THERON

All Rights Reserved ©

THREE.

Lucan roared, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”

Fear and rage whirled inside him like a little tornado, threatening to destroy not only himself but his daughter, for he knew very well what Theron was capable of. But confusion and terror overtook his sanity. He didn’t know what had just transpired between Catalina and the Original. He didn’t understand. The Ancients were known for a variety of differing personalities, Theron being the most dangerous of them all. Not that he wanted any Ancient in his home, so close to his child, but out of the four, Theron would have been his last choice if given one. So his current actions had Lucan bewildered and he did not like that one bit.

He was never one to be out of the loop, to be made to feel stupid. He was highly intelligent, knowledgeable, and extremely aware and had always prided himself as such so he did not appreciate nor approve of whatever game this Ancient was playing, especially if it involved his daughter.

Both Theron and Catalina stared at him. Well... Theron glared at him while Catalina’s large brown eyes appeared confused and taken aback. Not that Lucan could blame her as he had never used that tone with her before and her current expression made him feel guilty for such an explosion of emotions. She didn’t understand the depth at which Lucan would sink to protect her.

Don’t get him wrong, for five years there hadn’t been even a whisper of danger deep within the secluded woods surrounding their hideout. They quietly kept to themselves, only emerging when they needed supplies and even then, he wouldn’t chance bringing Lina with him. Call him a horrible parent if you wish, but his actions were always to give her something to keep her busy and then lock her inside her room—her aura too tempting for the wrong eyes to gaze upon. He understood she was different.

Alluring.

He should have been more careful. He should never have allowed her to stray from her room. He should never have allowed an Ancient to enter his home, especially Theron. Yet, here they were and Lucan was now in a position he had been fortunate enough to avoid for five long years.

He could only envision his death now. Images flashed through his mind, his lifeless body shredded and gutted, his head crushed and oozing like juice from a soft fruit, as his daughter was carried away... taken and used for Goddess only knows what. Theron would kidnap her now, Lucan was sure of it. He would lose not only his life but his world as his dead eyes would watch her walk out the door with the most brutal of Ancients and he couldn’t bear it. He knew he was no match for the power and fury of Theron, but he would die trying. He wouldn’t let the beast take his child without a fight and if it came to death, which he was a hundred percent sure would be the outcome, then so be it. At least he tried.

“Why, Daddy?” Catalina’s soft voice broke through his damning thoughts, ripping him away from his dark visions, “Wolfie is hurt! I need to fix him!”

Lucan’s tough heart instantly melted with her words, only his child would be so innocent and loving. Sometimes it was a curse really... but only sometimes. Like now, specifically. But he would not submit to the power she held over him this time. It was too vital. ”Wolfie, as you insist on calling him, is fine. He can heal on his own and when he is better he will leave without provocation,” Lucan eyed Theron, clearly showing the Ancient his resolve. Theron only huffed in response, his body falling into a defeated slouch. ”I will not hurt your girl, rogue,” he grumbled inside Lucan’s head, ”I assure you, my intentions are pure."

"What?” Lucan mind linked Theron. What an odd thing for this murderous monster to say. He did not trust the Ancient’s words even the slightest. Given, he had never known an Original but he knew of them and this did not fit into any informational book he had ever skimmed through. There was a trick here, Lucan was certain of it. No way would such a demonic creature care for anyone or anything enough to declare they meant no harm. What game was this wolf playing?

"I really feel no need to explain. It is what it is and I will not dwell on the implications of it,” Theron growled, ”So if you wish to see another day, you will not question me." He was frustrated. Confused. Quite perturbed, truthfully. Minus the Moon Goddess herself, nothing had ever held power over him. He was too old, too strong. But now? Well, he felt helpless and desperate and those were not feelings he had experienced in a long time. While the urge to lose himself within such a force was tempting, he had to hold on to some form of resistance. Aggravation was all he knew so he went with that.

