“I know you think I’m not ready,” I started, taking advantage of the fact that Naveen had just taken a huge bite of the apple cobbler Kirby had sent over, “but I think I would like to watch you again.”
I glanced at Rami, who had frozen with a spoon halfway to his mouth, and had to look back at Naveen when he started coughing. I reached over and hit his back firmly till he raised a hand and drank a gulp from his glass. “Fuck, Devlin. Did you have to say that just then?”
“Sorry,” I told him with a grimace. “I didn’t think you would be that shocked. We’ve been making out for weeks.”
“Kissing,” Naveen corrected me primly, “we have been kissing.”
It wasn’t quite true. He had been kissing me, or kissing me back while Rami held his hands for him and kept him from grabbing hold of me by accident. But I had gone way beyond kissing, my passion unleashed after months of forced abstinence. I was allowed to hold on, and then I asked and Rami said it was okay with him if I pressed close. And then I had got hard and, well, that had been that. I rolled my eyes at him. “Not the point,” I said, “I have expressed an interest.”
“It’s fine by me,” Rami said, and kept chewing without further drama.
Naveen turned to him. “Just like that?”
Rami shrugged and swallowed before answering, “It’s Devlin’s decision, so it’s okay. The whole problem was the lack of control. I don’t think making decisions for him is gonna fix that.”
“But it’s our decision, too. It’s us he wants to watch.”
Rami raised an unimpressed eyebrow at him. “He just asked us. I said yes. Go ahead and say no if you like.”
Naveen turned towards me with an annoyed shrug to dismiss Rami. “You just want to sit there? No joining in?”
“No, just you two doing your own thing and I can… I can see how I feel.” I was pretty confident that what I was going to feel was frustrated as hell, but the fact that I wasn’t sure wasn’t acceptable. I wasn’t going to end up crying again because I had pushed myself beyond what I was capable of.
“What if you like it? What if you want to join in?”
“I won’t,” I promised. “I wouldn’t take advantage of the situation, Naveen. I know you couldn’t really consent under those circumstances.”
He glanced away, saying nervously, “There hasn’t been a lot of that between us.”
“Well, there’s gonna be a lot now. Isn’t that what you both keep promising me?”
“Yes.” Rami set his spoon on his plate with finality. “That’s all there’s going to be between us from now on. That’s why Naveen’s being so careful, Devlin.”
“Okay,” I told them both, trying to keep calm. “You don’t have to tell me now. You can talk about it if you want and…”
“Yes,” Naveen blurted out.
“Yes?” I echoed.
He looked upset. “I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, but… Rami is right, I can’t decide for you. And if I decide for me… I want you to.”
I stared at him, spellbound by his concern for me and a little afraid, too. I had thought long and hard before asking, but I had been so happy to get hard again, to recover a part of myself I had thought lost, if not dead… I wanted to move forward, keep going till I was back to normal, till I was back to being okay with other people touching me, with sex. Something I had loved unrepentantly even when others had tried to make me feel guilty for it. I licked my lips, giving myself a moment longer to answer. “Is Saturday okay?”
“Yes.” Rami reached across the table and took my hand. I thought he was holding Naveen’s under the table already. “Sure, Saturday’s great. We can make a day of it.”
It was only Tuesday, and for all that I was a little scared, I also couldn’t really wait. When I asked for more kisses, Naveen put his hands behind his back for Rami to hold and tilted his head in invitation.
Of course, I had watched them before. In the kitchen the first time when their reunion had led to that heated make out session. And I had also caught Rami blowing Naveen on the living room couch a few days ago. But it wasn’t the same as walking into Rami’s bedroom with full knowledge that they would both be getting completely naked within minutes. I had promised to stay in the armchair, and of course Naveen was right, I knew as well as he did that if I tried to join them something would set me off. When we kissed with Rami holding Naveen’s hands off me like we had done in the kitchen, I was fine. More than fine – it was like getting hard again had unleashed months of unspent passion, and I couldn’t get enough. Last time, Rami had raised his knee and let me come humping his leg like I was a boy. I had apologised but I hadn’t been really sorry: it had felt too good to have an orgasm with another person for the first time in so long. A climax that was all mine but was shared, that I could offer and not have taken. I didn’t think they had been sorry, either, by the way they had looked: Rami’s arms straining against Naveen’s grip, Naveen bracing his own leg against Rami’s, presumably to hold him back, but also in a way that would have pressed his own groin closer than close to the back of Rami’s thigh. I had left them to it, feeling satisfied but also guilty, uncomfortable with the fact that I had left them hanging, and that I had left them at all.
