Never Ago (Book 1)

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What The Heart Demands

Ezra marched up to the bar setup in the porch and snatched a drink from the bartender's hand. Furiously, he removed the broken glass pieces protruding from his palm and poured the alcohol over it. The biting pain searing through his palm had nothing on the burning rage in his chest.

Lily giggled at Dave, her hands in his. Ezra tried everything in his power to calm down yet the sight pulled at him.

Her beautiful eyes, the ones his stupidity didn't let him admire, they were meant for him. No one else. Those smiles, those laughs, her sweet voice, her biting comments and her grudging anger were all his. It gutted him seeing her giving it to someone else.

He wiped his hand with a tissue stiffly and waited until his wounds healed up. Blood didn't belong on his precious mate.

With a speed that surprised the bystanders, Ezra rolled his shoulders back and cracked his neck as he walked up to her. His hand out of his own accord snaked around her forearm and twirled her into his arms forcefully, throwing a dark warning look at Dave.

"Don't test me, sweethurt," his flashing eyes snapped to her daring browns. "I never promised I'd stop breaking bones."

Lily gripped his shirt, her heart racing. She threw an inconspicuous look at the bewildered crowd. Ezra sensed it and snapped his fingers. People quickly diverted their attention back to their tasks. Lily's surprise was short-lived as the stubborn mountain of an alpha glided them to the dance floor.

"Let me go this instant," Lily hissed and struggled.

Ezra tightened his hold on her warm little body. "If you set my arms free, they will do something really bad," he lowered his head, their noses almost touching. "And you won't like seeing who it's gonna happen to."

Lily stopped and dug her nails into his arms. "You're controlling me now? How delightful."

Ezra slid his arms down her spine, gripped her hands and set them on his shoulders. His feet guided their slow dance.

"No wonder you can't see my efforts," Ezra mocked, his eyes set. "You're blind. It's the other way around. You are controlling me inside out and you're not even trying."

"Don't flatter me, I might just believe you." Lily flickered her eyes to the indifferent crowd before they caught his swirling blues once again. "I'm warning you, Alpha. Keep my friends away from your insolent jealousy. If I ever decided I need another man, you'll be first one to know."

Images clawed at Ezra's chest. Images so vicious it made him shiver.

Ezra almost crushed his teeth with the force he clenched his jaws with. "Of course I'll be the first one because it's going to be me."

"I don't want to have the same argument on repeat since none of it is going into your ears. It's flying over your head."

Ezra bore his gaze into her chaotic brown eyes, wishing to touch her sadistic soul. "I won't give up on you until my breaths give up on me."

Lily hesitated and stole her gaze away bitterly. "That's truly sad because I'm the same woman you wanted to reject and teach a lesson."

"I was wrong," Ezra rasped near her cheek, his eyes glinting softly with a plead. Their bodies swayed in sync yet their hearts swayed differently.

"You're strange. Different. Rare. You make me lose my mind one second and then make me realize I still have one the other. You make me angry in a blink and then you give me peace before I blink again."

Ezra spun her suddenly, imitating his spinning sanity, mesmerized by the fluidity of her floral skirt and her tiny gasp before he pulled her closer.

"You're the necessity, compulsion, obligation to stay alive and to live, with you or without you but for you." –he dipped her– "You underestimate your power over me and I overestimate your feelings for me. They're not enough to make you trust me."

Lily was panting, her heart buzzing and stomach assaulted by the presence of dead butterflies. Her former self would have died for those words but they tormented the new Lily.

Ezra crawled his figers into her hair at the back of her head and lifted her until the source of her pain united with the source of his. Their chests, their hearts. The rivalry of pain with pain.

Her eyes stung and her hands cupped his neck. The world faded around them in a sea of their drowning bond. "Trust is the key to betrayal. One can't betray you if you don't trust him. Making the same mistake twice is a bigger mistake. And I'm tired of making mistakes in my life."

Ezra connected their foreheads and swayed in pained silence. It was ironic that they were each the other's weakness yet they drew strength from each other too.

"Lillian..." His whisper bumped her soul. "I know I damaged your honor but–"

Lily pulled her head back, bore her eyes into his then sighed and dropped her gaze. "Some women take their dignity very seriously. It's especially hard to turn a blind eye when the man who was made to nurture that dignity is the one who exploited it and tainted it for his own selfish reasons."

"I can see it in your eyes, baby... you hesitate in walking away." Ezra urged.

"It's true," a sad smile cracked her stiff posture, fingers stroking the warm skin on his neck. "I want you but the truth is... I don't need you anymore."

His lungs felt like it started consuming sand instead of air.

"Nothing has the power to change my mind."

"You can't bend me. You can only break me and you have already done that." Her fierce determination shone in her harmless innocent eyes. "You can't fight your ego. I won't fight my pride. Our paths don't meet."

Ezra reciprocated with his dangerously alluring smirk which dented a mischievous dimple on his cheek. "Who knows. Our destination might. The story has just begun and I'm willing to lose everything to write it with you."

"You want to write your story with me?"

Ezra plucked her hand from his neck, threaded their fingers together and squeezed, his deep eyes tugging at her barriers. "Our story. At any cost."

Lily drew in a deep breath, patted his broad shoulders with a tight lipped smile. "I hope you know every story has a limit and an end."

Ezra frowned. His words halted when someone called out to Lily. It was Sam. He ignored him and walked up to her.

"Stacy says it's time. She's waiting for you, let's go."
He didn't wait for a reply and walked off.

Ezra deliberately, slowly, stroked Lily's hand before letting her go.

