Never Ago (Book 1)

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Stitches Don't Last

"Gabe. Zeke."

Madaline approached both of them outside their building. She figured this was their spot since they were always bunking their classes. She found them lounging on the benches near the fountain.

"Hey, Mads." Gabe looked up at him and jerked his head to the empty spot beside him. "Don't tell me we're rubbing off on you. Bunking your classes?"

Zeke laughed from where he laid on the bench near them. "She was probably trying to sneak a quickie with the brood."

Madaline huffed and took a seat beside Gabe after wiping the bench with a tissue. Gabe looked at her funny then shrugged and let his head drop over the back of the bench.

"I need your help." She told them in a low voice. The other students goofing around them were oblivious to their presence. "It's about that girl."

"Which one?" Zeke asked lazily.

"Ezra's mate."

That made him sit up stiff as a board. He exchanged a subtle look with Gabe. "What about her?"

Madaline licked her lips slowly in contemplation. She still had doubts about going through with what she had in mind but at this point she had no other choice.

"Have you noticed Ezra lately?" She queried. "He says it's work but I have a feeling it's not. Remember when we were looking for him and he was nowhere to be found? He was with Lily. He dropped her off at the packhouse late at night. I saw him myself."

Zeke quickly scooted closer to listen in. "Why the hell was he with that plain Jane?"

Madaline sighed and combed her hair with her fingers. "Your guess is as good as mine. He doesn't even speak two sentences to me without blowing up his fuse."

Gabe frowned. "Why are you worried? He told you he's going to chose you and we all know he never backs off from what he says."

Madaline gazed at him like he was a retard. "You really are clueless. Your best bud is slipping from your fingers. Last I heard, he kicked you out of his house. What was the reason?"

Zeke growled distastefully. "It was that fucking idiot Cole. He's outta his rotten mind. He kept bringing up that mate of his and Ezra kinda lost it."

Madaline perked up, suddenly alert. "Why is Cole so against me? I don't remember ever doing anything bad to him. He's siding Lily from the moment he heard about her. He was supposed to be on my side. We're friends."

"I don't think it has anything to do with you, Mads. But yes, they're both acting strange lately." Gabe said. "Well it's none of my business, so..."

"None of your business?" Madaline scowled. "If Ezra changed his mind about staying friends with you, his circle is going to drop you. And Zeke, he promised you the Beta position. Have you even seen Lily? She's a goodie-two-shoes. If anything, her influence is going to sway his decision. You can kiss your dream goodbye if he ended up with her."

Both of them suddenly looked extremely concerned. "But he's our friend. He can't just throw us away." Gabe tried convincing himself more than convincing Madaline.

Zeke shoved his shoulder. "Look at Kyne, dude. He's not even the same person anymore."

Gabe reluctantly agreed.

"This is why I'm worried. I have nothing against Lily. I don't want to hurt her but she's threatening my future. All my life is stake while she has nothing to lose except a lovey dovey fantasy." Madaline explained.

Zeke and Gabe had their own reasons to consider so they agreed to help her anyway she wanted and listened to her plan. Madaline was firm on the matter of not hurting Lily. She just wanted a clean fallout for her and a shot at convincing Ezra that the decision he made was good for everyone.

"One last thing." Zeke added after Madaline grabbed her handbag and dusted her pleated skirt when she stood.

"What?"

"We need to keep Cole away from Ezra. At least until the ceremony."


Sam did everything he could to cheer Lily up. She seemed a little anxious and he knew better than bringing up the elephant in the room. He figured once she talked to Ezra about it, things will fall back into place. Until then, gym was their only hope.

Cole, as usual, asked her to run her laps then join her defence training. Her opponent was quick and tricky but Lily dogded all his advances easily. Her restless eyes kept flickering in search of Ezra but he was absent again. She had no idea what she'd say next she met him. All she needed was his presence to ease her throbbing heart.

