By: Rosa Swann
One Alpha from the past. One family intent on ripping them apart. And one family fighting to stay together.
When you visit your mate at work, you don’t expect to find their promised Alpha there telling them to ‘come home’ and threatening you and your loved ones for not complying with him.
Zeke was supposed to have two more years. What’s going on?
What is my promised Alpha doing here? I don’t want to go back. I want to stay with my mates. But that look in his eyes… The power my family has, his family has… They can ruin us in seconds.
How can I stay without putting everyone in danger? How can I ever live with myself knowing I hurt the ones I love the most?
I can’t believe it. Zeke can’t leave. I need him. I need him more than anything. We were finally getting to a point where we could become a family, a real family.
I can’t lose him, but how can I help him when the mere thought of being without Zeke makes me sick, makes me ill?
This last week, going between my own place and Clay’s place to see Zeke, has made me realise a couple of things, but the main one is that I really need a bigger place to live.
The apartment is fine for just me, but even if it would have been just Zeke and Wes moving in, the place isn’t big enough. Let alone when you also include Wes’ kids and the possibility that… The possibility that Zeke is pregnant.
I’ve been trying to ignore that thought all week, because nothing is certain yet. But it keeps popping up, even though we really won’t know for another couple of weeks.
Today, I’m worrying about a more pressing issue, a bigger place to live. I’m viewing a house, one of a handful I’ve been looking at online.
It’s pretty close to Clay’s place, which I think Wes will like, and it’s only a little further to the cafe that Zeke and Wes work at. It’s a good choice theoretically, but I’m hoping that the place itself wows me more than the pictures I’ve seen of it.
While the location is nice, and the size is too, the place itself…
I walk up to it, a man in an expensive suit is waiting next to the door, probably the realtor.
“Welcome, you must be Nathan?” The man steps up to me, holding out his hand. “I’m Brody.”
I shake his hand. “Yes. Thank you for meeting me here on such short notice.”
“Places like these can be sold in moments. I like to move quickly.” Brody takes a key from a folder he’s holding. “The place doesn’t look impressive from the outside, but wait until you see the inside of it.” He opens the door, holding it open so I can step in.
Stepping into the hallway, it’s… intimidating. This place is easily within my budget, but that’s a little unfair to judge anything by, almost nobody would be able to afford my budget range.
On the one hand, Zeke and Wes are used to the place that Clay lives in, and that’s a ridiculously expensive place. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that neither Zeke nor Wes are used to expensive places and I may just be wasting my time looking at this.
This house didn’t wow me at first, and now I’m inside… I’m liking it even less. The interior makes me think of oppressive systems and kids who aren’t allowed to run around in case they break a vase or scratch the floor or something stupid like that.
The hallway is all polished dark wood floor, marble-looking walls and white details for as far as the eye can see.
“If you could follow me?” Brody points to a door at the side. “This is the best room of the house, the family room. The evening sun will be lovely here and there are already built-in bookshelves, so no matter how many books you’ve got, you’ll have a hard time filling them all.”
Bookshelves? Oh. I follow the man, somehow hoping I’ll find something appealing in there.
When Brody opens the door, I’m… Yeah… I’m not sure what I’d hoped to find. But in here it’s more of the same…
Wooden floors, white walls and the furniture that they’ve placed in here is all black leather, metal frames and glass surfaces. And, when I turn around, I find the built-in ‘bookshelves’. They’re white wood and covered with glass doors.
Who even imagines this? How can I live here with young kids? Or, really, live here at all?
Books aren’t meant to be displayed, they’re meant to be enjoyed. And a family room is for playing, not for sitting uncomfortably in expensive chairs, sipping fancy drinks you don’t enjoy and talking about the books you can’t read because they’re too valuable to touch.
Brody looks at me, almost looking proud of the place. “Looks good, right?”
“Hmm, hmm.” I’m not sure we have the same idea of what ‘good’ is, but I guess we could redesign the place.
“You said that you were looking for a lot of bedrooms. How many exactly?” Brody may be picking up on the fact I’m not appreciating this room as much as he thought I would.
“I was thinking one master bedroom and five or six smaller bedrooms.”
