Erin waded through the folded and piled clothes in his closet. It was a tiny space that matched his tiny apartment, right on the corner of 116th Street and two blocks away from Central Park. The dilapidated studio wasn’t much to look at —or live in —but that didn’t stop Erin from shopping every chance he got.
“Rin-Rin?” Someone knocked on his door hesitantly. “You here?”
“I’m here!” he called back, smiling when his older sister poked her head through his cracked open door.
"Spring cleaning?" she asked, noting the mountains of clothes piled up around him.
"Not exactly," he answered, pushing the clothes aside to make a path for her to walk through. "I'm looking for my grey and pink capris, but I'm thinking it might be time for me to get rid of some stuff."
"What gave you the hint?" she asked with a snort. Erin scrunched up his nose and stuck out his tongue at her.
"You're just jealous because I have an outfit for every occasion."
"You have way more than one outfit for every occasion. Your outfits have outfits."
"As it should be." Erin pursed his lips and waved his hand through the air theatrically. "My closet is my sanctuary."
"Yeah, well. It's looking more like a burial ground right now." She lifted a pair of white polka dot shorts off the bed and sat. “I called Dad last night and he said you were still at home. When did you get back?”
“I caught the late train last night,” he answered, resuming his search.
“You should have called me. I would have picked you up.”
“Why?" He quirked his brow at her. "So you and the step-monster can have your annual screaming match early this year? No thanks.”
“Touche.” She sniggered. Nina was all Alpha. Taller than Erin, with toned arms, abs, and legs. She had silky blonde hair like Erin’s, but she dyed hers with dark brown highlights and styled it in a spiky blunt bob. “So, what's Cruella complaining about these days?”
“Well, for starters, it’s my fault Mitch left me for another man,” Erin said stiffly, anticipating his sister's poor reaction.
“Excuse me?” Nina’s eyes shot open. “She actually fucking said that to you?”
“She kept going on about how I should move back home now that Mitch is officially engaged. Apparently, I need time to —and I quote —‘realign my Omegan values’, and New York City is no place to do that.”
“Wow.” Erin winced at the low growl in her throat. “With all the money she steals from Dad, you’d think he’d just pay her to keep her damn mouth shut sometimes.”
“If only.” Erin hummed. “But it just proves that money can’t buy happiness.”
“No. It proves that woman doesn't have an ounce of compassion," Nina bit out harshly.
"I don't think she was trying to be mean," Erin countered quietly. "It just... came out badly."
"Sure Rin." Nina stood up and paced the small studio before making her way to the kitchen and grabbing a bottle of water. “I'm glad you can give her the benefit of the doubt, but I'm tired of making excuses for her. This is exactly why I refuse to visit them."
“Trust me, if I had somewhere else to stay, I would have. But I needed to make sure I got all my stuff from Mitch’s and Dad offered me the garage to store it.”
“You shouldn't need to store your stuff at Dad's in the first place!” The back of the fridge banged against the wall as she slammed it.
“Easy on the fridge!”
“And I dare that fucker to throw your stuff out of your own house,” Nina continued, ignoring Erin’s objection. "I'll beat his face in."
“It’s his house, Nina.”
“Only half of it is his!” she retorted.
“Not for long…”
“What do you mean?” Nina’s eyes narrowed.
“I mean…” Erin busied himself once more, searching for his pants and avoiding his sister's gaze. “I agreed to let him buy out my share of the house.”
“What?!” Nina hopped over three piles of clothes to close the distance between them. “When did this happen?”
“Yesterday. I told him I'd sign the papers when I went to get the rest of my things.”
“Whyyy?” his sister demanded, leaning in to make eye contact. “Why would you do that, Rin?”
“I told you I’m going back to school.” He finally looked up at her. “I can’t afford my rent, tuition, and a freaking mortgage!”
“I’ll pay for the mortgage!” She touched her palm to her chest when she offered.
“No.” Erin firmly shook his head. “You’re already helping me with my tuition. I can’t keep relying on you to pay my bills.”
