Never Ago (Book 1)

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What Love?

"Excuse me, what?" Dave demanded.

Kyne dug two packets out of his pocket and threw them on the table in front of Dave. The see-through plastic bags had small white crystals seemed to drain all the blood from Dave's face.

"Kyne," he shot up. "This is not what you think it means."

Kyne pursed his lips. "Oh, these are not packets of Aphrodisiac?"

"You searched my room." Dave concluded. "But, how? Why?"

The crease on Lily's forehead slowly dissolved, a heavy weight settling in her stomach.

"Zeke's statement is he spiked Lily's drink with the aphrodisiac you provided."

Dave almost flipped the table as he raised his voice, "How dare you, Kyne! You know me better than that. I would never participate in such a fucked up crime."

Kyne bit out, "That's exactly why I haven't punched you to death already. You have to come with me. According to the law of the pack, you're a suspect. Guilty until proven innocent in this case."

Dave glanced at Lily who was staring at the packets. He tried stepping towards her but she raised her hand, halting him in his place.

"Don't."

"I admit I have aphrodisiac but nobody knew about it. Trust me, Lily. I would never do this to you or anyone for that matter."

"Why do you even have it?"

His face fell. "I can't tell you that."

Lily threw him a sharp look. "Guess, I have one less person to worry about then."

The words must have slappped him by his reaction. Dave inhaled sharply and clenched his fists.

"I expected a little trust from you."

"Trust?" Lily asked with an undertone of disbelief. "That's what put me through hell every time."

"It's not a fact!" He argued. "Zeke, that fucking bitch, is lying."

Lily turned away and held her forehead. "Just... go."

"Lily–"

"Dave." Kyne interjected and gestured behind him. "When the investigation is complete, she'll know whether you are in on this or not. There's no need for you to blame her when the clues hint something else."

"Fine then make it fast." Dave yanked his jacket on and stormed out of the kitchen.

Kyne collected the packets and followed Dave to his car. Lily inhaled deeply and planted her palms on the counter to hold her weight. Another hit to her already fragile trust. People seem to be set on grinding her broken faith untill there was nothing left but powder.

The motivation to work left her in a rush. She delivered the cookies to the showcase and prepared a pot of coffee. Helping Sabrina with her duties didn't serve as distraction. By the time she was done with the cafe, her heart was throbbing with every beat.

Surprisingly, the betrayal hurt more than who did it. Dave or no Dave, her trust never brought her peace. Either she invested it in the wrong people or investing it in people was wrong.

Later in the day, Cindy popped up for her shift but refused to work until she made sure Lily was alright. Apparently, the news spread faster than wildfire. The alpha rescued the damsel in distress. It took half an hour to convince her the rape never happened.

"All set?" Cindy asked after the last customer walked out with a bag of croissants.

Lily sighed. "Yeah, let's go home."

Cindy drived silently, peeking at Lily from the corner of her eye periodically. She was exceptionally quite, a veil of indifference around her.

"Hey, I'm here." She told Lily. "I might not be your age but you're like a sister to me. If something is bothering you or whatever happened is haunting you, when can get help."

Lily thought about it. The long pause stretched into silence. The event didn't haunt her but certain aspects of her life became clear. The dreams she had were actually nightmares. How could she be so blind before? Her desperate mind kept her in the clutches of fairy tales. Now that the veil of fantasies started lifting, reality scared her.

"I'm as fine as I can get, Cindy." She responded. "Nothing to worry about." Except my stupidity.

"If you say so."

Kandra was at home when the parked in the driveway. Lily was eager to hide in her room and sleep all her stress off. Dread crept up her back and curled around her throat when she heard whimpering from the open kitchen. Cindy took a seat at the dining table in front the kitchen counter nonchalantly and lit a cigarette.

"Oh my goddess!" She gasped and knelt on the floor beside Kandra. "Cindy!"

The elderly woman was curled up, her arm around her belly and her eyes screwed shut.

"Cindy, help me!"

"She's alright." Cindy replied. "Nothing serious or undeserving."

"Cindy!" Lily yelled, astonished.

Struggling, she helped Kandra to her feet and led her to the dining table. Cindy slid a glass of water towards them whilst holding her cigarette in the other hand.

"What's wrong with you?" Lily accused and held up the glass to Kandra's lips who barely managed a sip then dropped her head on the table and sucked in shaky breaths.

"We need to call a doctor."

"No need." Cindy gripped her hand. "Give it a few minutes."

Lily nervously peered at her mother. "Why are you so calm?"

"Because my dear father and her oh so dear mate is fucking a slut as we speak."

Lily almost broke her neck with the speed her head turned. "What?"

Cindy nodded at her mom. "Happens when you're marked and your mate is dipping his sausage in the wrong sauce."

Lily didn't bother hiding her grimace and took a seat beside Kandra. "They're still mated?"

"Yup," Cindy threw the word like trash. "The piece of shit bond is still there, dragging our asses in mud in the process. This is why my sister never looked back. Mother sweetheart here is too much in love to let go." She air quoted 'love' and rolled her eyes.

"And your dad?"

"Typical sadistic asshole who would rather hurt you than leave you alone."

"Is it always like this?"

Cindy blew out a puff of smoke and huffed. "The highschool sweethearts turned out to be mates. They couldn't wait to have kids but too bad the love faded at some point which drove my mom to another man."

