Southern Atlanta, Georgia
The conference hall was sweltering, but for once, the heat wasn't a byproduct of the weather or the building's lack of a functioning air conditioner. Instead the room's high temperatures could be traced back to the sheer amount testosterone gathered in its confines—didn't they know it was stupid, to have so many men in one place? And that was just with humans. To have so many male lycanthropes in one place at the same time, especially alphas .. well, that was just asking for a shit storm.
Seated around the table in accordance to their rank and district were the alphas, with their betas and omegas. At the far end of the table, towards the front, sat the First Alpha, the alpha lycanthrope who ruled over all the rest. The way conferences worked was simple: an alpha and his beta would stand and move to the end of the table opposite the First Alpha, where they would give a report on their pack and things like status, events, news, et cetera. Due to the majority of the alphas, however, it often took a few hours for every district to get their reports in. Meanwhile the omegas would sit together, regardless of their district, and only speak when explicitly spoken to.
I was the beta of the Northernmost European district, otherwise known as the Russian district. Currently reporting was the American districts; I sat with my alpha, Andrej, nervously scanning the room and trying not to fidget in my seat. Everyone expected members of the Russian district to be stoic and statuesque, but I had always been the exception to that rule. Andrej often called me a worrywart and it was true—I had the unfortunate tendency of worrying myself sick, sometimes literally, and I was also different from the rest of the pack because I would rather talk things out than fight. But that was one of the reasons why I had been chosen as beta, although here lately, I had been given to wondering why more and more. I peeked at my alpha from under my lashes, unconsciously seeking reassurance from the larger and more confident wolf.
Andrej also happened to be my older brother. It was a known fact to most everyone and those who didn't know usually guessed, seeing the similarities in our features: the white-blond hair and the ice-blue eyes; the pale, almost translucent skin stretched over the fine bones of our cheeks and jaws. Then one of us would open our mouths and the similarities would end, because when it came to personality? Andrej and I were as different as night and day. He was confident, voracious and outgoing. He loved parties, loved telling stories and getting wild with the girls, whereas I would've been happier at home, curled up with a book in front of the fireplace instead of trailing awkwardly behind him through a crowd, carrying his beer. I was uncomfortable around girls, especially the ones who wanted to do, uh, those things. I didn't think I was ready to do anything yet but I was fairly sure that when I was ready—if ever—I'd want to do those kind of things with another guy.
We were close, though, me and Andrej, despite our differences. He was my best friend, as well as my alpha and older brother. It sounded kind of lame, even in my head, but I didn't care—he'd always listened to me and been there, which was more than anyone else could claim. I trusted him, enough to believe him when he'd said everything would be okay at the conference, even though I'd been feeling .. well, weird, for the lack of a better word, recently. Cramping, headaches and fatigue were just a few of the more milder symptoms of the funk I'd been battling. The severe ones had triggered the weirdness, so weird that I didn't dare confide in anyone about them, not even Andrej.
"The Nashville district continues to thrive, its numbers strengthened by several new additions, our beta's own first litter among them. His bitch birthed a total of three pups, all healthy and alive."
There was a pause that was promptly filled with congratulatory applause, most of it polite but some of it rowdy and loud. The Nashville beta stepped forward to thank everyone and then segued into talking about territory border maintenance and the like. I was trying my best to listen, as droning as it all was, when I felt something inside me release and expel. Almost like the relief of a much-needed piss, except it wasn't piss. It was .. thicker, less liquid and more substantial. As discreetly as possible, I leaned back in my seat and glanced down between my legs, trying to see if it was as visible as it had felt. Was I bleeding again? Had it gotten worse? God, I hoped not.
What I managed to see wasn't much but still enough to confirm my dreaded suspicions: yup, I was bleeding again and yup, it had definitely gotten worse. From what I could see, the damage was pretty bad, a large stain spreading on the inside of my trouser leg. My expensive trousers, too. I groaned inwardly and tried not to squirm, clamping my thighs together and wishing the damned meeting would just end already. A part of me was afraid one of the alphas would pick up on the scent of my pending dilemma, something that was a very valid and very possible possibility. Sweat prickled across my skin and I crossed my legs even more tightly together.
Towards the far end of the table, one of the coastal [district] alphas were shaking their head, visibly distracted. Fuck, it was too late. My heart began to pound furiously as I sat and watched him sniff the air, nostrils flaring wide. His pupils dilated, golden irises suddenly the dominant counterpart as he scanned the room, no doubt looking for the owner of the heavy, metallic scent.
Those golden eyes finally came to land on me and I saw his triumph when he realized he'd found the culprit. Up until this point, I had been frozen with dread. The slow, predatory smile he gave broke the strange paralysis and I leapt to my feet, the daunting knowledge that he'd follow heavy in my bones and that things would probably end better if I just stayed put.
But no. I ran anyway.