"As long as the end is with me I don't mind."

Lily palmed her skirt and combed her hair before straightening up. "You're exceptionally egotisic and stubborn."

That earned her a challenging nod. "True that. I'm exceptionally insane. What can I say, you're waking up that side of me."

Lily stared at him for a moment then shook her head and found Stacy by the cake. People surrounded the table eagerly as Stacey cut her it and distributed it amongst the anticipating spectators. Lily was praised for her talented baking. The slices on Kyne and Stacy's parents plate had tiny chocolate domes with small notes.

Be ready, grandparents. I'm going to be with you soon.

Their parents instantly ganged up on them. Delighted and giddy, Stacy tinkered her glass with a fork.

"Ladies and gentlemen, friends and family I have a surprise for you today. As everybody knows," Stacy beamed and tugged her mate closer as the people gathered round. "I found my mate recently and we had all the intentions of building up a life together before starting a family. But... love happened and where there's love there are miracles."

Stacy gestured at Lily who pulled at the strings on the curtains concealing the board and let it reveal the x-rays and their pictures at the hospital.

"I'm proud to say that Kyne gave me the biggest present of our life. I don't care whether we build it or not as long as the Kyne and my baby are with me, I have a life. And it's beautiful."

The crowd cheered in a roar, girly squeals, boyish howls and happy tears filled the evening. Every friend of Kyne took it as a challenge to pull his leg. Stacy erupted into a motherly rant about her baby every two seconds. Lily had a smile on her face and a frown inside as she stood beside the board. Ezra couldn't take his eyes off from across the bar.

He truly was mad.

"She's happy."

Lily looked up from her glass and tilted her head. "Madaline."

Madaline was wearing a spaghetti strapped long dress with a split that reveal her leg. The smokey eye makeup matched her black dress. No wonder a certain someone picked her.

"I hope you don't mind me interrupting your silence." Madaline stood beside her as her eyes drifted to the figure seated at the bar.

"It's no use asking permission after you do something." Lily sipped from her fruit punch. "And it's fine. Nothing of importance on my mind."

Madaline perked at her from the corner of her eyes. "Thoughts. They never obey us. What we think and what we say never has a friendly relationship."

Lily held her glass between her palms and turned to face her. "They don't obey you but you don't obey them either. As long as they're in your head, you're the master. When they come out in the open, they're the master."

"Interesting." Madaline rolled her cherry red lips between her teeth.

"Interesting is you coming up to me to talk about thoughts. I'm sure you can find pretty wonderful philosophy books in the library. Need recommendations? I'm fond of reading. Books and people."

The twitch to Madaline's lips was not subtle. "You seem offended that I came here to speak to you. I apologise. I thought I had the privilege after our time at the bowling alley."

Lily let her heavy gaze fall on her fragile act. "I'm not offended in the least. What your eyes see is often deceiving." Her tone lowered a few octaves as she leaned in half an inch. "The bowling alley gave you the privilege to play your cards, not forging a friendship with me."

Panic flashed and vanished in a blink. Madaline cleared her throat and composed herself. "I'm sure you are under some kind of misconception about me. I was here to clear things between us. There's no reason for bad blood."

Lily fold her arm over her belly, supporting her elbow as she brought her glass to her lips and peered at Madaline from under her lashes.

The weight of her scrutiny caused discomfort apparently. Madaline flicked her eyes away and folded her arms around herself.

"Madaline," Lily called out. "I don't fancy petty rivalry over silly little things that I don't consider particularly mine. As for the bowling alley, I understand why I was invited. There's absolutely no misconceptions on my part and bad blood has never once crossed my mind. Because that would mean we knew each other at some point."

Madaline opened her mouth, then closed when Lily raised her palm. "I appreciate your good intentions. I don't have the time to hold a grudge over insignificant actions so you have to worry about nothing."

Sam and Dave beckoned at Lily from afar. Smiling broadly at Madaline, she sauntered over to her friends and handed her half finished glass to a passing waiter.

"Yes?"

Dave rolled up his cuffs, his jacket missing. Curiously, he eyed Lily.

"What?" She demanded.

Sam dug his hands into his pockets. "Is he bothering you?"

The he was drilling his burning gaze into her skull every two seconds like a red iron. It was frustrating, very much. But did it bother her? Perhaps.

"I'll ask for help when I need it. Don't worry about anything. By the way, I was thinking of going home early. Kandra is not feeling well these days and Cindy is careless."

The boys exchanged a look and let it drop. Lily was Lily and they both had an inkling of how Lily worked.

Sam fished out his keys and dangled it. "Sure. I'll get the car."

A hand shot out and stopped the waiter crossing the bar. Ezra picked up the half empty glass of fruit punch from the tray and jerk his head to the side, indicating to the bewildered waiter to leave.

Jealousy was not a disease contrary to popular opinion. It was cancer. You can control it but you can't stop it.

His large hands refused to harm the liquid in the glass even though he wanted to smash everything. For the life of him, he couldn't remember the last he had felt jealous. At first he couldn't even recognize the feelings but she made sure he knew exactly what is was.

Lily took her leave from a reluctant Stacey and headed to the front door with Sam.

"Lily." Madaline stopped her by touching her arm.

"Hmm?"

Flicking her hair away from her face nervously, Madaline wet her lips. "Can I speak with you?"

Sam scrunched his nose. "You are, now."

"Not here. I mean not now. Maybe tomorrow?" She peered at Lily with hopeful eyes. "Please? I have something to tell you."

Lily threw a glance at Sam who shrugged and back at Madaline. "Sure."








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