Sam hammered the last iron cylinders into the sand which completed the circular chain fence, making a ring for the competitions and wiped his forehead.
The trained, newly shifted wolves would compete with the junior warriors and either win their clearance degree or restart their sessions.
"Competitions," the strong and edged voice of his Alpha pinned him to his spot. "A pitiful way of judging abilities when you put rules into the mix."
Sam crossed his arms and waited until Ezra appeared beside him. "How so?"
Ezra gazed at him long and hard and leaned against the chains of the fence. "Limits. They bound you."
"Putting a leash on some things is a safe precaution. Spares a lot of damage."
Ezra looked at him with an amused barely there smile. "I think damaged goods are far more beautiful than prim, proper and polished."
Sam inhaled deeply and peered at his Alpha critically. "Is there a reason why the Alpha is paying special attention to me?"
A loop-sided smile stretched Ezra's face. His eyes caught Dave at a distance behind Sam before fleeting back. "Maybe the Alpha wants you to know that if you mean a lot to her, you deserve his respect too."
"While I appreciate yo–" Sam started but was cut off but Ezra's palm gripping his shoulder firmly.
"Don't think it means we're best friends. We're not. It merely entails I value your importance in her life."
Sam glanced at the hand on his shoulder, his arms buzzing. "Why are you doing this?"
"Simple," the Alpha dropped his hand. "Some day, she's going to accept me and when that happens I don't wanna see it affect her in any way."
"You want me to step out of the way?"
"No, of course not. Support her just don't push her to alter her decisions."
Sam couldn't discriminate that as a threat yet coming from him, it most definitely felt like one. Despite the rank, he swallowed his hesitation and said, "You're mad, Alpha."
A chuckle rose deep from his throat as Ezra walked round Sam with ease. "Wanna know why? My fear is dying. Fear of boundaries. Fear of consequences." He leaned in, his eyes narrowing into sharp slits. "My madness is my strength. It's time she knows just how mad I truly am."
Seeing the fire in his eyes took him slightly off guard. Sam had rarely witnessed the shadows swirling in those intimidating blue eyes.
"Why does all this feel like this is an act? Do you truly love her?"
Before Sam could utter a word, Ezra continued. "Love is a limit, it bounds people. My feelings for her are boundless."
Dave noticed the two in a deep conversation and out of concern sauntered over to their spot. Both of them noticed. A ghost of a smirk crossed the Alpha's face. He exhaled, rolled back his shoulder and gave Sam a pointed look.
"As for making a place in her heart, that would be easier than I anticipated. If a few days friendship and two year's friendship has the same value... I'm sure I can make mine more supreme than that."
With that, Ezra left a deep frown on Sam's face. He had scratch his flesh where it didn't itch.
Now it did.
"What did he say?" Dave asked.
Sam picked up the hammer from the ground and his eyes followed the direction Ezra disappeared into.
Lily changed into her gear, pulled up her hair in a ponytail and hesitated before walking out of the changing room. The brown tights and camisole clung to her like sweat. Where her chest was not too small, it was moderate but the clinging material shaped it seductively. As per her at least. Her generous butt was feeling strained in the defining fabric.
Drawing in a deep breath and holding it in, Lily walked out of the lockers rooms and sought out her handbag resting on a bench by the wall. Seeing other girls in the same attire was little relief.
She picked up her diary to take off her mind from the knot in her guts and flipped through the pages. Her bookmarked page was a to-do list.
•Sabrina's Work Schedule
•Cindy's Work Schedule
•The Blue China set
•New table clothes
•A cleaning maid for the Cafe
•Configure Recipe Book
The last one was a new addition. Absolutely not her writing or intention.
•Give Him A Hug
Slamming the book shut, Lily glared across the space at the possible culprit who had no shame or sense of privacy. He was signing some sort of papers with Cole. However, her eyes caught something else. Zeke was eyeing her with a very odd expression and abruptly turned away when she caught him.
"Ready, Lily?" Sam gestured her towards the makeshift ring in the field at the back of the gym.
The pack gathered round the fence as the competition began. Cole, Ezra, Luke and a few of the senior warriors stood at one side of the ring and Lily stood at the opposite with Dave and Sam.
Although only Cole had the right to make the final decision, the presence of the Alpha was necessary. Ezra had no doubt Lily would pass.
Finally, her name was announced. The crowd was busy in observing and murmuring while the judges watched with rapt attention. Lily swung her legs under the chain and passed through. Her opponent bowed politely then crouched in a defensive position. Lily reciprocated the action.
The bell rang, the crowd cheered for their suspected winner while the Alpha crossed his arms in anticipation. With a cry, the opponent bolted and rammed into Lily. She yelped and dropped to the ground.
