There were two huge desks seated parallel in the investigation room in the dungeons. One side to be occupied by the victim party and on the other were the three culprits handcuffed to the iron desk. The matter was going to be solved in the confines of that room because Lily wanted to keep it private.
Kyne, Luke, a law minister and Ezra stood in the middle of the two desks. The alpha was agitated with what he was reading in the files provided by Kyne. Seems like this wasn't the first time the poisonous shake had pulled this trick.
"Mr. Phillip," Ezra addressed the minister without looking up. "What's the punishment for a rapist in my pack?"
The old man cleared his throat. "Life sentence, Alpha."
"Change it to death sentence."
All heads turned to him.
"Ez, dude. I know you're beyond pissed but please listen to me–"
The roar slaughtered the pathetic plea in Zeke's throat. His terrified eyes screwed shut.
"You drug raped a girl five years ago. Taped her, then blackmailed her to do your dirty deeds. Not only did you exploit her innocence, you sealed her mouth, snatched her voice and engaged her into a life of misery. Now that she has a mate, you threatened to expose her, expose the things you made her do. She had no choice but to spike Lillian's drink." The file smashed against the desk and his bloodthirsty hands yanked Zeke's collars and breathed death down his neck. "Not only that, you were going to do the same to my Lillian."
"It was a terrible mistake! I swear to fucking goddess I will repent and never do the same–"
The punch Ezra delivered broke his nose. A cry of agony left Zeke's throat which rattled the other two culprits in their boots. They knew better than to interrupt.
"Alpha." Luke hurriedly pulled him back before he murdered Zeke chained to his chair.
"There's no redemption of rape!" The alpha raised his voice, his blood boiling. "From this day on, the punishment for every rapist is a death sentence." He threw a firm look at the law minister, his stance challenging him to object. "Announce the change of codex to the pack and if they want to vote against me, they're welcome. As long as I am ruling, rapists will have to think a thousand times before they think they can get away with exploiting a woman."
A gun emerged, glinting under the light in the room. Ezra was in no mood of hearing otherwise. The image of his mate, naked and helpless under those vile hands made his beast shiver. His gums ached and his demons thirsted for blood.
If he couldn't handle it, how could a woman go through that without tainting her mind. That was just unacceptable.
Kyne stepped in and lowered Ezra's hand cautiously. "He heard it. We'll change the codex. Calm down. Don't forget Lily has the final say in all this."
The law minister looked pale as he hastily joted down in the documents he possessed.
Zeke was groaning in pain, his hands were handcuffed so he couldn't hold her nose or stop the bleeding.
"What about us?" One of the two asked lowly.
"You didn't know it was a planned rape, yeah?" The alpha placed the gun in front of him. "But were you stupid? A shewolf is in heat, which would mean she has a mate. Why should I spare either of you?"
"Her heat was too strong, Alpha. We couldn't resist. It didn't help that she allowed it and Zeke kept saying it was with her consent that she arrange it. I'm terribly sorry!"
The other one jumped in, his hands shaking. "I'm sorry too! Kyne conducted the lie detector test himself. We're not lying, Alpha. Zeke gaslighted the whole thing. I had no clue or I never would have done it."
Ezra crossed his bulging arms over his heaving chest and glared at the two cowering and whimpering cowards. Their fear did not appease his anger one bit.
A knock interrupted their pitiful pleading.
He didn't have to turn to know who it was. The scent alone almost tiped him over. His wolf instantly stopped pacing in his head and stood tall. Her fragrance alone gave him strength. The strength not to slaughter the rapist with his claws.
That word. That fucking word didn't belong on her tongue. What would it cost if she simply said his name.
Ezra turned and there she stood with Sam. White was becoming his favorite color. She looked like an angel in it.
"Lillian." He nodded at Luke who gave the files to Lily. "Take a seat and read it."
"Lily, please, I'm sorry!" Zeke clung to his last hope. "I promise this won't happen aga–"
In a flash, Ezra snatched the gun from the desk and pointed it at his head.
"One more word," he seethed, "and you're done for."
Lily gripped the file and hesitantly lowered onto a chair. The anger in his eyes, his stark veins and violent nature made her skin prickle. Her eyes scanned the files, disgusted with what she found.
"What about Dave?" She inquired.
Kyne glanced at Ezra before answering, "He's innocent."
"How?" Sam frowned.
"That's confidential. All you need to know is Zeke stole aphrodisiac from him. He wasn't in on this."
Lily slid the files away from her and wrung her hands nervously. She looked up at the alpha only to find his eyes already on her.
