Cale’s Arctic Wolf
Noel made his excuses to the shifter they’d been talking to and raced after Cale. He’d thought things were going well. Everyone they’d met had been friendly enough that he wondered if his parents had prepped the town for Cale’s arrival. Not that it mattered—anything to make Cale feel more at home was fine with him.
What had put that look on Cale’s face, like he’d just seen a noknika coming for him in the daytime? The beautiful blue of his eyes had almost completely disappeared and, if Noel hadn’t known for absolute sure that Cale didn’t touch drugs, he’d have started wondering if the omega hadn’t gotten into something.READ MORE
Noel burst out onto the street, but Cale was nowhere to be seen. “Cale?” he called out, not really expecting an answer. Whatever it was that was happening in Cale’s head, it had made him run from everyone. Noel pulled out his phone and stared at it for a good minute, wondering if he should call Holland, but what could the other shifter do? Noel didn’t even know what was wrong yet.
He started walking the streets looking for that familiar parka and Cale’s distinctive stride. For the first time in his life, he blessed the small size of their community. There were only so many places a guy could disappear to.
After twenty minutes of increasingly frantic hunting, Noel found him sitting on a bench looking out over Lake Winnipeg, the wind whipping in off the water like a slap. His hood had blown off and the currents of air tossed the long ends of his hair this way and that, half concealing his face. Cale seemed completely oblivious to them, his eyes fixed on the far horizon of the lake.
Noel strode up behind him and grabbed his shoulder. “What was that—” His head snapped back when Cale’s elbow connected, his nose exploding in pain. He barely felt the impact when he hit the ground, his brain two steps behind whatever was happening, but it knew enough to get out of arm’s reach of whoever had attacked him.
Which happened to be Cale.
He pried his eyes open and forced them to point in the same direction, at Cale, who seemed frozen in place, eyes wide and dark, and his hands over his mouth not hiding his appalled expression at all.
“Lysoonka, I’m so sorry!” Cale stumbled forward and fell to his knees beside Noel. “I think I broke it. I didn’t mean to, I wasn’t thinking! I—” He fell silent but his face still showed all his thoughts.
“It’s okay,” Noel mumbled and prodded at his nose, which complained loudly at being disturbed. “The doctor’s in the clinic today anyway, I was going to take you to lunch and then bring you down to meet him after.” He sat up and tilted his head forward so the blood pouring out of his nostrils would run onto the ground instead of down his throat where it was threatening to choke him. “At least I know you can look after yourself. That’s cool.”
“Quin made us learn,” Cale explained as he tried to touch Noel’s face with shaking fingers.
“It’s okay,” Noel assured him, becoming slightly irritated with Cale’s determination to poke at his nose. “Don’t, please. That hurts.”
“Just let me fix it,” Cale begged, reaching for the rapidly swelling structure.
“I need to get it set by the doctor,” Noel snapped and leaned away. “I know you’re learning, but let’s let the professional deal with it, okay? You don’t have to try to do anything.” Sure, people set their broken noses themselves in movies all the time, but Noel thought he knew better than to think that would work all that well in real life. “You still have the tissue pack in your parka pocket?”
Cale nodded enthusiastically and dug out the tiny package to hand over.
Noel fished out a couple of tissues to wipe up his face, then shoved one inside each nostril to catch the blood that was still running. “Can you help me up? We’ll run to the doctor’s then maybe just go home.” He wasn’t feeling much like lunch now and there was still a week left of Cale’s visit—he’d get him out to the pub some other day.
“I think I should do something about it,” Cale said in a strange voice. “Hold still.” He reached for Noel’s face again and, in an outburst of annoyance, Noel batted his hand away.
“Enough, Cale! I know you feel bad, but this needs a real doctor, okay?” One of his front teeth felt loose too. His intended mate packed a good punch when he wanted. Something to be proud of, really.
But later. After he wasn’t choking on his own blood.
“Yeah, I know,” Cale said and, before Noel could stop him again, he cupped one hand behind Noel’s head and the other one over his nose.
Noel reached for Cale’s wrist and froze. Something was going on. He didn’t know what, but even with the wind whistling past, the smell of peaches and spice was strong enough to overwhelm everything else, even the lake. Cale’s eyes were wide but he seemed completely unaware of the world around them. His pupils had gotten even larger and looked—wild, somehow. Primeval, like something out of ancient myth. A shiver of fear ran down Noel’s back, then he felt it. His nose. Warmth surrounded it, leaking out of his own flesh but the source wasn’t him. Then it got weirder. He actually felt things being moved back into place. Cartilage slid back where it belonged with only a twinge of pain. Tickling heat along the inside of his nose made him want to sneeze and he pinched his thigh to keep from disturbing whatever it was that Cale was doing. And it had to be Cale—there was no one else here to be making this all happen.
The heat moved up his nose until it reached the spot between his eyes, then faded. Noel took a deep breath and opened his mouth to speak but then the front of his mouth warmed, the swelling lip above the loose tooth itching fiercely for a moment before both the itching and the pain faded. Then the tooth—it almost felt like it had been pulled up higher in his mouth and fixed in place.
Cale let out a small sound of pain and fell back onto his ass. His face was white and there were tears hovering in his eyes, just waiting for permission to fall. “You should be okay now. I’m sorry.” He rolled himself up onto hands and knees and wobbled to his feet. “I’ll call Holland to change my flight.”
Noel was still touching his nose and his tooth, marveling at the lack of pain, but that last sentence snapped his attention back to Cale. “What? Change your flight?” He wasn’t fool enough to imagine Cale meant he was going to stay longer—the omega’s entire body, scent and all, screamed of embarrassment and fear. The embarrassment Noel could understand. The fear, not so much. “I don’t want you to go.”
Cale turned and crouched down in front of him. “You haven’t figured out what I am yet?” His voice was tight with that same fear, but he was fierce with it now, even with the threat of tears running in the background. “How fucking dangerous I am?”
What the barrens did they teach their omegas down south? Nothing, he suddenly realized. They’d lost so much of their heritage when they’d been relocated to the enclaves. But even this? “I know you’re a miracle.” He reached out to take Cale’s face in his hands and fought with the omega when Cale would have pulled back. “No, listen to me. In this, I do know more about omegas than you do. Alpha or not. You, my love, have just scared the hell out of me. Do you know… No, of course you don’t. I’m going to go down there and fuck up whoever it was that didn’t think to tell you what you could be.” Then he rolled Cale onto his back and, careless of the blood still smeared across his face, he kissed Cale until the omega finally lay quiet beneath him. “Mate me, Cale. I mean it. Paper and all. Mate me, come live here with me. Never wear those stupid tabs again, stay out all night if you want. Go to medical school here—you’d have your choice of them, I’m sure.” He kissed Cale again.
The omega lay quiet beneath him, not refusing him but not engaging either.COLLAPSE