"That is the ugliest nose I've ever seen."
"You tryin' to start something with me?" I hissed.
"I'm just curious…does that nose carry on to your human form?"
I felt all eyes on me when I let out a growl that was so deep and low that it was generally hard to accept that it came out from such a small Yorkshire Terrier. "I don't have to answer you." I replied.
"That sounds like a yes to me," the Doberman Pinscher taunted. His fur was a dark, satiny brown with a lighter hued brown underneath. The amber eyes could have been considered beautiful if they weren't filled with such mockery.
The two of us couldn't have been more different in appearance. I had albinism, so my entire pelt was white. My eyes lacked so much pigment that they appeared lilac. But, it was still my nose that stood out the most. It was a pale and vibrant pink. Though I knew that in my human form only my lips and the tips of my ears were a similar pink, it wasn't any of his business what color my nose was.
Naturally, I rushed forward and bit one of his forelegs. Growing up, I had no shortage of bullies that would make fun of the way I looked, whether I was in canine or human form. But, I refused to take it lying down.
After a scuffle involving barking, growling, and more biting, the Doberman managed to pin me onto my back with one single paw. His muzzle appeared much larger when it snarled a mere inch from my own. But, the fight hadn't left my eyes and my gaze was as unflinching as it was unrepentant. I didn't care that he was three times bigger than me.
At first, both of us fought the Alpha Scholar's command. The Doberman was an Alpha himself, so he could easily disregard another Alpha's commands if he wanted to. I was a Budding Beta, so I was able to fight the command for a good while before ultimately submitting to it, and the Doberman knew it. He waited until my head fell to the side in surrender before finally stepping off of me. The expression on his face was of snide satisfaction.
Though the response was involuntary, I still felt humiliated having been forced to back down.
My first day at university was going swimmingly so far.
The reason I chose to come to Malamute University was because I didn't have to live at a dorm. The commute by bus was only twenty minutes. I wanted to study to become a history scholar and, while I was at it, find another Beta to date…if I lucked out on my birthday, of course.
The first class of the day had been, essentially, a daily assembly. All students, regardless of what year they were in, had to gather first thing in the morning in their canine forms. In all of our other classes, we were required to be in human form. Though it was obviously supposed to be a time to mingle and for new students to feel welcomed, some fights broke out over dominance.
Usually, the fights were Alphas sizing one another up. Sometimes, even Betas sized one another up. But, Betas rarely challenged Alphas. They were still susceptible to Alpha commands. Not nearly as susceptible as Omegas, but susceptible just the same.
Omegas tended to stay out of all fights. Their partnered Alphas fought in their stead and protected them.
It was sickening.
I've had a few Beta friends that matured into Omegas as soon as they turned eighteen. Male and female alike, as soon as they were claimed by an Alpha, they became so smitten that they were barely themselves anymore. I was tired of losing friends to "maturity." Many Alphas were possessive and controlling, not allowing my friends to even hang out with me anymore.
Not all Betas matured into Omegas. If Betas turned 18 without any changes, then they were Betas for the rest of their lives.
To be honest, I was terrified.
See…I wasn't 18 yet. I skipped a grade when I was younger cause I was a bit of a smart ass. So, I graduated from high school at 17. My birthday wasn't until October 31st. That's right, my birthday was on Halloween. If there were any way I could fast forward past Halloween this year without changing my Beta status, I'd gladly do it.
I turned towards the sound of my name. Since it had been pronounced correctly, "Ah-vee-ohn," I knew that it had to be one of my friends. Sabine, in this case. Long story short, my mom gave birth to me while on an airplane. She had been seated next to an elderly Chihuahua and had asked her what the word for "airplane" was in Spanish. And there you have it, my name means airplane. You wouldn't believe how many times I had to correct scholars from trying to call me "Avon" (no, Avon's not calling) or "Ay-vee-on" over the years.
"Avion, it's only the first day and I heard you already got into a fight with that Alpha Derrick?" Sabine questioned. She was a sandy-haired labradoodle and a Beta.
"Derrick?" I snorted. "Was that his name? Derrick the Doberman?"
