Quinton had moved Caleb to the dorm for the time being. He couldn’t keep him in the holding cell anymore. Not now that Quinton was convinced Caleb wasn’t a criminal. He’d believed every word of what he’d said. It made sense, but the idea that an omega could have magic powers was still a hard pill for Quinton to swallow.
Still, he had to wonder if there was some truth to it. There was still was no explanation for how Caleb had healed from his attack so quickly, or at all. That wasn’t something that Quinton could just file away in the back of his mind and forget about though. Did it make Caleb dangerous? Quinton didn’t think so. From what he had observed from the boy, there was nothing even remotely dangerous about him. Well, not unless you tried to keep him from his pup that was.
And, that was another matter entirely. Quinton had no intention of keeping Caleb from his child but the dorms weren’t big enough for a shifter plus a baby, especially with all the extra amenities Caleb would need. Speaking of which, Quinton would have to scrounge up a few things. In the mean time though, he’d suggested Caleb leave Rhylan in the nursery. He was well cared for there and there was staff on hand 24/7.
Caleb wasn’t thrilled with the idea. In fact it had sent him into another screaming fit, but when Quinton explained the problem, Caleb had finally agreed. Quinton knew he had to figure out something fast though. Caleb wasn’t going to be happy with this arrangement for long, and Quinton had the feeling that the omega was going to be spending his every waking hour in the nursery anyway.
That wasn’t a and idea come to think of it. He’d eventually have to find Caleb employment and he was good with kids. The daycare could always use extra help and the other parents seemed to like him. Quinton filed that thought away for the future so he could focus on the here and now. He’d just dropped the omega off at the dorms and was helping him to get settled in.
Caleb walked around, inspecting his temporary shelter, in awe of everything he saw. Aside from the twin bed he saw in the corner of the room that looked way more comfortable than anything he’d had at Silver Moon, the room also had a television set, a desk and chair, a small love seat, a small apartment sized refrigerator, and a microwave oven. There was also a closet and a small bathroom with a shower but no tub.
Caleb didn’t care that there was no tub though. He was just thrilled to have his own shower. At Silver Moon the pack had to share public toilets and showers. The kind that most camp grounds had. So, privacy was never something he had in abundance. In fact, the first time he’d used a private shower was when Rhys had rented them a hotel room. Of course his showers didn’t remain private for long but he couldn’t really complain about that. Sharing a shower with Rhys and then what followed was just one of the highlights of his day.
Caleb came out of the bathroom all smiles. “This place is amazing.” He beamed. “But you’re right, it’s not big enough to raise a pup in. Especially once he starts crawling.”
Quinton chuckled as he sat the bags he’d carried up with him on the already made bed. “Well, it’s only intended for single shifters. Besides, I don’t plan on keeping you here for long.”
“I appreciate everything you’ve done.” Caleb told him. He went to the bed where Quinton had deposited the bags and opened the first one. “You didn’t have to get all this.” He said as he started removing frozen dinners from the bag and carefully placing them in the fridge. “There’s more food here than I really needed.”
Quinton rubbed the back of his neck as his eyes widened a bit but then he just shrugged. “Really, it’s not a lot.” He’d tried to talk Caleb into getting more but the omega refused. Quinton realized Caleb probably wasn’t used to having full meals or even more than one meal a day, but that was something he was going to have change now that he was living in Black River. Quinton wasn’t about to let one of his pack mates starve.
“You need the food.” Quinton told him. “Especially while nursing. Need to keep your strength up.”
Caleb just nodded and continued to unpack the bags. He wasn’t going to argue anymore. Besides, he kind of liked the way Quinton acted so concerned for his well-being. It reminded him of Rhys. There was a lot about the man that reminded him of Rhys. Not just his looks but the way he spoke and moved. Even his smile. Now that he did smile. Caleb could see a lot of Rhys in the man and Caleb even suspected that it was Quinton’s own influence that had molded Rhys into the man he was.
Knowing that Quinton shared the same blood as Rhys made the whole situation a little easier to bear. Rhys was gone, but there were pieces of him all over Black River. Everyone seemed to have a story to tell. Everyone loved him and Caleb understood why. Rhys was the best man that Caleb had ever met. Kind, loving, and passionate in so many ways. He just hoped that he could raise Bayan Eskort his own son to be as honorable as his father had been.