It was a push and pull, two sides fighting for dominance. One to submit and one to refuse and it was maddening. But curiosity would forever get the best of Theron as he had to find out what was inside this blonde pup, what magic she held over him.

Lucan stared at him, frustrated but oh so very puzzled, ”I think you need to leave now Ancient one.” The sooner he was gone, the safer Lina would be.

“Why? Because you still believe I am a threat to your kin? You think I am deceiving you? You think I would waste my time and energy with words promising of trust and kindness when it would take much less of me just to rip your spine out of your pathetic body and take what I want? I do not lie. I do not play games. I don’t know what your daughter is or why, but you will not deny me her presence, especially when I could easily end your life and assure myself a place beside her, without interference.”

Lucan ignored Theron’s pointed argument and instead chose to focus on the last part of his words because they cut quite deeply. Here this Original Were was speaking as if he were bound to Lina, as a mated pair would. The thought of his young daughter being paired with an Ancient if that was indeed what it was, wasn’t what was bothering him the most. No, what made his anger rise again was that Catalina was a child. A child! Theron was thousands of years her senior! His stomach lurched at the visual creeping through his head, and he swallowed the bile that threatened to expose itself and betray his level of composure, “She is not yours! She is six years old for Goddess sake! You will not mate her, you sick fuck!”

Theron chuckled bitterly, “We were created to spread our seed, not bound to a mate like you. I assure you, a six-year-old does not harden my cock so please, shut your filthy mouth before I gladly do it for you.” The thought of being called a pedophile was revolting and he would not stand for it. He had no mate. He would never have a mate as it was the terms of their curse. What this tot was doing to him was unexplainable but ′mate’ was not an option he had the luxury to dwell on.

Lucan cursed himself for forgetting his studies. While the four Originals were the fathers of werewolf lineage, that’s all they were. Sperm donors. They were not granted the gift of having a mate like normal werewolves and lycans, part of their punishment for the treacherous deeds that lead to their long, miserable lives, but Lucan couldn’t help but have some doubt. While Catalina was a star shining brightly in the dark of night, a beacon to supernaturals, the instant dedication of Theron was still suspicious and left Lucan feeling very antsy.

Lina’s eyes flickered between her father and the wolf. She didn’t understand the silence and she couldn’t process the far-off look in their eyes. What she did know was that Wolfie would not harm her. He loved her. She had a way with animals and this wolf was no different. He needed her and she wouldn’t fight the nagging feeling that he belonged to her, they were bound, best friends for life! So she ignored the peculiar going on in the room. She wanted Wolfie to stay and she most always got what she wanted.

“Wolfie!” She squealed, “You need to eat! You need food to get stronger-er! I will get it for you!” She grinned at the wide-eyed animal and quickly waddled into the kitchen, leaving her dad and the beast standing befuddled and alone in their thoughts.

Catalina pushed a chair toward the high cabinet. Her father always gave her soup when she wasn’t feeling well so she would do the same for her new friend. Stretching and grunting, she fingered the familiar can, poking and prodding it until it fell from the cabinet, hit the counter and ended up on the floor, rolling away from her tiny grasp. But Lina wasn’t annoyed at chasing the soup—quite the opposite. Determined to heal Wolfie, she scurried towards the can. Picking it up and clutching it in front of her heart. She grabbed a bowl from the dish strainer with her other hand, knocking over a few cups and disturbing some silverware in the process.

Lucan and Theron approached the doorway, watching her quizzically. “What are you doing, sweetheart?” The sound of her dad’s gentle voice caused Lina to turn to them and grin from ear to ear, “Soup daddy, duh! You make it when I’m sicky too, ’member?”

Lucan sighed, trying to hold back a smile as his heart swelled. God, he loved this little girl.

Theron glanced at the father, ”Is she for real? I don’t eat that shit." The thought made his stomach churn. He needed meat... raw... a live kill. Whatever this little munchkin assumed for his diet was completely and utterly wrong. She was of werewolf blood! Why did she not feast like one? Is this how domesticated these creatures had become?