"I heard his parents are big-time patrons for the campus," she warned. "I'd steer away from him if I were you."
"I don't care if his parents are in the CIA, I'm still gonna defend myself," I refuted.
"Alright, then try not to die in the process," Sabine insisted.
"If I do, you know who the number one suspect is," I pointed out.
"You saying you'll haunt me until I turn him in?" She joked.
She shook her head at my response. "Anyway, you still hang out with Morgan?"
"Last I checked we were still best friends," I said. "So, yeah. Why?" Morgan was a chocolate Labrador with light brown eyes. He was also a Beta despite his size. Morgan was special in the way he managed to befriend everyone regardless of the status. He was friendly with Omegas, Betas, and Alphas without thinking about it twice.
"Is he currently seeing anyone?" She asked.
Betas had a lot more flexibility in terms of partners. They could easily be partnered with Alphas or fellow Betas. And though it was rare, some Betas even managed to partner with Omegas. The rarest combination of all was an Alpha/Alpha pairing. Alphas were so dominant that it was difficult for them to get along intimately with another Alpha.
"No, I don't think so," I finally answered. "He tried to go out with a Greyhound for a while during the summer, but it didn't really work out."
That was another thing that was so flexible about Betas. Unless attached to a serious Alpha or Omega partner, they were able to date freely. Alphas and Omegas made such strong connections with their partners that they generally mated for life. I wanted to have the same kind of freedom with dating that Sabine and Morgan already had.
But, I had to turn eighteen first.
I found Morgan in my elective Humanities class. We sat down next to each other and were able to catch up on our summer adventures before and after class. I saw a glint of interest in his brown eyes when I mentioned that Sabine wanted to know if he was still available to date.
"Sabine? Really?" Morgan wondered aloud.
"Yeah, she asked me if you were seeing anyone and she seemed pretty happy when I told her you were back on the market," I snickered. "Gonna give her a chance?"
"You know it," Morgan admitted. "What about you? Anyone catch your eye?"
"I wish," I sighed. "Nothing yet."
A frown then formed on Morgan's face. "Your argument with Derrick this morning keeps getting more and more exaggerated as it goes through the gossip grapevine. People are trying to say they saw you beating him up before he managed to pin you down."
I let out a small groan. "It wasn't even much of a fight. He insulted me; I bit him. He pinned me down, and then a Scholar broke it up."
"I just don't want you to be making enemies of Alphas. At least not until after…"
Though he trailed off, I knew what he was talking about. He wanted me to lay low until after my birthday, and he had a right to worry. If I did mature into an Omega after my birthday, then that would mean that I'd become even more susceptible to Alpha commands. Any Alpha who has it out for me could easily exact their revenge on me then.
"I don't plan on making anyone an enemy," I countered. "But, that doesn't mean I won't continue to stand up for myself."
Morgan didn't look very happy with me after hearing that.
Due to Morgan and Sabine's concerns, I was on my best behavior in the weeks that followed. I didn't get into any other fights with Alphas. Everyone settled into an easy routine of going to classes and it was relatively peaceful for the month that followed.
But, then my birthday approached.
Though I tried to deny it, I felt my body changing. Whether it was changing to become more Beta or Omega, I couldn't tell. My only shred of hope was that Morgan and Sabine said that they also felt their bodies reacting strangely when they turned 18, as well.
Shit really hit the fan on the morning of my birthday.
First of all, October the 31st landed somewhere in the middle of the week that year, which meant that I couldn't avoid coming to class.
So, I commuted to my classes in the same way I usually did, by taking the bus. The bus that morning was so packed that I had to hold onto one of the yellow poles that ran along the sides of the seats in the aisle. As soon as 7AM hit, I felt everything change. My body became dizzy and I had to clutch the pole tightly to not collapse. Strange new scents assaulted my nose.
It was almost as if I could tell who was an Alpha on the bus by their scent alone. For some reason, I became aware of the Alphas far more than any of the Betas and Omegas. One would think that they'd smell musky or masculine, but I was smelling food. I'm talking about sizzling bacon, mushroom truffles, oranges, olive oil… and I swore that the guy sitting down next to me smelled of dark chocolate. My mouth started to water. It was the strangest and scariest experience of my life.
