Most omega werewolves want a mate and pups, but Lee Aung prefers an unconventional party-boy lifestyle. Yet at forty-two, he’s stopped going into heat, which means he’s expired goods—no longer a fertile, young omega that alpha wolves drool over. So Lee uses Wet Heat, a synthetic pheromone, to reel in the alpha hookups.
After losing his job at the bank, Lee can’t afford to keep up his Wet Heat habit. His solution: scam free samples by pretending to be a happily mated test subject at Wet Heat headquarters. There, Lee spends two years being interviewed by the reserved alpha scientist, Cain, who at thirty-two is unmated and—up until this point—content with that.
Cain never really felt his alpha instincts, nor took part in the usual alpha/beta/omega social dynamics. But after discovering that Lee has been lying about his unmated status for two years, Cain finally admits that for the first time, he wants to court an omega. Unfortunately, he’s picked the one omega who doesn’t want to be courted.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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“For God’s sake, just meet him.”
Sitting in his apartment, feet resting on the coffee table, Lee checked his watch. For the past hour, his seventy-year-old mother had been moaning at him over the phone about this arranged meeting with a beta wolf who was absolutely perfect!
But Lee had other plans for the night. Clutched between his fingertips was a vial of Wet Heat, aka synthetic omega heat pheromones. Dab a little bit on his neck, and the boys in the club would give him about five seconds to state his case before deciding whether or not they’d fuck a dried-up, old omega.
He smirked, glancing at the mirror on the wall to appreciate his image. Maybe the ol’ heat factory had shut down, but two hours at the gym each day made sure everything else was tight.
“Listen, Mom,” he said distractedly, “you’re not gonna wear me down on this, okay? After twenty or so years of telling you I don’t want pups, one would think you’d get the message.”
His mother heaved an exasperated, put-upon sigh. “If you had been listening, you’d know that’s what I’m getting at! He doesn’t want them either.”
With a roll of his eyes, he set the vial down on the coffee table. “Yeah, sure. He’s what, thirty-two? Give it another three years—”
“Haven’t you always told me that’s the most annoying thing you could say to someone who doesn’t want pups?”
Damn. She sounded so smug too. “Touché.”
“Well anyway, he’s probably just as cautious as you are. Maggie told me he didn’t really bite until she mentioned you were well past heat age.”
She just had to throw that “well” in there, didn’t she? “That’s not exactly a compliment, Mom. Jesus, does he have a fetish or something?”
Why Lee was even dragging this conversation out was beyond him, but that’s what always happened when he and his mom spoke on the phone. He had no intention of meeting hotshot beta lawyer, or whatever he was, especially now that Lee knew the only reason the guy was interested was because kids were literally impossible.
I’m kinda a hypocrite, huh? He popped a cigarette between his lips and reached for the lighter.
“You better not be smoking!” The words were barked at him before the lighter had even sparked.
“I’m not,” Lee muttered around the cig.
His mom sighed. Loudly.
He grinned. “Look, it’s not gonna happen. I know what I’ve said, but I doubt this guy is serious about the pup thing. Every beta wants to leave a legacy.” He chuckled. “Or sire an alpha.”
“Funny, that’s what he said too—every omega wants to nurture a pup.”
Lee grunted. He was well aware of the stereotype.
“Please meet with him, Lee. He’s established, mature, and ready to settle. I told Maggie you’d be just perfect—”
“Christ, Mom, what did you get outta this?”
There was silence for a moment. “Well, she had an extra ticket to Switzerland . . .”
Lee dropped back, and stared up at the ceiling. He could just imagine what lies his mom had told this woman about him—probably knocked off a couple of years and relationships. Hell, in her version, Lee must have a passion for home economics and a sweet, docile temperament like every good omega should.
He pulled the cigarette away and exhaled. “Mom, the answer is no.” He hung up before she could argue, and turned the phone off. Then he tossed it to the side.
Unsurprisingly, his mother’s efforts to find him a mate hadn’t lessened throughout the years, not even when Lee had stopped going into heat once a month. She’d weathered neighborhood scorn, disappointed extended family, and Lee’s father passing away without seeing their one omega pup at the altar. She’d accepted that he wouldn’t have pups. But she just wouldn’t give up the mate thing.
