Never Ago (Book 1)

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"Ezra." His mother called out sweetly. "Is it true?"

He groaned and palmed his face before looking up. "He was all over her and I lost it. It's not my fault, it's the bond. How am I supposed to control my wolf when it feels threatened?"

"The bond." Lily gazed up at his from under her lashes. "Everything that happens in your life is always because of the bond isn't it?"

Ezra sucked in his bottom lip and averted his eyes. "Somehow, yes. It all spirals down to that core."

Ben clasped his hands on the table and peeked over at his son. "Attacking your pack member without solid evidence is unacceptable, even for an Alpha. You need to apologize to that man."

Ezra's head whipped towards his father so fast, he almost broke his neck. "Excuse me?"

"You'll be excused after you apologize." His mother piped in. "Until then, you're banned from my house."

Ezra crossed his arms in front of his massive chest in disbelief and sank to his chair. "Wow."

Ben observed his son before his watchful eyes moved to Lily. "Ezra told us that you both are mates and he made a mistake by rejecting you. I get why he didn't tell me. His relationships only reached us when he felt like it but you, Lily, why didn't you tell me when I asked you outside his room in the packhouse?"

Lily played with the beads on her dress in her lap and gulped. "When we met, he told me he wanted to know me before we tell the pack. I promised I wouldn't."

"Is that so..." Ben drawled and glanced at his son who was busy staring at Lily with a look in his eyes he couldn't decipher. Grief? Guilt?

"What else did he tell you?"

Lily sighed. "Nothing. As far as I know, he was always busy with the pack."

Ezra leaned forward and snatched a glass of water to drain. His heart was thudding in his chest. His mother threw daggers at him with her eyes and reached for Lily's hand.

"Is there any way to undo what happened, dear? I'm not saying you should but I'd like to know."

A throbbing heart could only answer so much. There were still doubts in her head, a shimmer of hope in her heart and a broken plea from her wolf. And there was no denying the pain she went through.

"I don't believe in second chances."

The words stabbed Ezra. His breath caught in his throat, he jumped up in his seat. "Then give me the first chance to prove myself. I've been trying to apologise–"

"I told you I forgive you." Lily interjected angrily. "Why are you apologizing when you know I don't have anything else to say to you? I'd say it again, in front of your parents, I forgive you."

Ezra clenched his jaw. "You're only saying that."

"Saying that?" Lily scrunched her brows. "How else do you tell someone you're forgiven?"

"You're bitter towards me every time I approach you."

"Well, what do you expect? A grand welcome? Or do you expect me to kiss the ground you walk on?"

"See." Ezra muttered. "You say it was your fault too and this is how we talk–"

"Wait." His mother cut in. "How is this her fault when you were the one who rejected her?"

Ezra remained silent, his eyes on Lily. If looks could kill, he would have been in a coffin already. His mate had a way of paralyzing his sense with her eyes. The brown eyes he once considered plain were anything but.

"The anger wasn't the reason behind your rejection." Ben realized, "There's more to it."

"He didn't tell you?" Lily asked.

"Of course, he didn't. This is why we wanted you to be here. Why don't you tell us, Ezra? Start from the beginning and no holding back this time. This might be your last time lying to your mother."

Ezra worked on swallowing the stubborn lump suffocating his throat. As much as he wanted to get out of there, he chose not to. He brought this up to get what he deserved. His conscience wouldn't let him sleep at night. The consequences were harsh. He felt like an insect under a microscope yet the guilt of what he did was far worse than that.

He wanted people to know the rejection had nothing to do with her. She was flawless in his eyes. The problem was in him.

"I thought choosing a strong Luna will make my pack strong. My heir, at some point, would have been a lot stronger too because of his mother. Strong packs need stronger Alphas."

Ben exchanged a puzzled look with his mate. "Son," he said. "What in the world made you think that?"

His son put his elbows on the table and hung his head. "You and mom. You're not mates but she always proved to be a stronger Luna."

His mother was horrified. "Do you have any idea who his mate was? Or why we chose each other in the first place? How dare you insult my motherhood! You're strong because I loved you, I raised you, I left my life behind to focus on you. Not because I have stronger genes."

Ezra screwed his eyes shut. The reality of that statement seeped through his excuses. "I know now, mom. Please let me finish. I don't think I can do this but I'm trying, okay?" He looked up at Lily. "I was wrong. In every sense... and that's the only reason I'm here to face your anger."

Lily dropped her gaze. Part of her wanted to stand by his side, comfort him and tell him she was there but the bigger more sensible part of her was seething. He deserved it.

