"I want a fairytale story." Joey whined when Lily started with a story where the knight is fighting a dragon. He was tucked into bed beside Lily in his Mickey mouse pjs which he brought in his backpack. It was his norm. He'd remark contrary to fairytales when he's with the other kids but whenever he had a sleepover with her, he always wanted to hear about a prince and a princess.
"I thought you'd like knights. Don't you want to be a tough guy?" Lily teased him, tapping his tiny nose.
Joey looked offended and shot up in bed. "Princes are tough too."
Lily smiled at him when she brushed his hair off his eyes. "Why do you always want a story about princes?"
Joey slid off the bed, ran up to his backpack and returned with a book which was old, had faded words, worn out and yellowish pages. Lily looked at the cover, "A Tale To Tell". The book was about prince falling in love with a girl he married because he hated her too much to give her the opportunity of finding a husband and having a family.
Lily glanced at Joey curiously. "Where'd you get this?"
"I saw a teacher dump it. I was sad. Books don't deserve to be treated like trash. So I picked it." Joey sheepishly answered.
"Did you read it?"
Joey shook his head. "That English is so hard, it looks like Spanish."
"You can recognize Spanish?" Lily was surprised then giggled when Joey gave her a pointed look.
Lily crooked her elbow on her pillow and held her head on her curled hand. "I'm sure you'll make a great prince some day. Maybe you'll have a princess of your own. And a tale to tell as well."
Joey lit up like a Christmas tree. "You mean it?" He gushed. "I can even walk like a prince. You wanna see?"
He ran to the opposite side of the room and thrust his chin out. Then he puffed his chest, held his arm across his tummy and clutched air by the other like holding the hilt of a sword and waltzed to her side of the bed. Lily tried hard quelling the laughter bubbling inside her.
"Interesting. So you're already practicing. That was amazing." His eyes shone with glee then it dimmed. He slowly retured to his place under the covers.
Lily noticed. "What's wrong?"
"I don't have money. I don't even have a castle. If I did, mommy would be a queen. She would be happy and with me all the time. But I don't have any of that."
The tiny ball of energy deserved all the happiness in the world. Not worry. Not sorrow. And definitely not loneliness. Lily's heart throbbed. She took his hand in hers and made him gaze into her eyes. So he could see the truth. Feel it. Believe in it.
"Money and castles don't make you a prince. If I met a person and he earned my trust and respected my boundaries, he's a prince for me. If he was honest and considerate, he's a prince. If he knew how to treat a human with compassion, he's a prince. Joey, if you can win a heart with who you are and make someone happy without lies, you're more than a prince. Never associate being a prince with money, company or expensive objects."
Joey's doe eyes peered at her with joy. "Does that mean I'll have a princess too? Because I respect everyone. I'm a prince, right Lily?"
She snuggled up with him and nodded happily. "You'll have the most prettiest princess ever."
He dived into a dreamy description of his princess sleepily as Lily stroked his hair. It took her a second to recognize the intoxicating scent of her mate grow stronger and bolder until it was so intense, it lulled her into a haze.
Ezra stood outside her door. He was staring at it like it had all her answers. Joey had slipped into slumber before he reached there. There was no indication of Lily being awake. He thought she'd come out once she sensed her was there. She laid there silently, anticipating his next move with giddines in her stomach. Her heart reached out to him like a thread that kept tugging to pull her to him. She wasn't ready though. All she wanted in that time was his embrace to wash away her dread and soak her in comfort but she didn't know where she stood him. His dismissal had stung more than it should. Then again, she'd never let anyone do that to her. Ezra was first.
Anxious and unsure, Ezra stood there reveling in scent of that one woman who'd turned him down like a switch. He had never in his life felt as conflicted as he did in that moment. He was ending things soon, but this, her indifference, it was weighing down on his stomach like a truck. His wolf was pacing in his mind, whining and growling, craving her touch like a drug addict.
His head connection with the door. He stood there leaning against it for support. He was tired, he was confused, a little worried and a lot ruffled. Over a woman. They were the ones who usually tried making it up to him. Like Madaline. No matter who screwed up, she always apologized. Why was Lily different?
It's not like it won't happened eventually. She would be far more withdrawn after he told her he didn't want her. That thought made him shudder.
Astonished at his reaction, Ezra snatched himself away from that one piece of cardboard that sperated them and sauntered to his room in the packhouse with clenched fists. Slamming the door shut behind him, he locked it then proceeded shedding his clothes. When he slid into his bed in just his briefs, he felt a pang of disappointment because the sheets were new, her scent was gone.
Grumbling with frustration, Ezra flipped to his stomach. This was ridiculous. How he'd let a woman pester him was laughable. His thoughts belonged to him as long as he could remember but suddenly, not only his thoughts, his body and his instincts were lining up with the beast in his head like traitors.
Madaline, he mind linked her. Where are you?
He waited a minute when she responded. I'm with the girls, baby. Why? Are you okay?
Yeah. I'm fine. Can't sleep.
Aw, she cooed. Do you want me to come over?
Ezra thought about it. Apparently, he still had his charm and his way when he wanted. There is something wrong with that bipolar cook.
We can go out tomorrow, if you want. I know we've been having some issues but who doesn't. We'll sort it out and maybe hit the club. It'll help you blow some steam off. Okay? Just you and me.
Just you and me. It wasn't appealing. He could see it, picture it, remember it. Madaline and him but it felt punching in the wrong piece of a puzzle. Go to the club. It made him wonder what Lily does to calm down, if she'd suggest a club too. Maybe a picnic considering her nature.
He shut off his mind link and buried his head under pillows. He would be a coward if he let a few simple thoughts change his mind. Even if his heart fluttered at the thought of having her in his bed, he was sure it was only in his head.
The bitterness Ezra carried in his mouth even after a delicious breakfast was starting to bother him. It bothered him even more that like everyone else in his family, he was becoming a victim to the magic Lily had in her hands. His mind could instantly pick up whether she made what he ate or not. Even his taste buds recognized her.
The fuck am I supposed to concentrate with all this drama, he thought to himself curtly.
Rosie, mind linked the caretaker of the packhouse. I need Lily in my office, ASAP.
Sorry, Alpha. Her response came back instantly. She just left. Want me to send someone after her?
No. Where did she go?
I never ask. But she told me she might not come back tonight.
Ezra stood up so fast his knees nearly broke. What the hell is that supposed to mean?!
He didn't give a damn about the immediate hesitation from her part.
Um... I don't exactly interfere in my staff's life, Alpha. I only step in when it's concerning their duties...
She added after a pause. You should ask her friend. They left together.
Ezra frowned. Who is her?
His name is Sam. They often leave together and come back the next morning or afternoon every once in a while—
The pen in his hands snapped in half as he dashed to the door and nearly broke it off it's hinges when he yanked it often. The door will never close after that assault. All Ezra could see was red. Hot, boiling, erupting red. His instincts took over and his body shifted to attack mode as he shot out of the packhouse like a bullet. A bullet with only one intention. Destruction.
The disturbing images of his mate vulnerable with another man popping up and bursting into a spray of acid in his head only fueled him to sought blood. Oh, there was plenty and he was thirsty.