Never Ago (Book 1)

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Beyond Reality

"This is why you should listen to me when I say, cut some fabric off your clothes" Sam teased Lily, beckoning toward her sweat clad skin. "It will save you from extra laundry."

Lily scoffed and took a swig of water from her bottle then threw it inside her bag. Her instructions consisted of running laps, following a strict diet and defense training. She'd been swinging at random objects and trying to dodge the reverse hits. Her skin felt clammy, her hair stuck to her neck. It was time to take a shower which she swore she'd take in her room only.

"Does the future Alpha come here every day?" She nodded to where he was holding someone in a headlock. His charm worked everywhere. The girls around the ring were gushing and the men were shouting something.

"Most days, not every day." Sam shrugged. "The guy is crazy good at combat but he's pretty smug about it."

Lily could tell as his eyes snapped up and met her awaiting gaze. The dent in his cheek was visible despite the distance between the two.

She was ecstatic when she first noticed him. He had been throwing secret smiles her way throughout her training. His attention often boosted her confidence. The tension in her body had hightened tremendously after the kiss.

Her body ached to rest while her heart ached to touch Ezra. She pictured running up to him without a care in the world and jumping to his arms.

"I can see that."

"Let's go, yeah?" Sam hooked his arm around hers and tugged her along.

For a brief moment Ezra looked her way and frowned when he saw Lily exit the building with Sam. She never took her eyes off him until she disappeared from his vision. The thrill of meeting her mate as if they were secret lovers made Lily laugh when she twirled in the slow breeze outside the gym.

Sam insisted they buy ice cream because it was Lily's first day of doing something new. Somewhere along the route, Lily took her hoodie off to enjoy the chilly weather and stuffed it in her bag before she chased Sam on the way to the ice cream vendor near a bridge in their pack.

"You have no idea what Cole put me through when I first joined the training. I was seconds away from dying on the track." Sam shuddered then dumped a scoop of ice cream in his mouth.

"He's rude," Lily scrunched her nose.

"He's tough." Sam corrected. "His exterior can fool you but when you look at him, really look at him, he's not what people see."

Lily peered over to the flowing water under the bridge as they sat on the concrete railing. She played with the ice cream in her cup as she relaxed under the moon in the serenity of the evening.

"It's strange..." Sam said after a moment of silence. "You meet someone everyday, you talk to them... you think you know them yet still they're not what they seem."

"Um-hm." Her heart sank. "There's always a part of you that nobody knows. No matter how close you are."

They looked at each other in silent understanding. They were both two broken individuals seeking shelter from exposing their self to the world they knew would never understand.

"Sam! Take everyone to safety. Make sure the kids are at the packhouse!"

Startled, Lily and Sam turned and jumped off the railing when they saw a few of the warriors speeding off behind them.

"Rogue attack!" One of them hollered.

Lily and Sam frantically took off, warning people to hide in their homes and gathered all the raoming kids in the packhouse.

The atmosphere was tense, people were worried for their pack members who fought for their safety. Lily was rocking a scared child in her arms in the emergency hall. As the future Alpha, Ezra was always front and center whenever anything serious happened. Her stomach was tied in knots, worried for him.

The seconds stretched into minutes and after a few hours, the warriors of the pack went to the Alpha's office to report. The victims were taken to hospital. Lily couldn't find who her heart was wrenched for amongst the people in the packhouse. His scent wasn't there.

She returned the sleeping kid to his mother when she came rushing to the hall. Her feet took her to find Sam without her acord. He told her out of seven victims, one was severely injured.

"How's Ezra?" She asked desperately, "Where is he?"

Pushing down his confusion about her sudden concern, Sam replied, "He's hurt a little but otherwise okay. Nothing serious."

The words played like a broken record the rest of the night in her head. She prepared dinner for the stressed families in the packhouse and fed the kids from the foster home. She was cleaning up when she heard commotion in the hallway.

Ezra was pissed. His ruthless gaze parted way for his approach to his father's office. He couldn't believe he let a filthy rogue hurt someone in front of him. Him. He, their Alpha, their savior, their protector. He failed.

"Your job was to protect your pack and you did, Ezra." His father scolded him from across his desk. "The damage can be undone."

"Damage. That's the point, dad. If I was present, there was supposed to be no damage." Ezra's fist were clenched so hard he strained the wound on his arm.

"You're hurt," his father notice.

Ezra stopped him before he could get up from his seat.

"I'm fine." He said in a clipped tone. "It won't kill me."

"Stop it, son. You're being too harsh on yourself."

"Yeah," Ezra rolled his eyes, the muscles in his jaw twitched. "Should be harsher."

His father had enough. He slammed his fist down on his desk. Ezra sank deeper into his chair, unfazed.

"Our pack is safe and you killed four of them. That's what matters."

"Not to me."

"Ezra-"

"Dad! I'm going to be the future of this pack. If I feel like I'm not strong enough then I'm not. I don't give two shits about what others think."

"You're overreacting!"

Ezra pushed back his chair nosily and exited his father's office despite his order not to. He met Madaline outside his office ready to knock. Since couldn't tolerate another person, he turned to his father's room in the pack. His heavy boots stomped on the hardwood floor as he dragged Madaline with him.

"How many times do I have to tell you, don't bother me?" He snapped at her. The tension in his muscles could tear his shirt.

"Excuse me?" Madaline gawked at him. "I was here to check up on you."

"Did I ask? No! I fucking didn't."

Madaline glared at him. "First of all, it's not my fault whatever happened that has you so worked up. And second, don't you dare take your anger out on me."

Ezra took a deep heavy breathe as his eyes flashed. He pointed at the door. "Get the hell out of my sight, Maddie."

Madaline yanked the door open and spat, "Fine! Drown in your failure."

Lily bumped into a seething Madaline halfway up the stairs. Her heart constricted at the flashback of seeing her with Ezra. She had to remind herself checking up on her mate was more important. Lily cautious followed the addicting smell of her mate to the Alpha's room.

Before she could knock, she heard a loud crash from inside the room. Thinking the worse, she pushed open the door and remembered to lock it after her. Broken lamps were littered on the floor and a chair was knocked over.

Her eyes caught her mate near the window. His chest was heaving up and down, his eyes pitch black and his veins prominent in the dim light illuminating the room.

"Lillian," he growled, warning her when she tried approaching him. "Get out before I do something... something fucked up... Just, leave."

Lily curled her trembling hands into fists and took a step closer to her mate. The agitation and conflict on his face made her wolf whimper in pain. She'd never felt so over protective of someone her entire life. With a clenched gut, she took another step.

Ezra held up his hand. "I'm telling you, you're going to regret it. I'm not in the right state of mind to talk or listen to someone tell me I'm wrong. Get out."

Lily's small strides ate up the space between them. Ezra's breathing hitched when her lavender scent washed the haze of red out of his head.

"Lillian..." He breathed.

Hands outstretched, Lily sheltered him in her embrace as she pressed up against his hard chest. The heat of her small body allowed him to breathe with ease. His forehead dropped on her head tucked under his chin. All his frustration left him in a rush.

She was like a magnet, absorbing all his anger. The cloud in his head dissolved into relief the longer he held her close. His resolve melted like butter in heat.

Lily's fingers found the nape of his neck and started stroking it with care. Her soft lips tenderly kissed his neck and sighed. The welcomed buzz of desire between their bodies lulled them into comfort.

"Whatever it is," Lily whispered, "I know it can't bring down my Ezra."


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