“I’m your older sister.” Nina pointed out. "It's my job to help you."
“You are my older sister and I love you more than anything." He smiled. "But you’re also an Alpha and you're getting older. You need to be saving money for your future mate. Not wasting it on me.”
“Oh Jesus fucking Christ! Now you sound like Dad.” Nina rolled her eyes and took a deep swig of her water.
“Well…” When he giggled his fangs peaked through. “He’s not wrong.”
“He most certainly is!” Nina bellowed out. “Paying your tuition is not a waste! And neither is helping you with the mortgage! Property is a good investment. Anyone with a brain can tell you that!”
“Well Mitch has got a brain, and he's got more than enough money to take care of the mortgage. Plus, he needs the house more than me.” Erin trapped the delicate skin of his lower lip between his teeth. “What with the baby coming and all...”
The figurative icing on the cake when Erin and Mitch broke up, was the Omega he’d cheated on Erin with. Mitch claimed his lover almost immediately after their breakup and made his intentions known when he publicly proposed to said Omega one month ago. Currently, Mitch’s lover was five months pregnant with their second child.
“Goddammit.” Nina pounded her fist against the wall. She stomped through the piles of clothes, continuing to pace around Erin’s studio. Erin tried to ignore Nina's infuriated snarl and the popping sound of her knuckles cracking. It was a stereotype that Alphas had terrible tempers - a stereotype that was extraordinarily true in Nina's case. “Goddammit! Goddammit!”
Erin sighed heavily, deeply regretting his decision to tell her about his trip back home. “What is your problem, Nina?”
“Don’t you get it?” she all but growled at him. “Mitch is winning!”
“Winning?” Erin shook his head slowly. “Winning what?”
“Everything!” she argued. “He gets the house, and the marriage, and the baby!” Nina counted on her fingers. “And what do you get, Erin?” She demanded. "Don't you deserve something after everything he's put you through?"
The question shook him to his core, and honestly, Erin didn’t know how to answer her. It’d been a year since the breakup, and though he was slowly putting his life back together, the hole Mitch left inside of him was palpable.
All hope was not lost. He was starting over. Creating a new life. Discovering who he was as a person. As a man. He might have lost his first love, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t find happiness. That didn’t mean he couldn’t start anew.
"You want to know what I get?" Erin crawled on his hands and knees until he was close enough for her to drag him up. Once he regained his balance, he reached out and grabbed Nina’s hands. “I get peace of mind.” He squeezed her fingers to calm her. “I get the satisfaction of knowing that Mitch clearly wasn’t the one for me.”
“He’s a sorry excuse for an Alpha, and as far as I’m concerned, that whore can have him!”
“Don’t call him that.”
“And why not?” she tightened her grasp on Erin's hands to implore him. “He’s just as guilty as Mitch! Probably knew about you two the whole time!”
“You don’t know that.”
“I don’t give a damn!" she quipped back. "If it was me, I would be making their life a living hell.”
“If it was you, we’d be in jail for manslaughter.” Erin chortled.
“You’re goddamn right!” She nodded firmly and tightened her jaw. “Hell, we should be burning that fucker’s house to the ground right now! Not selling it back to him!”
“And what would that solve? Hmm?” Erin challenged. “It’s not going to fix me, Nina. It’s not going to make Mitch leave his fiance and come back to me —and even if it did,” he added quickly before she could interject. “Even if it did...it wouldn’t mend my broken heart.”
Nina slowly deflated, letting the tension out of her strong arms. As always, Erin's well being came before her vicious temper. “You’re right.” She pulled Erin in for a tight hug. “You’re better off without him anyway.”
“Thank you for saying that.” Erin grimaced.
“It’s true.” Nina pulled away. “And you’re doing just fine without him.”
“Now you’re just laying it on.” Erin laughed and moved back to his closet. “But I appreciate the good vibes. You can send them with me on my job interview today.”