Caleb finished unpacking the food then sat on the bed. He’d been trying so hard to keep his emotions in check. Worrying about Rhylan had helped. Grocery shopping with Quinton had helped also, and just exploring the pack grounds and meeting new people had helped. If he kept busy then his mind didn’t have the time to bring up images of his late mate, or remind Caleb of how much he missed him.
It was harder now though. Sitting on the bed and trying to relax some without letting his mind wander seemed almost pointless. He felt the first tear slip down his cheek and he quickly turned his head away so Quinton wouldn’t see him cry.
“Are you alright?” Quinton asked, braving a small step closer.
To his surprise, Caleb shook his head and he heard the gentle sobs that Caleb had tried so hard to hide from him. “I’m not.” He said in a shaky voice. “Not at all.”
Quinton wasn’t sure what to do or how to comfort him. This wasn’t his area of expertise. He was a strong Alpha. He could handle the pack when it came to finances, construction plans, or settling small disputes between pack members. He could handle the ins and outs of his position with the skill and shrewdness of a trained leader but when it came to emotions, he was at a loss.
At the end of the day he was more comfortable returning to the quiet solitude of his home and enjoying a few hours to himself. It was probably why he’d never even considered taking a mate, though more than a few of his packs mates had suggested, not so indirectly, that he needed to. Even Annie, who had become somewhat of a surrogate mother to both he and Rhys, had told him on more than one occasion that he should settle down and start a family and, there were several available shifters who would jump at the opportunity.
Quinton just didn’t see himself as mate material. He enjoyed the bachelors life way too much. It wasn’t too much of a shock that Rhys had mated before him, he’d always thought he would. It was just the way in which it had happened that came as a shock. Quinton always thought he’d get more of an opportunity to get to know his brothers potential mate before having him thrust into the family the way he’d been. There were so many things lost now that Quinton would have liked to have shared with his brother.
Life sure had a way to kick you in the ass. In the span of just two days Quinton had lost his brother then gained a nephew and a brother law. A brother in law who was grieving, and he had absolutely no idea how to comfort him, or fix things. Maybe there was no way to fix it. Maybe Caleb just needed to let his mourning run it’s course, then pick up the pieces and try to build a new life for him and his pup.
Quinton could help with that at least, but he knew Caleb needed more than just a roof over his head and food in his belly. He needed someone he could confide in and lean on for support. Rhys would have been the one to provide that kind of emotional support for him, but Rhys was gone, so who did that leave now?
Was it too soon to suggest that Caleb take another mate? Probably. Though a few alphas and even a couple betas came to mind that would make excellent mates for the omega. Quinton decided to scrap that idea for now though. Bringing it up would likely only offend Caleb. Maybe another omega? That seemed more reasonable. Someone that he could befriend and talk to. Another omega would know more of what Caleb was feeling and going through. Omega’s were great with this kind of thing.
Quinton suddenly had an idea that might just be what Caleb needed to help him move forward and start healing from his loss. Quinton placed his hand on the omega’s shoulder and tried his best to sound supportive. “I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through.”He told him. “I lost a brother, but you lost your mate. You’re scared, uncertain of the future, and for good reason. I’ll do what I can to secure your place here but I think it might help if you had someone to talk to. You know, about things that are maybe a bit too sensitive for you to discuss with the pack Alpha.”
Caleb looked up at him, wiping the tears from his eyes. He seemed slightly interested. At least he wasn’t yelling at him this time. Quinton decided to just go for broke and see what his reaction was. All he could do was say no. Say no, scream at him, throw him out… Okay, that was a little bit of an exaggeration. Either way though, at least he would have tried.
“There’s an omega group, for new parents. They meet once a week but I think they have a meeting tonight. I really think it might help for you to connect with other omegas. Especially being new here. I really do think it would help. If you’re interested, I could have someone come by later and get you. I’m not sure whose house their meeting in tonight but I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem to have one more. Anadolu Yakası Escort In fact, I’m certain they’d welcome you in with open arms. If you want. I’m not saying that you have to go. I just think it would be good for you.”
“Okay.” Caleb said, giving a small nod. “I think I’d like that. I should meet as many pack members as I can, if I end up getting to stay here. I think it’s a good idea too.”