Lily's gaze dropped to Kandra. "Did she...?"

"Cheat? If you call kissing cheating then yes she did. My father found out and this has been happening since I was seven. She says she learned lesson, she doesn't want to move on and he's... well... too bitter to believe any of us. I sent him my DNA test to prove I'm his daughter but he said those are altered."

Lily couldn't make up her mind about what to think. Kandra made a mistake and was still paying the prince whilst her mate tortured her. They were bonded for goodness' sake. How can you possibly stray from love or your soulmate? But it happened though and she had concrete evidence.

Anxious, Lily snatched the cigarette from Cindy and threw it to the nearest bin. Cindy had called her a sister and she was going to prove how right she was.

"No more smoking in the house. Now help me get her to bed."

Bewildered, Cindy stared at her hand then Lily. She thought Lily might be irritant to the smoke so she let it slide and helped her tuck her exhausted mom into bed before giving her pain killers.

"I'll make dinner." Lily announced. "Go freshen up and–" she tugged her into warm hug "–I'm sorry you had to go through that. Whatever happened between them is not your fault. Don't be harsh on yourself."

Cindy hesitated before wrapping her arms around her. "Thanks."

Lily retired to her bed late night but sleep was far away. She sat by the window, gazing at moon in despair. All this time, she had only looked at one side of love and she immersed so much in it that her mind never considered the other side of it.

What really was love? A single language, one mind or billion people failed to explain it accurately. Perhaps because the meaning wasn't in the word or in the act but in the heart of the lover. To her, it morphed into a new reality. It was pain, agony, suffocation, desperation, loneliness, suffering, vulnerability, helplessness, darkness, a doubtful path and absence.

The absence of peace, absence of your mind, absence of yourself. Your dignity and happiness.

There's no place for love in my life anymore.




"Congratulations, alpha." The doctor handed the reports over to Ezra. "It's a miracle. There's absolutely no trace of silver in his blood or wounds. The recovery is exceptionally quick. Although he's out of danger, we have to keep him under surveillance for medical reasons."

Ezra sagged with relief, almost collapsing in the hallway. Amelia and Ben were already inside with Cole but Ezra wanted to be sure that his friend was not in danger.

"Thank you, doctor."

The doctor nodded and walked off after Ezra returned the reports. The sleep soaked most of his anxiety and panic but the dread remained. Her intoxicating scent was all over his shirt so he didn't change. His heart thudded thinking of her in his arms.

His Lillian was better than any cure.

"I can't believe you went behind my back and took his side."

It was the first thing he heard when he entered the hospital room. Cole was propped up on his bed and his parents were seated across him on a couch in the room.

"Aye, buddy," Cole called out, his voice a bit scratchy. He had a thick stripe of bandage covering his chest.

Ezra sighed in relief and plopped down on the edge of his bed. His eyes swept over the bandage then met Cole's. His best friend knew him enough to recognize the storm in his heart reflecting his eyes. His inconspicuous head shake stopped the claws scraping his insides.

"How's Zeke holding up in the dungeons?" Cole joked but it riked his friend up.

"I'm going down there tomorrow to make sure he won't be holding up anymore."

His parents knew. Their views on the case satisfied the beast inside Ezra. That scumbag deserved death for what he did but he couldn't make a decision without Lily.

"Yeah. Kyne and Stacy dropped by earlier. He said he's almost done with the investigation."

Ezra nodded and cracked his knuckles then lowered his gaze to his curling and uncurling fists. There was so much he wanted to do. So much he already would've done if it weren't for that silly woman. She was nuclear power glooming in a small vessel.

"Alright, boys. Take care. We're headed out for now. See you in the morning."

Cole smiled at his former alpha and luna. "I appreciate your assistance and company, alpha and luna. Drive safe."

Amelia kissed them both on their foreheads and walked out with her mate. Ben was still not talking to his son. Go figure.

"Your mom almost skinned me alive." Cole let out an exaggerated sigh. "Thank the moon goddess, I'm a patient."

Ezra curled up his legs on the bed, drapped his arms over his knees and gripped his wrist with one hand. His palm was hot on his skin. The battle inside him was noisy.

"The whole thing... Brian's death crashed into my skull. The blood, his eyes, his broken bones... I–" Ezra's breath hitched.

Cole could see the darkness spreading in his blue eyes. "Hey. I'm fit as a fiddle. No more sad shit from you. Anything juicy happening outside?"

Silence.

His friend was lost in his own head.

Cole snapped his fingers. "I'm right here, limp dick. Don't ignore me. You're here to annoy me."

Ezra tilted his head and gave him a look. "Grow up."

"Look who's talking."

"Your boss."

"Behold." Cole rolled his eyes.

That quirked the corners of Ezra's lips. "Idiot."

"How's Lily doing?"

Ezra inhaled. "She's going to destroy me."

"You're not giving her the right to destroy you, you're giving that right to your obsession. You say she's your passion but the position you put her in makes her a captive."

"I know, Cole." Ezra sank his fingers in his messy hair. "I know. But I can't, for the life of me, let her go. It's not in my hands anymore. The only thing I can comprehend right now is that separation is not even an option. Even thinking of losing her is horrifying. Whether she likes it or not, she's mine. She belongs to me. She will understand at some point if not now. She's delusional if she thinks I'll let her walk away."

Cole pursed his lips.
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