THERON II

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Part Two - Apples and Oranges

LINA

He sounds like Theron. His velvety voice has the same effect on me as it did before and my sex clenches in natural response.

He smells like Theron... though it is very faint. Forest and spice and everything that is supposed to soothe my aching heart and magically fix all of my doubts and fears...

But it doesn’t because he doesn't look like Theron.

Not exactly, atleast.

He is bigger than I remember... taller by an inch or two and more muscular. His shoulders are broader, his neck wider and his hair is longer, shaggy even. It falls over his eyes and covers his ears. His face looks as if it has missed one shave too many, the smooth, flawless skin now covered by wild whiskers. But even that is not the reason I question the validity of this situation.

It’s not why I feel my sanity slowly slipping out of my grasp.

What concerns me, what stills my happiness and relief and twists it into suspicion and disbelief is his eyes.

The chocolate color I love and miss so much is now gone, replaced instead by a deep, dark sapphire blue and if I hadn’t have inspected them harder, I would have failed to notice it.

More importantly, they do not hold the same glaring, brooding, angry and perpetually annoyed appearance I am used to. Instead, it has been superseded by happiness and curiosity and reverence. They twinkle with love and admiration and I. Don’t. Like. It. Every time he catches me studying him, they seem to light up and it just fucking pisses me off.

And yet, his words are like a knife to my heart.

“I remember you.”

They tug at me, stinging and searing and mocking the entirety of my existence post Theron’s death. As I watch him “reacquainting” himself with our small pack over dinner, I can’t help but wonder what kind of glamour Mavina is attempting.

She had to know we would let him in...

She had to assume that we would never question such a nearly perfect clone... But she failed to consider who she was trying to fool. I know Theron like the back of my hand and such a close resemblance does not trick my eyes.

I should slay him where he stands.

I should end this before it becomes too dangerous for Theon, who Keeley is keeping securely locked away inside his room.

I should...

But I won’t.

It’s the other side of me, the more dominant and demanding one that allows him to take another breath... and it is led by my gullible heart.

It whispers, softly... quietly, that it could actually be Theron. It’s lying, attempting to convince me that this look alike, however slightly different than the original, is worth keeping around. It wants--needs--to pretend this is Theron because for just the tiniest of moments it can erase the pain of losing him.

It can fill the cavernous void he left in his wake.

It can accept this fakery.

A fake Theron is better than none at all, it assures me.

And if it is really him, his alleged amnesia would explain why he did not get to me sooner... This further expounds the obvious dissimilarity in personality. Two years of life blissfully free from two thousand years of misery, anguish and bitterness would cause a totally different outlook on everything. Had I not experienced the tragedies I did, I would be a completely different person as well.

It also appears as if he doesn’t know he is a werewolf which confounds the absolute fuck out of me. I can practically taste the scent of the beast that resides within--its that strong. Was he not curious about his extraordinary senses? Did he never get angry and accidentally turn? Does he not know what we are?

When the two massive wolves disappeared and Marius and Kai re emerged this clueless Theron wanna be was none the wiser. Obviously, they didn’t shift in front of him but still... he just assumed more people had come to greet him.

See?

Fucking clueless.

“Now, what’s your name again?” Fake Theron has turned his attention to Rhys and I hold my breath in anticipation of what may vome out of this particular scenario. Rhys’s body goes rigid, his thoughts mirroring my own. He eyes Theron dubiously, his jaw pushed to one side, “Rhys.”

Theron raises his brows, “Like the candy bar?” And now the whole room is filled with hearty male laughter... aside from Rhys who squints his annoyance at an unsuspecting, innocent Theron and Theron whose eyes flutter around the room in nothing other than simple bemusement.

And all it does is compound my incertitude... coincidence, maybe, that this counterfeit Theron would say the exact same thing as the real one?

I don’t fucking know anymore.

“No,” Rhys barks over the excessively loud chortling, ”not like the candy bar!”

Tearing me away from the current conversation, the young girl that came with him taps my arm. “Thank you,” she smiles, her mouth full of half chewed cheeseburger. She is thin and stinky and dirty and I wish to goddess they had showered before dinner because their stench is too heady for my wolf senses. I blink several times in an attempt to stop my eyes from watering. But DeLoren demanded they get food in their grumbling bellies first and I obliged, though begrudgingly and now I also have to tolerate the noisy chatter of men who don’t know how to swallow their food before they speak.

Except maybe Fake Theron and the thought of him having actual table manners ticks me off even more.

