneath the blanket; the feeling of his hands and tongue still all over me. I bite back a growl, shifting to stretch out my neck. Suddenly shy, I manage to look at Tricia from the corner of my eye.

"We may or may not have spent the night together," I say.

She stifles a laugh. "Really? You don't say? I mean, I never would've known if not for the racket you two made all night."

I pull the blanket over my head like a hood, wanting to hide in the darkness. "We didn't."

"Oh, believe me, you did."

I cover my face with my hand while Craig whistles, rising up on his toes. "Sorry about that, sis. Hope you were able to sleep, anyway."

"I'm sure that was the least of your concerns. Anyway, Craig, the fire. Chop chop. I want to have breakfast sometime this century." Winking at me, she moves away, her braids bouncing against her back.

When she's gone Craig and I can't look at each other for a moment, and I'm afraid the awkwardness is going to leak in now that morning has come, but Craig laughs a little before nudging me.

"I don't think she was surprised at all."

I shake my head. "Nope, not for a second. But that's a good thing, right?"

"Well, yeah, but she's going to tease us - relentlessly."

Opening the blanket i take a hold of his arm, hugging him close. "I don't mind at all... I'm too happy to mind anything right now."

Breakfast is boisterous in comparison to how subdued dinner had been. We eat bacon and pancakes and drink coffee while the sea rolls in; our guests appearing much more rested than before. Their little one tries to build a castle with sand that's too dry and pouts when it collapses.

I still watch Pete and Michael, the way they dote on each other; Michael usually speaking for them while Pete has his say in the background, calmed by his Alpha's presence and appearing to be an anchor for his mate.

It's so nice, and this time when he joins us to wash the dishes Pete is much more talkative.

"Thank you so much for everything," he says, stacking plates in the cupboard. "You're the kindest people we've met so far, not that we've seen many others on our trip." He catches my eye. "Your Alpha, I mean Craig, made us feel so welcome... will you tell him how much I appreciate it?"

I nod, blushing while Tricia gives me a little knowing smile. My Alpha.

Finding some courage, I manage to say, "I think what you have with Michael is so lovely... I've never seen a relationship like yours."

He becomes thoughtful. "Where did you say you're from?"

"The west... we're a long way from home."

"I've heard things are different out there," he replies. "Alphas with more traditionalist leanings, but they aren't all like that. Not everywhere, anyway."

I smile, touching my nape. "I'm starting to see that more and more."

Soon they're on their way, after Tricia and I have packed some food for them. We say our farewells and I notice that Craig is standing closer to me today, taking care, once again, to shield me from having another Alpha too near.

After, Tricia announces that she's going to do some laundry and Craig is going to chop wood. I decide to clean our rooms and before we part Craig touches my face, sliding a thumb across my bottom lip. I close my eyes and sigh, so euphoric; the sun shining down and warming my hair, my shoulders.

"Let's meet out here when we're done. I'm planning on fishing later," he says softly.

I open my eyes and I can still see threads of red in his irises, his pupils slightly dilated. My body responds, my glands aching, my scent growing sweeter. I nod, kissing his thumb lightly.

I tidy the rooms, humming the whole time, walking on clouds, floating, almost. I blush when I enter Craig's room, smelling our scents, the way they mingle, and I want to climb into the bed we'd shared and wrap myself in the blankets. Instead, I strip the mattress and carry the linens to be washed, watching Craig from the corner of my eye, hard at work and I almost sink to my knees right there.

We've been together and he loves me... he loves me...

The days pass after that in a tide of almost hazy bliss. Most of the time I feel drunk, intoxicated on being in love and being loved; being watched and touched with fondness and affection I've never felt before. The taste of Craig's lips on my own become a sustaining force and when he takes me into his arms the whole world seems to slide into focus.

We do chores together and go for walks along the beach, curl up in the sun and read, sometimes with his head in my lap. I move into his room and share his bed, gladly surrendering my body to him. I want him to have me... he tells me he wants to belong to me, too.

We want to belong to each other. 

It's beautiful. It's all so beautiful that it can't be real. How can this life exist in the same world as people like Damien; alongside Alphas that only want to hurt and dominate omegas? I'll never understand.

