Prince Adrian, the second born alpha son to the King of the North, frowned. As he stood near the throne where his father sat with his four brothers flanking him, his gaze bounced off the six omegas that had their foreheads pinned to the stone floor and their naked asses presented in the air.
He sighed quietly in disappointment. Not one of these omegas was his fated mate. The Selkie Seekers had gathered these males from good families all over the world, but none of the half dozen presented today belonged to him.
Rian—as his brothers liked to call him—glanced over at Luca who stood with his pup, Dylan, at the back of the Great Hall, bouncing the baby in his arms to keep him from fussing. He reminded himself that it had taken his oldest brother, Kai, several presentation ceremonies until he found his fated mate.
This was only Rian’s first. But still...
Unlike Kai, Rian had always preferred the Selkie traditions and he looked forward to finding his true mate and producing an heir. He was tired of rutting with the betas they had at their disposal. And to even think about rutting with a human...
He wrinkled his nose. His brothers may very well enjoy the sexual release the human males brought, but Rian refused to join them. He was a Selkie prince. He would rut only with another Selkie.
He found humans to be boring and figured none of them would be able to take his size anyway. As his brothers like to point out time and time again, Rian was big. Most alphas were, but his was... extraordinary. As his younger brother Zale liked to call it... a dinosaur bone.
Not even all the betas could accommodate him. He knew which ones could and tended to use them for relief when needed.
He wrinkled his nose again, but this time it was for another reason. A sweet scent pulled at him. And it wasn’t coming from any of the omegas kneeling on the ground before him.
His eyes flicked back to Luca. Then he twisted his head and glanced over his shoulder at Kai. “Is Luca due to come into oestrus soon?”
Kai’s blue eyes narrowed as his gaze shot to his omega mate then back to Rian. “No.”
Rian inhaled deeply trying to pinpoint what the smell was and where it was coming from. “Do you smell that?”
Before any of his brothers could answer him, this father, the king, loudly pounded the end of his scepter onto the floor at his feet.
“Douglass! If Prince Adrian cannot identify any of these omegas as his fated mate, then let’s get this wrapped up.”
His father’s asshole assistant fluttered down the steps from where he had been standing behind the king, and approached Rian.
Rian frowned at the weasel-faced beta servant. “What?”
“Has none of them caught your fancy, Your Highness?”
Rian let his gaze wander over the six naked males all bent over in a line. “None of these are my omega, Douglass. You may dismiss them all.” He tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice, but it was a struggle.
With a nod of his head and what curiously looked like a satisfied expression, Douglass clapped his hands, had the omegas rise to their feet, and herded them out of the Great Hall.
Rian couldn’t help but take one last look at the naked males. All were from acceptable families, all very handsome and some were even hung very well for an omega, but even if he was sexually interested in any of them, he was forbidden to rut with them.
Doing so could throw an omega into heat and with heat came pregnancy and then Rian would be stuck with an omega who was not his intended fated mate.
All for a quick dalliance.
Rutting for pleasure with an omega would also ruin the omega’s reputation. Omegas didn’t have to come to their mate with their corona membrane intact, but no matter what, they couldn’t rut with an alpha unless it was their mate. To do so was illegal and could mean imprisonment. Or worse, banishment.
For an omega, beta lovers were acceptable, alpha lovers were not. For an alpha, beta lovers were acceptable, omegas were not. The betas had the most freedom when it came to lovers, but they, unfortunately, were not fertile so could never produce pups. They would remain childless unless they adopted one, which was rare since they were only permitted to adopt orphaned beta pups.
As he turned to address his father, the somewhat strangely familiar scent hit him again. It wasn’t strong, but it was enough to make his cock twitch in his pants.
Rian quickly glanced around. No omega remained in the Great Hall besides Luca and if Luca wasn’t in heat, then...
“Are we done here, father?” Caol, Rian’s youngest brother, asked impatiently. “I have things I need to do.”
“You mean males you need to do,” Zale corrected.
“No, I actually have some royal duties to attend to,” Caol answered.
“Royal duties?” Marlin scoffed, then he practically fell off the platform that held the throne when he doubled over in laughter.
“Whatever, brother. Father, are we done?” Caol asked again.
With a sigh, King Solomon raised his hand and waved it. “Go. All of you, just go.”