“Five or…” The man looks a little uncomfortable, but I can see him think quickly. “Well, you could redo the upstairs, but as it stands, there are a total of four bedrooms.”
“Four?” What idea of ‘many’ did this guy have when I talked to him? I’m definitely not in the right place here.
“Yes. This is a large house, but it’s old. If you’re looking at that many rooms, it’s going to be hard to find. I think I may have something you can redo outside the city. It’s a housebarn and the barn part can easily be remodelled to create many bedrooms.” Brody doesn’t seem very impressed by the idea and neither do I.
“No. I think I’ve seen enough for now.” I shake my head.
I knew finding a place to live wasn’t going to be easy, but that’s okay, we’ve got time. “Thank you for your time, but I’ll be going now.”
“If you want to look at the other place, or change your mind about this one…” Brody holds out his card. “Please, give me a call.”
“I will.” I nod at him as I take the card, putting it in my pocket. Although, I don’t think it’s likely I’ll need it.
I walk out of the house, looking around.
Yeah… No. Just… No. I guess I was impressed when I saw the listing with the price and the location. But with the situation right now, moving here… No. That would have been a bad choice.
This neighbourhood doesn’t look like a place that will allow kids to be loud and play wherever they want either. I’ll find something better, something more for kids.
I sigh, and make my way back to my car. I’ll try again soon, but I should get ready to have lunch at the cafe with Zeke for the first time this week and then go to class.
The moment I step into the cafe, I know that something is wrong. The atmosphere isn’t right.
I look around and can’t seem to find Zeke, even though he should be working right now. I’m pretty sure of that. He was so excited this morning to get back to work.
I go over to the counter, where Tim, the other barista, is trying very hard not to stare my way. “Hi, where is Zeke?”
“Zeke is ehh…” His eyes shoot to the back. “He’s talking to someone.”
“Some guy came in and Zeke pulled him to the back, saying that they needed to talk. That’s all I know.” Tim still doesn’t look comfortable, he looks worried.
“And?” That doesn’t seem to be the whole story.
“And, he hasn’t come back yet. Zeke looked…” He eyes the back. “He looked surprised, and not happy.”
“Right.” I push myself off the counter, walking to the back.
“Nathan,” Tim calls out to me.
“Yeah?” I turn back.
“Don’t break anything, will you?”
“Why would I…” There is only one reason he’d expect me to make problems, and that’s when there are actual problems going on.
I stalk to the back, most of the quiet rooms are open, but there is one closed door. “Zeke.” I knock on the door.
“Nathan.” Zeke sounds surprised and I hear movement inside before the door opens. “Hey.” His eyes are wide, almost scared and his breathing is fast.
I open the door further, pushing in as I wrap my arm around Zeke. There is a guy sitting on one of the chairs, leaning back as he looks up at me with an arrogant smile.
“Ah, so you’re the guy who took my husband.” The guy is… a prick. That’s the closest I can get. He’s wearing an expensive suit, his hair done just right and the way he looks at Zeke…
“He’s my mate.” I keep my arm around Zeke, not letting him go, though I feel Zeke’s hand move in the back of my shirt, holding me tightly.
“Right.” The guy leans forward, his hands folded in front of him, oozing confidence. “He was mine first. Sorry, but not sorry, dude.” He doesn’t seem to be fazed at all.
“I didn’t see a mark on him.” I’m not letting Zeke go, especially not with a guy who has no respect for him.
“A mark? Don’t be barbaric.” The guy shrugs. “Marks don’t say anything. He’s mine and I’m here to take him home.”
“He said that he had until he was thirty.” That’s what Wes told me, thirty. Zeke is twenty-eight now.
“Really?” The smirk the guy is showing churns my stomach, especially when his eyes fall on Zeke again. “Ten years. That was the promise. I let you go because you’d promised to come back after ten years.”
There is a coldness in the guy’s eyes now and Zeke tenses in my arms. “I let you go because I trusted that you were telling me the truth.”
Zeke turns in my arms, towards the Alpha. “Trusted me? You and my parents drugged me. Locked me in a room for days. And when I had a bad reaction to the drugs you didn’t do anything until you realised that you couldn’t mate me.”
