Claire had never broken into anywhere before and starting with the office of three alphas had to be among her worst ideas.
She’d smelled plenty of alphas over her years, and it always stirred the conflicting impulses of excitement and fear. That was an omega’s lot, however. To crave what would destroy them, to want what posed the most danger to them. Every alpha she encountered made her want to drop to her knees and yet flee at the same time. She’d keep her distance, use lavender oils to dilute their scent—anything to lessen her reaction—but it still soaked into her.
If she’d been anywhere else, doing anything else, she’d have run as fast as she could. Even one alpha could ruin everything, so the scent of a few clouded her head.
Still, she didn’t have a choice. She couldn’t run.
What she needed had to be locked somewhere inside that office, and she lacked any other options. Despite having gone over things a hundred times, she’d come to the same conclusion—the information was there.
Claire opened another drawer of the desk, her hands shoving papers aside, looking for notes, a calendar, something. The files on the computer would tell her what she needed, but they’d be password protected. She couldn’t break into it, since even turning on her computer challenged her some days.
She didn’t need much, just a name—one clue to who she searched for.
Another drawer checked and nothing.
The gnawing ache in Claire’s stomach made her shut her eyes and force breath through clenched teeth. Her skin heated and the sweat between her shoulder blades had her top clinging to her back.
What was wrong with her? It reminded her of the start of a heat, but she’d have recognized the signs long before. Heats didn’t just happen. She’d have felt unsettled, not hungry, would have wanted to make a nest. Weeks beforehand, she’d have had symptoms telling her it neared, giving her time to up her medication and avoid it. She hadn’t reached thirty as an omega without recognizing the signs of an upcoming heat.
The sensation had started after she’d sniffed a rag when searching Jackie’s home, smelling something on it she couldn’t place. Strong pheromones, but not alpha, not quite. The only thing her brain had told her was that it was wrong.
Not that it mattered right then. Whatever caused the pain in her stomach, whatever drew forth the sweat on her forehead, she had to ignore it. She needed to focus, to finish her search and get out.
The entire room reeked of alpha. Three of them spent time in that space, and she could pick out the scent of each one. She wanted to close her eyes, to inhale deep, to draw the smell into her lungs and let it seep into her. Hell, she wanted to crawl into the couch and bury her nose in the cushions. The moment the idea came to her, she chastised herself. If they returned to find someone in their space, someone searching their things—well, Claire had no desire to see what they might do.
Alphas weren’t known for their wonderful temperaments or willingness to forgive. They tended toward territorial, angry and possessive. The last thing Claire needed was to get taken in, to risk tests that might show her for what she was.
Life as an omega wasn’t easy ever, but to be tagged? To have to run again? To try to make a new life, a new identity, assuming that no one sold her off before that? No, she wouldn’t risk losing all she’d built.
She pulled her lock picks from the pocket of her cargo pants, taking the rake and the tension rod she’d practiced with for months. She’d taken up the hobby as a way to keep her hands active when anxiety got to her, but it seemed she’d need to put the skills into practice. She worked the tools until the cabinet clicked open.
Claire leafed through the files for the date she needed, but they organized nothing by date, only names. Even with that, the paperwork had payroll for receptionists, receipts for business expenses, but nothing on clients.
She shoved the cabinet closed on a huff, the metal clashing. Where the hell else could she look? Where else might she find something on clients and installation schedules?
The clearing of a throat behind her had Claire spinning. Had someone caught her? Could she talk her way out of it? When she turned, she came face to face with her worst nightmare. Three huge men stood between her and the only exit.
No, not just men. As the scents hit her and her stomach clenched and her head spun, she realized three things.
One, the three men were alphas.
Two, they were the alphas who always spent time in this room.
And three—the worst part—Claire was for sure in heat.
She doubled forward, her stomach cramping. She grasped the side of the desk to stay upright, her breath sawing in and out of her chest as her body went crazy.