Caol jogged down the steps and rushed out of the hall.
“Someone must have a hot date,” Kai murmured as he wandered down the steps at a slower pace. He paused next to Rian and clapped his hand on Rian’s shoulder. “Sorry, brother, I know you hoped to only have to do this once. Your mate’s out there, I’m sure of it.”
Rian nodded as his older brother headed toward his own bonded mate and pup.
Suddenly, Douglass was back, flitting around the king, assisting him from the throne and helping him with the heavy scepter. He even reached up and adjusted the king’s crown when it tilted precariously on his head. “Your Royal Highness, let me assist you back to your quarters.”
“He’s not an invalid, Dougie,” Marlin said. “He’s quite spry for his age.”
The king shot his second youngest son a look. “You make me sound ancient.”
At only fifty-two, their father certainly wasn’t over the hill, especially for a Selkie. And the hair at his temples only recently turned from dark brown to grey. For which he blamed his sons.
“Father, I know you’re not. And I know you’ve been keeping that omega in the wings just for yourself.”
King Solomon’s dark blue eyes narrowed as he stepped up to his son and pulled himself to his full height. “You forget yourself, Prince Marlin.”
Marlin dipped his head then met his father’s gaze head-on. “So you’re telling us that you don’t intend to take Finn as your own mate? You know it’s dangerous to keep him in the castle when he’s not bonded to an alpha. My suggestion is to send him back to his colony and his family.”
“Good thing I don’t rule this colony with your suggestions.”
Marlin “hmm’d,” then said, “Well, it’s a good suggestion,” before heading toward the exit. “At least let Dr. Harper put him on heat suppressants so we all don’t fight over him when he comes into heat.”
“I’ll consider it,” the king answered dryly.
Rian surprisingly agreed with his brother. He had no idea why the king hadn’t sent the unbonded omega away. He only brought Finn to the colony when he wasn’t sure that Luca could get pregnant. He’d been on the verge of making Kai’s mate an outcast and forcing his oldest brother to take that omega instead.
His father was all about making sure their royal bloodline continued and that there would always be an heir to sit on the throne when his stubborn ass finally gave it up.
Which wouldn’t be any time soon.
With five alpha sons, even Rian, who also didn’t want to see their bloodline die out, agreed that the king in no way needed another omega or to bear a sixth son. He already lost five omegas during whelp. Kai had even nicknamed him the Black Widow of the Selkies. Because of his father’s unlucky streak when it came to mates, none of his brothers had the same pater.
As Rian watched his father and Marlin leave the Great Hall, he wondered why he wasn’t moving to leave as well.
For some reason he couldn’t. The alluring scent that wafted around him kept him frozen in place. It didn’t make any sense.
Luca wasn’t in heat. Finn wasn’t, either. Even if he was, the visiting omega hardly left his quarters, which was as far from the princes’ wings as it could be.
The only males remaining in the Great Hall were the Royal Guards.
He let his gaze roam over the dozen betas that lined both sides of the hall. None, of course, made eye contact. They stood staring straight ahead, stiff as a board, all holding spears.
Yes, spears. Because his father refused to allow the guards to carry guns. Which was a bit ridiculous for this modern day and age. Though, they at least carried a large knife on their belt and were trained in hand-to-hand combat, that was it.
If he was king...
Rian sighed. He would never be king. And neither would his firstborn son.
But that still didn’t mean he didn’t want to do his duty and produce an heir. Just in case.
Not that he wished ill will on Kai or his son, Dylan, he didn’t.
The sweet scent tickled his nose again, making his cock twitch once more and start to grow this time.
That made no sense. Betas made up the Royal Guard for a reason. And that reason was a sound one. They wouldn’t react to any omega in oestrus, nor did they come into heat themselves. And the only alphas permitted as their leaders had to already be bonded to an omega mate. And even then, there were only a handful of those.
The alpha guard standing at the front of the hall bowed deeply at the waist as Rian approached him. “Your Royal Highness, can I dismiss the guards?”
The alpha tipped his dark head and returned to standing at attention. Rian turned on his heels at the front of the hall and stared down the line of guards.
Something was amiss, and he didn’t like it.
How had his brothers not smelled that odor? That sweet, intoxicating aroma that remained in the hall.
