"You got the number?"
Dave held up a business card and flipped with between his fingers. "Yeah, already called them. They need a theme for the decorations."
Lily dug into her handbag and produced a black leathered notebook. She palm through the pages until she found one. "The theme is silver aesthetic. Stacy said it's Kyne's favorite color so let's go with that and her favorite flavor is chocolate so the cake should be chocolate."
Dave pursed his lips to swallow his amused smile as they both walked down the street to her cafe. "You make lists?"
Lily nodded absentmindedly, a crease between her brows, "Yeah, I organize and ideas and note it down as a reminder."
"What's the worse that could happen if you forget something? A change of plans is often refreshing."
Lily threw him a glance, "For some, yes. Not for me. I pre-plan and when things don't go as I anticipate, it scratches my anxiety."
"Oh, now I get why you're grudgy about changes. You hold on too tight."
"Dave," Lily's voice dropped half a notch. "The people who suggests letting go have other options to hold on to or they never cared about it in the first place. Letting go of the only rope that holds you barely above the surface of reality doesn't sound so bright when there's nothing else to grab."
Dave rubbed the side of his neck and followed her into the cafe. She placed her bag on top of a covered table and fetched a water bottle.
"What would you choose?" Dave inquired intently. "Immediate death or slow dying?"
Lily thought on it. Her tiny hand curled around the cool bottle in her palms. "Some people lack the courage and some are downright masochists."
"That doesn't answer the question." He pointed out, plopping down on a chair.
Lily passed him the bottle and shrugged. "It depends... Sometimes slow dying is worth it, other times not so much."
Dave uncapped the bottle and drained it in three huge gulps. His palm swiped over his lips after he was done. His questioning eyes made her squirm.
"What would you choose?" She countered back.
"You move on quickly."
Her lips twitched. "I still remember Hannah from third grade stealing my blueberry lollipop at lunch."
Dave guffawed, his carefree laughter filling the cafe. His hands clutched his stomach and his head banged against the table.
"Man, that's awful."
Lily smiled at his jest and together they waited for the movers to deliver the furniture they ordered. Sam joined them soon and helped Lily with the arrangements of the chairs and tables. The old chairs and tables were moved to the corners whilst the new ones stood proud in the center. Dave fixed the bookshelf near the front wall and Lily surveyed the kitchen.
Cindy appeared sometime in the afternoon with their food and spent the rest of the day with setting up the cafe. Lily had hope blossoming in her chest, for once her future didn't seem so dull.
Her heart was still mourning it's biggest lost inside her chests. It was getting harder ignoring it, let alone controlling it. Her wolf often imagined how things would be right now if her mate had been honest with her from the get go.
But he wasn't. He mocked her feelings.
Ezra greeted his father at border of the pack. Zeke had accompanied him to the council. The prince had ordered immediate action and his royal investigators were already on the case. The guards and pack advisors scattered to their homes when the former and current Alphas took their leaves.
"How is my son dealing with being an Alpha?"
Ezra quirked the corner of his lip and kicked a few rocks on the road. "It's not as hard you made it sound all your life."
"Are you insinuating that I'm a liar?"
Ezra chuckled. "That's what mom says."
"Ah, can't argue there. That woman has a way of making her point."
"Dad," Ezra hesitated. "I want to tell you something."
"Sure, son." Ben tugged him closer by his shoulder and giving him a firm slap on the back.
Ezra resisted rolling his eyes. "When we get home."
They were greeted at the door by his mom. Ben excused himself to freshen up while Ezra sat with his mom in the living room. She fussing over her hair.
"Look at you, my baby," she cooed, combing his hair. "Your hair is a mess and you have dark circles under your eyes." she craned his head up with a crooked finger to look closer at his face. "I can tell you've been stressing a lot. What's wrong?"
His heart was thundering in his chest. It made him wonder how his mom couldn't hear the threatening beats of his heart. He wanted to tell them because they deserved to know.
Or you know you fucked up and only they can help you.
Either way, he was expecting an outburst. They would be angry and upset but so was he. Everyday he could feel her slipping right through his fingers and he didn't know why the thought was terrifying. She was climbing up his mind like she owned it. And I fucking like it.
"Mom," he sighed and buried his hands in his hair, digging his elbows into his thighs. "I fucked up."