So I followed them in, knowing I wouldn’t be able to let them touch me, and that I had even promised not to touch them. I took the armchair under the immense window facing the lake. It was like something out of a 19th century house in size but with the slick metallic frames of our time. It was something Brennan had insisted on, my great aunt Ella had told me when she had shown me the house. I almost wished for blinders, but I had to make do with gauzy white curtains to block the view of the bed from any curious onlookers.
I wondered if perhaps we were back in Rami’s bedroom because he was feeling better about the fucking, or if that was me overanalysing things as usual and it was just that it was bigger and had an armchair for me instead of a desk chair. I normally wasn’t fussy about seating arrangements, but whatever my current situation, my hips weren’t designed to carry the extra weight, so I appreciated the comfort.
I thought my theory was confirmed when I saw Naveen sprawling back on the bed, stark naked and giving Rami a sultry look. It was seductive, but also a little mocking in that way Naveen used to hide the true extent of his sometimes overwhelming passions. It was an honest expression of feeling accompanied by the reassurance that the feeler was truly harmless, more amusing than anything else. I wasn’t amused, though – I was a little annoyed. I wanted to kiss Naveen breathless till he stopped believing he was less than deserving of someone drooling at the sight of him, or stopping short at one of his looks. There wasn’t anything about him that deserved to be mocked or scorned, and I wanted him to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. It also didn’t help how submissive the position looked, how absolutely willing he seemed to let Rami do whatever he wanted. It reminded me of the way he had leaned back against Rami, presenting himself to me while restrained, trusting me completely.
Rami approached the bed and knelt over him, running a hand up from his knee to his thigh without taking his eyes away from his upturned face, open and focused on Rami’s own. I could almost feel the contrast of the prickliness of hair and the softness of the skin underneath. I clamped my hand on my knee instead, leaning forward as much as I could with the belly in the way. The angle wasn’t bad: I could see both their faces and the side of their bodies, but the moment Rami covered Naveen’s body with his own, Naveen’s cock was out of my sight. Still, I had promised to stay on the armchair, and the last thing I wanted was to interrupt them. I wasn’t hard yet – I was too nervous by half despite the view – but I could feel the beginnings of heat stirring my dick.
I really did not want either of them to look at me in the state of arousal they were both clearly in. Naveen had managed to keep whatever influence he naturally exerted over my arousal at bay in the kitchen, but that didn’t mean he could control it all the time. Whatever I had asked Rami, I didn’t really want to get magically hard because someone else was turned on. I wanted my cock to listen to me; if it got hard for them, I wanted it to be because I couldn’t resist the arch of Rami’s back curving to become his arse, or because of the high-pitched sound he had just made Naveen make.
Rami planted a hand on the side of Naveen’s neck – not on the side I could see, I noted gratefully – and leaned in to capture his mouth in a searing kiss. Naveen lifted his other hand and put it on Rami’s neck, arching his own to get closer, but Rami didn’t let him make the effort for long, pushing him down to the mattress while kissing him deeper still. Naveen’s knee came up, and by the sound Rami made, must have made contact with some delicate part of his anatomy in quite a pleasurable fashion.
I expected something more, but Rami just pressed his whole body flush against Naveen’s and they kissed. Deep and slow and sensual, and by the time I realised I was hard, their hips were rolling together: an unhurried kind of movement, as if they were in no rush to finish. It was nothing like the desperate passion I was so used to witnessing. What had changed? I wondered. Was this what they were like when they were truly alone? I watched as if hypnotised as Naveen’s hand slid down Rami’s leg to hold his buttocks, and then didn’t stop there but went between them, causing Rami to buckle almost violently in his arms. I found myself on my feet, trying to see properly and discovered that Naveen’s fingers were curled in a way that left very little room for doubt: his fingers were half buried inside Rami’s body. He must have more than recovered from his experience of bottoming if this kind of touch had become something Naveen hadn’t needed to ask permission for. I wondered if I could ask permission for it. Nobody needed to put their hands on me for me to be able to…
Rami tossed his head a little, growling low in his throat, and Naveen stretched his neck to place gentle kisses on Rami’s Adam’s apple. And somehow that was what solidified the knowledge in my mind: they weren’t having sex, they were making love. It was in every line of their bodies entwined together, in every carefully-placed soft caress, in the abandon of Rami’s panting, in the patience on Naveen’s face. I didn’t think it was the first time, but for some reason it was the first time they were letting me see it, and my heart seized at it. I didn’t want to be all alone in the armchair – I wanted to be there on the bed with them. But… even if I hadn’t promised, did I even have a right to? Was what I felt remotely close to the emotion guiding Rami to lean his forehead against Naveen’s collarbone as Naveen’s fingers slid deeper into his body?
