“If you get any more naked, I’m leaving and taking the numbers with me.” My threat might have held more weight if Austin were more curious about the finances to begin with.
“There is no point in obsessing about the numbers until we start getting revenue in. You know that as well as I do.” He danced around the room wearing a fluffy skirt and not much else. “Once we start getting members, that’s when we need to begin focusing on the money. We’re not spending more than we can afford and it’s all necessary expenditures at this point.”
He was right, but since he was nearly naked and not paying a damned bit of attention to the meeting we were supposed to be having, I wasn’t going to admit it.
“We have a list of things we were supposed to discuss, Austin.” And he was too distracted to go over any of it.
“Then skip to something less boring.” He came to a fluffy, sparkling halt in the middle of the living room. “Silas will be here in an hour and we have a full evening of fuckery planned that doesn’t involve to-do lists.”
“You’re deliberately trying to drive me insane because I wouldn’t let you out of this meeting.” Asshole.
“Yep.” He just smiled and started twirling away again. “I want to wear a ballgown.”
Not that again.
“When the club opens, I don’t care what you wear.” I really didn’t understand the clothes thing, but I’d always felt more comfortable in a suit than anything else. I hadn’t even minded the uniforms in school.
Talk of clothes and the club had him beaming. “Master got me a sparkly cock cage and the cutest leash. I’m going to wear it to the club when it opens.”
We’d all seen the nut naked more times than we could count, so I didn’t care what he wore. “Tell me something I’ll find interesting or useful, or I’m leaving.”
I had better things to do than be his audience.
Austin huffed then flounced across the room to make a dramatic flop onto a small fainting couch. “You’re no fun.”
“Again, tell me something interesting.” We all knew I wasn’t any fun. There was always too much work to do to just goof off all the time.
“How about I tell you I have someone who’s agreed to do the background checks for new members and has been making a list of people in the lifestyle who would be safe to tell about the opening?” He beamed as I was forced to nod.
“So you have all the details sorted out with your friend? How much work he’s willing to do free and all that?” When Austin nodded, I checked that off my list.
“That’s better. Just send me an email with all the details.” I started rearranging the list of things we needed to go over in my head. “Do we have the application finalized yet?”
That wasn’t on my to-do list, so I was only keeping a vague eye on that.
Thankfully, Austin nodded. “Yes, we need to get together and double-check it, but I think it looks professional and gathers the information we need.”
I narrowed my gaze. “No sparkly backgrounds or dirty words hidden in the decorations on the screen…it has to look boring professional, not Austin professional.”
He snorted, which was completely at odds with the feminine skirt and mannerisms, but I didn’t care. He was just Austin to me, no matter what he was doing. “It’s painfully boring looking. I promise.”
Then he grinned. “I’m getting all my creativity flowing with the interior and the theme rooms.”
That actually frightened me.
I had to continually remind myself that even though he dressed himself insanely, he actually had reasonable taste.
“How are the themed rooms going?” I was trying to look at them from a strictly practical point of view, but it was difficult.
His excitement continued to grow. “It’s so much fun. I’ve been working on the playroom for the littles and there are so many cute things to buy.”
I sighed. “Are we going to see rumors of you being pregnant because of all the weird stuff you’re buying?”
Austin laughed, thankfully shaking his head. “No, my interesting computer friend is buying it all and he’s charging the business for it. I’m keeping all the receipts and invoices. Don’t worry.”
At least we weren’t going to see a pregnancy countdown for him on the national entertainment shows. We’d all hoped they’d quickly find something else to obsess over, but we hadn’t been that lucky. Several national news programs had latched on to the idea after seeing all the activity online, and they weren’t letting it go anytime soon.
They were making too much money off of it.
I’d been surprised at how many legitimate news organizations were willing to talk about the sexual rights of omegas on live television. The warnings before news shows were getting more colorful as the weeks went by, but they weren’t backing off the story. A few even seemed serious about the subject.
It was surprising how many people hadn’t thought about the issue before.
The sound of a drone buzzing over the house had both of us groaning and I got up to make sure the blinds were closed. He’d installed a coating over the windows that was supposed to keep people from photographing through them, but we weren’t taking any chances.
“Damned asshole fucking up my no-fly zone.” Austin sniffed and turned away from the window. “When I figure out who’s holding up the paperwork, I’m going to do something drastic.”
