Never Ago (Book 1)

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Shaky Ground

"When the hell was this part of the plan?" Marie threw her hands up in exasperation.

Sam sighed and palm his face. "Just go along with it, Marie. She's not going to change her mind. Trust me."

They both stood in the lobby of the hotel in the town. It wasn't too expensive or cheap. It was average but had no catering service. Lily signed in at the desk and received a key to her room before gesturing them to the elevator. Marie and Sam rolled the suitcases behind them in frustration as they entered the car.

"It won't kill you to stay over at either of our houses. I don't see what the problem is. Our parents will probably replace you with us in a heartbeat and I'm sure as hell they won't miss me if they have you." Marie chidded.

Lily patted her shoulder in mock sympathy. Sam made a noise at the back of his throat then tensed and turned away when Marie glared at him.

"Why a hotel?!" She objected.

Lily waited for the door to open and let them make their way out of the elevator and into the carpeted narrow hallway.

"It's not permanent and I can afford it." She pointed out casually. "Besides, I'm going to find a place to rent with a roommate and start looking for a job soon."

She unlocked the door and entered. The room wasn't spacious but it was bigger than her room at the packhouse. It had a white dresser, a queen size bed, a couch and coffe table by the wall and a closet by the door of the attached bathroom. The window in the room allowed her to look outside the hotel.

"I'm not happy with your decision." Marie complained stubbornly, dropped the suitcase in the middle of the room and plopped down on her bed.

Lily rolled her eyes at her and smiled. "Making the right decision doesn't always make you happy."

Marie stuck her tongue out at her. "Whatever."

"Do you need help with setting up your closet?" Sam asked after inspecting the room.

Lily thought about it for a while then shook her head. "I won't be here long. No need for that."

Fishing out the toiletries from one of the suitcases, Lily disappeared into the bathroom. Sam sprawled on the couch and took his phone out.

Marie propped on her eblowe and yelled, "I still want to tell his parents, that bitch!"

"Nice try." Lily's muffled voice came from behind the bathroom door.

Marie threw a pillow at Sam's head angrily. "Why am I the only trying to convince her to tell on him?"

Sam grabbed the pillow from over his head and hugged it to his chest, his eyes still glued to his phone in the other hand. His gaze flickered up to Marie before settling on his phone again.

"Because." He emphasized without looking up. "This is Lily."

Lily came out of the bathroom, dabbing her face with a small towel. Her sleeves were rolled up and her hair was glistening with water droplets. She caught Marie's agitation shimmering off her in waves so she sat beside her and gripped her hand.

"I know you're looking out for me. I love you for that. But this is between me and him. I want to solve it my way. Besides, the whole hospital was asking about it by the time we made it to the exit. How much longer will it stay hidden?"

Marie pouted. "I just wanted to see his face when his father would hand his ass over to him."

Lily laughed and lied down by her side. "You're evil."

"I ordered take-out." Sam announced from behind his phone. "I hope they at least send your food to your room." He mumbled something about bad service under his breath.

Lily clasped her hands over her stomach and stared at a crack in the ceiling. It reminded her of the cracks inside her. She was good at concealing her feelings but she never mastered the art of bearing it. The cracks inside her were opening up rapidly and fast. All she could was hope she'd survive when things fall so she could build it again. It would take time, effort, energy, willpower and commitment but it would be worth it in the end.

The whole foundation was on the wrong ground anyway. Love. She inwardly huffed. Either what her parents had was not love or it didn't exist anymore. Or it had evolved into the next generation with an uglier reality enclosed in a beautiful cover.

They shared laughs, jokes and food the rest of the day to keep things light. Perhaps Sam could feel the front Lily was putting was so flawless because the damage underneath was enormous. She'd absentmindedly rub her fist against her chest every now and then to ease her pain.



"Sitting back and waiting for them to show up is ridiculous." Ezra leaned forward on his seat, propped his elbows on his desk and peered over the top of his threaded fingers. "As soon as dad departs with Azazel, I'm sending in my men after the missing children."

His father sipped his coffee silently from the recliner in the office as he tried to read the fleeting tension in his son's eyes.

The war general stood on the other side of the with his arms crossed and eyes lost in thought. His greying hair, sharp jaw and intimidating musculinity did his title justice.

"It can be a trick, Alpha. Some kind of a strategy to lure our men into their trap. None of the videos show visible violence with the kids. If they wanted them dead, they would have taken them dead."

Ezra touched his forehead to his fists. "What if it's not? I can't wait for the council to step in. I'm concerned about the children's safety. If not physical, this could be mental torture for them. Being exposed to those things at such an age is traumatizing."

The Zeta had nothing to say to that. His eyes flew to his former Alpha, Ben, who drained his coffee in silence. Ben had spent most of his life with the Zeta like a brother. He could see how Cole was a spitting image of his father. They had devotion in their veins and loyalty pumping in their hearts.

"He's right, son." Ben spoke up, his thumb playing with the rim of his mug. "This could be a trap. Taking this matter to the council won't take long. They have direct access to the royal prince. If he and his army got involved, things will fall back into place with minimum damage."

Ezra shrugged without rising his head and said, "What about the parents?"

"We tell them the truth. Simple. They might blame us for stalling but we have hundred lives to consider not just twelve of them."

The Zeta took his leave after they agreed on waiting for the council to step in. Ben was proud of his son. It shone in his eyes. Ezra was already trying hard to blend into the process but there was something... Something that didn't particular hold him back, it was just weighing him down. His eyes were absorbing darkness, his hair messier.

"How are you holding up?" His father asked.

The corner of his lip curled into a crooked smile. "Not how I thought I would."

"What do you mean?"

Ezra glanced up at his father from under his bangs. He had the words right on the tip of his tongue yet he found himself holding them back.

His eye darted back to his boots under the glass surface of the table and drew a small breath. "I mean I don't feel like throwing wild parties for everything that happens in my life."

Ben grinned at that. "That's all part of growing up."

The same words were thrown at him in a hospital. It made him wonder if he really had to grow up. This was how he was portrayed. A selfish cocky bastard. Before this day, he'd never felt like one.

"You didn't chose a mate, though."

Ezra curled his lips inside and nodded. "It has to wait."

"Why? You haven't met or you don't want to reveal your mate yet?"

The question caught him off guard. It was neither but he couldn't tell his father that. "I don't know who she is."

She had many layers, not just one. Some bright, some dark and some pure grey. Each one was more magnificent than the other.

"Too bad," his father his head distastefully and stood up buttoning his coat. "I was hoping it would be Lillian."

Ezra's head shot up. "Lillian Avi?"

Ben shrugged. "Hey, a dad can dream. I always wanted a daughter like her. Anyways, it's getting late. Get some sleep."

Ezra was astonished as his father exited the office. A dark shadow fell over his heart. His stomach turned heavy. That girl had left her mark on almost everything. It was a painful reminder of her absence which constantly punished his peace. The emptiness in her room reflected the growing hollowness in his chest.

It took him time to realize why he lost his shit that day. She had sensed a throbbing pulse in him and she'd pressed it. Whether to get a reaction out of him or hurt him, he had no idea.

His legs took him out of his office and deep into the packhouse. His mind had a pair or brown eyes keep him occupied as his desperate strides took him to her door. There was no trace of her left other than her strong sweet scent. It made him feel homesick for some reason so he kicked his boots off and rolled over on her bed.

The scent, oh that scent of lavender, made his head spin as if he's drunk. He was shamelessly addicted to her.

You stubborn silly woman. Why did you go?




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