But her smile is sweet and innocent and I can’t help but smile back. She has a warm glow about her, a soft aura laced in sadness and spunk and I instantly like her. “You’re very welcome.” I motion towards the food with a nod of my head, “did you get enough?”

Why exactly Mavina thought to add a child into the mix I do not know nor do I want to. I choose to ignore the possibility that this kid could be the evil product of the witch bitch.

I should still be wary though.

“I’m stuffed,” she sighs contently, patting her distended belly. It juts out in a feigned attempt at appearing obese, which she most definitely is not. “Good,” I replied over the rim of my glass of wine. “I’m Lina, by the way.”

“Oh, I know you,” she grins. She shoves a hand out for me to shake. Ketchup residue coats her fingertips and I grimace. “Name’s Arabella but you can me Bug.” Now I have to pretend she didn’t just transfer the remnants of her food onto me because I have to ‘be polite’ and all that shit. Fuck you, DeLoren. “Arabella is a pretty name.”

“That’s what B.G. says too.”

“B.G.?”

“Yeah. Big guy,” she motions her head towards the only forgery that sits at my table... directly across from me which I am certain wasn’t by accident. Bug kicks her feet, swinging them back and forth, “He didn’t have a name when we met so I named him. I guess I gotta call him Theron now though, huh?”

“No,” I chuckle at her disappointed face, “you can still call him Big Guy. It fits him just as well.” Theron was big before but this version of him is even larger--another thing he should have questioned. Being homeless and scrounging for food would leave anyone skinny and boney and yet it doesn’t appear as if he has lost even one ounce of muscle. He should look more like Bug. Only werewolf genes reanimate and multiply, keeping the physique in tip top shape.

Regardless, her ardent implication of his size would still apply and who am I to demand she change it? Especially when I’m not sure whether or not he is actually Theron. “Come on, let’s get you washed up and ready for bed.”

Her caramel eyes widened in surprise and elation, “Ya mean a shower?”

“I do,” I say slowly, almost hesitantly. Is a shower really that exciting?

“Hell yeah,” she cries jubilantly. Her foul language takes me aback--shit, she’s only twelve! While the mother in me demands I correct her lewd behavior I have to remind myself that it isn’t my responsibility... She is not my child after all. Theron, however, is an entirely different story.

“Arabella,” he reprimands her. His voice is deep, threatening and serves as a chilling yet unspoken warning. I turn to see a displeased Theron and suddenly my stomach knots in instant recognition. The scowl on his face--the glaring eyes and gritted teeth makes him appear exactly like Real Theron now more than ever. I clutch my aching heart, unwanted memories rising to the surface. I look to Bug... Bug who bears no resemblance to Theron and in turn the pain seems to dissipate.

“Sorry,” She rolled her eyes and mumbled but I am not convinced she really is sorry and I expect this is an ongoing disagreement between the two.

***

With Bug tucked away in the guest room and sound asleep, I no longer have an excuse to avoid Theron. He needs directions to his temporary quarters and the thought of where I will have to set him up brings about a sense of uneasiness.

Theon is my main priority and my plan is to sleep in his room tonight. Not only does it give him the best chance at protection but in turn, it will temporarily alleviate my motherly agitation. Having him next to me assures his safety and since my bedroom is right beside his, I can also keep an eye on Fake Theron... who, I have reluctantly decided, will be staying in my empty bed and that’s where my discomfort lies.

It is the only spot in this whole cabin that holds the most emotional attachment to the things that once were.

While I never got the chance to sleep through the night with Theron by my side, the thought of putting Fake Theron in the very bed where I mourned his death, the very bed I always longed for him to be in, and the exact same bed that has seen our one night of passion continuously replayed inside my head and manipulated between my legs is, at minimum, unnerving to say the least.

He will be showering in the master bathroom, a room I always wanted to share with Real Theron.

He will also be wearing his old clothes because I have every single piece that was ever left at any and all safe houses around the world and stored neatly inside my closet beside my own outfits.

After his passing, his scent still lingered on each and every item and it brought me peace and comfort so I took them, assuming rightfully so that they would never be needed again. However, that was when Theron was two sizes smaller than he is now so I am not entirely certain they will even fit him.

Imagining this fakery in the real Theron’s clothes perturbs me.

It is the questions that will come about in having a closet full of a man’s clothes that does not live with me.

It is knowing that he is wrapped in my scent and I’m not sure he deserves to be.

It’s the guilt that tickles my mind--the fact that another man other than Theron, regardless of the similarities, is taking on his life.

Replacing him...

And I can hardly bear it.

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