One evening, we're walking along the beach when we start to discuss Bonding again. The idea of it had been nagging at me ever since we'd had our guests, but I wasn't sure how to talk about it.

"So, is it really true? Bonding can be a good thing?" I ask, taking his hand, enjoying its heavy warmth. "Every omega I've seen that's Bonded just seems like a shell... like they've died on the inside."

"That seems to be the trend where we come from," he replies, lifting my hand to kiss it. "In my travels I've seen Bonded pairs like Pete and Michael before...I knew they existed and I'd always heard that the Bond was mutual, not forced. That makes all the difference."

"I suppose it makes sense," I murmur. "I guess I'd want to shut down too if I was being held against my will like that...I mean, that's how I tried to cope with Damien, I could just never do it enough. I was always aware of my misery."

Craig growls lowly, a sound I've come to adore. It's protective, claiming... but in a way I can accept.

"That fucking monster. So many of my kind are monsters... it's a hard fact to live with, being associated with them."

"You're in a separate group," I assure him, leaning my head against his arm. "I could never think of you in the same way as them... it'd be impossible."

He kisses my head and I purr. Becoming somber, I sigh under my breath. "Sometimes I feel sad for being so happy."

He stops and turns me to him, cradling my face. The stars are wild above us, and his clear, kind eyes, threaded with red, are looking at me like I'd personally hung every single one of them. I lean into him.

"You're allowed to be happy, Kyle. I want you to be."

I think of Tweek and Ike... Mark and Pip; everyone that's been hurt along the way and I move to lay my head on his chest. "I want everyone to be okay, not just me...I know it's childish but I keep imagining a world where we can all be here together, helping one another heal."

He gathers me into his arms, rocking me. "That's still the plan, Kyle. We'll try to help as many people as we can, trust me. We won't turn our backs on anyone."

Eyes burning, I take a hold of his shirt, voice low now. "I'm so sorry about Tweek, Craig. I saw him at Cartman's...I saw the Alpha that bought him. I couldn't believe it, I'm just... I'm just so sorry. I don't know how to say it any other way."

Holding me tighter, his voice is thick when he speaks. "I am, too. What happened to him is one of the biggest regrets of my life, but maybe there's a way to bring him back. Maybe Bonds can be broken."

Leaning back, I study his face, searching. "Is it possible?"

"I don't know, but I can hope," he says, his eyes wet. He hides his face in my curls and pulls me tighter. "Sometimes that's all anyone can do."

We spend another night together and he's tender with me this time, overly so, because I'm beginning to ache very deep in my bones; my blood heating up. I feel more tired these days and we both know what's coming; he can smell it on me and I can see it on the horizon.

"I want you to take care of me during my Heat," I whisper, my head tucked in the curve of his neck. "It'll be here very soon."

"Are you still taking your suppressants?"

"I am, but I can't stop the inevitable, I guess." I snuggle closer, kissing his throat. "Maybe it's because of you... being close to you. Loving you. My body's telling me what it wants."

He curls an arm tightly around my waist. "And what does your body want?"

"You, just you... and anything you can give me." I blush, turning my face toward the shadows gathered against his skin.

"So, if I spend your Heat with you and end up..." he trails off, sliding fingers over my shoulder. "You'd want that?"

I nod. "Only with you. I think you'd be a good father. In fact, I'm sure of it."

Chuckling, he pulls away to sit up, easing me onto my back so he can gaze at me. Gently, he parts my thighs so he can slide between them, his cock already becoming hard and brushing me. I moan softly.

"Sweet omega," he sighs, loving me with his eyes, lit up in the blue dimness. "My omega."

I open like a flower before him, touching his chest. "My Alpha."

I'm dreaming of sitting on a high place and watching stars fall from the sky when Craig kisses me awake the next morning, but there's something different about him when I look into his face; an excitement, a wild pulse he seems to be having trouble containing.

He nips and kisses me until I'm giggling, naked and warm under the sheet. I lie back, my head sinking into the pillow.

"Well, good morning," I say, still half-asleep. "You're in a good mood."