Well, now Lee was in a bad mood. Best way to fix that was to go out and get laid by some blustery big guy. Preferably a beta—with all of the dominance and none of the asshole entitlement alphas exuded by nature.
Although, that wasn’t to say Lee didn’t enjoy hooking up with alphas. But they tended to be trouble.
He tripped over some old laundry on the way to the door as he zipped the fly on his pants and then grabbed his wallet from the dish as he left. The 9 p.m. bus was idling at the stop when he got there, cementing that things were gonna work in his favor. He playfully flirted with the older gentleman wolf next to him until he reached Locust Street and then pranced out, ready to get the night going.
* * * * *
Of course the first guy he saw was his nephew. A carbon copy of Lee, only half his age—with all the smooth skin to match—Shane was adorable and twinky, and for some reason he loved that Lee showed up at the clubs. Well, not for “some reason.” He had mastered using their likeness to reel in horny pervs who got all hot and bothered watching “younger” and “older” grinding up against each other. Very incesty, very not Lee’s scene.
He swerved right for the bar.
“Uncle Lee! Uncle Lee!”
Holding his hand up, he stopped Shane in his tracks. “Let me get a drink first.”
Shane dutifully fell back. He was wearing a shimmery mesh top and red jeans. Admittedly, very hot.
After finishing a low-calorie cocktail and a whatever-calorie beer, Lee figured he’d made Shane wait long enough and turned to his nephew. “Okay, what?”
Shane cocked a grin and sidled in close to Lee, swinging an arm around his shoulders to say into his ear: “You forgot the Wet Heat.”
Like hell he forgot. He’d just waited until he was actually in the club—wouldn’t want to waste a single moment of the scent’s potency. He fished in his pocket and pulled out the vial. One dab on his neck (and later a few more dabs around the asshole) were enough to catch any alpha’s attention. He nearly squawked when Shane took the vial from him and tipped the thing over his pointer finger. “Let me, Uncle Lee,” he said coquettishly.
You had your time, you had your time, Lee mentally chanted to himself. He’d be a bitter old queen if he let Shane’s youth get to him.
He felt the scent pressed against the base of his throat.
“I love watching you catch them,” Shane said. “Like when they realize it’s fake and then you wiggle your ass and they don’t even care anymore.”
Lee’s lip curled up at that. “Pathetic, right?”
He could always count on Shane to be unwavering in his loyalty and adoration. Lee would slit the throat of any alpha who hurt the pup. Not that he’d ever say that out loud.
He waved his hand at Shane. “Shoo, Daddy’s got business to do.”
Shane pouted a little, even as he slipped the vial back into Lee’s pocket. “Save a dance for me,” he purred, nodding out toward the dance floor where a couple of betas were watching them closely. “Don’t you think we’ll get them slobbering?”
Lee, in fact, had seen betas drool over Shane’s little displays of affection. One time, the situation had gotten a little too dicey when they’d been cornered in the alley and jeered at, ordered to kiss each other. Thankfully, a bouncer had shown up. That particular night had made Lee wonder if (maybe) he wasn’t acting as the best role model for his nephew . . . but the thought had passed.
“Stay out of trouble.” He pushed away from Shane to melt into the crowd.
He’d chosen a tight pair of regular blue jeans and a shirt he’d cut like the kids were doing these days: slit all the way down to the belly on both sides. It showed his trim torso—something he worked very hard to maintain—and teased at the beginning swell of his ass.
He was forty-two years old and playing with the babies.
Of course, he never asked anything of them. When Wet Heat caught their attention, they’d come to him and see what he was about. If they didn’t like the crow’s-feet and the less-than-supple skin, they moved on. But usually that wasn’t a problem.
He loved the gleam in their predatory eyes when they saw something they wanted. When it was him they wanted, and not one of the pretty young omegas. They’d manhandle him to the bathroom, growling extra hard to prove they weren’t intimidated by his age. They’d tease him about the fake scent. He’d tell them to fuck off, and they’d growl even more. They’d slap his ass and call him a mouthy brat.
He loved it.