The heavy footsteps of his father seized near the armrest before he heard his father take a seat. His mother rubbed his back tenderly.
"Honey," her voice grew thick with worry. "What are you trying to say?"
"I met my mate."
The words absorbed all the sounds in the room. A long heavy pause, then a motherly shriek accompanied by a fierce hug. "Oh my goodness, I couldn't wait any longer!"
His mother was overjoyed but his father sat rigid on his chair, guaging his hung head and hesitance.
"Ezra." He said. The tone was enough to deliver his underlying question.
Ezra peeked through his fingers and sat up after clearing his throat. "I... uhm... I met her a few weeks ago."
"And you're telling me now? How inconsiderate of you. I want to meet her this instant." His mother complained.
"Mom," he sought her hand, his body stiff. "I rejected her."
The soft feminine hand under his palm curled up, the motherly love morphed into fire in her eyes. It was a rare scary sight to see.
"You did what?!" She exploded and jumped to her feet. "Tell me you're pulling one of those stupid pranks of yours or so help me goddess!" Her fists shook.
Ben set his jaw hard, unforgiving granite gaze drilling into his son's pleading eyes.
"Who is she?" He bit out. He had a sneaking suspicion he knew.
Crushing under their heated accusatory eyes, Ezra struggled with his words. "It is stupid, yes. But a stupid mistake not a stupid prank. You have to believe me I didn't mean to, it just happened. I was angry–"
"You were angry?" His mother seethed. "Do you have any idea what your anger did? Do you?"
He nodded solemnly. "Mom, please. Can you sit down?"
His mother shot him a searing glare. "Don't expect sympathy from me, Ezra. This is unacceptable."
Sympathy. Perhaps that's what he wanted the most at that moment. Lily had grew up under their wings and if someone could pass through the walls around her, it was them.
"Dad." He turned to his father. "It was a mistake. I have apologized multiple times. I have expressed my remorse, my guilt, my regret and the fact that I didn't mean to do it. Please, believe me. I'm sorry and I'm not done making up for it. But I'm trying–"
"Who is she?"
Ezra clamped his jaws shut. His mother seemed interested in her name as well. Sucking a deep breath, he confirmed. "Lillian Avi."
If his mother looked scary before, she looked terrifying now. Ben was at lost for words. His back his the chair as he furiously rubbed his temples.
Ezra slid off the couch and kneeled by his father's legs. "I want to make it right, dad. I'm so sorry that my anger got the best of me and I fucked up. I promise I'll join anger management sessions too as soon as I sort this issue out. I'm trying my best to change, I swear."
His parents' silence irked him. "She won't listen to me, she won't talk to me, she won't even consider my words. I don't know what to do."
His mother threw her hands up in the air. "Then make her understand. Words mean nothing when the actions don't follow. And don't you dare expect her to forget everything and accept you."
He stood up and grabbed her hands desperately. "I will do anything I can to win her back, mom. I promise, okay? You know I don't break my promises."
"Bring her here." Ben stood up and tugged on his sleeves. His harsh gaze made Ezra falter. "I'm not going to ask her to make a decision in your favor nor will I interfere in any of this. But I want to hear her side of the story and... see if she can forgive us for what you did."
He held his hand up to halt the words from his son. "She deserves better. Invite her to dinner."
Ben marched out of the living room and vanished into his home office. His mother shook her head at his creased forehead.
"I don't know why it ever crossed your mind that she is worth rejection."
Ezra slid into his car with a sore throat, suffocating breaths and sinking heart. They made it sound like she won't come back. Fuck no. They were mates. They're bind together by fates. One fucking mistake can't take that away from him.
The growing hollowness inside him curled around his blossoming insecurities. He drove to her cafe to tell her bad news. Slamming his car's door shut, he turned the corner and stumbled at the sight. The sight gutted him.
Dave had his hands on her. One on her waist and the other on her cheek.
The raging alpha beast fueled by his gut wrenching thoughts and a blinding jealousy made him burn. He was seeing red. One minute he was still, the other went by in a blur.
A scream, a shatter, a rain of broken shards of glass and his vengeful claw around the neck of the bastard who was hell bent on taking her away from.
Mine. Only fucking mine!