I didn’t know. And I cared too much to risk it. They were content enough to have each other like this, and to have me in any way they could, and even if I wanted to return their feelings, I simply wasn’t ready. To love someone is to open yourself to them, and if I opened myself any wider I would get swallowed whole by the void. I needed solid ground beneath my feet before I could take anyone’s hand and walk by their side.
I had been quiet through dinner, letting their conversation lull me into a state of reflection. I had grown used to finding solitude in their midst by virtue of retreating into my own head. It was the way I had coped with the large gatherings that were the norm for the pack, and it turned out I hadn’t forgotten how. But now I thought I had a conclusion to share, only… “Naveen, would you mind going back to London?”
He blinked at me, probably not expecting the question, then he snorted. “Are you kidding me? If we don’t go back somewhere a guy can take a bus to work I’m going to have to sink half my savings into a decent ride!”
Rami turned to look at him. “Why would you need a car when I have one?”
“Oh.” Naveen’s eyes crinkled as he gave him a smile too dirty by half. “Thanks, mate.” Rami’s eyes widened and I realised Naveen wasn’t calling him a friend, he was using the word the way Rami had said he understood it. He meant: my mate.
Rami stared at him, flushing, and didn’t ask any more questions about cars. Naveen didn’t seem like he was going to keep the conversation going himself, the way his gaze was fixed on Rami’s face and he was slowly licking his lips.
“I’m going to go send an email,” I murmured, and got up and carried my laptop into the living room. I didn’t want to interrupt their moment, even if they had never acted like they minded my company. I knew that the way I was now, I would only make things harder for them.
But I also didn’t close any doors on my way and I wasn’t even sitting properly when I heard the solid thunk of a body hitting a wall, followed by the wet sounds of kissing. I could guess it was Rami who had done the pushing… or maybe Naveen had managed to stun him to such an extent that he was doing the pushing himself. It had been impossible to miss the way that, as time went by, their already blurry boundaries had got laxer. Fucking had seemed like the last logical step, and it seemed to have blown everything else out of the water: there was nothing too dominant anymore. During our restrained make out sessions they had been happy not just to let the other Alpha hold them back, but to let me move them around as well.
It was nothing inherently sexual, the wolf could understand it as the play-chase that preceded mating. Still, I wasn’t sure my wolf’s newfound tameness would stand for something as dominant in animal terms as me fucking Rami. But I liked thinking of it, anyway, it helped me to hold onto the belief that I would get better soon, that my renewed desire to have sex and my Alphas’ willingness to compromise would be enough to find a way. And the wolf… well, maybe it wasn’t my enemy as I had thought all along, and I could find a way to compromise with him as well.
Our passionate make out sessions weren’t what I had got used to thinking of as sex, but they were intimate and they were definitely sexual: I was moving them around to get their legs between mine or putting my hands up their shirts to feel the flex of their muscles as they strained. For all they couldn’t touch me back, they weren’t passive; first Naveen, and then Rami had started to whisper encouragement and suggestions.
It was like a skill I was relearning after an injury. Slowly recovering a part of myself that I had thought gone, finding it changed but very much still there. Finding a way to be myself within the restrictions.
It wasn’t perfect, especially as the pregnancy progressed and I got more and more uncomfortable. The weight of it, the size, and worse still, the way the babies would move inside me, both made me nauseous and reminded me constantly of their existence. I couldn’t wait for it to be over, although I was looking forward to the actual birth about as much as I was anticipating a car crash.
To make matters worse, the pack’s Alphas had got more protective of its Omegas (something else my brother had failed to consider when he had devised his brilliant breeding scheme). Rami and Naveen were bad enough and they were actively trying not to be a pain, but my cousin Andrea and my uncle Richie had no such compunction. So I kept busy at home, submitting work for peer review and then journals; producing, overall, more than I ever had in my career at a time when most of my colleagues were taking a break before starting fulltime work.
Before talking to Lani, before I was showing, I could have found something. But before talking to Lani it had seemed truly impossible to reconcile what I was becoming with what I have been trying to be for so long. Now that I had spoken to him, I had his promise that nobody had ever suspected he was carrying, not simply because clothing could do marvels but because the idea would never occur to anyone who wasn’t a shifter. And there was no reason I couldn’t take leave from a teaching post for an unrelated illness. After all, I’d probably never have another reason to take sick leave.