His brow cocked. "Your word is the final decision. The other victim has announced optimum punishment."
Zeke's eyes nearly popped. He shook his head frantically but Lily stole her gaze away. "She is the real victim here. If she wants that, I have no objection."
Ezra slapped a hand over Zeke's mouth and smirked. "You heard that? You're getting punished lawfully." Without turning, he said, "You can leave now. Your job here is done."
Kyne took a step closer then halted when Ezra raised his other hand, pointing the gun upwards.
Zeke kicked and trashed in vain. Lily ignored him and exited with Sam. Luke led the pale law minister out of the room before he could pass out. Kyne threw the other two in a cell. They were sentenced one year in jail and had to pay fifty grands fine. Their alpha was not merciful.
His Lillian already was a double edged sword. That didn't stop him from being her shield.
Cindy placed a tray on the table and plopped down on the chair beside Lily. Sam picked up a steamy mug of coffee from the tray and grabbed a donut. Kandra was in the kitchen. Despite Lily insisting she rest, she came in anyway. She didn't look like she was in middle of a meltdown the night before.
"No idea. She didn't even call in sick or something. Probably an emergency I guess. She left in a rush last night too."
Lily curled her cold fingers around her hot cup and sipped quietly. Her mind was racing. Her heart was pounding and her stomach in knots. The alpha was fit as fiddle. No sign of vulnerability she saw the other day.
A phone rang, Sam dug in his pockets and picked it up after checking the ID. "Hey, what's up?"
"Yeah, she's here."
He offered the phone to Lily. "It's Marie."
Her fingers tracing the rim of the cup froze. She had asked Sam not to tell her. That crazy girl would have dropped everything and flew in to demand vengeance like she always did.
Curious, Lily took the phone. "Hello, Marie. How are you?"
"Lily!" A shrill excited voice made her grimace. "You have no frickin' idea what's up here. The mating ball is in three days but fuck it I have a surprise for you bunch. Can you please, please, please come with Luke? I have VIP tickets for you guys."
"Calm down, girl." Lily smiled. "You sound high. If the ball is in three days then Sam and I will make it. There's no need to drag Luke with us."
A frustrated groan came from the other side. "You don't get it. It's not just Luke. Mom and dad are also coming. By the way, if you wanna make it to the ball, you'll have to leave tomorrow. The journey eats up a whole day. So if you're going to come tomorrow, why not tonight with Luke?"
"Well, this sounds pretty important."
"Of course it is, duh!" Marie chirped. "Just come, okay? Bring as many friends as you want. I want you to be here for my big day."
Lily scrunched her forehead. "Your big day?"
"Argh," she could imagine Marie smacking her head. "Just tell me you're coming."
A hesitant pause.
"...unless you resolved things back there and want to come with your mate."
A string in her heart was pulled painfully fast.
This wish to love and to be loved had defeated her. From the moment she had felt it to this day, in search of love, she had only lost in every way.
There waa a ghost of it left. People have killed that hope in her. She might have been blind before but not now. It was a fact. There was only trade of bodies, no one cared about the soul anymore.
"No," she answered. "We'll make it in time. Tell Luke to call us up when he's leaving. We'll be there."
Marie squealed. "Thank you! I'll be waiting. Take care, bye. Muah!"
Sam had his nose scrunched when Lily gazed at him.
"She's noisy... like a pig."
Cindy laughed. "I know, right. I heard it from here."
Liky smacked his arm playfully and returned his phone. Draining her coffee quickly, she stood up from the table and tied her hair up in a knot.
"Let's get back to work and wind things up . We have packing up to do. We're all going."
Kandra reassured Lily she will take care of the cafe with Sabrina. Cindy was excited about the change or environment for once and happily packed her bag.
Sun disappeared behind the horizon and the moon took over. Lily could hardly move her fingers with the dread wrapped around her flesh like a second skin. With a sinking heart, she slipped into her maroon dress.
The dress she had on when she met Ezra for the first time. Well, not the first since he was always there. But it was the first time her silly love had a face.
She opened up her mindlink. Her courage was not enough to reach out to her source of misery and perhaps turmoil. He was an abyss she couldn't escape.
Lily? The surprised response came in a matter of minutes.
Can you deliver a message for me?
He went silent. Why don't you do it yourself?
He won't wait a second if I asked him.
She bent her leg, her long smooth calf propped up on the bed. Her cold fingers unraveled the red string around her ankle.
Her lips rolled under her teeth. You're not going to ask who?
She dropped the string on her nightstand and zipped up her wedge heels.
Tell him to meet me at the temple. 11 pm.