~This chapter has an unedited version with a sexually explicit scene, which can be read for free on Radish Fiction, or on Wattpad in The Nitty Gritty which can be found on my profile~
The long table was set in the main hall. It was filled with visiting pack officials, though rather than pack members. They were sitting along the walls were more tables had been placed. River wasn't with them. Not even among the omegas in the corner.
I glanced down the line. It was a mixed of people in werewolf and human form. Some even had on suits. Something I doubt I'd ever seen Titus wearing again. I caught the gaze of a familiar werewolf. Jet nodded at me, and I gave him a polite smile.
Xavier stood, and the noise died down. "Welcome to Northern Rocky Ridge. My pack is happy to have of you here to celebrate my sons." He glanced at the both of them.
The black werewolf stood and went to stand by his father with Darius on the other side.
Xavier clasped his boys' shoulders. "To the future leaders of Northern Ridge."
The people in werewolf form howled and pounded the table, while the ones in human along with my parent tipped their glasses to them. I lifted my own cup and gave a cheers toward Titus before taking a drink. He was beaming.
The three sat down, and the rest of the room started to eat.
"Congrats, Titus." Rupert raised his glass to him. "I'm glad it's you that has to deal with him instead of me."
Darius narrowed his eyes at the man. "I'm still alpha."
Xavier pointed a clawed finger at him. "Not yet."
The group laughed as Darius scoffed.
"I'm glad you're back, Aden," said Peter softly. "It's been really different without you here."
"Yeah quieter," said Darius.
Storm hit her mate's arm. "He's happy your home as well."
"It's nice being back. I missed this place." I grabbed Titus's hand and gave it a squeeze. "Well, Mr. Beta, I'm also really proud of you."
He kissed my cheek and put his arm around me. "It's a good thing I got my mate back."
Leaning into him, I watched my parents.
My mother appeared disturbed. "This is what Aden is eating?" she whispered to her husband. "No wonder he's gained weight. There's no nutritional value here."
I glanced down at my stomach. I had not gained weight, maybe a little.
Titus chuckled in my ear. "A little more muscle, that's all."
"Hmmm..." I started to dish my plate with my mother's eye on me the entire time. I spotted one of the few bowls of fruit down the table. Fat, my ass. I wasn't going to listen to her lecture me. "I'll be right back."
I stood and slipped away. Spotting two women sitting together, I stopped behind them. "Excuse me."
The one with black hair turned.
"Can I have the fruit bowl?"
She smiled and picked it up. "Human born?"
With a sigh, I nodded. "Thank you." I took it from her.
"Did your mom send you down here?" laughed a deep voice.
Jet and his father were sitting a couple seats down across the table.
I shrugged. "She's always telling me I'm not eating right. I figure it was better than listening to a health lecture."
Jet shook his head with a smile and took a drink from his cup. "You better hurry back." He glanced toward the head of the table. "Titus looks a little worried he might have lost you again."
"Yeah," I said, slightly annoyed. "Thanks for coming." I hurried off and returned to my spot. I set the bowl in front of my mother. "See we do have healthy choices, and I'm the only one that ever eats any of it." I nudged Titus.
She grabbed an orange. "Not surprised," she breathed. "Not surprised at all."
I grabbed a couple more apples and put them in the basket I had found in my room. Titus was still off at some dominant werewolf ego boosting session. After putting a few more items in it, I went to the alpha's room. Rose was sitting with my mother chatting, while my father was sleeping off a food coma. He enjoyed himself at least.
"Aden, where are going with that?" asked my mom.
"I was wondering if you knew where River stayed? I didn't see him at the feast, so I thought he might be hunger."
"Who's this River?" My mother looked between us.
"I'll tell you all about it." She patted my mom's leg. "Go to the end of the hallway and turn left. Follow it until you see a hall that leads to the very back of the cave. You might have to use that nose of yours to find it exactly."
"Thanks. I'll be back later." I hurried down the corridor until it ended and turned left like she had said.
Slowing down, I scanned the area. My werewolf sense still sucked. I couldn't smell anything. I stopped in front of a hallway with very few sky lights. It looked like it went back a long ways. With a deep breath, I used my human intuition instead and started down it.
"River," I called. "River, it's me, Aden. I brought you some food."
I kept going, occasionally yelling his name and found myself further into the cave than I knew it went back.
Holding the basket to my chest, I looked around. "River, River are you here?"
Scratching noises came from behind what I thought was a rock. The dirty piece of fabric pulled to the side, and a blond head of hair popped out.
I smiled. "I'm back and with gifts." I picked up an apple.
"If he has a problem with it, I can always threaten to go home with my parents."
He tried not to smile. "Want to come in?"
"Sure." I dropped to my knees and examined the small entrance.
Xavier was right. It was the perfect place to hide from bulky dominants. Lowering to my stomach, I army crawled in after him, pushing the basket along in front of me. The tunnel opened up into a room with its own skylight.
"Wow." I climbed out and looked around at all the different things he had stashed in there. "What are these?" I picked up a rock with gems imbedded inside.
"Crystals. Don't tell alpha, though. I had to go pretty far from the pack to find them. He might get mad."
I put it down with the others. "You could just say you found them in the river."
He nodded. "Oh. Yeah, I guess so. Do you want me to show you everything else?" He gave me an uneasy smile.
I nodded. "Sure, you might want to shift, though. I'm getting a little too much of an eye full."
River glanced down at his naked body. "Oh, right. Sorry." He shifted into his golden werewolf. "I collect bird eggs too."
He carefully lifted down a box from an upper ledge. Inside were brightly colored shells.
