It was Lily who moved away first. Her hands left his and them shifted to her wolf right in his lap then sped off to the woods. Ezra sat there on the grass, lost in the beauty of the poppies in his hands. It's small delicate petals didn't belong in his hands which were build to pet destruction.
Yet, he couldn't take his eyes off. Lillian put peace in his hands. She put herself in his palms. And what was he doing? He was ready to do what he always did. Destroy. In fear of hurting the petals, he didn't move. His heart thudded in his chest. There was a hollowness blooming inside him. It made his hands tremble.
"Ezra." Lily's small timid voice sucked his worries out of him. She crouched behind him, fully dressed and handed him his clothes. "Get dressed. Let's go."
She missed the turmoil and desperation sinking mighty razor sharp claws in his heart.
He stood up quickly, slipping on his pants followed by the shirt as his eyes remained glued to his mate plucking white poppies and collecting them in the woven bag.
The more he stared, the more he realized. No one could ever replicate how she made him feel.
Her presence was like a string. It kept his emotions, his feelings, his heart, his body and his mind together like beads.
"When did you first come here?" He asked after watching her finish and return to his side.
She smiled up at him. It made his heart skip a beat. He was thoroughly screwed.
"When I was a child." She told him, hooking her arm around his and heading back to the temple. "My dad would always take us out for picnics. Me, my mom and my little sister. No matter where he was or how busy he was, he always had time for us. He used to say, 'If you're busy for your family, you should have time for them too.' Because of him, I have the fondest memories of my childhood."
Her voice alone gave away the love for what she had and the lost she suffered. "My mom planted those poppies years ago. She had a gardening fever. Wherever she went, she left life behind. In fact, as far as I remember, we ate only what my dad hunted himself and what my mother grew in her kitchen garden. Except for bread and milk and maybe a little bit of cereal and spices, everything else was organic, straight out of my mother's garden."
"Now I know why you're a geek in kitchen." Ezra teased her, pinching her nose in earnest.
Lily laughed as she swat his hand away. "Mom was a thousand times better than me. It was her passion and zeal that drew me to kitchen every time she went there. I don't think my dad ever missed a meal with us. He used to come home during his lunch breaks to eat what mom made."
Ezra bit the corner of his lip to hide his smile. Her steps got jumpy, her eyes sparkled and her voice raised up a few octaves when she mentioned her family. For the life of him, he couldn't remember any of his exes talking about their families that way. If they did, it was about dresses and makeup and shopping.
Lillian. Lillian. Lillian.
Her name was like a nector on his tongue. He could almost taste it. It was sweet and addicting like the rest of her.
He had no clue what he was feeling. All he knew was that he'd never felt more alive. For once he got to experience himself. Not being an Alpha or the picture of perfection he was supposed to be. It was just him. The fireworks in the pit of his stomach and the flames under his skin ready to burn everything in it's wake.
He listened to Lily transform from chatty to chattier as they climbed up the stairs of the temple. The sun was peeking over the horizons, scattering orange and pink clouds across the sky. Neither of them were in hurry to go back to their lives.
"That's it? You take a day off to collect flowers?" Ezra tried prying. He was desperate to stretch their time together as far as he could.
Lily giggled at his impatience and produced two blankets out of the bag they left in the temple. She expertly spread it out and tugged on his arm, beckoning him to sit. Then she handed him over two containers of food and a bottle of water. She made lasagna earlier that day for Sam.
"The flowers are for the moon goddess. I come here for something else." She then took the lids off from the containers and passed it to him.
"What?" He pressed.
Lily grinned coyly. "Something important."
His face drew closer to hers. "More important than me?"
His face fell.
Lily gave him a cheeky grin and ate in silence by his side. Her legs were tucked under her as she leaned against Ezra, letting him hold her weight.
Ezra was equally parts pleased with the delicious food and jealous with what she said. What could possibly be more important than me?
The rest of the evening went by watching Lily creating a crescent moon at the foot of the statue using the flowers she plucked and scattering candles in the temple. He crawled closer to her when she kneeled by the flowers, closed her eyes and clasped her hands together and bit her lip.
Ezra never believed in prayers even if he believed in the moon goddess. Yet, watching her innocently indulge herself in something so serene moved him. His pulse quickened at the shadows dancing on her skin in the soft glow of the candles.
"Lillian." His voice was hoarse, his chest heavy. His knees landed on either side of her thighs as he positioned himself in front of her and cupped her cheeks.
Without waiting for her response, his lips descended on hers. Every cell in his body called out to her.
He kissed her.
Softly, tenderly, a ghost of a whisper. Her lashes fluttered and her chest heaved but her eyes remained close. He kissed her again, firmly this time. His fingers crawled into her thick soft hair and this time he smashed their lips together. Her gasp allowed his tongue to invade her mouth.
Her eyes snapped open, the hunger in his eyes pushed her over the edge. Their tongues clashed, so did their limbs. They touched every inch of each other. Frantically, possessively, like they've been stared for decades.
Lily moaned loudly against his viciously demanding tongue. He tasted every part of her mouth then sucked on her bottom lip.
"Mmmph.." Lily whimpered. Fire licked at her skin. Heat flood in her core. Her tiny moans and gasps were devoured by his greedy mouth and hands. He twirled her around in his grasp, ruining the crescent moon in the process.
"Fuck, baby." Ezra groaned against her throat. "I want you so fucking bad."
She knew. Of course she did. His ragging hard on was rubbing against all the right places on her body. Her eyes rolled back as he restrained her wrists behing her back and grind their cores. His canines scraped the skin on her shoulder which made her shudder.