What he did not love was the pity after-party—the rearranging of hair and clothes while getting thrown surreptitious glances and having to listen to vague, stuttered lectures about how he should be mated by now. None of them were offering, of course—they knew he couldn’t bear them a cute, fluffy legacy anymore. But it was hilarious and amazing how a beta’s or an alpha’s mind worked when confronted with a nonconforming omega. Some of them would even offer the numbers of their widowed fathers.
There was something pathetically charming about their inherent drive to protect and settle an omega, but mostly it was annoying.
This particular one, a corn-fed beta that Lee had snagged from the crowd to make out with in the sticky back hallway, seemed very much like the type to lecture, but earnestly. The inevitability of it was killing Lee’s buzz. But then the big guy shoved Lee against the wall and pulled Lee’s legs up around his waist. Strong hands cupped Lee’s ass.
Well, I’ll just book it before the speech.
Sticking his face against Lee’s neck, the beta took a long whiff, then rumbled low in his throat as he rolled his hips forward. Lee tilted a little to give him more access, breathing heavy when the beta started mouthing at his skin. With each inhale, the guy’s heart thudded harder, his growling becoming more pronounced. His fingers dug into the fabric of Lee’s pants.
Lee smirked. He always knew what got them going—the scent of cigarettes, Wet Heat, and day-old Chinese food. He smelled like a naughty omega who couldn’t take care of himself. It set off every one of those protective, domineering instincts the alphas and betas had lurking in their psyche. They wanted to hold Lee down, fuck him, and then when he was worn-out and docile, set him on the right path.
And that’s what got him going. For a while, at least.
“Fuck, bathroom’s open,” he muttered, eyes cast down the hall to where two betas had just stumbled out. Corn-fed was too busy sucking on Lee’s neck to notice, so he started hitting the guy’s ass with his heel. “Bathroom! Open!”
The guy snarled at him, teeth grazing hard against his neck, and immediately Lee cocked his head in submission. After a pleased huff, Corn-fed headed down the hall with Lee latched around him like a monkey.
He couldn’t decide what position he wanted more this time: maybe bent over the sink, or maybe up like this in the guy’s arms. Hopefully his ass would get smacked around some first to really get things going, and then he’d drop to his knees and take what he was pretty sure was a huge cock into his mouth. Of course, the Wet Heat would have been obliterated by then, washed out by the scents of their own arousal, but Corn-fed had already proven he didn’t care. Wet Heat had a very specific chemical hint to it that, if not by the scent, was obvious by the taste.
The club itself was clogged with scents: lust, desperation, aggression. In the midst of all that cacophony, music was almost an irritant, especially on a wolf’s sensitive ears, but with Lee and Corn-fed pressed up against each other like this, it was easier to drown everything else out and focus on their individual scents.
“I have more,” Lee muttered against the guy’s ear, fishing the vial out of his pocket and shaking it slightly.
One time, an alpha had asked Lee what would happen if he were to dump the whole damn thing over his chest. First off, Lee never wanted to know the answer to that. Secondly, who had the money to be wasting all that Wet Heat? But he was willing to part with a few more dabs if it meant keeping things running smoothly.
His hand was knocked away, though, and he dropped the vial.
His heart stopped. He would kill the guy.
Instead, he clawed out of Corn-fed’s hold, feet hitting the ground. He barely got an inch away before his shoulders were grabbed in a bruising hold and he was slammed against the wall. The guy growled. So much for being an easygoing farm boy. Even as angry hot breath puffed against Lee’s face, he desperately eyed the ground for any sign of the Wet Heat.
“You’re outta line, big guy,” he drawled at Corn-fed, making sure not to challenge further with direct eye contact. He let the beta breathe a couple of times to calm down. Finally, the grip on his shoulder relaxed. Lee quickly dodged away and knelt on the ground, relief washing over him as he caught sight of and grabbed the lost vial.
He stood up, slipping it back into his pocket.
No words were spoken—they rarely were in interactions like this. Instead of an apology, Corn-fed leaned forward and nuzzled Lee’s neck. Then he backed away, offering the option to end things.
Like hell. Lee smiled invitingly, made his body languid against the wall, and waited.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Shane looked up at Lee with blurry eyes. Drugs? Lee couldn’t tell.
But what he could tell was that the three alphas—two men and a woman—sitting around Shane on the plush chairs were too much for the college kid to handle. They all fixated on Lee with interest, obviously catching the family resemblance.
