Every famous love song has been written by an alpha for an omega.
As a beta, I’ve never expected to be anyone’s muse. I’m happy to stick in the background – and with a past like mine, it’s simply safer avoiding the spotlight.
But that changes the day I learn my long-lost brother is Stix Rain. The drummer for one of the biggest rock bands in the world, we lost touch when we went into foster care. He ran away, I stayed, and I still carry the scars from growing up alone.
I have so many questions for him – until I discover he died three months ago.
I’m desperate to know more about him, but my only chance to meet his bandmates is at his tribute concert. The same concert where I get rained on, mugged, and the lead singer accuses me of being a tragedy chasing groupie.
But earning the trust of a bunch of moody, grieving rockstars isn’t my biggest problem. Because I’m suddenly triggered by a switch and my hidden omega nature takes over, hungry for knots, and bites, and a pack of my own.
Now I’m on a tour bus in the middle of nowhere, and I’m hot and needy for my brother’s best friends.
But helping me through my first ever omega heat is just the start of it.
Because someone is trying to destroy the band, and I now have an impossible choice to make.
I can either sacrifice my brother’s legacy, or walk away from the only pack I’ve ever wanted.
The Omega Verse is a standalone in the Billionaires in Heat series.
🎧 Omegaverse (reverse harem)
🎧 Rockstar romance
🎧 Designation switch
🎧 Brother’s best friends
🎧 Steam, steam, steam!
“Dyin’ is the easy part,” a gravel-and-velvet voice croons through my portable speaker. “It’s the afterlove that kills you.”
Words that feel particularly barbed today as I lift tired eyes to stare at the clipping on the noticeboard above my desk. It’s a Rolling Stone article from three months ago, with a black slash of a headline: The Sun Goes Down on a Legend. I don’t bother trying to read the words beneath it – I know them off by heart, anyway – but I drink in the picture of Steven “Stix” Rain, drummer of the legendary rock band, The Sundowners.
It’s an amazing shot captured during his last concert. He’s exploding over his drums, long dark hair matted to his cheeks, his inked torso glowing with sweat, and his hands flying so fast his sticks are a blur. He looks so alive, so ferocious with joy, I can barely force my gaze down to the tagline:
Rock legend Stix Rain’s final appearance
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
R.I.P. 1992 – 2023
Leaving the last few emails unread, I close down the office computer and push away from the desk. I’m late starting on the morning’s baking, but I can’t help taking one last look at the picture. Even though every muscle in his body is focused on working his drums, Steven’s denim blue eyes are staring straight down the lens of the camera. They’re bright; blissful even. A dimple has popped in one cheek and his lips are curling at the corner, like he’s on the edge of a wicked grin.
After I read about his death, I went looking for another dose of that smile. To my dismay, I couldn’t find a single one. Mostly he was pictured with his hand over the camera or a fierce scowl on his face. And according to the other articles and fan sites I checked, Stix Rain wasn’t a happy guy. Or, at least not publicly, where he was painted as a moody, bad boy rocker. He was famous for losing his cool, trashing hotel rooms, public fights with his many flings, and cutting reporters to shreds with his tongue. Everyone talked about his musical genius and his fiery temper in the same breath.
So why does he look like he’s on cloud nine in his last picture?
It’s a question that has plagued me ever since I found out that my long-lost brother Steven Lynch was also Stix Rain, a founding member of The Sundowners, and one of the most talented musicians on the planet.
My gaze cuts away from the picture, but not before snippets of the story have sliced into my soul. A dark, unfamiliar road. Torrential rain. A treacherous stretch of mountains, known for its mudslides. And a motorbike swerving around a spill, before overcorrecting on the sharp bend.
The official police report declared it a tragic accident, and even without knowing the gritty details, I agree.
A wave of phantom pain rolls through me as I drag my gaze from the article and head next door into the kitchen. I call it phantom pain because I didn’t really know my older brother. Or at least, not this version of him that the rest of the world seems so familiar with. Steven was six years older than me, and we lost touch when we were both put into foster care as kids. So, the savage emotion that keeps swirling through my insides can’t be grief – not in the way of missing someone you were really close to. Someone you loved.
“Hi, Cass.” I snap out of my reverie as Chancey, one of the other bakery employees, enters the kitchen through the back door. He’s working to save for his MBA, and while he’s great with customers, he’s always a little slow at just shy of five in the morning. He makes no effort to stifle his yawn as he tugs on a Cookie’s Bakery apron, rubbing a fist in his kohl-smeared eyes. “Where do you want me today, boss?”
Technically, the bakery is still owned by Cookie Amato, the Italian-born pastry chef who took me in as a sixteen-year-old runaway and trained me up as her apprentice. When she moved into a retirement village last year, she handed her apron over to me, and I’ve been running the place ever since.
“Can you get the coffee machine started?” Chancey doesn’t have the patience for pasty, so I focus on rolling out the extra dough for chiacchiere, the carnival fritters the locals call angel wings. We make plenty of Aussie favourites – meat pies, sausage rolls, and even vegemite scrolls, on occasion – but most people come for Cookie’s Italian pastries.
