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“Yeah,” DeLoren mumbles beside me, “I would say that’s a fucking problem, alright.” His eyes meet mine and we both know the word ‘problem’ is an understatement because this is hands down a catastrophic disaster in more ways than one.

I glance over at Lina, standing with her friends, their eyes locked on the flatscreen we all stand around. Odd that a large television could look so small in the front room of some seemingly insignificant, abandoned mill but the wide-open space concept of this first floor creates just such an optical illusion. But even here, in a normally arable and spacious setting, it’s fucking impossible to hide from the tension in the room—thick like mud, it weighs on my chest making every breath I take a forced calculation.

Eight beings huddle in one spot, watching a literal terrorist attack play out right before their eyes, and yet, all I can focus on is the reactions of three measly fucking humans that saturate the area in heavy anxiety.

So loud are their hearts pounding erratically within their chests that my senses are being assaulted. My head aches with the continuous thump-thump, thump-thump of fear and adrenaline that pumps through their veins. My nostrils burn with the thick stench of dread that leaks from their pores—so strong, I have to lessen the stench by placing my fingers under my nose. It’s a seemingly casual gesture. One might think I’m deep in thought.

I notice Marius and Kai do the same.

Death is part of life and you either accept it and move on or let the trauma of it all take over. There’s no in-between. While my brothers and I have experienced blood and gore for millennia now, this trio is just getting acquainted with It, and, unfortunately, like being pushed into the water, they will either learn to sink or swim. If they’re insistent on being in Lina’s life, they’ll need to sack the fuck up.

The news anchor’s pleasantly professional, albeit sickeningly fake, voice interrupts my thoughts, “Scott, can you tell us what you’re seeing down there?” I roll my eyes. Scott doesn’t need to tell us, the aerial footage is right there—everyone is seeing the same thing. And while these news leeches are salivating at the chaos inflicting the citizens of Gatlinburg, people are dying... and quite graphically at that.

Bodies are strewn across the streets, most laying in pools of their own blood, and others, well... just pieces of what once was a fully intact human being. Cars and buildings ablaze, the flames causing a halo effect through the camera lens. Debris clutters the ground, the occasional light trash blowing across the landscape, assisted by the helicopter that hovers above.

Periodically, a victim will come out from hiding, running frantically for a chance at survival as the typical fight or flight response would kick in.

Spoiler alert: either choice ends the same.

Their fate has been sealed; they just aren’t aware of it yet. For every brave soul that attempts to fight is slain by either claws or teeth... but usually both. For those that chose to flee, high school track experience is meaningless-they are mowed down quickly by a faster, swifter, and more deadly opponent.

“Werewolves,” Scott exclaims, “they appear to be werewolves! My God...” And to the untrained eye, fucking pissy pants Scott is correct—sorta. Technically, we refer to them as lycans... terminology matters in the shit world of cryptozoology, after all.

God, however, has no part in this.

What Scott, the fake news bitch, and the rest of their human viewers do not realize is that these are not just mere lycans.


Because, sigh, I am Theron, and that’s just the way my fucking life goes.

I’m not certain how Superlunar labs created these bastards but not all pieces are lycan nor human. Like a fucking patchwork quilt, they appear to be portions of both and my brain is having a hard time catching up with my eyes. It’s as if they somehow got stuck in between mid-shift. Now whether they had been sewed together like Frankenstein’s monster or failed to naturally transform, I can’t tell. And for the first time in my life, I am not entirely sure I want an answer.

Guess we all know now what my DNA was extracted for.

Human arms, lycan claws. Human ears, lycan ears—sometimes both. Human faces, lycan snouts... Some fully formed, others’ mouths stretched in an attempt to home abnormally large and lethal canines. Their tone is dark, dotted with sporadic patches of hair that have no rhyme or reason for placement yet, still others, appear to have contracted fucking dog mange, their skin wrinkled, flakey, and rough. I count four but that’s only a shitty guesstimate as I’m having a hard time accepting that such a small amount could achieve this level of destruction. Of course, my brothers and I had never banded together to take out a whole fucking town either so what the hell did I know?

