“f**k!” Rohan Adams cursed softly after he’d finished reading the notice taped to the front door of his apartment. “Another rent hike.”
It was nearly three o’clock in the morning, and he had just finished an eight-hour shift bartending at the bar downtown where he only got an hour break for dinner. He was damn exhausted, and all he wanted was to get inside his shitty, tiny studio apartment and fall face-down onto his bed for a few hours’ sleep before he had to wake up, shower, and rush to his other job as a barista at the nearby coffee shop for the next few hours. He tore the piece of paper off his apartment door, crumpled it into a ball with his right fist, and threw it somewhere behind him. He lived in a rather dilapidated eight-story building, which was barely maintained or cleaned up, in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city so it didn’t matter if he dirtied it up. Nobody would care anyway.
He unlocked the front door and entered his apartment before sighing loudly. He would have to scrimp and save even more in order to make rent for the following month due to the increase, but he didn’t quite know how he would manage that, considering he was already living frugally day in and day out, and he wasn’t certain if there was any other apartment that would be cheaper than his current place. He stripped naked in a hurry as he headed toward the twin bed in the corner before toppling down onto it with a loud groan. He was relieved to finally be home, but he scrunched up his nose in disgust when he was assaulted by the musky stench of his perspiration and alpha pheromones, along with the unfamiliar stink of another alpha. The latter resulted from having to grab on to that sweaty and rather intoxicated alpha earlier at the bar because that man and another male alpha were about to start a fight and punch each other bloody.
He might be an alpha himself, but it took every ounce of his self-control to pull that enraged man away from the man’s opponent. There were many reasons for that. As an alpha, the scent of another angry alpha would spike his own fury. If he didn’t have sufficient control over his own temper, he might have joined in the brawl instead. In terms of physique and brute strength, male alphas were the strongest. It didn’t matter how muscular a male beta or omega was. When the altercation involved a male alpha, the male beta or omega would be at a disadvantage. Period. At the moment, he ached from head to toe because he’d had to exert plenty of energy to drag that irate alpha away from his opponent. After all, that drunk alpha had lots of muscle to spare, and he was about three, four inches taller than Rohan’s own height of six feet. Fortunately, Rohan, weighing two hundred and thirteen pounds of muscle, wasn’t too shabby either, and he succeeded in breaking those two roaring, fuming alphas apart. Otherwise, there would be a ton of injuries to deal with, and several things inside the bar might end up being broken into pieces.
He was about to shut his eyes when he saw the brochure on his nightstand. He reached for it and skimmed through it for what felt like the thousandth time. He’d received the brochure about three weeks ago right before he was about to enter the grocery store close to his apartment building. It contained an advertisement for the local alpha auction house. Initially, he’d wanted to discard it, but something held him back, and now, he was glad he kept it. He was aware of the existence of alpha auction houses all over the country. Some were shadier than others, but they were all legal. Or they were supposed to be. To put them in a better light, they could be labeled as dating agencies that specialized in handling alphas, especially male alphas, who were willing to offer their services, s****l or otherwise, to the betas and omegas. Alphas might be the majority in the world, followed by the betas and then the omegas, which made up less than twenty-five percent of the total population, but they weren’t in charge. Instead, the omegas were the most powerful, both financially and politically.
“What the f**k?” Rohan muttered under his breath. “I must have lost my mind for a second there.”
Or maybe he was simply desperate enough to consider the possibility of joining an alpha auction house. His chances of meeting an omega while simultaneously earning some extra money would be much higher if he joined. After all, the alpha auction houses, at least the respectable ones, had strict policies when it came to the alphas they were willing to accept as clients. The background check would be stringent, and Rohan knew he would have to undergo multiple health screenings. Granted, the various fees at the alpha auction houses were really high, and the omegas knew they would also have to provide, monetary-wise, for the alphas they purchased. At least for the duration of the contract both parties agreed on. However, the omegas would feel much safer if they selected their alphas there instead of picking them at random on the street somewhere.
Rohan read through the colorful brochure one last time before putting it back on the nightstand and closing his eyes. He had to think it through. An alpha auction house had actually been called an alpha for rent about five decades ago, but some people thought the name made it sound really sordid and disreputable. Rohan didn’t think its current label was any better, but at the very least, it was a legal form of business and more or less respectable. Besides, the clients of an alpha auction house only purchased the alphas’ services there, and they weren’t there to buy the alphas themselves. However, it wasn’t an option Rohan thought he would ever need, but he was at his wit’s end. Or he was probably too exhausted to properly analyze his alternatives. He’d have to sleep on it. Maybe he’d come up with another choice after a few hours of sleep. After thinking that, he shut his eyes and did his best to doze off. Everything would probably be better in the light of day.