start with chapter 1
Content warning: this story contains adult incest and MPREG
“I don’t understand it.” Mama didn’t just seem confused. She seemed worried. Nor wished he could reassure her that Toby was fine without giving away their secret, but he couldn’t. “You’ve always been so healthy.”
“I still am,” Toby insisted. “Don’t I look healthy?” he appealed to the table. No one could deny it. If anything, he looked healthier than ever, his fur glossier, his eyes brighter, an extra fullness to his face and some padding on his hips, as if he’d grown the rest of the way up in the month since they’d been back from up north. Nor had never been very good at keeping his eyes off his little brother, but now it was impossible.
“There must be something wrong,” Mama insisted. “An omega your age should be having heats. These are your child-bearing years. And how will you ever get mated if you won’t go into heat?”
“I’m not going to get mated.”
Toby’s pronouncement hit each member of the family seated around the dinner table differently. Grandma Dalita smiled secretly. Papa snorted like Toby must surely be joking. Mama gasped.
“This thing with your heat is only a hitch,” she told Toby earnestly, shaking her head as if she could shake off his words. “We’ll get you to a shaman and find a cure. Don’t give up yet, sweetie.”
“I not giving up.” Toby flashed an exasperated glance in Nor’s direction. “I don’t want to get mated. At least not right now, not like… not the way you want me to. I’m sorry.”
“You don’t want to get mated?” Mama surveyed the table, searching for someone to explain what she couldn’t make sense of. “Nor?”
“He wants to go to people school, Mama.”
“And so he should,” Grandma Dalita put in. “Such a clever young wolf.”
Nor felt as proud as if the compliment had been directed at him personally.
“Well,” Mama said doubtfully. “He could do that, I guess, if that was what his alpha—”
“No.” Toby pushed away from the table, his chair scraping across the floor so violently that the legs scratched grooves into the old wood planking. “I refuse to have some alpha telling me what I can and can’t do. I know what I want, and no one’s going to stop me from getting it.”
Toby stormed out of the room. The bang of the front door told Nor he’d left the house entirely, and Nor itched to follow, but there was Mama with her mouth hanging open.
“I’m taking Toby to Pretoria,” he told her. It was what he and Toby had decided. He’d been waiting for the right moment to bring it up, but it was too late to be diplomatic now. Might as well get it all out there.
“There’s no sense in him going to Pretoria if he’s not in heat.”
“Not to find him a mate.”
There were computers in Pretoria where they could learn about the people schools—how to apply to them and how much they cost. Nor was afraid sending Toby to school would take more money than he had saved, but he’d find a way to get the rest. He’d sell his own pelt if he had to. Whatever Toby needed.
“We’re going so Toby can apply to school. We’ll leave in the morning.” He didn’t use his alpha voice with his mother often—she was his mother, after all—but he used it now.
Mama turned to Papa in silent appeal, but he only gave her a disinterested shrug. “I’m sure Nor knows what’s best, dear. He’s always taken very good care of the boy.”
And he always would. He pushed back from the table and stood up with confident, controlled movements, making it clear he wasn’t running away, that he was simply done, but as soon as he got out of sight, he picked up his pace, needing to make sure Toby was all right. He found him by the woodpile, splitting wood with his shirt off, the muscles in his back and arms lean and tight as he swung the ax over and over.
“We’ll go to Pretoria tomorrow,” Nor told him.
“Really?” Toby stopped swinging, his expression so hopeful that Nor cursed himself for not making arrangements sooner. He’d been a coward, and he’d let Toby down.
“Really. First thing.”
He walked away before the sight of Toby’s bare chest made him do something foolish, like lick it, and headed out to the fields. If he was going away, there were chores to be done. He worked until the sun set, letting honest sweat burn away shameful lust, then went inside with the intent of going straight up to bed, but a sorrowful snuffling from the living room drew his attention.
It wasn’t Toby crying. Toby was nowhere to be seen. It was his mother, huddled into a corner of the couch with Grandma Dalita next to her, alternately patting her back and saying “Hush, now, Mary Beth. It’ll all be all right.”
Nor tried to back quietly out of the room, but a creaky floorboard gave him away. Mama’s eyes shot straight to him, and a fresh round of sobs burst from her. He hated that he’d made her cry, but what was he supposed to do? He couldn’t allow her to force Toby into a claiming he didn’t want. Your motives aren’t as pure as all that, a small voice in the back of his mind reminded him. He wanted to keep Toby for himself, that was all.
“It’s just school, Mama. He can get mated later.”
“But what if he never goes into heat? What if he can’t?”