“You playing this song again?” Chancey smirks as he fires up the coffee machine. Cookie was devoted to a stovetop espresso maker she brought with her from Naples, but demand always outstripped supply, so last year I convinced her to invest in a commercial-grade Gaggia. Sugar might be a pastry chef’s lifeblood, but coffee is what gets me out of bed at three thirty every morning.
“I never knew you were such a Sundowners’ groupie,” Chancey prattles on as I start slicing the pastry into thin strips. “Which I totally get. They’re hot as all hell. And I guess we should enjoy them while we can. I mean, now that Stix Rain is roadkill, the rest of the band will probably break up.”
I’ve sliced through the top of my finger before I even feel the bite of the knife. “What did you say?”
Chancey’s eyes almost bug out of his head as he leaps for a cloth on the bench. “Oh, my God, Cass! What the hell? Are you caffeine deprived, or something?” He tosses the cloth at me, his face a queasy green as he starts making me a cappuccino with trembling hands. “You remember how blood makes me faint, right? Jesus, and Tom is going to lose his ever-loving mind when he finds out…”
“Tom doesn’t need to know.” I give him a warning look as I set the knife in the sink and wrap my hand in the cloth. Ouch. As I bind it tightly my pulse is throbbing under the wound, but it’s not the first injury I’ve had in the kitchen and it won’t be my last. “It’s no big deal. I’m just distracted.”
“No shit.” Chancey makes a gagging sound as he gingerly sets my coffee on the far corner of the blood-splattered bench. The frothy heart on the top is so wonky, I’d tease him if he didn’t look like he was going to pass out. “Want me to grab you a bandage before you bleed all over the town’s breakfast?”
“I’ve got it, thanks. You can go wipe down the booths.” I grab the medical kit from under the sink while he hustles off out the front. I gave our two cherry red booths a thorough clean last night, but it’s a good excuse to give him a breather. Chancey’s never been a fan of the dirtier side of a commercial kitchen, but since he presented as an omega six months ago, he’s become increasingly sensitive. I’m guessing he’ll be handing in his resignation soon – either because he’s over the sights and smells of the bakery, or because one of the local alpha packs has snatched him up.
I pull a sad face as I fish a couple of Band-Aids out of the kit. I can hear him singing along to the next Sundowners’ song on my playlist, and I realise how quiet the place will be once he’s gone. But then he gives a nervous chirp and the front door rattles – the only warning I get that we have an early-morning visitor.
“Why do I smell blood?” The alpha that stride into the kitchen is dressed in his paramedic uniform, but right now he looks like he’s about to commit murder. His dark brown eyes sweep over the messy bench before raking down my body. I drop the Band-Aids in my haste to hide my injury, but as a growl crawls up his throat, I realise all I’ve done is expose my bloody apron to his scowl. “Show me, Cass.”
I screw up my nose, hating the way my heart gives a guilty lurch. “It’s nothing, Tom. A stupid accident…”
“I’ll decide that,” he rumbles, and then he’s looming over me, his hand out. “Give me a look.”
At six-feet-six with shoulders built to carry a heavy load, Tom Bush is a hard man to refuse. But I still give a reluctant huff as he unwinds the bloody cloth and scowls at my finger. As fresh blood seeps from the cut, his alpha scent kicks up a notch – which is saying something, since it already swirls around me like lemon-scented smoke. “Don’t overreact, Tom. It’s just a nick. I get them all the time.”
“It’s deeper than a nick.” He nudges me over to the sink and glares down at the bloody knife like he’s the one it stabbed. “Did you at least clean it?”
“I was about to,” I fib, but he’s already squeezing a little of the blood out and soaping the wound under warm water. It all stings worse than the cut itself, but I know better than to argue with him when he’s in this mood.
“I can stitch it or fix it the old-fashioned way,” he tells me as he inspects it again. When he lifts his chin, there’s a darker light in his eyes, turning them the colour of an espresso. “Let me fix it, Cass.”
I nod before I think about it, because that’s my usual reaction to Tom. Even though I pride myself of sorting out my own shit, when my best friend offers his help, I always seem to grab it in both hands. Or, as in this instance, put myself very firmly in his hands, to do with as he wishes. “I think there’s a needle in the medical kit…”
But the sentence unravels into a gasp, because to my complete and utter shock, Tom has sucked my wounded finger between his lips. As his warm tongue slides around the injured pad, it takes a moment for my stunned brain to realise what he’s doing. Alpha juice. The highly-stimulating healing secretions of alphas…
“Oh God,” I groan under my breath as he sucks it deeper, the firm muscle of his tongue working my finger against the roof of his mouth. It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Yes, I’ve kissed, I’ve fucked, and done most of the other intimate things a twenty-five-year-old gets up to… But now my skin is almost sizzling, with a teasing, sucking pressure I can feel echoing between my thighs…
Damn. I don’t know that he needs to lathe my knuckle the way he is, but as I grip the counter with my other hand, I’m not about to stop him.
But right as a shivery moan is working its way up my throat, Tom releases my finger with a pop. It’s not easy keeping the disappointment off my face as he inspects the slick tip, and I blink, trying to reset my bearings.
