Heat Race - Tanya Chris



The air crackled with electricity. Not heat hormones, not yet, but they were coming. Jack Henry toed the line traced in the dirt of the open lot—a crude thing for such an important moment in his life, just a mark left by the heel of someone’s boot as they dragged it from one side of the lot to the other. He stood behind the line with the other omegas in his heat class. There were only twenty of them this year and more than a hundred alphas, which was why it’d come to this. A heat race.

No one knew why the hybrid population had been declining for generations, or why omegas in particular had become so rare, but the method for handling an imbalance between alphas and omegas had been established hundreds of years ago. Jack Henry was about to be released into the twilight to run and hide. Whoever caught him would claim him—right there in the woods beneath the full moon. At some point tonight, he would be found and fucked and claimed. The only question was by who.

“Decide yet?” the omega next to him asked. Ashton had a sweetheart named Beauregard, and the two of them had conspired to meet at a predetermined spot where they would spend a romantic night together beneath the full moon. Ashton even had a picnic basket stashed away, with blankets to nest in and a bottle of champagne for after. That was why he’d dressed in a silk shirt and a nice pair of trousers—because he wouldn’t be tearing through the woods, desperately running from a horde of salivating alphas.

Jack Henry had pulled on a pair of track pants and left his chest and feet bare. He needed to be fast and light because the answer to Ashton’s question was no. He hadn’t decided.

Along the chain link fence separating the forest from the backs of the businesses it abutted, alphas lurked. Waiting. Their faces were shadowed in the fading light, but for the most part Jack Henry knew them. These were guys he’d grown up with, guys he’d played with as equals before puberty had slotted them into their separate roles.

Elias caught him peeking and waved. Jack Henry waved back, a pang of guilt shooting through him when he saw how easily Elias smiled at him, seemingly not mad that they didn’t have an arrangement the way Ashton and Beauregard did. Elias deserved to be mad. He’d been Jack Henry’s best friend since forever, and Jack Henry didn’t want to imagine a future without him in it. But when he thought about Elias being the one and only alpha in his bed for the rest of his life, he just wasn’t sure. Elias was smart and considerate and fun. Jack Henry would never be bored with him because he always had something interesting to say. He was a student of the world, an avid learner of everything. And he was attractive. As pretty as an omega almost. But he wasn’t, well—

He wasn’t Saul.

When Jack Henry looked away from Elias, his eyes landed unerringly on Saul. Saul was so big it was hard not to have your eyes land on him, and he was brimming with energy tonight. Jack Henry wanted to be fucked by him, had wanted it since he’d presented as an omega at thirteen. All his best jerk-off sessions featured Saul and his giant hands and his giant pecs and his giant… well. That last part was only an assumption.

Jack Henry lusted after Saul, and he was pretty sure Saul liked him back. He’d caught Saul’s nose twitching in his direction when he came out of dance class, sweaty and fragrant. Saul smelled good sweaty too, his alpha pheromones unmistakably potent. When Jack Henry stroked himself at night, he imagined Saul tossing him around, flipping him any which-way and having him at his mercy.

And it wasn’t like Saul was a bad person. He didn’t share Jack Henry’s interests or sit under the stars talking about philosophy with him, but he was quick to smile, and Jack Henry had caught him bringing groceries to an elderly neighbor once, all shy as if he didn’t want anyone to know what a good guy he was. But he was. Jack Henry’s mother thought he should go for a big, quiet alpha like Saul, but his father thought he’d be foolish to give up the chance to be mated to his best friend.

Unable to make a decision himself, Jack Henry had decided to

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