“And by next full moon, my foster son, Dempsey Walsh, will take the hand of Jolie in mating matrimony.”
Jolie Farris blinked at the announcement read by the alpha from his iPad. She waited for Renzo to tell her it was a joke, but Renzo wasn't the type to joke, and the way he smiled softly up at everyone gathered around for pack announcements suggested he was being more than serious.
Despite being something of an asshole, and the sort who never cared about what anyone thought, their feelings, or anything that fell outside the category of safety, security, and food for the pack, he wasn't an asshole on purpose.
It just seemed to be his personality.
He was going to let Dempsey mate with her? He was going…but he didn’t even ask her about this.
Dempsey. Holy shit. No way.
The pack clapped softly. Jolie looked at the faces around her. Many of the people here were ones whose couches she'd slept on, or spent time in their spare bedrooms over the years.
And yet they were clapping and looking as if what had just been announced was a good thing.
Or at least, not the absolute worst thing in the world to happen.
A few of the men even got up to shake Dempsey's hand and congratulate him. He’d been sitting near the front, but was now standing, ready to accept all the praise that came his way.
And when Dempsey looked back at her, that eager smile on his face, her skin crawled.
This wasn’t right. She didn’t want to be mated to him. She wanted nature to pick her mate and no one else. She already had a mate.
The women didn't get up, but the ones sitting around her did put their hands on her shoulders, their smiles approving.
Couldn't they tell she was not okay with this?
Jolie stuck her hand in the air.
Renzo noted her, and Jolie was shocked when he pointed his pen at her and called her name.
She'd half expected him to ignore her, knowing that she was about to object.
Jolie put her hand down. "What happens if I don't want Dempsey for a mate?"
The ladies, mostly omegas, and almost all of them mothers who didn't want trouble for their pups, turned away from her. They were no longer smiling at her with those looks of happiness. They looked more as if they wanted nothing to do with her if she was going to make a scene.
She didn't blame them for that.
"Do you object to Dempsey because you feel he cannot provide for you?"
"No," Jolie said.
Dempsey was totally watching her. She could see him from the corner of her eye. She also did not want to look at him. She wasn't going to look at him and see his anger, or his disappointment.
He seriously thought they were made for each other.
"May I ask what the objection is then?"
"I don't want to."
Somehow, that should have been enough, and yet there Renzo stood, flicking that damned pen in his hand, as if he'd heard the most disappointing thing of the evening.
"Jolie, you are older than breeding age. It's time you had a mate."
"Okay, well, can I choose one for myself?"
"Dempsey will take care of you. He is a strong alpha, and he's had his eye on you for some time. He will not take advantage of you."
Jolie felt the little muscle beneath her eye start to twitch.
Don't glare. If she glared at him, she'd get smacked for it. And that was the gentle approach.
Betas and male omegas who glared got more than a smack across the face. She didn't want that, but she didn't want to get mated to Dempsey either.
Unlike Renzo, who seemed to be logical to a point of fault, Dempsey absolutely was an asshole on purpose.
To this day, Renzo couldn't make him stop putting out those bear traps for Liam.
"Any other objections?" Renzo asked. He was an aging alpha, but still powerful. The gray and silver hair, and they way he pushed his reading glasses up his nose could lead some people to think it was easier to push him around than it actually was, but it wasn't that long ago when Renzo had killed another alpha, and he'd always proven his strength in the ring.
No one dared fight him on anything. Whether it was a physical fight, or an argument.
Jolie was in a mood to push her luck.
"What if I just don't like his personality?"
There were a few small hissing noises, as if people were having sympathy pains for what she was about to go through.
It was her own damned fault. If she got a small beating for this, then no one would stand up for her, and no one would stop it from happening.
Renzo glared softly at her. "You liking his personality has nothing to do with whether or not he can keep you fed in the winter."
"All he would have to do is get a job for that. He doesn't have to hunt our every meal."
"Then you agree to be mated to him on the condition he seeks out human employment?"
"Then what is the problem? I'm losing my damned patience."
Renzo's eyes flashed a bright shade of red. His lips pulled back, revealing the sharp points of his fangs.
Yeah, he was definitely getting angry with her.
Without meaning to, Jolie looked towards Dempsey, who looked as if he was trying very hard not to glare at her, too.
If she pissed him off enough, would he want to mate with her? What would he do if she made his life miserable and tried to get him to walk back on the mating idea?
He might scar her face for daring to turn him down.
Jolie shivered. She wasn't getting anywhere with this, and she could practically feel the eyes of the others on her, watching her, some of whom were begging her to stop it, to quit while she was ahead.
Even the others in the meeting who weren't looking at her, she felt the thick press of their need for her to stop.
If she didn't, even if Dempsey decided not to take his anger out on her, he could still decide to make someone else's life miserable because of what she was doing.
No one really liked Dempsey, though everyone claimed to like him.
He was good-looking, a fair hunter, and if he ever got his own pack one day, he might make for a strong leader.
If anyone ever wanted to follow him. Somehow, Jolie got the impression that, in a past life, Dempsey would have made a fine Ramsey Bolton.
She was going to get herself hurt if she kept arguing this point.
"Well?" Renzo asked, his voice gruff, still impatient, and not angry.
Jolie swallowed hard. She looked over at Dempsey. He didn't look angry anymore. Just impatient to get this show on the road.
Jolie shook her head. "No."
"No objections?" Renzo prompted.
"No," Jolie said again, another soft shake of her head.
"Good. And don't put on that face. Most unmated wolves are paired off, and Dempsey will make it so that you and your pups never go hungry. That is a good thing."
Jolie nodded, because technically, Renzo was right. Hell, he'd probably taken that into account when Dempsey begged the man to hand over Jolie's hand.
Because Jolie had no doubt in her mind that was exactly how it had happened.
Renzo was like a second father to Dempsey, ever since Dempsey's father had been killed.
There was no telling how many times since Jolie had turned seventeen that he'd begged and pleaded for her hand. She had no idea why. It wasn't as if they spent any time together, knew each other, or liked each other. He just thought he liked Jolie, and that was a problem.
And now Jolie had to think her way out of this, because opening her big mouth and arguing wasn't going to get her anywhere.
Liam. That was the best answer she could think of. She needed to find Liam.
He was still around, even though he wasn't supposed to be. They used to be friends, and he was already in trouble with Renzo and Dempsey, had been avoiding them for years...
Maybe, if she found him, and asked nicely, then for old time's sake, he could help her out?
That was a stretch.
Jolie knew Renzo was finishing off with the rest of the news for the pack, she could hear him, but her brain wasn't turning the sounds he made into words.
She was too busy making her plans, because there was no way in hell she was shacking up with Dempsey.
If he seriously thought she wasn't going to do anything about this, then he was a little dumber than she'd given him credit for.
Now it was just a matter of getting away from a group of alphas and betas who were ten times stronger, faster, and better trackers than one omega who didn’t know when to shut up.
To Be Continued...............
A.N: Like with Arrangement with a Billionaire, I'll do my best to get every chapter uploaded at least by a Friday :) I really hope you like this story. Most of my stuff is Paranormal Romance, so I know it's a bit different from what I've been uploading to Tapas so far. Still, it was a lot of fun to write this for my Patrons on Patreon and we had a great time :) I really do hope you enjoy this, too <3
I'll post a couple of chapters up right now for binge reading, but if you were so inclined, please feel free to add this story to your library and hit the little heart button :) Those really do help me out
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