“I need plausible deniability. Don’t tell me.”
Austin huffed. “I won’t get caught.”
Oh, I believed him, but just in case. “See first answer.”
He finally let out a giggle and seemed ready to change the subject. “Do you have a favorite theme room you want me to work on? I’ve gotten ideas from everyone but you.”
“No.” Changing the subject to something easier to discuss, I pointed toward the window. “Were you still planning on talking Jonah into letting you do another pool party this weekend?”
Austin laughed, delighted at the new topic. “Oh yes, Russ is whining about everyone getting naked again, but he feels sorry about the drone situation and the media hasn’t figured out that they’re friends with me yet.”
I wasn’t going to address the naked issue because I wasn’t planning on being naked.
“Just make sure to keep it small. Friends only, so we don’t end up accidentally outing them.” Jonah knew it would happen at some point, but he was hoping to keep their private life private for as long as they could.
Austin gave me a narrow look. “Friends and family who are fun and kinky too, right? Simon gets to come too and then we have to make Clay come in and hang out. He’s too sexy and fun to leave in the car. And eventually, you have to meet my computer friend.”
We were going to end up with pictures all over the news.
“Yes, Clay and Simon are fine, but just make sure you really trust anyone else and warn Graham and Russ. Don’t surprise them with a dozen strange people they’ve never met.” I wasn’t worried if they were kinky as long as they could respect our privacy, but Austin knew all kinds of weird people.
His grin turned a bit wicked. “You’re going to love my friends. And I’ll be good and not annoy the guys too much.”
I didn’t believe that for a second.
“Don’t get us on the news and don’t piss off Jonah’s Masters.” Calling them boyfriends felt wrong because they were so much more than that to him.
Austin sighed and stretched out on the small couch. “They’re so cute together. I just know they’re his mates. It’s like a fairy tale.”
A very dirty one.
“He’s happy and that’s what matters.” I was trying not to be an ass, but it was hard. There was so much that could go wrong, but just in case, I had him protected. With his savings and the fact that Tanner made him put his furniture into storage, he’d be fine if he had to move out unexpectedly.
I just didn’t like situations where something could go wrong.
“He’s more than happy.” Then the bastard aimed that I’m-an-airhead-in-love smile at me. “We just need to find alphas for you guys. I was thinking Wade might be the hardest to find an alpha for because he’s been odd lately, but as much as Dakota’s been working, I’m not sure he knows alphas exist.”
I knew better than to assume he’d left me out because he was polite, so I watched him cautiously as I responded. “I think Wade’s finally getting over Matthew and it makes him very uncomfortable.”
Austin nodded, some of the wicked glee fading into actual thoughtfulness. “Probably. I always thought he was going to feel really guilty when he fell in love again. Do you think he’s started to notice someone?”
Wade had never hidden finding someone attractive or telling a naughty story. His relationship with Matthew hadn’t been one filled with jealousy or the stressful kind of possessiveness, but falling in love was completely different than something sexual.
“It’s possible. I can’t remember him reacting to anyone specifically, though.”
Austin’s smile perked up. “He watches Clay.”
I rolled my eyes. “Because you’re always undressing him with your eyes and flirting with him. Everyone notices Clay.”
Clay was a bit…shy, maybe. For some reason, he thought his injuries made him less attractive. I wasn’t sure where he’d gotten that idea, but Austin had made it clear for all of us that we didn’t think he was ugly by any stretch of the imagination.
We just had better manners than to demand that he wash the car with his shirt off every time we came over.
Austin snorted. “He just protests when you guys are around. I think we either scare him a little or he doesn’t want to look like an alpha slut drooling over all the hot omegas.”
I didn’t even bother acknowledging the insane options.
“I’m pretty sure we’re the most unique omegas he’s ever met.” I was serious, but Austin started giggling.
Realizing how off track we’d gotten, I focused back on the list. “So our next walk-through is on Thursday evening and Jonah said they’ve made a lot of progress.”
Austin nodded, finally getting off the silly couch. “Yes, we’ve got all the final finishings picked out and the crew has done a lot of work getting the structure of the club in.”
Once Graham realized it was a kink club and not a social hangout for bored omegas, he’d gone to work changing a lot of small details. But instead of losing time, things had sped up. I had a feeling working on a BDSM club was more interesting to him and the crew, and the possibility of joining it had everyone working faster.