He settles his weight on me, smiling wide. "I'm in a great mood, actually."

"Are you going to tell me why or are you going to wait for me to die of suspense?"

"Kiss me first."

I do, and when he's been thoroughly lavished with affection he tells me what I've been waiting for so long to hear:

"I found your brother."

It takes a moment to sink in and I'm sure I'm only hearing things, but when I look into his eyes I know it's true -

I can only look at him as long seconds pass, but then I'm crying and sitting up, hugging him; almost delirious with joy.

"Where? Where is he? Is he okay? When can I see him? Oh, Craig, please -"

Placing a hand on my nape he helps me to calm, nuzzling my glands and leading me to smell his as well; his scent bringing me back so I can focus. I wiggle against him, practically vibrating with new energy.

"He's a servant on the Black's estate. He's well taken care of from what I understand."

I nod, worrying the inside of my cheek with my teeth. "Are they as awful as the rest?"

"They're conservative but not nearly as depraved as Damien. They have traditional sensibilities but they aren't known for using violence to enforce them."

"That's good, at least." Rising, I pull my hands through my curls. "How far away is this place? Can we go fetch him today?"

Craig's face changes then, takes on the stubborn cast it sometimes assumes. "You're staying here, Kyle."

I narrow my eyes, my own expression no doubt dissolving into stubbornness as well. "I have to be there when you get him... he'll have no reason to trust you otherwise, and he'll be afraid. I have to take care of him, Craig; it's been too long."

He growls but I don't back down. "It isn't safe. You're supposed to be in hiding, remember?"

Getting on my knees, I go to him and place my hands on his chest. "I'm not asking to get out of the car or be there when you pick him up, but i need to be there when we bring him home. I have to, please."

"And besides," I add, nuzzling him, "Tricia and I wouldn't be safe here without you. Isn't it better if we all stay together?"

Silence falls and I become aware of all the little sounds in the room that make up moments both small and profound; the sound of his heart, the blood rushing in my ears; our breaths. He sighs and I can feel the tension in him change, making my heart soar.

Placing a hand under my chin, he lifts my face so we're eye to eye, his expression stern, but there's something else there; a quiet, deep fear. On the wings are love and devotion, helplessness.

"We need to be careful. Do you understand?"

I nod, so happy I can't help but kiss him until I'm breathless; not resisting when he takes me into his arms and guides me to the bed, possessive now when making love to me.

We set out even before the sun has fully risen, Tricia yawning on occasion but just as elated as i am when she hears the news. She quickly puts a bag of food and supplies together, ushering me into the car and chiding Craig for seemingly dragging his feet.

We're quiet on the way, all lost in our own thoughts, but the energy in the car is ripe with hope and excitement. Craig drives much faster than is typical for him, and the scenery flies by as we backtrack, taking us back to less hospitable country, but I'm not truly afraid.

At least that's what I tell myself.

"Do the Blacks live close to Damien?" I ask after we've been traveling for hours.

Craig shakes his head. "They're a reasonable distance away but they're still too close to him for me to feel comfortable."

"We'll be alright, Craig," Tricia murmurs.

"When we arrive i want you two to stay in the car," he says, looking at me in the rear view mirror. "I'll park far away and walk... I'll make sure no one can see where you are. I'll handle the negotiations."

"What are they asking for him?" Tricia asks, touching his shoulder.

He laughs, a short bark lacking humor. "A fair amount, even though they got him for free from what I understand. They can tell I'm desperate."

Sitting forward, I try to get a better look at his face. "I don't understand. They're making you pay for him?"

"Of course. Nothing is exchanged in our world without a price, that includes people. Especially when it comes to omegas and betas."

"I know that firsthand," I mutter bitterly. Becoming anxious, I say, "I can't let you pay for him, Craig. We didn't discuss that."

"We didn't need to," he replies. "I'll gladly pay whatever I have to to get your brother back for you." He glances at Tricia. "I'll have to dip into father's money."

The blood drains from my face. "You can't, I won't let you!"

"It's done," he says, a note of finality creeping into his voice. "I promised myself I'd never use that money for creature comforts, knowing where it came from... but if I can use it to keep someone from suffering I can accept that. It's the only reason to use it, Kyle."

