Never Ago (Book 1)

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The Other Girls

"Why?" Lily's voice sounded almost squeaky. All the worries left her in a rush. Left behind was the giddiness Ezra brought along with him.

He did that to her. Feeling high.

"Because I made you wait," He clarified, his breathe tickling her ear. "I missed you." Placing a chaste kiss on her cheek, he turned her around.

"I'm yours to scold. But let's not break my heart. It's fragile." Ezra teased.

Lily giggled then dropped her head onto his chest. Her body was conjuring up a storm of butterflies.

"Why would I scold you?" She asked. His deep blue eyes could almost burn her skin everywhere they trailed.

"You're not mad?" Ezra seemed taken aback. "I missed our first date."

Our first date.

Lily shone with glee.

"No, I'm not mad. I understand." she shook her head then faced the stove to add vegetables to the soup she was preparing.

Ezra came around to lean against the counter beside the stove. Before he could open his mouth, Lily abruptly grabbed his forearms and pushed him back a little.

"Sorry," she rushed, "You were going to burn yourself. The flame is high."

Ezra stared dumb-struck for a while then seemed to pull himself out of his reverie. "Uh, yeah. Thanks."

"So," he drawled the word out after standing at a safe distance. "You're not mad?"

Lily looked at him quizzically. "You must be busy with all the things going on in the pack. I'm not your only responsibility. I may seem like one but I'm not childish."

Ezra's brows shot up. "That's... not what I was expecting."

Lily smiled at the confusion dancing in his eyes as she stirred the broth in a pot. "What were you expecting?"

He messed up his hair and shrugged, oblivious to his mate's stuttering heart. "I've dated a lot of girls in my teenage. They always fussed about these things."

Lily's smile evaporated. "Um-hm."

Her knuckles turned white with the force she held the knife. The radish she was cutting faced her brutal assault. Did he love them? What if he still does? Why am I feeling like blowing a fuse?

"At least, I won't have to apologise like I did with the other girls."

The other girls.

"The other girls were so high maintenance, it was tiring."

The other girls.

"I remember the other girls blowing up my head asking silly questions like why do you still have friends of the opposite gender."

The other girls.

"I'm sure the other girls won't mind that I have a mate no-"

The knife struck the cutting board too hard when Lily clenched her jaw. Some of the vegetables along with a few pots went flying to the floor. The ugly melody bounced off the walls of the kitchen which made her ears ring. Or maybe it was the other girls.

Ezra howled with laughter so hard, his abdomen felt strained. Lily stared at him in utter astonishment. She'd never heard him laugh like that. The sound cleared the mist of jealousy clouding her head.

The Luna came rushing to the kitchen, worried. "What happened? Why are you laughing like a maniac? You did this, didn't you?"

Lily couldn't help the blush sweeping up her neck. "I dropped the pots accidentally. Sorry, I'll just pick it up."

Before Lily could move Ezra held up his hand and took a deep breathe to compose himself. "I'll pick it up and no, mom. I didn't do anything."

The Luna shook her head and left. Ezra swept the pots off the floor and place them on the counter. His smirk made appearance when he noticed Lily avoiding his eyes.

"The other girls-"

"Okay, I get it!" Lily cut in, feeling embarrassed.

Ezra curled a finger under her chin and brought her face closer to his. Her eyes in that moment seemed murderous and shy altogether. It was a strange combination yet it was captivating. Her brown irises bled fire.

"You're jealous," Ezra teased, "My mate is jealous."

The frown she had scrunched her tiny nose. "Yeah, my boyfriend says that a lot."

The hitch in his breath satisfied her bruised dignity. His eyes narrowed into slits. "I'm sorry about your boyfriend."

"What?" She asked.

He tightened his hold on her chin. "He will die soon."

They both stared deep into each others' eyes before laughing. Ezra flicked her forehead then slid his hands into his back pockets. He watched as Lily passionately moved around the kitchen like she owned the place. Her movements were light, fluid and enthusiastic.

"Well, at least I'm going to taste what you make today." He said, smelling the delicious aroma floating heavily in the kitchen. It made his mouth water. "Then I'm going to judge it."

"As you wish." Lily giggled.

The sound was real, very real and carefree. Unlike the ones he has to endure every day. The forced giggles, fake laughs, seductive smiles. Every girl swooned over him to the point where they would drop their dignity if he asked.

