The intensity in his eyes, the threat of death swirling in it’s depth and the raw insanity of his actions overwhelmed her mind.
If he came this far... How farther can he go more?
A knock reached her numb senses.
She wanted to yell but only a whisper made it out of her closed up throat. Her head was too heavy to glance at the intruder.
“Lily,” it was Cole.
He came round her bed and sat in front of her. The unsettled worry in his posture was a confirmation that he knew.
Cole sucked in a breath. “I’m sor–”
“Not you fault.” Lily dismissed him and sighed.
Cole palmed his face then held his hair back. His mind was racing having witnessed the highest and lowest of his best friend, he was the only one who knew him more than anyone.
After a moment of heavy silence, Cole whipped out his phone and typed.
“Let’s go,” he stood up.
Lily returned his angst gaze. “Where?”
“Away from him.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll arrange for your escape. He’s not in his right mind as of now. When you’re gone and he returns to his fucking senses, I’ll let you know.”
Lily frowned. “You mean run away.”
Lily shook her head.
Cole narrowed his eyes in disbelief. “Why not?”
“Would you ever be able to live with yourself and feel miserable knowing you were responsible for someone’s death or fatal injuries.”
The words stumbled over each other in a rush. Uncertainty flickered in his striking green eyes.
“Can you swear on it, promise me, bet your life that he won’t do anything stupid if I disappeared?”
Cole opened his mouth then hesitated. They all knew Ezra would tear the world apart for her at this point.
Lily gripped the dress and pulled it closer then slid off the bed. “There’s no escape.”
Cole rubbed his neck and peered outside her windows. “I can’t just sit by and let him destroy what means the world to him.”
She paused, pursed her lips. “Why is he...?”
He knew what she wanted to ask. The question he had answered only four times in his life. Why was his friend such a major nuclear fuck up.
Fishing out his wallet, Cole flipped it open and handed it to Lily. In the front pocket was a picture. An old one. She could easily recognize the god of her broken dreams and the demon of her vicious nightmares. Cole was lying down their laps but there was another guy sitting beside Ezra.
A small sad smile played on Cole’s lips. “We were three inseparable friends. For us, a pair meant three buddies. There was absolutely nothing we did without each other.”
Lily couldn’t take her eyes off the picture. It was so... serene. Each of them had a goofy grin on their faces.
“What’s his name?” She asked.
“Brian.” Cole replied. “His name was Brian. If you thought Ezra was a foolish child, you should’ve seen him. Regardless, he was our mother hen.”
Dread crawled up Lily’s chest. Was. She was afraid of that word. Everyone in her life had become a was.
Her eyes refused to lift. She didn’t want to see the reflection of her sorrow in his eyes. His voice was enough to convey the colors of his pain.
“He was the first of us who found his mate,” Cole continued. “She didn’t like hanging out with us so Brian had to split his time. Ezra was very clingy from the beginning. Months passed, then one night, Ezra wanted to hangout at the local bar. I was already there. Ez dragged Brian out of his house at midnight. They were driving... Ez said Brian kept rubbing his chest. Then his body convulsed, he curled up... the car, it crashed into a truck–”
Cole halted. The audible hitch in his chest squeezed her lungs.
Lily silently flipped the wallet, curled her fingers around it and rubbed his forearm with her other hand in sympathy.
He gulped thorns down his throat. “Ez was conscious throughout the incident. He says he can still see him, dying, bleeding, looking at him as if blaming him for what happened. He says he still remembers the screams, the crash, the sirens, the hospital. That night fucked him up in so many ways. I sometimes think Brian seeped into his soul.”
Lily looked up at him. He smiled and stole his gaze away.
“Sometimes he acts like Brian. Speaks like Brian. Walks like Brian.” Cole wiped at his moist eyes with his sleeve. “This side of him, this distant and uncontrollable ugly side, it all started after his head surgery. They had to remove the blood clot in his brains. Back then, he wanted to run away from his past. Now, he won’t let go of it.”
“Why did Ben make him the Alpha if he knew? Maybe it’s just me but he doesn’t seem like he wanted to rule the pack in the first place.”
“He got better after the therapy. No longer impulsive, hostile or destructive. He worked harder than he should have to improve. It was him who suggested he would give it a shot.”
A veil of blurred questions, reasons and reality descended upon Lily. She knew nothing about the man who claimed her to be his last breathe. One thing became a fact though. He wouldn’t let go of her and in his pursuit, he was putting the pack in danger.
“Cole,” she made up her mind. “Find him and convince him you support him.”
She cut in before he could object.
“Listen to me.” She gave him his wallet back. “I might not want to stay caged by his side but I don’t want him to harm himself or anyone either. Give me a few days. If I couldn’t change his mind then I’ll ask you to get me out of there and it won’t be possible if he doesn’t trust you.”
Cole looked at her incredulously. “This doesn’t sound like a good idea.”
“It doesn’t,” she agreed. “But I don’t want to live in guilt the rest of my life if I ran away without finding another solution first.”
Cole reluctantly shrugged. “I... Okay...”
