Some memories surface as our two men try to make sense of their new situations.
– Rosa Swann, author of Mated to the Alpha
Chapter 1 - My Mate's Mark, an omegaverse non-shifter mpreg romance
It’s not until I hear Wilder and my daughter Maddy’s voices outside in the garden that I sit up and try to get out of bed. I’ve got a little time on my own, so I should use it. My legs aren’t very strong both from exhaustions and being in heat, but that doesn’t matter, the bathroom isn’t very far. I grab the doorknob and keep holding onto it until my head stops swimming. Exhaustion, on multiple levels, is not a way to treat my body, especially not when I’m weak from being in heat. My clothes are still on the floor where I left them last night.
I check myself in the mirror, reaching up with one hand and running my fingers over the new mark, the mark that Wilder left on the back where my shoulder and my neck meet. It’s still tender, and I can feel where the blood has dried, the edges of the mark rough and hard. Then I move my hand, touching the mark on the other side, running my fingers over the small indents that Logan’s teeth left behind all those years ago. Getting marked once is normal for an Omega, but twice? I don’t know anyone else this has happened to and to be honest, I haven’t ever heard of this happening to anyone before.
I hunt around in the medicine cabinet and grab some bandages. I can’t have the mark open like this, not just because it still needs healing, but also because there is no way people who’d see it would understand. I wince as I try to place the bandage correctly, but even though it looks a little weird, I know that people won’t immediately guess what’s under it.
Like my situation wasn’t pitiful enough when I met Logan, being a virgin and an unmated Omega at twenty-five and all, the only thing worse would have been if I hadn’t stayed a virgin for all that time. But now… A widower, a father and mated by another Alpha… I don’t think people will understand. There is no luck for me in this world. I should have learnt to live with that a long time ago.
Looking around the bathroom, I grab the dirty clothes and dump them in the laundry basket, then I stumble as I make my way back into the bedroom, only just able to grab hold onto the dresser. I take a pair of underwear, a T-shirt and some loose fitting sweats from the dresser and put them on. Then I climb back into bed. There is no use for me to try to walk around, not with the state my body is in. The exhaustion is both mentally and physically. I guess it wouldn’t have been that bad if I’d actually gotten any sleep last night. But with everything going on, that wasn’t an option. Sleeping in this bed, the bed that I shared with Logan, in the room that I shared with Logan… My brain just keeps going to bad places, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t push all the memories away. I can’t push away this deep pain of being alone now.
Downstairs, Maddy and Wilder are coming back into the house. It’s strange, this is the first time in as long as I can remember that I haven’t fed the animals in the morning. Even when Logan and I had pet rabbits, I’d always be the one up first and feed the little fuzzy creatures. I’m not used to this, this not having to be the provider, not having to be the carer of everyone. Being the one who is cared for, that’s a whole new experience. Another new experience on top of so many other experiences. I think I’m done with the new experience thing for a while though.
Hearing them putter around downstairs, it’s soothing, and while I can’t seem to get any real sleep, at least I’m getting some rest for now. Staying in bed, trying to get as much rest as I can, it brings back memories that I’d long since forgotten. The last time I was stuck in bed like this, with someone caring for me, was when I had my last heat, nine months before Maddy was born.
I’ve never enjoyed being in heat. My parents always said that I was too independent for an Omega, too independent to be able to be relied on to be a good carer. They just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t ecstatic each time I went into heat, why I wasn’t looking forward to each time. Even my Omega father didn’t get it. He just couldn’t grasp why I hated being in heat. But being in heat just reminded me too much of why people always looked down on me, on Omegas. Every couple of months, I’m locked in the house for a week, not able to do anything, wholly dependent on other people. For me, it’s never been about being fertile, for me, being in heat has always been a sign of why people were so dismissive of Omegas. Dismissive because we’re so weak that when we’re able to get pregnant, our whole body overloads and puts us out of commission for a week.
And then the heat itself. I’m not usually one to stand out, but when I’m in heat, all eyes are on me. No matter who it is. First I saw it in my parents, in the way that my mother would react differently to my father, just because he was in heat. And he went into heat every time he could, even though I’m an only kid. My parents were never able to have more children, but it wasn’t for lack of trying… Then I saw it in my friends, their eyes on me were different, they would both fight their own urges not to jump me and also fight other people away from me. There was nothing so scary as to see them fight to make sure I wasn’t mated before I got out of high school. They knew how much it hurt for me to see them like that, but they’d still come around, and they were still my friends. They never gave up. To them, I was a friend, and that meant a lot to me.