Not that I minded.
I was all for anything that would get us in under time or under budget…and it looked like we were going to do both, as long as Austin kept his spending under control. If I hadn’t already been used to how they threw money around, the finances for the club would have given me a heart attack.
“Good. Do you know if we have a final date yet?” The initial deadline was just a few weeks away, but I wasn’t sure how the changes had impacted that.
“Russ is pretty sure we’re going to finish slightly ahead of schedule. He said they made up some time by the inspectors not being assholes.” Austin grinned. “I didn’t even have to make phone calls. I think stories about what Bertie’s cops were doing got around and people are afraid to piss us off right now.”
Austin and Tanner might have more money than they knew what to do with, but the rest of us were well connected too. “They should have known better than to use funds for that kind of shit. I have several clients that were not happy.”
They weren’t as colorful as our group, but they were very open-minded individuals that had honestly thought the clean up the streets initiative would be about legitimate issues the city had. As far as I could tell, Bertie had gotten phone calls from a lot of angry donors who were not happy with how their money was spent.
“They should be afraid. What they were doing falls under several categories like harassment, for one. Has Silas had any more issues?” I knew Austin could handle things, but his way always involved drama of some sort. I had quieter methods of making things go away if necessary.
Austin shook his head as he peeked out the front window. “No, and there haven’t been any more leaks from the department, but I don’t like the way that one cop looked at us. I’ve got a private investigator doing some digging, but so far things are quiet.”
Quiet could be good, but I wasn’t sure about that in this case. “Let me know if I need to make any phone calls.”
Austin gave me a cheeky grin. “You’ll take all my fun away if I do that.”
Rolling my eyes, I gathered up my papers and stood. “That’s my job.”
Bouncing across the room, Austin laid his head on my shoulder and cuddled into me. “Let me have my fun. Torturing the asshole cops is delightful.”
Snorting, I gave the drama queen a hug before he danced away again. “If you do anything stupid, I’ll tell Wade.”
He stuck his tongue out at me. “Meanie.”
Refusing to devolve into childish taunts, I ignored him as I moved toward the entryway of the living room. “Alright, we’re going to talk about your personal finances later this week and you have to pay attention to that.”
He looked slightly guilty, but it was mostly an act. “I’ll focus next time. It’s just Silas is going to be here soon and he’s—”
“No.” I shook my head as Austin started to giggle. “I do not need to know.”
The hint of a cock cage under the damned skirt was enough for me to guess why he was so distracted and why he was looking forward to his Master coming over. For the time being, they were still living apart, but between Austin’s excitement and the press following them around, I didn’t think it would be too long before Silas moved into Austin’s place.
Scoffing, he fluffed his skirt. “You’ve been so boring lately.”
Someone had to be.
“You’re deluded.” Admitting that I was boring would just start another long interrogation about my happiness levels and I didn’t have the patience for that today. As I made my way toward the door, I shook my head, calling out, “I’m the same as I’ve always been.”
Maybe a bit more frustrated and cynical, but not a lot.
The past couple of years had been a bit dry on the dating front and the guys I had taken a chance on had turned out to be insane or so focused on omega rights there was no way we’d stand any chance of staying together. If that made me a tad testier than usual, I was owed some consideration.
Especially after I had to watch so many of my friends fall head-over-heels in love.
Just because an omega is grumpy and sarcastic doesn’t mean he wants to be single forever.
Bradley knows he’s not the image of what most alphas picture in a submissive, but wanting to fall in love doesn’t mean he’s willing to change his personality. He just needs an alpha to love him for who he really is: loyal, hardworking, honest, dirty, and a little frustrating.
Simon’s been watching the new alphas and omegas he’s met through his brother, but he can’t quite figure out who they think they’re kidding. They’re definitely not as vanilla as they’re pretending to be, and he should know, he’s been a Dom in the local scene for years. But nothing in his past explorations has prepared him for the curiously puzzling Bradley, and he can’t help wondering what the gruff omega is hiding under his tough exterior.
When two men realize they have more in common than meets the eye, it doesn’t take long to realize that there is no one right way to fall in love.
Story Contains: M/m romantic content, BDSM elements, and non-shifter alpha/omega dynamics.