Never Ago (Book 1)

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One Tiny Heart

Lily cleaned out her locker on the day of her last paper. Sam had a hard time convincing her to attend the graduation ceremony.

"I'm done here, Sam. They willl mail my degree to me. I changed the address this morning to Ms. Kandra's residence. Cindy suggested I move in with them since her sister doesn't live with them anymore. The cafe is my priority now."

Sam groaned in frustration and followed her outside their building. She was carrying her bag full of books, notes and a few posters. It amazed him how little the girl owned. Money was not the problem and calling her miser was out of the question.

"It's like you're running away." He prodded.

The corner of her mouth twitched as she adjusted the strap of her bag on her shoulder. "I have been motionless for years... running doesn't sound like a bad idea."

Sam dug his hands into his back pockets. "You jump from extreme to extreme."

"I'm a Virgo."

"And that explains everything?"

A ghost of a smile crossed her face. "Everything."

"Being a Virgo is not an excuse."

Lily threw him an amused look. "No, it's not. It's merely the reason."

Sam scrunched his nose in distaste which pulled a hearty giggle out of her. They maneuvered their way throw the throngs of students and made it to the fountain outside the building. The benches scattered around were occupied so Sam took a seat by the edge of the fountain and waited for her to rinse her face.

"I heard Cole and the Alpha are working for you." Sam said, watching the water droplets driping from her hair and trailing down her neck.

Lily worked on her swallow. "Yeah. You heard right."

"The guy has no sense of personal space. Is he bothering you?"

Lily knew, as much as Sam did, there was no match for the alpha but the concern dripping from his tone warmed her heart.

"He seems to be under some kind of fallacy." She sat beside him and tugged on her shoes. "He isn't causing any problems... He's becoming one."

"You mind if I talk to him?"

Lily's eyes nailed him to his spot. "I mind it very much. Don't interfere for me. I can handle it if it came to it. I'm letting him figure it out himself that..." She hung her head slowly.

Her heart throbbed in her chest. Her wolf had a way of being bipolar. She wanted him yet she didn't need him. The truth of her mate was nothing less than a toothache and she had her own decision to make.

Sam caught the flickering hesitation in her downcast gaze. "Do you still love him, Lily?"

Her heart constricted slowly. "Yes... and no."

He had a lot to ask and to say. She knew those string of questions and sentences he didn't voice. Because she had the same questions yet no answers.

"You'll tell me some other time...?"

She drew in a deep breath and stood up. "Maybe. When I find the courage to face myself and the strength to hold onto reality, you'll be the first one to know. That doesn't mean I'm changing my decision, though. I just need some time to heal before I take the last hit."

The paint job turned out to be a marvelous success. Kyne was too stiff and silent throughout the process, he didn't stay for their treat at the end. Dave somehow managed warming Lily up enough to make her smile in every conversation he struck. Cindy got lucky and hit it off with one of the crew member and Ezra, well, he went from bitter to blazing but surprising resisted the urge of tearing that cocky son of a bitch another asshole.

Cole struck his shoulder when he joined him in the locker room at the gym. "Zeke said they're coming back tonight. The council approved of getting the prince involved. Man, I hope things work out without bloodshed. It's never pretty."

Ezra pulled his shirt over his head and flexed his shoulders in the mirror. Deep inside, his turmoil was unraveling bit by bit. The clusterfuck of emotions inside him were brewing under the surface. His urge to rant his nonsense to someone was beginning to suffocate him and who better than his father to share his burden with.

"Ez?" Cole called out as his head stuck through his tank top.

"Hm." Ezra grumbled, his eyes shooting daggers at his reflection.

"Where is your head stuck again? Your ass?"

Ezra flicked his dark gaze at him in the mirror and pursed his lips. Cole raised a challenging brow at him. They had grew up together like brothers, perhaps that's why his intimidation never worked on Cole.

"Who pissed in you Cheerios?"

"Who's Dave?" He demanded as he turned around. "You know him."

Cole adjusted his top over his sweat pants and grabbed his blinder he came in with. "You're busting your own balls if you're going after him. And no to the fucking no, I'm not telling you who he is."

"Cole." Ezra warned, clenching his fists and turning around.

Cole gave scowled at the underlying shadows in his eyes. He moved up to him and slapped the binder to his rock hard chest.

"Listen here, dumbass. I can't cover for you. You want her to forgive you? Give her the choice and freedom to do so. You're demanding it and that's pushing her away." He returned the fury in his Alpha's eyes. "I don't give half a fuck if it's bothering you. She's not Madeline. You push her once and she will pull away twice."

"Why do you care about her?"

Cole snorted and rolled his eyes before kicking his locker shut and picking up his pen. "Not just her, you're connected to it. I have sworn my loyalty to you the way you have to me. And I'm being honest when I say you did her dirty. I don't want you to put me in a place where I'll have pick sides because if it ever came to it, you won't like seeing me on the other side."

