Here and There
Omega Wolves, Book 3
by Willa Okati
Ebook ISBN: 07699-02483
[ Werewolf Romance, MM ]
As the captain of a fishing vessel, Alpha wolf Dominic considers himself married to his work. That’s always been enough for him — he’s never been interested in a family. Until he meets Sawney.
Dominic ran toward the neatly kept cabin as fast as his legs could carry him, knees churning, arms pumping. His jeans were zipped but not buttoned, his belt flapping loose at both sides, and one bootlace had broken when he stepped on the trailing end. He’d somehow managed to put both coat and sweater on inside out, and he absolutely did not care.
He avoided the necessity of steps by vaulting from packed earth to neatly split pine boards, and pounded the freshly painted front door with one fist.
Of course. Dominic lambasted bloody hell out of the door with his other fist. If need be, he’d add a kick or two. A man in his position couldn’t be too proud. And if the doc wasn’t at home —
The top half of the door swung open, while the bottom half stayed latched. Standing behind it, a tall, slim Omega blinked at Dominic through pale green eyes set like jewels in a piquantly angled face, taking him in and not looking overly impressed. At first.
Then, the Omega chuckled and propped one elbow on the inside doorframe. “Who’s in labor?”
Dominic couldn’t find his tongue at first. The Doc, if this was the Doc, was definitely a wolf. Dominic’s Alpha nose wouldn’t deceive him. But Dominic would be damned if he’d ever seen another human being look quite so much like a cat — or if he’d ever had such an instant urge to stroke a man until that man purred. He stayed as clear as he could of entanglements, thanks.
He shook his head briskly and tried again, this time using actual words. “Labor. Henry Call. His Omega, Oliver. How’d you know?”
Doc’s smile widened as he coughed delicately. “Well, there are only a few reasons why Alphas knock on my door with quite that sense of urgency. I don’t smell fresh blood or gunpowder, so it’s not a hunting accident.”
“Could have been a regular household mishap,” Dominic suggested, forgetting his urgency briefly in his fascination with the Omega. “Maybe someone fell down a well.”
Doc crinkled his nose. “I suppose anything is always possible, but there’s nothing like labor and delivery to induce an Alpha panic. I know Oliver. I’ve been seeing him for the past three months. My name’s Sawney, by the way. Please wait here.”
He shut the door.
Dominic boggled at the impenetrable wood, then raised a fist to tap at it. “Hello?”
“Just a minute,” Sawney called back. “I need to get my kit.”
Made sense, but…”And you’re going to leave me standing out here in the cold?”
“You’re a big tough Alpha wolf,” Sawney replied, a smile evident in his voice. “I think you can handle it.” He relented far enough to crack the door slightly ajar. “And I’m not in the habit of letting Alphas I don’t know into my den.”
Hard to deny the sense in that either, but Dominic couldn’t figure why it only piqued him more. Clever and careful usually weren’t turn-ons.
Go figure. Dominic craned his neck for a better peek around and then inside as Sawney moved away. From what he could make out, the inside was as neatly ordered as an operating room. Not so the outside, with evidence of half a dozen tasks started and left unfinished. Probably didn’t have much time for the busywork of a homestead between calls.
Interesting. He’d be a petite wolf, good at speed and distance, and probably an efficient hunter with that sort of focus. Wonder why he went into medicine?
Hell, Dominic wondered why anyone would, but he’d always known he was born and meant and made to captain a fishing vessel. He wanted nothing more, and he loved it with all his heart. For him, shore leave was an occasional necessary evil. Stuck in town overnight while his ship’s engineer fixed a fault in their hydraulic system, he’d planned to toss his bag in a corner of his old buddy Henry’s place, help keep him distracted lest his nine months pregnant Omega throttle him for being too underfoot. They’d planned to go hunting shore-side.
Didn’t happen. Dominic had barely set foot in Henry’s yard before a hell of a racket assaulted his ears. Henry had stuck his head out of an upstairs window and begged Dominic to run for the Doc. Fast.
So he’d done his part. It’d be great if the Doc could do the same.
Dominic raked a hand through his hair when Sawney, still safe inside, set his kit down and pulled a phone out of his pocket. “Doc. Get your ass in gear, would you?”
“First babies take their time,” Sawney replied, implacably dialing. “Oliver isn’t due for another two weeks, though, and while I know of you, we haven’t properly met before, so I’ll just make sure of the situation.”
“About that –”
“Five more minutes won’t hurt.”
