By: Rosa Swann
What would you do when your pretend-husband turns out to be your real fated mate…
When I asked Aiden to be my date, I expected a fun weekend, a weekend filled with jokes and maybe some booze. I didn’t expect that I’d mate him, or the fallout of that reckless decision.
So, trying to do things right for once, I’m going to become Aiden’s boyfriend while we figure things out.
A fun weekend with sexy Alpha Clay turned into so much more. But I can’t just welcome him into my life, not with the situation with my sister and Seb still going on.
Trying to be boyfriends first seems like a good idea, especially since I’m totally not ready for the implications of what happened last weekend…
Aiden is sitting perfectly still, a little too still, as he stares at his phone. I hadn’t checked the screen, but I can imagine who the message is from.
“Your sister?” I kneel in front of him, trying to get him to look at me, to break that staring.
He glances up, then nods. “Email.”
“Had you heard from her yet?” I sit back next to him on the bed and carefully wrap my arm around his shoulders, he leans against me after a moment, relaxing a little.
“No. This is the first.” He takes a deep breath and unlocks his phone, then he opens the message.
I know it’s not okay to read other people’s messages, but I think what just happened here, in this bed, and the fact that Aiden has been pretending to be his younger sister’s baby’s father kind of negates that issue.
If she hadn’t left, this wouldn’t have happened. If she hadn’t left, Aiden wouldn’t have looked so upset. If she hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have asked Aiden to come with me to the wedding.
I’m not sure if I’m happy or unhappy about all of that right now. Yes, Aiden lied about his relationship to Seb but he did it to protect his sister and his nephew.
I just lied to my family because I’m a coward.
The message is short, just a few lines.
I’m sorry. I’m okay. I’m living with friends and I have a job.
Please, don’t get Mum and Dad or the cops involved. I’m safe.
I just can’t… I can’t be Seb’s mum.
Don’t try to find me.
I don’t know what to think of it, but, next to me, Aiden relaxes more.
“Okay.” The whisper is barely audible, then he looks up at me. “I guess that I’ll be Seb’s father for a while longer.”
“How long?” Will she come back and take Seb in a year, or two, or ten? But I don’t ask the question, I don’t want to upset him.
“I don’t know.” He shrugs but then winces, the movement pulling on the mark I just made. Looking around the place, he frowns. “I guess we’re going to have to go downstairs again. Wedding and all.”
He’s stopped smiling, he’s stopped looking happy and comfortable. Instead, he’s got that troubled look in his eyes again, that look that I’ve seen on him too often.
“I don’t think they expect you back down any time soon.” I slide my hand down his arm, when I reach his hand, he entwines his fingers with mine.
“Fuck.” He squeezes my hand a little. “Great first impression. Going into heat at someone else’s wedding… with…” He licks his lips, running his teeth over his lower lip for a moment, he’s only looking more unhappy now.
“With a guy who is supposed to just be your fake husband?” I try to joke, but when Aiden looks up, the laugh stops before it can come out. “Not funny?”
He shrugs and then shakes his head. “I don’t know.”
“Okay.” I squeeze his hand a little and then stand up. “I should probably go check downstairs and save Seb from my family.”
“And me?” He looks lost.
I don’t want him to look like that. I hate it when he looks like that.
“If you want to, you can stay here. Rest in the bed, take a bath. Try to relax a little?” I grab my suit from the floor and put it on a chair, then I turn to Aiden again, kneeling in front of him. “If you want to leave, tell me, and we’ll go. We don’t have to stay. It’s up to you.”
He shakes his head. “No, not yet.”
“Okay. I’m just going to check on Seb, make sure he’s okay and take him back up here.” I stand up again, but Aiden takes my hand.
“Don’t what?” I’m not sure I follow him.
“Don’t take him up here just yet. Just… Stay with him downstairs, celebrate the wedding. Have fun.”
“What about you?” I can’t just leave him here, can I?
