Never Ago (Book 1)

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Lead Me Astray

A very awake and exhausted Ezra fought his desire of never leaving the bed that didn't belong to him and forced himself into his office. His father was already there when he entered and scrutinized him quizzically.

"This isn't how you function when you have a good night sleep."

Ezra grunted in response and snatched the mug of coffee on his desk. He sipped it as he pulled a chair beside his father and focused on keeping his eyes open.

"Okay." His father capped his pen and organized the papers in front of him. "I see you're not in shape to conduct this meeting."

"I never said that." Ezra groaned. "Stop breathing down my neck."

"It's not a good impression turning up in a meeting looking like shit."

"I'll take a shower. The hell is wrong with you, man."

His father adjusted his spectacles on the tips of his nose. "Shower won't hide the fact that you're unstable as we speak."

"Unstable?" Ezra quipped. "They want me to be there, listen and do something about whatever the fuck is going on. I will–"

His father smacked his hand on the desk with a loud thud that silenced him. "Look at you! If you can't do shit about yourself, what are you going to do about the pack? What was so important that had you up all night?"

Eara opened his mouth but his father cut him off. "Don't give me excuses. Your eyes are red and you can barely hold them open. You were either drinking all night or barely slept a blink. Now get out and don't come back unless you pull your head out of your ass."

"Fine!" Ezra shot back and drained the rest of the coffee in the cup before slamming it down on the desk. "I was up all night. So what?"

His father pointed to the door. "Out."

Growling in frustration, Ezra marched up to the door and closed it behind him with a force that sent splinters flying. Furiously, he went to his house and took a shower. He had a towel draped over his shoulder and another around his waist when he found Madaline waiting on the edge of his bed.

"You took off last night without even telling me and you look like you haven't slept. Where were you?" She was dressed in shorts and a pink vintage shirt.

Ezra rolled his eyes and toweled his hair dry. "Dad called me out on that already. I don't have the energy to put up with more bullshit."

Madaline gasped, offended. "I was worried about you, Babe. I know you were angry with me for that slip up with Lily but I already apologized. It just came out."

"Sure." Ezra mocked her tone. "I guess the entire show about Kyne and Stacy was a slip up too." He chucked his towel to the floor and went into his walk-in closet.

"Well that wasn't a slip up. Whatever I said or Zeke said was true and to the point. In fact, if I remember correctly, love is bullshit. Why are you so pissed about it?"

Ezra emerged from the closet wearing skinny jeans, white polo shirt and a denim jacket. He sat on his bed to slip on his shoes as Madaline scooted closer to him.

"I'm not pissed. I'm trying to figure out why you of all people ganged up on Kyne and Stacy. You don't even like them."

Madaline's eyes flashed panic for a mere second then recovered quickly. "I don't hate them either, babe. And I didn't gang up on them. I supported what you said." She turned his head towards her with her palm. "Don't you see? I stood by your side. You were right about the bond being manipulative and messing with your common sense."

Ezra paused and stared at her emerald eyes. She didn't wait for him to think otherwise.

Adjusting his collars, she continued. "I see how it's manipulating you into feeling affection for someone you wouldn't under any normal circumstances. You're distracted for days. Right now in the time of the biggest crisis your pack might be facing, you're focusing on something else. You're an Alpha, Ezra. Your biggest concern is your pack. I'm afraid your distraction is steering you away from who you are. One small error and you entire pack will face the consequences."

A bullet of dread pierced his chest. She was right. He's responsibile for every life in his pack.

Madaline stood up and brushed his hair back then kissed his forehead and left him deep in his thoughts.


At some point of the night, Lily woke up to aching bones and stuff back and had moved to the bed. Sam found her awake in the bed the next morning when he brought her breakfast to her room. She was hiding her pain better than before.

"Morning." Sam placed her tray by the bedside table and sat by her side. "How are you holding up?"

Lily sighed and picked at the stitches on the blanket draped over her lap. "I'm... just holding up. Don't know how yet."

Sam tilted her chin up. "Hey. My Lily is born a fighter. Whenever I'm going through a rough patch I always think of how 'Lily would do that'. You're my personal dose of motivation. You'll get through this. I believe in you. Whatever life throws at you, you can take it.

Lily gave him a grim smile. "That's the thing, Sam. Life is always throwing something at me. No matter how hard I try to measure the blow and prepare myself for the hit, it takes me by surprise and hits me harder."

"I wish I could go back and prevent it but I can't. Besides, only the best fighters are tested right? What if there's something bigger and best waiting at the end of the line?"

"What if there is nothing at the end of the line?" Lily countered.

"Hey, you don't know that. And don't let one bad experience paint the rest of your life. He made a mistake and he'll come around. Give him hell for that or just kick him in the curb and move on. Don't just stand in the middle of a broken bridge."

Lily drew a long deep breath and reached for the steaming mug of coffee. "I guess, you're right." After a sip she asked, "Are you going to college?"

Sam checked his wrist watch and stood up. "Yeah, I'll share the notes with you, don't worry. I called in sick for you."

"Thanks. I'll be up in a minute."

"Take your time. Mom and dad said you can stay over for as long as you want so don't rush anything."

Lily hugged him before he left and ate her breakfast in silence. Her wounds were still fresh and stinging so she avoided opening them. When she brought the tray down to the kitchen later, she talked to Sam's mom. They chatted and prepared lunch together. It took her mind off the disaster her life had turned into.

She drinking water out of the sink in the kitchen when she felt a pressure at her mind-link. At first she panicked thinking it was Ezra but it felt different. She was surprised to find it was Joey's mom when she let her through.

Hey, I'm sorry if I'm catching you at a bad time, Lily but I need a huge favor from you.

Lily quickly the glass down. Anything, Mrs. Gil. Are you alright?

Yes, I'm okay but we have emergencies at the hospital. It's been half an hour. I was supposed to pick Joey up from school. I tried contacting my neighbor but she's not responding. Do you have the time to look after him for a while, dear?

Yes. I'll go get him right away. Don't worry about it.

Joey's mom thanked her profusely and let her pick him up. Lily took the bus to their school and was astonished at the terrified screams and scattering crowd running away from the building. Lily ran inside and bumped into a teacher.

"Rogues!" She screamed and exited before Lily could utter a word.

Panick took over her senses. Lily hastily weaved through the decreasing crowd and searched inside the classrooms for Joey. When she couldn't find him there, her next destination was the playground.

Horror struck her like a thunder bolt when spotted Joey frozen in shock a few yards away from a rabid wolf.

"Joey, get away from there!" She yelled and sprung to her feet. The faster she ran, the closer the wolf prawled. "Joey!"

The poor kid stood like a statue on his spot. Her stomach churned when the wolf snarled and pounced into air, aiming for his head. She shifted mid air and collided with the wolf before it could land on Joey.


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