Fornever (Book 2)

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Include Her

Cole wasn’t surprised when he entered his office late at night and found Ezra leaning back against his chair, his eyes glued to the butterfly fluttering in the jar.

He had to admit Lily had her way of silent expressions which were effective beyond words.

“Hey, man.” He announced but got no reaction.

Plopping down on the nearest chair, he draped his arm over the armrest and drummed his fingers on the wood.

“It’s pretty late. Lily asked me earlier if you’re gonna come home. Thought you wouldn’t so I told her no. Why is your mindlink shut off, by the way?”

Ezra stroked the inside of his cheek with the tip of his tongue and barely flickered his eyes upward before latching onto the jar once more.

You already know, piece of shet.

This is what he meant. Perks of having a pain in the ass Alpha as a best friend.

“Dick,” Cole muttered and gave him a bored look.

There was no response.

“So,” he continued with a hint of hesitation in his voice. That made the Alpha look up.

“I wanted you to meet someone.”

A brow quirked in answer.

“Before I do, let me make this clear. I’m not seeking your approval. This me involving you in my life.”

Ezra nodded solemnly. They were not best friends by name. It was natural. They had an inkling of the other’s mind and the way Cole was contemplating this, it was probably someone special.

“K,” Cole inhaled. “Here it goes. Isabella!”

The way he raised his voice, Ezra expected to walk in any second. That didn’t happen. A mist swirled in the office then vanished leaving a girl with silver hair behind. She was dressed in a cloak like maroon dress.

Ezra jumped to his feet and pulled out his gun. Aiming it at her, he threw a cautious glance at Cole who was seated calmly.

Her scent was odd. Different. And he recognized it.

“You’re a witch.”

Her face, long, soft, feminine and innocent contorted into a nervous smile. She had gray eyes which almost blended with the dim light in his office.

“Yes. Sorry for startling you, Alpha.”

“What are you doing on my territory?” He asked sharply.

Isabella gazed over at Cole for help but he held his hands up which made her scowl.

“I’m Cole’s mate.” She said begrudgingly.

Ezra lowered the gun in surprise. “His...”

“Mate.” Cole confirmed.

“But...when, how?”

“When I was shot with the silver spear? She cast a spell on me to save me to save me from the silver.”

Ezra pursed his lips, not relaxing.

“Shouldn’t have shot you in the first place.”

Isabella was quick to defend herself. “That was not me. A few secret covens had been acting shady lately. Me and my friend Rukh were following them and came across what happened.”

Ezra scoffed and threw the gun at the table top then crossed his arms.

“You secret covens have been breaking the peace treaty for years and you just came to know? Hardly believable.”

Isabella was not pleased. Her button nose wrinkled in a stubborn frown. “Not all of us know about it. If someone does, they make him disappear. Just like how not all werewolves hate witches, all witches don’t hate werewolves either. We want peace too. Some extremists are misrepresenting us.”

“What the hell do they want?”

“I swear, I don’t know.” She replied.

Ezra had a hard shell. Not everyone could pierce through. He looked over at his seat friend who shrugged.

“We’re not officially mates yet. I told her with things happening the way they are, we have to earn each other’s trust before I introduce her to the pack.” Cole informed him.

Isabella watched the Alpha expectantly. Her spine was straight, stance fearless, eyes confident. Ezra didn’t know if he could trust a witch.

“Good idea.” He mumbled. “Congratulations though.”

Isabella smiled broadly and waltzed over and dropped her weight in Cole’s lap. He jerked with an ‘oomph’.

“Fuh...”

The sight made Ezra wonder if Lily would ever feel comfortable doing that in public. The PDA was not appreciated because his own wounds were open.

“Get lost.” He threw at Cole and rounded the desk.

Isabella puffed her lips as if holding in her laughter while Cole whispered into her ear, “See...”

“I can hear you.” Ezra snapped.

“Okay, okay,” Isabella stood up before Cole. “Nice to meet you, Alpha. I’m hoping I’ll earn your trust somehow because it matters to Cole. Bye.”

A puff of mist and she was gone.

Ezra narrowed his eyes at Cole.

“I’m trying to get her help in this situation without forcing her. If she can, I’ll tell you.” Cole assured him. “Goodnight. I’ll se–”

Puff!

A flash of smoke and he was gone. The Alpha didn’t want this to be a norm because it was violating privacy.

A witch.

Hmmph.

The thought slip from his mind when he reached for the jar. He had been glued to that seat in hopes of escaping his turmoil. The weaker the butterfly got, the more his heart constricted within the iron grip of his conscience. His stomach was rolling, his skin itching.

That butterfly was his Lillian.

And that jar...was him.

———

“It’s good to have you back, dear.” Kandra patted Lily’s arm and stood up from the chair. “It’s time to call it a night for me. My back is about to snap in half.”

Lily assured her it was okay then went up to her room. The numb worry spread around in every crook and cranny of her being was dull in comparison to the giddiness she felt.

