Never Ago (Book 1)

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Enchanting Perfume

Lily rushed down the stairs, tying her hair into a messy bun. After making breakfast and making sure the kids in the packhouse were fed well, she prepared for her class. She was a semester away from graduation. She couldn't remember the last she was even remotely optimistic about going to that building. Look how the tables turned, she couldn't breathe until she reached there. She even ate her breakfast on the way to college in the bus.

Her body felt rusted. There were kinks in her back and aches in her bones. Luckily, they weren't too much of a problem. She couldn't move fluidly like she did usually but the pain was in the back of her mind. Which was a huge relief.

Lily never wore anything bold before but this time she decided to look a little decent, just in case. Her red dress had a boat neck and long sleeves, the end of her dress rested below her knees. She wore black sandals with it and her brown hair rested on top of her head with a few stubborn strands curtaining her face.

"Lily?" A hand on her shoulder stopped her in the hallway, a few steps away from her locker. She turned to meet Samuel. Her close friend in college. They had the same classes.

Lily let him look her up and down, despite the butterflies fluttering in her stomach. "Yes?"

"Anything special that I don't know about?" He asked, mildly surprised. "I mean, it's not like you don't look good every day but the effort I see today is... Strange. In honor of your first shift?"

"Strange?" Lily looked down. "Should I change?"

"What, no!" Sam dragged her with him to his locker. "You look amazing. That's what I'm saying. Now, why do you look amazing?"

Lily was a stranger to the sudden need of approval from someone. She wanted to impress her mate. Never before has anyone's opinion mattered to her before this moment.

"Is it too much?" She fidgeted nervously, glancing around to the few looks she received.

"Dude, no. You finally look like one of those groomed college chicks."

Sam ducked in time from the incoming slap he was about to receive. His laughter rung in her ears. It's not like she came to college wearing plastic bags. Or potato sacks. Her sense in dressing was not bold enough to attract "eyes of the boys" as Sam put it.

"I'm kidding. Just a little surprised that's all. In our two years of friendship, I never saw red on you. All that aside, you look perfect. I didn't mean it as a bad thing when I asked why though."

Lily waited for him to close his locker before moving over to hers. "I think... I'm going to see him."

"See who?"

"My mate."

Sam bumped into her back.

"You already met your mate and you didn't tell me?!" She was whirled around.

"No," she rushed, "I mean I feel like I'm going to meet him today. Gut feeling?..."

Samuel beamed at her. "I'm so excited for you. How are you feeling though? You shifted last night. Thought you would take a few days off."

"A little sore but I'm well." And sweating.

They both talked about their classes, Samuel's shifting course in a month, Lily's jittery about seeing her mate and everything close friends talk about.

Sam swung his arm around her shoulder when the bell rang. They began moving towards their classroom.

"Nice perfume," Lily realized her sense of smell has hightened tremendously overnight. The bittersweet smell rushed into her lungs and burst, spreading like a wildfire. Her head spun. She was feeling slightly hazy all of a sudden.

"What perfume?" Sam wrinkled his forehead.

"Your perfume..." Lily drawled, struggling under the weight of Sam's arm.

Oblivious, Sam kept leading her to their first class. He snorted, "You know damn well I hate perfumes. Irritates my nose."

"Sam." Lily halted. Her ears started ringing as her heart sped up.

Sam looked at her, confused. "Anything wrong?"

Lily opened her mouth to say her pain killers were wearing out because she could feel the soreness spreading. That, however, wasn't the biggest concern. She closed her mouth and shook her head. Like she always did. Her mind never allowed her to share too much or ask someone else to help her.

"I need to use the bathroom, hold my books." She didn't wait for his response when she passed her books.

"Don't take too long!"

Lily was too preoccupied to listen. That smell. She couldn't distinguish it. It was a mix of peach, cinnamon, foresty, musky and... Strong. So strong, it made her restless, drove her wild.

He is here. I can feel him. I can smell him.

Lily had no idea where she was going. A string was tied around her throbbing heart and someone was pulling her. Her feet took her from hallway to hallway until she spotted the door to the back of the building. The smell got stronger and so did her senses. The pain in her bones intensified with each step she took but she was determined.

Four years. I worshiped, I begged, I pleaded. I asked for you, my mate. And I finally have you.

Tears stung her eyes when she burst through the door. Her vision was swaying but she saw. She saw the familiar bright blue glinting car parked near the building. She saw the black fire flames design on the sides. She saw him leaning against his car, frozen with a cigarette in his hands.

"...Ezra?..." She managed to croak before her knees buckled and she lost her balance.

"Ahh!" The shriek died in her throat when two strong arms snatched her from the ground and firmly planted her against a warm, hard chest.

The apocalypse in her head ceased existing. The disaster she was feeling, the turmoil, the pain, the helplessness she was feeling all froze. A warm fire bloomed in her chest where he held her and let it spread out, eating every misery in it's wake.

The warmth flood her being. Her mouth was pressed into his shoulder blade. They were both breathing hard. Lily couldn't wrap her mind around reality anymore. The only thing she understood was she was in the arms of the man she longed for, her thirst grew even more in that embrace.

She wrapped her arms around his neck with all the strength left in her and held back a sob.

"I missed you."
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