Lucan rolled his eyes, ”If you wish to stay, then you will eat ‘that shit’ because she wishes it." He kept his eyes glued to his daughter, amused by her determination. It was strange how quickly she could make him forget his anger and fear.

She had a way about her.

Theron’s ears perked up, ”You have changed your mind then?" He was surprised, yet a bit skeptical. He never had a lot of interaction with the descendants of his brothers, they were so far beneath him that he did not mess with their daily quibbles. They bored him, honestly. He only ever wanted to be left alone to wallow in his pain and despair, so you can imagine his confusion of such a capricious rogue. Were they all like this?

Lucan scoffed, ”No. You will still be on your way once you are healed but if Catalina is determined to play the role of doctor, I cannot sway her mind. She is rather... headstrong if you will."

The Ancient didn’t respond.

He studied this Catalina curiously, one little hand holding the soup can tightly to her abdomen, the other attempting with all her might to pull the lid tab open. Her face was scrunched in concentration and her body shook as she exerted all her strength into that damn lid, panting and grunting like it was the hardest task in the world. This could take all day if no one assisted her... not that Theron cared, of course. He didn’t. Nope. Not one bit. She could try to open that fucking soup until dinner time for all he was concerned and then it would be for naught because he refused to devour that nasty preserved shit humans called ′edible’ food.

Lina bounced up and down on her feet. She swayed side to side. She even switched hands trying stubbornly to open the soup. Surely she would wear herself out soon. Or slice her hand open with the lid...

Well, fuck, Theron thought. He didn’t want that.

Wait... did he want that? It would involve blood and blood was his very weakness, the one thing in this despicable life that made him tremble with ecstasy. Theron licked his chops at the thought, his saliva glands sprang to life in anticipation, and then... they didn’t.

The possibility of the girl getting hurt in such a way made him suddenly feel guilty. At least he assumed the feeling was guilt, as it was now such a foreign thing to him that he couldn’t recall exactly what it felt like. Surely he had once experienced that when he was human but it was so long ago that he couldn’t remember. All he did know was that for some fucked up reason, he did not yearn to see her bleed.

Odd.

Theron’s eyes flickered between Lina and Lucan, who was standing calmly beside him, stoically. Surely this father knew of the potential of such a happening. Why wasn’t he doing anything?

"Aren’t you going to help her, rogue?”

Lucan chuckled, lightheartedly, his eyes never straying from his daughter, “The first and most important thing you need to learn, Ancient, is that you never suggest assistance to my child. It insults her. If she decides she needs help, she will ask.”

"You’re fucking joking right? She’s going to end up hurting herself!"

"Then it will be a lesson learned."

Theron huffed in frustration. Lucan could not be serious, how he could just sit back and watch this inevitable train wreck occur right before his eyes was beyond Theron. So much so, in fact, that if her father refused to help her, then Theron would do it himself. Sure, it would be more difficult in wolf form but he would manage. Just hold the can under his paws and use his teeth to pull the tab.

Simple.

And yet, why should he? Why did he care so much anyway? She was nothing to him, right? That was the question, wasn’t it? She was just a pup, like all werewolves, but then, she wasn’t really, was she?

Damnit, he rolled his head back in exasperation.

Reluctantly and most bitterly questioning his sanity from this newfound feeling of compassion, he trotted over to the girl. Her eyes were tightly closed in stubborn determination, her little pink tongue stuck out the side of her white powdered ringed mouth in the most adorable way.

Theron shook his head at the thought. Adorable? What the fuck was wrong with him? He let out a low growl in aggravation. ′Adorable’ was not in his vocabulary. How this small thing awoke such a deeply buried sensation inside him was confusing and it made him irritable. He had never felt weak before but in her presence, he was nothing less than submissive and it ticked him off. But even that was not powerful enough to make him consider leaving her side.

Catalina looked up at him, startled by his sudden burst of annoyance. But she didn’t appear hurt or scared. In fact, she had the gall to narrow her eyes at him. “I got it, Wolfie!” She yelled in his face.