“Then he’ll find an alpha who loves him anyway.” Like Nor would. He remembered how Toby had looked chopping wood earlier, how beautiful and fierce he’d been. Toby didn’t need to be in heat to send all the blood straight to Nor’s cock. And Toby was so much more than a body. He was precious and smart and funny and brave. Any alpha would be lucky to have him, heats or no heats.
“But then he won’t have pups,” Mama wailed, burying herself in the arm of the sofa again.
Grandma Dalita gave her back another pat. “Can I suggest a compromise? I have a friend in Pretoria—a doula. Nor and Toby can stay with her while they’re in town, and she can examine Toby, make sure everything’s in order. She’s very good at sniffing things out.”
Mama perked up at the idea, but Nor hesitated. He couldn’t argue with a free place to stay, but what if this friend sniffed out exactly what was going on?
“Layla won’t hurt your Toby,” Grandma Dalita promised him. “You can trust her to treat him as carefully as I would.”
But would she treat him as carefully as Nor would? That was what he wanted to know.
The matronly wolf, smaller than Grandma Dalita and every bit as old, ordered them to call her Auntie El and insisted on feeding them. She had a large brood at her table. Two sons with their mates and children, ten in all, everyone reaching over each other to grab a serving platter or a biscuit.
The littlest of her grandchildren, a girl of about five with braided pigtails and big eyes fringed in calf lashes, sat across from Nor. She munched on a turkey leg nearly as big as her head, gnawing with her side teeth because her front teeth were missing, and watched Nor as if she’d never seen an alpha before. Maybe she’d never seen one as big as he was. He smiled to let her know he was friendly, and she bared her brand-new canines at him in an answering grin.
“I hope the two of you don’t mind sharing a bed,” Aunty El said as she handed Nor the dish of potatoes. He flushed to realize he’d already finished his first helping. They were good potatoes, and he and Toby had been running all day.
“We don’t mind,” Toby assured Auntie El. “I always sleep with Nor when there’s a storm anyway.”
“How come?” the little girl asked.
“Because I’m afraid of thunder.”
“I’m not afraid of thunder, and I’m only five.”
“Emily,” the omega sitting next to her said. “You’re being rude.” That was Emily’s carrier, probably, a handsome wolf only a few years older than Toby. He must have conceived on his very first heat.
“It’s all right,” Toby said. “I know I’m being a baby. Nor likes taking care of me though.” He turned his pretty eyes up to Nor, and Nor smiled down at him reflexively. Then he remembered that everyone was watching them, probably wondering about this grown wolf who got in bed with his brother when it thundered.
“Well.” Auntie El cleared her throat. “We’re not expecting a storm tonight, but we only have the one spare bedroom, so if you don’t mind…”
“Not at all,” he said, trying not to let on that he was both terrified and excited at the prospect of spending the night in the same bed as Toby. “We appreciate your letting us stay here. Anywhere would be fine.”
The room Auntie El showed them to was small and barren, just a bed and a dresser, the wood floors bare, the walls a whitewashed stucco. A thin quilt, heavily mended, covered the bed which was smaller than the one Nor slept in at home all by himself. It was big enough for two children maybe. Not two adults.
“It’s not much, I know.”
“It’s perfect.” Toby pushed past her into the room, surveying it with obvious satisfaction. “Just like home. We’ll be cozy here, won’t we, Nor?”
“Definitely cozy,” he muttered, already envisioning a sleepless night. There wasn’t even a patch of floor big enough for him to curl up in, nowhere to sleep except that tiny bed where he’d be locked in a fight against his own desires.
“Gods, Nor. You’re so wound up.” Toby came to him the moment Auntie El shut the door behind her. “Don’t you want to sleep with me?”
“No such thing as too much. I’ve missed you.” He rose up on his toes, stretching for a kiss Nor couldn’t deny him. Dear Toby, so sweet and so sexy. Nor was hard in an instant, all his fears about how he would resist temptation gone with the realization that he wasn’t going to resist it. He surrendered to the inevitability of his failure with something like relief.
He lowered Toby onto the bed—a playground, not a prison—and freed him from his clothes so he could admire the beauty of his lithe body. There was the chest he’d wanted to lick yesterday. He licked it now, swiping over the swell of Toby’s pecs and nibbling on the erect points of his nipples. Toby steered him by the hair, his hands fisted tight enough to hurt, the burn pulling Nor even deeper.
He barely spared a thought for Auntie El and her family on the other side of the knotty wood door, shushing Toby only when his squeals grew unmistakably sexual. If only they could return to the privacy of their cabin where Toby had been able to scream out his pleasure as Nor knotted him over and over.