And when that damn camera zooms in on one particularly gnarly looking beast, I’ve seen enough. “Stop,” I snarl. The screen instantly pauses, the image of this monster stuck in time where he could bring about no more bloodshed.

Lina edges closer to the flat-screen, brows furrowed in confusion... interest... intrigue? Who knows at this point because if I ever thought for one fucking second I might be able to read Catalina Bakkas’s thoughts, I would always be wrong. With a small gasp and a hand to her mouth, one breathless word was all it took to complicate and confuse this current situation even more, ”Alex?”

“The hottie from the party?” Keeley perks up... oddly enough, at the same time DeLoren asks, “The hunter?”

And boom: just like that, we are in a quandary. It isn’t because Lina recognizes said hunter and it isn’t because it’s surprising to me in any way that he has been turned into a... well... whatever the fuck he is now. Consequences have actions after all and the failure on his part to capture Lina had a steep one. What really puts us in a tight spot is DeLoren slipping in front of humans—these humans that have been trained by Lina to be observant, alert... smart. Obviously, we have some explaining to do.

“Hunter?” Rhys inquires, “What does that mean?” DeLoren ignores him. Turning his attention back to Keeley, he crosses his arms over his chest defensively, “Hottie? Oh please, I could crush that twig with my pinkie.” I eye him skeptically... not because I think he can’t do exactly what he claims to be able to but because since when the fuck does DeLoren care about a human’s opinion on male attractiveness? “Perfect! So he’s gonna need nurse Keeley to lick his wounds,” She rubs her hands together in excited anticipation as DeLoren huffs in annoyance. And I... throw up in the back of my mouth.


The chocolate douche canoe glares, “Shut the fuck up, Keeley.” I feel DeLoren tense beside me and decide I will need to keep an eye on him and whatever weird shit he’s got forming for the tiny flaming coconut.

“What did you mean by Hunter,” Rhys demands. He isn’t about to let this go thanks to DeLoren’s big mouth and that’s where our problem stems from: what do we tell the humans in this room? ’Hi! Yes, we’re the mythical creatures from your nightmares! Lovely to meet you! Wanna grab a cup of coffee?


Marius sighs, those fucking annoying eyebrows downturned, “He killed Lina’s dad.”

“And burnt down her house,” Kai adds. He glances at Lina, guiltily, “Sorry, Lina.” She only gulps and gives him a small smile. One day, when all this is behind us and she can sit alone with her thoughts, she will have time to grieve... in fact, I’ll insist on it. It’s only proper—healthy, even. The world doesn’t need a female Theron on the fucking loose as well.

Funny how much I care now.

Reese’s Pieces walks towards me. Years and years of life experience tell me he’s about to do something very, very stupid.

He does not disappoint.

Inches from my face, he seethes through gritted teeth, “And what about you? Friends of yours?” He points to the flatscreen, “Family, maybe?” Apparently, he has yet to forget our first meet and greet.

“Rhys!” Lina chastises him like I need the help or some shit.

“Go melt yourself, buttercup,” I’m not in the mood to play childish games when bigger problems are outside this tiny shack. But Rhys doesn’t back down and, unfortunately, Rhys doesn’t break eye contact either—an unintended challenge to the beast that dwells inside me. Obviously, I am wrong on the degree of stupid he’s willing to go. If not for Lina, he would cease to exist long before now but she is the anchor that keeps me at bay. Not going to lie, I mentally play out a fantastical scene with his bloody, still-beating heart twitching within my fist.

But, just when I assume that a few words will be the end of this pissing match, this dumb motherfucker whips out a gun.

A fucking gun!


Even if—and that’s a strong fucking ′if’—it happened to contain silver bullets, it will do nothing to me. While other weres and lycans have severe silver allergies, I am an Original. I have no weaknesses of the sort. So the only anticipation I currently have is witnessing the look on his ugly mug when he realizes the same. I could humor him... play the role, dramatically drop on the floor, and “pretend” but that just isn’t my style. A calm and arrogant demeanor is definitely more me, so I shall stay unimpressed.