“Let’s stay calm, collected, elegant and win this event.” Marie said with a straight face.
Lily raised a single brow. Suddenly, Marie burst out a squeal, shook her arms, hopped on her heels and twirled around.
“I’m sooo frickin’ excited!”
Lily shook her head and palmed her dress down. It was a long white gown decorated with white beads and baby pink satin fabric. Marie had forcefully curled her hair and set it free from it’s bun.
“Calm, collected and elegant,” Lily reminded her.
Marie panted for while then inhaled and thrust her chest out. “Okie, okie! Here we go.”
She hooked her arm around her as they emerged from the narrow hallway to the doors of the ballroom where two guards bowed to them and opened the doors.
Soft music, delicious smell of food and the loud buzz of chatter instantly swept over them when they arrived at the top of the stairs. The event was in full swing. Lily, however, was dreading each step she took down the stairs.
I’ll be waiting for you, my Lillia. Don’t be late.
His words, as fierce as they were, swirled in her head. Her eyes scanned the crown but couldn’t find him anymore. And the smell of food, it riled up the familiar bitter taste of bile in her throat.
“Mr. William,” Marie curtsied. “Meet my friend Lillian Avi.”
Lily stood frozen, contemplating whether to shake hands with him or curtsey. Mr. William seemed to recognize the confusion in her eyes. He smiled, gripped her gloved hand and kissed her knuckles.
“Pleased to meet you.”
Mr William was no ordinary man. The royal badge on his uniform spoke volumes. His bronze hair and lively eyes made him look younger than he was.
Marie beamed at Lily. “Mr. William is the chief of the royal guards.”
“Impressive. I’m honored to be in your presence, sir.”
“Sir? I don’t happen to admire too much formalities. You can call me Noelle.”
Lily noded and peeked around him when the guards on the opposite side of the ballroom blowed a horn. Noelle swiftly turned to them.
“Hope to meet you again ladies. Excuse me for now.”
Marie and Lily watched as he ran up the set of stairs and opened the double doors. A hush fell over the crowd, people stopped and turned at the holy sight of their prince.
A tall, strong and mesmerization personification of beauty emerged. His midnight dark hair, glinting golden eyes and mightiest frame stole hearts in the first glance. Women started gushing, silently squealing and fanning themselves.
“Prince Leonidas of the werewolf kingdom!” The herald announced and all the werewolves bowed down.
Behind the prince, all the people of the royal rank spilled out. Men and women. Among them was a beautiful blonde, timidly trailing behind the prince. Lily tried to look for a mark on either of the prince or her but found none. Their was no intimacy between the two.
“Isn’t he a sweetheart,” Marie sighed dreamily when the royals settled on the high balcony.
Lily nudged her. “You have a mate.”
Another sigh. “...and a pair of eyes.”
Lily resisted the urge to smack her forehead.
“Let’s just find the others.”
By the time the dance cards were filled and the orchestra struct the first cord for the first dance, people were high on wines and whiskey as well as chocolates. Sam had managed to exchange his number with a girl he developed a crush on and Cindy as usual was missing from the dance floor.
When the royals came down and joined the werewolves in their festivities, they were swarmed. Lily stood secluded from the shenanigans and watched with mild amusement as two twin sisters hooked their arms around a lone solider.
At last, the herald announced the first dance of the prince. Women of all age quickly touched up their make up, sucked in their bellies and one particular girl stuffed tissues in the front of her dress.
That sight made Lily laugh behind her palm.
A throat cleared beside her. She froze, stilled and gulped as her chest free-falled. Slowly and steadily, she turned. Her legs almost buckled under her but she composed herself.
“Care for a dance?”
Even the casual tone from the mighty specimen knocked her breath out. There was something in his presence that seized her senses. Or maybe it was all of them because the deep rumble in his chest made the women behind her sweat.
“I-um...I...” her stuttering excuse died in her throat when the prince raised his brow.
“Excuse my rudeness, your highness!” Her tone was almost a whisper and a squeak as she curtsied deeply.
They were both confused by the reaction when she straightened up. What is wrong with me? She chastised herself. You’re embarrassing yourself.
The prince ignored her flickering hesitation and held out a hand. Lily bit her lip subtly and stared at his hand. Her stomach was in knots. How would she possibly dance with a stiff spine.
Nevertheless, he was the prince. Her hand slipped out from her death grip and rose, ready to dispose in his. Out of the blue, another hand caught hers. Her air supply cut off completely. The vengeful heat that seeped through her glove and seared a brand on her skin was familiar.
There was only one man capable of that ferocity.
Ezra curled his fingers around her small palm and pressed possessively. The entire ballroom turned as silent as space. Even a pin dropped wouldn’t have dared making a noise.
The people seemed to be speechless. A mere Alpha challenging the prince?
Lily inhaled and caged that breath inside. How insane and blind was this man?
Sorry for the late update, sweetz and saltz. I was at a wedding and when I came back, I felt like death. Been feeling under the weather but the doc gave me an injection and now I’m feeling a bit better. Stay safe, blessed and shining. I’ll update sooner this time. 💞❤️