Zeke’s voice is harsh and I feel him shake. “I’d been in agony for days!”
This is the reason for his nightmares? This?
I feel that I’m letting go of Zeke, my arm slipping from around him, and then I take a few steps over to the Alpha.
The guy stands up, holding up his hands.
I smack his hands aside and grab the top of his shirt. “Out.” I drag at him and feel his shirt rip when he fights me.
“You’re ruining my good shirt. This is going to cost you.” The growl in the Alpha’s voice is unmistakable, trying to influence me, but it’s not going to work. I’m protecting my mate, nothing will break that focus.
“Not as much as it will cost you if you stay any longer.” I pull and throw him towards the door. “Out.” It’s all I can do not to beat him up.
He’s the reason Zeke has nightmares. And now I know what they’re about, now I understand exactly what happened, I’m struggling to control myself.
“He will come home with me.” The guy stands up straight, pulling at his shirt.
“Oh, no. He won’t. He’s staying at my side, right where he belongs.” I take a step towards the guy. “Leave.”
“Tssk.” He shakes his head, then his eyes go to Zeke, who is standing a little back, pale from fear. “You belong to me. You’re mine. You will come back to my side. I’ll make sure of that.” He stalks out of the room.
“And I’ll make sure that people know never to come to this place. I’ll ruin everyone you know. You’ll be begging for me to take you back.” The Alpha’s voice bounces against the walls as he walks off.
Zeke is staring at me, shaking all over and I immediately go over to him. I can’t touch him, not before I know that he’s okay, not before I know that he won’t go into another one of those shocks.
“Zeke?” I don’t know what to do when he’s like this.
Zeke’s lower lip wobbles and he gasps, then he unfreezes and steps closer. I reach out and wrap my arms around him tightly.
I keep running my hands up and down his back. “Shhh.” I try to sound calm, but my blood is still boiling and I can’t believe this just happened. “Shhh. It’ll be fine. We’ll figure this out.”
I can’t believe a guy like that would just come in here and take Zeke away. The gal of him. The absolute arrogance.
“Zeke?” An Omega I don’t know looks around the door. “What…” Then his eyes fall on us and he stills, frowning. “Oh.”
“Felix.” Zeke reaches out to the Omega, relief in his voice, he doesn’t let me go, though.
Felix takes Zeke’s hand, coming closer, his eyes softening a little, then he looks up at me. “You must be Nathan.”
“I am. And you are?” He looks a little familiar, but I don’t think I’ve seen him before.
“Felix, Aiden’s younger brother. I, eh…” He looks at Zeke and steps closer. “I was there the first days that Clay saved Wes and when Zeke and Wes met.”
I’m not sure why, but just that bit of information makes me immediately like the guy. Well, that, and he seems to have exactly the right way to talk to people, just like Aiden has.
“Nice to meet you. Even under these circumstances.”
“Yeah.” Felix’ voice drops. “It seems that these two…” He wraps his arm around Zeke a little. “They always get in trouble with Alphas.”
“Not true,” Zeke mumbles, though he’s turned his face against my chest again.
“Really?” Felix grins. “You want to tell me that you didn’t get in trouble with Nathan?” He looks up at me, winking. He’s a little annoying though…
“Humm.” Zeke doesn’t say anything else.
“Aiden told me. You don’t think he’d not tell me these things, even when I’m away at college? You underestimate the guy and the way he meddles sometimes.” Felix steps back a little. “Which is also why I’m here.”
Zeke now turns to him and he seems to have calmed down some. “Why?”
“Well…” Felix acts like he’s thinking really hard. “There is this thing about Sterling’s birthday party next week and apparently I’m dragged into helping plan it. With me having next week off from classes anyway.”
He keeps grinning but Zeke’s face falls and his grip on my shirt tightens again.
“Zeke?” I put my hand over his. “It’ll be fine.”
He shakes his head and when he looks up at me, the look in his eyes breaks my heart. Oh, fuck.
I wrap my arms around him again, pulling him close. This is so not going according to plan.
Felix is right, my men have a way of getting in trouble with Alphas, especially ones that have other ideas about what their lives should look like than they do.
And it seems that we’re going to be fighting one of those Alphas soon.