From the first moment they met, Tanner McCreary and Fitz Walker have always had a love-hate relationship. One that bordered more on the latter, much to the chagrin of Tanner—who knew from first glance that Fitz was his alpha. For some reason, Fitz acted like he wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. Even with the scent-masking drug, Scentex, keeping them free, an omega’s alpha always seemed to sense something in the air when close.
But that wasn’t the case with Fitz.
So Tanner backed off, licked his wounds, and figured fate would lead them back together someday. Maybe then things would be different.
Someday came, but only made the situation worse. Tanner learned they shared a close friend in common—another omega—one Fitz eventually bedded. Brokenhearted, Tanner was sure the gods, fate, or whoever was in charge of binding an alpha and an omega together had gotten it very, very wrong.
His mate wasn’t the one apparently. Tanner lied to himself, saying he didn’t care, and kept his secret close. When the truth finally emerges, Fitz knows he has mountains to climb to make things right, and even that might not be enough.
Fitzgerald “Fitz” Walker’s mouth tasted like hot garbage on a steamy summer day.
He cringed, his eyes refusing to open, all while his head pounded painfully. He smacked his lips, trying to remember why his mouth tasted so damned foul. After dragging himself to a semi-upright position, he forced his dry eyelids open and immediately regretted the decision. Lifting a hand to his aching noggin, he sat back against the leather couch he was quite sure wasn’t his.
His whole body felt like roadkill and then some. The second attempt at opening his eyes went a little better, but not by much. He glanced around the glass house he was sitting in, trying to recall exactly how he’d gotten there and why his whole body felt as if it had been struck by a speeding truck.
“Good morning, Fitzy.”
Fitz slowly turned his head—or else he knew he was going down hard—and saw his least favorite person in the world sitting on top of a large kitchen island, sipping coffee and staring him down. One slim leg was crossed over the other, while the omega looked too damned pleased with himself. Fitz winced, dragging a hand through his disheveled hair.
“Where am I?”
Tanner McCreary lifted one elegantly sculpted brow, an almost smile on his lips. “My brother Quinn’s house.”
Quinn McCreary? Quinn wasn’t exactly Fitz’s favorite person, either. “How the fuck did I get here?” Before the words had fully rolled off his tongue, the memory of the night before slammed back into his brain.
The omega Fitz loved dearly had fallen for another alpha—Quinn.
Bellamy. Even thinking his name felt like a knife slicing through Fitz’s heart. Of course, that could’ve been all the booze he’d drunk the night before to forget the pain of that loss.
“I really have no idea why you’re sleeping on my brother’s couch,” Tanner said before hopping off the island and walking closer. “I came to deliver a painting, and Quinn was nowhere to be found.”
Fitz scrubbed both hands over his face before taking a look at this wild little omega friend of Bellamy’s… who also happened to be Quinn’s younger brother. Tanner didn’t look like the average filthy-rich omega. Where Quinn was all about bespoke suits and perfectly groomed good-looks, Tanner threw convention out the window. Sure, he had the long, braided locks of a traditional omega, but to flaunt his devil-may-care attitude, he’d dyed half his light brown hair a purplish-blue shade and shaved the sides of his head. Add in the many piercings in his ears, and Tanner appeared how one might imagine the Ferals looked—those who lived in No Man’s Land.
Tanner was handsome enough, under all that, he supposed. Or maybe more so because of it. Fitz couldn’t be sure. Handsome or not, Tanner wasn’t his type. And that had everything to do with the omega’s sharp tongue and…
The and was something Fitz had never understood and doubted he ever would. Whenever he was in Tanner’s presence, an odd anger burned inside him. He’d never understood it and doubted he ever would.
For some reason, the sensation wasn’t as strong as it usually was that morning. Instead, he felt a simmering of something else… something that had always been there, deep under the surface of his anger. Ignoring those thoughts, Fitz eyed the cup in Tanner’s hand, his mouth puckering with the need for anything to wash out the foul taste. “Got any more of that?”