As he stared at the girl, he thought. Would she do the same if he asked?

-

Lily changed into a white top and black skirt before she helped setting up the table and serving the first course of dinner. The praises she received from the family she helped and the guest Luna made her blush.

Throughout dinner her eyes betrayed her whenever they'd peek over to observe Ezra's reaction. He would wink, smirk, bump her foot or wiggle his eyebrows but he never once commented on the food.

She was quiet when the beta of the ally pack talked about the recent rogue attacks on their borders and asked Ezra to be cautious about it. She zoned out when they went into depth about the injured members.

It disturbed her.

To change her line of thoughts, she found herself peering at her mate again.

Ezra made sure his face was as passive as rock. Lily was starting to feel disappointed. Dinner ended with more praises from the two families. Lily's mood was too damp to notice Ezra taking the rice pudding with him to his room. Lily helped the maid clean up.

It was time for her to leave, her eyes kept bouncing in search of Ezra. Her heart was beating wildly in her chest the entire time she prepared for her departure. Her jittery made her guts heavy. Sighing, she grabbed her purse and took her leave from the alpha.

"You made me proud for the hundredth time, Lily." The alpha patted her head. "I'll repay you someday."

Lily smiled despite the ache in her chest. "You don't have to, alpha. I love cooking and helping you is an honor. It makes me happy."

She took her leave and looked over her shoulder one last time, hoping against hope to see Ezra but he was nowhere to be seen. She politely declined the alpha's request to drop her off at the packhouse. She had somewhere else in mind before she retired for the day.

Her feet took her in the opposite direction of the packhouse. She was looking for the candles in her bag when the familiar scent surrounded her like dipping in an ocean.

"Where are you running off to?"

Lily bit her lip to keep from smiling like an idiot. Her feet matched her heartbeat as she headed to her destination. The following heavy footsteps crunching dried leaves behind her were music to her ears.

"I decided I'm going to find someone who likes my food."

Ezra reached her side in a few long strides. His hands were tucked in his jacket as he started walking backwards to have a better look at Lily. She wasn't happy about it because he could trip and get hurt but she wasn't going to whine about it either.

"Nearly everybody likes your food. I've been hearing it all day."

Lily nodded. "And, you?"

Ezra hummed. "I don't know... you'll have to work hard to impress me."

Lily gawked at him. "Impress you? That's all you get, whether you like it or not."

Ezra swiped his upper lip with his tongue, laughing inwardly. Lily's mood swings were showing up. He wasn't sure about how he felt about it but ruffling her feathers was becoming a piece of cake.

"This is where you were going to bring me the first time around?" Ezra observed the broken stairs, rusted railings, chipped pillars, melted wax and dried petals on the ground.

"Um-hm," Lily nodded absentmindedly as she set up candles around the statue of the moon goddess and lit them with a lighter. Soon enough, light flood the confined spaced in the temple.

"You come here often. I can tell."

Ezra turned in time to see Lily setting up another candle at the foot of the statue. She tucked her hair behind her ear and cupped a hand around the candle to light it. Her brown hair draped over her shoulder. Her lashes fluttered when the candle added definition to the caramel tone of her face.

It's the stupid mate bond. She's not cute.

"Yes," he stilled when he heard her reply. Did I say that out loud?

"I come here often." She added, "I've been coming here for a few years now."

Ezra relaxed and nodded, looking around at the place he couldn't find anything appealing. "It's nice."

Lily chuckled. "No, it's not. It's far from nice. You don't have to lie."

He shrugged and made a face. "Well... why do you come here then?"

The smile barely reached her eyes as Lily gazed up at the statue of the moon goddess. "The abandoned statue, the broken pillars, the lost beauty, the bare peace and the whispering silence, all of it... every part of this place... it reflects me."

Ezra stared at the side of her place quietly.

"I feel at home," her voice dropped a few notches. "And I felt like she'll listen to me if I didn't betray her like everybody else."

"Who?"

"The moon goddess. And I was right. All my prayers, all my wishes, all the bargaining," Lily laughed but this time it didn't feel natural, "It worked. She gave me what I lacked, what completed the little world I longed for..."

Ezra walked up beside her and looked at the statue in front of him then locked his gaze with Lily.

"You."



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