The day passes swiftly and soon it's evening. We stop for dinner and to sleep for a few hours, Craig and I curled together in the backseat, my head in his lap. Before too long, though, we're up and moving again; the sun overtaking the white moon, and I can feel the warmth in my blood, my senses becoming jumbled as my Heat approaches and the miles fall away; leading me back to my brother.

The Black estate is a massive, stately dwelling on the edge of a large forest, surrounded by a high black fence. I can see snatches of it through the trees when Craig parks the car. My heart is frantic, my distressed scent filling the car, and he turns to look at me, taking my hands.

"Be calm," he says, kissing my forehead. "I'll do what needs to be done, settle the debt, and soon you'll have your brother back. I just need you to be patient and wait. Stay in the car."

I nod, leaning my head against his and I can smell his strength, his warmth; it runs through me like my own blood and I'm able to stop shaking.

"Please be careful," I whisper.

"I promise." He looks at me again, and I almost fall into his eyes like they're the sea, the sky I've seen over the ocean back home...universes trapped in his irises that I've only come to know because of our love for each other.

He leaves then, his back fading into the woods, and I can feel him taking a piece of my heart with him, but I pray everything will be alright. Tricia is quiet in the front seat but she reaches back to take my hand, squeezing it. We cling to each other and wait.

I'm not sure how much time has passed when I hear rustles in the trees, my eyes opening and I realize I must've fallen asleep, the fatigue of stress and lack of rest falling on me. Tricia is dozing, her breaths soft, and I swallow a whine building in my throat. I smell afraid and my mouth is dry as I peer into the gloom of the forest, but then, oh, then -

Craig is back and he's not alone, and before I can stop myself I'm climbing out of the car, running on feet that have grown wings, and I'm on my knees and pulling my brother into my arms; tight, crying already and speaking nonsense.

"Ike, it can't be," I sob, almost not believing he's real, but he is; his slight body pressed to my own. He's grown, lost weight, but he's here and he's real and I'm touching him -

He laughs and hugs me back, his skinny little arms winding around me the way they used to... the way they had back home when I'd carry him to bed after he'd fallen asleep in the living room. He clings to me and the memories flood back, of tending the garden and wading in the creek, looking at the stars at night... watching them fall and being together.


"Let me look at you," I say, pulling back and looking into his face, his soft brown eyes. His face is becoming angular and losing the roundness of childhood, but he still has his freckles, and I cry harder, looking into his face after so much time apart.

He stares at me, becoming serious, and I know he must have so many questions. I'm not even sure where to begin but there's time now... there's time.

"I was starting to think I'd never see you again," I say, standing. I can't stop touching him, I can't let go, I can't. I glance at Craig and the tears begin again. "Thank you... how can I repay you?"

He's about to speak when a sound like a whip crack breaks across the forest, making me scream and causing the birds that had been in the branches to rise and scatter in a flurry of feathers. Ike is trembling and pushing into my arms, but I can't get my bearings until the dust settles and my eyes clear.

When they do, though, the whole world seems to collapse around me to see the blood blooming and turning Craig's shirt red, and he's on the ground, groaning and grabbing at his shoulder. I can't understand for a long, pregnant second, only aware of the devastation taking over my joy, and I'm screaming before I move to go to him.

"I wouldn't do that," a voice calls from the shadows, and it's all I can do not to become paralyzed right there, almost falling to my knees. Frozen, I hold Ike tighter and his hands clench my sweater.

That voice, that terrible voice; comprised of nightmares and blood and misery. It's every ugly, depraved thing in the world at once, and it's back in my ear; all around me.

"Damien," I whisper.

"Kyle, run! Don't worry about me, just go! Now!" Craig shouts, almost breaking me from my stupor.

Stepping from the shadows, Damien is once again near, blending into my line of sight; eclipsing it, eclipsing everything. He looks the same, handsome, dressed in black; eyes a scorching, simmering red. Instinctively, I begin to shake and Ike starts to cry quietly.