“What?” Tanner lifted the cup to his lips, took a great big sip, and then lowered it. “This? You need some java?” The omega smiled his customary arrogant, smug little smile. The one that usually caused Fitz’s jaw to clench. “Rough night?”
“Yeah,” Fitz answered, only mildly irritated by the little sprite. “Can I get some coffee?” He cringed again, knowing full well Tanner wouldn’t make a move unless he made some kind of concession. As much as he hurt, he was willing to beg. “Please?”
The please seemed to hang in the air between them. He lifted his stare to Tanner and saw an odd look cross the omega’s face for a moment before it was gone.
“Sorry. I only made enough for me,” Tanner said before draining the last of the cup and finishing it was a satisfied “aahhh.”
Fucking asshole. “Nice. Thanks a lot, McCreary.”
“Tell me why you’re here and maybe I’ll make you a cup of your very own,” the omega murmured, an evil smile on his lips. He lowered his empty mug to the counter and hopped down, his piercings jingling a little as he landed.
“It’s really none of your business why I’m here,” he snapped before remembering he was trying to butter the man up. He was in no mood to go rooting around a strange kitchen in order to make his own coffee. He would, if forced.
Tanner glared at him. “This is my brother’s house. And since he did just mate your ex-‘friends with benefits’, maybe you did something to him. Will I find Quinn’s body if I search the place?”
Fitz rolled his eyes. “I didn’t kill your brother.”
“Really? As I recall, you just said you don’t remember how you got here. So who knows what mischief you got into between points A and B?” Tanner glanced around before yelling, “Quinn? Oh Quinn? Are you dead?” Tanner walked over to a door, opening it and revealing a way into the garage. “Quuuuinnnn? Oh Quuuuuiiiinnnnnnn!”
Tanner’s screaming and his headache were not compatible. No more compatible than the two of them were. “Godsdamn it… will you quit with the yelling?” He lifted his palm to his throbbing skull. “He’s probably with Bellamy.”
Tanner quickly spun to face him and then closed the garage door behind him with a thunk. “With Bellamy?” Again, a perfectly arched eyebrow dyed the same purple as his hair rose sharply and that smile returned for a moment. “What do you know?”
“Make me that coffee and maybe I’ll tell you.”
Tanner paused a moment, his eyes narrowing. “Tell me and maybe I’ll make you that coffee.”
Fitz growled, knowing they could very well ride along that impasse for an hour if he let it happen. “Look… my head hurts. My whole everything hurts. My mouth tastes like garbage.” He glared at the omega. “If you want a story, I need caffeine in order to tell it.”
From the look on his face, Tanner was trying to decide if a little bit of work on his part—and giving in—was worth the reward offered. “You better tell me everything… or you’ll regret it.”
Fitz knew he might regret it one way or another.
Tanner wandered back to the kitchen, and Fitz heard water running and a too-loud grinder whirling away. That’s about the time his bladder started screaming. “Is there a bathroom close?”
“Front hall, just under the stairs,” came a cry from the kitchen.
Fitz gingerly rose to his feet, the earth only swaying a little. He carefully made his way to the bathroom, wobbling some. Standing before the pot, he unbuckled his belt and unfastened his jeans before lowering the zipper. As soon as he had dick in hand, Tanner came sliding into the bathroom and sat on the bathroom counter next to him.
“Fuck! Tanner!” he cried, trying to cover his cock with his free hand. He looked down and saw he’d accidentally sprayed some on the back of the lid. Great.
“Whoa! Clean-up on aisle four,” Tanner exclaimed. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you to aim?”
“Fuck you,” Fitz spat.
“Oh, you couldn’t handle me, Fitzy.”
Fitz released a long sigh, not delving into that conversation. “Can you get out so I can piss?”
“It’s not like you’ve got anything different than I do.” Tanner tilted his head, trying to get a peek over Fitz’s hand. “Or do you? Do you have some weirdly shaped schlong? Is it all bent and twisty?”
Fitz growled and tilted his body away from the omega somewhat, hiding himself from view.
“Damn. Now I really wanna see it.”