The cafe was a success so it was crowded. It allowed Lily to slip out the back and buy some things for her baby. She couldn’t take it to his house so she stored it there and locked her...just in case.

Her eager hands pulled out the bag under the bed and disposed it in the bed. Her heart swelled.

She had bought maroon shoes. The tiniest ones she’d ever seen. It made her heart throb imagining her unborn baby in it. Then there was the sky blue baby blanket with stars and moons on it. The brown bear onsie, a bumble bee pacifier and baby napkin.

The blurry vision was evidence of her melting heart. The life growing inside her was huge change. She was losing her mind with the random mood swings, dizziness, nausea and temper but it was all worth the warmth she had craved for a decade.

The sense of love, admiration, adoration, hopes, dreams and belonging. It was finally there.

To keep it a secret for the time being, Lily hid the treasure meant for her baby in the closet. The guilt of keeping this from Ezra weighed her down but she had a good enough reason. She wanted him to think of this as a child. Their child. Not an opportunity.

Morning rolled in swiftly. Lily had barely blinked or maybe she was becoming too lazy. Going to sleep was hard and waking up was harder. Kandra made her breakfast and they went to the cafe together.

Cindy as usual was nowhere to be seen. Kandra said it was a norm for her and she failed in breaking her habit of being overly independent.

“I’ll talk to her. Not sure if she’ll listen but...”

Sabrina already had the morning coffee ready. Lily helped Kandra with new batches of fresh cookies, donuts, croissants, brownies and waffles. Tying her hair up, she put on a waitress apron to help Sabrina when the chubby girl approached her with a shy smile.

“Everything ok?”

Sabrina threw a quick glance over her shoulder. “The Alpha is here.”

Lily paused. “Oh. How long?”

“He was here when I opened the cafe.”

Lily frowned. “That early? What about breakfast?”

Sabrina shrugged. “I asked him multiple times but he said you’ll take care of it when you get here.”

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” She gazed around the cafe but couldn’t find him. “I can’t find him.”

Sabrina pointed at the very corner. “The booth in the back and he said to tell you when you’re free.”

“Thanks.” Lily fetched a fresh mug of steaming coffee, a slice of red velvet cake and a few chocolate cookies before hunting him down in the shady booth.

“What are you doing here?” She asked when she approached him.

Ezra looked up with his messy hair, sleepy eyes and loose collar. The sight was... pleasant but it made her concern grow.

“You look like you’ve been up all night.” She concluded then put the tray down in front of him.

He chose not to comment on how she knew what he’d like for breakfast and held her wrist. His hold was tight enough to draw his brows near.

“Sit,” he gestured to the seat in front of him.

“I have work to do–”

“I said...sit.”

The demand in his tone challenged her. It irked her up.

“Let me help Sabrina.” She breathed deeply to keep the situation calm. “Finish your breakfast in the meantime. I’ll be back when I have the time.”

Ezra gazed deep into her soul, eyes flashing and sharp with the intent of burning. It heated her up in the wrong places. Her feminine pride got cranky whilst her wolf purred in delight. Deep down, it was horrifying. She had never yearned for his angry dominance before.

Have some shame, Lily! Her subconsciousness smacked her across her foolish head. He’s nuts. Not you.

And so she curled her hand into a fist and leaned in a bit closer to prove she won’t take orders from him.

“I’ll come back when I get the chance. Take it or leave.”

She made the move to leave in vain. Her airhead companion yanked on her wrist, scooted to the edge of the seat and caught her butt in his lap.

Her tiny shriek turned a few heads. Wide eyes looked up furiously, cheeks pink and slender fingers digging into his chest.

“How dare you?!” She whisper-yelled.

Ezra gripped her waist to block her movements. “I dare doing a lot of inappropriate, improper and scandalous things. Want me to show you how?”

Lily gritted her teeth. “You’re making a scene in my workplace.”

“You left me no choice.”

“I gave you two!”

“I didn’t quite like those choices.”

“Let me go.”

Ezra clenched his jaw and pressed her back against the side of the wall near the booth. “Why is it always about letting you go?”

Lily was painting, her skin buzzing and heart racing. He had a desperate gleam in his eyes. Almost vulnerable.

“Why is it about forcing your decisions on us first?”

His fingers slid up her sides untill each of his thumb was hooked under her heaving chest.

“Tell me something,” he rasped, his nose barely away from hers. “If I give you the choice of separation...right here, right now...would you take it?”

Lily no longer cared if someone was looking or not. His eyes, his breaths, his touch had her attention absorbed. The undertone of doubt and frustration pulled at her heart.

There was a vague plea for truth in his demanding interrogation. The consequences were undoubtedly not desirable by either of them but Lily had to tell him. The right decisions did not always bring joy or solace.

“Yes,” she said. “I’ll choose my free will.”

That loosened his hold on her. The wrinkles on his forehead eased and a stormy conflict replaced his energy.

“After all we went through?” He asked. “You came with me.”

