Chapter 2 - Beta-feigning Omega
Josh knocked on the office door and opened it as he greeted, “Hello, Rose.”
Rose, who was filing her nails while sitting behind her desk, flinched. She soon beamed and said, “Hello, Josh. As dashing as always.”
Josh answered her usual flattery with a smile and let the subject pass. He had left Pitt while he was still sleeping, so he was feeling a little down.
‘Pitt will cry a fair bit when he wakes up and sees that I’m not there,’ Josh thought. This happened every day, but it still felt bitter. He wished he could stay with the child until he was a little bit older, but life stopped him from it. Moreover, today was the babysitter’s day off. Josh had left Pitt under the care of Mrs. Robert—their neighbor—before the child was even awake. This made him feel even more guilty.
Mrs. Robert, whose only source of income was her pension, adored Pitt in place of her own grandson whom she couldn’t see often. Although Mrs. Robert bought him toys and baked him cookies from time to time, Josh couldn’t leave the child with the old lady for long. He had to finish his business and go back quickly.
When Josh glanced toward Mark’s office door, Rose stood up from her seat. Her cheeks flushed ever so slightly as she said, “Boss isn’t in yet. You’re here pretty early, aren’t you? Would you like some coffee?”
Josh smiled to hide his disappointment. “Thank you.”
“Give me a second,” Rose said as she excitedly retreated into the break room.
Sitting alone on the office sofa in silence made Josh somewhat anxious. He looked around meaninglessly before shifting his gaze onto the newspaper that was placed on the table.
As he blankly stared at the face of the man who had taken over the cover page, Rose stepped out of the break room. “He’s the prosecuting attorney for the Davis Incident. Isn’t he so good-looking?”
She was talking about the murder incident that had happened in New York. The suspect was a wealthy alpha who, unfortunately, did not have a very good reputation. Those with money and power often became the public’s target—even more so when the suspect was an arrogant alpha and the victim a powerless omega.
However, what excited people the most was none other than the prosecuting attorney.
Rose sighed in awe and placed a cup of coffee in front of him. Josh muttered a brief statement of gratitude and took the cup to his mouth.
Rose, still unable to peel her eyes off the photo, murmured, “I wonder if this man is an alpha or an omega.”
Not transitioned betas, but alphas and omegas who manifested properly during their early teenage years were known to be very beautiful. There were some cases where this didn’t apply, but 99 out of 100 times, they were recognizably handsome or pretty. People could tell that they were an alpha or at least an omega just by looking at them without smelling their pheromones.
Even among them, a man this good-looking was rare. Even Josh had his attention stolen for a moment when he first laid his eyes on him. If he looked this good in the low-resolution newspaper photo, just how good-looking could he be in person?
When Josh reached this line of thought, he fell into a brief contemplation. This man was too pretty to be called handsome and too beautiful to be called pretty. In any case, one thing for sure was that the man was a charmer—enough to surprise people just from his photo alone.
“He couldn’t be a beta, right? Well, I suppose it’s not entirely impossible…” Rose, who had turned to glance at Josh, trailed off unconfidently. Josh must not have been the only one who didn’t have a clue.
In very rare cases, some betas were exceptionally good-looking. Thanks to this, Josh could somehow manage to hide his identity. Josh smiled as vaguely as always. Rose fixed her restless gaze onto Josh and quickly sat down beside him.
“I was really surprised when I heard that a good-looking man like you was a beta. I was so sure that you were an alpha,” she said, with a demeanor bordering disappointment.
Josh had heard remarks such as hers countless times in his life. Things like “I can immediately tell that you’re an alpha,” or “I can’t believe a beta as good-looking as you exists.” Unfortunately, both of those statements were wrong.
Josh was an omega—one whose ear was imprinted at that.
He had no particular reason why he should hide the fact that he was an omega save for his job. Regrettably, however, nobody hired omegas as bodyguards. Hence, ever since Josh started this line of work, he had pretended to be a beta.
It wasn’t difficult to hide the fact that he was an omega. First and foremost, people always just assumed that he was an alpha whenever they saw him. On top of that, his pheromones had a faint scent. He had no choice but to take meds during his heat since it made the scent stronger, but ever since he was imprinted, even that became much weaker.
He was confident that nobody would ever find out.
Josh almost subconsciously fiddled with his ears, but he faked it and brushed it off. He would be in big trouble if anyone found out about the imprint. He could pretend that he was an alpha, but making up a sloppy lie would force him to lie once more about why he had pretended to be a beta all this time. In the end, everyone would figure out that he was an omega.
His only remaining option was to do everything in his power to hide it. This was why he sometimes wore his bodyguard earpiece even when he wasn’t working or went through the trouble of covering his ears in one way or another.
‘I could very well be fired,’ Josh thought to himself. He felt chills run down his spine and avoided Rose’s eyes, pretending to drink his coffee.
Rose, who had no idea about any of his internal turmoil, gazed sympathetically at him. “How old is Pitt again? Isn’t it difficult raising a child on your own?”
“It’s not so bad, really.”
Everyone at the office thought that the mother had left the child and run away. It was a fairly common thing to happen in this line of work, so he didn’t even need to fabricate any details. All he needed to do was smile bitterly, and everyone else did the storytelling. It was a fairly useful excuse until recently.
