By: Rosa Swann
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…
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.