The Omega Auctions, 9
Copyright © 2019 by April Andrews
The ballroom that Alexander Lupin found himself in on a cold, rainy night was a perfect circle—or at least as perfect a circle as human hands could make. In the middle of that ballroom was a circular stage. Around that stage were over a dozen circular tables. And, if that wasn’t enough, the golden lights suspended above him, dozens and dozens of them, were also circular, or spheres he supposed. The only break in the smooth curves came from the people who were busy making their way into the ballroom, taking their seats at the tables or simply mingling with one another.
Alex didn’t know any of these people, and for some reason their hard angles against the multitude of circles and spheres made him angrier than he had been when he’d arrived just a handful of minutes ago. It took quite a bit of composure to stop the scowl he could feel bubbling within from showing up on his face, because scowls, frowns, grimaces—none of them would be acceptable here. Or perhaps it was better to say that none of theemotionsbeneath them were welcome.
They had no place in a room where the people were all smiling, all laughing, all happywith anticipation.
As Alex scanned the room, taking in everything around him—the circles, the people, the atmosphere—he wondered where his anticipation was. Hadn’t he worked towards this for over three years? Hadn’t he spent tens of thousands of dollars to even be allowed in the same room as these people? Surely, and despite the anger, he should be feeling some excitement? Some eagerness for what was about to happen.
Only, Alex didn’t. He was annoyed by what he could see here. He was pissed off that this place even existed. And he was fucking furious that these people were happy. But then, he’d known for a long time that he would feel this way once he was actually inside. It couldn’t be helped. Was to be expected.
What he was surprised about, what hehadn’texpected, was how nervous he was. Though surely, he should have expected that? Early mornings, late nights, and everything in between, had brought him to this point. So much rested on what was to happen over the next few hours. It would be weird if he wasn’t nervous.
It all came down to this.
He let out a shaky breath at that thought, swiftly followed by a careful exhale. The people continued to flow into the ballroom, a steady stream of them making their way to their seats, smiling and chatting with each other as they passed by. They were all human, there was no question of that. Alex might not be a proper shifter, but he was still, somewhere deep inside, wolf enough to recognize one of his kin.
There were no wolves in this room.
And certainly, no omegas.
Just humans. Rich humans. Pampered humans. Humans who demanded things that they shouldn’t even know about, never mind covet. And yet, they did.
The anger, the irritation, the annoyance, it all rose again. Sharp. Biting. Alex drew in another deep breath. He had to keep some fucking control! He was here for one reason and one reason only, and he had to remember that. Remember how important it was.
With that thought in mind, Alex moved away from his spot at the very edge of the ballroom and began to make his way across the circular space. He narrowed his eyes on the path in front of him, looking as he did so for the table that he was supposed to sit at. The encrypted message he had received early Monday morning had made it quite clear that his seat was allocatedonlyto him, and that he should sit onlythere. The message had included other information as well. Where tonight’s ‘event’ was taking place, what time he was supposed to arrive, and what method of payment he should bring.
Alex clenched his fists as he continued walking, winding around the tables, past the happy people, the glow of the spheres seeming to heat him from above. He was almost there, at his seat, when something hit his shoulder. Alex turned, scowl still buried deep, fists no longer clenched, to see a woman—dressed head to toe in red—stepping away from him. He shot her a brief look, and she returned it with what could only be described as a soft sigh.
“Apologies,” she said after a moment. “I didn’t see you there.”
Alex was over six feet tall and wide enough that the woman would have to be near blind not to have noticed him.
“It is not a problem,” he said, and he really tried to keep his voice as smooth and non-threatening as possible.
Perhaps he was unsuccessful? Or, perhaps the woman just liked what she saw? Either way, she arched a perfectly manicured brow and let out another soft sigh.
“At the very least I should get you a drink,” she said. “To apologize for the inconvenience.”
“It is no inconvenience,” Alex replied even as he recognized the look that was now stamped firmly across the woman-in-red’s face.
It was always the way with human women. And, the worst of it was that they didn’t even realize that they hungered because of what he was. That on some level, buried deep, subconscious even, they understood that he was different, andthat, not him, was what they responded to. Still, it was fucking annoying, and Alex had dealt with women like this for more years that he cared to remember. Not just women but men too.
Alex lived with them. In their world. By necessity he had built his own life within it. But it was at times like this when heachedfor the world he had once known. The world he could never return to.
A world he didn’t belong in.
He opened his mouth to reply to the woman, though he wasn’t even sure what he planned to say, when a male—a human male—appeared at her shoulder. The man had to be sixty if he was a day and he reeked of money, from his silvered hair all the way to his polished shoes. Alex had met plenty of males like this during his time in the human world. Money talked here. It was what the humans used to establish dominance. How different it was from the shifter world where strength mattered above everything else.
“Are you joining our table?” the male asked, gesturing to where Alex was supposed to sit.
His voice was friendly, interested. Alex looked from him to the red-clad woman, quickly establishing their relationship. Lovers, what else, but more on his part than hers. Though Alex did not doubt that the rubies that dripped from her ears and her neck more than made up for any negative emotions she might feel about their arrangement.
“I am,” Alex said.
The other man smiled and held out a hand. “Tomas.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Tomas said as he waved them towards their seats.
The other seats were empty for now. The woman in red took the seat next to Alex. Was it even hers? Did she care? Was she rich enough that it wouldn’t matter, even here, in this group, at this event? Alex didn’t know but he considered it as he sat down, considered her and Tomas, and wondered exactly how many of these events they had attended and what had happened at the end of them...
“Are you hoping for anything in particular tonight?” Tomas asked as drinks were poured for them. Alex had no intention of drinking. As a rule, he simply didn’t. There was much that happened in the human world that Alex didn’t take part in.
“Nothing in particular,” Alex said slowly.
Tomas grinned. “Keeping your cards close to your chest?”
“Something like that.”
“We’re here for Monique,” Tomas said, waving a hand at his lover. She had her body angled to Alex, eyes fixed on him with that same, familiar hunger. “She has a hankering for a new companion,” Tomas continued. “The last one didn’t work out.”
“He worked out for a little while,” Monique said.
Tomas laughed. She shot him a playful smile. It took Alex only a moment to understand exactly what they were saying, and though he had wondered, part of him wished he didn’t know the answer. The anger hit all over again. It was a painfully physical thing. Alex wrapped his hand around his still-full glass in an effort to find some self-control. Others arrived at the table as he struggled for that control.
Introductions were made, pleasantries swapped, questions asked. Alex joined in only because he had to, only because it would be suspicious if he didn’t. But, with every greeting, every remark, everysmile, the anger remained. And, it was ridiculous, because he’d known why these people were here. He’d known exactly what they were planning. And, wasn’t he here for the exact same reason? Hadn’t he spent all that money to be given the same chance that these people had?
To buy an omega.
A wolf shifter all of their own.
Only difference was, Alex wasn’t here to buy just any omega, he was here to buy his mate.