Rose’s sympathy toward the “piteous single dad” began to turn into romantic interest ever since she had gotten divorced a few months ago. Of course, this wasn’t at all favorable to Josh.
Ignoring Josh’s clear rejection, Rose closed her face in. “But doesn’t your son need a mother? Poor boy, he’s at that age where he must be missing his mom… There hasn’t been any news from his mother, has there?”
Josh scrunched up his brows ever so slightly. A night of sex, no strings attached, was one thing; he couldn’t meet Rose’s expectations in the way she hoped.
“Wait, Rose—this is too close,” he warned.
His attempt to keep her back didn’t stop her. Rose puckered out her lips even more and closed her eyes. She was definitely trying to kiss him. As her lips came very close to touching his, Josh blocked them with his hand.
Rose, who had ended up pressing her lips against Josh’s palm, shot open her eyes.
Having met her eyes right in front of their noses, Josh smiled gently. “I don’t want to see you and her fighting over me, Rose.”
Rose jolted at his warm voice before squinting. “But she’s not here.”
“Well, who knows? She might appear any moment.”
“You’re teasing me, aren’t you?” said Rose, creasing her brows.
Josh shushed her and whispered, “Listen! I hear footsteps coming closer. Maybe she’s already here.”
“What?” Rose exclaimed and turned around, unable to hide her disbelief. Just then, the door abruptly flung open.
“What is this? What are y’all doing so early in the morning?”
It was their boss who appeared, gruffly replacing his greetings with questions. Rose panicked and hastily propped herself up.
Josh sat up and greeted him back as if nothing had happened. “Hello, Mark.”
“Were you waiting for me?”
Mark glanced at Rose as she hurriedly turned around and smoothed out her attire before walking straight into his office. Josh quickly followed after him and closed the door behind them.
“Phew,” Josh sighed exaggeratedly.
Mark, who was making his way around his desk, glanced at Josh behind his shoulders. “Why don’t you just go along with it? It must be hard for you to raise a kid alone.”
He was saying the same thing as Rose. Josh repeated the lie that he had already told countless times. “The mom will come back when she’s done with her education.”
“Yeah, sure,” Mark replied flatly and lodged a cigarette between his lips. Josh quit smoking back when he was pregnant with Pitt. He had never smoked since.
He stood as far away from Mark as possible so that the stench wouldn’t seep into his clothes and began, “Mark, would it be possible for me to get a payday advance?”
“Payday advance? How much?”
“Geh!” Mark suddenly began to cough violently. Josh grew so scared that Mark might stop breathing that he subconsciously recalled the steps for CPR. After finally regaining his breath, Mark asked doubtfully, “Did you gamble?”
“No,” Josh shook his head and answered honestly, “My mother is sick, and I need some money.”
“You mentioned that she suffers from chronic illness, right? Is it her blood pressure?”
“Yes, and kidney problems… a few different things,” Josh replied with hardly any emotion in his voice. Since he didn’t want to appeal to Mark’s sympathy, he spilled the words that he had prepared as formally as possible. “I’m also behind on some hospital fees… I do have a bit of savings, but nowhere near the amount I need. Is there anything that could be done by any chance?”
Mark silently puffed on his cigarette. Was there really much room for leniency at this small security company?
After a long contemplation, Mark sighed and replied, “…I’ll think about it.”
He didn’t say no, but he seemed very hard-pressed about something. Josh was curious, but he didn’t think he would get an answer even if he probed.
“I’ll take any kind of work… even if it’s just building security,” Josh reiterated before stepping out.
Mark grumbled, “How are you gonna get 10k just from building security work? Talk about realistic.”
Josh could only smile awkwardly before exiting the office. Behind him, Mark was still smoking with a serious expression on his face.
The child, who had been under the care of Mrs. Robert, beamed as soon as he saw Josh’s face before pinching his nose.
“You smell like smoke, Daddy!” he reprimanded.
Josh quickly brushed off every corner of his body. Pitt waited until he was ready and stretched out his arms. Josh swooped up the child and rubbed his lips against his round cheek.
When Josh blew raspberries, Pitt twisted his body, unable to bear the ticklishness. The boy seemed to have been gifted a new toy by Mrs. Robert yet again. A small, unfamiliar car was in the grasp of an equally small hand.
When Josh glanced toward Mrs. Robert, she smiled and explained, “I just decided to get it. It reminded me of Pitt when I was passing by.”
Josh felt bad turning down her goodwill, so he smiled and thanked her instead. He didn’t forget to make Pitt thank her, too.
“Did anything happen in particular? Pitt wasn’t being naughty or anything?” asked Josh.
“Pitt’s a sweetheart as usual. I’ll be okay with you coming back later, even. After all, I very much enjoy the time I spend with Pitt. You’re always welcome, so don’t you worry about it,” reassured Mrs. Robert.
Her gentle smile showed that her words were genuine. Since Mrs. Robert, who was living off of her pension, had given Pitt a gift, Josh felt the need to return the favor somehow.
‘Now that I think about it, she said that her bathroom light had gone out,’ he thought.
Josh glanced past her shoulders before changing the subject and asking, “Is there anything you need fixing? I have today off and got some time on my hands.”