Doctor Lazu’s offer to get me a job at Queen Mary’s University was looking much more appealing now than when I would’ve had to leave behind my whole life in Scotland for it. It was quite late in the year, but it couldn’t hurt to ask. I was still tapping out an email to her when a loud moan startled me into typing a whole line of nonsense.
“Rami…” came Naveen’s voice in what could only be described as begging. I closed my eyes to listen, ignoring the way my blood was flowing south.
“You want it?” Rami was asking in that raspy voice he got when he was really turned on. Naveen’s answer was a series of whimpers, so I figured whatever it was, Rami hadn’t been able to keep himself from doing it anyway. A heavy thunk I was sure had to be Naveen’s head against the wall resounded through the house, accompanied by a scream that seemed torn from his throat. My cock pulsed so hard I had to push my chair back to avoid pushing myself against the underside of the desk. I deleted the nonsense I’d typed and made myself read through what I had written.
I had just decided it made sense and sounded both congenial and professional when Naveen recovered enough to make Rami grunt through gritted teeth as he scrambled for… a chair? There was the sound of scraping against the tile. I looked back at the computer and frowned till I managed to focus enough to find and click on ‘send’. I shot to my feet, stumbling slightly as I swerved sharply to avoid the corner of the desk.
“Move…” Rami was begging quietly, but my ear was so attuned to his voice I could hear every gasp, every nervous lick of his tongue over his lips. I was no longer sure why I had left. I had freaked out when Rami had taken hold of me, but I had been fine holding him. And I was definitely fine watching – so what if they had to adapt to me so I could participate? I knew they wanted me, too, but they were so good at ignoring me so as not to force my arousal that sometimes I felt a little side-lined. It was stupid.
When I walked into the room, Naveen raised his eyes to mine like he’d known exactly where I was. Rami’s cock was still in his mouth, and Rami had his eyes closed and his head tilted sideways, a sweaty half-dressed fantasy of masculine beauty sprawled over a chair that wasn’t likely to survive his claws if he kept gripping the sides like that. His eyelids fluttered open and he blinked till he could focus his eyes on me.
I stepped forward, then took hold of his hair and kissed him hard. He moaned into my mouth, unrestrained and wonderfully free. I put my arms on top of his forearms, his arms thick enough with muscle that not even my long fingers had a hope in hell of closing all the way around them. Naveen didn’t wait to be asked. The wet sounds of his renewed efforts was the perfect soundtrack to Rami’s breathy moans and desperate clutching at the abused fabric under his fingers. I was hard, too hard. When nobody had touched my cock and when Rami’s breath hitched, I stop kissing him and went to reach for my zipper. Rami whimpered as if in actual pain when I let go of him, and I shushed him with a promised, “Just a sec, I need…” And I opened my trousers and took my cock out without bothering to do more than push my boxers aside. The moment I put my hand around myself, my eyes closed involuntarily and I leaned forward, placing my left hand on Rami more by accident than by design.
Naveen’s eyes were on me, a weight as heavy as touch, even as his mouth played with the head of Rami’s cock, tongue circling the head slowly enough to have Rami trembling with need. My cock twitched and he looked up to meet my eyes. I felt myself flush – I wasn’t sure if I was embarrassed or just aroused by the admiration in his gaze. He took hold of Rami’s cock with his hand so he could pull his mouth away.
“Can I jerk you off?” he asked, breathless with anticipation.
Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I nodded without a moment of hesitation. He switched hands before taking hold of me, using the one that was wet from his mouth and Rami’s precome. It was warm, slick and tight around my long-neglected dick. For a moment I thought I would orgasm right then and there, without even a stroke, but Naveen seemed to know what I was going through because he paused and gave me a tight squeeze, not painful but not pleasant.
I shuddered, pleasure travelling through me in a rush so intense I felt dizzy. I wasn’t sure if it was because of Naveen’s hands or mouth, though. If it was my or Rami’s arousal. Or Naveen’s, because now that I was looking at him, I could tell he was hard again already. Damn kid. Naveen’s touch was linking our bodies, but I barely had a hand on Rami, and he wasn’t going to touch me. I leaned back in to kiss him. When Naveen leaned forward and licked a line up the side of my cock, I startled so badly I bit Rami’s lip hard enough to make him bleed. I pulled back to apologise, but Rami was licking his lip clean and his eyes were so dark with arousal it was clear how absurd a ‘sorry’ would be.
Naveen sucked me in, then let me go a little and sucked me deeper still. Rami’s arms made a steady handhold even as he shuddered and shook at whatever Naveen’s hand was doing to his cock.