To say Quinton was pleased was an understatement. He really wanted Caleb to feel comfortable in Back River and this seemed like a really great first step. “Awesome.” Quinton gave him a lopsided grin. “I’ll make a few calls and get the ball rolling. You should expect someone to stop by in a few hours.” He stood up and started for the door but then stopped and gave Caleb one last look. The poor kid still seemed so lost but Quinton was sure he’d be okay in a few days. At least, he hoped he would.
“I have to get a hold of Hollister, from the council, so I might be unavailable for a while. We still have a lot to discuss and this matter with Silver Moon to address, but if you need anything in the mean time, Collin Barnes can help you. He’s kind of the dorm father.” Quinton chuckled. “He keeps the younger crowd in check, and he’s just down the hall. Room 15A. He’s a big guy and looks kinda rough around the edges but trust me, the guys a huge teddy bear, so don’t feel intimidated at all.”
“Thank you.” Caleb forced a smile. “I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll check back in on you. Probably tomorrow. And don’t worry, We’ll get the housing thing sorted out soon.”
“I’ll be fine.” Caleb said again. His eyes drifting over the layout of the room. “I know you have more important things to worry about than me. As long as I can be with my pup, anywhere you put me will be fine.”
“We’ll figure something out.” Quinton assured him. “I have to get going though but remember, if you need anything…”
Caleb forced a smile. “Room 15A. Got it. Thank you.”
Quinton returned the smile, gave a quick nod, then headed out the door. He hated leaving Caleb alone on his first real night in the pack, but he did have other matters he needed to see to. He needed to call Hollister. Seth Bowden wasn’t going to stay quiet for long. Quinton needed to find a way to keep Caleb in Black River, legally. It wasn’t going to be easy though. Bowden had a legitimate claim on him.
Quinton silently cursed shifter laws and the way they regarded omegas. The laws were meant to protect shifters but apparently that only applied to you if you were an alpha, beta, or gamma. That had to change. Such outdated and prejudiced laws had no place in modern society.
Not if they really wanted to prove to humans that they weren’t the barbaric animals most humans seemed to think they were.
That was a fight that would have to wait though. Right now Caleb was the only omega he needed to worry about. He could take on the system once Caleb was safe and out of Silver Moons grasp.
Caleb knew that Quinton was only trying to help, and he did appreciate it, but right now he just wanted to be alone. He wasn’t opposed to meeting some more of the packs omegas. The ones he had met so far were nice and the idea of a new parent support group wasn’t a bad idea. It probably would help, now that he thought about it.
He could relax, alone, for a bit and then see how he felt after. That’s really all he needed right now. Just some time alone to think. So much had happened in the last few days and with worrying about his pup, and trying to prove he wasn’t the enemy, he really hadn’t given himself any time to mourn.
The news of Rhys death had been so shocking. It still didn’t seem real to him, but that was something that would have to change. He had to come to terms with it. Rhys was gone. His mate was gone. Caleb was more alone in that moment than he had been in his entire life. He’d had a taste of what real happiness could be, only to have it ripped so violently away from him. How could he even begin to recover from that?
Caleb lay back against the bed and put an arm over his eyes. “Rhys…” He whispered into the empty room. “You lied to me. You said everything would be alright. You said we’d be safe. You were wrong.”
He rolled on his side and let the tears he’d been fighting against for so long flow freely now. “I can’t do this alone.” He sobbed. “Damn you, Rhys. Why did you leave me alone? I need you.”
Caleb pressed his face into the pillow, crying harder and harder. It didn’t take long before his exhaustion overwhelmed him and soon, he had fallen into a deep, and much needed, sleep.
Quinton cursed himself for a coward. Why was this so hard for him? In the five years since he’d taken over as Alpha he’d planned or officiated a countless number of ceremonies including funerals, even his fathers. So why was this one so difficult?
Pierce sat across from Quinton, his pen hovering above the legal pad before him as he Pendik Escort waited for Quinton to answer his question. He sighed finally and gave Quinton his most sympathetic look.
“Quin.” The gamma spoke softly, and with care, as though addressing an injured animal. “Quin. You’re going to have to make a decision here.”
“I know.” Quinton growled. “Just…give me a moment.”
He receded back into his office chair when he saw the wounded look in the gammas eyes. “I’m sorry.” Quinton apologized. “I just never realized how difficult this was going to be.”