"They're really brittle though. I had to poke a hole in them and suck out the yoke. I broke a lot, before I was able to get these."
"Hmmm..." I forced a smile. That was a little weird. "Egg bandit really suits you."
"What?" He put the box away.
"Nothing, what else?"
He gave me a full tour, from his river rocks to leaves. When you spent so much time alone, I guess starting a collection was the easiest way to pass the time.
I examined one of his crystals. "Does anyone know you have all this stuff back here?"
River shook his head and sat down beside me. "No. I had an egg once. It was perfect," he sighed, "bright blue, and a dominant caught me with it before I could hide it. He smashed it. Since then, I've always been afraid they'd ruin it or take if from me."
"I think they're safe inside here." I handed over the basket. "But I won't tell anyone, just in case."
River's tongue ran across his lips. "Do you want some?"
"I'm still full. I brought it all for you."
Grinning from ear to ear, he filled his muzzle.
I turned the crystal over and over. "Why didn't you go to the feast?"
His eyes flicked up to me, and he wiped his mouth with the back of his arm. "I didn't want to make Titus mad. It's his party, and other packs were there. If I embarrassed the alpha, he'd be really cross. He might even punish me again." He rubbed his arm.
The was a faint scar beneath his fur.
"Did it heal up okay?"
River nodded. "Are you?" He glanced at my shoulder.
"Oh yeah. Titus is the one who did it, and I have his healing enzymes."
"That's good." He bit off a huge piece of bread from the loaf I had brought.
"You don't have to eat it all right now, River," I laughed. "Save some for tomorrow. I brought it all for you. I'm not an omega anymore."
He let out a shaky breath and bowed his head.
"River," I breathed. I sat up and pulled him into a hug. "Come on. We're men. We can't be getting emotional over simple stuff like this."
My joke just made him start crying.
"I'm kidding." I rubbed his back. "We all cry. I'm not going to abandon you just because I'm not an omega anymore. When I said we'd still be friends, I meant it." I lifted his muzzle. "You're not getting rid of me, so please for godsake stop trying."
He smiled and wiped his face. "Thanks, Aden. It was nice not to be alone for once."
I bumped his shoulder. "Thanks for helping me out. I probably would have starved without your omega skills."
River scoffed at the comment. "Titus would never let that happen. He loves you too much."
I nodded. "Yeah, a little too much."
I wandered back through the tunnels to the alpha's room. Xavier was coming the other way.
"Where have you been?" he asked, raising a brow.
"I didn't do anything wrong," I exclaimed.
"He took some food to River, dear," called Rose from inside.
He sighed in relief. "There are too many visitors here Aden. Please, don't wander off until they leave."
"Promise," I said with a smile.
"Speaking of River," he cleared his throat. "Tomorrow, can you bring him to the hot pools."
"Why?" This was unexpected, and it better be good news.
"There are some single werewolves here, and some happening to be gay. River is a fine looking boy, and he might peek someone's interest."
I nearly jumped for joy, but settled for hugging him. "You're awesome. Don't you worry. I'll get Peter to help. We'll doll that boy up and make him ooze sex appeal."
"I think he's more the cute type," laughed Rose."
"Fine, cute. But don't you worry bout a thing. Peter is this expert fur stylishist. You should see all the soaps he has."
Xavier's blank expression hadn't changed.
"Well I better get going. If you're here then Titus is on his way back to the room. Bye." I shuffled passed him.
"I'll never get that boy," he muttered.
"They're a different breed, Xavier, called subs."
I sucked in my lips at the comment. We don't were as uptight as everyone else that all. I jogged to my room and found that Titus hadn't returned yet. Noises coming from next door.
"Peter!" I called. I turned the corner and caught the couple kissing between the opened curtains.
The white haired boy jerked back. "Yes?"
"Sorry, but the alpha has a favor to ask."
He bristled at the comment and looked to his mate.
"And?" growled Rupert.
"He wants to show River off to a few dominants, and your amazing at fur care. I said you'd help me get him ready."
Rupert brows pinched together. "The omega?"
I nodded. "He's a sub. I thought it would be okay."
The tension lessened in the dominant's shoulders. "Yeah, I guess he is."
"You're okay with me helping, then?" Peter peered up at his mate.
Rupert nodded. "He's a sub and the alpha did ask, so yeah. I'm fine with it."
Peter smiled. "Come get me when it's time."
"Will do." I backed up. "And sorry about interrupting." I motioned between them. "Yeah, so see you tomorrow." I shuffled out of view and hurried into my room. I sat on the bed and waited. Titus's loud voice marked his soon arrival.
He pulled back the curtain and gave me a grin. "That's a sight I've missed."
I opened my arms for him. The black werewolf lowered into them. He kissed me.
I jerked back. "Your breath is horrible. Have you been drinking?"
He nodded. "The Midfield pack brought the good stuff."
"I thought werewolves couldn't get drunk. That's what my dad said."
"We can't, unless it's really, really strong. The effects are already starting to go away, though." He flopped down on the bed and closed his eyes. "What have you been doing?"
"Took River food." I waited for a response, but Titus's seemed okay with it. I ran my finger though his stomach fur. "Your dad wants me to bring him to the hot pools tomorrow. I guess their some gay dominants here, and he'd like to show River off a bit. Peter's going to help me get him looking sexy for them."
Titus chuckled. "I don't think Peter does sexy."
"So I'll handle the sexy part, and Peter can just make sure his fur looks good."
"Hmmm..." his eyes opened. "So you're the sexy one."
"I got a little fire," I reassured him. "It's in my fur."
"Oh," he laughed. "Well then, my sexy mate, it's been awhile, and I think I need taste of that fire."