He comes closer, moving with all of his poisonous grace, and he's watching me like he's trying to decide how to wound me first; pick me apart little by little or just bite my head off right there. He smiles, becoming something that should stay hidden in the dark; a beast, a demon.

"Try to run and I'll have him killed with just one word," he says pleasantly, gesturing to Craig. He looks down at the wounded Alpha. "Try to help Kyle and the result will be the same. There are people all around us and they're all ready to do exactly as i say. We've been waiting for you... as soon as I found out Kyle's brother had been taken in by the Blacks I knew it was only a matter of time. I let you come to me to keep things simple."

Blanching, I look around frantically, but I can't see anything except for Tricia; pale with her hands pressed to her face in silent horror.

"You won't see them," Damien says, his voice a weapon in and of itself. "Not until it's too late. Do as i say, obey, and I'll let all of you live. Even the filth you see before you."

Going to Craig, they regard one another, Damien tall and resolute, and Craig snarling at him, the blood pouring from him. I can smell it, but it's mixing with Damien's foul odor; making me faint.

"I should've known," he snarls, some of his composure evaporating. "A little bird told me that something was going on between you two, a flirtation, but I disregarded it. I never thought an omega of mine could be this defiant, this foolish.. even one as unique as my Kyle. A whore with an angel's face."

"Shut up!" Craig roars, beginning to sit up, but Damien quickly pushes him back, grinding the heel of his shoe into Craig's wound, making him scream.

Sobbing, I beg him to stop, but Damien continues, taking savage pleasure in causing Craig unspeakable pain.

"The only reason I haven't slit your throat is because of your connections in this community," he says lowly. "I do business with your father, a lot of business, and I'm sure he wouldn't take too kindly to me murdering his son - even if he deserves it."

Still screaming, Craig is pale now, his eyes starting to flicker, unable to fight when Damien moves to press his foot against his throat, slowly putting more and more weight on it. I cry out, ready to be sick, and i pull away from Ike to go to him, getting on my knees and taking a hold of Damien's coat, begging for mercy; half-mad from seeing Craig suffer.

All for me. It's almost too much to bear.

"Please, just stop," I sob. "I'll obey, I'll do anything you want, just don't do this. I'm begging you."

Damien considers me, and while he doesn't remove his foot, he lessens the pressure. His eyes flash and he's running a gentle hand through my curls.

"My feelings haven't changed," he murmurs as if to himself, like he's in awe of this revelation. "I can still look at you and want to love you... need you. How is that possible?"

I bow my head. "Please, Master."

His hand tightens in my hair and he grips me hard, shoving me back on my heels.

"Show me your neck," he says softly. "Bare yourself to me in front of him, and I want you to look at each other as you do... so he can see and understand who you belong to."

"No, you don't have to do that," Craig whispers, his voice coming in painful fits and starts. "Please, Kyle, it isn't worth it. You're worth more than any of this."

Damien lets go of me then, prompting me to look up. He watches from above, and it's as if we've never been apart, not when I'm at his feet again; forced to my knees.

"I'll let you decide, little one," he says. "Just know that there are very real consequences for the decisions you make."

Coldness is once again moving through me, turning me numb, and in an instant all of those days in the sun start to disappear one by one, and despite the way my heart is crumbling, I ignore Craig's pleas and the sobs of Tricia and Ike behind me. Trying to turn off my thoughts, I obey, pulling the hair from my neck and baring it, watching Craig and dying inside to see the misery in his eyes; consuming him.

Damien sighs, reaching to ghost his cold hand over my neck; soft and searching. "You didn't let him take you completely," he whispers like he's in a psychotic ecstacy. "On some level you wanted to come back...I can feel it."

"No, never," I whisper, cringing when he continues to pet me. "I never wanted to come back."

He laughs, kneeling to look in my eyes. "Lost creatures always find their way home, don't they? Back where they belong... if you give them enough time. That's all you needed, after all. Time."

"Please," I sob, breaking.

He shushes me, kissing my mouth, biting down hard enough to draw blood; licking it away, making me taste it, too. "Be still and let me enjoy you for a moment, my love. It's been so long, and I've dreamed of this moment; having you back, and this time I'm never letting you go. I'll kill you before that happens."