“It’s for a live-in nanny position." He grunted as he climbed back over the second pile and moved to the third. "Room, board, and a small stipend! It’s on the upper east side too, so you know the closet’s at least twice the size of this one.”
“Nanny, huh?” Nina chuckled and leaned her back against the wall. "For the life of me, I just can't understand why you like dealing with brats all day."
"Because kids are too young to care about the silly stuff grown-ups care about," Erin explained. "All they want to do is play, learn, and have fun. It's nice to tune out real life sometimes."
"I can't relate." She shrugged as she pushed off the wall and launched the empty water bottle into the open trash can. "But I'm sure you'll get it. You're the best man for the job. Anyone who can't see that is an idiot."
"I’m so excited about it! I’m going to try to complete my certification hours at the kid’s school too!”
“Then you don’t have to worry about running on the train back and forth this semester."
“Yes! And since I'll be living there, I can finally get rid of this apartment and start saving some money."
“It certainly sounds perfect..." There was a hint of skepticism in her tone.
“Don’t start.” He pointed his finger and pinned her with a glare. “I’m just going in for an interview. I know my way around the city, and I know how to handle myself.”
“I’m not telling you not to go.” She held up her hands in mock surrender. “But if it looks sketchy you call me immediately.”
“Fiiiiiinnneeee, Nina.” Erin rolled his eyes and let out an exhausted huff. He loved his sister, but she was a pain in his ass sometimes.
“Ah-ha! Found them!” Erin shook out the capris and laid them on the ironing board. He sprayed them down with starch and fabric freshener to bring them back to life.
“You think maybe you should tone it down for this interview?” Nina suggested, picking up the bright yellow blazer from the bed. “This is upper east side Manhattan, Rin. The wolves of New York. They put the blue blood in hypothermia.”
“Nope!” Erin said firmly. “I want him to know what kind of nanny he’s getting. Fun, quirky, and excited to work for him!”
“Him?” Nina queried. “Alpha or Omega?”
“Alpha,” Erin mumbled, trying not to give in to his sister’s curiosity.
“Ahhh. So there’s the catch.” Nina grinned wickedly, exposing her larger Alpha fangs. “You’re going to be living with an Alpha.”
“It’s not like that.” Erin cut his gaze toward her. “He’s a widow in need of help with his five-year-old daughter.”
“So he’s single too.” Nina raised her hand to her chin, looking every bit as menacing as she was. “I wonder if he’s hot.”
“He’s widowed!” Erin answered incredulously.
“Widowers can’t be hot?”
“I haven’t met him yet, so I wouldn’t know. But according to the job post, he'll be gone half the month. He's a pilot with a crazy schedule. Hence the reason he needs a live-in nanny.”
“More like live-in booty.” Nina laughed out. Erin ground his teeth and glared at her, forcing himself not to chuck the iron at his sister’s head.
“Oh don’t give me that look.” She continued to laugh. “You’ll be living there. Under the same roof… Sleeping down the hall from him when he gets all hot and bothered…”
“I just got out of an eight-year relationship.”
“Almost a year ago.”
“His mate died.”
“And "booty" is probably the last thing on his mind!”
“You’d be surprised.” Nina grabbed her jacket and headed toward the door to leave. “Nothing like a good fuck to clear your head.”
“Spoken like a true Alpha.” Erin rolled his eyes. “I’m not going there to date him, I’m going there to work for him.”
“Sure you are,” Nina said with a wink. “And when you two start fucking, I’ll be waiting to tell you I told you so.”
Erin pursed his lips, refusing to dignify her comment with a response.
“Just remember that pilots fly free. So try to get a few trips out of him if you’re gonna give up the goods, okay Rin-Rin?”
“Weren’t you leaving?” Erin finally bit out, shooing her out of his apartment.
“Fine, I’m going.” She waved goodbye over her shoulder. “But if he’s hot, you better text me!”
“Goodbye, Nina!” Erin slammed the door behind her and cursed under his breath.