But, until I met Logan, I had no idea what kind of real pain my heat could bring to others. I’d never been very fond of it, but to see his eyes glaze over, to see him disappear and only this lust filled husk come up in front of me. That was scary that first time. The way I reacted? The way my body reacted to him? That was new too. Before, I’d only seen glimmers of it with my parents, but to experience the full effect that my heat would have when my true mate was around, I wasn’t ready for that. I wasn’t ready for any of it.
I let a tear slip. Logan.
There are sounds in the hallway downstairs and then Maddy’s voice floating up the stairs, followed by Wilder’s lower voice. “Careful Maddy, don’t let it drop.”
“I won’t. I won’t.” She sounds so sure of herself, and I can imagine the way she’s looking at him right now.
I wipe away my tears, I don’t want her to see me cry like this. I wait for the knocking on the door.
“Daddy? Breakfast service.”
I hear a knock too, but it’s too loud to be hers.
“Come on in.” I push myself up a little so I’m sitting instead of being all huddled under the blankets.
The door opens, and Maddy comes in, in her hands a tray with a stack of pancakes and some orange juice, she makes her way over to the bed, sliding the tray carefully onto my lap. Then she returns to Wilder, who gives her a mug, and the way she carefully holds it makes me think it’s probably coffee. I meet his eyes for a moment, and he inclines his head a little before he steps away from the door and goes back down the stairs, leaving us in peace.
“Daddy.” Maddy climbs onto the bed, a little less carefully now and I grab for the tray with food, so it won’t tip over.
“Yes?” I wait until she’s settled and then grab my fork and knife to get ready to eat.
“The sheep were all loud and really hungry. And the chickens laid eggs! They were so pretty, and a little dirty.” She wrinkles up her nose. “But Wilder cleaned them when we came inside. I showed him where the eggs go. His eyes went all big when he saw it.”
I let out a little laugh, surprised. “He’d never seen the inside of storage shelves like that?”
“No.” She shakes her head. “And he could lift the barrel with the sheep food all by himself. He’s so strong.” Her eyes shine as she talks about how he helped her with the animals and in the garden. It’s nice to see her trust another adult like this. She’s not always been good with other adults, and especially people she doesn’t see very often, like her grandparents. But she’s taken a liking to him since the first moment that they met, outside that church, during the funeral.
I reach up, wiping at the tears that form. Fuck. I’m a total mess. This is not good.
Maddy reaches up and wipes at my other cheek, her face now serious. “You’re sad.”
I nod, not sure how to answer her.
“Wilder is also sad. He had tears.” She points at her cheeks. Then her eyes go wide, and she quickly covers her mouth with her hands. “Oops. That was a secret.”
A secret, eh? So he’s also hiding things like this. I guess that’s to be expected, but still… I don’t exactly know how to respond to it. “Does it happen a lot, Wilder’s tears?”
Maddy thinks for a moment and then nods, her face falling.
“And me, does it happen a lot for me?”
Again she nods. “Everybody has tears. Me three.”
Yeah, I guess that’s true, we’re all crying from time to time, but we’re apparently not hiding it as well from Maddy as we’re thinking.
I finish up my breakfast, the pancakes filling and the coffee waking me up a little. “And, what are you up to today?”
“Grocery shopping. Wilder said we need food.”
“Yeah, we do. Are you going with him?” That’s an interesting assumption for her to make, I don’t think she’d come up with that herself, I usually don’t take her with me.
“If it’s okay. Wilder said that you sleep better when there is nobody in the house.” She looks at me. “Is that right?”
“A little bit. But I still love it when you’re here.” I can see how Wilder would think that a quiet house would be easier for me. “Do you want to go with Wilder?”
Maddy nods. “I know the store, so I can help him.” She’s acting so much more grown up than she really is. I don’t know what to think of it, is it just her showing off how good she is, or did everything from the last week change her so much? “And I want to help you get better. Wilder said that eating healthy will make you get better sooner.” So, there it is, helping me. She’s definitely her father’s daughter.
“Thank you for the lovely breakfast.” I hug Maddy with one arm as I try to keep my tray stable with my other hand.
“You’re welcome.” She smiles, then she climbs off the bed and goes back down the stairs, leaving the tray with me on the bed.
While I love her being here, I also like the silence for a bit, it’s hard to keep strong in front of Maddy, even if I’m not always able to do so. A couple of minutes later, I hear Wilder’s footsteps downstairs and then coming closer. He looks at me from the doorway.
“I see you’ve finished your breakfast.” His stance relaxes a little, a small smile on his lips. “That’s the first full meal I’ve seen you eat since I got here. I’m glad you’ve got some appetite left.”