She was in heat. Her body rebelled against the years of suppressants she’d used to keep her natural cycles locked away, pain nearly driving her to her knees. It only cared for the alphas in the room, the alphas who could satiate the need crawling through her.
“Who are you?” The question came from one of the men, but it was far away. At least, it seemed that way, as if he called through water miles off.
When a hand set on her arm, she realized he must have spoken from closer.
She could recall none of the excuses she’d come up with. Everything beyond the clawing need inside her vanished until all she could do was turn and bury her face into the warm neck of one of the alphas, to draw his scent into her lungs.
“Fuck. She’s in heat.”
Hands grasped her arms, pulling her away from the heat, the warmth and the smell. She fought against it, a snarl on her lips, until she realized the two who had pulled her away were alphas as well. Any one of them could satisfy her, could take away the pain that spread through her body, that infected her mind and reduced her to instinct.
The alpha she’d pressed against caught her cheeks, forcing her to look into his eyes. A hard growl from him drew her attention, that edge of fear and excitement catching her. “Do you have any medication to stop this?”
She shook her head. Like most omegas, she left all medication at home where it wouldn’t be discovered on her. She’d never expected to be caught in a heat outside. She took her pills on time, never failing, never missing a dose. The price for forgetting was too high.
Why is this happening?
His lips pressed together, and his hand came to rest across her lower stomach. Even the touch caused her cunt to clench around nothing, her hips to rise.
A similar growl came from each of the men, cut off just as fast.
The man turned to speak to one of the others, but the words didn’t matter to Claire. She didn’t care about words.
“She’s too far gone.”
“You can’t just knot an omega who breaks in here.”
“What else are we supposed to do? This sort of reaction? The way she reeks of lavender? She’s been putting this off too long.”
“We could call the cops. They’ve got alphas on staff to deal with this.”
“Then we never figure out why she’s here, and she gets shoved into the system? Come on, Bryce, you know what happens to omegas like that.”
They argued, but the alpha in front of her allowed her to drag her nose against his throat, to drown in his scent, so she stopped struggling. Between his smell, the grasp of the other’s hands and his hand on her lower stomach, it was enough for the moment.
Too soon, he pulled back to look into her eyes. “What do you want, omega? I can call the cops and they’ll have an alpha who can help you.”
Cops. Arrested. Registered. Those words broke through her haze, had Claire shaking her head. She couldn’t have that happen, couldn’t let them do that.
“Easy, omega,” said the alpha to her left, a soft purr offered after the words.
While the idea of an alpha calming her with his purr would have had Claire ready to snarl at any other time, right then, it helped. It eased the fear and tension.
The alpha in front of her exchanged looks with the other males before nodding. “Okay. We won’t call, not yet, but we’re still in the same position. You came out near your heat, and with your reactions, you’ve been putting this off for a while. We can take care of you, omega.”
Claire had never wanted a single alpha, let alone three. She’d managed a decade without the touch of an alpha, without submitting to the part of her she hated. How could she throw it away now? How could she give in to what she’d fought so hard to get away from?
“What do you want?” The man before her snapped the question.
A flinch from Claire brought a harsh answer from the one on her right. “You have no idea how to talk to females, do you? Look, sweetheart, you’re going to be hurting, might even be dangerous to go through. You let yourself go too long, and this, it won’t be fun, not without some help.” The voice came out sweet, charming.
Another wave rushed through her, and a thin whine left her throat.
The last man spoke, the silent one who had purred for her. He ran his finger across her jawline, a light touch she leaned into. “We won’t hurt you. You’ll be safe, I promise.”
Claire moved backward, shaking her head to clear it, the men releasing her. It put her in front of all three, each larger, stronger, more powerful than her.
What did she want?
She wet her lips with her tongue before nodding. “I want you.”
Claire’s back hit the wall so fast she gasped. The male who had spoken first crowded her body with his as he took his first kiss.