Rian cross his arms behind his back and marched down the line of guards to the right of the throne, taking his time, pausing for a split moment in front of each one, giving them a good once over, then moving on to the next in line. When he was done with the six on the one side of the hall, he crossed over to the other side and started at the end doing the same. Pause, sniff, a thorough once over.
Then it hit him like a stone wall. The second one in. His step stuttered as he pulled himself to a halt. Planting his feet so he wouldn’t lean in and shove his face against the guard’s neck, he took a deeper inhale.
He gritted his teeth since his erection was now raging and he clenched his hands into fists to keep himself under control.
This beta had an odd scent. An enticing odor. One he never smelled before on a beta.
It wasn’t quite like when Luca had gone into heat. That aroma had been almost impossible to resist and if Luca hadn’t already bonded with Kai, not only Rian, but all his brothers would have fought to the death to rut and breed with him. The scent given off during oestrus had a purpose, which was to ensure the continuation of their species.
However, the scent of one’s intended fated mate when not in oestrus was still detectable but not nearly as strong. But the scent would be just potent enough for an alpha to identify his fated mate. The omega who was destined to bear that alpha’s pups.
Or in his case, the possible heirs to the throne.
Since most fated mates were strangers and must rut during the bonding ceremony, that identifying pheromone made them extremely appealing to each other, making the entire process much easier on both Selkies. It caused an attraction they both couldn’t resist.
His attention was drawn back to the guard in question. Rian turned to face him directly and inspected him from head to toe. He was tall. Taller than most betas and even some alphas. He was very handsome with light brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. And it was clear to Rian the guard was trying not to meet his gaze.
Rian’s nostrils flared as he inhaled deeply once again.
That was a colossal mistake. When that unique aroma entered his lungs, he shuddered and fought the urge to touch himself, as well.
His reaction was frightening. While some betas could turn him on—and he’d rutted with enough of them—he’d never reacted to one like this before. Usually to get this hard with a beta, he needed to work at it.
Maybe he should have this guard removed from his current duties and moved into the king’s stable for his use. Of course, the male would need to agree to it. None of the betas at their sexual disposal were forced. They were all volunteers and got to live a pampered life in exchange.
He pursed his lips. Would this one be agreeable?
He would love to explore this desire further. In private.
Rian closed his eyes and blew out a breath. What the hell was he thinking? He was turning into Caol, whose goal was to rut with every beta and human male on the planet. Or at least in the northeast.
He was a prince, not a rutting fool. There was no good reason to remove a guard from his duties just for his pleasure.
But the male’s lips... They looked full and soft and so... kissable, among other things.
Rian straightened, appalled at where his thoughts were headed. He stiffly turned and rushed down the line of the remaining guards and went directly to their alpha leader.
He tried to keep his voice level as he commanded, “You may now dismiss the guards, but you must remain.”
The alpha guard bowed his head once again. “Yes, Your Royal Highness.” He lifted his head and shouted, “Fall out.”
As one, the guards turned on their heels and filed out of the Great Hall in an orderly fashion as they were trained to do. As soon as Rian heard the double doors at the end of the hall latch, he inquired, “The last guard I stopped at, he’s a beta?”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness. As you well know, the captain only employs betas as guards. That is law.”
“You haven’t detected anything strange about him?”
“Your Highness, has he offended you in some way? If so, I—”
“No!” Rian cut him off. He did not want to see a beta lose his job because of his own wild imagination. “No,” he continued more calmly. “But instruct the captain to remove that guard from duty in the Great Hall. From the castle all together. If he has any questions regarding that order, please have him come see me.”
“Again, Your Highness, if he’s insulted in you in some way...”
“He has not. He may remain in our service, but just have him moved elsewhere. That is all.” Rian waved his hand. “Carry on with the rest of your day. I thank you for your service.”
The alpha guard tapped his heels together. “Thank you, Your Highness.”
Rian waited until the male left the cavernous room. He finally let his hand wander to his painful erection and he stroked it over his pants.
“Holy Poseidon,” he muttered as his hips twitched in an automatic response to his own touch. He needed to relieve his erection and the deep ache in his balls.
With an annoyed sigh, he headed toward the quarters where the betas lived within the compound.
He only hoped that one of the betas who could accommodate his size was available and willing.
If not, he would have to tackle his enormous problem on his own.
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