“You’ve been studying me.” There is an accusatory tone to my voice, even though I don’t mean it in a bad way, not really.
“I was asked to look after you. To me, that includes making sure you eat enough. Logan wouldn’t have liked it if I let his mate starve, even unintentionally.” He flashes me a half-smile. “I’m just glad to see you’re doing a little better.”
I shrug. “I’m not sure ‘better’ is the right word here.” I sit up straighter and slide my legs off the side of the bed, ready to stand up, hoping that the food will have recovered some of my strength. “I heard you’re planning to take Maddy with you when you go grocery shopping?”
“Yeah, if that’s okay with you. I just thought… it’s probably easier for you.” He comes closer, and I can see the subtle ways that his body changes the nearer he gets to me.
I push myself up, standing so I can go take a shower, but the moment I try to stand, my legs buckle under me. Wilder’s arms are around me in seconds, making sure I don’t crash to the floor.
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Chapter 2 - My Mate's Mark, an omegaverse non-shifter mpreg romance
I keep my grip on Sterling as I make sure that he’s standing on his own.
“Whoa.” Sterling’s voice is breathless. “That I didn’t expect.”
I take a deep breath, the way his face went pale as he stood up, how his legs gave out. Damn, that scared me. “Me neither. Are you okay?”
“I’m good. Just a little light headed.” He pushes away from me, and I let him go, even though I’d love to do nothing more than to strip him and take him right here, on this bed. But, as his scent is still a little weak, I can suppress it for now. I know it will be harder later today and I’m not looking forward to that.
“What were you going to do?” I hover nearby, ready to grab him the moment something goes wrong again.
“I want to take a shower, you know, clean up.” He looks at me pointedly.
Yeah, yeah. I get that. “I’ll come with you.”
He blinks. “What? Eh. No.”
“I can’t have you faint in the shower on me. And if I’m not there with you, I can’t make sure you don’t topple over and hit your head. That would be a lot more inconvenient.” I open the door to the bathroom, apparently Sterling has been here earlier today, as I remember the mess to be a lot bigger when I left here last night.
He lets out a deep sigh. “Fine, but we’re not doing anything.” He walks past me into the bathroom.
“I know, that’s not what I want either.” What kind of person would force themselves onto a man in the state that Sterling is in now? Or what kind of Alpha am I for not wanting to jump his bones? Well, maybe one with a little self-control and some decency not to want to force myself onto a grieving man, no matter how much I failed that last night.
He looks at me sideways before he turns on the shower, I can see he doesn’t believe me. “Right.”
I grab some towels from the rack beside me and put them nearer the bath, just to give my hands something to do.
Sterling glares at me from the other side of the bathroom.
“Don’t stare at me and don’t do anything weird.” He starts to pull off his shirt while still glaring.
“Yes, yes.” I pretend I’m looking through some bottles and things in the rack beside me until I hear Sterling step into the bath and close the curtain behind him. Then I undress and step in from the other side of the bathtub.
Sterling is standing under the water, his eyes closed, enjoying the stream coming over him. It’s an interesting view, to see him so vulnerable like this. It’s different, the way he holds himself.
“Star?” I step closer, not wanting to crowd him, but also not wanting to stand too far way, not that that’s really possible in this small space.
He looks at me, blinking. “You do it too.”
“I do what?” I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be doing right now.
“Call me Star. Only Logan ever called me Star. He did it since the first time he and I met.” Something flits over his face, and I reach out, wanting to take that pain away, but I pull my arm back before I touch him.
“I think it’s a sweet name. It’s not bad, right?”
He shakes his head. “It’s not bad, just…” He shrugs. “Like you responding to the name Wild, I guess. The memory is just painful.” He looks up at me, and he doesn’t even know how close to the truth he is, how similar us responding to those names really is.
“Do you want me to stop saying it?” I don’t want to hurt him.
He shakes his head again. “No, it feels… safe. Familiar.” Then he steps from under the water. “Don’t get cold over there.”
I step past him under the water, the warmth nice on my muscles, soothing. Sterling’s words go through my head, those names are safe and familiar. Yeah, but mostly of the family that we chose, instead of the one we were born to. I put my face under the stream and let the water flush away my thoughts for a moment, then I step from under it and let Sterling take the water again.
“How long were you and your mate together?” Sterling’s question makes me jump a little, I wasn’t expecting it, neither the question nor the content.
For a moment, I go back in time. How long were we together? “We were friends since we were really young, maybe around Maddy’s age. Our older sisters were friends, so that’s how we met. But as lovers, as mates, probably since we were fifteen or sixteen.”
