I stood at the end of the gravel drive that wound through the dirt patch. The parched soil was cracked and barren, with only the occasional overly-ambitious weed poking through to add a touch of color.
“Council of Packs Veteran’s Rehabilitation Center,” I read aloud from the weathered wooden sign hanging precariously over the sterile stainless steel doors in front of me. Without that sign, the anonymous gray concrete block walls could have shrouded any establishment.
The metallic click of the magnetic lock releasing broke the evening silence as the door hitched, swinging open a few inches in response to the buzzer I had pressed. I took several steps inside, stopping at the semi-circular reception desk that sat awkwardly in the center of the hallway.
“Can I help you?” A bored-looking redhead – human, from her scent – stared past me as she asked.
“Um, yeah, I mean, yes, please,” I stuttered out. “I’m here for your outreach program.”
“My what?” She raised a brow and popped her gum.
“The outreach program for injured Veterans?” I swallowed a sigh. “There was a sign-up sheet in the psychology department at the community college?”
Red shrugged disinterestedly and continued to stare at me.
“Do you have a contact name?”
“No.” I thrust the printed copy of the email confirmation I’d been clutching in my hand toward her. “This is all I received.”
She glanced at the paper I held out without taking it from me and shrugged again.
“Is there someone that you could ask?”
Red huffed out a sigh of exaggerated annoyance. “Just a minute.”
She dialed an extension on the phone in front of her and mumbled into it before hanging up and turning to face me again.
“Craig will be out in a minute.”
She turned away again, and I took a step back from the desk to wait.
It wasn’t long, a matter of minutes really, before I was staring up at the most beautiful Alpha that I’d ever seen, unable to remember my own name.
“You’re here for the Wounded Veterans outreach program?” His deep green eyes skimmed over a paper on the clipboard he held in one large hand. “What’s your name?”
I stared, unable to pull my gaze from his plump lips.
“Son?” His deep baritone voice pulled me out of my stupor. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah…I mean, yes, Alpha, I’m fine,” I stumbled over my words.
“Okay, then.” His eyes rose to mine from the paper. “What’s your name?”
I continued to stare, aware that he had asked me a question but not quite able to remember the words to answer it.
“Are you sure you’re here for this program?” His velvety voice held a touch of irritation.
I nodded, my head jerking like a marionette on a string, but my mouth refused to work.
“Look, kid,” he spoke, his voice firm but not unkind. “If you can’t talk to an Alpha, then this program isn’t a good fit for you.” He placed his palm gently on my shoulder and turned me back to face the door. “Why don’t you go home and have your daddy help you find a better fit for your comfort level? I know there are several programs where you can interact with Betas and Omegas.” He patted me once before turning away. “Good luck.”
And just like that, the Alpha of my dreams walked out of my life.