"I was dating Madaline when I met Lily. I didn't believe in mates or the bond. I called it bullshit because that's all it meant to me. It was a sedative of some kind in my opinion which clouded your judgment to trick you into staying with someone just because the goddess wanted it. She wanted us to stay obedient so she created the bond. It didn't help seeing Lily so genuine in her feelings. It made my theory solid. She didn't know me but she cared for me. It was... unbelievable.

I went ahead of myself and boasted about it. I told Madaline, Cole, Zeke and Gabe. I ridiculed her and mocked her feelings. On top of that, I was going to replace her with Madalien."

The sharp intake of breath pierced his heart. Lily was struggling with her composure. He knew he was hurting her but he wanted to hurt her one last time to tell her the entire truth.

"I wanted Madaline only because she was stronger in the pack. She was... beautiful too. According to the standards I set, which were wrong. I kept comparing them to stand on my decision and eventually get rid of Lily. I don't know where I slipped, what opened my eyes but it was too late. The boys got into a fight at alley. Lily was there. She heard it. And, well, one thing led to another and I lost my cool in the hospital. I made a terrible mistake."

His parents were speechless. Knowing their son exploited another individual like that was too much for them to take in. In their eyes, he was the best son. Seeing that image break was hard on them.

Lily forced her lungs to function. The throbbing in her chest became a painful cut. All this time, she was not only the mocking stock in his circle but also a pitiful competition with Madaline. Which she lost apparently and they had the privilege of laughing at her failure.

"I can't... I don't understand... I..." His mother couldn't string two coherent words together.

Ezra walked around the table and helped her drink water. She was clutching her head. Anxiously, Ezra kneeled by her chair and held onto her hand.

"Mom. I know it's bad. Really bad. That's why I'm telling you this. It was a stupid phase I grew out of and I would never find words to express how much I regret it."

His mother slipped her hand out of his and closed her eyes. The disappointment he saw on his father's face crushed him.

"She forgave you," he said from the head of the table. "But have you asked how she feels about it?"

Ezra wished he had an answer to that. Shaking his head, he glanced at his mate and her trembling fingers holding onto the table. His heart burned for the tenth time that day.

His mother scooted her chair near Lily and cupped her face. "Honey, we're here for you. I can't believe my upbringing failed. I never expected something so irrational from my son or I would have stopped it earlier. I'm sorry, sweetie. Please forgive my ignorance."

Lily sat motionless, her damp eyes fixated on her trembling fingers, her wounds ripped open once again. The shadow falling over her belonged to the man she bared herself to only to feel acid spray her intimate trust.

He was never her mate to begin with.

"Lily," he called out, his chest shrinking rapidly. "I have no idea how you feel–"

"You never will." She spoke up softly, the strength missing from her tone. "You will never know what it's like losing everything that matters to you. To keep going each day in hopes of finding peace in someone someday who would be worth it in the end. You'll never know what it's like to pick yourself up piece by piece, alone, afraid, building a world around you to transform into reality one day which will make up for all the pain you went through..." Her voice broke off.

She drew in broken breath to continue. "I have been shoving hopes and dreams into all the cracks in my being, feeling confident about the future of belonging to someone who'd belong to me because that was all I had. You'll never know how it feels collecting scrapes to repair yourself and then be completely shattered by one person... for something so stupid. I–" she supressed the sob that escaped her throat, "I am in pain. You want to know? It's killing me. I have no clue where I'm headed. My future is unclear because of you–"

Her energy to remain civil, died. Hot tears flood from her eyes, sizzling down her skin, her sobs rocking her body. The Luna toppled her chair over as she rushed to Lily's side, hugged her to her chest and stroked her hair.

Ezra had never in his life felt as miserable as did then. All this time he thought what he did was repairable. Her words, her pain, her sobs proved to be otherwise. What he did was a minor mistake for him but what he broke meant the world to her. His trash was her treasure.

His father led him away from the women who cried their sorrow out with their hearts hurt. He had rarely seen his mother cry. Even then it wasn't this serious.

What have I done?

"It's better if you leave her alone. Lily needs a mother right now. You should probably go." Ben dismissed him at the front door. "I don't know what I'd do after this. I don't even know if I want to. Get lost and don't come back unless I send a word."

Ezra staggered out of his parents house in a daze. His hands and feet felt numb, his heart dead silent and insides rotting away.

It was until his vision blurred that he realized, his eyes were damp.

Damn. The air is dusty or some shit.

I feel like the story is pacing very slow and I also apologise for the delayed updates. It's the end of the semester and I have my papers. Thanks for your patience. ❤️

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