“I’ll be fine. Like you said, I’ll sleep or take a bath. I’m not sure I can…” His voice falters.
“Aiden?” He’s doing that thing again where he tries to pretend things are fine, but something is going on in his head.
“It’s nothing. I’m just exhausted and being in heat is hard.” He curls up on his side on the bed, pulling the blanket over himself as he winces a little.
“Okay.” I keep my eye on him as I get dressed in the suit again, then I freshen myself up in the bathroom.
In there, I turn on the bath, so he won’t have to do that later. This is one of those fancy baths that is able to measure the amount of water needed and the temperature all by itself. Handy when you can’t stay with it.
When I walk back into the hotel room, I look at Aiden’s back, he hasn’t moved yet. I walk over to his side, but he’s got his eyes closed.
“Aiden?” I whisper, I’m sure he’s not asleep yet, but I don’t want to be loud either.
He opens his eyes, and a few tears fall from his eyelashes. “Yes?”
“I’m going now. I turned the bath on, you can go into it whenever you want.” I reach out, sliding my thumb over his cheek.
I want to say I’m sorry for hurting him. I want to say so many things, but I know that now is not the time for it.
“Have fun. Please tell Seb that I love him and tell your family that I’m sorry, that I’m not feeling too well.”
“Will do. You make sure you take your time.” I walk to the door of the hotel room, looking back at Aiden, but I know I need to leave.
Not just because of my family, or because of Seb, but I know, I feel, that Aiden needs some time to himself. He needs to process what just happened, and I’ll only be a distraction for that.
I open the door and step into the hallway, closing the door quietly and then making my way to the elevator. I wish I could take time to myself, I wish I could take some time off too, but I can’t. I need to be at my sister’s wedding. I need to be with my family. I can deal with what happened when we get back home.
I push everything from my mind as the doors of the elevator open and I step into the hallway. You can hear the party going on and I follow the sound back to the room we were just in. There, as soon as I come through the door, Wes’ eyes are on me and I make my way back to our table.
Wes is holding Seb and as soon as I’m near, he holds the little boy out for me to take him instead.
I take Seb in my arms, pulling him close, holding him in my arms as I wish I could do to someone else right now. “Hey, little man.” I’ve heard Aiden say it to Seb many times.
When I sit down at the table, Wes still looks at me.
“How is he?” There is something in Wes’ voice that stops me from answering immediately.
Wes must know what it feels like. To be in heat, to have an Alpha go nearly insane over you, to be marked. I suddenly look at him differently, knowing that he’s gone through what Aiden’s just gone through many times before. Knowing that his mate went through the same things I just went through.
I never understood that Alpha-Omega connection. But I’ve just experienced the full force of it. It’s life-altering in many ways and it gives me new respect for all the Alphas and Omegas out there.
Wes nods, but there’s still something on his mind.
“Spit it out.” If he’s got something to say about me or Aiden I need to know it.
He shakes his head. I can see he’s made a decision on something, a plan formed in his head. “Not now, not here. It’s not that important.”
Before I can ask what he means, Rosemary is coming over, a huge smile on her face. “Wes! Come on! I want to dance with you.” She starts pulling on his arm and he smiles at her.
“Of course. Anything for the bride.” He lets himself be pulled along to the dance floor, all smiles and happy words. But I know that he won’t let go of whatever is on his mind.
“Hey.” Jasmine lets herself fall into the chair Wes just vacated, grinning and out of breath from the dancing. When I look to the dance floor I see her wife dance with their kids. “You suddenly left.”
“Aiden wasn’t feeling too well. I was making sure he’s okay.”
She frowns a little. “I hope he feels better soon. Poor guy, getting ill right at a wedding.” She shakes her head, then she looks at Seb. “I hope it’s okay, but I gave him a bottle earlier. He was hungry. Wes said not to disturb you.”
“Yeah. Thanks.” I try to smile at her, but it’s hard.
“Are you sure Aiden is okay?” She looks at me, worry in her eyes.