Theron jumped back in surprise. Oh, hell no, she did not just speak to him like that! Fuck it, he didn’t need to listen to this infuriating little girl anyway! He was Theron, after all, and Theron listened to no one.

Moving quickly, his teeth latched around the can lightly, he did not want to accidentally puncture her hand. “NO!” she screeched as she tugged the soup back. But Theron didn’t let go. He ignored her protest. He would not give in to her stubbornness like her father. She needed to learn that it was okay to have someone else do things for her, especially those she could not do herself.

Now, it was a battle of tug of war.

She tugged with all the strength her little frame could muster and Theron... well, he didn’t exert much at all. If he wanted that can, he could easily take it, but he didn’t want to scare her.

“No! I do it!” She whined. He chuckled, not really annoyed but more so amused at her unwillingness to relent. What Theron didn’t know was the extent to which Catalina would go to get her way.

He didn’t see it coming. It never dawned on him that she was capable of such a thing, so before he could process what was happening, or about to, a small hand rose up and slapped him directly on the nose.

Taken aback by such an unforgivable act, Theron instantly let go of the can. He snorted and sneezed, shaking his massive head at the stinging feeling of her slap against his sensitive nose. “BAD WOLFIE!” She scolded, brows furrowed in anger.

Theron’s eyes were wide in shock and bewilderment, blinking rapidly to dispel the welling tears of pain. She hit him! HIM! Of all beings! He should have torn into her, shredding her little throat to pieces for such a disrespectful offense! And had she been anyone else he would have, but his pride was so wounded that he was left frozen in a state of shock and awe.

Lucan burst out laughing, cackling so hard, he bent over and clutched his stomach. Theron’s head swiveled to him, glaring at the rogue for finding this situation humorous. Did this wolf seriously have no clue at how deeply disturbed Theron was feeling? This girl had basically castrated and domesticated him within an hour of meeting her and Theron found nothing funny about that.

“T-t-told... y-you!” Lucan gasped between his roaring laughter, not bothering with the mind link this time.

"Oh, fuck off, rogue,” Theron grunted.

A delightful squeal came out of nowhere and Theron’s attention was instantly back upon the abuser of his snout. She grinned at him, triumphantly, “I got it! I got it, Wolfie!” The soup sloshed from its rim and spattered, unnoticed, on the floor as Lina danced happily in front of him, proud of her achievement. “See?” She shoved the can into his face, presenting her hard work centimeters from his aching nose.

He grimaced at the horrible smell of the fake chicken. He refused to eat that nasty shit. Determined to let her know just that, he stood his ground, burning his eyes into hers... of course, that didn’t last long. She smiled a toothy grin at him, puffing her chest out proudly. “Good food for good Wolfie,” she said with soft excitement as she poured the can into a small bowl and set it on the floor in front of him.

It was at the very second, in front of that very innocent face full of love, happiness, and patience that he sensed her obliterate his walls. Crashing, imploding, and dissipating around his cold and deadened heart, his eyes immediately filled with a warmth he never knew he was capable of.

So yes, he did, indeed, end up eating that ′nasty shit,′ forcing himself to swallow every fucking terrible bite as she looked on because, damnit, he refused, though begrudgingly, to ever disappoint this angelic little girl.

Lucan crouched down in front of Lina. Raising one brow at her, he dusted the white powder from her mouth, “Rule number one when stealing, especially my doughnuts,” her big eyes went wide with the realization that her dad was not, in fact, a dense man, “never leave evidence.”

She smiled up at Lucan sheepishly, and licked her lips, ”So worth it, daddy.” Her big brown eyes twinkled with mirth, a hint of defiance layered beneath. Theron couldn’t help but inwardly smirk at this tiny troublemaker—innocent and sweet on the outside but quite a hellion raging within such a captivating outward disposition. His assessment only fueled the adoration for her he was trying desperately, albeit halfheartedly, to extinguish.

What a handful she would grow to be.

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