“I want…” I began. I was ready, so ready. Naveen took hold of my left hand and guided it to take hold of Rami’s cock and with what had to be supernatural synchronicity, he sucked harder on my dick. Rami’s whole body shook with the force of his orgasm, and if Naveen hadn’t instinctively taken hold of my hips as he sucked me down, I would have collapsed to my knees at the combined force of his release and mine. I must have lost at least a few seconds, maybe even a minute, because when my vision cleared Naveen was licking his lips. He had swallowed. Rami apparently also caught on to this fact, because he practically jerked Naveen to his feet so he could plunge his tongue into his mouth, kissing him so fiercely it seemed like it should have hurt. It didn’t, though – I could feel both their arousals; Rami’s flagging while Naveen peaked. I took a wobbly step back, vaguely wondering why my face hurt till I noticed I was grinning so wide I was about to split my lip.
The chair broke with a crack loud and clear and suddenly Naveen was sprawled on top of Rami on the floor, and Rami was moaning in something less than pleasure. But when Naveen continued to rub himself over his thigh, he seemed to forget about whatever fragments of furniture were currently lodging in his spine. I knelt and pushed them till they rolled over. Neither seemed to notice much, except that without the aid of gravity, Naveen decided he had to keep Rami close by wrapping his legs around him.
I stepped back and found another chair to watch over them.
"Devlin," Brennan said, and I froze, hand still holding the keys I had just pushed into the lock. I didn't open the door, turning to face him instead. "Do you have a minute to talk?" he asked once my attention was on him.
"Sure," I said, then glanced back towards the forest. "Should we take a walk?"
I didn't want him in my house, even if I was hoping to move out soon. I couldn't stop him from hurting me, but I didn't want it to ruin a place where I was happy, where I felt safe. I had gotten Kirby to take the stupid armchair he had had me sit on during his last visit just so it wouldn’t haunt me with its presence. I didn't need to lose any more furniture.
He nodded, and waited for me to join him before he started walking. "I just... I wanted you to know that... Mum said I should tell you: I don't expect anything more of you."
I stopped. "What?"
I saw him swallow, then he looked me in the eye. "I don't expect anything more of you. I will never ask you to mate again, or... I won't interfere with your life like that again."
"But you will interfere with my life in other ways?" I asked, distrustful.
"No!" he insisted, then clarified. "Just to take care of you, like I should, because you are pack."
"What if I don't want you to take care of me?" I asked with barely contained rage. He had to hear it, the same way, I thought bitterly, that he must have heard my despair and my fear. He was just very good at ignoring what he knew.
"I will protect you from any harm," he said softly, not looking away. The words seemed oddly formal. Then he added, "I will give you shelter and food, for you and yours," and I realised he was reciting the claiming vows, the vows a Dominant Alpha gave those joining their pack. "I will guard your sleep, and honour your wishes. I will fight your enemies, and befriend your friends. You shall never lack for safety again, as long as I breathe, because you are blood of my blood, now and forever."
I stared, shaky and incredulous. You didn't say claiming vows to Omegas. It just wasn't done. Omegas came to a pack with their Alpha and when the Alpha accepted the vows, and they came under the pack Dominant's protection by association. I didn't know if the vows were really magical, but they were sacred enough that I had never heard of any Dominant breaking them.
"What..." I started, but my throat closed up with emotion before I could get anything else out. I didn't even know what I meant to say.
He glanced down at my belly, where it was impossible to hide the bump anymore, then met my eyes again. "I'm saying sorry, Devlin. I'm saying... I can't take it back, but I will never do it again."
I clenched my fists and blinked in an effort to keep my eyes dry. "I don't know if I can forgive you," I told him.
"Okay. Just... It's..." He tensed, then exhaled, and I couldn't ignore his pain. I wasn't strong enough or deluded enough, but I didn't have to let it affect my actions. "It's the right thing to do," he finished.
I was about to turn and walk away. He clearly wasn't going to stop me, but then I thought of Lani, of his self-deprecation, of how he pretended he didn't care he hadn't done more for other Omegas. "It isn't just me, you know? There's nobody alive who doesn't want a choice."
"Nobody else is asking," he replied.
"Then you ask them,” I snapped. “It's a little hard to ask when everybody's been telling you to shut up your whole life," I explained, not bothering to keep either my bitterness or anger from showing. "Just like it's a little hard to shut up when everybody's been telling you since you were a kid that you know what's best," I added. I didn't know if I wanted to tell him I understood, somehow, or just to get the message through to him, but he still hadn't recovered from his surprise when I turned and jogged back to the house, one hand under my belly to keep it from bouncing.