“Understandable.” Pierce said. “If you think his mate would rather…”
“No!” Quinton snapped, startling the other man a bit. “No. Caleb’s been through enough. I can handle this.”
Pierce nodded. Tapping his pen absently against the legal pad as he waited for Quinton to think.
“We’ll have the wake at my house, naturally.” Quinton said, finally. “I’ll have a few of the omegas help with preparations. I don’t want to put too much on Caleb right now.”
“Alright.” Pierce made a few notes as he listened to Quinton speak. “You know, as his mate, it’s Caleb’s responsibility though, to prepare the body.”
Quinton leaned back in his seat. A look of concern crossing his face. He already looked so worn out and tiered. Pierce could see this was taking it’s toll on him. As strong as Quinton was, he just wasn’t ready to send his own brother to the Moonlands.
“Is that necessary?” Quinton asked, rubbing his temples. “I know he will need to recite the blessing, but I just don’t think he’s strong enough to do much else.”
Pierce gave Quinton a sympathetic smile. “Omegas are more resilient than we think, but no. It’s tradition but if he chooses to excuse himself from that part of the ceremony it won’t matter. As long as he does the mates blessing. But, I think we should at least give him the option. In my experience, mates want the honor of preparing the body for the afterlife. It’s their one final act of love that they can bestow upon their mates.”
Quinton nodded thoughtfully. “Then, we’ll let him make the choice. I just don’t want him to feel forced into doing anything that he’s not comfortable with.”
“I understand.” Pierce said, making more notes on his pad. “As far as the feast, I’ve already spoken to Wyatt and Annie. They have agreed to cater everything, free of charge.”
“I can’t expect them to do that.” Quinton said. “They should be compensated…”
Pierce held up a hand. “Annie figured you’d object. She wanted you to know that she’s always thought of you and Rhys are her sons, especially after your parents passing. She wants to do this, so just consider it a gift.”
Quinton nodded. “Alright.”
“Okay so, that just leaves the interment. I assume you want a traditional urn for the ashes.”
“Of course.” Quinton cringed at the mention of ashes. It was hard enough to accept that Rhys was gone but more difficult to imagine his brothers body burned away to nothing but ash. It was just too final. He had to man up though and deal with it. At least for Caleb’s sake. The boy had already suffered so much. If Quinton could take even a small amount of the burden off Caleb’s shoulders he would. “Caleb should be given the option to keep the ashes, if he wants.” Quinton added. “If not, I’ll want them placed near our parents.”
“I’ll take care it.” Pierce promised. He made one final note on his pad then looked up. “That should be everything. If you need help with the offering…”
“No.” Quinton said, quickly. “I can handle that.” He paused. “And, I’ll provide something for Caleb to give as well.”
“Good enough.” Pierce stood up but before leaving the room he walked around the desk and laid a hand on Quinton’s shoulder. “It’s good of you, what you’re doing for Rhys mate. I’m sure that Rhys is looking down on you now, proud of you. You’re a wonderful brother and Alpha. Caleb is lucky to have you in his corner.”
“Thank you.” Quinton wanted to smile up at his friend but he just couldn’t muster the emotion. This was not the time for it. He hoped that Pierce understood.
As Pierce left the room, his words echoed in Quinton’s mind. He hoped that Rhys was looking down on him. He hoped he’d made his brother proud. But, that wasn’t why he had taken Caleb under his wing. To be completely honest, he wasn’t sure why he’d taken such an interest in the young omega. Guilt maybe?
Quinton certainly hadn’t made it easy for him the first couple of days that he’d been in Black River, so maybe he was trying to make up for all his earlier short comings. Besides that, Caleb wasn’t just his pack mate, he was family now. Quinton knew that probably meant very little to Caleb. He’d never experienced what a real family was supposed to be, having grown up in Silver Moon. But he was in Black River now and in Black River, pack, and family, stuck together.
Back in the dorm, Caleb turned over, tossing and turning in his sleep. His dreams had been plagued by nightmares of he and Rhys being hunted down by Bowden’s betas. They were gaining on them, getting closer and closer and he and Rhys just couldn’t shake them.
“Run!” Rhys yelled at him. “Keep the pup safe.”
“No.” Caleb cried. “I won’t leave you.”