Rath (The Omega Collective #2) by Mina Carter




1





There was food. It was half hidden in the ruins of a building, but it was there. She could smell it.

Savannah bit her lip as she hid in the shadows of a building opposite and watched the unguarded pack. Night had fallen, which was the only reason she’d crept this close with every instinct on alert. An alpha was in the area, but he was noisy and easy to avoid. As were the obvious traps he’d laid for her before—some sort of meat cooking over an open fire, left unattended, or cakes left next to an open pack.

She snorted at the memory. He must think she was stupid if he thought she couldn’t spot such an obvious trap. Her mother had drilled it into her from a young age that omegas stayed hidden, always. Being an omega herself, Leia had taught Savannah how to hide, even when nearly in plain sight, how to use the shadows to her advantage and... her hand moved down to touch the mercy on her thigh... and she’d picked up how to fight if necessary along the way. Not that an omega had much chance against an alpha. The most they could hope for was to trigger the beast and end up dead in the aftermath. If not... that’s why the blade was called a mercy.

So she stayed motionless as she watched the backpack. She’d already been here an hour and she was prepared to stay in place a couple more, just to make sure the pack she watched was not one of the traps laid out for her. She didn’t think so, but it was better to stay hungry and wait than to move too soon and lose the only thing she had left.

Her freedom.

She’d already lost that once. The Lord Overseer’s messengers had announced the ban on the claiming of omegas. That had been a trap, too—a lie sent out to lure the women out of hiding. Savanna hadn’t believed it for a second, but others had. Another omega had been in the town center when she’d gone for water. She should have known better. She should have turned back the moment she saw her. One omega might slip past the alpha’s sense of smell but two together was too much, especially when they were low on scent-blockers. If she had listened to what her mother had taught her and turned back, she wouldn’t have been taken, but they needed the water. So she’d decided the risk was worth taking.

She’d been wrong.

Her recollections of the raid were little more than scattered fragments. Terror. Panic. The roar of the alphas. The screams. Something heavy had thumped against the side of her head and everything went dark.

That blow saved her. Unconscious for the journey to the alphas’ outpost, she must have been out cold when they’d come to claim the others. Their terrified screams as they were claimed and knotted by one alpha after another had woken her. Dazed and unsteady, instinct had still kicked in and she’d crawled back into the shadows to hide. The building they’d been kept in was a ruined factory with plenty of hidey-holes. And, wonder of wonders, a way out. She hadn’t believed it as her heart pounded in her chest, but she’d managed to wriggle through the tiny gap into the outside world, tearing her leg on something in the process.

Then she ran.

That had been almost a week ago. Maybe. The wound in her leg had steadily gotten worse, and she’d lost track of the days. Now the dull, steady throb threatened to overwhelm her. If she didn’t eat something and get help soon...

She shoved the thought from her mind and focused on her goal. The pack. Food. Then she could work out her next move.

She didn’t move until darkness had fallen completely. She remained still for another half hour, eyes wide and ears peeled for any signs of movement. The alpha that had claimed this section of an old ruined city had been moving around earlier this afternoon, but he’d kept to the paths he’d cleared. As long as she avoided those, she should be good.

Waiting until the moon disappeared behind the clouds, she slid from cover and darted across the gap to her objective. Her heart pounded in her ears. At any moment she expected a roar to fill the air and to be grabbed from behind.

It didn’t happen. The night was quiet, and she let herself breathe a sigh of relief as she crouched beside the pack. It was partially hidden. She tugged it out from beneath a bit of broken board slowly to avoid noise.

Her prize in her grasp, she retreated into the shadows again. Only when she was curled up inside a small space beneath a shattered wall did she open her treasure to see what she had found.

Her fingers touched unimaginable softness first, and she pulled out a blanket of thick, warm material that made her feel the cold even more. She wrapped it around her shoulders and burrowed deeper into the softness before returning her attention to the rest of contents.