"What the fuck is she doing?" Ezra demanded and yanked at the chains.
Cole clutched her wrist and tugged it away from the chains. "She's not fighting back, apparently."
Another hit, another blow and another strike on Lily. The crowd cheered for the junior warrior as Lily spit blood out, her cheek bruised and lip busted
Ezra's eyes flashed, his black storm swallowing up his blues. Cole dug his fingers into his wrists making him hiss.
"Control your fucking self." Cole pushed him away from the other judges. "This might be a test from her or I don't fucking know... She's better than this. Don't interfere!"
Ezra growled threateningly at Cole as another roar rose from the crowd. "He's hurting her."
"She's allowing it."
Cole glanced back at the mayhem. "I can't until the time is up."
"Then I will–"
Cole shot his arms out and pushed a very seething Alpha away from the crowd. "For fuck's sake, this is not your playground and I'm not you! Let me handle my business."
Ezra extended his claws, his eyes glossing over. Cole dragged him inside the gym and pushed him off angrily.
"She's doing it deliberately, you retarded asshole. I will not allow your stupid possessiveness make a fool out of you or her. Go take a stroll. I'll do my best to stop it otherwise go ahead and fuck up your chances with her."
Ezra glowered at his best friend before kicking the nearest branch over and marching out of the gym.
Cole came back in time when the bell rang. Dave and Sam rushed to help Lily out of the ring and to the nearest medic arranged for the competitions. After tending to her, the medic left the cubicle. Dave was pacing, frustration coloring his face whilst Sam shot double edged daggers at Lily with his eyes.
"What was that?"
Wincing, Lily pressed an ice pack to her cheek. "I don't need to prove my strength to anyone. Someone called me weak. I'd like to see them chasing me now."
Sam slammed his fisted into the nearest wall, denting the metal in the process. "Have you lost your damned mind?!"
Lily stared with bewildered eyes, taken aback by the reaction. "Sam, it was my own decision–"
"Your decision is not always going to be right!" He shouted and clenched his fists. "This was not a joke. Grow up. It's not just you and your mate. There are others who give a fuck."
Sam grabbed Dave's shirt with one hand. "Don't come between us."
Dropping the ice pack, Lily stood up. "Sam!"
Sam glared at her before letting go of Dave. He ignored the frown on his face and picked up his jacket from one of the chairs.
Lily touched his forearm cautiouly. She knew his way of cooling off. "I know you're mad. I get it. Let's get ice cream and talk about it."
Sam shrugged her hand off and huffed. "I'm sure Dave loves chocolate. Bon appetit."
Without so much as another glance, Sam disappeared. Dave scratched his scalp in confusion as he stared off behind him. Lily couldn't comprehend Sam rejecting ice cream. It was their thing.
Dave nodded. "I can see."
Lily moved around her sore leg, scowling a little, then palmed her aching shoulder and groaned. Dave stopped her immediately.
"What are you doing now?"
Lily gazed up at him with a creased forehead and worried eyes. "Can you please get my bag and bring it to the cafe tomorrow? I really need to check up on Sam."
"No. Look at you. How are you going to find him in this state?"
"I'm okay, just a little sore. He needs me. Please, I'll be indebted to you. Get my things and don't follow me. He hates everyone when he's pissed."
"Please." Lily pleaded desperately.
Dave pulled at his hair in frustration and groaned. "Fine, jeez."
Lily limped out of the gym into crisp cold wind and lonely night. Left and right, she looked for Sam. Her joints cried in protest, her shoulder stung each time it moved. Yet her stubbornness dragged her on.
She stilled and squeezed her eyes shut.
"Leave me alone. I need to find Sam."
The words barely left her lips as a shriek followed when two strong arms swept her off her feet and caged her in his warm and punishing embrace.
"The fuck I will. You're barely breathing." Ezra shot down at her enraged eyes.
Lily took in a shaky breath to compose herself for her outburst. "You're still stalking me?"
Ezra moved, his legs eating up the distance with long strides. His eyes flashed, biceps flexed and anger rose.
"I was waiting for that damned dick who hit you. His skull was going to be crushed tonight."
Lily's jaw dropped. "Don't you dare. Put me down!"
"Don't bother. I'm not letting you limp on the streets."
"I need to find Sam!"
Ezra ignored her struggling hands scratching his skin and leaving marks. "I'll find him for you."
"I don't want your help, thank you very much." Lily grabbed the collars of his shirt and tugged his head down until their gazes clashed in a hot and cold war. "Let. Me. Go."
Ezra got mesmerized at the intensity of her anger in her narrowed blue eyes. It was a cat threatening a lion. And that required courage.