The day he spent with her was beyond anything she ever expected. He was happy with her. They were in their own little shell where no one could harm their happiness or split their attention. She wrapped that memory in love and tucked it in her mind. Perhaps she was a little too intimate with everything relating Ezra yet she felt like it wasn't enough.

It was after their training, Lily was last in line to receive her weekly progress report from Cole. He looked up at her with deep crease on her forehead.

"Lily. You need to run additional laps this week. From what I can pick so far, your natural game is defense. However, you need to focus on your footwork. Don't give your opponent the chance to read your next move. More than often you put yourself in the position where they can attack you if you get distracted for a split second."

Lily nodded then glance at the figure approaching her side. Zeke smiled politely at her.

"Hey." He stuck his hand out. "I hope you're doing okay."

Lily stared at his hand then back at his face with confusion maring her face. Tentatively, she shook his hand. "I'm fine. Thanks."

Cole set his jaw in a hard line and narrowed his eyes at Zeke. "Why are you here?"

Zeke scratched the back of his neck. "Remember when I accidentally hit Lily with that basketball? Yeah. People keep asking why I did it. I realized everyone thinks I did it on purpose and I'm a dick for hitting her. I swear I missed my aim."

Cole had hard time believing Zeke had a decent bone in his body. "Um-hm."

Zeke scoffed at the lack of empathy from Cole then turned to Lily. "I figured I owe you an apology. I'm sorry for whatever happened. I hope we can get past it."

Lily gave him a tight smile. "It's alright. No harm done."

"No bad blood?" Zeke asked expectantly.

Lily nodded incredulously. "Yeah."

At that moment, Sam walked up to Lily with her duffle. He looked at Zeke suspiciously but didn't partake in their conversation.

Zeke shook hands with Sam too then exclaimed, "Hey. How about I invite you to join us in the bowling alley for a quick drink? That way I'd be sure you forgave me completely and there are no hard feelings."

Cole was taken aback by the offer. This was simple not the Zeke he knew. Before he could drag him away and ask him what the hell was he upto, Lily declined his offer.

"Thanks but no. I have–"

"Oh, c'mon." Zeke cut her off. "If you don't come I'll take it you blame me too and I'm not forgiven."

Lily took her bag from Sam and tried sidestepping him. "It's okay. It wasn't your fault. I just don't drink that much."

Zeke blocked her path. "How about your friend here?" He pointed to Sam. "He'll give you company and if you don't drink, I'm sure he does. It's not going to cost you much. Please? You can leave early if you decided you had enough."

Sam shrugged when Lily glanced at him.

"Zeke, leave her alone." Cole could sense her unease.

But Zeke was having none of it. He tried on more time. "It's not like we're going out on a date. All of my friends are going to be there. I'm asking you to come join our team for a drink. Even Ezra is going to be there too. Please. It's for my own conscience."

Maybe it was the pleading tone, maybe it was for the apology or maybe it was the chance of seeing Ezra that made her nod. Zeke's eyes lit up instantly.

"You're coming?"

"Yeah." She confirmed.

"Awesome." Zeke winked at her. "See you at eight."

Sam was more excited about getting together with the team than Lily was. His excuse was catching a break with the cool guys. His enthusiasm was contagious, it made her smile. Lily changed into a peach blouse with trimmed sleeves and blue jeans. She tied her hair into a high ponytail with a few strands of hair curtaining her face. To go with the dress, she picked ankle boots and met Sam at the front of the packhouse after dinner.

The bowling alley was crowded. Sam parked near the far end of the building and helped her find Zeke. There were several booths on either side of the building while leather couches were scattered near the bar in the alley. Most of the crowd was college students. Some were lounging while eithers were busy at the bowling lanes.

Sam dragged Lily with him when he saw Zeke wave at them from one set of couches near the end of the bar. Lily had her heart beating in her throat the entire time. She was excited about seeing Ezra after a long day.

What she wasn't expecting was Madaline sitting in his lap. She dug her feet in the ground and stopped. Her lips thinned as Ezra looked up from his phone and their eyes met.




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