THERON

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SIX.

Theron and I mowed our way through mercenaries. He chose a half transformation, his lycan claws ripping through bulletproof vests and carotid arteries.

I suppose if I had been a lycan I would have done the same. However, I am not. While my werewolf is intimidating, I’m deadlier as a human.

And, of course, I appear less threatening to the enemy. There is a shameful sense of satisfaction in being underestimated. Who would imagine this five-foot-six blonde chick can bend a guy backward and break his spine? Obviously not this particular man currently in that specific position...

His fault for harboring such sexist views.

His back snaps like a pencil.

Marius and Kai are in the center of the melee. Fully lycan, their giant forms are not easy to miss. Your everyday, run-of-the-mill lycans are at least three feet shorter in stature and two feet smaller in chest width. With each swipe of their massive paws, men are sent airborne with so much force, they are dead upon impact.

Through shattered windows, I spot Rhys in the guard tower. The grenade launcher sitting comfortably on his right shoulder and Anthony standing beside him with binoculars, scanning the skies. I assume the burnt and smoking chinooks that lay in various spots around the compound are of their doing.

Standing at the bottom of the guard tower and protecting the entrance are Keeley and DeLoren. Her foot slams into a man’s back, sending him flying into DeLoren’s fist—a fist that punches its way through that unfortunate fellow’s chest cavity on impact.

Even I wince at the gore.

Knowing my friends have their positions under control, I search the area, trying to determine where I am needed most.

Suddenly, Theron’s face is inches from mine, the proximity stunning me. There’s a tender look in his eyes—something that seems so woefully out of place in our current situation I wonder if I am dreaming—if any of my surroundings are real.

He smiles. Really smiles. It’s full of honesty, adoration, and purity. “I love you,” he whispers. His lips crash into mine, stunning me for only half a second. My body ignites, responding accordingly to the enigma that is Theron the Ancient. Everything around me seems to fall away and a stillness washes over me as my heart finally comprehends what his mouth just uttered.

This was the man I have wanted my entire life—the only man that I thought of, dreamed of, and fantasized about constantly for almost fifteen years. Somehow, somewhere along the line, a six-year-old little girl who adored her best friend turned into a woman who fell in love.

I am his.

I have always been his.

I will forever be his.

Abruptly, Theron’s body spasms against me instantly startling me and disintegrating the euphoria around us. His eyes widen in pain and sorrow as his mouth falls away from mine. Instinctively, my arms wrap around him. It isn’t his weighty muscle that brings me to my knees and causes a silent scream to escape my lips...

It’s the sharp stabbing pain I feel in my back.

My body lurches in response, my legs giving out. I know, almost immediately, that this feeling is not mine personally. While there are many benefits to marking a mate, there are major disadvantages as well—feeling each and every affliction your mate experiences is my current foe. From the breaking of the spinal cord to the rupturing of internal organs—I feel it all in mere seconds.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t think.

My brain knows I am physically fine, but my nerves fire in all different directions—bodily control being stolen from me and causing us to collapse instantaneously.

But just as quickly as it came, it’s gone and my cognizance returns to me. I watch in horror as the tip of something thick and black pulls in from the front of Theron’s stomach—squelching as it retreats from his body, out his back. Blood and organs follow the path this monstrosity paved inside my mate... and my eyes unwillingly trail behind it.

I swallow the bile that surges up my throat.

The tip of the tail is oval-shaped, reminding me of those flat-headed dinosaurs in the movies. It flicks side to side, lashing the air like a cat—flinging Theron’s blood every which way. It is slender and long, meeting a serpentine body with what I could only describe as scorpion legs. Her arms and hands appeared lycan, but without the beast-like hair, they are so commonly known for. Her skin seems to be more reptile-like—hard, and scaly and it doesn’t end at her lizard-like head. Stocky and broad it resembles a komodo dragon with the teeth of an anglerfish.

Whatever Sara had done to piss off the moon goddess was above and beyond the murdering of her loyal and faithful druids. This—the piecing of various parts of cold-blooded creatures—is a result of an offense that ran deep.

Deeply personal.

Villainous, sinister, and malicious; It’s a representation of a foul soul... and Sara looks the part.

I turn my attention back to Theron gaping at the unforgiving hole. I wonder why it hasn’t repaired itself. Theron’s curse should prevent death. A wound such as this would easily be on the mend almost immediately for an immortal and yet, it just... isn’t.

It’s not until the blood begins pouring from his mouth that I finally understand what is happening...

I’m losing him.

I will lose him.

He’s mortal.

“DeLoren!” I scream, “Marius!” Theron’s eyes roll back and forth inside his head, trying desperately to told onto consciousness but it is a futile battle. “No, no, no,” I cry, grabbing his face.

As much as I wish for him to stay alive, for him not to leave me yet again, I know that what I want doesn’t matter. I cannot stop Fate and can’t turn back time. Traitorous tears pool in my eyes, blurring the last chance I’ll ever have to see that ethereal face. Panic comes about full force, threatening to smother me.

This isn’t happening.

“SOMEONE HELP!” I wail, no shame of the anguish in my voice. “Theron!” I screeched, smacking his cheeks. We didn’t discuss this! He doesn’t get to just leave again! He can’t leave me again. He can’t! I grit my teeth, the finality of the situation washing over like cold water. “Don’t. Do. This. To. Me!” I slap his chest over and over with each demanding word I growl. I’m not sure who or what I am speaking to—not sure who I am angrier with. Him? Fate? The world? The unfairness in everything Life has taken from me? When was enough, enough?

A mother, a father, a home, a mate... all ripped away from me.

Hadn’t I paid my dues?

Cried my tears?

Made my sacrifices?

And when Theron’s eyes glaze over, his life essence snubbed out right in front of me, my heart stops as well.