My phone slipped out of my hoodie pocket and fell on the floor. I bent down at the same time as the man who was seated next to me reached down. Our fingers brushed, and I felt as if I were breaking out in a fever.
The man's skin was downright searing to me; as if it burned my fingers.
I was so frightened that, as soon as the bus stopped in front of the campus, I ran through the doors before anyone else got a chance to stand up. My phone was the last thing on my mind as I ran through the entrance of Malamute University. All of my senses became further and further attuned to the Alphas all around me.
I didn't know how it was possible, but I could tell which Alphas had partners and which were available. Those that were with mates had softer scents. Those that weren't attached had much stronger scents.
I tried to get to one of the bathrooms, but I knew that I wasn't going to make it. So, I ducked into an empty classroom to hunt down a trashcan. I felt queasy enough to hurl. Before I even reached the trashcan, I heard the door of the classroom close shut behind me. I straightened up, but before I could get a good look at who it was…
"Don't turn around. Stay where you are."
The Alpha command kept me in place, but I swore I felt my bones downright trembling as I tried desperately to fight against it. In spite of my efforts, I couldn't go against the command. When I was a Beta, I was at least able to delay the hold of an Alpha command or bend it.
As an Omega, I was helpless. I tried my best to force some of the terror down and noticed that the voice was familiar. I tried to identify it, but then I remembered that I generally heard many Alphas day in and day out in all my classes. I just couldn't narrow my guess down.
I heard the Alpha coming closer and his scent seemed to go up through my sinuses and into my very brain. He smelled like dark chocolate. My body was becoming quite hungry for it, and I wasn't even that much of a fan of chocolate. Through his scent, I could somehow tell that he was strong and almost painfully available. My inner canine wanted nothing more than for me roll onto my back and wag my tail for him.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Alpha's hand placing my phone on the scholar's desk. Could it be that all he wanted to do was return my phone? He seemed to be a fellow student, if he was able to follow me so quickly without getting lost in the crowd. I was usually more aware of the people around me on the bus, but that morning was so fucked up that I didn't remember ever getting a good look at his face.
I inhaled sharply when I felt a cold nose against the back of my neck and a pair of hands touching my shoulders. When had the hood of my hoodie fallen back? Probably while I was running through the campus. He seemed to be breathing my scent in and I wanted to do the same to him so badly that it almost hurt. I felt his warm tongue swipe along my neck and shivered.
To my horror, I felt a slippery substance starting to secrete from a lower region of my body that never had such a substance inside it before, ever. I started to freak the fuck out.
At least, my mind did…my body was too busy melting under his slightest touch. I was at such odds with myself that I felt tears starting to brim in my eyes.
I swallowed hard. He hadn't ordered me to keep quiet, so I tried to reason with him.
I took a moment to clear my throat. "D-Do I know you?" I prompted.
I felt his smile against the crook of my neck. "Yes…and no," he replied as his hands began to slowly rub up and down my upper arms.
Once again, I felt a tingle through my brain as I tried to identify that voice. Before I could even ask, he spoke again.
"So, you haven't matured until now," he mused to himself. He sounded a little too pleased about that fact. "I can't believe you're actually an Omega."
"Who are you?" I tried again. The longer he kept touching me, the less my body trembled with fear. Yet, my mind still felt that I was in real danger. Since I hadn't formed a bond with any Alpha yet, the Alpha behind me could do anything he wanted with me; at least until students trickled in to the room for their next class. What was the schedule for that particular classroom again?
"Close your eyes and keep them closed. Then, slowly turn around and sit down on this desk." He instructed.
"Wh-why?" I questioned even as my body dutifully obeyed. I gulped hard when I felt him step closer until he was standing between my legs. The proximity of the warmth of his body made me feel another wave of dizziness. But, I didn't have any time to feel mortified about it.