He sneers, spittle flying in my face with every mouth breathing word he speaks as he presses that gun into my forehead, “You don’t know what he is, Cat-none of you understand.... a monster that hides behind a pretty face-a façade... but you don’t fool me, monster.”




And there it is—instantaneous, like the snap of fingers all background noise fades to silence. Words are being spoken but what they were, I do not know. I do not care. It’s no longer Rhys I’m seeing. It’s no longer Rhys who holds that gun to my head.

It is Cera.

Cera who first called me an abomination.

Cera who first looked at me with fear-filled hate.

Cera who first broke my heart.

Déjà vu.

A simple, seven-letter word, taking me right back to the moment my soul shattered into a million pieces...


The moment the truth of who and what I am hit me and drug me into the agonizing, black depths of despair I have yet to climb out of...


Her blue eyes stare back at me, peeking out from atop the barrel of that gun...


But she’s going to learn today.

I am not the same Theron she once knew and I refuse to give her the satisfaction of watching me beg for understanding... forgiveness... love.

“Do it,” I lash out, pushing my forehead deeper into the barrel, “END IT! END IT NOW BEFORE I END YOU BECAUSE I WILL NOT HESITATE!” I have no clue why I suddenly thought that if I had shown her exactly the beast I was, if I had gotten ahead of the heartache—slayed that heartless bitch before she had a chance to figuratively rip my own heart from my chest, maybe, just maybe, my life could have been happier. Lighter even.

No more nightmares.

No more resentment.

No more wasting away, year after endless fucking year, waiting for the end to my existence.


A small part of me reminds myself that even the smallest deviation from my current path could have sidestepped the tiny blessing of meeting Lina and while that thought snaps a few heartstrings within my chest, I refuse to thank Cera. I refuse even more to be grateful for this tormented fucking journey Life has bestowed upon me. I curse Fate faithfully every time I close my eyes and one single ray of sunshine is not enough to pierce the darkness I have lived an eternity in.

And yet, I feel torn—pulled like a rope in a game of tug of war. Old Theron still clinging to the safety and surety of his previous world and New Theron, insistent that there’s more to life than what I’ve currently known as “living.”

It’s quite disorienting.

And it is starting to piss me off.

So when Cera’s face fades back to that fucking chocolate dweeb, I don’t bother to hide my fury. I know my eyes are black. I know my canines are extended. I know the tension in my body is ready to bust. I know the resolute that once held the gun to my head is gone, deleted like words on a page and replaced with unyielding terror.

I know...

I. Do. Not. Care.

"Monster,” Cera’s voice sings inside my head, a record on repeat I cannot stop. Like water down the drain, there is no halting the force that pulls me under.




I am beyond absolution.

The sound of stitches tearing from their tightly patterned form draws attention from us to our lovely little she-wolf who conveniently decides now is the best time to show her friends exactly what secret she has been keeping so securely locked away.

Hunched down on the floor, the shirt she’s wearing parts like the Red Sea, sprouting sow like fur through the now empty space. Bones crack, realign and twist just as they’re supposed to, turning hands to paws and legs to haunches. Her face contorts, elongates, and snaps into the gorgeous canine form I adore so passionately. The symbol on her forehead taunts me, slowly growing darker, blacker, and more prominent.

One single howl resounds from her throat, signaling the end of her transformation. A white, iridescent wolf stands front and center, snarling at the whole room—commanding civil obedience. Eyes swirl with colors similar to her pelt, penetrating deep into the souls of every being present. Power radiates from her in waves, ebbing and flowing, the currents pulling us all to our knees.

Even the humans unintentionally bow to her aura.

She is strength, power, and authority, bottled into the small body of a celestial, ethereal wolf.

Silence engulfs the room. Even my brothers still, Kai and I being the only two that have ever seen the breathtaking form Lina is. Now, where the crushing force of power comes from that currently holds everyone down on their knees, I haven’t the faintest. She dropped us like stones into water, gravity unleashed into euphoric form.

She is magnificent.

“Looks like Cat’s outta the bag, eh buttercup?” I smirk at a gaping Rhys.

Mine, my beast confirms.

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