I want the world to quit turning.

I want them to grieve like I am.

To feel the immense despair that would now devour my life.

“Theron,” I whimper, hoping. Hoping beyond hope that this is all just a bad dream and someone—anyone—will soon wake me.

Please, wake me!

My world crashes down around me and everything I thought I knew and everything I assumed I was plunged into darkness. Fathomless, pitch black, and freezing cold I am alone once more.

My mind knows he’s gone, knows nothing can be done to bring him back, and yet my heart isn’t ready to accept defeat, “No...”

If I beg...

“Please...”

If I bargain...

“Oh, Goddess...”

If I trade my life for his...

I sob, realizing my misery is inevitable. Speaking her name aloud reminds me that there’s no point. She never listens to me anyway and she is even less likely to help a being she, herself, cursed personally.

Howls pierce the night.

Mournful and lonesome, they sing the anthem of the breaking of my heart... the same sound that was made for my father when he died.

The same tune that now accompanied Theron in his death.

His body begins to glow.

Pale blue and suspiciously close to the shade of moonlight, it slowly gets brighter and brighter until I can no longer keep him in my sight. And when the switch is finally flipped off and the light vanishes and the world around me becomes dark once and forevermore, Theron is gone. The only evidence he was ever there in the first place is a body-shaped outline in the bloody, snow-crusted grass.

I look to DeLoren, shell-shocked... and when our eyes connected, I know. I know this isn’t normal. Bodies are meant to be buried or burned... they don’t disappear into thin air. They aren’t stolen from their mourning loved ones. It’s just another thing to add to a growing list of Can’t Haves for Catalina Bakkas.

And that, that was the last straw.

The humans still standing are frozen in uncertainty and hesitation. They don’t understand what’s happening. They didn’t know who or what Theron was. They don’t care. Their taste for blood has only been momentarily halted due to the sudden change in atmosphere. Survival instinct tells them to be wary... assess the situation since something is different.

Something is wrong.

And they are correct...

Because that something is me.

And that something has finally snapped.

Like an invisible thread that had been wound too tight, for far too long, I come undone and rage takes full control. Unyielding and without mercy it consumes my very being and I feel a degree of anger I have never known before. My heart pounds inside my head, pressure building with every thump. Heat flares from my chest spreading outward and causing me to glance at my shaking hands just to make sure I am not actually on fire since fuck—I feel like I am.

I watch in horrified fascination as my nails widen, stretch, and discolor. My fingers elongate and morph into something more terrifying than I am used to.

My feet recede from my shoes out and up and bursting through the polyester seams. Just like my hands and fingernails, they lengthen and broaden. The soft pink bed of the nails and the golden tan of human skin transform into pure white and iridescent shading reminding me of my werewolf form.

But this is not that.

This is much, much bigger.

This is lycan.

The fury that the Ancients had instructed I tap into for a lycan form has found the outlet It needed to fully appear: the murder of Theron.

Within seconds, I witness the ground retreating farther from my view. I may not be as tall as the Originals, but I still tower above natural-born lycans.

Looking down, my clothes are ripping apart, the strain of keeping me confined within them is too much at this point.

Hair explodes from my pores, like a bomb upon detonation and just as the Ancients are black with one prominent color, I am white with a multitude of them.

The mark that once sat on my forehead like a warning label now resides upon my chest, right over my fragmented heart, leaving me with an odd sense of bittersweet, poetic irony.

And now, the only thought running through my Lycan brain is revenge.

Revenge needs to rightfully place blame.

Revenge needs justice.

Revenge needs blood.

As Sara’s fleeing form grows ever farther from me and closer to a hovering helicopter, Revenge now recognizes just who is going to feel Its wrath.

I need no conscious thought.

I need no moment for consideration.

Just like with Alex in the kitchen of my safe house, I am all animal... and you never run away from an animal.

My leg muscles flex and contract, shooting free and kicking up the snowy grass beneath my feet—every breathing thing jumping to get out of my way.

In the peripheral of my view, I notice the vampires ascend. Nasty, gnarley, and vicious, they tear into whatever amount of humans are left, making a hasty retreat and sparing the lives of the remaining werewolves and lycans who watch in gross fascination.

The only enemy they do not attempt to kill is Sara and for that, I will have a queen to thank.

A queen that saw what would happen before it happened...

A queen that understood the need for vengeance...

A queen who instructed her spawn to leave Sara be...

To leave Sara for me.

She reaches the chopper before my lycan can, though she’s not nearly as fast as us. Her long, murderous tail flicks upwards and winds around the landing rail, pulling her closer to escape than I am comfortable with. But her fate was already been sealed the very moment she took Theron away from me and she will never be able to run far enough fast enough to evade me.

She lifts herself into the cabin, the pilots not even surprised by her hideous shape. My legs propel me into the sky, a height I would never have achieved in any other form. I smirk as her smile fades with swiftly vanishing confidence.

I give that she-devil no clemency as I land on the same bar her tail had and shove my lycan fist straight through her chest before she can blink.

I do not have to search for the heart.

Beastly instinct guides me, my large hand pushing through scales, skin, and bone to take my prize.

Her eyes bulge in bewilderment and apprehension—a cognizance of her mortality.

Arteries and veins detach like the thrum of busting rubber tubes and she watches as her heart is pulled from her chest and held by me and me alone.

I want her to see.

I wanted her to witness what I am about to do because the brain stays active even after the heart stops...

The eyes still see...

The mind still comprehends...

But the body can do nothing about it.

It is with extreme satisfaction and glee that I crush that wicked fucking organ right in front of her.

It pops like a water balloon.

Blood sprays and splatters her face, painting it an ugly shade of black scarlet. She tumbles out of the helicopter, her body landing with a ground-shaking thud and it is done.

Fucking Bitch.
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