This is Tom. My best friend. My platonic best friend.
“How did you do it?” he demands as I finally pull away. One quick glance tells me the finger is still slightly pink, but I don’t know if that’s from the wound or the inferno burning under my skin. “Did something happen? Your scent is…sour.”
Exactly what every girl wants to hear after the most attractive alpha in a hundred-mile radius has just been juicing her finger.
“I’m just tense,” I murmur as I change my apron and get busy wiping down the bench. The ruined pastry goes into the bin, but before I can start another batch, Tom slides a plastic-coated pass onto the clean counter. It’s black with a sinking sun and the letters V.I.P. blazoned on the front.
“Holy shit!” I stare down at the backstage pass, my hands trembling for a different reason now. “Is this real?”
Tom grunts. “Of course. I wouldn’t get your hopes up otherwise.”
“But how?” I blink at him in shock. “I couldn’t even get a ticket to the show, let alone a V.I.P. pass.”
“My buddy came through.” Tom gives a shrug, but I can feel the tension under the careless gesture. He was a soldier before he became a paramedic, and he only turns to his mysterious army buddies when he needs a favour he can’t get anywhere else. “It’s legit, but he couldn’t get your name on the official register. There’s a security guard who’ll meet you at a side entrance and take you through. Best we could do.”
“It’s great. You’re amazing!” I throw myself at Tom, all the stress of the last few weeks bleeding away as his arms wrap around me.
There’s a stiffness in his wide frame before he slowly relaxes against me. No doubt because I’ve been a complete nightmare since The Sundowners announced a one-off tribute concert for Steven. Despite the draw of bigger cities, the band decided to hold it in Perth, my brother’s hometown, and the demand was so high they literally broke the ticketing system. God knows what Tom had to promise his buddy in return for an elusive backstage pass, but I vow to make it up to him. Starting with a coffee, as many pastries as he wants, and a hug tight enough to squeeze even his giant frame.
But when I try to pull back, he tips up my chin, his brown eyes guarded. “You really want to do this? It’s a long bus ride, and I could probably get my buddy to find out anything you want to know about your brother.”
But I’m already shaking my head. “No, I want to talk to them. They were his bandmates for a long time, and the lead singer was his best friend. They must know the real Steven… and this might be the only chance I get to ask them.”
I’ve done enough research to know that the band don’t live here anymore, but have houses in Europe and the US. Since this is an impromptu concert to pay tribute to my brother, they have no plans to hang around once it’s done, and will probably leave the country right away.
And given what Chancey just said about the band breaking up, who knows when I’ll get another chance to ask them about Steven?
Tom is still holding me loosely in his arms, but I can feel the tension bleeding back into his limbs. “I wish I could swap shifts and come with you, but the surf competition has us stretched.” Unlike the rest of Sandy Bay who get a kick out of the annual ten-day event, Tom treats the influx of surfers like an invading army. “But I got you a hotel room not far from the arena. The bus ticket is a round trip, and I’ve booked you a seat on the first one out tomorrow.”
It’s on the tip of my tongue to tell him I can take care of that stuff myself, but if I’m honest, I kind of like it when he goes into mother hen mode. I never had one of my own, and as much as Cookie took care of me, her love language was food, not gestures.
Still, I have a reputation to uphold, and I shoot him a challenging look from under my lashes. “I appreciate it, but you know I can look after myself, Tom.”
“Never doubt it for a moment, Cass.” Something dark flashes in his eyes and then he tips my chin up again, only this time he kisses me hard on the lips. His mouth is gone before I can respond, but I’m so surprised I take a step back and nearly send a tray of sausage rolls flying. “What was that for?”
Tom swipes a thumb across his lips and I wonder if the kiss tasted as good to him as it did to me. “Just a reminder I’m here if you need me.”
It’s no hardship to stare at the man, but I find my gaze cutting away from him as I murmur, “I’m just going to a concert, Tom.”
“Yeah, but I need you to be careful, okay? Rockstars aren’t normal people. And I don’t want them turning your head with all their…”
Words seem to fail him, and my lips quirk. The mighty Tom Bush takes all manner of calamity in his stride, but the thought of me hanging out with a bunch of musicians seems to leave him speechless. “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll?”
He grunts, but then reaches out to stroke my cheek. Tom has alpha energy to spare, and as a beta, it doesn’t affect me like the omegas I see around town. But there’s no hiding the shiver his touch sends down my spine as his finger travels down the curve of my cheek and comes to rest in the dimple in my chin. “I was going to say the seedy underbelly of the music industry, but yeah. Just watch yourself, Cass. These guys aren’t your brother. And from what my buddy has heard, the band is a mess right now. You don’t want to get caught up in that.”
My stomach clenches in disappointment. After what Chancey said, it’s looking increasingly likely that the sun really is going down on my brother’s band.
“I’ll be careful,” I tell him, swiping the pass off the bench and squeezing it tight in my hand. “But they’re the closest thing I have to Steven now. And if that means I have to put up with some rockstar antics to get to know him better….” I shrug. “How bad can one conversation be?”
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