Dominic gritted his teeth and waited for the call to not complete, as he would have warned Sawney about had he been allowed. When Sawney frowned at his phone, Dominic cleared his throat. “Their phone’s out. That’s why they sent me running down here. Can we move already, please and thank you?”
Sawney sighed and tapped one foot on the floor. “Did you happen to hear how far apart the contractions were?”
“Two minutes. I have no idea what that means, but he said two minutes.”
Sawney’s eyes widened. He picked up his kit and made straight for the door. “How fast can you get me there? I assume you brought a four-wheeler?”
“About that,” Dominic said. He gave Sawney his best crooked grin, the one that’d gotten him in and out of trouble ever since he’d hit puberty. “I got off a boat half an hour ago, Doc, and I’ve spent ten minutes of that arguing with you.”
Sawney groaned. “You ran over here in wolf form, didn’t you?”
“Carrying my clothes in my mouth,” Dominic confirmed. “He said run. I didn’t think, Doc. I just ran.”
Hard to tell, but he would almost swear Sawney tried not to smile at that. “Alphas,” he murmured, finishing with a click of his tongue. He pointed sternly at Dominic. “I’m only doing this for the sake of my patient. No funny business. No sniffing beyond the rib cage. And you’re carrying my kit for me. Deal?”
Dominic’s intrigue ripened into full blown fascination with the doctor. One cool customer, wasn’t he? And handsome. Couldn’t forget that. He stuck out one hand. “Deal.”
“Hmm,” was Sawney’s only reply, but that definitely was a smile he tried to hide. “Turn your back while I change forms.”
Dominic obeyed, calling back over his shoulder, “I’m not in the habit of assaulting Omegas I’ve never met before.” No matter how pretty they are or how sweet they smell. The scent grew stronger once Sawney exited his house, and almost overwhelming to the senses when his clothes hit the deck.
A shiver rippled through the air. Dominic turned away, as promised. When he looked back, a neat black wolf chuffed at him around the set of scrubs it held in its muzzle. It darted past, feinting a nip at Dominic’s knees. Well? We’re in a hurry now. Let’s go!
A grin split Dominic’s face. Well now. He usually didn’t find much of interest on shore leave, but he had a feeling this particular trip might be a touch beyond the pale.
Bring it on.
* * *
Sawney let himself out of Henry Call’s square red cottage and closed the door carefully, quietly behind himself. Standing on the front stoop, he placed both hands at the small of his back and indulged in a luxurious arch as far back as he could, then left, then right.
Crack! Pop! Crack!
Ohh, that was better. Sawney moaned in relief, then startled at the sound of a single man applauding. He cracked one eye open and found the dark-haired sea captain parked on an old stump used as a chopping block. In the different light, Sawney saw those deep brown waves were ticked with silver, as they had been in Dominic’s wolf form. He brought his hands together in a one-man round of applause and showed Sawney the best side of his most roguish grin. “Nice work, Doc.”
Sawney relaxed into his own smile, slower and wider, and twisted left to get the last bit of stiffness out of his spine. “You were here the whole time?”
“I was,” Dominic said, looking frankly impressed every time Sawney got a good crack! out. “Damn, Doc, how do you do that? Every time I come back from a long trip out I’m knotted up like old rope and it takes days to work the kinks loose.”
Dominic accepted that with a shrug. “‘Course, I didn’t mean just the spine thing. Like I said, I was out here the whole time. Got a few good earfuls of the whole business.” His grin tipped up at one corner. “And again, nice work. You know what you’re doing.”
The praise warmed Sawney’s cheeks, but he was too satisfied to be embarrassed. “It was a good birth. Quick, but letter-perfect. A healthy Omega, a healthy pup. I can’t ask for more.”
“How about an escort home?”
Sawney blinked at Dominic. “Are you volunteering?”
“No reason why I shouldn’t,” Dominic said as he stood and dusted wood chips off the tight curve of his ass. “And it seems fitting. I dragged you out, so I should see you safely home again.”
Oh really? Sawney arched a curious eyebrow. True, it wasn’t the safest thing in the world for an unattached Omega to take a late night stroll by himself, but everyone in the Harbor knew Sawney and his worth as their physician. No one would bother him, and even if they did, Sawney was quite capable of defending himself.
And yet… He closed his eyes and let the warm sense of quiet exuberance flood through him again, the reflected rush of adrenaline and excitement that always followed a good birth.