“High school sweethearts.” Sterling makes it sound so sweet. But for Logan and me it meant a lot of fighting.
“You can say that, yes.”
“And you lost them a decade ago. That’s what you said, right?”
I turn away from him a little, not able to have this conversation while facing him. The memories are too painful, but also, the lies, even just by omission, bring tears to my eyes. “Yeah. Right after graduating college.”
“I’m so sorry.” He’s quiet for a moment. “Does the pain ever go away?”
I shake my head.
“Huh?” There’s something in Sterling’s voice that makes me stop, something that makes me aware that we’ve now switched subjects. Then his hand is on my back, just in the middle between my shoulder blades, but I’m acutely aware of what he’s seen. Logan’s mark.
“What is it?” I try to keep my voice steady. Alpha’s don’t usually get marked, especially not lasting marks like mine, a real mate’s mark.
“Your mate marked you.”
I nod, no use denying it.
“And it stayed.” His fingers come closer to the mark, and I try to keep my breathing steady. “Interesting.” The moment his fingers hit the edge of the mark, a jolt goes through me. The sensation unpleasant, but also, I can feel my body go into fight or flight mode, while at the same time being totally stuck.
His fingers run over the edge of the mark, first the bottom, and then the top. His finger like liquid fire, burning me and even though I scream in my head, I can’t move my body, frozen in my spot.
Then Sterling pulls his hand away with a gasp, and suddenly I’m also able to breathe again. I spin around, looking at him, looking at the surprise in his eyes, before I scramble out of the bathtub.
“You’ll be fine. I’m going…” I shake my head, not able to understand what just happened, why my body reacted the way it did. But also, suddenly very aware that this is the first time anyone but Logan has seen, let alone touched, the mark.
“Wild?” Sterling calls out for me from behind the curtain but luckily doesn’t open it. “Are you okay?”
I wrap a towel around me and shake my head. Am I okay? What was that? Why did my body do this, just because Sterling touched Logan’s mark? “I’m fine. Just want to get a move on the grocery shopping.”
I grab my clothes and step out of the bathroom before he can call after me. I don’t want to talk to him right now. I can’t. I quickly dry myself and put on my clothes, then I go downstairs and lock myself in the guest room. Only there do I take a deep breath, the tears welling up inside me overwhelming and I can’t stop them anymore. I don’t want to lie to Sterling, but I can’t tell him the truth either. Not now, not ever. I just have to get through this week, and I’ll be on my way again.
Upstairs, I hear Sterling walk around, and that gets me to move again. I put on clean clothes even though I just changed into these this morning. I’m too nervous, too scared right now.
I open the door, but the hallway is empty, so I walk to the kitchen, passing pictures and photos. So many of them have Logan on them, and the big photo of the three of them together in the middle of the hallway wall, they look so happy. Like nothing in the world could ever break that. Why did Logan have to get into an accident? How can this happen to Sterling and Maddy? It’s just… it doesn’t make sense.
I could deal with Logan leaving me because I knew that he couldn’t deal with the pressure his family put on him. They expected him to take over the family business as soon as possible. Logan leaving was his own choice, and somewhere inside I’d always hoped that he’d return once he’d found his feet. But now I know why he never did, he found his perfect little family. The perfect husband, the perfect little daughter. There was simply no place in his life for me.
In the kitchen, I grab a piece of paper from a notepad and a pen. Then I check the fridge and the cupboards. I’ll need to get some actual meals, I can’t keep feeding Sterling and Maddy pancakes. I’m not exactly sure what the dietary requirements are here, but from what I can see in the fridge, they’ll eat about anything. And the rest I can probably ask Maddy. It isn’t like it’s that hard to come up with some dinners, I think. I usually just cook meals for a couple of days for myself and just freeze the rest. It may be totally lazy, but our society is not set up to feed just one or two people, most packaging of vegetables and meat is for four people, so it’s smarter to just cook for that amount. A lot cheaper and easier to do too. I write some items on the list and move to the cupboards, also making myself familiar with the rest of the kitchen.
Sure, there are similarities with how Logan and I lived in the past, but I think that’s more because Logan was the connection between the two households, that, and some things just make sense to store together.
“Wilder.” Maddy’s voice makes me jump, just a little.
“Yes?” I turn to her and find that she’s put on clean clothes, even if a little mismatched, and is wearing shoes, with the laces all done up already.
“Daddy said I could come with you shopping.” She comes over and looks around.