“Yes. He just needs to rest.” If I don’t pull myself together soon, everyone is going to worry.
And if they start to worry, they start to ask questions, and if they start asking questions…
Why did I think this was a good idea?
By the time they start serving dinner, Wes seems to have at least sort of put his comments or questions aside, instead enjoying his time with everyone, which makes me relax a little too.
Wes can be kind of overbearing and put his nose where it doesn’t belong, I can’t use that right now.
Seb is being good, especially when I keep holding him close, but I also know that he’s going to need some actual sleep soon, some sleep in a bed.
I send Aiden a quick message to ask if he’s okay and if I need to bring him some dinner. It takes him a while to answer, but when he does, he doesn’t seem ready to face anyone just yet. I put Seb in his stroller and go sit with him in a quiet corner of the room, trying to give him at least a little bit of quiet.
Then Mum joins me, sitting on Seb’s other side, looking at him and letting out a soft laugh. “He’s very cute. I was surprised when you showed up with your Omega and even a little kid.”
She smiles sadly. “I just wish you’d told us before. I wish you didn’t feel like you have to hide them from us.”
“I’m sorry.” The only reason we can sort-of pull this off is because I don’t post on social media a lot.
For someone running a company I post very little even. I’ll post official updates on the company’s accounts, but nothing personal.
“It’s just been crazy. Work, a mate, a kid…”
She nods. “I know that a family isn’t of much importance for Alphas, especially not enough to flood your social media accounts with pictures of weddings or babies. And your work is more important, us Alphas just have different priorities. But still, we miss you.”
She reaches out over Seb and puts her hand on my shoulder. “I just wish we saw you more often. You’re doing these incredible things and we’d love to hear more about them. I do hope your Omega sees you more often than just a few times a week. Right?”
There’s a sadness in her eyes when she looks at me. “I know that I wasn’t the best Alpha those first few years after you were born, before I learned to take my family more seriously. I hope you’re a better Alpha than I was.”
She smiles. “At least you seem to know how to handle a baby. I didn’t get the hang of it until Wes was born.”
A lump forms in my throat.
She’s trying to be helpful. She’s trying to have a proper Alpha-to-Alpha conversation with me. And all I can think of is how I’m lying to her. How I’m lying to my family. How everything she thinks she knows about me right now is a lie.
Because I do remember how she used to be, the way she taught me to ‘be an Alpha’. How to take charge. How to present myself. How she thought an Alpha should be.
It wasn’t until much later, until I was going off to college and while Jasmine was starting to show interest in Alphas, Wes was in the middle of puberty and Rosemary was starting to hit puberty that she seemed to realise that she’d been missing out on so much of the happier moments of our lives.
She’d always been on my ass about working hard and becoming a provider for my future Omega, so much so that she was never there for the others. I know that it was especially hard for Jasmine, who, even though she’s only a year younger than me, never really got much attention from her. It was like she didn’t know how to be an Alpha to her Omega children.
I know it’s different now. I know she’s trying to be there for all her children. But I went as far away for college as I could afford, trying to get away from her, from her ideas about a ‘proper’ Alpha. So I never really experienced the ‘improved’ Mum.
I know from Jasmine and Wes that she’s been much better since then, but even the few times I did see my family… It’s hard to let go of that past, to combine what she used to be like with the image she’s trying to portray now.
“I’m so glad to see that Wes and your Omega—”
“Aiden.” I correct her.
“—Aiden get along so well. That must be such a relief for you.” She looks at the room and when I follow her eyes, I can’t find Wes anywhere.
“What do you mean?” A slight panic starts in my head.
“Well, you asking Wes to bring him dinner and all.” She smiles and I have to force myself to smile because otherwise I’m going to break things.
I should have kept an eye on my brother. I knew he’d find a way to mess this all up. I can’t believe I let him out of my sight.
But I can’t do anything right now, not without Mum getting suspicious.
I can only hope that Wes doesn’t do something stupid.