They’d spent three days there, the first seeing to Toby’s heat and the other two pretending it hadn’t already passed. Nor had come back with an elk only by the purest of luck. One had crossed their path as they dawdled their way home, and he’d taken it down swiftly, with humble gratitude for the gift the gods had sent him. Perhaps the gods didn’t hate him as much as he hated himself.
But there wasn’t any reason to knot Toby tonight. He wasn’t in heat, didn’t need the relief, and Nor couldn’t allow himself the pleasure of it without a higher purpose. To suck on Toby—to worship him all over—it would be enough.
“Nor.” Toby tossed restlessly, his hair long and dark against the bleached white of the threadbare sheets, his eyes a stormy mess. “Don’t make me come.”
Nor lifted his head away from Toby’s cock. It was a horrible disappointment, but he must bear it.
“Why’d you stop?”
“Because you said to.”
“I said don’t make me come.” Toby grinned up at him, wild and happy. “Not like this. I want to come on your knot.”
“Are you going into heat?” It was time, now that he counted back the weeks. He put his hand on Toby’s forehead, as if he hadn’t just had his hands and mouth everywhere.
“No, which is why I don’t want you to make me come yet. I can probably only come once tonight. Maybe twice,” he corrected, his grin getting wider. “I don’t want to waste it. Just suck on me a little.”
But, Nor’s mind protested. If Toby wasn’t in heat, there was no need for a knot. But, but. But Nor wanted to knot him, and Toby wanted it too. Did Toby feel what Nor felt—this magnetic pull, this hopeless attraction, this constant need? It was too much to hope he did.
“I should suck you,” Toby said. “Since I’m not in heat, I don’t have to be so selfish.”
“You’re not being selfish,” Nor murmured, looking down at Toby’s pretty cock which he’d been enjoying. “I want to suck you.”
“Yeah, and I want to suck you.” Toby reversed their positions, pushing Nor’s shoulders firmly into the mattress. Nor could’ve resisted, except he could never resist Toby in anything, and he didn’t really want to resist this. Toby’s warm lips suckling at the head of his cock sent a thrill coursing through him that was borderline explosive.
“Don’t make me come then, not if you want a knot.”
“Mm, knot,” Toby agreed before swallowing Nor all the way down in a way that wasn’t conducive to not making him come. Nor hung on—to the bedclothes and to his self-control. Toby wanted a knot, and he couldn’t let him down, but sweet Mother, this was too good to be borne. Toby was so beautiful peeping up at him from between his legs with his lips stretched tight and the silk of his eyelashes fluttering with the rhythm of his mouth.
When Nor had nearly lost consciousness from the force of his pleasure and the exertion of holding back his orgasm, Toby crawled up over him and lowered himself onto his body which was limp everywhere except where Toby needed him to be firm. He was already wrung out from his epic battle of resistance, and the stimulation of Toby’s mouth was nothing compared to the feel of Toby’s ass settling over his cock, taking him inside it. Toby’s channel clung tightly as he squirmed his way down, filling himself with Nor’s hard length.
“Slowly, love. Don’t want to hurt you.”
“Shush. You could never. And anyway, I’m in control here.”
It was true, hopelessly true. Nor had said never again, but here they were, fucking again. He’d said no knot, but there it was, growing bigger with every minute. He’d said go slow, but Toby didn’t. He rode Nor hard, grinding down on his knot with relentless pressure before taking it inside of him with a happy croon.
“There,” Toby mumbled. “Right there. Now, Nor. Now, now, now.”
Nor answered the call, flipping Toby over and driving into him hard, arching his back to maximize the pull of his knot against the tight stretch of Toby’s hole, rocking into him over and over in short thrusts as Toby moaned and cried and made the most ecstatic noises.
Nor was coming before he knew it, no chance of holding back, and Toby took him in and gave himself back in return. The sight and smell of his come sent all Nor’s senses reeling. He dipped down to capture Toby’s mouth with his own, that precious taste of home and brother and Toby—cool and fresh, like water from the deepest well.
“Oh, love,” he said, helpless to do more. It was all wrong, but it was very right.
The next morning, a beta wolf helped Toby fill out what she called “a universal application.” Nor thought Toby had better pick a school close to wolf territory, but the librarian said it was good to have options. She and Toby sat at the computer for hours while Nor lurked behind them, trying to catch sight of how much it might all cost over their shoulders.
“Will you need financial aid?” the librarian asked.
Financial aid? Nor’s ears perked up. “They have that?”
“Yep. There are loans, scholarships, fellowships. All kinds of options. What do you want to study?” she asked Toby.
“I want to be an ambassador—to help humans and wolves get along better.”