No, he wouldn’t mind an escort home.
Sawney stepped off the porch, and gestured to the empty space at his side. “Let’s see if you can keep up with me.”
A flicker of challenge glinted in Dominic’s eyes, and his crooked grin turned wicked. “I think I can manage whatever you throw my way, Doc.”
Oh, Sawney didn’t doubt that.
At first their trip was a quiet one. Dominic hummed to himself while Sawney tucked his hands in his pockets and let his eyelids fall to half mast, feeling more like he was floating than walking.
Dominic chuckled. “You always react like this to a job well done?”
“Mmm,” Sawney said with a contented sigh. He could feel Dominic watching him, his curiosity tempered with something warmer, something that mixed well with his own euphoria. “There’s nothing like it — bringing new life into the world, being there to see it happen.”
“I can tell. Feels like I’m walking a young god home from his temple.” Dominic cleared his throat hastily. “Anyway.”
Sawney crinkled his nose as he laughed on the inside. Who’d have thought a fishing boat captain had such a sense of poetry?
He liked it.
“It’s much the same for me as well,” Dominic went on thoughtfully. “When I’m out at sea and I’ve got the bottomless Bering under my feet. Never feels like work, even when I’ve been at it for thirty hours and I’m dying for food and sleep. Always feels like…”
“Like joy,” Sawney murmured. “Like flying.”
Dominic made a rumbling sound of agreement. “Not that it doesn’t have its drawbacks, I suppose,” he went on, his gaze drifting to the water always on their left. “Some men say they’re married to their jobs, and so I am, but the sea’s not an easy lover. Tries to kill you every other day and twice on Sundays, and I keep coming back for more.”
“I asked Henry about you, you know. Oliver put his two cents in soon as he had a chance,” Sawney remarked. “They spoke well of you.”
Dominic acknowledged that with a rumbling noise.
Gruff, but you couldn’t ask for a better man, was Oliver’s verdict. Henry had said simply, I’d trust him with my life.
Their commendations made Sawney curious. “You never mated?”
Dominic shook his head. “No. Plenty of fishermen do have mates and kids and they make it work, but it never seemed the right fit for me. Leaving my mate alone nine or ten months out of the year with no guarantee I’d come back home again, or in one piece? It’s a lot to ask of anyone.” He let out a breath. “Still. Sometimes I think I’d like to leave something good in this world when I’m gone from it.”
Sawney knew the feeling. He also knew what Dominic was going to ask next, because everyone did. The difference was he thought Dominic would actually understand. “I want a baby,” he said. “One of my own. I always have.” And the older he got — thirty-two now — the stronger the yearning became, until it was a never-ceasing hunger. “But if I’m going to help others, to use my skills, I can’t be tied down to a mate. It would never work.”
Dominic made another rumbling noise.
Was it Sawney’s imagination, or had Dominic slowly moved closer as they walked? Sawney didn’t think it was wishful thinking. Dominic’s elbow nearly brushed his, and his steps had fallen into sync with Sawney’s. He moved with a deliberate, rolling gait, probably learned at sea. A fluid motion that should have been at odds with his tough exterior, but fit him to a tee.
Hips that rolled like that would give him a delicious advantage in bed.
The warmth in Sawney’s cheeks suddenly blazed hot. He could feel the heat all the way to the tips of his ears, and he could smell the rush of pheromones wafting from himself. His skin felt suddenly too sensitive, the ground too hard and his knees made of rubber. It wasn’t time for his heat cycle, but he knew better than anyone how the only thing to expect there was the unexpected.
He heard Dominic’s sharp, surprised inhale, and felt a ripple of tension roll through the Alpha. Felt, too, how he brought himself under strict control a half second later. He even came to a stop.
When Sawney opened his eyes to find out why, Dominic only nodded to the right. “We’re here,” he said simply, though his shoulders were drawn tight as wires with the effort of restraint. “Safe escort home, just as promised.”
And so they were. Sawney couldn’t believe it. The trip back had gone so quickly. He touched the tip of his tongue to the bow of his upper lip, thinking as fast as he could. He knew what he wanted, and knew too that it would be playing with fire.
But he’d been so cold for what seemed like so long, and he wasn’t ready to let go of the warmth yet.
Dominic reached up to tug at a lock of his hair. “I’ll be on my way.”
Sawney touched Dominic’s wrist to stop him. “You don’t have to. Come inside. You walked me home, and that means it’s my turn. Let me offer you a drink.”