I felt a hand on my chin and then the warmth of a pair of soft, full lips against my own. My brain all but shut down after that. I don't know when or why my lips parted but the next thing I knew a large, warm tongue began to take over my mouth. Oh hell. His very tongue tasted like the creamiest mug of hot chocolate. I found myself kissing him back with fervor, my own tongue taking over his mouth until I was downright sucking on that delicious tongue. At some point, even my hands were clutching the back of his head to keep him in place. I was so aroused that my pants were starting to feel too tight.
I almost fell off the desk when he suddenly took a step back and my upper body instinctively tried to follow him. Huh? The fuck just happened? Where were we again? What were we doing? I felt like I was losing my mind just a little.
"I don't know how much of this is really you or just your Omega instincts…" He whispered more to himself than to me. "I didn't realize it would be so important to me."
Even though my eyes were still closed, I frowned. "What are you saying?" I asked him when I finally began to regain my senses. "Instincts?"
I heard him make a noise of frustration. "I intend to claim you, Avi." He said as his lips brushed the area of the neck he had licked earlier. Hold on just a second. How did he even know my name?
No one had ever called me just "Avi" before. A part of me really liked the sound of it. The other part pointed out that I hadn't given him permission to call me that.
The Alpha then let out a sigh. "Until I can figure this out, you are not to accept any other Alpha's intentions or affection. The same goes for Betas and even other Omegas."
"Wait, then how am I supposed to know if it's you or not if you don't let me see you?" I argued weakly. How did I even begin to follow that command? What if another Alpha tried to hang out with me?
A chuckle. "Don't worry, you'll be able to tell the difference. I bet you already even know my scent. You're an Omega now and, in time, you'll be mine."
Other than the scent thing, none of what he was saying was really making sense to me. It sounded like he wanted to court me, but blindly. Really? And just what the hell was all that bullshit about my being his in time?
"I programmed my number into your phone," He continued.
When had he found the time to do that? Oh, right…I was confused for a good while back there.
"You can respond to my texts, but you are not to call me and you are not to give anyone else my contact information. Do not ask anyone else to call or text me through your phone, either."
"Why the hell not?" I all but huffed. "What's with all this secrecy? Are you really that ugly?"
I felt a change in his stance and realized that I might have stepped on a landmine.
The next thing I knew, he took my hands and dragged them down his face, neck, and chest. He seemed to have balanced facial features and…damn, those were luscious lips. The guy certainly seemed to be in decent shape, to boot. But, none of that helped me narrow down who he was. On the contrary, it made me wonder just who the hell he was even more.
I felt his lips on mine and his fingers tracing the base of my neck once more before he pulled away. Once again, my body tried to follow him like a flower chasing sunlight. "Mentally count to sixty at a steady pace and, afterwards, you are free to move and to open your eyes again."
Fuck. 1, 2, 3…
He was gone long before I opened my eyes. I grabbed my phone and scrolled through it, easily finding the new number listed under "My Alpha." I let out a snort and edited the name until it read "Faceless Bus Stalker."
A part of me was relieved that the Alpha hadn't claimed me immediately. When I assessed myself, I found my body to have finally calmed down. As I left the room, I realized that the scents were no longer overwhelming to me and I was no longer queasy.
I was still out of it when I sat down in my Humanities class several minutes later.
"So, you matured into an Omega and are already claimed?" Morgan snickered next to me. "That was fast. Was it a guy or a girl?"
I frowned. "Wait, claimed?" I asked. "I mean, he didn't…I-I wasn't! Not really, anyway."
"Then, why do you have his family's emblem on your neck?"
My lilac eyes widened. I immediately pulled up the camera app on my phone and reversed the camera so that I could look at myself. An emblem was indeed on the side of my neck. An African violet in a deep purple hue was in an inner circle with the sign for Capricorn above it and a rat below in a dark red. What surprised me was the Scorpio sign to the right and the dragon on the left in blue…those were my zodiac signs. The two circles were plain, unlike the flowering swirls of a finalized emblem.
Well, that explained why I hadn't been approached by any Alphas since.
The fucker had already claimed me halfway.
Have you ever felt like punching a faceless man before?