Roman takes a deep breath to compose himself before he walks inside the pack's caretaker's house. Her position makes her the pack's doctor as well as the one that looks out for the emotional and mental health of all the wolves under her care. She also happens to be Roman's aunt and closest confidant but he wasn't looking forward to the conversation they were about to have.
Roman's father, the pack leader, thinks that it is past time that Roman should have picked a mate. He's an alpha after all and the next in line to lead the pack, but every time Roman thinks about picking one of the omegas in the pack, there's this nagging feeling in his gut that he shouldn't, that he needs to wait. So he listens to the wolf scratching in the back of his mind telling him that there's someone out there somewhere looking for him. And he listens to the more human side of his mind that is afraid of taking someone else's true mate. "True mates" happen more often than not, so maybe Roman's distaste for the whole situation can just be chalked up to being a hopeless romantic. But that isn't much of a comforting thought, especially not to his father.
He made the mistake of telling his father about his feelings and now he has been ordered to the caretaker for a thorough evaluation. Translation: his aunt has to talk him into doing what his father wants. Roman rolls his shoulders and steels himself, finally reaching for the door and stepping inside.
His aunt is just finishing up with another pack member, so Roman quietly shifts to the side and allows his aunt to finish and escort the young woman to the door. As soon as the door closes again, the caretaker turns a knowing look Roman's way. The middle aged woman lets out a heavy sigh before motioning for him to follow her to the back.
She leads him to her kitchen and offers him a cup of coffee. "Given the conversation we're about to have, I should probably be offering you liquor, but I'm sure your father would somehow find out about it. And that would be highly 'unproffessional'."
Roman laughs, accepts a cup and takes a seat at the table. He clears his throat and stares down at the mug between his hands. "So how have you been?"
"Since yesterday?" The caretaker arches a brow at the question as she settles in a seat across from him. "Roman," she takes a deep breath and waits for him to look up at her. When he finally does, she continues, "You know I've always wanted what's best for you and I've never been afraid to call my brother out on his 'great big alpha' crap... But I understand where he's coming from this time." Roman opens his mouth to argue but his aunt cuts him off. "Not that I completely agree, but I understand."
Roman's protest dies in his chest and he heaves a heavy sigh, hand rubbing at his jaw. "Yeah, I understand it too. I just... I just can't give him what he wants this time."
His aunt reaches across the table and lays a comforting hand on one of Roman's that has a death grip on his mug. "I know you don't want to disappoint your father, so let's lay all your options on the table, sort through them, and figure out a plan that will at least placate the old grump."
The young man nods and loosens his grip on the cup enough to take a calming sip after the caretaker pulls her hand back to her own cup. "That doesn't sound too painful."
"We haven't even started yet." She laughs and lightens the mood, even if just slightly. "I know I was told to encourage you to pick a mate among the omegas in the pack, but that's really just one option. And of course, me wanting you to be happy, I did come up with a recommendation if you choose to pursue that."
"Who?" Roman asks, curiosity getting the better of him.
His brows rise as he ponders that. Bayley wasn’t born into the pack. Some smaller packs tend to get attacked. While the Reigns pack is rather large, they make a point to keep a watchful eye on their boundaries for that exact reason. Bayley’s pack was devastated in an attack. Only she and two other omegas were able to escape the onslaught. The three were hiding together when a rogue member of the attacking pack whisked them away to safety. The alpha that helped them get away, Tommaso, discovered that one of the omegas, Johnny, was his true mate and he vowed to abandon his pack permanently to protect his new mate and the other omegas. They traveled around for a few months until they got close to the Reigns pack border. Kevin, one of the pack alphas that patrols the border smelled them, or more specifically, smelled Sami, the other omega and his true mate. That was a very surprising day for the whole pack. Four new members, two new sets of true mates, and the first two male omegas in the pack, which are rare but rather common in small packs.
Roman takes another sip of the coffee to help refocus. Bayley is sweet and kind, but also possibly the strongest and bravest unmated omega Roman has even met. They are great friends but neither want more from the other because they are both hopeless romantics that are still holding out for their true mates.
"That would be a lot to give up, for both of us. A mating bond is for life..." Roman shakes his head.
“Which is why it’s my least favorite option. It’s what your father would want and neither of you have true mates among the pack. Mating with a friend wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but your point still stands.” The caretaker takes a quick sip of her drink.
“So what are my other options?” Roman runs a nervous hand through his hair.
His aunt taps her fingers against the side of her mug. “Excuses could probably get you another month or two, lies might buy a few more beyond that.” She looks Roman in the eyes. “But those aren’t really answers. You could always go out looking for you true mate. I’m sure a few of your friends would be more than willing to go with you to make the journey a little safer. I’m sure we could come up with a believable reason for your father to let you go.”
Roman weighs the options over in his head. Going outside of the pack’s territory would be dangerous, but he was willing to take that chance if it meant finding his true mate. He didn’t have any siblings though, so if anything happened to him…
"Roman!" One of his cousins, Jimmy, throws the door open and pokes his head in the room, drawing Roman’s attention away from the conversation he was having with his aunt. “Sorry to interrupt,” Jimmy motions to placate the middle aged woman. “There’s an omega approaching the boundary lines. They’re injured… and we believe they’re alone too.”
Roman looks at the caretaker as he stands. “We’ll have to finish this later.”
“I’ll have everything ready when you bring the omega. Bring them straight into the first room.” She gives both young men a serious look before they go running towards the forest.