6am. I was making breakfast. Not able to sleep, I had tossed and turned all night.
A girl. She was unmistakably a girl. I didn’t even know myself anymore.
The pan sizzled and I hurriedly removed a half-burnt omelette, sighed and poured on another one. I flipped the bacon on the other pan, and the chicken breast on the skillet.
Never in all my twenty-three years had I ever found a girl attractive. Never!
And she just had to be Dustin’s mate. Icing on the cake.
“Good morning, Riles!” Dustin chirped from behind me.
“What are you so happy about?” I grumbled.
He shrugged. “I just slept really well.”
I removed another omelette and poured on the last one. I had already made about ten omelettes. The bacon was heaping into a pile, right next to a stack of pancakes. Chicken took much longer to cook, and it had been a more of a spur of the moment thing.
“Can’t believe you had to cancel on Cole yesterday,” I said. “Did you call and ask for another meeting?” I kept my back to him. I couldn’t face him.
“That’s the funny thing--” I saw him pick a pancake from the corner of my eye, “--he’s the one that cancelled. I don’t know, Riley, but I think Freya’s telling the truth.”
“Freya?” I asked glancing at him. He was standing at my side, leaning against the cabinet.
“The girl I run over.” He flinched.
I laughed. “I mean you did run her over.” I removed the last omelette and switched the heat off. I focused on my other food.
He hit my arm playfully. His tone was serious as he said, “She says that they kidnapped her.”
That got my attention and finally made me meet his eyes. A strange urge to protect Freya filling my guts. “Kidnapped? Why?”
“Because I’m a Siren wolf.”
We both jumped and stared at Freya behind us. I hadn’t heard her come in, and apparently neither had Dustin. We hadn’t smelled her either, but maybe that was because she had showered with Dustin’s soap and body wash and shampoo and everything that made up Dustin’s scent. And of course, she was wearing his too-big clothes; the sleeves fell past her fingers and the sweatpants pooled at her feet.
Her hair though was beautiful, to say the least; long, down to her waist and honey blonde with lots of springy curls. My hands itched to touch it.
I gulped, not quite believing it. I was attracted to her.
She snorted. “You two are such omegas,” she said, glancing at my hand clutched at my chest. “Does either of you have a phone?”
“Ummm...over there,” I said pointing at my phone lying at the kitchen table.
She took it. “Can I make a call?”
She walked away.
Dustin looked at me with wide eyes. “She has light footsteps.”
I smiled because it was true. I looked away because he didn’t have to be so darn cute about it.
I put the chicken onto a plate and just before I set it on the table, Freya was there grabbing it away from me. “You don’t mind?” she asked--more like informed-- me.
Her brown eyes glowed with mischief as her fingers grazed over mine to pull the plate away. I swallowed hard. She placed my phone in my then free hand. I hurried back to the bacon, not wanting anyone to see how uncomfortable I was in my jeans.
A girl. Really?
“What’s a Siren wolf?” Dustin asked from behind me. I heard chairs scraping as the two of them sat down.
“You’ve never heard of us?” Freya asked, perplexed.
“I told you we weren’t raised in a pack. We have no idea what goes on the wolf-shifter community. Riley isn’t even a wolf.”
I groaned inwardly. I really hated the spotlight.
“What is he?” Freya asked. I liked the brashness of her tone. It went well with her accent; she sounded like a cowboy......cowgirl?
“Nah uh,” Dustin said, words distorted by the food in his mouth. “Answer me first.” He had probably guessed that I was uncomfortable.
I steeled myself as I put the last of the bacon on the plate. I carried the coffee pot with me and sat at the table.
We ate in silence. I looked up expecting Freya to be staring at me, but instead she was staring uncomfortably at the chicken on her plate.
I looked back at my own food, refusing to meet Dustin’s gaze. I still felt guilty for coming onto his mate. That added onto the guilt for getting a hard-on just because she had touched my hands. I wanted to sink through the floor and never come back.
How clingy did that make me?
Freya spoke up. “We are named after the mythological sirens of the sea. Although I’m not sure just how mythological they are.”
“You lure men to their deaths?” I sputtered, everything suddenly adding up.
She did not glare at me like I expected. She just kept on talking in that quiet voice.
“Back then, when we still lived in Siren packs, we were revered by the wolves. We’d even pick our mates like normal wolves do. Then out of nowhere they all decided we didn’t deserve that right.” She shrugged. “I know the rest of the wolf shifters say we grew vain, but we know the obvious.
“The alphas grew greedy. They started to hunt us down. Most of the Sirens chose to die than allow themselves to be alpha play things. And when the Sirens were much fewer than before, the Alphas started to fight over them.” She looked up at me. “It’s their deaths you speak of. That’s when they started to call us ‘Sirens’.”
“I don’t understand,” Dustin said running his hands through his hair and down his face. “Why this obsession with Sirens? What’s the big deal? No offense,” he added quickly raising his hands.
“Wolves with alpha potential want us so that they can start new packs. Any wolf would desire to join a pack with a Siren wolf claimed by its Alpha. It’s the only way those idiots know. ”
Dustin just seemed tongue-tied and he stared at her.
“Claim?” I asked. “Like mate?”
“Yes and no,” she answered. “Mate bonds are permanent. Siren bonds are not. They can be severed by any other wolf that comes along. They’re also a forceful bond. The alpha basically asks for half your soul, and if you know what’s good for you, you hand it over.”
“That’s horrible,” Dustin said. “Why don’t the other wolves stop them? I mean the ones that aren’t Alphas?”
“Because a Siren mate for your alpha strengthens the pack. Like an Omega, but so much more.” She chewed on her upper lip. “When mated, we develop special abilities.”
I perked up. “Like shooting fire out of your hands? That sort of thing?”
“Not that extreme.” She thought for a while. “My father can sense people’s emotions. Things like that. Simple powers. Non-violent.”
“Where’s your pack found?”
She looked at me like I was insane.
“Sirens can’t live in packs.”
“But you just said--”
“No, no, no. We live in families, like humans. We move around a lot because we can’t let ourselves be captured. If we’re lucky, we find shifter-free lands and build homes there. But wolves like to roam and settle in new places, so every so often we have to move again. It doesn’t help that we start to scent like Sirens when we turn fifteen. And the scent grows stronger until around fifty when it begins to fade. It only goes away when we’re claimed. So a pack of Siren wolves would just be a huge scent beacon.”
I sniffed. “You don’t smell any different from other wolf-shifters.”
There came that look again. “You can’t scent me. You’re not a wolf.”
“Ahhh!” I turned to Dustin.
He shrugged. “She smells normal.”
She raised a brow at him.
He squirmed. “I mean she does smell better than any wolf I’ve ever met--” he frowned at me, “--but so do you.”
My heart fluttered. He smelled really good for me too. But that was because he was my mate. And Freya smelled good because she was his.
I knew all this and still, a blush crept up my cheeks.
“Has he always smelled like that to you?” she asked.
“Like what?” he asked.
He looked at her suspiciously. “Yeah. But that’s because he’s not a wolf, right?”
She gave him that seemed to say he wasn’t very smart. She smiled humorlessly. “Keep telling yourself that.” Then she went back to her chicken.
I wondered what she meant by that.
“Thanks for making this. Chicken is my absolute favorite. I was afraid y’all would only have human food.”
I remembered the insane need to cook the chicken that had struck me this morning and my pulse kicked up.