Cole walked out of the locker room, leaving his friend to reflect on his behavior and began the last lesson of his students. The final test was going to be in a week and he had to present a status report to the alpha.

His eyes flicked to Lily sparing with Dave. She kick his calf and knocked him off his feet. He grinned at her from his place and said something which made her spill giggles.

"You're winning because I let you." Dave huffed playfully.

Lily scrunched her nose. "Thanks for telling me. I have to change my partner now. Can't have slacking off on my sessions. I don't want to fail."

Dave kicked out his feet from under him and jumped up, landing gracefully on his soles.

"Show off." She rolled her eyes, placing his fists on her hips.

"Training isn't that bad." Dave swept his hair back. "You make it sound like it's a competition."

"Oh, I know." Lily replied. "It's just not my thing. The sooner it's over, the better."

"The opponents will be junior warriors–" Dave stopped mid-sentence. His eyes glossed over for a moment then snapped back to her.

"Lily. Stacy wants to see you."

"Now?" Lily puzzled.

He nodded, his jaw set. "Kyne says she's waiting for you at the diner a few blocks away."

Dread bumped her thoughts. The last time they talked, things didn't seem to go well. Her belly still knotted every time her mind conjured up the picture of a baby. Kyne had already talked to Cole as it seeemed. He let Dave take her to the diner. He knew the gaze burning his skull was from his friend. He could feel his anger surround him like honey.

Thick and heavy.

His eyes flickered to the already fired up blue and black thundering eyes of his best friend. Ezra bit down on his jaw and cracked his knuckles.

Cole shook his head in warning.

That's how you care, huh. Ezra shot via his mind-link. You piece of shit.

The hell is your problem, Cole countered. Stacy needs help. He took her there.

You could've asked me!

Cole stopped writing. Are you fucking kidding me? She went with him willingly. I didn't ask anyone. Kyne told me to let her leave. That's it.

Ezra had half a mind chasing that miserable piece of shit down and warning him to back off but the angry face of his mate flashed before his eyes.

Fuck, he cursed in his head. Would it kill her to smile at me like how she does to that fucker she merely knows?!

He never got the answer to that question because he was too busy penting his frustration out in the ring with his senior warriors. Every punch, every kick, he imagined Dave in front of him.

Something was really very wrong with him. He had never felt so fucked up before. Fury over an innocent (according to Cole, mind you) friendship was never his norm. The Ezra who couldn't care less turned into someone who could barely hold back.

Fuck him! Fuck everything!

Lily was shaking as she pushed open the door of the diner. It was a cozy place to eat in peace. A bell chimed over the door as she entered, followed by Dave.

"Dave." Kyne called them over from their booth.

Stacy stood up from her seat when Lily approached her and then threw her arms around her neck. Lily caught her in time and stumbled under the force of her hug.

"Lily," Stacy sniffled. "I would have made the biggest mistake of my life if you haven't talked to me that day... I..."

Lily gripped her biceps and pulled away enough to have a better view of her face. Stacy blinked away her tears and smiled at Kyne.

"Kyne took me to the hospital for the ultrasound. He said he'd stand by my side in whatever decision I make. I... Here, let me show you."

She tugged on Lily's arm and slid into the seat of the booth. Dave was frowning at their interaction but the crease dissolved when he saw the picture of the ultrasound Stacy fished out from her bag.

"That's my baby's heart." Stacy rasped, her voice trembling, her fingers brushing over the tiny blip on the sheet. "You saved him... from me. Goddess, I don't think I'd ever forgive myself."

Kyne reached across the table and joined their hands, squeezing it reassuringly, he said. "You were confused, cupcake. It's over now. We're having a baby and that's what matters."

The noises around Lily drowned out. Her mind, her body and soul were mesmerized by what her eyes were witnessing. This was the first time in her life seeing an ultrasound of a baby. She was momentarily disoriented. That tiny little heart stole her breathe away. Her abdomen tingled furiously.

She could spot the happiness behind the tears in Stacy's eyes. Kyne was beaming. This tiny little heart was a part of both of them.

How empowering is that.

A heart and a soul. Joined together.

"Congratulations, Stacy!" A smile nearly split her face. She couldn't explain the giddiness in her chest. "I'm beyond glad you changed your mind. I can't tell you how happy I am for you."

"Yeah, bruh. I can't believe my eyes you sneaky dog." Dave punched Kyne's arm. "Wait, til the boys hear about it."

Kyne grinned at his friend. "Actually, that's what we're here to talk about. I want to surprise our families and friends since none of them expected me to become a responsibile father so quick. Stacy wants you two to organize a surprise party."

Lily was ecstatic to help and Dave was more than ready to jump in. Together the four made their plans. Nobody seemed to notice Lily's thumb absently stroking her stomach.

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