“Well, what would you like for dinner? And no, no pancakes or pizza.” I smile, and she gives me a playful pout. She’s smart, but a little too young to fool me.
“Lasagna!” She walks around. “Daddy never makes it because he says it takes so long.”
“Well, I can teach you how to make it. So you can make it for Daddy next time.” Okay, maybe it’s a little over the top, but I don’t mind having her around when I cook, and lasagna is easy and safe enough for that.
“Yes!” She bounces up and down.
“Do you like fish?” It’s worth a try.
Maddy pulls a face. Okay, so no fish. Well, I can make all sorts of lasagna, I’m sure we can figure something out.
“You go grab your jacket. I’m gonna tell your daddy that we’re going, yeah?” I walk up the stairs, but the bedroom is quiet. I knock on the door. “Sterling?”
“Yeah?” His voice is clipped, and I get why he could be a little angry with me.
“We’re going shopping, is there anything I need to get you?”
“No. There isn’t anything you can get me. Nothing.” He sounds so… dejected. But I stop myself from going in, there is no use right now. I fled from the bathroom without an explanation, that’s gotta make him wonder…
“Okay, we’ll be back soon then. You just try and relax a little.” I wait for an answer for a moment, but apparently Sterling isn’t saying anything else.
Right. Well, I guess that I should be off then. I don’t like leaving Sterling like this right now, but there’s no use in me fighting him.
I take the car keys from a hanger by the door, another one of those little things that seem to be the same between our houses. I’ll figure out the quirks with the car while I’m in there. When I step outside, a car comes up the driveway, so I wait as Maddy walks to meet the car, a spring to her step.
“Aunty!” Well, that clears up who it is, I guess.
I wait as Sarah comes driving up, she stops a little short of the door, leaving enough space for another car. Uh-oh. That’s never a good sign. When she steps out, her eyes are on me immediately. “Wilder, and of course Maddy.” She hugs the little girl before she comes over to me. “Where’s Sterling?”
“In bed.” I don’t ask about it because I can perfectly well imagine the reason why she left space on the driveway for another car.
“He may want to get out. His parents-in-law are coming over. And you may want to make yourself scarce.”
“Eh, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Definitely not, for many reasons, the least of which is that they’re hellish.
“Why not? He knew they’d be getting over soon.”
“Yeah. He’s in heat. And with your father… That may not be a good idea.”
Sarah’s eyes go wide comically. “Oh. God, no. That’s a bad idea.” She wrinkles her nose. “I can’t imagine them coming over when he’s in a situation like that.” She then looks at me. “And you, are you okay? Also being an Alpha and all.”
I let out a laugh, no, I’m not fine, but she doesn’t need to know that. “I’m good. He’s a mated Omega. So, meh.”
“Yeah, I guess that wouldn’t be so bad.” She looks inside. “Then I should go say hi to Sterling. It’s rude to leave immediately.” She smiles awkwardly.
“Call your parents first. There is no reason for them to come over here if they’re not going inside anyway.” And make stuff a little less complicated for me.
“Yeah, sure. Will do. Just wanted to make sure you were okay too. Like… with Logan and everything.”
“It hurts. But it always hurts. Yeah, this is worse, but not being alone helps.”
“Does he know yet?” Sarah drops her voice.
“No. And I don’t want him to, at all. You keep your mouth shut.” I’m serious, I don’t want Sterling to know who Logan really was to me.
“Yeah. Sure.” She nods and then gives me a tight hug. “I’ll see you later then. Or at some other point. I’m going to call my parents now.” She’s babbling a little, nervous.
“Good idea. I’m going to go get some groceries, and keep Maddy out of Sterling’s hair.” I smile, and that seems to make her believe me that I really am fine. I walk over to the car, and Maddy has already made herself comfortable in the back. “Are you all strapped in?” I look at her, and she nods. I’m not exactly sure how the things work, but she seems to be locked in safe. I turn the car on and look at the front of the house one last time, Sarah is standing in front of the door, making a phone call, and waves at me. I wave back and then back out off the driveway, making my way to the nearest town.
You've been reading Second Chance Mates 2 – My Mate's Mark
Sterling going into heat was not part of the plan, me marking and mating him even less so.
The whole day I've been able to resist him until we both can’t fight our needs for each other and the pressure of Sterling's heat anymore.
I'm supposed to make his life easier, not harder.
Being stuck in bed most of the day doesn't help the thoughts running through my head. Especially not after seeing a mating mark on Wilder's shoulder.
This man is here to help me, but all I want is to find out about his past, even though he's trying to help me face mine.
But the clock is ticking… Wilder's only here for one week…