“Poly sci, then.” She went over to a bulletin board and came back with a sheet of paper. “We just got this posting—a scholarship especially for wolves interested in careers in human/wolf relations. You know, it’s mostly humans in that field now. If we want better representation, we have to get our own people in there.”
So then there were even more forms to fill out and an essay for Toby to write on why he wanted to go to people school and why he wanted to be an ambassador. Nor made him come away for lunch. They ate at a diner with Toby talking so continuously, Nor could hardly get him to him eat.
He was glad to see Toby so hopeful and excited, and the financial aid was wonderful news. It seemed it would all happen just like Toby wanted. He would go to people school, maybe to one far away, which was almost as bad as him getting mated except without the part where another alpha would touch him. Nor tried to be happy for Toby. He really did.
“We’ll work it out.” Toby reached across the table and patted Nor’s hand. “I promise.”
“Of course we will. The financial aid sounds really promising, but even if it doesn’t come through, I’ll find a way.”
“That’s not what I meant, you big lug.” Toby patted his hand again. “Come on, I need to get back to work. As it is, I’ll never finish before dark.” He said that with a smirk. “Looks like we’ll have to stay at Auntie El’s again.”
The promise of another night with Toby in his arms was enough to keep Nor patient while Toby went through the rest of his paperwork. He wandered the shelves, his mind more in that tiny bedroom with Toby than in the library. Would Toby want a knot again tonight? Nor didn’t pretend he wouldn’t give him one if he wanted it. It didn’t matter how many promises he made in his own mind. The reality of Toby always broke them.
When Toby had finished, they went back to Auntie El’s and begged for a bed for another night.
“But of course,” she said with an expansive gesture. “I assumed you were coming back. I promised your grandmother I’d take a look at Toby.” She took a deep sniff along Toby’s neck as Toby held himself rigid, his fingers twitching from the effort to stay still. “Hm. I don’t think Toby’s got a problem with having heats,” she said knowingly. “But there is something. Let’s go in the bedroom, sweetheart. I’m going to need to examine you.”
Toby threw a terrified glance in Nor’s direction, and Nor stifled the urge to grab him and run. This was a family friend, a doula. Grandma Dalita had promised Auntie El wouldn’t hurt Toby, but he looked so frightened.
“It’s fine, love.” He kissed the top of Toby’s head, trying to keep the gesture brotherly. “It won’t hurt.”
“Not a bit,” Auntie El agreed as she ushered Toby down the hall to the room they’d slept in last night.
Nor paced in the hallway outside, straining to hear anything through the door that had seemed so flimsy last night but served as an impenetrable barrier now. Was Toby crying? Was he in pain? Nor couldn’t bear to be so helpless, so far from his love who needed him.
Finally, the door opened and Auntie El came through it, shutting it behind herself with a gentle click.
“Your grandmother speaks very highly of you.” She placed a calming hand on his forearm. “And so I know you’re a good wolf, a good alpha. And I know how much you love Toby. He’s going to need you. Now more than ever.”
Nor swallowed hard. “What’s wrong with him? Is it bad?”
“Depends on your definition of bad.” Her smile reassured Nor that it couldn’t be that bad. “He’s pregnant.”
“He’s going to have a pup?” Nor’s pup. His heart swelled almost out of his chest. Toby was carrying his child—his love in physical form. A part of him and a part of Toby had mixed together to form life.
“Not necessarily,” Auntie El said, breaking into the swirl of his emotions. “He’s pregnant, but there are things that can be done to change that.”
And just like that, the pride and excitement blooming in his chest were replaced by shame. Of course Toby couldn’t bear his pup. Toby wasn’t mated, and Nor couldn’t mate him. The pregnancy—this thing he wanted more than anything—wasn’t happy news. Toby wouldn’t want to bear his child. How could he possibly?
“It’s up to Toby,” he told Auntie El. “I’ll help him, however he wants. Does he know?”
He was relieved when she nodded. How could he have broken the news to Toby when he bore all the blame for it?
“He asked me to tell you,” she said. “He’s frightened, Nor.”
“Of me? Never.”
Auntie El beamed at him. “Your grandmother was right about you. Go in, talk to him.” She twisted the doorknob, allowing the door to creak open slowly. Nor peeked through it to see Toby in his wolf form curled into a tight circle at the center of the bed.
“Oh, love.” He went to him and scooped up his furry body. “I’m sorry. So sorry.”
Toby would never forgive him. Should never forgive him. How could he have been so reckless, so inconsiderate, so selfish? He held Toby close, inhaling his perfect scent, afraid he’d never have the right to smell it again.
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