Lily adjusted her legs when he allowed her an inch of a space. “I did to save you from you, Ezra. I told you I don’t want to hurt you. That’s not who my mom raised me to be but... you’re making it hard.”

“How?”

The hushed whispers in the cafe made her uncomfortable. Privacy mattered a lot to her. Whatever it was, it was between him and her.

“Can we please talk about this later?”

Ezra pursed her lips, fisted his hands and pinned her with murderous eyes. The veins in his neck became stark.

“My world is falling apart and you’re concerned about your damned cafe?”

She frowned. “No–”

“You’re the most selfish, self-centered, heartless and sadistic bitch I’ve ever seen.”

Lily was ready to calm him down but her motivation died when she heard the word bitch. Even her stomach tensed.

“You knew,” she told him curtly, “that I’m a selfish, self centered, heartless, sadistic and goddess-knows-what-else bitch and still chased me. That’s your fault, not mine.”

Ezra slammed his fist down the table, opened his mouth to spew more venom but something held him back. Maybe it was the shine in her fiery eyes. She watched him curse under his breath and storm off.

Lily had a hard time composing her rising temper and dealing with the curious eyes following her around. Washing her face was little help but she managed helping Sabrina anyway.

Ezra was fuming. Seething. Mad. Ready to go nuclear. One look at his face and the pack members scurried away out of his path as he marched up to his office.

Azazel jumped up to her feet, puzzled by the violent slam of the door.

“Morning, Alpha.”

Ezra didn’t stop to greet her. His fantic pulse had him pacing like a demon from hell. Azazel was contemplating slipping out the door like a ghost and coming back later.

“Are all women insane?”

She paused, probably taken aback by the most random question from someone like Ezra.

“Eh... No. Depending on the individual.”

Ezra flicked off the top button from his shirt. The presence of that jar suffocated him even if he avoided looking at it.

“Do you have a mate?”

Azazel glanced at the door for a few moments then sighed and sat back on the couch with the folder.

“Yes.”

“Mind sharing your opinion on something?”

“Nope. Go ahead.”

Ezra stopped pacing, splayed his large palms on the desk and leaned over to support his weight. Azazel could feel the heat of his agitation all the way across the room.

“Let’s say, he fucked up. Would you forgive him?”

She scratched her eyebrow with her thumb. “Which kind of fucked up?”

“Well... Let’s suppose. His initial plan was playing you then dumping you and his friends were in on it.”

“Nope. Done deal. His loss.”

“Why?”

She looked at him as if he was stupid. “Any girl with a backbone who won’t take shit from just anybody will have a hard enough time dealing with betrayal. For some people forgiveness is salt and forgetting is an open wound. Don’t get along much.”

Ezra was struggling with understanding that logic. “What if he asked her to forgive him?”

“It depends on whether she has healed from the blow or will she ever heal?”

“How much time would it take, anyway. Some drama–”

“A lot.” Azazel cut in. “For a girl to get over her broken trust then mend and give it back to you, it exhausts her and that requires a lot of time, patience and understanding.”

Ezra blew out a short breath before plopping down on his chair. His eyes fell on the butterfly. The jar was hidden behind the printer from Azazel’s view.

“What if...” he emphasized uncertainly. “What if he threatened her to come back and she did? What if she wasn’t happy with it but she still did? What if she had the chance to run away but she didn’t?”

Azazel had a scowl on her face when he looked up. “Absolutely no. He is an asshole if he threatened some to be in his life. Do you know how mentally smothering that is? As for her coming back for a psychopath’s sake? She needs immediate help.”

Ezra rubbed his neck slowly then moved his hand to his chest. Guilt started eating up his insides on top of his suffocation and already bruised heart. Azazel brutally tore it apart.

“Maybe she has feelings for him...?”

Azazel scoffed. “Of course she does. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s unhealthy and the consequences will end her bit by bit. It’s not easy giving up your freedom for someone who is so immature and inconsiderate.”

Pain. It licked his flesh, burned his blood, spun his head. His organs wanted to recoil. Why had he never thought of it in that way?

But what about me? She literally is me.

Then his eyes snapped to the jar.

What about her...?

“Shall we discuss–”

“No.” Azazel stood up with the folder tucked under her arm. “Maybe tomorrow. I’ll do some more work.”

Her footsteps faded outside the door but the echo of her voice bounced in his head. He had been so blinded by his obsession, his love, his fears that it hurt his Lillian. How could he?

He called her a bitch.

Fuck.

He shot up from the chair like it burned him and snatched the jar. He fumbled around with the cap but it refused to budge. The butterfly was not moving. The iron bars around his heart tightened.

Summoning forth the beast inside him, he tried opening the jar again. It didn’t move at all. The universe was mocking him. His vision swam.

Open up! Motherfucker, just open the fuck up!

After futile attempts, his rage drew him wild. He smashed the jar on the desk. The wood gave out and splinters flew along with the glass. The jar broke and that was what mattered.

Ezra hastily swept the broken shards aside and found the butterfly. He picked it up, touched it, shook it but no use.

It was motionless. Death. Gone.

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