Alphas never said anything cheesy like There’s always room for one more. But that’s only because they felt like their entitlement to a free-wheeling omega went without saying. (Which was another reason Lee preferred betas.) So when the three of them directed a subtle growl at Lee, it wasn’t about scaring him off. It was about commanding him to join them.
However, these alphas were basically children. They looked around the same age as Shane, and Lee was not intimidated in the least bit. He snapped his fingers at his nephew. “C’mon, up up up.”
One of the male alphas—dark hair, well-built, clearly the leader—stood. “You his dad?”
“Why?” Lee said, resting his hand on his hip. “You into that?”
There was a smirk. “Fine with me.”
Lee was done. This was more of a confrontation than he had expected. He quickly reached for Shane and dragged him up. Unfortunately, he couldn’t call on the beta who’d just fucked him for help, not with three alphas staring them down.
Shane was wobbly, and the fact that he hadn’t chimed in at all was distressing. Lee clenched Shane’s cheeks between his hands and stared into his eyes. “What the fuck did you give him?”
He scented discomfort from the group, but not guilt.
“Nothing,” the lead guy said, leaning close as if to look too.
Christ, Shane. What did you take? He couldn’t smell anything physically wrong with him, so there was that. But there was an odd scent—familiar and yet not. It made Lee a little dizzy.
“Look,” he said finally, “find some other brat to gang up on. Someone who wants it.” He made sure to give each alpha a look. Sometimes age had to trump hierarchy. They got the message. “Now, go tell the bouncer someone’s slipping drugs, got it?”
All three alphas nodded, a sense of righteous purpose suddenly lighting their eyes. Lee almost rolled his. But he was satisfied the situation was taken care of, so he hauled Shane out of the club.
“Fuck.” It was pouring. Lee propped Shane up against his side, staying under the overhang as people walked by them. He checked his phone, but there weren’t any free vouchers left from the taxi app he’d downloaded. He pawed through Shane’s pockets, but the kid only had a train pass.
“How were you expecting to get home—” Lee started to mutter, but Oh yeah. Shane had probably figured he wasn’t going home. Brat. Well, that had been Lee’s idea for the night too.
He sighed, letting Shane nuzzle his throat dreamily as he glanced around. At this hour, he could only call a traditional cab, and neither of them had the cash for that.
They did have the looks.
He caught a woman and a man blatantly staring at them from across the street—well-dressed alpha studs with suits and neat hair. Mated, obviously. They had probably been out for a nightcap after work, letting their omegas sit at home, bored. Assholes. When the light turned, they strode across the street straight to Lee. He might as well have sent up the bat signal.
“You okay?” asked the more dominant of the two, her salt-and-pepper hair putting her maybe a few years older than Lee.
Lee sniffed. He clutched Shane close. “No,” he whimpered. “I was just tucking in for the night when I got a text from my nephew. He was trying to hook up. Is that normal for kids now?”
He was wearing tight club gear, his lips were still puffy from being sucked on, and he smelled like Wet Heat, yet these blowhard alphas still fell for the act immediately.
They were both pulling out their wallets and phones before Lee had even finished speaking, dialing cabs and counting cash. “You just take him straight home—his parents’ home. Have them talk to him,” Salt-and-Pepper said as she handed over a few bills.
Lee smiled gratefully. “Thank you so much!” And there it was—chests puffing, shoulders squaring. He could just sense the alpha blood pumping. Two neglected omegas would be facing a horny, domineering surprise tonight.
I’m practically doing a service. He watched them walk away, smug.
When he and Shane finally got back to his apartment, he braced himself for the final trek of six flights of stairs.
“Lee?” Shane kept muttering at him. “Where’d those alphas I was talking to go?”
Of course the missed foursome opportunity was his main concern. He and Lee really were related.
“They’re back at the club, baby.” Lee made sure Shane didn’t crash into anything as they stumbled through the apartment to the living room. Once he got Shane settled on the couch, Lee sat next to him for an hour or so while quietly smoking a cigarette. Finally, he pressed the stub in his ashtray and went to his own room. There, he carefully placed the vial of Wet Heat in his nightstand drawer and crawled into bed.