"Stop.." she gasped, her voice weak, her eyes dazed. "Ezra–"
The air was knocked out of her when she felt his sneaky hands cup her breasts under dress. She clutched his shirt tightly as his hands grazed her over her bra.
"Please," she moaned against his cheek. Her feverish raspy pleas fueled him further. His tongue dipped in the dents of her collarbones. His hands squeezed her supple breasts mercilessly dragging out a yelp from her.
"Oh goddess," she breathed shakily, feeling his fingers sneak inside her bra. She was high and lost in him so bad her sanity slipped her mind.
His mouth bit her ear then found her mouth again. The hot searing kiss he gave her reached her soul. She was kissing her mate in front of the goddess she begged for him. The act was beyond erotic and sensual. She was giving him a part of herself and her creator was the witness.
"I love you." She confessed the depth of her feelings in that temple. Something raw in her pushed past her boundaries. Her arms brought him closer than possible to utter those words against his swollen lips and his roaring heart. "I love you, Ezra. Only you."
Reality crashed on him like a meteor. His body froze, his mind seized working and his hands fell from her body to hold his weight.
I love you. The words played in his head like a broken record. I love you, Ezra.
Of course she fucking did. She made it clear from the day she met him, damnit! The fire in his body was suddenly replaced by ice in his veins. Her beautiful, honest and expectant eyes gazed down at him with an emotion that gutted him then and there.
Minutes ticked by without words, without movement, and if he was right, without breathing. Lily slowly retreated back to her shell by the lack of response. Her shaking hands adjusted her dress and she slowly slid off his lap. Embarrassment colored her cheeks.
"Sorry." She mumbled under her breathe and walked over to her bag. The thirst in her body was stomped on by dread.
Ezra sat flabbergasted, stunned by the intensity of those words for the first time in his life. He had heard those words a million times yet never truly felt them. Until now.
He scrambled up to his feet and tried touching Lily but he couldn't. What was he going to say?
Lily stuffed the blankets and her things into the bag and was ready to lift it before Ezra slung it over his shoulder. All the words ready to ease the situation died in his throat when he caught the void in the eyes that made him feel special. She nodded to no one in particular and wrapped her arms around herself. Her feet took her out of the temple and down the dirt road towards the packhouse. Ezra was hot on her heels.
Together they traveled in silence. It wasn't uncomfortable but it was far from comfortable. The moment in that temple dangled like a sword on their heads. Lily was trying hard to undo what she did whereas Ezra was stuck between a dream and reality.
One wrong word can slice the ties that bind her to him. All he knew was he couldn't reciprocate those feelings yet. Hell, he couldn't even comprehend what just happened.
He went from mating on the floor of that temple to being an immobile part of it in seconds.
"Where are you going?" He found his voice when he recognized the route.
She cleared her throat then answered, "The cemetery."
A pang of hurt stabbed him in the chest. Her indifferent tone didn't sit well with him.
"Why? It's almost midnight."
She took a deep audible breath and peered at him when he fell in step with her. Her eyes, they took his right to read them.
"Because my parents were slaughtered at midnight." After a pregnant pause, she added. "Because my sister committed suicide right when the clock struck twelve."
Ezra had a hard time processing what she said and even harder time understanding how she answered. Her voice held no sadness, no remorse, no fucking feelings at all. What is this girl?
The cemetery was wide and stretched out as far as the eyes could see. Lily ventured to the deepest part of the graveyard and stopped in front of three consecutive graves. Tentatively, she crouched and plucked dried weeds and shrubs from the green plant growing on each of the graves. The tombstones confirmed they were her father, mother and sister. Her tender treatment of their last residence proved her love for her family.
Ezra crouched down beside her to help her with the weeds. Her face was stoic and shoulders stiff but her eyes were moist. Her hand swiped the tears away threatening to spill. He could have swore she could care less if it weren't for her the inaudible hitches in her breathing.
Before he could reach out to hold her close, she stood up and palm her dress to iron out the fringes.
He let his hand fall and inwardly groan. She was a master of discretion. Without words, without obvious offense, she could tell you exactly what she wanted from you.
She needed space. He didn't want to give it to her. But did he have a choice?
His gaze fell on the red string around her ankle when she wiggled her feet to rid of the mud under her soles outside the cemetery.
"Is that a part of the offerings too?" He pointed to her ankle.
Lily shook her head. "It was mom's. My sister had it after the incident. Now it's mine after my sister died. I guess I'll have it until I die–"
"No." Ezra clutched her forearms abruptly. "Don't you ever speak of dying."
Lily released his hands from his forearms and smiled at him. It was a lifeless smile. "Okay."
Ezra had never felt as miserable as he did in the short walk from the cemetery to the back of the packhouse. Out of that temple, the reality was back. The pressure was back. So was the pack and his responsibilities. There was something on the tip of his tongue restlessly waiting to come out but his mind was so foggy he didn't know what it was.
"Thanks. I know it might have been hard leaving your duty behind. I'm afraid of the cemetery at night that's why I usually take Sam with me." Lily took the bag from him in front of the backdoor of the packhouse. "Um.. bye."
Ezra sighed at the growing weight in the pit of his stomach as he watched Lily disappear behind the door without a hug. Fuck hug. She didn't even look back.
"So this is where you have been the entire day, huh."
His mood instantly dampened when Madaline appeared in front of his line of sight.
Let's pretend the grammar is perfect and this chapter doesn't need editing. 🤧